Tags: kits & homebrew

Items of interest

Interesting post on W2LJ's blog about his PDA. I have an assortment of PDAs:

- Palm Pilot Pro that I got an upgrade kit for to make it a Palm III (new chip along with IR sync capability)

- Palm IIIxe which I bought on eBay. It works well except that it eats up batteries even when it is turned off. I have used this PDA with my Kenwood TH-D7 to do mobile 2m packet and PocketAPRS.

- Palm m130. This was the first PDA I had that allowed you to use an SD card. I have used this to program my TinyTrack APRS device.

- Palm Tungsten 3 (or T3). First PDA with wireless connectivity, in this case Bluetooth. Also has a slot for an SD card. I used this PDA for mobile logging, mainly taking advantage of the voice recording function... I'd have a mobile QSO, pick up the Palm T3 and record a voice memo of the time, freq, callsign, and any other significant info. At a later point I used that to update my primary log.

- Some variant of an HP PDA that has WiFi and an SD card slot.

Also have an assortment of keyboards, cameras, and other doo-dads that go with these.

I have the Palm T3 with me now... I'm guessing it needs to be charged.

K3OQ has a post about his upcoming trip to the Outer Banks. He also plans to activate The Bodie Island Lighthouse (USA-067). I had the opportunity to activate that light back in June of 2006. Beautiful area out there - very relaxing. One of the highlights of any hams visit to the Outer Banks is using the Outer Banks Repeater Association’s 2m and 70cm repeaters. I had a few great exchanges with Jack, W2EHD who lives in the area year around. The repeater system also allowed me to stay in contact with the XYL while I was off activating lighthouses.

N9IK's Radio Blog has a new post about his completion of the Rock-Mite 40 transceiver kit. He's got some great pics of his work. I hope to develop my building skills to that level. Very nice work. I look forward to hearing about the contacts he makes with it.

K9ZW tries to solve the age old question of the best way to organize QSL cards with his latest post. I'm curious to see how others keep their cards organized. I don't have a ton of cards yet, but I would like a solid method of keeping my cards organized that will last for years and allow me to access them as needed.

As always - I enjoy reading your blogs. It keeps my interest in amateur radio strong even if I don't get on the air as often as I'd like.

Keep your IC-706/MKII/MKIIG Cool!

I completed a quick and easy addition to my IC-706MKIIG today using a great article from Phil, AD5X. The article describes how to add a 12v fan on the back of the IC-706's heatsink to help keep the radio cool. Phil's article describes how to use a Molex plug on the back of the 706 to power the fan. Everything went smooth and the fan is working great.

Check out more articles here.

Thanks Phil!

Post Christmas Wrap Up

Christmas was good to me. I received a NorCal 40A kit along with David B. Rutledge's The Electronics of Radio. Together these items make up a basic analog electronics's course and my hope is to build the kit and learn more about electronics and radio.

Notes from the budding brewmaster: The final bottles of my first batch of beer were actually quite good. It worked out to the following: 2 weeks in the keg, 2 weeks in the bottle, 3 days in the fridge. Very tasty. Also - I'm sticking to regular white sugar for the carbonation.

I've also been spending way to much time playing Age of Empires III on my laptop.

I need to get in the radio room, tidy up, catch up on logging in a stack of QSL cards, and prepare for Straight Key Night.

Friday morning QSOs

I had the day off and had time to get on the radio this morning for three QSOs this morning. The first was Eric, F5xxx, near Bordeaux, France on 20M SSB. Eric told me he was near the Atlantic coast and gave me a WX report with the temp in Celsius and I told him I was also near the Atlantic and gave him a WX report with the temp in Fahrenheit. The DX packet cluster had a spot from Australia, I don't remember the band, but I could barely hear the signal and listen to an op in Tennessee work him. That is huge - I've never heard a station west of California, east of Moscow, or south of Algeria. It gives me hope that with further antenna improvement, I'll be able to work Hawaii, Japan, and Australia.

The next QSO was 40M CW with Dick, N2xxx, from Akron, NY. Nice QSO, Dick had a solid signal. The final QSO was also 40M CW with Rik, KB1BIC - the same gentlemen I talked to a few days ago. Our initial exchange was good, but Rik picked up the speed a bit and all I got was a jumble of letters. Just more motivation to keep working on my CW.

