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Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Pi and JBOT Gremlins

Maria wanted to go with a mathematical theme for this year's Jack-0-Lantern. Pumpkin Pi!

I have been chasing some gremlins and banshees around my old Azores 17 meter DSB rig. The JBOT Amp worked fine into a dummy load, but of course things got a bit more complicated when I put it into the rig and connected it to an antenna. It would take off (like a banshee!) if the load was at all reactive. I think this is the result of inadequate shielding and inputs a bit too close to outputs. But it all settles down nicely when I put a transmatch in the antenna line and tune out the reactance. I may just leave it this way.

Output is a bit low -- only about 1 Watt. I realize that at 18 MHz output should be dropping a bit, but I think I should be getting more. I THINK I'm giving it the recommended 1 milliwatt input. At some point I think Farhan mentioned the possible need to experiment with the number of turns on the secondary of the output transformer....

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snow Static



Related to our post about my new (old!) all-boatanchors heating system (see below), yesterday I had some really horrendous static. I think it was caused by the snow. A Google search on "snow static" brought me to this video (which Gregg in Finland found "shocking""). I liked the tuner and the neon bulbs too.

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My New Shack Heating System: Heath, Halli, Hammarlund and Drake

Temperatures dropped over the weekend and I had to fire up my new heating system for the SolderSmoke shack. See above. Heating by Heath, Halli, Hammarlund and Drake (sounds like a law firm doesn't it?). I'm happy to report that those old filaments take the chill off quite nicely while adding a nice aroma to the room, along with some very pleasing lighting effects (I especially like the green glow from the DX-100 tuning dial).

The Azores-17 DSB JBOT project is (I think) complete. And I did include a low pass filter. In keeping with the finest of ham radio traditions, now that it is cold I will go out and work on an antenna.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Treasure Trove: The Royal Society's Archive

I'm a big fan (wanna-be really) of The Royal Society. In SolderSmoke 138 I noted that Isaac Newton (former Society president) seems to have had The Knack. And when I was in London one of the major perks of my job was that I occasionally got to visit the Society's headquarters. Bill Bryson recently edited a book about the Royal Society -- in his intro he noted that they have always been a very international group (just like us!)
Several readers wrote in with the happy news that the Society's 350 year archive has been placed on-line. Here it is:
http://royalsocietypublishing.org/site/authors/free-archive.xhtml


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Friday, October 28, 2011

Homebrew Jet Engine from Junkbox Parts!



Bob, W8SX (our man in Dayton) sent me this nice video. I really liked the friendly and enthusiastic way in which the builder described his project. I only wish he would have fired it up! Thanks Bob!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Azorean Oscillator Re-build

With my JBOT amp ready for installation, it was time to go back and check out the rest of the circuitry on my old Azorean DSB/Direct Conversion 17 meter "Magic Carpet" transceiver. I was surprised to find that the oscillator, well, wouldn't oscillate. The MPF102 that I had in the main oscillator circuit was blown. I suspect voltage spikes from the T/R relay. I installed the required diode across the relay coil. (I seem to blow up a lot of MPF102s. Is it just me, or are these devices really fragile? They are junction FETs, not MOSFETS, so I thought of them as being more robust. But I seem to go through a lot of them.)

After messing around with the oscillator and buffer circuits, the nice clean Manhattan isolation pads that had been there at the start were all messed up, with big piles of solder with the ends of multiple axial leads stuck in there. I decided to start afresh. Out came the little PCB box that housed that housed the oscillator, buffer and amp stages. Off came the walls of the box. (When I built this thing the first time, I didn't realize that I would need an amp to get to the 7 dbm needed to drive the diode ring. I ran out of room on the main board and ended up building the needed amplifier on the back wall of the box!)

So I got to build this little circuit again, ten years and three countries after the original build. It was fun. I like building oscillators. There is that satisfying sense of closure and completion when, at the end of the effort, you turn on your receiver and hear the tone from your creation.

