Sunday, January 29, 2012

NY State Portable

Today was a nice sunny day with the weather man calling for a high temperature of 45 F, I decided to spend the afternoon outside and explore a new place to set up a station. After kicking around a few places I settled on Harriman State Park in New York over the New Jersey border.
I went camping and fishing in the past at Harriman and know of a very nice overlook with a great view of the surroundings. Plus with the cold winter months no bears or snakes to meet up with, just deer and they are always nice to look at.  The equipment was on the heavy side but with the help of my backpack the short hike from the car was no big deal, just had to be careful crossing the small stream, wet feet on a cold day would have me back in the car super fast. The temps ended up at 40 F mark and the lake in the distance had a covering of ice.
Time to unpack

Equipment List:
Weaker battery
MFJ-259B (lowest SWR for the Buddipole)
Water & snacks (muffins)
Pad, pencil, & camera

BuddiPole Antenna
Ft-857D & Accessories
Only two contacts were made, a Northern Ireland station, 2I0BSA came back to my cq call and also WB8QEY from TN, both on the SSB side. My battery was not fully charged when I left so it did not last long. I tried for one more station in England but he said I was coming over at a S1 and very weak on his end. Decided to start packing up after an hour or so when the winds started to pick up.  Only two contacts but was very nice to get outside.

I can't wait to do it again.

Great View!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Education Links #1

Wonderful list of links with something for everyone courtesy of Google Plus.


I. Top Picks
II. Universities and Higher Education
III. General Collections
IV. How-to & DIY
V. Studying with Peers
VI. Online Books, eBooks, & Journals
VII. Computers, Software, & Programming
VIII. Science & Math

Khan Academy

Academic Earth - Online courses from the world's top scholars

TED - Technology, Entertainment, & Design

MIT Open CourseWare

Stanford Engineering Everywhere

Open Yale Courses

About U. - Collection of free online courses from


YouTube EDU

The Open University - Study at the OU

University of the People

University of Reddit

Open Culture - The best free cultural & educational media on the web

VideoLectures - Exchange ideas & share knowledge

CosmoLearning - Free educational website with thousands of courses & documentaries

II. UNIVERSITIES & HIGHER EDUCATIONLecture Fox - Free university lectures

More Open Courses:
Open Courseware Consortium

Harvard Extension School - Computer Science & Technology

Johns Hopkins University

Kaplan University

Notre Dame

Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study


Utah State

Google in Education

ArsDigita University - Computer science and math lectures

UC Berkeley Webcast - Central service for online video & audio for learners around the globe

UC Berkeley Video Courses - Free education online

Capilano University

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

Delft University of Technology

Rice University Connexions - A place to view and share educational modules

Stanford on iTunes U - Stanford-related digital audio content

UC Irvine

UC San Diego Podcasts

University of Chicago's Mind Online - Thought-provoking samples of critical thinking & debate

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

University of Massachusetts

University of Michigan

University of Southern Queensland

University of Sydney - Podcast episodes

University of Virginia - Podcasts & webcasts

University of Washington - Computer Science & Engineering

Utah Valley University - Online courses & open educational resources

YouTube Channels:

UC Berkeley

University of New South Wales


III. GENERAL COLLECTIONSFree Video Lectures - 800+ Online Courses and 19,000+ Videos from Top 30+ Universities on 35+ Categories

100 Intro Open Courses on Everything You've Ever Wanted to Learn

Annotum (formerly Google's Knol)

IncrediCampus - Lectures and preparation/admission advice for college & graduate schools

Learners TV - Thousands of downloadable video lectures on liberal arts, science, engineering, and more

Online Education Database - 200 free online classes to learn anything

Infoplease - All the knowledge you need

MERLOT - Multimedia educational resource for learning and online teaching

Internet Archive

101 Online Self-improvement Resources

IV. HOW-TO & DIYWikiHow - The how-to manual that you can edit

How Stuff Works

Wonder How To


Make Magazine

How-to Help & Videos for Dummies

VideoJug - Get good at life

How to Create a Book in Wikipedia

Let's Make Robots

Open Study - Study together

P2P University - Learn anything with your peers

Study Blue - Your digital backpack

WikiBooks - Open-content textbooks collection that anyone can edit

Project Gutenberg

Planet eBook - Home of free classic literature

Open Book Project

The Free Library

Many Books - Ad-free eBooks

WorldCat - Collections & services of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide

iBiblio - The public's library and digital archive

LibriVox - Free public domain audiobooks

The Assayer - Web's largest catalog of books whose authors have made them available for free Free eBook Collection

Scribd - Reading and publishing evolved

Textbook Revolution - Student-run site dedicated to increasing the use of free educational materials

Directory of Open Access Journals

eReaderIQ - Recent non-public domain freebies & price-drop alerts

Longform - New and classic non-fiction articles curated across the web

Flatworld Knowledge - The first and largest publisher of free & open textbooks

VII. COMPUTERS, SOFTWARE, & PROGRAMMINGW3Schools - The world's largest web development site

Google Code University

The New Boston - Step-by-step tutorials for multiple coding languages

UDacity - CS 101

PHP Academy

Better PHP

NetTuts+ - A large collection of coding tutorials

Tutorial Guide - The site for all your tutorial needs

Codecademy - Fun & interactive way to learn how to code

Free Technology Academy - High quality educational material based on free software & open standards

