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Friday, March 30, 2012

Murphy's Whiskers: SHAVED (with Belden 1671A!)


Brad, AA1IP, has come to the rescue and is offering Belden 1671A at prices SIGNIFICANTLY below cocaine levels. Thanks Brad!

Hello--
In response to Bill's plea on SolderSmoke #142 for an inexpensive source of Belden 1671A semi-rigid coaxial cable, I can offer it for sale at $.30 per foot in lengths up to 10 feet to 20 feet; handling longer lengths is problematical, as I don't have a good wire-respooling method at present. Postage and packaging for up to 10 feet of 1671A cable is extra and costs $3.25 for shipping via first-class mail to U.S. addresses (I honor PayPal and certain other payment methods). Note that coaxial connectors for 1671A are available (but not from me, alas). Also, the outer jacket of 1671A is best cut with a fine-toothed coping saw or a miniature tubing cutter such as... http://www.amazon.com/Pit-Bull-Mini-Tubing-Cutter/dp/B0027BBHW0

Questions welcomed as always. 73-- Brad AA1IP

P.S.: the "Murphy's Whiskers" Bill refers to are small pieces of copper
braid wire that break off from RG-174/U (or other) coax braid and cause intermittent short-circuits in whatever they fall into.


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

A Workshop That's Really "Out There"

Wow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/garden/in-a-remote-part-of-utah-life-alone-in-a-hangar.html?_r=1

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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturn and Titan

One of the rewards of being an amateur astronomer is that from time to time you get to discover on your own astronomical facts that were actually discovered centuries ago. Like the orbital period of Titan. About ten days ago I reported on my early morning observations of Saturn. Titan was in the far right of my field of view. Then, a week later I looked again and saw that Titan was now in the far left of the field of view. It looked like it it had gone to the opposite end of its orbital track in about a week. I checked and, sure enough, Titan takes about 15 earth days to complete an orbit. Neat.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Giant Magellan Telescope

Wow, seven 28 foot mirrors! They just started blasting away the top of a mountain in Chile to make room for this magnificent 'scope. More details here: http://www.gmto.org/index.html
For those of you who are looking, they have some job openings (link at the bottom of their site).


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

Friday, March 23, 2012

NJORP's "Chat with the Designers" Podcast

N2APB and N2CX of the New Jersey QRP Club have been hosting weekly, live, on-line technical discussions called "Chats with the Designers." They are recording these sessions, and turning them into -- in effect -- podcasts. Yesterday I listened to their session on circuit simulators and really enjoyed it. Today, I'll be listening to the one on digital modes. I think you guys will like this. Lots to learn from the NJQRP guys:
http://www.njqrp.org/teamspeak/TeamspeakChat.html


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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Rare Tour of the HP Garage

Kim, VK5FJ, sent this to us. Amazing pictures. Inspiring! Look at that work bench. Note the ARRL antenna book.

http://dvice.com/archives/2012/03/rare-tour-of-th.php#25


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

Monday, March 19, 2012

SolderSmoke Podcast #142

March 19, 2012

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke142.mp3

SWR meter as a poor man's spectrum analyzer
QRP Quarterly: Pete Juliano's SSB Rig, Idea Exchange, Mike's articles
Great contacts on 17 SSB
Squeezing the birdies out of 17 meter rig. Again.
STOP MURPHY'S WHISKERS! A PLEA FOR BELDEN 1671A!
My new 'scope
Zen and the Art of Telescope Maintenance
SETI Live: Search the waterfall for ET's sigs
Ade Weiss's wonderful new book
Chinese Knack?
Soul in the Machine: Billy's earliest toroids
Re-cycling my 20 meter CW rig (from cycle 22)
Winterfest report
Relay repairs and back EMF dangers
MAILBAG

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Allen Telescope Array

I'm really getting into the SETI Live project. Whenever I get a chance I go to the SETI Live page, log on, and classify a few signals. Today I was looking at the tech aspects of the antenna array. Very interesting, and very appealing to homebrewers. They are making use of dishes that were made for TV reception. And they are using software-defined receiver systems. All of this makes upgrades relatively easy.

Jill Tartar of "Contact" fame is running this project.

Check it out: http://www.seti.org/ata

So, I'll be I'll be using a big array to listen (watch really) for the REAL DX on .5 to 11.2 Gigahertz. I'll let you guys know if I hear any "new ones"!


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

Friday, March 16, 2012

UK Balloon Launch and a North Sea Splashdown



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

SETI Live!