There was also a fun little bit of troubleshooting. After rebuilding the oscillator circuit I noticed that applying power to the "on the wall" amplifier caused the oscillator to shut down. At the buffer, I was seeing RF in and RF out, but the whole thing would shut down when I powered up the next stage. Obviously there wasn't a lot of BUFFERING going on! Sure enough, the MPF102 was bad. I replaced it from my dwindling supply, and all was right with the universe.

Now the amp goes in. But first I will build the low pass filter. I promise.

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Steve Jobs (age 12) calls Bill Hewlett (of HP)

"When he was in eighth grade, Steve Jobs decided to build a frequency counter for a school project and needed parts. Someone suggested that he call Bill Hewlett. Finding a William Hewlett in the telephone book, the 12-year-old Jobs called and asked, "Is this the Bill Hewlett of Hewlett-Packard?" "Yes," said Bill. Jobs made his request. Bill spent some time talking to him about his project. Several days later, Jobs went to HP and picked up a bag full of parts that Bill had put together for him."

More HP stories: http://www.hp.com/retiree/history/founders/hewlett/quotes.html

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Sale on SolderSmoke -- The Book

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Better Link to 1932 Yardley Beers Article

(From the November 2004 issue of QST)

I hear that picture I posted of the 1932 newspaper article was pretty much illegible. Sorry about that. Try this one from the Delaware Valley Radio Association. Scroll down a bit until you see OM Yardley in his front bedroom shack (the one with a window on the world!). On my Firefox browser I was able to click on it and get an easily read-able view.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/2790/1877/1600/Yardley%20Beer%20DVRA1.jpg

Thanks DVRA!

BTW: Did you catch the name of the fellow who taught young Yardley the Morse Code? Atherton Noyes. Such good strong names!


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Sunday, October 23, 2011

More on Yardley Beers

Just click on the article and use the zoom feature of your browser to visit the teenage shack of Yardley Beers.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homebrew Hero: Yardley Beers

How's that for a beautiful homebrew rig! Prompted by our discussion of distinctive ham radio names, Harv, WA3EIB, sent us a very nice report on Yardley Beers, W0JF. The rig pictured is Yardley's "Jason" 20 meter QRP transceiver. Yardley had named the rig for his cousin. Harv met Yardley at a Colorado hamfest in 1993:

"On the table in front of Yardley was an Aluminum Box fashioned into a QRP radio named, “Jason”, 2 broken and worn head phones from the 1920’s, a few 1980’s QST and, several odd radio parts. My bulb of brilliance was not working that day. I said, “I don’t know what I’m looking for!" Somehow Yardley must have studied my eyes. I had locked my vision onto his very elaborate QRP rig. He paused for a few moments and said, “You into QRP?” By this time I felt more relaxed because he was now on my wavelength. I said, “Why yes, I would rather work with a homebrew radio that the ones with features that no one seems to know what they do!”

Harv bought the Jason (and everything else on Yardley's table) and established a lasting friendship with W0JF.

There is a nice article about OM Yardley's life in the November 2004 issue of QST.


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Steve Jobs and Heathkit

James, WL7FC/VE3ELI, sent us this clip from a Macleans article. Thanks James.

"His dad, though, was not his only early influence. In those days, the neighbourhoods of Silicon Valley were crawling with techies and engineers conducting cutting-edge work for firms like Hewlett-Packard and the Shockley Semiconductor Company. One of them was Larry Lang, who lived a few doors down from the Jobs house. Steve spent almost as much time in Lang’s garage as his own, tinkering with electronic equipment and assembling “Heathkits”: mail-order products such as amateur radios and receivers that took many hours—and much patience—to put together. Jobs would later say that those Heathkits helped him realize that everyday appliances, like the television in his living room, were not “magical” creations. “It gave [me] a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one’s environment,” he said. “My childhood was very fortunate in that way.”"


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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh No! Short Circuit Danger with Anodized Heat Sinks?

Our friend Brent out in Minneapolis sent me some pre-Halloween HB frights yesterday. I'm still concerned. Am I living dangerously with my anodized but collector-connected heat sinks glued to the ground plane?
What say the HB gurus?