I received an email from The Willamette Valley DX Club - home to the ARRL 7th District Incoming QSL Bureau. They said they had some QSL cards for AD7MI and would I please send them a little bit of money for postage so they can mail them to me. I was able to mail off the check and hope to get the cards soon. I wonder who they're from? It's always neat getting cards from the bureau.

I got my Blinky Light kit from Electronics Rainbow. My plan is to modify it a bit and use it for Halloween.

EC-012 - Analog Electronics

I signed up for this online course offered by ARRL which starts Friday to try and improve my understanding of basic elecronics. Here's the course description.

This course is designed for the electronics beginner that has an interest in electronics and has been introduced to the fundamental concepts of electricity and electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, transistors, and so forth. You'll be reading some simple schematics, as well. In 16 learning units and about 25 hours the student will learn about the use of instrumentation, Kirchhoff’s Laws, Diodes, Rectifier circuits, Bipolar and Field Effect Transistors, various amplifier configurations, filters, timers, Op-Amps, and voltage regulators. Most lessons have design problems and optional construction projects. This course will run for a 12-week period, and earns 2.0 CEUs.

I've already purchased most of the electronic components for the class. I want to try and put together a mobile workshop that will allow me to keep all my building equipment in one spot and allow me to work in different rooms of the house.

Fall QRP Homebrewer Sprint

-- CW/PSK31, sponsored by New Jersey QRP Club from 0000Z-0400Z Sep 25. Frequencies: QRP CW and PSK31 frequencies on 80-10 meters. CW and PSK31 are considered separate bands. Exchange: RST + S/P/C + output power. QSO points: commercial equipment -- 2 pts, homebrew xmtr or rcvr -- 3 pts, homebrew xmtr and rcvr or xcvr -- 4 pts. Kits okay as homebrew. Power multiplier: 0>250 mW = ×15, 250 mW>1 W = ×10, 1-5 W = ×7, >5 W = ×1. Score: QSO points × S/P/C (counted once per band) × power multiplier. For more information: www.njqrp.org. Logs due 30 days from the contest to n2cq@arrl.net (text format, please) or Ken Newman, N2CQ, 81 Holly Dr, Woodbury, NJ 08096.

Online electronics course


The Scots Guide to Electronics

This course is designed to help you learn about components, circuits, and the use of electronics. You can explore the contents in whatever order you wish.The emphasis is on providing information starting at the 'absolute beginners' level, but we hope eventually to provide material of use to anyone interested in electronics and its applications ...

This weekend in the shack.....

GYFWW: Get Your Feet Wet Weekend. This was an interesting event... all CW. My CW skills are atrocious and this was my attempt at improving. I enjoyed it, although at times it was very frustrating. The exchange was RST, name, state, FISTS #, and year licensed. Most folks were good at slowing down and repeating missed parts of the exchange. I spent a lot of time just sending CQ without a response. A contest doesn't have the personal interaction of a regular QSO. At the end of the contest I had 18 contacts and over 200 points... no records broken here. I still have a long way to go on the CW. I would like to get my speed up to 15-20wpm - that will take a lot of consistent work.

Virginia Beach Hamfest: My second year attending the Virginia Beach Hamfest. A two-day hamfest, I went on Sunday. $5 to get in. There were a few vendors, but I had primarily come this year for RadioWorks, a local company from Portsmouth that makes great wire antennas. I purchased a Carolina Windom, 133' long, good on 80M to 10M. The challenge now is to hang that bad boy. I'll be assisted by my CSV19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher.

T-238+ APRS WX Project: The main board was good to go. I put the modem board together Friday night, checked out and good to go. Then came Saturday, I was interfacing the WX sensors (temp, wind speed and direction)... it worked! I was getting the data to read out properly. However, when I tried to interface the modem board with the radio, the LCD screen started showing all solid squares instead of text and the heat sink got very, very hot. The LED heartbeat light is still functioning, but clearly there is something wrong. Hope I'm not back to square one. http://www.tapr.org/kits_t238plus.html

Lunchtime Update

Crystal Oscillator for the TAPR T-238+: TAPR made good on their promise to send me the missing 32MHz crystal oscillator. I need to stop by Radio Shack on the way home and pick up a 470 ohm resistor (R9) and I should be able to complete the construction of main board tonight. We will see if my kit building success improves.

CW QSO attempt: I was calling CQ on 7110 and received a reply from W8JCR, Larry. His signal started off strong but then he faded into the QRN.

QSL Card: received a QSL card from Jim, W2SY from my Blue Ridge Mountains DXpedition QSO.