Monday, November 9, 2015

Okay...Does This Thing Work?

Hello from the world of the Surface 3! Can hardly believe it, after much fiddling got it to actually download some email and managed to get here to update my blog.


I was home sick today and so I managed to play a bit more with Surface settings and such... have no clue how to do most things in Windows 10 but occasionally something familiar pops up and I poke at it, get lucky at times.

The Windows Store

A familiar sight with the app store having selections of apps that are free and for purchase. This caters to the Apple in me and bringing up the Windows Explorer brings back the full Windows experience. At least partially.

Now off to do a quick upload and see if this actually takes. Now off to the SimSmith page for a test of downloading the latest version of SimSmith. We will see what happens...I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A New Frontier

My whole interface to you and the world has been through an aging iPad 2. I don't think I've ever written a blog entry, answered an email, commented on a forum on anything but my 3G iPad 2. Field outings were reported "live" via iOS apps all based on 'old' technology. That is until my new MS Surface 3 arrived. I remember this exact level of anticipation when my iPad arrived thinking of how to accomplish computing tasks because of the switch from Windows to iOS. Now I just gotta switch back and relearn how to do things.

A New Deal

Mainly, my reason for abandoning the iOS platform was functionality with cost being a close second. Let's face it, amateur radio just has more written for Windows than any other platform and that limitation, along with the total cost of ownership, is the reason why I chose to revert.

Yeah, but...

Okay, I must give credit to iOS because without it I may have delayed my entry into the world of blogging or social media in general. So for me, iOS and my iPad became a transitional accelerator that forced me to rethink how to do iOS things in a Windows world. I've learned a lot and now I just have to revert back to a platform that will ultimately be more viable for my needs in amateur radio.

Oh and There's This

I got a cell phone. With tethering! What? You didn't have a CELL PHONE? Yes, I'm an RF Engineer and did not have a cell phone. Holy cow, how could you have survived in this world without one? Well, I did have my 3G iPad and wasn't completely out of contact with my family, it just took on a different form. Another work-around. iOS will keep you creative.

So now I have to shoot some unboxing videos, write a blog post, tweet my thoughts, post an update status on Facebook, +1 something, upload photos from a true USB will I ever do that? Goodbye iPad2, I'm not going to miss having to wait 10 seconds for you to catch up to me or having to tap an app button five times to get you to start something, oh wait, you did start something, my conversion.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Field Day 2015 Results

Yay! Our family effort of Field Day 2015 took 7th place in the 1AB category this year. Neat. I had up the Park Portable Doublet in the back yard as we weren't feeling very well this year.

72 Everybody,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SARK-110 Display Cover

Oh BTW, the clear front screen is made out of glass! 

I was hesitant to remove the clear plastic covering adhered to the front but after struggling to keep the corners stuck down, I removed it and have come to realize that the screen is made out of glass! Probably Corning Gorilla Glass or reasonable quartz facsimile.

This little analyzer just keeps getting better and better.

Printed on Recycled Data

Saturday, September 19, 2015

2015 NE QRP Club QRP Afield Contest

Okay, the bands weren't that great today but hey, the worst day hamming beats the best day at work!

My day started out needing to rid the soffit of the Wasps that had taken up residency in weeks past. I purchased a nerve agent that was sure to do some damage initially. The problem was, the place they decided to build a nest was inside my soffit for it had been cocked open slightly due to aging of the facia and edging. But today was the day and these cold blooded creatures don't move very fast when it's 50°F outside. I got the end cap opened up and scraped out the nests with a putty knife, yes a metal putty knife like from the good old days when things weren't made of plastic!

Okay, that is done. Time to get ready for the test. As always, projects seem to devour more time than expected and once again I found myself rushing around the house getting ready. I pulled out of the driveway with 18 minutes to spare, about 5 minutes to drive up to Anthem Park. I got there in good shape and as expected it's soccer season but did I anticipate this and planned a spot near the bathrooms and out of the way of the masses.