--- On Tue, 10/18/11, KD0GLS wrote:

From: KD0GLS Subject: Re: JBOT Amp
To: "Bill Meara"
Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 9:38 PM

Bill,

Well, it is nearly Halloween, but it wasn't my intention to frighten you!

I think it's hard to argue with the fact that it works as-is. The heatsinks you bought look like common anodized aluminum to me. Out of curiosity I dug a couple of similar ones out of my parts bins and measured them. I found exactly what you did - wide open on the surface, and, not surprisingly, a dead short just underneath. I've always assumed that anodize finish was metallic and conductive, but now I know otherwise. I like to learn at least one new thing each day, so thanks for providing today's opportunity!

The clearances are no doubt small, but I think with the low voltages present in your circuit you'll probably be fine. The only potential problem might be if movement or vibration might someday break through that coating. I'd certainly recommend a fuse in the power supply line if you don't already have one.

Anyway, it looks great sitting there in the middle of your old rig. It's inspiring.

Brent


On Oct 18, 2011, at 19:42, Bill Meara wrote:

Brent: You scared me with your question but I think what I did is OK. Maybe. I looked more carefully at the clip on heat sinks I bought. They are covered with a non-conductive coating, but f I scratch them up a bit I can reach the conducting part. So i guess you just have to treat them gently if you intend (as I did) to super-glue them to the PC board. I notice that Farhan did the same thing (see his JBOT page) so I guess I'm OK. I put some heat sink compound in there too. And then there is the super glue. I have no short circuits from the collectors. I guess I could have used a Dremmel to isolate the copper just below the transistors. Or I could have put some mica between the heat sinks and the boards.

The sinks are deeper than the transistors, so there is no direct contact between the top of the transistor and the PC board.

What do you think?
--- On Tue, 10/18/11, KD0GLS wrote:

From: KD0GLS >
Subject: JBOT Amp
To: "Meara Bill" >
Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 5:27 PM

Bill,

The amp looks mighty FB, and maybe I should try it as well. But I'm curious how you've insulated the collectors of all those transistors from the ground plane. From the picture, it looks like all of the metal heat sinks are sitting right on the ground plane copper.

.73,
Brent, KD0GLS, Minneapolis

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My JBOT 5 Watt Linear (Farhan's Design)

There it is -- my version of Farhan's JBOT 5 watt linear amplifier. JBOT stands for "Just a Bunch of Transistors." But I think Farhan is being modest. I really like the design, especially the effort to make this something that hams around the world can reproduce from readily available parts. For example, Farhan's original version used TV balun cores for the transformers. I didn't have any of those around, but I found three "mystery spec" binocular cores in my junk box. They seem to be working just fine. (I tested them a bit: Farhan had written that FT 37-43 cores would work. T1 has seven turns trifilar. Seven turns on my mystery cores yielded 13uH. On an FT 37-43 core 7 turns yields around 20 uH. Close enough -- these are, after all, broadband transformers.)

Note how closely my build follows Farhan's schematic (which you can see in the background). When building this circuit, I just kept Farhan's web page on my computer screen, and scrolled up and down from his schematic to the photo of his version.

This is the first linear amplifier that worked the first time I powered it up. It didn't release any smoke, or leave transistor burn tattoos on fingers, or try to be a 14MHz oscillator.

This version is going into my Azores-built 17 meter DSB transceiver. See how nice it fits:

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Monday, October 17, 2011

My JBOT passes the Smoke Test

Over the weekend I built my first version of Farhan's JBOT. I really enjoyed building it. I soldered in the last connections this morning and I am happy to report that it passed the smoke test. More info (and a picture) tomorrow. Thanks Farhan!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bringing some Knack into Astro-Photography

I've been meaning to do this for a long time. It is a neat little project that allows for a quick and satisfying mixture of electronics and astronomy. It has been described on the web many times: Take an old web cam (preferably one of the old eyeball-looking devices) and remove the lens (I found it very cool to expose the charge coupled device).
Take a plastic 35 mm film container (hurry, while supplies last!) and chop off the bottom. Tape the container to the sans-lens webcam. Here's the fun part: Insert 35 mm container and webcam into the focuser of your telescope. Bring laptop out to the telescope and take digital pictures with your telescope.
I used Billy's old Asus eeepc and a very simple program called Cheese. (There has got to be something better for this kind of work.) But my results were very good. Last night I got images of Jupter and two of its moons. This morning I got some great shots of our moon.
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Friday, October 14, 2011

SolderSmoke: Engineering Site of the Day on EE Web!

