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Friday, May 14, 2021

The Homebrew Spirit of the Radio Amateur

I just liked this picture.  It seems to capture the pride and satisfaction that comes from getting on the air with homebrew gear. It's obviously a simple QRP station, but it is all homebrew.  And -- from the QSL cards on the wall -- we can see that he has had some success with it.  The map on the wall is of the United States and the QSLs are from the east coast and the mid-west, so my guess is that he's probably on 80 or 40.   FB OM.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Joy of Fixing Broken Things (a really amazing video)

This amazing 10 minute video captures very well the joy of fixing broken things. It comes to us through a recommendation from Paul VK3HN in Melbourne, Australia. Thanks Paul.

I hope we will see more from Van Neistat.  He already has a bunch of videos on his YouTube channel:   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5mPJA4y5G8Z6aNkY6AxgAw

I often tell the story of the OT (probably now an SK) who at hamfests would ask if a piece of old gear was working. If the vendor answered honestly and said no, OT would reply, "Good, I pay extra for that."  He too liked to fix things.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Chuck Penson WA7ZZE, Heathkits, and the Titan Missile Museum

                                             WA7ZZE Shack

The video above popped up in my Facebook feed today and reminded me of Chuck Penson WA7ZZE.  Chuck is the author of a wonderful book on Heathkits (and several other books). 

The Titan missile explosion (not of the warhead) in Arkansas is described in an excellent but horrifying book entitled "Command and Control" by Eric Schlosser.

PBS made a video out of the book.  You can watch it here: 

Here's an interesting article on nuclear weapons tourism.  It has a great title. 

It is easy to see how an interest in ln old technology would lead someone to both Heathkits and Titans.  I get that.  But on the other hand the Heathkits and the Titans are at completely opposite ends of the humanity spectrum:  Heath made friendly technology that ultimately brought people together on the ham bands.   We know that the Titans were supposed to do. 

In any case it was great to be reminded of Chuck WA7ZZE.  We last posted about Chuck more than 10 years ago: 
In a comment to that post, Steve "Snort Rosin" Smith WB6TNL noted that Chuck had spoken at the 2009 CactusCon hamfest, and that the club pledged to put his presentation on-line.  But Google and I can't seem to find it.   Do any of the Scorpions or anyone else out there know where Chuck's hamfest talk is? 

Bob KD4EBM has been out there.  He reports that hams can bring their rigs and make use of the Titan site's large Discone antenna:

Friday, May 7, 2021

NASA Rocket Launch from Virginia to Create Artificial Aurora Saturday Night


"Adventures in Electromagnetism" Video by Julius Sumner Miller

This guy is quite a character, with a real knack for describing physics.  At the start of this video he says that these kinds of adventures are "good for the spirit and the soul."  Right you are Professor Miller.  I am currently recovering from a minor back injury.  It is nothing serious, but it has delayed the production of the SolderSmoke Podcast #230.   These videos are, for me, just what the doctor should have ordered.  

I liked Miller's references to Michael Faraday. 

There are many videos on the Julius Sumner Miller YouTube Channel.  They are indeed "good for the spirit and the soul."   Thanks to Hack-A-Day for alerting us to this treasure trove. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Ciprian's Romanian Ten Minute Transmitter with Roots in SPRAT, KA4KXX, and the Florida Sunrise Net

It sounds great Ciprian!  It was really cool to see your video and hear you reference not only the SolderSmoke blog, but also SPRAT, the Michigan Mighty Mite, and Walter KA4KXX. Your little rig has a very fine lineage!  

I found Ciprian's video just after seeing the wonderful Herndon Mighty Mite of Jack NG2E.  TRGHS!  The Color Burst Liberation Army is on the march!   For more info on NG2E's Mighty Mite, check out his blog: https://jackhaefner.blogspot.com/2021/05/mounting-to-perfboard-and-scope-test.html 

Jack has in his possession one of the  7.123 MHz crystals that Walter KA4KXX sent me back in 2019 (during my ET-2 craze).   It seems obvious that Jack should build a Ten Minute Transmitter and use it to check into the Sunrise Net  https://qsl.net/srn/

Monday, May 3, 2021

A New Michigan Mighty Mite Oscillates in Northern Virginia

We are pleased  to report that OM Jack, NG2E, has successfully built a Michigan Mighty Mite transmitter, and has experienced JOO (the joy of oscillation). You can see Jack's prototype in the video below: 

Jack has his eye on more ambitious homebrew projects, but is wisely taking a step-by-step approach.  He described his plans this way: 
  1. Capture this MMM into a semi-permanent design: ie, perf board.
  2. Measure performance. What does the carrier wave look like on a scope? 
  3. Build a low-pass filter.
  4. Can I amplify the signal? Maybe add an amplifier stage or two. Transistor? 
  5. Next, let's look at receivers. Pete & Bill recommend that I build a Direct Conversion receiver. I know Peter Parker (VK3YE) has a simplified version

Friday, April 30, 2021

Trying to Repair Some Old Gear, He Got Hit with a Dose of LSD!

