Mid-March omnibus

A summary of what’s been happening lately

Tomorrow (the 19th) is the first day of Spring!

Astronomical Spring, that is. Meteorological Spring already happened on the 1st; I suppose they do that for consistency in their statistical calculating, makes it easier to just move along and ignore all of that messy real-world stuff.

First blossom of the year! Spotted this on Friday, popping up all alone in the middle of someone’s lawn. The main patch of them was nearby, but no flowers. Squirrels like to steal bulbs and then re-bury them.

Quick vignettes from the radio room

I got another battery last week

a super-cheap LiFePO4, nominally 12 volt 6 amp-hours . This is kind of an experiment to see what kind of actual capacity and lifespan I can get out of it.

The Bioenno battery packs I am currently using are absolutely first-rate, top-of-the-line products, but also very expensive!

Interesting that it is packaged like an old style lead-acid battery, I think it’s intended as a replacement for the kind of battery that would be used in an alarm box or emergency lighting unit. There are a lot of these available in all of the old formats. I will probably crack the case open sometime soon to see what is actually inside. More about this sometime soon.

Clearing off the top of the workbench

A glance at the background of the picture above shows the deep accumulation on my electronics workbench; I had to shove a bunch of stuff out of the way to make room enough for the battery and DMM. An hour or so of putting things away and reorganizing exposed a bunch of useful surface, and revealed fragments of several projects that were temporarily abandoned at various times in the fall and winter. More about these coming soon!

I also put up a shelf over the workbench for parts cabinets and test equipment, this should really help keep the chaos at a slightly lower level, overall.

I took the tr(u)SDX apart yesterday

For a long time I have been faintly annoyed by a crackling noise that accompanies any movement of the radio or battery; it happens with any combination of battery and power cord that I have tried, so I thought I would look at the solder joints of the power jack. I found them to be multiply-redundant and quite intact. I am going to scratch-build a cord and see if that is the problem.

The touch-paddle project, revived

This is one of the projects that I found while clearing the bench top, it got stymied by a failure-to-function-as-intended and was also suffering from inadequate physical structure as a demonstration of “the more haste, the less speed”. I am going to try to rectify both faults this time around.

Plenty of room for the few parts needed! Lots of structure, too!

Seen while hiking

This was sitting on top of a boulder in the center of the trail. It looks like a found-materials interpretation of one of those old pointing-finger signs, pointing up the trail. Or is it meant to remind us of the dreaded Wouff – Hong?

Other hiking notes

I have been trying to get in a mile or more whenever I can, this has put me on to the 400 State Trail a lot lately. This is a typical view:

Occasionally you will cross an old railroad bridge over the Baraboo River, or pass through a cut made in the bedrock underlying a hill:


More about the tr(u)SDX

I am starting to suspect that the pesky crackle is intrinsic to the radio, kind of like the microphonic issue that precludes using the tiny internal speaker at a volume setting higher than 12, because the new cord does nothing.

Over the weekend I loaded the latest beta firmware (2.00 x) into the radio. I have hesitated to try that for some time, having read numerous stories on the forum about trouble people had… nevertheless, over time I got the necessary package for loading it, did all of the tweaking to get it to (seemingly) work right, downloaded the binary from DL2MAN’s website … at some point, dally in preparation as you may, the time comes to just do it. Everything worked flawlessly!

Idly listening in on 20 meter CW while sitting in front of the computer.

While I’m on the subject, I want to just pay a moment’s tribute to Manuel (DL2MAN) and Guido (PE1NNZ), the creators of this remarkable little radio. The features they have managed to implement on a minimalist platform are remarkable! A real triumph of resourcefulness and ingenuity!

Tiny! (30x60x90 mm) Lightweight! (140 gm) Not Expensive! ($138 assembled)

Online, it is easy to find people criticizing this or that feature, or lack of feature, but what radios are they making and selling? Funniest of all are the ones with helpful suggestions of how they should be doing things differently. It’s easy to critique; 100s of times harder to create. I look at this thing and marvel at the compact code that fits all of these features into the 32K memory space of an Atmega 328!

Bravo! Manuel! Bravo! Guido! Bravissimo!

A note about FT8CN

Conrad (N2YCH) did a post over at qrper.com that actually revealed (to me, anyway) how actual QSOs are done using FT8CN, which is a question that has been bothering me for quite some time now. I need to study on it some more, maybe make some notes, and I will take another shot at doing my first digital activation.


Well, this represents, on & off, a whole day’s typing with many breaks … I want to say thanks to my loyal readers (you know who you are!); it is time to hit the “Publish” button to keep this timely. I am hoping to do some kind of activation Real Soon Now, tomorrow? or maybe next weekend?

I guess we’ll just see what we see.


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