Dilbert would be so proud! In spite of my Bachelor of Arts Degree, yesterday the SolderSmoke blog was named Engineering Site of the Day by EE Web. I'm especially pleased that the Sputnik rig of the G3XBM team was the featured photo. Check it out:

http://www.eeweb.com/websites/solder-smoke-daily-news

http://www.eeweb.com/

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Can we put a Sputnik signal back in space for $300?

This article from Hack-a-Day caught my eye:
http://hackaday.com/2011/10/11/send-a-satellite-into-space-for-300/
We just make the antenna a bit longer and put it on 20 MHz. Or for a shorter antenna, 40 MHz.
Bert and the fellows out at UVA are going to take care of the whole SETI thing (Jerry, NR5A, was in the lead on this -- he started the SolderSmoke SETI-AT-HOME group). But we'll need some additional volunteers to cover the Low Earth Orbit portion of the SolderSmoke Space Program. And of course we have to come up with the 300 bucks.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An HW-7 that Glows in the Dark

Hi Bill,

You are right, there is a lot of disdain for the HW7 out there.

While looking for a reasonable selection of do-able modifications to the HW7, I observed a sentiment that when all boiled down would sound like this: “Yea, rip out the innards and build a new transceiver in the carcass that is left.”

On the flip side, I have experienced relatively good results from my virgin HW7. Oh yea, I did add dial and meter lighting along with A nice set of Radio Shack Knobs but that is about the extent of the changes.

So Bill, I was wondering if any listeners to Solder Smoke know of a good source of reasonable modifications to the HW7 without inducing an implant? Second, is there a way of adding an S-meter to a direct conversion receiver? Are there any mods that can be lifted from the HW8 or HW9 and applied to the Old Senior HW7?

Thanks & 73’s

Harv WA3EIB Albuquerque, NM


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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Comet Hits Sun, SFI up, Report from San Vito



The SOHO spacecraft caught some great images of a comet crashing into the sun. The YouTube clip above is from July. Here is NASA video of one that took place just last week:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/comet-cme.html

Coincidentally I'm sure, the solar flux has increased significantly and the upper HF bands are working again. My 17 meter rigs still need final amps -- I am ordering parts for Farhan's JBOT circuit. (I plan to build three or four.) But because I had the 2B on 15 meters for the Sputnik event (still no Sputniks heard here) I noticed that DX was coming on that band. Using my HT-37 and a 40 meter dipole I easily worked several Europeans on 15 meter SSB. Especially nice was a long rag chew (using my rusty Italian) with Gianfranco, IZ4NPE, in beautiful Ferrara, Italy (a bicycle city).

Somehow tying this all together, I got an e-mail from Walter in San Vito, Puglia (the heel on Italy's boot). Walter has one of those "dream jobs" for a radio amateur: He tracks sunspots!

Hi Bill,

Walter here from San Vito, Italy. Just wanted to drop a note to say hi and let you know that I'm enjoying your book. Thanks for making it available as a Kindle version. While reading, it brought back similar experiences with me as a youngster. I too was fascinated by airplanes and would ride my bike to the local airport and watch for hours as the planes would take off and land. My mom gave me my first airplane ride as a birthday present when I was 11. I have to admit that I was scared when we made our first airborne turn. I didn't realize that a plane banks in the turns. I was also fascinated with shortwave radios and my best Christmas gift was a Radio Shack Globe Patrol (regenerative... hi hi) receiver kit. The gift from by grandparents was a Weller soldering gun (140 watts) to put it together with. Again, great job on the book.

