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Design, build, hack....zap and repeat!

Busy, busy, busy. . .

Posted on Jun 23, 2014 | Comments Off on Busy, busy, busy. . .

Wow, it’s been 2 months since my last confession! Yes. . .busy, busy, busy. Between work and work and work, there’s barely anytime to work. Just look at this mess on my workbench. Every time I set out to clean and organize the bench, I get caught up in a software issue or a capacitor replacement or a programming problem or the washer blowing a circuit board. Like Gilda Radner so profoundly exclaimed, “It’s always something!” And this weekend is Field Day so there won’t be much organizing soon. But I pledge that I will get this straightened out within the next 30 days or I’ll have to swear again in 30 days! Oh my! Related articles Workbench v1 (ajvtech.com) Building Your WorkBench (makezine.com) How to use a desoldered capacitor? (electronics.stackexchange.com) Tracking down bad caps (ajvtech.com)   Share this:Click...

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SMD Breadboarding

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 | Comments Off on SMD Breadboarding

So I watched Dave Jones’ EEVblog #555 video – 555Timer Kit where he puts together a kit of resistors, NPN and PNP transistors that recreates the famous 555 Timer integrated circuit in a large scale. It was interesting and nostalgic because everyone starting in electronics plays with a 555. So I figured I might go down to the bench, look up a circuit and try something new. . . .especially since I’ve got some new test equipment to play with, explore and learn the circuits in a new light. So I got the breadboard out and went looking for a 555 or 556 laying around in the parts drawers. Well I did find some but they were all SMD. . . .which don’t quite fit into the breadboard. Luckily, I also found a little pouch from Schmartboard which included a SOIC to...

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ARRL DX SSB 2014 Fun and Earache

Posted on Mar 4, 2014 | Comments Off on ARRL DX SSB 2014 Fun and Earache

I was active this weekend in this year’s ARRL DX single-sideband contest. . . . .well at least active for me. I’m not a hardcore contester, but besides meals and sleep and a few hours of TV with the XYL, (wife for you non-hams),  I was pretty much listening and sitting at pile-ups waiting for the big boys to clear out. Patience had its rewards! I worked 22 new countries and 61 new prefixes over the weekend! Even more interesting was that I could walk down the bands and work several stations first on 10m, then 15m and then 20m. If I had antennas for 40/80/160 meters, I probably could have worked them some more. One black eye was how inconsiderate some hams, or maybe they’re radio pirates, could be. I’d be straining my ears listening to make contact...

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Test Lead Snarl

Posted on Jan 15, 2014 | Comments Off on Test Lead Snarl

So I was putting together all the test equipment on the bench. Each piece of gear came with their own set of test leads. It wasn’t long before they began getting all snarled up. . .the BNC leads with the banana plug leads with the alligator clip leads with the adapters. Rather than wait and spend 20 bucks for a test lead holder, I dug through all my pegboard tool holders and come up with a good one. Since many of the leads were over 6 feet long, (2 to 3 meters for those outside the US) I needed to put the holders up a ways so they could hang straight. I decided to clamp a small piece of pegboard at ceiling height about 8 feet and use a few tool holders I had lying around. They’re cheap at...

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Dead End PC?

Posted on Jan 11, 2014 | Comments Off on Dead End PC?

I finally ran into one. Ok, so it is a 9-year old Dell Dimension XPS Gen 4, but I’ve upgraded her over the years…XP to Vista to Win7 to Win8. And then I wanted to take her just one more step…Win8.1. And no! Sorry, you can’t install the update because it’s not supported by your computer’s CPU. I guess somewhere around the beginning of 2004, Intel added all this stuff to their chip: Physical Address Extension (PAE) mode, No-eXecute (NX), CMPXCHG16b support and Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2). And the BIOS needs Data Execution Prevention (DEP), which apparently was not a stringent requirement for 64-bit Windows 8. Hard to believe a service pack would change hardware requirements for an operating system. Another strange thing is that the 32-bit version does not have the same hardware requirements, so I can...

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New Tech Toys Pt.2

Posted on Jan 5, 2014 | Comments Off on New Tech Toys Pt.2

On to the workbench! The holidays brought an abundance of technology which I started to describe in Part 1: Overcome with technology.  Now I’m headed down to the workbench. Since I work on mobile and desktop radios, transceivers and associated equipment, many of which use 12 – 15VDC, I got a power supply dedicated to that voltage and amperage range. And since much of that equipment just plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter, I chose an MFJ-4245MV which just happens to have a cigarette lighter jack built right in! While testing the transmit side of these radios, you somtimes need to measure the output power. So I got a dummy  load / wattmeter to measure the wattage while transmitting into a 50 ohm “antenna” without going out on the air. I chose the MFJ-267 since it could handle up to...

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Overcome with technology!

Posted on Jan 4, 2014 | Comments Off on Overcome with technology!

My-oh-my I was inundated with technology throughout December! It all started in November when I received a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9,  ordered in September. That kept me busy through Thanksgiving as I ooh and ah’d and converted my iPad friends. But even though the screen res is great and it’s fast, it still has the same problems as Windows tablets and phones. . . .lacking apps in the Amazon Store. If they would just open the platform to Google’s Play Store, it would be a great tablet. I still can’t get all the apps I can run on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. . . .which brings me to the 1st week in December. I traded in my HTC WinPhone for the Note 3. I really liked the Winphone and probably would have upgraded to a Win8 phone, but Verizon...

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