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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Billy's Blog

The fellow who helps me introduce SolderSmoke mailbag ("That's awesome!") has launched a blog. Billy would really get a kick out of getting some visits and comments. Thanks!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Very interesting video on the LED

I've made some disparaging comments recently about the MAKE blog. I noted that they seemed to be drifting away from soldering irons and toward knitting needles. But they have redeemed themselves with this excellent video on LEDs. It even features HOMEBREW LEDs!!! Thanks MAKERs!

MAKE presents: The LED from make magazine on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Update: My Kickpanel Amplifier

Here's an updated schematic for the amplifier chain I've been working on.

Here's the latest version of the Spice file: Bill's Kickpanel Amps

I'd appreciate feedback and comments on this project. Do I need more de-coupling on the first three stages? Am I running too much current through Q3? Should I alter the load on Q3?

SolderSmoke 95

SolderSmoke #95

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November 23, 2008

Amp design adventures with Spice, EMRFD
WANTED: NE602 Spice model
Pictures (from pirates?) in 80 meter waterfall
Problems space with tools and solar panels
QRSS news: W1BW 50 mw heard in VK6 and VK7
WSPR QRO controversy
IK0IXI's video on HB 8 band SSB rig
Ordering parts -- the aroma factor
1 uF caps OK for HF bypass?
Reading Recommendation: December 2008 Discover Magazine
Thanks for help on CD for Mike's wife
Paul WA1MAC: Chapstick PTO, alternate use for political lawn signs
Aisea 3D2AA: Listening from Fiji. Just retired, has Softrock kit
Bob NT7S: Has setup SolderSmoke Facebook
Steve G0FUW: Bath Build-a-thon January 17, 2009
Roberto XE1GXG: Getting married, took detour to radio row
Ben N1VF: An old friend from Vienna Wireless Society
Steve "Snort Rosin" Smith: Wants real gong, "Once upon a clip lead..."
John VK3AJG's FB SSB rig
Steve KG6NRM TAK-40 Pic project

Monday, November 17, 2008

VK3AJG's Homebrew SSB Rig

Here is John Price VK3AJG's very FB homebrew 80 meter SSB transceiver when it was in the "boards on the table" phase of construction. As many of you know, it is very rewarding to make your first contacts with a new rig when it is in this condition.

You can read more about John's rig here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Cry for Help -- SolderSmoke Responds

Here at SolderSmoke, we often get letters from the relatives of Knack victims. This week we received a particularly impassioned plea for help. I thought readers would be interested in this case, and in the advice we gave:
I usually don't listen to Soldersmoke, but my husband is a ham, so I overhear it from the other room on a fairly regular basis. OK, he listens to each show over and over at least 4 times. I hear him in there laughing--in his workbench area. I think the show's a good thing for the most part, and seems to keep him occupied when I don't need him to lift something heavy.
But today I am writing to you about a matter that has grown serious. A matter that can be overlooked no longer. So many of these radio hams seem to look up to you, Bill--so I am going directly to the ringleader to see if anything can be done. I have changed some names to protect the hapless victims.
I am referring to the blight called Shack Creep. It comes on quietly, but Shack Creep can be upon you before you have a chance to escape.
I'm getting ahead of myself.
In our home, it all started about 5 years ago. Charlie, my husband, had been tinkering with an old radio he found at a garage sale and he'd set aside a corner of the dining room for his small toolbox, soldering equipment, and a small box of things with wires sticking out. I noticed a piece of string or wire or something clotheslined across the room, attached to my macrame plant hanger. ''That's just temporary. I need to see if this thing works.'' Within a few weeks, though, I started to notice the card table expanding into a full-fledged workbench. The single wire that had dangled from the plant hanger had become a bundle of fat cords and wires going out the window and under the edge of the carpet to places unknown. From nowhere sprouted bins and boxes marked, 'Tubes-might work,' 'PCB scraps-keep,' 'Misc-to be sorted' and even more boxes haphazardly stacked with wires and braided cables jutting out every which way.
My dismay was only assuaged by the joyous but manic gleam in his eye as he uttered cryptic phrases like, "that's nearly four thousand miles a watt!," and "a ceramic resonator should never behave this way!"
I started finding oddly-shaped electronic parts in his pants pockets, on top of the dresser, and Arnie, our Irish Setter was recently caught with a doorknob capacitor in his slobbery jaws, headed out to play.
Bill, I love my Charlie, and I know this radio thing makes him happy, but you just have to say something to stop this tsunami of tangled wires and electronic bric-a-brac that threatens to unravel our happy home! For crabgrass we have pesticides. For roaches we have the roach motel--but nothing seems to be able to stem the tide of Shack Creep. Help!
Yours truly,


Dear Mrs. Charles:

Thank you for your e-mail. We here at SolderSmoke receive many messages like yours. I am happy to try to help you with your problem, but it is very important that you approach this problem with an open mind, and that you fully accept all of the advice that I am about to offer.

First, you must understand your husband's condition. What you refer to as "Shack Creep" is almost certainly the medical/psychological condition called "The Knack," also known as "Dilbert's Disease." This condition has plagued radio amateurs for many decades, but was first scientifically identified by Dr. Scott Adams during the late 1990s.