The Sun has been keeping us busy at the Solar Observatory. I'm monitoring anywhere from 4 to 12 flares a day, 2 regions popped out of nowhere yesterday. The radio bands have been favorable with all the activity. I've got several projects in the works, a Genesis G3020 SDR rig is about 1/3 completed on the workbench now. It's probably me when you see Puglia show up on the website spinning globe. Take care and keep the podcast's coming. Ciao for now.
- Walter
I7/AC4IM

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Amateur Rocketeers Reach 121,000 feet (36,880 meters)! AMAZING VIDEO!



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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Carl Sagan on the META (SETI) Results

Project META's Control Room

I mentioned this in Ppodcast #138 and wanted to provide more info. Here are the relevant paragraphs from Sagan's book, "The Pale Blue Dot."

"Of course, there's a background level of radio noise from Earth-radio
and television stations, aircraft, portable telephones, nearby and more
distant spacecraft. Also, as with all radio receivers, the longer you
wait, the more likely it is that there'll be some random fluctuation in
the electronics so strong that it generates a spurious signal. So we
ignore anything that isn't much louder than the background.
Any strong narrow-band signal that remains in a single channel we take
very seriously. As it logs in the data, META automatically tells the human
operators to pay attention to certain signals. Over five years we made
some 60 trillion observations at various frequencies, while examining the
entire accessible sky. A few dozen signals survive the culling. These are
subjected to further scrutiny, and almost all of them are rejected-for
example, because an error has been found by fault-detection
microprocessors that examine the signal-detection microprocessors.
What's left-the strongest candidate signals after three surveys of the
sky-are 11 "events." They satisfy all but one of our criteria for a
genuine alien signal. But the one failed criterion is supremely important:
Verifiability. We've never been able to find any of them again. We look
back at that part of the sky three minutes later and there's nothing
there. We look again the following day: nothing. Examine it a year later,
or seven years later, and still there's nothing.
It seems unlikely that every signal we get from alien civilizations
would turn itself off a couple of minutes after we begin listening, and
never repeat. (How would they know we're paying attention?) But, just
possibly, this is the effect of twinkling. Stars twinkle because parcels
of turbulent air are moving across the line of sight between the star and
us. Sometimes these air parcels act as a lens and cause the light rays
from a given star to converge a little, making it momentarily brighter.
Similarly, astronomical radio sources may also twinkle-owing to clouds of
electrically charged (or "ionized") gas in the great near-vacuum between
the stars. We observe this routinely with pulsars.
Imagine a radio signal that's a little below the strength that we
could otherwise detect on Earth. Occasionally the signal will by chance be
temporarily focused, amplified, and brought within the detectability range
of our radio telescopes. The interesting thing is that the lifetimes of
such brightening, predicted from the physics of the interstellar gas, are
a few minutes-and the chance of reacquiring the signal is small. We should
really be pointing steadily at these coordinates in the sky, watching them
for months.
Despite the fact that none of these signals repeats, there's an
additional fact about them that, every time I think about it, sends a
chill down my spine: 8 of the 11 best candidate signals lie in or near the
plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. The five strongest are in the
constellations Cassiopeia, Monoceros, Hydra, and two in Sagittarius-in the
approximate direction of the center of the Galaxy. The Milky Way is a
flat, wheel-like collection of gas and dust and stars. Its flatness is why
we see it as a band of diffuse light across the night sky. That's where
almost all the stars in our galaxy are. If our candidate signals really
were radio interference from Earth or some undetected glitch in the
detection electronics, we shouldn't see them preferentially when we're
pointing at the Milky Way.
But maybe we had an especially unlucky and misleading run of
statistics. The probability that this correlation with the galactic plane
is due merely to chance is less than half a percent. Imagine a wall-size
map of the sky, ranging from the North Star at the top to the fainter
stars toward which the Earth's south pole points at the bottom. Snaking
across this wall map are the irregular boundaries of the Milky Way. Now
suppose that you were blindfolded and asked to throw five darts at random
at the map (with much of the southern sky, inaccessible from
Massachusetts, declared off limits). You'd have to throw the set of five
darts more than 200 times before, by accident, you got them to fall as
closely within the precincts of the Milky Way as the five strongest META
signals did. Without repeatable signals, though, there's no way we can
conclude that we've actually found extraterrestrial intelligence.
Or maybe the events we've found are caused by some new kind of
astrophysical phenomenon, something that nobody has thought of yet, by
which not civilizations, but stars or gas clouds (or something) that do
lie in the plane of the Milky Way emit strong signals in bafflingly narrow
frequency bands.
Let's permit ourselves, though, a moment of extravagant speculation.
Let's imagine that all our surviving events are in fact due to radio
beacons of other civilizations. Then we can estimate-from how little time
we've spent watching each piece of sky-how many such transmitters there
are in the entire Milky Way. The answer is something approaching a
million. If randomly strewn through space, the nearest of them would be a
few hundred light years away, too far for them to have picked up our own
TV or radar signals yet. They would not know for another few centuries
that a technical civilization has emerged on Earth. The Galaxy would be
pulsing with life and intelligence, but-unless they're busily exploring
huge numbers of obscure star systems-wholly oblivious of what has been
happening down here lately. A few centuries from now, after they do hear
from us, things might get very interesting. Fortunately, we'd have many
generations to prepare."

