Category / Amateur Radio

Irons in the Fire (Projects and upcoming geekery) April 13, 2012 at 12:49

It’s been a grind of a week this past week, so I haven’t had a lot of spare braincells to finish polishing a few post drafts that I’ve got sitting in a holding pattern right now, so it’s been a bit radio silent.

I don’t want to lose posting momentum, it’s what killed me last time, so here’s what I’ve been working on:

Ensemble RX/TX SDR – This is a software defined radio kit project for the amateur radio HF bands that I’ve been working on over the past couple of months.  I’ve got a big post about it coming up soon that I hope to have video and screencaps shot of the unit sometime this weekend.  I’m going to be rewinding coils and hopefully getting the transmit portion of this up and running this weekend.

Following closely on the heels of that, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and ordered one of the Realtek-chipset based USB DVB-T tuner widgets from an eBay seller that should be arriving any day now.  Apparently the things can be used as 64-1700 MHz software-defined radio receiver radio front-ends.  All I have to say to that is…HELL YES.  So I ordered one.  The prices have gotten jacked up from the $10-15 they were originally selling for, but for $28, if it works half as well as they say it does, it’s still a steal for experimentation purposes.

A Cobweb antenna for the house – Living in a narrow urban lot, with power and telecom lines running liberally through the backyard (I have to contend with my power lines as well as my neighbors), putting up a decent HF antenna can be problematic.  Given that ham radio operators in the UK have to deal with gardens that are in similar situations (or smaller!), I went hunting for solutions that UK hams have come up with, and ran across this antenna design.  I have all the electrical parts required, I still need to pull the trigger on ordering the fiberglass from Max-Gain (My original source doesn’t stock what I want any longer).

Near future projects:

Building a Pennywhistle HF amplifier kit from TAPR.  Giving the Ensemble a little more transmit oomph, 1W probably won’t end up cutting it.

A switchable low-pass filter for the amplifier kit and the Ensemble RX/TX – I’m probably going to go with something like the LPF-100 R3A  from HF Projects, just so I don’t have to source all the parts and gin up a PCB, I don’t have a ton of time and my layout skills kinda suck.

A Z-Match QRP antenna tuner for tuning up antennas to the radios – This one may get supplanted by finding a good deal on a QRP tuner at a hamfest.

W5YI, SK March 30, 2012 at 15:35


I just found out that Fred Maia, W5YI passed away this past week at 76, of cancer.

While I don’t expect that the few of you who are reading this nascent website yet know who this is, a lot of us in the amateur radio community do.  He was a major mover and shaker, writing a newsletter called “The W5YI Report” for over 20 years from 1978 until 2003, and was instrumental in organizing one of the two largest license exam coordinators for the amateur radio community in the United States.

I’m pretty sure I took my exams from a Volunteer Examiner team affiliated with the W5YI VEC, and I know a lot of other hams have as well.

So to Fred, I say, 73’s OM.  May the rare DX be good, the QRM and the QRN be minimal, and may all your message traffic reach its final recipient, wherever you are.  You got a lot of us started, and while many of us never met you, we may not have gotten licensed if you hadn’t done what you’d done.  You probably have done more to keep this hobby and service alive than most of us ever will.

The ARRL news release covers this a lot better than I possibly can here.