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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Science Friday" Interviews Author of "The Innovators" (listen)



Michael Rainey alerted me to Ira Flatow's Science Friday interview with author Walter Isaacson.  I'm reading Isaacson's new book "The Innovators"  (appropriately, on my Iphone 5). The book is very good, with surprisingly frequent references to ham radio.  Flatow's interview with Isaacson is also quite good, and will give you a better idea of what the book is about.  Here it is.  It is worth a listen:
http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/10/24/2014/meet-the-innovators-who-made-the-digital-revolution.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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mailbag: Coils Wound Backwards, Last QSO 1981, Visions of Transistors Keeping Him Awake. Paul has THE KNACK



Hi Bill

I'm just getting back into ham radio after 33 years (last QSO: 1981),
want to do it all through homebrew, seem to have the same mindset as
guys like you and Frank K0IYE, bought your book [love it and Frank's],
and just "discovered" the Soldersmoke podcasts.  I've been listening to
them with one ear as I bike to and from work (about 40 minutes each way, so it's almost perfect).  I'm employed as a digital geek, but yearn for the days of DeMaw's prime (worked him once when he was W1CER), when the 40673 ruled.  I'm very glad that, 40 years later, people like Farhan can weave discrete analog wonders, even if they later choose to use digital *control* (NOT DSP! No!).

I had to start somewhere with your podcasts archive, so I started with
2014 and really enjoyed your struggles with the Herring-Aid 5. My 1st
receiver  was the "DC 80-10" by DeMaw from somewhere around 1970 in QST or the Handbook -- used a CA3028 as the product detector -- and I had similar struggles.  While listening to it, I immediately thought "you wound the feedback coil backwards, you idiot!"

I got my license back in March 2014 and want very badly to get back on
the air with a homebrewed, or at least minimally-kitted, station.  I've
built the receiver:  David White's (WN5Y) Beginner's and Experimenters
receiver[1] heavily modified, have a long wire antenna up, a decent RF
ground, and all the parts I need for QRP z-match tuner, swr meter, T/R
switch, sidetone, and IRF510-based transmitter.  Target:  40m CW by the middle of December, 30m in the couple of months after that with a
fully-Manhattan-style Barebones Superhet and another IRF510
transmitter.  Then one of these BitX things.  It's been a couple of
decades since I felt that there weren't enough hours in the day.  Some
nights I can't sleep, what with all these transistors and simple analog
ICs whirling around...

Anyway, keep it up, I'll be listening.

-- Paul Lender, AD0HQ

[1] I built an Arduino/AD9850 DDS -- a la AD7C -- and used it to tune a
4-crystal filter (10-cent crystals from Tayda!) for the receiver with
the same Rigol scope that you use.  I tried, really tried, to do it with
an analog RF signal generator.  Change is good.  Change is good.


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, October 27, 2014

Dear Santa: I want a Knack Watch. The one with real tubes...



This is what all the cool homebrewers will be wearing next year.   Just be careful at airport security -- they might not understand! 

Check it out:  http://www.johngineer.com/blog/?p=1595

We received some comments from some noted Thermatron authorities: 

Hi Guys,
This will cause all of the bells, whistles and sirens to go off all it once.
Now all that is needed is a logo on the watch that says
EBOLA ( Electronic Bi-state Operational Long Arithmetic) and this will cause you to go to jail without passing Go or collecting $200.
Pete

---------------------

Wow, I love this thing!…even though it uses little black plastic things to work.  Have no idea what they are. (johngineer has knack squared)
Reminds me of a project I am trying with fellow ham.  We picked up an old HP nixie tube freq counter at junk yard.  We were going to strip out the nixie tubes to make a clock, but decided we could make it as clock as is.  Want to program an Arduino thing into generating a frequency that is the time and feeding it into the counter.
For example 3:45:25 would be 34,525 Hz.  
But my Italian is terrible so haven’t been able to get the Arduino to work.  Just learning it.  Project a bit over my head. picked up one of those online language courses on Italian. Hard, but not as hard as Turkish!
Grayson
TA2ZGE - Ankara, Turkey
KJ7UM
Follow the Hollow-State Design Blog

-----------------------

 I'm wondering if I  could do it Manhattan style, with discrete components... 

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, October 25, 2014

Spark Forever! Pete's First Transmitter


The SolderSmoke legal team (we too use Dewey, Cheetham & Howe!) has advised us to be very careful about divulging the details on this rig.  They are not sure about the statute of limitations.   Beyond what he said on the podcast, all Pete will say is that TOOBs were involved: 1S4, 3S4, 3Q4, 3Q5, 3V4s.  He says power out was ALWAYS less than 100 mw ERP.  That's  his story and he's stinking to it. 

