then there is the variation on this using the 'Island cutter' or
diamond circular shaped drill for making pads. Generates hazard
I have yet to see some one that can make the same pad every
don't know of a tutorial online that shows using a drill stop to
all of the above I'll call the 'MUPPET Construction'
Manhattan-Ugly-Professional Placement Experimental Technique
construction of electronic circuits.
Now, unless you have been hiding in
a cave for about 20 years,
all of the above should be familiar to you, except
lack of a better name, it is the term I will use for collecting
the techniques together to build something.
OK. Going to the known
techniques. What is it that you like and
don't like? How about expense to get
started, other than the parts?
Ugly. Requires a supply of high valued
>1Mohm resistors for standoffs.
But is is quick and easy. Some times
difficult to debug for some else
that did not build the circuit. What is this
gismo here for? ...
Manhattan. Nasty super glue and doing the layout.
Harbor Freight or
similar punch, some people have difficulty finding. Takes
time to place
the pads and let them set.
PCB. Layout time. AND,
something no one bothered to mention.
Drilling a lot of holes and getting
them all centered is a royal
You still are
going to be out some expense for equipment. For MUPPET
you will need a PCB
shear/cutter and some cheap items for doing
PCB etching. Don't give me grief
about the muriatic acid. Just
kill it with backing soda when you are done and
Here is an example out of the gate. Just a simple VXO test
to determine why I could not get constant startup on a VXO in a
I got excited about not having to drill holes, I can do Manhattan
as you will see I magically came across a tool that costs
very little and
makes things entirely repeatable as many times as you
Manhattan projects and my stuff spread around the Internet
like bread crumbs
in a fairy tale, I constantly get emails about how
I laid the project out and
what software did I use and how I wrote it.
This new technique uses
expressPCB for the layout. I just the layout
on the top layer. ExpressPCB,
for economical reasons, does not
print out the top layer so that you can
easily use the toner transfer
method to make a PCB.
Here is how I get
around that limitation. I generate the PCB and
then 'print' it out, but not
to my Samsung laser printer. I print it to
a 'PDF' printer, i.e. the image is
sent to a file and converted in the
process to PDF format. I can now
manipulate that to 'reflect it'
about the vertical to get a reverse image,
like you do for iron on
shirts, in PDF format and then print that. So now I
can do double
sided boards if I ever want to. The reversal is done using a
called PDFjam for linux and is most likely available for
OK. Here is the most valuable tool for PCB
Using the vector
board I get exact distances desired between
component legs and when I bend
them they will sit FLAT on the
surface of the PCB. And before removing the
the board, I cut the leads sticking through the other side to
the exact same length every time. As it turns out, it is about
the same and the standard IC pin spacing and the same
snap points in
ExpressPCB. I use 0.1" SMT pad sizes for the
solder points and 0.2" spacing
in most cases so that I get
the neatest placement possible.
I can use
the vector board edge to bend resistors to get
vertical placement on PCBs in
kits and here. Each one
will look almost exactly the same. Try it. You'll
OK, here is a XTAL OSC that I built up in less than an
from start to finish. Yes, you can do it quicker. But I wanted
able to reproduce the circuits numerous times, if needed,
and now I can
easily share them without having to go through
hoops to get the same layout
to you or any one else.
Side effects. You can do, on the PCB plane on
Ugly mods and add ons or replacements for larger
Manhattan pad placement for mods, add-ons, etc.
judicious placement of text, you can document
parts placement for help in
building and later showing
someone where you put things and why. Also will
in debugging something years later.
And just as an experiment. I
promise not to cheat.
I will, at 2200UTC, right after posting this email, I
will go back
to the lab. I will not eat, nor will I rest until I have done
two projects from scratch.
1. Project 001. The HP 8640jr
2. Project 004. The G3UUR xtal osc and parameter fixture from
I want to do this and then show-and-tell the items at
flea market/hamfest at DeVry Institute here in PHX AZ and the
QRP luncheon just down the street at the burger place.
chuck, k7qo (the lab rat #2, since #1 is already taken in NH)
A few years ago Alan, VK2ZAY, showed Billy and me how to make a very simple DC motor. This one looks even simpler. I'm guessing that the bottom of the coil is making intermittent contact, setting up flux lines that get torqued by the magnets' field.
Are you a super fan of STAR WARS, STAR TREK, GAME OF THRONES, LORD OF THE RINGS, or BATTLESTAR GALACTICA? Are you a GAMER who owns every console and maxes out trophies and achievements? Do you have an outrageous collection of TOYS and/or COMIC BOOKS? Are you passionate about MATHEMATICS, PHYSICS, or BIOLOGY? Do you build ROBOTS or PROGRAMS for fun? Are you obsessed with SUPER HEROES? Are you a D&D or WoW fanatic? Do you love everything SCI-FI? Are you ARDUINO proficient? Do you know at least 100 digits of Pi?Is your IQ at least two standard deviation above the mean? Do you consider yourself a GEEK or a NERD?
