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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forrest Mims on amateur science

Here's another dose of inspiration from one of our "Homebrew Heroes." Forrest Mims has been one of my heroes for a long time. A colleague yesterday gave me a copy of a recent article in Make about his ozone measuring device (build at home with Radio Shack parts!). With this device he was able to outshine NASA in the data accuracy department. Check out the article:

Here's another interesting article by Forrest on amateurs in science: Forrest Mim's article in Science

Cyber Monday extended through Tuesday!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cyber Monday Sale for SolderSmoke!

Knock 25% off your Lulu purchases. Tomorrow only.

Don't just buy "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"
but check out these other fine Knack-related publications:

("Lid, Kid, Space Cadet" "Sky Buddies" by Jeff K1NSS

http://stores.lulu.com/ian_g3roo (Ian, G3ROO's amazing antenna book)

("Carl and Jerry" books -- scroll down a bit)

http://stores.lulu.com/soldersmoke (SolderSmoke and Bill's other book)

AJ4VD Solves the Barcode Mystery

The QRSS world was recently mystified by the sudden appearance of this monster on the European grabber screens. People quickly realized that it was a "QR barcode" -- kind of a souped-up version of the standard barcodes, this version holding more information. But what was the message? Scott Harden, AJ4VD, got on the case, and solved the mystery. Read about it here:
Scott is a very interesting fellow, and surely one of the younger "Knights of the QRSS." Check out his bio page: http://www.swharden.com/blog/?page_id=344
Bravo Scott!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

More from Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk N.C., Thanksgiving 2010. Wright Brother's test site. The big rock marks the take-off point. You can see a reproduction of the monorail they used in lieu of landing gear. the white markers behind me show the distances covered on those first four flights. Off in the distance you can see the final, longest flight of that day: 852 feet. 59 seconds aloft.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving at Kitty Hawk

We spent a very pleasant Thanksgiving day with family out on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, in Kitty Hawk. Of course, we visited the site 0f the Wright Brother's famous first flight. I'll have more about this in the next SolderSmoke podcast. For now, let me share with you this interesting quote about the importance of play and toys (from Wikipedia):

"In 1878 their father, who travelled often as a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, brought home a toy "helicopter" for his two younger sons. The device was based on an invention of French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Pénaud. Made of paper, bamboo and cork with a rubber band to twirl its rotor, it was about a foot long. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke, and then built their own. In later years, they pointed to their experience with the toy as the initial spark of their interest in flying."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SolderSmoke in Botswana!

Frosty, K5LBU, sent us this report from Botswana:

I just completed reading your book tonight. I had taken it with me on the Dxpedition to Botswana and while there Jay W5SL read it and enjoyed it very much. But what was so great in his reading it was to see a good friend of mine mentioned in your book. He was there with us and having a great time working the pileups. This person was none other than Gianfranco I0ZY. I have visited with him at his office and operated his great station in his home there in Rome. What a small world it is. I will be back in Rome to pick up a new Amplifier from Gianfranco. 73' Charles Frost Frosty K5LBU

We had a blog post about Gianfranco and his amplifiers last year. Check it out here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jupiter's Moons Utility

"Sky and Telescope" has a nice collection of on-line astronomy utilities. One of my favorites displays the positions of Jupiter's Galilean moons. It also gives you some nice heads up on the transit and eclipses of the moons. Its fun to play with the "+10 minute" button and see how they move around. The view you see above is fairly close to what I see through my telescope (but Jupiter's stripes are not quite so pronounced). You can get the utility for free -- you just have to fill out a registration form.

Friday, November 19, 2010

N8ZRY's Homebrew SSB Rig

A while back we had post about amateur RADAR. The wizard behind that project was Greg, N8ZRY. (I liked his quote: "Old radars do not die... they simply phase array.") Greg's latest project is the 20 meter SSB rig pictured above. It was recently featured on the Make blog.
Check it out here. Be sure to look at the YouTube video. Nice job Greg!

The Secrets of Success of the Pensacola Snapper

Bill, W4HBK, sent a nice note in response to my blog post describing his MEPT QRSS grabber receive station. You can see the peninsula he describes above.
Bill writes:
Wow, what a pleasant surprise. I do remember pulling you out of the noise while you were in
Italy and enjoying your reports from there. If there is a secret to my grabber it is a combination of environment and antenna. My neighborhood has underground utilities and is well away from town on a peninsula which juts out into Pensacola Bay. My main antenna is an inverted V 60' up in a tall pine tree for good low angle response and rejection of vertically polarized noise. About the only noise I hear is sferics. Thanks for the article. 73 bill w4hbk

Big Lulu Sale this Weekend: Save 20%

When you go to Lulu, don't just buy "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" but check out these other fine Knack-related publications:

http://stores.lulu.com/6sj7comics ("Lid, Kid, Space Cadet" "Sky Buddies" by Jeff K1NSS
http://stores.lulu.com/ian_g3roo (Ian, G3ROO's amazing antenna book)
http://www.lulu.com/copperwood ("Carl and Jerry" books -- scroll down a bit)
http://stores.lulu.com/soldersmoke (SolderSmoke and Bill's other book -- the other one is available in .pdf)

Put them all together in one package to save shipping. Help your wife with the Christmas shopping! Use the coupon code DONE and save 20%

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Listen up for METEORS!

