Friday, August 11, 2017

Worked All States, but need Maine for 5 more awards/endorsements

Here's my current Logbook of the World (LOTW) status.

WAS Award                  States
Mixed 50
40M 26
20M 49
Phone 37
Digital 49
JT65 49
JT9 15
PSK31 11
40M Phone 12
40M Digital 21
40M JT65 19
40M JT9 3
40M PSK31 1
20M Phone 28
20M Digital 49
20M JT65 49
20M JT9 13
20M PSK31 10
Triple Play 86
5-Band 75

The only state I am missing for 20M, Digital, JT65, 20M Dgital, and 20M JT65 is Maine!

So, any Maine Hams out there: look for W1LEM on 20M and on JT65 (please).

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fourth of July Lights

With my grandchildren coming for the Fourth of July, I went looking for projects to do. This is one, thanks to John Wargo--original and Fourth of July Version.

I made slight modifications to the Fourth of July version, using a Trinket instead of the Pro Trinket, because I had some of the smaller ones inventory. I also decided to leave off the LiPo charging backpack,  used a pushbutton switch, and used perf board for tidiness.

I used John Wargo's code almost exactly. The only difference is that he used pins 9, 10, and 11 but the Trinket does not have those pins.  Only pins 0, 1, and 4 on the Trinket handle PWM, so I replaced the array provided in the code "int ledPins[] = { 9, 10, 11 };" with "int ledPins[] = { 0, 1, 4 };".

Fritzing Diagram of Circuit


Parts (references to Radio Shack are good as of writing--no guarantee how long they will last)
  • Adafruit Trinket 3V
  • pushbutton switch (example--any SPST switch will do)
  • Radio Shack Dual Proto Board (or any perf board)
  • Wire Light LED Strands (1 each red, white, and blue)
  • 47 Ohm Resistors (3)
  • JST-PH Breakout Board
  • 1 Quart Ball Mason Jar (any jar with a lid will do--this size works well)
  • Wire Light LED Strands: Red, White, and Blue (note that these are NOT what's shown in the Fritzing diagram--I used the closest image they had in the parts bin).
  • 47 Ohm Resistors (3, one for each LED strand): see Adafruit descriptions of the lights, above--no resistor is needed with coin cells, but " If you want to use a 4.5V power supply, use 20-220 ohms (or larger)"--so I chose 47 for the 3,3V Trinket (having noticed how much brighter the LEDs were off the Trinket vs. off the CR2032s with no current-limiting resistor).
  • Tinned copper bus wire  and hookup wire-- like this, for example--depending on distances and how much insulation you need
  • Gaffer Tape
  • 500 mAh LiPo battery
  • JST-RCY cable Note:  the battery I used (see link above) has a JST-RCY connector and the JST breakout board has a JST-PH connector, I needed this cable and the next to use it. If yours has a different connector, you may not need these at all,  or you may need something instead of the -RCY cable. The 100mAh version shown in the Fritzing diagram, and most (or all) of Adafruit's LiPos, have JST-PH connectors, making all this unnecessary. I could have just cut the -RCY connector off and spliced on the -PH cable, but that was too permanent for me...and now I have a useful -RCY to -PH adapter.
  • JST-PH 2-pin Cable
  • Drill (I used my drill press--you just need a way to drill holes)
  • Step Bit (I needed ~16mm for my switch--different switches will have different requirements)
  • Wire tools: strippers, flush cutters, etc.
  • Normal soldering equipment: iron, sucker, helping hands, etc.

The bulk of the time was spent in design--mostly how to fit everything where I wanted.  The mason jar lid cramped my style. Even thought the Trinket is small, it took some maneuvering to get the perf board, theTrinket, and the JST breakout next to the whole I drilled.
  1. I laid out the space requirements on the inside of the lid, then cut the perf board to size and experimented with positioning until I was no unhappy
  2. I drilled the hole in the lid for the switch
  3. I made the RCY to PH JST cable to connect the battery: I just soldered the 2 together and heat shrinked
  4. The LED strands referenced above come with coin cell battery holders. I needed to cut the leads from the battery holders to use them, taking care to note which lead is positive (mine had white markings on the + lead, but I tested it to be sure and marked each with red and black Sharpies).
  5. Wire it up
  6. Test and correct as necessary.
  7. Solder.
    I used tinned copper bus wire to make a ground bus down one side of the perf board, fed by the negative pin on the JST-PH breakout.
    To that, I soldered the GND pin on the Trinket and the negative leads of all 3 LED strands.
    I soldered one resistor to each positive LED lead and heat shrinked it for insulation, then soldered the other leads of the resistors to the proper Trinket pins. 
  8. I used gaffer tape to secure the circuit to the lid and the battery to the jar



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Worked All States!!

I did it! Yesterday afternoon I had a JT65 QSO with a station in Hawaii. When I checked my Logbook of the World account this morning, it was confirmed.  That completes my 50 states (mixed). I have other Worked All States (WAS) awards to pursue, but I'm really happy to have this completed.