Oh no, here's something else for us to worry about when working on old gear.  As if the treat of electrocution or radioactive poisoning were not enough, now we have to worry about being hit with a dose of  the 1960's drug culture. That could be one bad trip indeed.  Imagine if you were having a hard time troubleshooting the Buchla Model 100.  All of a sudden things start getting weird and your test gear starts dancing on the bench.  

Fortunately, this is not likely to happen with a rig like the DX-100.  With rigs like that the only similar danger is nicotine poisoning. 


Thanks to Stephen Walters for finding this groovy story. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Coming Soon! An N6QW Action Figure!


A few quick mods and Bob will be our uncle!  
(Pete will be our Fauci!) 
Think of the many possible accessories:  
A soldering iron!  A beret!  An Si5351!  Pasta!    



Exactly what we've been saying about Drake 2-Bs and copies of SSDRA!  

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Argentine SSB (BLU) Homebrew from Guillermo LW3DYL

Really nice work.  BLU is Spanish for SSB.  (Juliano BLU?)

But I think Guillermo needs to build ONE MORE BOARD!  A VFO or a VXO.  Analog. To finish the job.    Guillermo tells me this is in the works -- he selected an IF of 11.0592 MHz specifically so that he can use a variable oscillator built around a 4 MHz ceramic resonator.  

Complete schematic and PC board patterns on his site: 


Click on the Bloc Diagram for a Better View:

Friday, April 16, 2021

Homebrew Lives! TWENTY N6QW Simple SSB Transceivers Under Construction in Northern Virginia

IF strip by Don KM4UDX

This has to be one of the most successful of SSB group-build projects.  Dean KK4DAS has been leading 20 members of the Vienna Wireless Society in the construction of N6QW's Simple SSB Transceiver, with Dean's "Furlough 40" additions.  This is very FB, and very encouraging.  Dean clearly has The Knack.  Just two winters ago I was smuggling a 3.579 MHz crystal to Dean for use in a Michigan Mighty Mite.  He has clearly made a lot of progress.  
Dean writes: 
It has been just over a year since I completed my initial build of the Furlough 40 with much coaching and assistance from Pete. Mike and Don are two out of 20  members of the Vienna Wireless Society Makers group that is working on a group build the SimpleSSB project as enhanced by me to include features like CAT control for digital modes.  Beginning about six weeks ago the group is progressing module by module per SolderSmoke best practice advice.  We started with the audio amplifier, followed that with the Arduino/SI-5351 based controller module and the builders are just completing the IF module.  This week at our weekly meeting, Mike proudly showed off his success.  


Read all about it, and see some really great videos here:  

Leon NT8D's Front Panel

What Kind of Car Would Have this Plate?


We are proud to say that the owner is a SolderSmoke listener.  Can you figure out what kind of car he is driving? 

(See comments for answer). 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

For Your Vacuum Tubes: Isotopic Ionization Sources from U.S. Radium

One or two podcasts ago I mentioned radium in regulator tubes.  As I predicted, this provoked a number of comments about how silly it is to even mention such things. Nonetheless, I find it interesting.  It seems that real radios really do glow in the dark!   

More info on the company: 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

RIP Isamu Akasaki -- Shared Nobel Prize for LED -- Analog Guy

From the obituary in the Washington Post: 

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Akasaki’s honors included a 2009 Kyoto Prize — Japan’s highest honor — recognizing developments in advanced technology. He found that some technology, however, needed no advancing at all. He took great pleasure, for example, in long-playing classical music records.

On that point, he joked, “I am analog.”

Thursday, April 8, 2021

N6QW On 40 Meters with a Civil Air Patrol Dentron Scout -- WYKSYCDS


Pete is in the air with his Dentron Scout.   Check it out: 

WYKSYCDS = When You Know Stuff You Can Do Stuff.  Pete proves it.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

"The Perfect Trap for the Engineering Mind" -- Leo Fernekes' Stirling Engine

I did a post about Leo back in August: 

Although it is not about radio, homebrewers will find much to resonate with in Leo's Stirling engine project.  

Warning:  There is a Part II.  And there may be more.  Proceed at your own risk. 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

A Satellite Ground Station (Receiver) Made from Junk

Very cool.  This guy (who brew up on an island in Alaska) really knows how to use aluminum tape and the junk that fills most workshops. I like his use of the security camera mount as an az-el antenna rotator. 

I foolishly discarded a Direct TV dish.  I could have been receiving GOES images by now! 

Just last week I got the same RTL-SDR.com V3 dongle that he is using.  Very FB.   It does HF direct sampling with no hardware mods and no upconverter. 

More from the builder, Gabe Emerson (KL1FI): 

Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column