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

W2NSD (SK)

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 | Comments Off on W2NSD (SK)

It was sad to hear that Wayne Green, W2NSD passed away last Friday the 13th. I met him once at a hamfest in the 70’s, but I was an avid reader of his editorials in his magazines. While he publishes many over the years, I subscribed to 73 Magazine for many of my younger years as a ham. My interests then began moving more to computing and PCs so I started reading Byte Magazine, the first magazine that many computer geeks and experimenters read. Apple, Compaq and Microsoft weren’t around yet, so much of the magazine was about building and programming your own from scratch. On my. Wayne was 91 years old. He was a brilliant thinker and was always looking for the next big thing. And he usually found it before everyone else. The history of amateur radio...

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What’s a Gadgeteer?

Posted on Sep 6, 2013 | Comments Off on What’s a Gadgeteer?

After the Arduino came out and before the Raspberry Pi, there was a subdued hacking platform created by Microsoft called the Gadgeteer. Yes, Microsoft is, deep down, a hacking kind of company. After all, that is the way it started in the software business. And from the beginning it has always had its hands in some sort of hardware, although better known for its operating system and software. Even though there are several platforms better known to the hacking and maker communities, the Gadgeteer is rather innovative. Projects with the Gadgeteer consist of a mainboard and modules connected via a standard 10 pin connector. And although the software language is on the  Microsoft.NET Micro Framework,  it is publicly licensed under the Apache License and the hardware designs are under the Creative Commons License.  Hardware modules are available from several vendors. There...

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Is Heathkit back?

Posted on Aug 25, 2013 | Comments Off on Is Heathkit back?

So I went to a Tailgate Fest sponsored by the Cuyahoga Falls Amateur Radio Club today. I didn’t find anything I was looking for because I wasn’t looking for anything, but did see a lot of interesting stuff. The one that caught my eye was a complete Heathkit amateur radio station with transceiver, speaker, ‘scope, and tuner. It was nice and clean and functional. And boy did it bring back memories! I was a very avid Heathkit builder back in the 60’s to 80’s era….my first ham radio, my first VTVM, my first oscilloscope, and my first computer, among a whole bunch more. I loved putting those kits together, testing them and then using. But Heathkit eventually went out of business, several times if I remember correctly. And I sold off each of those kits over the years for bigger,...

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Tracking down bad caps

Posted on Jul 29, 2013 | Comments Off on Tracking down bad caps

I just added a new tool to the workbench and I’m loving it: Atlas ESR70. I work on a lot of power supplies, computers, transceivers,  LCDs, printers (you get the drift, right?) and find that capacitors don’t always have to “leak” to be bad. Here’s a pic of some bad capacitors. Easy enough to spot the bad ones, right? After replacing the three bulging caps though, the system did not come up. The ESR meter allows me to test for the equivalent series resistance in circuit, which is often impossible with a capacitance meter or DMM. And this particular model of ESR meter discharges a capacitor before measuring. . . so no blown meter innards. An ideal capacitor has a zero equivalent series resistance, and failure of a capacitor can be seen as an increase in its ESR. Well, the...

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Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Posted on Jul 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

So I went to the Portage Amateur Radio Club HamFair today (7/28/13) to see what nifty little pieces, parts and gadgets I could pick up on the cheap. And I did find some inexpensive variable capacitors. Check out this bounty for $6 bucks: Unfortunately, this hamfest wasn’t that well attended or participated and I was all done walking through all the tables and car trunks. . . three times in 90 minutes. I even caroused around with some of my fellow CFARC members to see if they found anything. I thought, what a bummer. I had budgeted more mad money than 6 bucks and had hoped there would have been more displays and vendors. Oh well, it was still a fruitful endeavor and started back to the car. On the way out I noticed a sign that read “VE...

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A Fun Project: TV-B-Gone

Posted on Jul 24, 2013 | Comments Off on A Fun Project: TV-B-Gone

OK, so I had a pretty full junk box with bits and pieces, and a sorta full parts bin, when I came across TV-B-Gone. It’s a small kit that gives you soldering practice and gets you familiar with electronic circuitry. Since I had all the parts except for the circuit board and microcontroller, that’s all I ordered.  It took longer to gather all the parts than it took to solder it all together! Over at Adafruit, they offer a complete kit with board and all parts you’ll need. But, if you really don’t want to mess with learning how to solder, jump over to Amazon and get a TV-B-Gone Universal TV Power Remote Control Keychain for about the same cost. Now the fun part is going to your favorite (or not-so-favorite) TV retailer and browsing around the  wall of 3 to 4...

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pcDuino and PyDuino

Posted on Jul 18, 2013 | Comments Off on pcDuino and PyDuino

Now here’s a board that looks real interesting. . . .the pcDuino! It’s a mini-PC that is Arduino compatible. You can actually write Arduino code, compile and run the code on the pcDuino. Cool, huh? While exploring the pcDuino I stumbled upon PyDuino. . . .a library that ports the Arduino language syntax to Python script.  You reach the digital and analog I/O pins on your pcDuino as you would with Arduino, except you code in Python.  So now you can use the same code for not only pcDuino but RaspberryPi, BeagleBone, and any other platform that executes Python. Cool, huh? Related in a way. . . Enclosure for pcDuino/Arduino – Clear Meet the LegoDuino How-To: Get Started with the BeagleBone Share this:Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to...

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