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Meet the Author (of SolderSmoke) Event TODAY

For those in the Washington D.C. area: Today from 2-4 pm I'll be at "One More Page Books" in Arlington, Virginia at a "meet the author" event. The store will have on sale ten copies of "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics." Please pass the word to local hams who might be interested. Thanks.

One More Page Books
2200 N. Westmoreland Street #101
Arlington, VA 22213
703-300-9746

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy 50th Birthday to the Parkes Radio Telescope



http://www.cio.com.au/article/402613/australia_celebrates_50_years_dish_/?fp=16#closeme


This is my favorite antenna. And it is the subject of the BEST movie ever made about an antenna.

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

Party Like its 1957! (with the Sputniks on 21.060 MHz)

Steve "Snort Rosin" Smith sent me this very creative reminder that the Sputnik Replica On-The-Air event is scheduled to continue for the same length of time that the original transmitter was on the air. That means we have until October 26 to work or to listen to these magnificent replica rigs. (Hey, maybe I'll get my HW-7 into the action!) See you on 21.060 MHz Comrades! 73 and DSW!

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Spine Tingling" Sputnik Recordings From 1957

Doug, W8NFT, sent me this booklet and copies of the recordings that came with it. Below you will find links to the booklet itself and the two mp3 files. Note that the signals were captured using an HRO receiver. Side A is a "re-creation" of the launch ("spine tingling in its realism!!!!") Side B is an actual recording of the sat's iconic beeping.

http://soldersmoke.com/Sputnik Booklet.PDF

http://soldersmoke.com/Sputnik Side A.mp3

http://soldersmoke.com/Sputnik Side B.mp3

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ON6WJ's Sputnik Rig

I think Jos's rig is magnificent. He is getting the high voltage for the tubes from a cheap (3 Euros!) 12 Volt to 120 Volt DC/DC inverter that he picked up via e-bay. (I think you can see the inverter board to the left of the headphone jack.) He runs it from a 12 volt gel cell. The little battery is for the filaments. He gets about 700 mw out, and had a very solid 15 minute QSO with Jim, W1PID yesterday. FB Jos!

More Sputnik news (with some audio from the original) tomorrow.

DSW to all!


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

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Listening for Sputniks, Watching a Satellite


I felt like a junior high school kid yesterday, rushing into the shack, firing up the old rigs, anxious to tune in some special stations. It was Sputnik Anniversary Day! 15 meters was still in pretty good shape at 2315 UTC. On the trusty Drake 2-B I could hear W1AW's code practice session a bit above the Sputnik frequency of 21.060 MHz. All of a sudden WA5TCZ was booming in, calling CQ Sputnik! OM Darron later e-mailed and let me know that he wasn't running a replica rig -- like me, he was looking for them.

This morning, inspired by all this space activity, I pulled out my newly cleaned and collimated telescope and took a tour of the skies of Northern Virginia. Jupiter is very bright in the East (I could see the Galilean moons in my finder scope!) Mars is in the West, but is too far away for any detail to be seen in my 'scope -- it is just a little red disk. I had to go out into the street to position the 'scope for the great nebula in Orion. At 1023UTC the International Space Station flew over -- I watched it disappear into the sunrise. A good morning indeed.

