Category Archives: Workshop

Another year…

It’s been another crazy year. I have been mostly focused on my master’s degree so I haven’t been able to participate outside of the basics and taskings. With the club, I have been keeping up but just barely. The same goes for ARES. My responsibilities in the field organization continue to expand, which is good, I’m not complaining about the responsibilities I have taken on, I just haven’t had much time to enjoy them. By in large, they have been administrative taskings so I haven’t been doing much building which has taken a toll.

At the weekly breakfast, I mentioned that the hobby has been more work than fun for a while. I think that may have put a few on edge, but it is true. School is a constant and I don’t see that going away for at least another year, I will complete my second master’s in May next year. I want to pursue a Ph.D., but I will need a break after grad school. I have some public history work lined up and I am hoping I will be more participatory in radio soon.

To that end, I am poking at PicoBallooning with some of the hams in the club. I ordered up a bunch of parts and pieces to get started in this segment of the hobby. I already have a lot of skills in APRS, packet, and sensors, microcontrollers, and singboard computers so I’m not blinded by a huge learning curve, and my aviation experience doesn’t hurt either. I would like to see us develop an actual aeronautical telemetry program but we will have to see where things go.

I also want to pick up on some of the projects that got left in the dust before moving like the Beach 40 which has been on hold since November 2015! Some of my original goals for that project have shifted, and I’m not so intent on using only discreet components as I was when the project started. There will be a reevaluation and planning period before melting solder on that project but it is on my list to get back to.

Also on the list and of greater urgency is the BPQ Node documentation project. I have three nodes to build as part of the club infrastructure upgrades in the late spring/early summer, depending on how soon we will have access to the mountaintops, enclosure roofs, and towers. This one comes first, well, parallel with some of the balloon experiments.

Added to the shack tools this year is a 3D printer, an ELEGOO Neptune 2S. It has already put in considerable benefit to the radio hobby by helping me provide cases for the BPQ upgrade project and other similar projects. I am just getting my feet wet in the 3D printing hobby but so far it is a lot of fun. I have avoided CAD for circuits and 3D modeling for a long time, it’s time to go down that road.

ARES has been tasked to provide asset tracking for a couple of parades and a foot race this year. A handful of us in ARES are working on building low-cost, low, power APRS units with an eye towards expansion into WX and sensor telemetry, multitasking the equipment. This tied into the balloon hobby as well so we have a lot of crossover in participants. I also submitted a grant for CDCA for an off-the-shelf tracker solution for the parades that we can expand on based on our other experiments in telemetry.

Lots to do, but for now, it’s back to the books.

My kingdom for parts bins!

I have discovered something interesting. It seems that when you remodel a workshop to make it cleaner and more organized, you will spend the better part of the rest of your life trying to get things back in order. No matter how much forethought I put into this remodel, I never realized how much crap I have saved up over the last 25 years of doing workshop “stuff”, in particular all of the accumulation of the last 15 years in the same place.

Tool boxes that hadn’t seen the light of day since the 80s have made their way to the surface over the last few weeks. I thought to myself “It’s a small space; it all fit in here before.” Apparently I had discovered how to fold time and space without knowing it. Things are not all bad, though. I have had the opportunity to go through miscellaneous containers from the deep recesses of my workshop and break the hermetic seals that bound their contents in a state of limbo for a decade and a half. Airing things out, taking a look in good lighting, taking time to evaluate if I am going to use something in the next six months, year, decade, never again because the part is obsolete due to no longer used the communications equipment it worked with nearly two decades ago…stuff like that. You know, cleaning house. Buckets of nails, not rusted into a red-brown pile, yet tetanus-laden enough to justify removing them from circulation. A single screw taking up a full drawer or box space, is it really worth the space it takes up? Most likely not.

Remarkably, I seem to be nearing the seventy-five percent benchmark for completion of this little adventure. With any luck, I will be back to the point I can start talking tools again before the weeks-end. Photos will hopefully become a regular addition to the site starting with the next post. Who knows, subtle suggestion of future plans we may even get some video posted to the site in the not-to-distant future. I have been wanting to get articles posted on the site more frequently in general but time has been short, and getting anything posted has been a little like squeezing blood from the stone that is my schedule.

cobblers anvilBefore I sign off for the day, I wanted to mention a tool that once again was unearthed from the depths of time and space that is my currently-disheveled workshop. My great-great-grandfathers cobblers anvil. The photo here on this page is not mine, I copied and cleaned up a photo I found here. I will post pics of my own cobblers anvil in another article. I just wanted to share a little about one of those tools from the past, something that makes me think about my predecessors. My great-grandfather and my grandmother both wore shoes made on the same anvil; shoes made by their parents. Some times I just get lost in time thinking about their daily lives and how much they depended on their tools. At times I am envious.

Until next time my fellow tool lovers,