Twenty Meters was great yesterday--I made this contact with Hawaii before I repaired my antenna (one of my side of my G5RV Jr. had broken loose from the cord that ran from the dogbone to a tree...later yesterday with help from another ham I inserted a bungee cord, re-tied the cord, and raised and tightened the antenna).

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Vintage Clock Radio Teardown

Yesterday my wife presented me with a 1966 Sears Silvertone Clock radio, model 6048.  The clock turned on but the radio did not.  I opened the case to find it was a vacuum tube device, so before I tore it down I took it a meeting of one of my amateur radio clubs, which happened to be last night, to see if anyone wanted to play with it. There was some curiosity, but no takers, so I tore it down.
Case open, pre teardown
Torn down
Salvaged Parts
After all that, I wound up with pretty much what I expected: a speaker, some knobs, 2 POTs, and some screws.  I also kept the transformer for the speaker--cursory research reveals that a permanent magnet speaker may need a transformer. I do not know if that's a function of the radio or the speaker--but I will try to find out.  I also kept the internal antenna, just for grins.

So, a piece of history bites the dust, but hopefully I will have some use for the parts.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Head Move Donkey V02: progress

After this post on my donkey update I learned some things, much of it from Adafruit Support on the forum in this thread.

First I was concerned with a statement in the MusicMaker Learning Guide "Don't forget to make sure you have a good strong 5V power supply - especially if you're using the 3W 4 ohm speakers! " It turns out that I was able to do what I needed with the 3.7V LiPo--I noticed no difference in output using the 5V 2A  wall wart.  I was even able to run everything off the 4xAA battery pack (using NiMHs only give 1.2V each, 4.8V total).  However, when I added the second Servo. I needed 2 power supplies.

Second I had trouble getting decent volume from an 8Ohm .5W speaker. I was directed to use 4Ohm 3W speakers.  I tried an 8Ohm 2.5W speaker I took out of a CRT television amd that was fine, but it's too big for the donkey.  I got some 1.25" 4Ohm 3W speakers off ebay, but they did not produce enough sound.  The smaller Adafruit version did the trick.

Third, I cooked an SD card and a MusicMaker.  I think it was while I was experimenting with power options...I may have mis-connected something.  First symptom was that it could not initialize the SD card.  I replaced it, and it got past initialization and said it was playing music but it wasn't.  Back to Adafruit for replacement board.

The reason for the second Servo is that I decided to move the donkey's tail, too.  I move the Servos in opposite directions, just because for grins.

Here's my appearance with the project on Adafruit's Show and Tell. I'm on from about 11:30 to 14:00.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

49 States!

I've been working HF for just over a year, and have been looking forward to qualifying for the ARRL "worked all states" (WAS) award.  After starting digital modes in February, I got up to 48 states, leaving just Maine and Hawaii.  I did not think ME would be a problem, since I live in Massachusetts, but it proved to be difficult.

This weekend is the New England QSO Party, so I figured that this would be my chance. I am not hearing a lot on 40 meters today (the most likely band for me to hear ME on), but I did get 1 ME confirmed now I just need Hawaii.

Any HI hams out there wanna help me out?

73, W1LEM

Monday, May 1, 2017

Head Move Donkey V02 in-process

Adafruit Feather M0, with MusicMaker and PWM/Servo FeatherWing stacked, running the Head Move Donkey code: plays
"Donkey Serenade" while moving the servo about 60 deg right and left to move the head.
As described in detail in this post, I recreated a wind-up toy that I bought for my daughter (an infant in 1978) with a Pro Trinket 3V and other components.  In the 2.5 years since, I've gotten a little smarter and the available technology has gotten a lot better, so I thought I'd try a version 2.  The biggest difference is that I needed fewer components. 
Donkey V01 
In the original, I needed an SD card reader, an amplifier, and a PWM/Servo Board. I still need those things, but the Adafruit Feather System makes it a lot simpler, eliminating most of the wiring and some of the code.  Also the Feather uses a ATSAMD21G18 @ 48MHz with 3.3V logic/power and 256KB of FLASH + 32KB of RAM while the Trinket uses the ATmega328P  at 12MHz with 28K of flash, and 2K of, the M0 is much more powerful.

Power management is slightly different. I was able to power the Trinket from a 4xAA battery pack, using the 3V output to power the SD card and the 6V to power the Amp and servo driver.  Logic levels were not a problem.  I power the M0 from a 3.7V LiPo and the Servo Wing from the 4xAA--again, the Servo is forgiving with respect to logic levels.  I probably should have had separate power sources in V01. One twist is that I'll need a DPST switch to turn on both power sources together.


Donkey V02 Circuit Working

Next steps are to construct and enclose the completed circuit and re-stuff the donkey.  Since the enclosure will be smaller, I'm going to try to get the batteries inside the donkey this time.
Fritzing Diagram of Circuit