I have a suggestion: Can the Sputnik event be extended through the weekend to give more people the chance to tune in these magnificent rigs?

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sputnik!!! SolderSmoke 138!!!

Today is Sputnik Anniversary Day! Michael, AA1TJ, and his intrepid international band of solder melters will be putting their homebrew Soviet-parts rigs on 15 meters! I will be listening with my HQ-100. This is all discussed on SolderSmoke 138, which I have just uploaded:

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke138.mp3

October 4, 2011
A Meteor and Jupiter: Cosmic Birthday Present!
Sagan's Pale Blue Dot -- Lots of interesting radio info
On the cover of "Hot Iron"!!!!
The HW-7 Philosophy and Way of Life
Sputnik Anniversary
Getting my 2B back on 17
Preparing for a return of sunspots and 17 meters
Raiding Radio Shack (for 2N2222s!)
The Autumn SPRAT
MAILBAG

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Homebrew Tubes -- This Time from Poland

That's a homebrew triode built in an apartment workshop by the intrepid Polish radio wizard Aleksander Zawada. The last line in the blog post really got to me:

"All is needed now is to solder a socket to the base of the triode, and use it to make (for example) a regenerative radio receiver!"

Check it out: http://lekernel.net/blog/2011/09/prywatna-wytwornia-lamp-where-diy-meets-vacuum-electron-devices/

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mystic Steampunk Icelandic Radio Symbology

Mike, KC7IT, alerted me to this one. Check out the decoration on the top of this box. The artist explains:

"The electrolytically etched brass plate on top of the box depicts symbols used in science, engineering, and alchemy. An Icelandic Vegvísir is featured prominently surrounded by the components of a modern magnetron microwave transmitting tube. The background features the schematic diagram for a vintage Heathkit oscilloscope. The Vegvísir is often thought of as a mystical symbol but it is in fact a very practical mnemonic device for mastering navigational rules of thumb."

Billy has been interested in the whole "steampunk" thing (he will be a steampunk guy on Halloween) so this one caught my eye. It also made me think that we need to jazz up those Altoid tins! (Speaking of boxes, while I had the 2-B on the bench yesterday, I took its old metal case out to the garage and gave it several coats of black paint. It looks wonderful.)

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

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Good Day in the Shack -- 2B Fixed, SPRAT Arrives

The temperature has dropped to around 10 C today. Fall is in the air. So it was appropriate for me to do some work on an old tube radio. (Several of our correspondents have reported similar seasonal urges to melt solder and to heat filaments.) This week my trusty Drake 2-B was giving me trouble on 17 meters. It was working on all other bands, but not on 17. Today I put it on the bench, pulled out the schematic and started troubleshooting. I quickly determined that the problem was, in fact, with the 22 MHz crystal. The 2-B has a 24.5 MHz rock for tuning the lower portion of the ten meter band. When I put that crystal in the "E" socket (where the 22 MHz crystal normally sits), the local oscillator worked just fine. Putting the 22 MHz rock back in the E socket resulted in no oscillation. And when I tried to the 22 MHz crystal in the 10 Meter socket normally used by the 24.5 MHz rock... nothing. What causes a perfectly good crystal to go bad like this?

Consulting the 2-B manual, I saw that I could also tune the 17 meter band by using (in socket D) a 14.21 MHz crystal from my junk box (it had been used in my 20 meter NE-602 DSB. transceiver). It works great. I'm listening to DK9KW calling CQ on 17 right now. Makes me want to fix up my homebrew 17 meter transmitter. (I need a final for it, and am thinking of using Farhan's JBOT circuit). I may even buy some telescoping fishing poles and rebuild my Azorean rotate-able dipole (I have the mast and the wooden center support for the fishing poles). This magnificent antenna is shown above, spreading its wings above Sao Miguel island in the Azores (our home from
2000--2003).

Icing on the cake: I went out to the mailbox, and, instead of the usual pile of bills, there was a SPRAT 148 and the G-QRP Club's Members Handbook.

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