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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Beautiful Pictures of Mars from India's Spacecraft


Congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organization.  They put a spacecraft into Mars orbit on their first attempt, and they are getting back some spectacular images.  

I also like the banner on their web site: 


More info here: 

http://www.isro.org/pslv-c25/Imagegallery/mom-images.aspx

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Monday, September 29, 2014

Don't miss Thomas and his Minima at Pacificon!


Thanks for the kind words Thomas.  Be sure to have someone do a video of your presentation.

You truly have The Knack -- proof of this is your reaction to your wife's departure for field research in Senegal:  "IT'S SOLDER TIME!"  That's the spirit! 

Too bad about the chickens, but hey, they died for a good cause... 


Dear Bill,

I have been listening to your podcast for about a year now. I think you were right to say that one episode a month is a reasonable limit to avoid listeners getting addicted. At some point in January I was listening to you every morning and every evening in my car, a very serious case of addiction.

This is also the time that Farhan chose to announce the Minima and my wife to go to Senegal for 3 months for a field study (she is doing a PhD in Sociology). I think it took me less than a week to run to the shop, get most of the parts and start melting solder!

In two weeks from today I will present the project and my build at Pacificon. I would really appreciate if you could mention this on your blog because I am sure there are other listeners who will be there and curious for some homebrewing-materials. I hope to delight them!

For your own pleasure there are some pictures and videos on my blog: http://www.sarfata.org/ham/minima/ 

Pacificon Schedule:  http://pacificon.org/ (My talk will be at 10:45 in the Portland room)

My presentation will retrace my journey building the minima. From the first smokes on the crystal filter when I was not even sure how to test it, or what results to look for ; to the amplifier where I am still battling some oscillations (by the way, if you had not talked so much about them, I would never have understood what was going on!).

This project has taught me that radio is a lot less black magic than I thought. It bridged the gap between the maths that I can understand but not really "see" and the sound coming out of the amplifier. It made me realize that once split into stages, a radio is much better understood and testable. Without a doubt, this has been my most ham-enriching experience and I hope to convince more people to build a minima, preferably Manhattan style! 

(In this public setting, I will probably not discuss killing chickens to exorcize my amplifier but I thank you for the tip ...)

I got pulled back from homebrewing by life and work this summer but I kept the last three episodes of Soldersmoke on my phone. They were my safety parachute and I listened to them last week on the way home to give me the extra boost that gets me to melt solder or fix bugs until 3 in the morning on a tuesday. I don't think I will ever be able to express my gratitude for all that I have learnt reading the book and listening to you but I would like to start here: Thank you!

Please keep the podcast going! I have really enjoyed the new format with Pete. 

73,
thomas
kk6aht / f4hdq


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Let's Build Something! (Video) Part 1

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Friday, September 26, 2014

Radio China International Echo Mystery SOLVED!

For the past month or so I have been wondering about a strange echo that I've been hearing on the 31 meter transmissions of Radio China International.  I first noticed it on my "Kings Speech" regen receiver.  Then I heard it again on my "Off the Shelf" regen.  

For a while I thought that what I was hearing was a propagation effect:  Perhaps the very strong RCI relay station in Quivican,Cuba was sending north a signal so strong that it was travelling around the earth along the grey line and coming back to me about .133 seconds after the original reception.  

This sounded plausible (and it does happen sometimes).  But there were reasons for skepticism: Why wasn't anyone else hearing this?  Why wasn't the effect showing up on signals from Radio Havana Cuba?  

Pete Juliano had suggested that perhaps I was getting signals from TWO different RCI transmitters.  I had quickly checked the RCI schedule and didn't see them transmitting on the same frequency at the same time from multiple transmitters, so I kind of put that idea aside.  Hey, the round-the-world idea was just more appealing! 

But then I remembered something strange about the echo:  It seemed to disappear when I tuned close to the center frequency of the RCI signal, but then appeared when I tuned off to one side. Hmm.... That was an important clue. 

I've long been wary of regen receivers and for a while suspected that I was dealing with some weird regen effect.  Regen and Echo seem to go together, right?    Well, as it turns out, no.  But I was right about this being an effect of the nature of my receiver... 

Last night I was listening to RCI English service at around 0030 UTC on 9570 kHz.  Nice clear signal.  No echo. 

At 0100 UTC the program changed, and the echo started.  A very strong echo. 

