Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finland SWLing

I moved my base of operations today north to Tampere, Finland where I will be the rest of the week.  I am having fun SWLing on the ham bands hearing all the call signs I drool over working from the states like they are next door...  Because they are!  Hanging out on the low end of 20 metres mostly, but I am hearing a lot of activity on 17 metres as well.

Not much antenna to work with (about 8-10 metres of wire) but having fun in OH-land.  I will be sure to bring along a QRP rig next time I come to Europe and give those fun airport security folks something to quiz me about.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Greetings from Finland

I arrived today in Finland where I will be working this week.  I brought along a little Grundig G6 Aviator receiver (yeah, it's the "Buzz Aldrin Edition") as it is tiny, runs on batteries and also has a BFO so I can decode CW and SSB signals.  I have a little wire antenna I clip on the whip and string it up in the window of my hotel.  20 metres is very busy tonight with a lot of CW, digital and SSB signals.  It will be interesting to see how the band does as the sun goes down.  Only problem is...  I can barely keep my eyes open as I have been up for about 24 hours.  We shall see how it goes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Off to OH-land (Finland)

This weekend, I will be traveling to Helsinki, Finland for a week.  I have not had time to comply with the Finish Communications Regulatory Authority requirements to apply for a visitor amateur license, so I will not be on the air.  I expect that I will be making future trips to Finland, so I will apply for a visitor license when I return.  The Finnish Amateur Radio League can be found here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Propeller Case

I picked up a nice little lucite (I think) case for my propeller USB proto board.  Parallax has them in four colours, clear, opaque red, transparent blue and opaque black.  It is simple "tab and slot" construction and goes together easily.  It supports the proto board, super carrier board and both the USB and Serial versions of the board of education.  Very nicely done.  Someone thought this out very well.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

More propeller keyer work

I decided this evening to put a little more work into the propeller keyer.  I have added a keyboard interface to it.  If your propeller board supports a PS/2 keyboard, you can set the keyer mode to keyerModeKBD and it will use the keyboard for input rather than the paddles.  A typical keyboard interface would look like this:

The clock is wired to pin 27 and the data to pin 26, to allow the standard keyboard library to be used.

Realistically speaking, it is difficult to type blind on a keyboard, especially when you can type faster than the morse code is sending without visual feedback as to what you are typing.  It would be more realistic to implement some sort of LCD display to show keyboard input, allow backspacing, while the keyer is sending the buffer.  However, I have not yet implemented those components though I have all the necessary pieces.

I took the morse code tables from my QRSS beacon and added all the defined punctuation characters so as to have a complete implementation.  I will be sharing a new version on github as soon as I have the code completed and tested sufficiently.

I have implemented the ability to change the morse code send speed from the keyboard.  The up/down arrows change the speed by 1 WPM whilst the left/right arrows change the speed by 5 WPM range limited for 5 WPM to 60 WPM.

I plan to add memories for canned messages that can be sent with a function key press stored in EEPROM which will include serial/sequence number substitution for contest work.

Wow... Nice day...

One of those beautiful days in the Northwest that makes up for all the rainy, foggy, overcast days.  Mid-60's and clear.  Spent the day flying the cub and hanging out at airports.  It is the kind of day that brings a lot of folks out to enjoy the weather.

Ran across this little gem today in the Dairy Queen parking lot.  Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stable Propeller Clock

Well, I obtained a nice temperature compensated 10 MHz clock for my propeller board, courtesy of Eldon WA0UWH.  Here you can see the little daughter board that Eldon designed.  The normal 5 Mhz crystal has been removed and the software adjusted to set the system clock at times 8 instead of times 16, so we are still running at 80 MHz.

After spotting it on 10.140.200 MHz I captured my WSPR decode and as you can see in the last spot after touching up the pot a little, I am spot on frequency (10.140.200) and zero drift.  Yeah!  The waterfall display shows me swinging the pot through its range over several samples.

The board has a nice, though a little touchy pot to net the frequency where you want it.  It currently has a range of about 100 Hz.  In the final version, I think this will be tweaked to slow the tuning down to about 1/2 that amout or so.  Once adjusted it stays put and doesn't seem to be affected by temperature as expected.

The oscillator output looks like this:

So, I am quite pleased with this little modification to the propeller proto board.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April tom-foolery

Wow, I am usually pretty savvy about April fools jokes, but this year I have been completely taken in on several accounts including Eldon's post about his multi-bazillion mile-per-watt QRSS contacts.  The only thing I was going to challenge him on was his math...  Oh sigh...  Not bad enough I was taken in, but he had to name me in his post as though I was somehow a part of it.  Nice...  I guess I should probably get my spectrum analyzer back before I plot any kind of revenge, eh?  :)