The folks at spaceweather.com have come up with something really cool. We are now in the final phases of the annual Leonids meteor shower. I can't see many meteors through my light-polluted skies (plus its COLD out there), but Spaceweather Radio has come to the rescue. They currently have on-line the audio feed from a receive station tuned to the freq of the The Air Force Space Surveillance Radar. It transmits 24/7 on 216.98 MHz. It is reported to be on of the most powerful transmitters in the world. You can hear the "pings" caused by the reflections of meteors. I've heard several as I typed this post! Be sure to visit the "how we do this page." I appears that there is ham running the receive station.

Occasionally I hear a longer tone. Could that be the reflection of a Low Earth Orbit satellite going over the site?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Balloons! Space Stations! Aurora!

My in-box seemed to have an outer space theme today. First, from Guanajuato, Mexico comes word that the radio club there is planning a second edge-of-space balloon launch. SARSEM ICARUS II is scheduled to go up on 20 November carrying a VHF/UHF repeater. SARSEM ICARUS I was obviously a big success. Check out the picture it took from 29000 meters up (above). Thanks Roberto!

A couple days ago we noted that the International Space Station would be visible over N. America this week. So far we have only one report of a sighting: Jim, AL7RV saw it from Mississippi. This morning Yahoo carried some pictures taken from the crew's cupola. This one shows some territory dear to our hearts!

Finally, spaceweather.com carried this beautiful aurora shot from Tromso, Norway. It was taken by Ole Christian Salomonsen on November 14. Spaceweather notes that "a solar wind stream has been buffeting the earth's magnetic field." This probably explains why Maria and I could hear very few stations on 75 meters last evening. And 75 seemed totally dead yesterday morning.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MAKE'S "Do More With Less" Contest

This from the MAKE blog this morning:

To promote the release of the Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is partnering with various websites, including MAKE, to give away a Windows Phone 7 to each site's readership. To be eligible, all you have to do is post a comment on the theme of "Do more with less" ...

Wow! This contest seems to be MADE for the G-QRP gang! (What is it? "It is vain to use more..." Something like that!) I think G3RJV could win this one!

This is all related to a quote from Buckminster Fuller, hence the image of the very cool stamp.

Details on the contest:

Ham Stuff at Lulu (with 10% off)

Here's an idea for making maximum use of your heard earned dollars or euros or whatever: When you go to Lulu, don't just buy "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"
but check out these other fine Knack-related publications:

http://stores.lulu.com/6sj7comics ("Lid, Kid, Space Cadet" "Sky Buddies" by Jeff K1NSS

http://stores.lulu.com/ian_g3roo (Ian, G3ROO's amazing antenna book)

http://www.lulu.com/copperwood ("Carl and Jerry" books -- scroll down a bit)

http://stores.lulu.com/soldersmoke (SolderSmoke and Bill's other book)

Put them all together in one package to save shipping. Help your wife with the Christmas shopping!

Then use the checkout password TURKEY to save 10% (through November only)

Monday, November 15, 2010

See the International Space Station THIS WEEK!

Spaceweather.com showed this beautiful picture of an International Space Station fly-over. It was taken by David Blanchard near Flagstaff, Arizona on Saturday.

The space station will be visible from much of North America in the evening this week. Spaceweather.com has a very handy calculator that will let you know when and where to look. Just plug in your zip code:


(There is a global version of the calculator for users outside the U.S.)

Let's see how many SolderSmoke readers get to see the ISS this week. Please let me know if you see it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

W4HBK's QRSS Grabber: The Amazing Pensacola Snapper

When we were in Italy, ON5EX provided my "go to" grabber. Because we were just one ionospheric hop away, and because Johan had a really excellent receive system, it seemed like my little signals were visible on his screen from dawn to dusk every day.

Now that we are back in the States, W4HBK's grabber is playing a similar role for me. His grabber consistently seems to pull in more sigs than most of the other North American grabbers. The above image is a sample of what you will see when you visit his grabber web page. (I'm also a big fan of the W1BW and VE1VDM grabbers -- thanks guys!)

My signal is the "shark-fin" pattern just a little below the middle of the screen. That's 20 mw to a 50 foot piece of AC line cord about 12 feet off the ground. And it is making the trip from Northern Virginia to Pensacola Florida very consistently. Thanks Bill!

Try taking a look at the Pensacola Snapper and see if you can spot my QRSS signal. My frequency varies from day-to-day (sometimes intentionally!). And lately Bill has occasionally been parking his receiver on 40 meters :-( But most days you will be able to see his 30 meter screen, with my shark fins menacing Pensacola. Please let me know if you see me.