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, October 24, 2014

Smart-Phone Cosmic Ray Detector

http://hackaday.com/2014/10/17/detect-cosmic-rays-with-your-smartphone-using-crayfis/
I find this cosmic ray project very appealing.



Also, Adam Fabio over on Hackaday recently posted a Hack-let on ham radio:
http://hackaday.com/2014/10/17/hacklet-19-ham-radio/ 


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, October 22, 2014

"Two guys and a Minima walk into a bar..."


Thomas, KK6AHT, was in Washington this week.  He and I got together for a beer and a look at his Minima. 


I'd seen pictures of it, but it was much more impressive in person.  Thomas did a great job on this rig.  It is a really nice mixture of digital and analog.  I liked the fact that he built the analog portion Manhattan style using MePads.  He and I agreed that while it would make sense to produce a PC board for the Arduino/Si570/LCD portion of the rig, builders should be encouraged to do the rest Manhattan style. 


Showing true homebrew dedication,  Thomas was unhappy with the level of audio output when we turned it on.  He started to trouble-shoot right there in the Ruby Tuesday bar! 


It turns out that we were in a very Knack-ish location.  We were on the site where they created ARPANET. 

Thomas very kindly left me with a nice package of Minima digi-parts including the Arduino chip loaded with the software and an SI570.    So now I have no excuse.  

Thanks Thomas! 

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, October 21, 2014

Arduino Hell!



Hi Bill,
 
I am a long time listener of SolderSmoke and a big fan! Since your last podcast was on the use of Arduino’s for ham radio, my Arduino Hellschrieber project may be of interest to you and your listeners. I am using the $15 dollar RadioShack color display they are closing out and a simple circuit with our favorite transistor!
 
I have a video in my second blogpost and all the details with code below.
 
 
 
Keep up the great work, I have your book both in print and Kindle!
 
73, Dan WA6PZB

 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, October 20, 2014

Has AA1TJ Joined the FMLA?



I have learned that esteemed homebrewer Michael Rainey, AA1TJ, recently whipped up a 56 MHz, quarter-wave, helical coaxial resonator (BTW: the spoon is also homebrew).  Hmm, 56 Mhz.  Or perhaps we should say MegaCYCLES?  Michael claims this device is for a low phase- noise VFO, but I find the frequency selection highly suspicious.   The last time I heard of that frequency it had to do with an underground group set up by the late (or not so late) Frank Jones.  
Here is all the info on Frank's Five Meter Liberation Army.  

http://www.sunflower.com/~brainbol/frank/

A man of the '30s awakens one night in the '90s (episode 13) with a new mission: recapture 56-60 mc. He forms a Five Meter Liberation Army from his mobile home in a Barrio trailer park run by Tom Joad of Steinback's Grapes of Wrath (episode 9), and soon draws a decidedly uncolorful bodyguard (episode 7). A six foot tall half Mexican stockbroker named for Ayn Rand makes him rich and a demonic white ferret and a half-siamese cat become his familiars. (episodes 10 and 9). The leader of all this, called only "Frank," settles down in the narrator's basement to be joined by Maj. Armstrong (episode 8), Hiram Maxim (episode 23) and one-time pals Carl and Jerry from the 1950s Popular Electronics (episode 25). His huge 1940s sedan, with contemporary plates, is immune from police (episode 13 et seq) and his breadboarded electronic creations recall those distant days when a ham built his own rig and could "fix a radio." Of course all this is crazy. No one builds anything anymore and the other things Frank stands for, like self- reliance, tolerance and a generally Boy Scout viewpoint are simply out of step. Frank knows that too (episode 20), but he does not care. If you're standing in the middle of the road and see a big brown Frazer coming at you, you better jump - one way or the other.

VIVA EL FMLA!  VIVA!


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, October 19, 2014

Tribal Knowledge Video: Putting Screw Threads in Aluminium



http://youtu.be/LuqliWT1k5A

Thank you Giovanni Manzoni, whoever you are! 

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, October 17, 2014

Author Walter Isaacson was a Radio Amateur


This is the guy who wrote the biographies of Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Ben Franklin that I've been talking about on the podcast. President of the Aspen Institutes, former Chairman of CNN and editor of Time Magazine.  And, as I learned today, a former ham radio operator.   In his new book, "The Innovators," he writes:  

"My father and uncles were electrical engineers,  and like many of the characters in this book, I grew up with a basement workshop that had circuit boards to be soldered, radios to be opened, tubes to be tested, and boxes of transistors and resistors to be sorted and deployed.  As an electronics geek who loved Heathkits and ham radios (WA5JTP) I can remember when vacuum tubes gave way to transistors."

When I told Billy about this, he said, "No wonder you like his books so much!"  Indeed.  Walter has THE KNACK.   I'm enjoying his book, "The Innovators."   

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
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