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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Coolest Guy on 17 Meters

In our last podcast I mentioned that I had a very interesting contact on 17 meters with Raul Midon AE3RM.  This morning Raul's song "Tembererana" popped up on my Pandora feed.  The song is great, but is was the album cover that attracted my attention. 

Raul has an amazing personal history.  Born in Argentina, he and his twin brother have been blind since birth.  They have both obviously triumphed -- his brother is a NASA engineer.  

You can watch OM Raul sing about technology in his TED Talk:

Here is his Wikipedia page.  Check out the info about his home studio and his technology company:

From the Wiki:
Midón's album State of Mind was released on May 10, 2005. The album features a guest performance with Stevie Wonder, one of his idols, another one with Jason Mraz, and a song written in tribute to Donny Hathaway entitled "Sittin' In The Middle." Midón is an avid amateur radio enthusiast,[2] and in this song he also incorporates his call sign (KB5ZOT) by using Morse code.

Here is his QRZ page:
In it he writes:  "He has been an amateur radio enthusiast since Mrs. Redmond introduced he and his brother to the hobby back when they both attended the New Mexico School for the Visually Handicapped."  Good work Mrs. Redmond!

Here is Raul's antenna in Maryland.  Maybe he was thinking of this when he designed the album cover!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Advancement Of The Radio Art and The Enhancement of International Goodwill

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Subpart A—General Provisions
§97.1   Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.


On a recent podcast I mentioned that I like the phrase "the radio art."  I also mentioned that I heard some objections to this term.  A couple of guys wrote in on this --see below. 
I found out that the phrase features prominently in Part 97 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.  This is the document that establishes ham radio in the U.S.  (see above)
I really like the last line of the first section of Part 97: e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.  Yea!  That's us!  The International Brotherhood of Electronic Wizards! 

Was listening to episode 180 and heard you mention that some people had taken exception to using the label “Art” for radio electronics.  You should refer them to the Webster’s definition of art,
art. noun \ˈärt\ : something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings. 
Often the patent office, much older than radio, will invalidate a patent application based on “prior art”.
Keep up the great podcast!  As soon as I finish a couple of other projects, I’m going to try to build Pete’s LBS design.  First, I have got to get a mobile rig installed in my new truck, commuting without it is just too boring.
I was listening to episode #180 on the on the way into my office this morning and wanted to send you a quick note on the phrase "radio arts." Another example of why "art" is indeed the proper term is that the United States Patent Office (USPTO) classifies patents into, you guessed it "Art Units": .
For example, Art Unit 2621, Class 178 - Telegraphy ( which is related to Class 455 Telecommunications (
and many many more as you can well imagine.
Going even further, the basis for our patent system is in Article One, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution:
"To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"
Which in turn was the basis for the first patent statute, The Patent Act of 1790:
Keep up the good work in furthering the radio arts!

Monday, October 5, 2015

AK2B's Beautiful Si5351 Receiver -- Just Listen and Watch!

Tom Hall does amazing things with solder and electrons in the heart of New York City.  I give him extra credit for doing this on the island of Manhattan because 1) that's where I'm from and 2) EVERYTHING is more difficult there.

I may have presented this video before.  If I didn't, I should have.  And if I did, well, here it is again (I guess my NYC attitude is showing here).  

Look at the ease with which Tom switches bands.  Fantastic!  But even more important, LISTEN to the quality of the reception.  Listen as Tom tunes in on strong CW and SSB signals.  Do you hear any signs of the dreaded phase noise that is supposed to plague the Si5351 chip?  I do not.  I think this receiver sounds great.

I don't know why the Si5351 got such a bad rep for noise.  Could it be that some people were testing it with boards other than the Adafruit or NT7S products that we have been using?  Could it have been that in the tests the boards weren't completely installed?  (It is important to have the VFO and BFO signal lines properly shielded.)  Could it be that in the tests they were using physically adjacent clock outputs from the board?  (We use CLK0 and CLK2, skipping CLK1 to avoid the "bleedover" problem that was noted by early users.) 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

SatNOGS: 3D Printed Az-El Rotators! Ray-Gun PVC Helical Antennas! Arduinos! Dongle Receivers!

Wow, this project is very appealing. Finally, a 3D printer project that seems truly useful.  They are using one of the Dongle receivers we've been playing with, and, of course, Arduinos.  You could really geek-out with this stuff.   Check out the hardware side of this effort here:

Friday, October 2, 2015

Another Free Kindle Book

Bill's New Book!

As a result of Elisa's suggestion, more than 1300 people downloaded the free Kindle version of "SolderSmoke - Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics."   I hope they liked it.  If you did enjoy the book, please spread the word about it  (you can use the e-mail button below to forward this post to friends and relatives), and please put a review on the Amazon Kindle page. 

In the course of following up on Elisa's idea, I discovered that Amazon Kindle has a program that will allow me to make my more recent book available for free (for a limited period).  

So the Kindle version of "Us and Them -- An American Family spends Ten Years WITH FOREIGNERS"  will be available for free from October 3 through October 7.   Please send me feedback,  please let your friends and relatives know about the book (again the e-mail button below is good for that), and please post reviews on the Amazon page. 

You can find the Kindle book here.  It will be free from October 3 through October 7, 2015*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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