Here is OM HBK and his bio:
Born: 1939, Pensacola, Florida

I was first licensed in 1954 as WN4HBK and upgraded to General in 1955 acquiring the call sign I've used to this day. My dad is responsible for my favorite suffix moniker. the Hot Biscuit Kid. I could really put away my mom's scratch biscuits!

My first station I built myself and consisted of super regenerative RX and a 6L6 TX.from designs in the ARRL Handbook. My dad was a radio mechanic for the Navy and taught me how to read schematics and solder. Later stations consisted of Hallicrafters S-38C, National NC-98, HRO-5 recievers and several Heathkit and Globe Scout transmitters. Boy, those were the days!!

After high school I entered college intending to become an antenna engineer but eventually gravitated towards a degree in Physics. This was pretty cool because it led to a career with NASA where I worked on the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle projectsall thanks to my early interest in radio.

Today I'm fully retired and living in Gulf Breeze, FL. just across Pensacola Bay from my hometown. My XYL (Anna) and I enjoy the local beaches in a variety of wayssurf fishing, beachcombing, hiking, painting (her) and photography (me). We are also enjoy gardening and winemaking.

My Amateur Radio interests are CW, DX, contests, antennas and digital modes.

Presently I am experimenting with QRSS and have a 250 milliwatt MEPT station on 10.140 MHzsend me an email if you copy my signal. I now have a grabber to present a spectral display of QRSS activity for other Hams worldwide to watch for their signals http://www.qsl.net/w4hbk/w4hbkgrabber.html

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Hacker-Knacker-Maker Revolution gathers steam...

I got a bit of mail from Great Britain about the use of the word "knackers" in yesterday's post. I vaguely remembered that this word has anatomical connotations in the UK. But it just worked so well. I needed something that would rhyme with Marx's "Workers." And "Knackers" is kind of close to "Hackers." And we all have "The Knack." So, I made use of some artistic license. Apologies to our British cousins. I'm already on linguistic thin ice with them because of my use of the American pronunciation of solder. (The Brits pronounce the L -- to their ears, the American pronunciation conjures up an activity far removed from soldering.)

Anyway, the Hack-Knack-Make revolution continues. This morning I learned that the New York and Philadelphia Hacker-spaces will be featured on NPR's Weekend Edition this Sunday. (I'm jealous -- I want SolderSmoke to somehow get onto NPR. One listener suggested a letter-writing campaign...)

The poster shown above is for a documentary that is being done on all of this. Check it out:

Friday, November 12, 2010

KNACKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! You have nothing to lose but your warranties!

The folks over at ifixit.com have come up with a Self-Repair Manifesto that readers of this blog will find inspirational. I like the line about "Repair injects soul and makes things unique!" Indeed. As of yesterday they were giving away free posters (real posters, not e-posters) in exchange for a Tweet (I got mine, and intend to put it up here in the SolderSmoke Shack.)

I find that a successful repair is almost as gratifying as a scratch-built homebrew project, especially if the problem was difficult to diagnose.

So, ifixit comrades: The SolderSmoke collective is with you! Up the Revolution!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Armstrong Memorial Transmissions

Here is the site for the Howard Armstrong 75th Anniversary of FM Transmissions:


Be sure to follow the links on that page to the Phasitron Transmitter page. Very nice workmanship.

Today only! 20% off Veterans Day sale on "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Lulu is at it again. Just use the coupon code VETSDAY and get 20.10% off on your purchase of
"SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"She built her own oscilloscope at age 14." Homebrew Hero: Tatjana Van Vark

AJ8T sent me the link to the web site of this, our latest Homebrew Hero. I don't think she is a ham, but Tatjana definitely has The Knack. Check out that workmanship. The range of the projects is also quite astounding. It is so impressive that I really found myself questioning whether this could be for real. But it is.

When you look at the Enigma-like coding machine, note the cryptological challenge at the bottom. Tatjana won't release the tech details of this project until someone cracks the encrypted Haiku! Go for it!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

SolderSmoke Podcast #127

SolderSmoke #127 has been released! Get it here:


Topics covered:
Linux Ubuntu and Audio Quality.
Karmic Koala makes you EVEN YOUNGER
Reverse Culture shock, Woodpeckers, and the Washington METRO system
The smell of an old HT-37
75 meter AM
DaVinci Code QRSS rig on the air
Cul-de-sac astronomy with TWO telescopes
READING: SPRATS, Hot Iron, Sky Buddies, Wired
Jeri Ellsworth's homebrew transistors
Tatjana Van Vark's homebrew Enigma-like machine
Antenna work and hamfests on the horizon

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Homebrew Transistors!

None of those store-bought parts for Jeri Ellsworth! Once again she makes us all look like a bunch of pathetic appliance operators. I like the "harvesting of Germanium" from a 1N34. And I found very interesting her comment about "early hobbyists" cracking open 1N34's and turning them into transistors by adding phosphor-bronze collectors.

This all makes me want to fire up my Fool's Gold crystal radio. WFAX is right down the road...

BTW: I'm very pleased to report that Jeri is currently reading "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics." I hope she likes it. She definitely has "The Knack."

SolderSmoke Podcast 127 is almost ready.
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column