I went to the RCI schedule.  Here I found the answer: 

At 0030 they were transmitting from their relay station in Cerrik, Albania on 9570 kHz. 
At 0010 they switched programs, frequencies and transmitters.  At 0100 Cerrik shut down, but the Quivican, Cuba relay came on on 9580 kHz.   At the same time the RCI transmitter in Kasi Sabagh in far-off exotic Western China, in Xinjiang, fired up on 9535 kHz.  Both transmitters were carrying the RCI English service. 

You see, my little regens are not very selective, and the RCI transmissions are quite strong.  So if I have my receiver tuned to around 9560 kHz, I'll be hearing BOTH the signal from Cuba AND the signal from Xinjiang.  That would explain the echo. 

To try to confirm this, last night I fired up my old Hammarlund HQ-100 receiver to see if I could discern the two different signals.  I could.  And the echo appeared when I tuned BETWEEN the two.  You can hear this in the video above. 

There is one remaining question here:  Is the echo caused by the RADIO path difference between the two transmitters?   Or are we just seeing the effect of the programming being transmitted at slightly different times, perhaps with this delay caused by INTERNET latency?  Anyone know how RCI gets its signals from its Beijing studio to its distant transmitters?   I calculate that the path difference is about 10,000 km.  With c at 300,000 km/second, that would yield an echo of only about .03 seconds.  The echo we are hearing sounds longer than that, so I suspect we are hearing a difference in studio-transmitter transmission time.  What say the SWL RF gurus?

BTW:  I think the same phenomenon may explain the echo on Brother Stair's "Overcomer" signal.  I see that starting at 2200 UTC he is on BOTH 7570 kHz and 7730 kHz from RMI transmitters in Florida.  Perhaps they are not synched up. 

I think this is all very cool.  Think about it:   Here I am, sitting in Virginia in 2014, listening to the Albanian, Cuban, and Xinjiang relay stations of Radio China International on a receiver first built by some guy in England during the 1930s.  And I'm trying to figure out if the echo I hear is caused by the limits imposed by the speed of light and the size of the earth,  or by the time it takes packets to move through sub-oceanic fiber optic cables.   

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Making Hardware for Mars in a Lab in New York City

I liked this video about building hardware for a Mars mission at a lab in New York City.

http://www.sciencefriday.com/video/08/10/2012/building-for-mars-sometimes-painful-always-glorious.html


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

The Amazing Apollo Board from Carbon Origins



Wow, lots of possibilities here....

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arduino Makes Music with Old Floppy Drives



Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Beautiful BITX20 from PA1ED



Edwin did a beautiful job on his BITX.  This is an excellent example of stage-by-stage construction. 
This is his THIRD BITX.  On the second one he got all the parts from an old television and a washing machine.  That's the true BITX spirit!  
I want an S Meter!  
There is more information on his blog:
http://pa1ed.blogspot.nl/

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Monday, September 22, 2014

The SWLing Post, Ears To Our World, and the HumanaLight

IMG_5450.JPG

Thomas, K4SWL, has a really impressive shortwave listening blog.  Yesterday he was kind enough to post an article about my latest obsession:  the echoes on China Radio International: 
http://swling.com/blog/ 

Even more impressive is Thomas's work on behalf of poor people in the Third World. He is the Director of Ears to Our World, a charity group that provides innovative, simple and appropriate technologies to schools and communities in remote, rural and impoverished regions of our world.
Here they are: http://www.earstoourworld.org/

They distribute radios to people who would no other regular technological contact with the rest of the world.  They are also involved in an intriguing project called the HumanaLight:  "Dead" AA batteries power lights that can make a big difference for people living in areas that have never been on any grid.   Here it is: http://www.earstoourworld.org/humanalight/

Ears to Our World is looking for Donations to help them bring light and radios to people who really need them:   Here is where you can help: 
http://www.earstoourworld.org/donate

This is clearly a very appropriate charity for radio amateurs. 


HumanaLightCloseup-001.jpg













Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Inducted Into Shortwave Rogues' Gallery

Jeff Murray, K1NSS, has done me the honor of placing me in his VERY ELITE Friends of Shortwave "Rogue's Gallery."  Check it out:   http://dashtoons.com/FOSW.html
Kind of ironic that I should be recognized for my work on regens! 


Thanks Jeff! 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column