Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Cartoon about Podcasts

One of our SolderSmoke listeners sent us this, and we really got a kick out of it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

India's Amateur Radio Satellite

Steve Ford's column in the March issue of QST got me interested in a new ham radio satellite. Currently called Oscar 52 aka HAMSAT or VU-OSCAR 52, this satellite was built and launched in India. In low earth orbit, it is a CW/SSB repeater in the sky. The uplink is in the 70 cm. band, and the downlink is on 2 meters.

I already had a 2 meter loop antenna on my roof. Rummaging around the shack I soon put together a receive system: A Hamtronics 2 meter to 10 meter converter would feed into my trusty Sony SW7600GR travel radio.

The excellent "Heavens Above" website (http://www.heavens-above.com/) quickly gave me the times for the next pass. At 2239 BST on 20 May, right on cue the signals started pouring out of my little receiver. I quickly heard EA1FYM and EA7HG on USB, and DL1SMG on CW. Doppler shift seemed a bit more prounounced that what I had experienced with the RS10 and RS12 Russian sats.

It was great to hear this bird. Three cheers for the Indians who made this happen. Really impressive.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Linus Torvalds, Gadgeteer

Slashdot led me today to an interesting CNN.com interview with Open Source leader Linus Torvalds. There were a couple of lines in the article that will resonate with Gadgeteers everwhere:

Linus Torvalds: A lot of the core people just feel excited about the technology. And that's why a lot of people just start; that's where I started from, it was just the excitement of doing something yourself. It's kind of like a hobby. You can tinker with cars, you can tinker with computers. There are a lot of technical issues that are just very exciting if you're that kind of person...

Kristie Lu Stout: Do you think there was a little bit of bragging involved?
LT: Absolutely. There was a bit of bragging, there was also a bit of, hey, I still, the way I do my work is I sit these days downstairs in my basement alone. And it's nice to just talk to people and a lot of it was probably just social, just saying, hey this is a way to interact with other geeks who are probably also socially inadequate in many ways.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Greetings Gadgeteers, welcome to The Shack

Welcome to GADGETEER, a new blog for electronic homebrewers.

In an attic room in London, I maintain a small, secretive electronic workshop. I keep it quiet because it would definitely raise eyebrows among neighbors and office colleagues... "Oh, a workshop... what on earth FOR?" My kids occasionally blow my cover, and let slip that we have a room in the house known as "The Shack" ( a term derived from the traditional location for ham radio stations -- a small shack in the backyard). At first, the kids seemed surprised that their classmates didn't have shacks in their houses too.

The Shack is a moveable feast, and this is its fifth location. Originally established in Congers, N.Y. during the 1970s, my shack has also been set up in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (1992-1996); Falls Church, Virginia (1996-2000); and Sao Miguel island in the Azores (2000-2003). It has been in London since 2003. It is currently in a small room (maybe 10 feet x 12 feet) with windows that look southwest and that allow me to see the planes going into Heathrow Airport. The shack features a computer desk, a radio station table built from an old packing crate, a really excellent six foot long wooden workbench that my wife got me for Fathers Day, two book shelves holding technical manuals and boxes of spare parts, and LOTS of radio junk and memorabilia. It is getting a bit crowded in here!

I hope to use this blog to discuss the projects that are underway in the shack. I see this space as an adjunct to the SolderSmoke podcast that Mike, KL7R, and I have been producing for the last six months. See: http://www.gadgeteer.us

So again, welcome Gadgeteers. Welcome to the shack.