Dr. Adams wrote that The Knack is "a rare condition characterized by an extreme intuition about all things mechanical and electrical... and other social ineptitudes."

There is no cure for The Knack, but there are things that you can do to help your husband deal with the symptoms. Here is a list of steps that Dr. Adams and our team of researchers recommend:

-- Accept your husband's condition. Don't try to get him to change his ways, or get him interested in other things. Don't suggest that he switch to stamp collecting or gardening. He can't. He is a victim. He has a disease. Learn to live with it.

-- Victims of this disease usually exhibit a form of nesting behavior. In or near their homes they set up something that they call "the shack." Then they fill this "shack" with bits of wire, electronic items, tools and ham radio magazines. Often -- as in your husband's case -- the shack begins to fill to the rafters, and may actually overflow into other parts of the house.

-- Your reaction to this nesting behavior is very important. First, realize that your husband NEEDS to have a shack. Never suggest that his area be converted into a sewing room, or a TV room, or anything else. Knack victims are extremely territorial regarding their shacks, and will find these kinds of suggestions very upsetting.

-- Realize too that your husband NEEDS to spend a lot of time in his shack. And we mean a LOT of time. Shack therapy is an important part of our program for dealing with this condition. When your husband is in his shack, he should not be interrupted with requests to walk the dog, or take out the garbage or mow the lawn, etc. Our research has found that "honey-dos" significantly reduce the beneficial effects of shack therapy.

-- Knack victims need to consume beverages while in their shacks. Coffee -- lots of coffee -- is what they need.

--Social contact with other Knack victims is also very important, so you should NEVER object to his participation in hamfests or radio club meetings. Think of these events as group therapy sessions.

-- As a Knack victim, your husband NEEDS to work on electronic equipment. This equipment is often big, ugly, and expensive. Most health insurance plans will not cover the purchase of this equipment, but nevertheless, you should see it for what it is: a medically necessary part of your husband's treatment program. This is very important: You should never complain about the amount of money being spent on radio equipment.

-- Shack victims need encouragement from their loved ones. When your husband is struggling with an electronic project, it is best for you to avoid phrases like "Haven't you got that crazy thing working yet?" or "When will that stupid gizmo of yours be finished?" Instead, offer positive feedback: When he shows you something that he has been working on, use phrases like: "Excellent soldering!" or "Great circuit board layout!" Every once in a while, you should declare your husband to be "A true electronics genius," or "A wizard." Knack victims like to hear that.

-- Realize that there is no cure for The Knack. There are only therapies that help victims deal with the symptoms.

I want to also take this opportunity to let you know that we are also thinking of initiatives that we could propose to the new administration on behalf of Knack victims. For example we are considering a push for designated "Knack Victim" parking spots near RadioShack stores, and perhaps airfare subsidies for annual trips to Dayton, Ohio.

I hope you find this information useful and that you will take our suggestions to heart.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Amplifier for 80 Meter Rig

Here's the LTSpice schematic for an amplifier chain that I've been building. (It might be hard to see, but maybe you can download it and look at a larger version.) Four stages, all feedback amps. The first three are class A, the final is Class AB. About 45 db total power gain -- it takes the .0001 watt (peak) from my balanced modulator and amplifies it to about 3.2 watts.

So far it seems very stable. Notice that I don't have any decoupling networks on the first three stages (other than a .1 uF cap to ground on the +13V supply rail. I tried to continue without decoupling on the final, but I got instability, so I added a 10 uH RF choke and a cap to ground as a decoupling network to the final stage. Instability disappeared. Do I need more decoupling on the other three stages?

The last two transistors are disgnated at 2N3053 and 2SC2075. That's what I'm actually using, but I haven't figured out how to get these parts into LTSpice, so I'm actually using 2N2222 models in my simulation.

Here is the actual LTSpice file: Bill's Kickpanel amplifiers

I'll talk about this project on SolderSmoke tomorrow. Comments welcome.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SolderSmoke #94


SolderSmoke #94

November 2, 2008
Halloween in Rome, Autumn rains
Building Class A Amps with Spice, Copper, SSDRA, EMRFD
Wes on oscillator output wave forms
Inspirational article in "Air and Space" Magazine
Book Review: "My Detachment" by Tracy Kidder
Autumn SPRAT
Aliens on 80 meters
MEPT: Can you see me?
Softrock 40 Group tries to digitize N2CQR
Homebrew solar panels
Request for assistance.. .
Alan Yates in cahoots with AA1TJ
Les gets our logo on I-tunes
Paul WA1MAC gets 2 2Bs
Scott KD5NJR on KSC honeymoons
Bruce VE9QRP on new free QUCS simulator
Keith G0CZR on bubble wrap insulation
Bob KD4EBM on green laser dangers
John VK3AJG designs 80 meter SSB rig
Todd KE7KXI on Knack relapse, old electronics smell
Bob N7ZF on SolderSmoke Facebook

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Homebrew Solar Panels

I hate to tell you, but all you guys who are using STORE-BOUGHT solar panels are a bunch of APPLIANCE OPERATORS. Time to roll your own, and REALLY make your own electricity.
Woody, KF4TQJ, sent me this interesting link on how to make your own solar panel:
Before you get carried away by homebrew enthusiasm, scroll down a bit on that page and check out the cost estimates for large scale application of this technology.
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column