Wow, this is really very interesting. The Allen Telescope Array (seen above) is back in operation and they are looking for on-line volunteers to analyze the signals that are streaming in. But unlike the now-familiar SETI-AT-HOME screensaver system, in SETI Live, they want you to personally evaluate signals -- very recent signals -- from the Allen Array. You'll be looking at waterfall displays similar to what we see with SDR rigs. They want you to mark and classify the signals and then upload your work. They are trying to screen out terrestrial sigs, man-made satellites, etc.

This is just the thing for those days when the solar flux is low and 17 meters is dead!

Check it out: http://setilive.org/

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Planets Galore!

Good times for astronomy in Northern Virginia. The temperature is freakishly high, and daylight savings time has pushed the darkness into my early-morning shack time. My telescope troubles are sorted out, and I just discovered that with my current contact lens prescription, my right eye is much better for telescope work than the left. (Who knew!) I found an excellent and inspirational book on astronomy: "The Four Percent Universe." And this morning, while fooling around with my Stellarium program, I noticed that Saturn is high in the South-West before dawn. Coffee cup in hand I went out and was rewarded with a spectacular view of the ringed planet. I could even see one of the divisions between the rings. Titan was also visible. Last night Maria and I were looking at Mars. I can make out the ice cap and (vaguely) some the big valley features. No canals.

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

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi - Einstein Day!

The card is for a special event sponsored by the Lake Effect Amateur Radio Club:
http://www.lakeeffectarc.info/Event-PiEinsteinDay/PiDay.htm


I've been reading "Math and the Mona Lisa" so lately I've been more into Phi than Pi. When will we have Phi Day? January 6th?

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Twisted Waves Across the Venice Lagoon



I don't really understand the physics behind this, but it seems to be important. And the video is a lot of fun. There is much Italian brio and bella figura in this. They even got Princess Elettra Marconi involved. And the video features audio from Marconi himself.
Hypertuning! Radio Vorticity! Helicoidal Parabolic Antennas! Gondolas! Segnale Ricevuto! Bravi!

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/48869

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mars in Opposition

Jupiter and Venus are getting all the media attention because they happen to appear close in the sky, but Mars is the real object to see this month. It is in opposition (see diagram). This happens every two years. Last time we were out in the Sabine Hills north of Rome (sniff, sniff).

I cleaned the 6 inch mirror on my Dobsonian telescope a while back, and when I put the whole thing back together, something wasn't quite right. I was getting dim and blurry views. So yesterday I went into telescope maintenance mode and, as the Brits would say, got it all sorted.

I was out looking at Mars last night. The view is not nearly as spectacular as the image above, but it is very nice. But I can't see much of the northern polar cap -- it is, after all, summer time in the Martian Northern Hemisphere.



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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ralph Baer, Electronic Wizard



Here is a another nice video, this one about Ralph Baer, one of the pioneers of video games. At age 90 Ralph is still creating things at his workbench.

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Amazing R/C Airplane Video From Germany



Wow, this is real techno-art. Take seven minutes, put it on full screen, crank up the audio and sit back to enjoy a unique aerial view of a beautiful part of Germany. Thanks to Bill, N5AB, for alerting us to this.

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

JBOT Thoughts

Posted today to the BITX-20 Group:

Good to see so many JBOTs under construction. I recently built two of them. Farhan has asked me to share with the group my experiences using -43 core toroids. Ironically, TV cores are a bit harder to find here, so I had to go with the fancier toroids!


In my first amp (used in a 17 meter DSB rig) I used the smaller FT-37-43 cores in all three transformers. T1 and T2 were wound and placed in the same way that Farhan did with the TV cores. For T3 I used superglue to stack 4 of the cores 2x2, then wrapped them with a bit of electrical tape. I wound T3 so the input wires were on one side and the output on the other. (On this amp, I had started out using some large binocular cores from the junk box, but I had a tough time getting the amp stable with these cores, possibly because using them resulted in longer lead lengths. So I went back to the smaller FT-37-43 cores).

In the second amp (used in a 17 meter SINGLE Sideband rig) I used FT-50-43 cores for T1 and T2. The bigger gores were a little easier to work with. I glued them vertically to the copper clad board. For T3, I again went with 4 FT-37-43 cores. (I tried using 4 FT-50-43 cores for T-3, but I found that output was low, so I went back to the smaller cores for T3). Note that on the second amp, I put some insulation between the heatsinks and the copper clad board (gorilla tape) -- I was worried about possible short to ground if the anodized layer on the heatsinks got breached.

In building my amps, I used the photo on Farhan's Phonestack page as my guide.