Higher Computing for Everyone - Writing basic programs

HTML 5 Please

Rails for Zombies

Ruby Warrior - Open source game to teach Ruby language

Got API - Documentation search engine

Lynda - Online software training videos

Intro to Linux

Stack Overflow - Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

DZone - Fresh links for developers

Photoshop & Graphics:Tutorial Hero - Photoshop & Flash tutorials

PSD Tuts+

Photoshop Tutorials

Graphic Tutorials

Photoshop Pack Graphic Design Resources

PSD FanExtra Tutorials

Vandelay Design - Photoshop Tutorial Hall of Fame

Grokking the GIMP

Video CoPilot - Tutorials for VFx & motion graphics

VIII. SCIENCE & MATHScirus - The most comprehensive scientific research tool on the web

Cite Seer X - Access scientific and scholarly knowledge

getCited - Academic database, directory, & discussion forum

National Science Digital Library - Explore, share, create

Science Magazine Podcasts

National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning - Science, Engineering, & Technology

KQED's Quest - Explore science, nature, and environment stories from Northern California and beyond

Freelance Teacher - Videos on physics, chemistry, math, & biology

FHSST - Free high school science texts in physical sciences & math

cK-12 Flexbooks

Paul's Online Math Notes

Reddit's List of Useful Online Math Resources

Math, Better Explained

Astronomy & Outerspace:Space Engine - Free space simulation software

Google Sky

NASA for Students

Scale of the Universe - Interactive Flash Animation

Statistics:Vassar Stats - Concepts and applications of inferential statistics

StatSoft Electronic Statistics Textbook

Connexions Collaborative Statistics

Handbook of Biological Statistics

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Miniatur Wunderland

Check out this amazing video featuring the worlds largest model railway.

In person this must be very cool.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SMT Training Course

Finished kit with cover over PC board.
Just finished up the Elenco Surface Mount Technology Training Course Kit, part number SM-200K. This was my first experience soldering a kit with just surface mount components, turned into an interesting process.

The finished kit is called a Decision Maker, by pushing a switch six LED's blink in sequence and a buzzer sounds until one LED remains on.

Theory of Operation:

6 LED's are driven by a decimal counter and two oscillators. One oscillator drives the decimal counter and the other drives a buzzer. Two timers control the counter and the oscillators. The decade counter IC 4017 is a 5 stage divide by 10 counter. This IC has 10 outputs and one clear input. Only one out of ten outputs are high, the other nine are low. Every time a pulse is fed to the clock input, output 1 will go low and output 2 will go high. Each clock pulse will move the output one position. When an LED is connected the the output, it will light when output is high. When clock is on LED's flash ON and OFF with the speed on the clock. When the clock stops only one LED remains lit.

This kit uses two oscillators, one produces a frequency of about 200 hertz, and the other is about 20 hertz.The 4011 IC contains four two input NAND gates. Two of these NAND gates are needed to form an oscillator. Both ICs act as inverters, when input is low, output is high. One oscillator controls LED's depending on if pin 1 is high the circuit will oscillate, when pin 1 is brought low, the circuit stops oscillating. The second oscillator produces the buzzer sound.

Parts List:
8 resistors, 4 capacitors, 2 diodes and IC's, 6 LED's,
PC board, buzzer, switch, battery snap.

Construction Notes:
  • Use plenty of lighting, these SMT devices are super small, TINY.
  • I also use a magnifier light with arm attachment to my desk.
  • One device is lined up over pads use clear tape to hold one side down, this make these devices super easy to solder. Never thought I would say that with surface mount.
  • Kit includes four resistors and a spot on board to place them on for practice.
  • Small soldering iron tip is helpful.
  • Funny the time is took me to line up the small devices compaired to your standard leaded parts.
  • Ultra short capacitor leads, no clipping with this kit!
  • Lay off the pre-building coffee drink, steady hands help here.

PC board with components mounted.
Smoke Test:

The LED's lit up the first time but no sound from the buzzer. I double checked both IC's and notice one lead did not have a solid connection to PC board, resoldered and buzzer sounded perfect.

This is a good kit to get your feet wet and build confidence working with surface mount devices.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

X-Wing Fighter Jet

This is a must build when things get tough at the office and you have to go into battle.

Or better yet keep one in the shack just in case someone tries messing with your on air contacts. This stealth jet will be sure to take out their dipole!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Basics: Zener Diode

Here is a very nice intro about Zener Diodes.

Simple easy to follow.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Future Stuff

Now that all the holiday running around is over my attention turns to the new year and getting settled in for the cold winter months ahead, heating up the soldering iron on component leads and PC boards.

Winter is the perfect time for building kits and playing around with components especially when the freezing temps and bone chilling winds are blowing outside. I have a few kit ideas on deck to break in 2012.

Plus this year I want to find the time for more operating from the great outdoors whether its sitting in the car somewhere memorable or walking in the woods. It's always fun when your out of your normal element, certain changes are needed on the fly. This time of the year the local parks are empty, less hassle and questions. Operating out of the car is simple, find a cool spot with a view, just slap a ham stick on the roof and your good to go. Very easy and lots of fun.

Yesterday turned out to be a lazy day watching an all time classic on WPIX channel 11, The Honeymooner's marathon. Nothing beats new years day with Jackie Gleason on the tube.