Category Archives: Lab Administrative

Slacker Week

Oh, I’m a baaaad boy…

I have been busy, but not so busy that I couldn’t get a small post up, what a slacker. I just wasn’t up to it, so this week is catch-up week.

The clear bins on the left replaced one of the black drawer units and brought a bunch of stuff up from under the bench

One thing that got¬†done was making some component storage changes on the benchtop. There was a bunch of stuff under the work surface that if I wanted a component I had to pull out and unstack containers to get to parts. Now most of the components and parts are on the benchtop. Staying organized is hard work. ūüėČ

The Beach 40 is getting closer to completion. I have all of the sections done(ish), I need to go back and swap out a pair of capacitors in the Audio Amp and test the RF Amp section. The biggest thing I am behind on is posting updates to the project page which I will be doing this week.

I have a bunch of day-job stuff that I need to get done this week as well so it will be a bit of a crunch on time so I don’t see much solder melting in this weeks schedule but I do believe I’ll be up and running for Field Day, *knock on wood*.

On Saturday the De Anza Electronics Flea yielded some sweet¬†fruit. A very nice edition of Andrew P. Peabody’s 1873 A Manual ¬†of Moral Philosophy in great condition. Another awesome find was a Millersfalls No. 2 egg beater style hand drill, also in really good condition. The crank handle needs a little straightening but the drill is in great condition for daily use. Last but certainly not least was a bag-o-relays. Which is what I was specifically looking for at the flea. Thirty eight¬†relays, all good for radio work, and only $20.

A really good flea market day, something for the mind, something for the hands, and something for making radio waves. What more could I ask for.

Sunday was the Bay Area Radio Builders Club meeting in Cupertino. A small gathering but plenty of radio building chin-wagging along with some show-and-tell. Topics ranged from my DSB transceiver to a Raspberry Pi controlled HT set up as an Echolink station with many more abilities under the hood, and the clubs TAK-40 radio build progress. (TAK-40 link to QST magazine article PDF)

That’s all for now, the day job beckons.

Until next time, 73,

Solder-less Progress

Some good stuff got done this week even though I didn’t melt much solder.

I had an amateur radio testing session on Saturday. It was a busy day with lots of new hams passing there Technician, some going on to pass the General exam, and even an Extra! We also had several upgrades to General and Extra.

For me the session was also a good learning experience as a VE because I had the opportunity to get some training in another job with the group.

We basically have three jobs split among the VEs present at any given session; two administrative jobs, and a panel of test examiners.  I have been participating as an examiner for the last several months. Today I received some training for the administrative side of things.

I have been putting off the testing on the Beach 40 until I get the last few details finished on the audio and RF amps as well as the LP filter. This week I am playing beginning of the month catch-up with the day job so time is short.

Also tied to everything else is the change over from Windows to Linux. I have deleted the Win partition on the laptop and am now running full on Linux. I am loosing two programs I liked but just couldn’t get them to work with Linux native or emulated and I don’t want to run virtual machines. I still have all of the data, and I do have a Windows 7 laptop in the shop I basically only use for the web browser.

The programs I am loosing are Quicken and Business Plan Pro. BPP will just go away. I exported all of the business plans I have put together over the last decade to .doc files which I can access through OpenOffice. I can use the previous plans to build new ones as needed in document formats.

Quicken is the one giving me headaches. Supposedly you can export the data to a file for import to Skrooge. No joy. After several exports and several hours I made the contagious/stupid decision to just go back and reenter all the data for this year.  It sounds a lot worse than it is. I will just do one month at a time and by the end of this month I should be all caught up. Not to mention very familiar with the new software.

I have found replacements or versions that will run on Linux or in emulation for all of my radio software an in fact found some new stuff that looks mighty interesting. Big plus here.

Along with the radio specific software, I found gEDA Schematic Editor. WOOT! It took a little getting used to the interface and component placement, but I like the results a lot. I have been redrawing the schematics I originally did on for the Beach 40 and think they look much better. I will be posting them soon to the build page. A good thing too because there are some errors on those schematics. Ooops!

One last update before I go, I was working on test prep for my commercial radio license a while ago but got sidetracked by all of the build projects and the day job. One of my goals for second/third quarter is to take my commercial radio exams, at least two of the three anyway, and get my commercial license. So I will be committing some of my limited time to that endevor over the next few weeks. The build will continue, I still hope to have the Beach 40 up by Field Day, but I need to budget more time to the Day Job/Future Day Job.

Anyway, I have 0.5TB of files syncing with Google Drive and a pile of accounting stuff that needs to find a new home in Skrooge so that’s it for today.

Until next time, 73,

Lab Book Conundrum

I have been doing a fair amount of homebrew electronics projects as of late and I am coming to a point where I need to address documentation. With my woodworking projects I really don’t worry too much about documentation. Some projects don’t even have plans beyond a couple of dimensions on a post-it note. ¬†Electronics projects are a bit different.

So far my projects have been taken from articles online, from magazines, and from books. I have kept hard copy of the designs for the most part, and any changes or additions I may have made have been noted on the hard-copy or attached as separate sheets.

Now that I am delving into the world of bigger projects and doing tests of the circuits beyond continuity at various stages in the build I should be keeping more in depth notes with test results and the like. The question is in what form should these note be. There are so many options that I’m just not sure which route to go.

DigitalDelemaThe obvious choice is an electronic notebook. I use OneNote currently and have used Evernote in the past. A part of me is a bit paranoid about data loss, so exclusively electronic notes make me uncomfortable.

I do regular backups and I keep redundant sets of data, but there is always the contingency you didn’t or couldn’t prepare for. There is also something to be said for Long Now¬†thinking when it comes to data storage. I have come across a lot of stored data in formats and on hardware that are now very difficult to retrieve and if you manage to get the data out, the big question is will it be complete.

Any body remember 5¬ľ” floppy discs? How about 10″ floppies and 8-track tapes?

This of course leads me to a hybrid solution. Digital notes occasionally printed out to hard copy and kept in binders. ¬†It’s not like I’m doing any cutting edge work or something involving national security, but if I have learned nothing else in life, I have learned this, you never know where things will lead or¬†when you will need information you have gathered. Data hoarder, maybe.

How long is long?
How long is long? This book is over 100 years old.

One definite advantage to digital notes is the ease in which that data may be shared. Another is the ease in searching through pages upon pages of notes for a specific piece of information. How about the ease in linking to other resources rather than copying that data, though this is a double edged sword. If data is not long-tail, it may not remain at its current location for very long. How long is long anyway? There is also the typographical concideration; typed notes are much more legible, by my hand anyway, than handwriting or printing.

Time for a little more research and thinking, the clock is ticking …