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Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Time Crystals, and Breadboarding in Cyprus in the 4th Dimension


We are always impressed by the way in which SolderSmoke listeners stay on the cutting edge (sometimes OVER the edge!) of modern technology.  I recently got this fascinating note from our friend Jack AI4SV, who is now operating under the hot sun of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.  

Hi Bill,

It is brutally hot here in Cyprus during the summer, so we're spending a week at a rental on the beach -- no complaints in that regard. With all construction material back at the main house, I am free to daydream with no threat of actually building anything that I think of. The result: a new technique -- fourth dimensional design.

This probably popped into my head because I went to sleep right after reading an article about "time crystals" (https://www.quantamagazine.org/first-time-crystal-built-using-googles-quantum-computer-20210730/#:~:text=A%20time%20crystal%20is%20both,of%20what%20a%20phase%20is.), which are similar to physical crystals, but their pattern have symmetry in the time axis. I have to imagine that these things have some application in radio since oscillation is intrinsic to their state of existence. I don't want to think too much about them because it makes my head hurt.

Now, consider breadboarding. There isn't much to say about one dimensional circuits since current has to flow in a circle, but I suppose Franklin's kite was kind of one-dimensional: cloud, Franklin, earth. At least it had a key, so kind of relevant to radio, at least if you are a CW operator.

Two-dimensional circuit design would be a breadboard, particularly with surface mount components. Arguably three-dimensional if it's mulitlayer. Manhattan Island or Deadbug is more in the realm of three-dimensional, with components sticking up from the board, and true three-dimensional is probably best reflected in tube rigs with spider webs of wiring. I don't know who can think in terms of three dimensional layout like that, but it's certainly an art (kind of a blend of Escher, Dali and Bosch).

Now comes fourth dimensional design - not just a theoretical abstraction, but a realizable method that would result in lower part count and simplify the operator interface to a single knob. The basic idea is that you have a design laid out in three dimensional space and that design is made time-variant in space. The simplest implementation would be a breadboard mounted in a track so it slides back and forth, like a desk drawer. Pulling it towards you puts it in transmit, pushing it away in receive. The secret sauce is that the rails have contacts and that the layout is designed such that the traces or pads on the board line up with contacts on the rails such that no relays are needed on the board. Some thought would need to be put in to assure that contacts are made in an appropriate order to avoid frying components.  

That's already fourth dimensional because the same board exists in two states and it can be one or the other, but not both at the same time. Superimposing transmit on receive would be bad, maybe world-ending.

There is no reason to stop there. This whole slide drawer sort of layout could be mounted on a rotational axis with contacts distributed around a tube surrounding the railings. Now you have band switching. Pull the knob to receive, twist it to go to 20 meters, push back in to transmit. That's only roll and translation in one axis -- four more to go, the practical implementation of which I will leave to the reader. Perhaps put mode (CW, SSB, etc.) on yaw, tuning on pitch (which seems natural), volume on y-translation, and RF gain on x-translation, and you would have a formidable 4D transmitter.

Clearly, this is too big to keep to myself, so I am sending it onward to you to share with the world for the benefit of mankind.

Hope all is well in the shack somewhere in the wilds of Northern Virginia. 



My follow-up exchange with Jack: 

Jack:  When I read the title I thought you were going to comment on my BOLD decision to place a wooden front panel on my heretofore Al Fresco Mythbuster rig.  But I see now you have taken this to an entirely different astral plane!  Far out OM!  Really groovy.  The crystal thing really brings it into New Age relevance.  Whole Foods may want to get involved! 

I've long thought that the three dimensional nature of tube rigs is one of their most attractive features. You, my friend, are taking this one step further, into Einsteinian space time!  One problem I foresee:  How will hams "synch up" if they are moving through space time at different relativistic speeds?  This could be a real problem for the FT-8 folks and the WSPRers.  

Can I put your hyper-insightful message on the SS blog?   People need to know about this! 

73  Bill  
Hi Bill,

That was a BOLD design choice, but I like the aesthetic.

I'll let Joe Taylor grapple with the cosmic issues related to synching signals. The bigger issue may be regulatory in nature. I am not sure how Part 97 will deal with signals received before they are sent.

Yes, please feel free to share on the blog -- the world needs to know.



Jack:  Another possibility:  Perhaps too much Cypriot sun?  Stay safe OM! SITS!   73  Bill 


  1. If you extend the four dimensional circuit into the quantum realm ala Schrodinger, you could be in transmit and receive at the same time. Should really help the QSO rate.


    1. Jack notes: "Superimposing transmit on receive would be bad, maybe world-ending." But I think most contesters would be willing to risk it, if it would help them "win" the 'test. 73 Bill

  2. HA! Repeaters do it all the time! Transmit and receive at the same time...


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