Take a look at Michael's Razor Rig, made from parts salvaged from his electric razor. I was thinking that perhaps on the receive side a fox-hole receiver made with a rusty Gillette blade would fit in nicely with the shaving theme. Very glad to see the AA1TJ blog getting more active.
Hello Mark: I've been using your code. Very nice. Easy to use and modify, even for a digital dunce like me.
I've been using an Arduino and your code to key my 20 meter QRP transmitter. I watch the Reverse Beacon Network to see how I'm getting out. I think your code let me discover something about RBN: there may be a lower "speed limit" on the skimmers. I noticed that when I left your code at the default 12 wpm, I was not picked up by the skimmers. When I called CQ the old fashioned way (with my hand!) at 15 wpm I got plenty of spots. This morning I changed the speed setting on your code to 15 wpm and -- sure enough -- immediately got picked up by an RBN station.
It has been a long time since I have written to
you. I’m the ex-smokejumper up here in the great winter wonderland known as
Montana. I thought I’d drop a quick note to say howdy and fill you in on the
crazy string of events that happened this afternoon.
To refresh your memory…. I stopped jumping fire
in ‘09, I have continued to be employed with the US Forest Service as a radio
technician. Part of my duties is to do annual maintenance on all of the
Gallatin National Forest VHF handheld radios. So every winter I update the
programming and check the VCOs, RX specs, modulation, and TX power on about 250
handheld radios (luckily the USFS provides me with a handy Aeroflex 3500 service
monitor that speeds up this task, but I digress).
Anyhow I had finished programming and tuning a
large batch of radios and today I was making my rounds to deliver them to the
various offices. My route was from Bozeman (where my shop is) to West
Yellowstone (where I used to jump out of) … through the North side of
Yellowstone Park to Gardiner), then following the Yellowstone river north up
the Paradise Valley (where I grew up as kid) to Livingston (where I live now).
I must say it’s an absolutely beautiful drive that took me to 6 of my delivery
points. This time of year Yellowstone Park is closed to normal traffic, but
official Gov’t use is permitted, so you see very few other vehicles, it’s a
pretty neat time of year to be in the Park.
Continuing….I stopped at the smokejumper
base to deliver their radios and visited with some of the “bros” for a bit then
headed on my way. As I drove off I was thinking of my very last fire jump in
Yellowstone and it reminded me that I had written to you back in ’08 about my
last jump and listening to “Soldersmoke” while waiting for my ride home. So
today as I drove on through the Park I turned on the old Yaesu FT-747 that I
installed in my work truck to accompany me on some of these long drives. I did
not have the mic or key with me, so I was “voiceless”, but I put the 20m stick
on my hustler antenna and turned it on anyway. I enjoy tuning in to some CW
while driving and just listening to random QSOs to make use of my drive time by
honing my CW skills. Just after I turned on the radio I heard some a W7 station
calling CQ and listened for a while in hopes that it might be W7ZOI, I always am
listening for the callsigns of the QRP gurus out there, no luck though it was
not Wes. I continued listening for quite a while. On the final leg of my trip
from Gardiner to Livingston, I was just north of Yankee Jim canyon in Paradise
Valley when I heard a very rhythmic CW pattern. It was almost musical sounding,
so I tuned it in good, put the narrow filter on and listened. It sounded like
the OP was using a Vibroplex bug key, due to the long dash patterns, but the way
he keyed it was almost like CW R&B..it was a little tough to copy but fun to
listen to none the less. Anyhow as I continued listening, his callsign was
KC0MTC in Des Moines, IA and you can guess who he was talking to…none other than
yourself, N2CQR!! I couldn’t believe I had just been thinking about
“Soldersmoke”, in fact I had even checked the podcast on my iPhone before
leaving West Yellowstone to see if a new podcast was posted yet. Then a hour
or so later, I hear you live on 14.058500 MHz. What are the chances. I was
frantically thinking of a way to jury rig a cable of some sort to plug into my
key jack. I was hoping you would make another contact so I could pull over,
take a 15min safety break, rig up a key out of headphone cable or something and
give you a call by touching the wires together. Unfortunately, you disappeared
right after the QSO with KC0MTC. I think you went QRT after that. I tuned all
around the CW portion of 20 searching but no luck.
Either which way, I got a big kick out of it and
thought it was quite a coincidence. I figured you would appreciate the story.
So here is your signal report into Montana …
You were just above the noise this evening,
which is quite high S3-4 due to the engine noise in my mobile. You were readable
most of the time but dipping into the noise occasionally. I heard you tell him
you were QRP but missed the power level you were using. I’d give you an RST of
549, this was about 1730 MDT. Not bad at all for QRP and 1800 miles or
so….KC0MTC was booming in a solid 599.