As is always the case with amps that I build, I found that a certain amount of "taming of the beast" had to take place before I got the devices stable. This is certainly the result of the kind of homebrew devices into which they are being inserted! Following advice from Doug DeMaw, I made liberal use of ferrite beads. I put one on the lead carrying 12 volts to the amp board. I put another on the lead from the 12 volt line to the final's RF choke. And I put one on the line carrying the .6 volt bias to the secondary center tap of T2.

I put a bit of shielding (copper-clad board) between the low pass filter and T3.

These steps allowed these amps to work nicely with my contraptions.

As long as we are talking about JBOTS, I have a question for the group:

On my second amp, I noticed that the output was a bit lower than it should have been -- only about 1.5 watts. I did a lot of troubleshooting, then I finally checked the bias currents in the first two stages. I found that BOTH were running at about 50 ma.

I looked at Farhan's JBOT notes and found that the second stage is supposed to be running at 100 ma. I found that the base bias voltage on the second stage was 1.13 volts, while the first stage had 1.9 volts on the base. That didn't seem right.

I then turned to the bias.exe program that comes with EMRFD. I plugged in the values from the JBOT schematic and, sure enough, the predicted collector bias current was 50 ma, not the 100ma the design was looking for.

Using that program, I made some changes to the base resistor in the second stage. I found that with 150 ohms instead of 100 ohms, the collector bias current goes up to the desired 100 ohms. This also seemed to bring power output up to the desired range of 3-4 watts (output should be a bit lower at 18 MHz, right?)

More info (and pictures) on my JBOT adventures can be found here:
http://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/search/label/JBOT

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR JBOTS!

73 Bill N2CQR
http://soldersmoke.blogspot.com

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

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Australia's Largest Hamfest

Hi Bill,

Just wanted to pass some pics of the Central Coast ARC Hamfest in New South Wales at Wyong approx 100km north of Sydney and about 80-90km south of my QTH. As you can see there was a reasonable amount of people there and some boot sales as well.


The first thing that I found in the boot sale area was a copy of SSDRA (1977 vintage) almost as old as I am. I found it in one of those boxes under a table with other books on top. I immediately gave the book to the guy selling it and asked how much, and to my surprise he said $5 Aust. I couldn't get my money out quick enough and put it my bag that I had for collecting all those small parts. See attached pic of said book. I saw a brand new copy of EMRFD at the WIA stand for $85.
On my way around the boot sales I also saw this Hallicrafters radio and I thought of you and took a photo of it the only thing was I have no idea what model it is?

I also picked up a couple of small variable caps with the nice ceramic fronts on them and only $1 each. I also picked up some hard drawn stranded copper wire 2.5mm dia & 200m long for only $170 which isn't too bad a price here in Oz.

The biggest part of the day was catching up with all the guys I know from the area where I am now and others I haven't seen since I went last time in 2008, so it was a great outing and will have to start reading another book and start looking at maybe making a HB 30m APRS Txer for when I go I my next trip.
73,
Adam
VK2YK & VK6GA
--------------------------------

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CircuitLab Online Simulator



I gave the new CircuitLabs online circuit simulator a test drive this morning. It worked very well, even on my clunky old computer. I think this online system will open up circuit simulation for people who haven't used a simulator before. And it looks like a great tool for collaboration. Give it a spin!

https://www.circuitlab.com/

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

Friday, March 2, 2012

Finnish Knack

Congratulations Ari! Thanks for the nice e-mail.

Hi,

I just wanted to thank you for your inspirational and enjoyable
book "SolderSmoke -- Global adventures in Wireless Electronics".
I bought it from Amazon.com as an electronic eBook a few months
ago and started reading. After a few pages a lot of flashbacks
from my own youth came into my mind.

In the early 1980's when I was a teenager I got some local
electronics and ham-radio books into my hands through relatives
and the local library. They were very interesting and I got
my mind and time set into DX-listening, building electronic devices
etc., but the HAM-radio licence just seemed to be so difficult
to achieve that I sort of displaced the idea from my mind
for a long time.

After that I did my conscriptional military service in the
Finnish navy, passed a 5-month radio communications course
(including the part that I feared the most in the HAM-radio
exam too - the CW) and served as a radio and battle control
radar operator on-board local corvette Turunmaa in the
late 80's.

After that university studies, foreign job assignments and
establishing my own family extinguished a lot of these former
hobbies for quite some time but now for the past few years as
things have sort of stabilized, I started to think and do
something about them again. Inspired at least partly by your
book decided to try it out and started studying the material
for our local radio amateur license exams. The exams were held
a couple of weeks ago and my license arrived today in the mail.

73 de Ari OH2ECG

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