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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Clockwork CW: The Path to Minimalist QRSS?

Well, maybe not using that one. But something like it. The idea -- mentioned recently on the podcast -- is to use a mechanical clock mechanism to generate the CW for a QRSS beacon. This would allow us to get the transistor count for our beacon down to one. For some odd reason, some of us find this appealing, especially when you consider that the transistor count on the receive side is in the tens or hundreds of millions. One is the magic number. You can see how this project brings together two of the biggest littlest recent trends in the QRP radio: QRSS and minimalist radio.
It's kind of scary when you Google something and are referred back to your own blog. That's what happened to me on this subject. Back on May 28, 2008, this was posted (by me!) as a comment to one of the beacon-related posts:

Hello Bill and Others:

A few years ago, a buddy had made a neat keying operation made by taking a
one RPM clock motor and had it rotate a printed circuit board disk that had
the callsign etched on it several times sequentially. Clock motors are
made to run continuously for years, and it stood up with just an
occaisional cleaning of the wiper arm with spray cleaner.
All the best to all!
73 de Lee Smith VE4ANC

This message from Lee was a response to a January 1999 question from me. So we are sort of re-inventing the wheel here.

Of course, there are some QRSS beacon circuits out there with VERY low transistor counts. Hans Summers has one on his site that used a bi-stable multivibrator to generate a pattern for QRSS. That would yield a total transistor count of 2 or 3. But we are going for one single transistor. And I kind think we should look for something that will allow for the transmission of callsigns.

Here's an e-mail exchange from the Knights of QRSS mailing list that may generate some ideas:

Re: [Knightsqrss] Junkbox + soldersmoke = pattern generator

Saturday, March 7, 2009 10:43 AM

Very nice idea Bill. After tiny solar mepts this could been our next QRPP/ET challenge .
73 de Paolo IZ1KXQ
--------- Initial Header -----------

From : knightsqrss-bounces@cnts.be
To : knightsqrss@cnts.be,"Soeren Straarup" xride@x12.dk
Date : Fri, 6 Mar 2009 21:48:55 -0800 (PST)
Subject : Re: [Knightsqrss] Junkbox + soldersmoke = pattern generator
It would be fun if the clock were a "wind up" type. And for extra credit: Power the transmitter with the energy from the same spring mechanism (or other wind-up device) that powers the clock!
--- On Fri, 3/6/09, Soeren Straarup <xride@x12.dk> wrote:

From: Soeren Straarup <xride@x12.dk>
Subject: [Knightsqrss] Junkbox + soldersmoke = pattern generator
To: knightsqrss@cnts.be
Date: Friday, March 6, 2009, 3:30 PM
Hi list,
Hans Summers has made an astable multivibrator as pattern
Bill Meara has thought about making a analog clock.
Alan Yates loves my idea of an exercise bike pattern
Though i'm open for suggestions. No pics, pc or
any other programmable

Rules of design:
2) Should be in most junk boxes
3) Pattern should be easily changed (diversity, more
This is for a simple Pixie2 TX modified to be a QRSs TX.
Stability? SSShhh.
Vy 73 de OZ2DAK
Soeren Straarup | aka OZ2DAK aka Xride

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