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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Yates. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Yates. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Knack Victim Makes Good! Alan Yates in Seattle

Jean Shepherd used to say that in life, many of us come to a fork in the road:  down one path lies success.  Down the other, ham radio flea markets.  Alan Yates is proving Shep to be WRONG. 

I have fond memories of Billy and I building many versions of Alan's trivial electric motor.   We look forward to his virtual reality.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Alan Yates Making X-Rays from Rectifier Tubes

Anytime you find yourself writing a sentence like this...
"At only 20-30 kV and a few hundred uA in cold-cathode mode the x-ray radiation pours out, making the end-window Geiger counter scream from more than a meter away."
... perhaps some alarm bells should be going off.

Our friend Alan, VK2ZAY, has been busy in the lab, generating X-Rays from old 2X2 rectifier tubes. This reminds me of one of the articles in the wonderful C.L. Strong book, "The Amateur Scientist." Check it out: http://www.vk2zay.net/article/222

Hey Alan, can you make us up some of those X-Ray glasses that they always advertised in the backs of magazines? As a teenager, I somehow always wanted one of those...

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Watch Mr. Wizard! 1952 Program on Electromagnetism. And more! (video)

Wow.  This is a very thought provoking program.  It is kind of like "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood," but with science. The lessons provided by Mr. Wizard are really good, but one shudders to think about doing the these experiments with kids (or even with adults!) in today's world.  Here are a few of things that would cause trouble today:  

-- Liquid mercury.  
-- A big power supply. ("Here Willy, you hold the positive terminal.") 
-- Even the sprinkling of iron filings would probably require masks at a minimum.  
-- In the end, letting poor Willy drop to the floor when Betsy turns off the electromagnet that was holding his swing in the air.  
-- And of course, poor old Mr. Wizard's affinity for the kids would stir suspicions. 

We also see a sad and very early example of the influence of advertisers and what they call today "product placement."  Note the fairly obvious plug (via Morse Code!) for breakfast cereal.  In the credits you will see that the program was sponsored by "The Cereal Institute."  What next kids?  Cigarettes? 

But there is a lot of virtue in this program:  The development of the telegraph key, Morse Code,  CW sidetone.  Unlike many of the Box Top Extras of today, young Betsy was not afraid to wind a coil.   

We should all embrace the spirit of Mr. Wizard.  We are, after all, the International Brotherhood of Electronic WIZARDS!  These experiments reminded me a lot of the Trivial Electric Motor that my son Billy and I made when he was around Willy's age (thanks for the idea Alan Yates).  

Thanks to Chuck KF8TI for alerting us to this show.  Chuck says this program was an early influence on him, and was one of the things that provided a connection between the theory he was learning in college and the real world of electronic devices. 

Many more great programs like this can be found on Mr. Wizard's YouTube Channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/user/MrWizardStudios   Please let us know if you find other videos (on this channel or elsewhere)  that will be of special interest to the IBEW. 

Finally, color TV in 1952?  That seems a bit early for color.  What do you folks think was happening here? 

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ET Phone Home! With Minimalist QRSS!

I knew that Alan Yates, VK2ZAY, was just the man for this project. Alan and I met up several years ago when Billy and I spotted and built his Trivial Electric Motor (we still have it, and occasionally fire it up to amaze visitors). On SolderSmoke 102 I mentioned the possibility of a one transistor QRSS transmit station. Obviously this would require some sort of mechanical keyer. I thought of a clock drive. Alan pointed out the in the 1982 Steven Spielberg movie, ET had used a saw blade as his mechanical modulator (see above). Alan also had some intriguing ideas of his own:

G'day Bill,
Thanks again for noticing my QRSS signal making it through to Europe.

Your talk about mechanical solutions for QRSS modulators immediately

made me recall "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial". The "Phone Home" device he
built had a modulator based on a sawblade IIRC - its been years since I
watched that 1982 classic.

One easy hack might be to use an AC synchronous motor out of a gobo
rotator (for example, I got one out of a fibre optic christmas tree that
expired from overheating). Its reduction drive results in a fairly slow
rotation which might drive a modulator plate. You could do the pickup
optically using a LED/photodiode (or transistor, or even an LDR I guess)
transmission pair. Electrical contacts would work too, but doing it
optically probably means it would have a longer life.

A tape loop system might also be practical and would allow long
modulations to be encoded at reasonable tape rates. A syncro-drive gobo
has to be turned fairly slowly and pushes the "density" of the data
fairly high so the mechanical or optical sensor gets harder to just
throw together. I am sure a clockwork driven disk could be made to
work, it just might have to be fairly large.

Mechanical readout might be a microswitch and holes in the plate, or
even using PCB material with the pattern on it (etched or masked), and a
brush contact. To minimise wear a brass small roller held against disk
with spring tension would work. Oxidation on aging might become a
problem - yeah the more I think about it I am liking optical better.

You can also do it electrically using a diode matrix which can be read
out with some counters. Of course that defeats the original purpose
which was to make a single transistor QRSS beacon with a mechanical

One completely insane idea that just occurred to me is to build a slow
mechanical oscillator (say driven by a Stirling Engine or a Curie Point
Pendulum heated by a small candle) and modulate the RF oscillator with
that. The mechanics or thermal system might directly effect the RF
oscillator frequency. Who will make the first candle-powered QRSS
beacon with thermopile PSU? :-)


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Alan Yates: Electronics Wizard!

I first met up with Alan in 2002 when I spotted his web site describing a "Trivial Electric Motor."
My son Billy and I built one and sent Alan a report.

Alan clearly has "The Knack." Check out his site: http://www.vk2zay.net/category.php/13

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Alan Yates, VK2ZAY, is back in the knack!

I was getting kind of worried.  I hadn't seen any new articles on Alan's excellent web site.  But on my last visit I learned that he has moved to Seattle and is going to Maker Faires:  http://www.vk2zay.net/article/268

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

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
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column