I set up my trusty Park Portable Doublet and this time, decided to use the Elecraft BL2-BLT with a short jumper coax so I could more easily position the shady Sport-brella. There. Oh my, 43 minutes into the contest and I was just starting to call CQ. I worked Greg, N4KGL, right away and I'll bet he thought I was late. (Turns out Greg got a late start as well).

In my rush to exit the house, I forgot my spreaders and had to whittle up one from a local Cottonwood tree no longer in need of part of itself.

I started CQ-ing away with the KX3 memory keyer and great! The RIT clear function stops the memory keyer. Drat! That function became available after I complained to Wayne long enough about it and he finally incorporated it into the firmware, but the latest 10V/10W firmware "upgrade" did away with that!! ARGH! I sent off a quick email to the KX3 group alerting them of this major mistake and we'll see what happens.

Anyway, all in all I had 22 QSOs, 14 SPCs, and ran 1 Watt = 2,464 with about 5 hours op.
Last year I had 36 QSOs, 20 SPCs, and 1 Watt = 5,760

So all in all I had fun.
Thanks everybody and thanks to Chuck, K1CL for putting this on every year.

WVØH Myron
Printed on new data


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Calibration Loads for the Sark-110

I finally got around to creating some calibration loads for the complete alignment and OSL calibration of the Sark-110 analyzer.

I was mainly waiting on the 0.1% 0603 resistors to show up from DigiKey and the weekend to actually work on it. After all was said and done, I ended up with a compact single piece unit to keep track of instead of 5 little pieces.

Back to the junk drawer for the edge launch female SMAs and 0.062" board. It all went together fairly well but did have to use the drill press, Dremel tool, hand knife, nibbler, and an awl to carve out the board near the loads. The short was a round piece of copper with a hole drilled in the center and soldered down to the connector.

After calibrating my AA-600 to some know good OSL standards I checked it against this little fixture and all seemed okay. The 50-Ω load was 2 parallel 100-Ω loads and it turned out better than I expected. The 200-Ω load is a single 200-Ω load and the 100-Ω load is a parallel combination of 2-100 Ω 0.1% 0603s. The 50-Ω termination measured at least 45dB return loss at the highest frequency of 230MHz. Agilent's (or Keysight rather) threshold for CAL loads is 42dB return loss. Check.

After performing a full detector cal, all seemed to be functioning as expected. 


Friday, August 28, 2015

Good Cap, Bad Cap

So I recently purchased the Sark-110 antenna analyzer but really wanted to explore the world below 100-kHz and more specifically the world from 10-100kHz. The reason is because Electrolytic capacitors often exhibit some interesting properties in that frequency range. So, I downloaded the "b" version of the latest firmware from the Sark website.

The firmware updates are just the easiest thing to write into the unit as it's never more than a few button pushes and "beep", you're done! With it installed I recalibrated the detector complete with it's full detector alignment mode using my newly created 100 and 200-Ω loads. This by the way, this is very easy. If I, as a somewhat computer illiterate person, can do this, anybody can.

Enter the ESR measurements. I was really hoping I could find a bad cap in my junk drawer and I did. First, I set the unit to display series resistance on the (green) left vertical axis and series reactance on the right vertical axis (Xs). Later changing the right axis to the |Zs| impedance magnitude because it tells you what the total impedance is taking the capacitive reactance into account as well.

The first photo is what a good cap looks like. It's a similar vintage electrolytic 7.5μF cap. The bad cap was marked 4.7μF and looked like it had seen better days.

The maximum values (yellow marker) Rs and Zs occurs at 10kHz and is 0.81 and 2.48Ω respectively. Minimum values (blue marker 2) of 0.49Ω and 0.5Ω  at 923kHz.

Then there's the bad cap. The Rs is 1740Ω at 10kHz, and the impedance is a whopping 15kΩ!

All that's left is to recalibrate my OSL memories to the new, gladly welcomed, extended frequency range that includes the 10-kHz low end.