Thanks to info from Leif, KC8RWR, about the purpose of the chip that was heating up on my Arduino board (an LM386 used to determine which socket was supplying voltage for the board) I decided to try just taking the hot chip off the board. This afternoon I fired up my reflow station and blew some 466 degree F air on that chip. It came right off and the Arduino appears to work just fine without it.
This was only a semi-satisfying repair. It would have been much better if I'd really known what I was doing, and if I'd really known what was going on with that chip.
The removed chip is up by the tip of the pen (TOO SMALL!). The transistor and the relay that keys the transmitter are on a piece of PC board above the Arduino.
That Arduino called CQ for me on 20 meters tonight -- Mel, K4JFF, in Georgia responded. Thanks Leif! And thanks again to Mark, K6HX, for the code.
I've succumbed to the lure of the tiny computers and microprocessors. This weekend I was playing with the Arduino that I bought (supposedly) for Billy. You see, I have a little microprocessor-based keyer in my ten meter beacon rig (Demaw's "Lil'Slugger") . It works fine once you get the desired Morse sequence into it, but getting that done is difficult and frustrating for someone (like me) unaccustomed to an iambic keyer. So I was thinking that this would be easier just to replace the keyer with an Arduino. I was right. With some help and advice from Billy, I got the Arduino going, and got the little LED blinking. Then I took some code from Mark K6HX, modified it for my call-sign, and loaded it into the Arduino. No problem at all. Kind of fun. And it opens your eyes to all the possible applications of this little board. Unfortunately, in the course of fooling around with the interface between the board and my rig I think I did damage to my Arduino. I managed to blow out the blinking (pin 13) LED on the board. I could live without that, but now the ICs get very hot (especially the little surface mount chip just below the 16 MHz crystal). Anyone hope of fixing this? (I've already ordered a replacement board, but I feel guilty about this.) Here's a good article describing the pros and cons of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Beagle Bone: http://blog.makezine.com/2013/04/15/arduino-uno-vs-beaglebone-vs-raspberry-pi/
It has been a while! I don't know if you remember but I emailed you back in September 2010, introducing myself as a fellow amateur listening to your podcasts.
I had just moved from France and received back then my FCC vanity callsign K3DY.
It took me a while to get my ham shack back together but finally I was on the bands again!
Recently, I started re reading your book, very inspirational. Since my very first license (as F8CKH) at 16, my interests have always been into the design / homebrew as well as QRP & CW. Why on earth would a teenager do that? I think I have the knack. My motto is: "Don't turn it on, take it apart!!!".
Anyway, it has been a lot of fun to work on some various projects (the one in progress now is a LC meter using a LCD display and a PIC 16F627). It took longer than expected to get to that point as I had to work on a PIC programmer interface as well as refresh my C language programming skills! I recently discovered that mouser is offering some nice project enclosures. In the past, my finished products were kind of "ugly" (to the average Joe not us of course!) so I am trying to work on that.
Oh also, last time I emailed you, I talked about my grand father EF8ETA, F8ATA then F8KE in the late 20s and how seeing his electronic lab and radios when I was 7 or 8 inevitably changed my life! After all this, I - had - to get my license and get involved!
My father, also a ham, emailed me a picture of F8KE's shack in 1929/1930. My grand father was at the time 19 years old. Also attached to the email are two scans of his QSL cards dated as well 1929 or so. He was using a classic design for the era, based on a Hartley Oscillator. I am trying to imagine how it was to get the knowledge back then on how to build a station (TX, RX, antenna) but also how to get the parts! When people now complain that they can't finish up a homebrew project because they can't find a FT50-3 core, well they should think of how it must have been almost 100 years ago.
Topics: -- Spring not yet sprung -- Dominican nostalgia wave hits SolderSmoke HQ -- Rebuild of my first transmitter -- Dusting off the Barebones Superhet -- SolderSmoke Book Corner: Ben Franklin by Walter Issacson How Arthur C. Clarke handled his Mailbag "The New Cool" Dean Kamen's house/shack Transistor Radios by Ronald Quan -- New SolderSmoke Advertising Campaign -- QRP vs. QRO: Put 40 milliwatt "Shark Fin" QRSS rig on the air Being lured into QRO amp construction projects -- Reverse Beacon Network -- Looking for my Elmer (or his son) -- MAILBAG
In response to popular demand, "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" is now available as an e-book for Amazon's Kindle.
Here's the site:
For the print version:
For shipping from a printer in the U.S. (probably better for N. American buyers) Click here: SolderSmoke USA Version
For shipping from a printer in the UK, Spain, or the USA (probably better for UK and other European buyers)
Click here: SolderSmoke EU Version
The two versions are identical, except for a minor difference in the paper used. That's why the prices are a bit different.
Bill's OTHER Book (Warning: Not About Radio)
Click on the image to learn more
W4HBK's QRSS Grabber: The Amazing Pensacola Snapper (Live!)