Archive for category Amateur Radio
Following a linkie I can no longer find led me to retrieve the Tektronix Circuit Computer in my Box o’ Slide Rules:
I’m pretty sure it came from Mad Phil’s collection. One can line up the discolored parts of the decks under their cutout windows to restore it to its previous alignment; most likely it sat at the end of a row of books (remember books?) on his reference shelf.
The reverse side lists the equations it can solve, plus pictorial help for the puzzled:
Some searching reveals the original version had three aluminum disks, shaped and milled and photo-printed, with a honkin’ hex nut holding the cursor in place. The one I have seems like laser-printed card stock between plastic laminating film; they don’t make ’em like that any more, either.
TEK PN 003-023 (the paper edition) runs about thirty bucks (modulo the occasional outlier) on eBay, so we’re not dealing in priceless antiquity here. The manual is readily available as a PDF, with photos in the back.
Some doodling produced key measurements:
All the dimensions are hard inches, of course.
Each log decade spans 18°, with the Inductive Frequency scale at 36° for the square root required to calculate circuit resonance.
Generating the log scales requires handling all possible combinations of:
- Scales increase clockwise
- Scales increase counterclockwise
- Ticks point outward
- Ticks point inward
- Text reads from center
- Text reads from rim
I used the 1×100 tick on the outer scale of each deck as the 0° reference for the other scales on that deck. The 0° tick appears at the far right of plots & engravings & suchlike.
The L/R Time Constant (tau = τ) pointer on the top deck and the corresponding τL scale on the bottom deck has (what seems like) an arbitrary -150° offset from the 0° reference.
The Inductive Frequency scale has an offset of 2π, the log of which is 0.79818 = 14.37°.
The risetime calculations have a factor of 2.197, offsetting those pointers from their corresponding τ pointer by 0.342 = log(2.197) = 6.15°.
A fair bit of effort produced a GCMC program creating a full-size check plot of the bottom deck on the MPCNC:
By the conservation of perversity, the image is rotated 90° to put the 1 H tick straight up.
The 3018 can’t handle a 7.75 inch = 196 mm disk, but a CD-size (120 mm OD) engraving came out OK on white plastic filled with black crayon:
The millimeter scale over on the right shows the letters stand a bit under 1 mm tall. And, yes, the middle scale should read upside-down.
Properly filling the engraved lines remains an ongoing experiment. More downforce on the diamond or more passes through the G-Code should produce deeper trenches, perhaps with correspondingly higher ridges along the sides. Sanding & polishing the plastic without removing the ink seems tedious.
The Great Dragorn of Kismet observes I have a gift for picking projects at the cutting edge of consumer demand.
More doodles while figuring the GCMC code produced a summary of the scale offsets:
Musings on the parameters of each scale:
How to draw decades of tick marks:
It turned out easier to build vectors of tick mark values and their corresponding lengths, with another list of ticks to be labeled, than to figure out how to automate those values.
More on all this to come …
The PTT switch on Mary’s Tour Easy became intermittent:
It’s been sitting there for least five years, as witnessed by the sun-yellowed hot melt glue blob, which is pretty good service from a switch intended for indoor use. The 3D printed button never fell off and, in fact, was difficult to remove, so that worked well.
I took it apart and cleaned the contacts, but to no avail, so her bike now sports a new switch with a similar rounded dome:
I clipped the wires a bit beyond the terminals and soldered the new switch in place, so it’s the same cable as before.
Now, to see how long this one lasts …
The Baofeng UV-5R radios on our bikes seem absurdly sensitive to intermodulation interference, particularly on rides across the Walkway Over the Hudson, which has a glorious view of the repeaters and paging transmitters atop Illinois Mountain:
A better view of the assortment on the right:
And on the left:
Not shown: the Sheriff’s Office transmitter behind us on the left and the Vassar Brothers Hospital / MidHudson pagers on either side at eye level. There’s plenty of RFI boresighted on the Walkway.
Anyhow, none of the Baofeng squelch settings had any effect, which turned out to be a known problem. The default range VHF covered a whopping 6 dB and the UHF wasn’t much better at 18 dB, both at very low RF power levels.
We use the radios in simplex mode, generally within line of sight, so I changed the Service Settings to get really aggressive squelch:
I have no way to calibrate the new signal levels, but I’d previously cranked the squelch up to 9 (it doesn’t go any higher) and, left unchanged, the new level makes all the previous interference Go Away™. Another ride over the Walkway with the squelch set to 4 also passed in blissful silence.
If the BF-F9 levels mean anything on a UV-5R, that’s about -100 dBm, 20 dB over the previous -120 dBm at squelch = 9.
The new squelch levels may be too tight for any other use, which doesn’t matter for these radios. As of now, our rides are quiet.
[Update: Setting the squelch to 5 may be necessary for the Walkway, as we both heard a few squawks and bleeps while riding eastbound on a Monday afternoon. ]
I bought a pair of third-party 3800 mA·h batteries for the Baofeng UV-5RE Plus (whatever that means) radios on our bikes. Oddly, the packs carry the same “Model BL-5” identification as 1800 mA·h batteries shipped with the radio:
The obviously mislabeled “Baofeng” battery eliminator also sported a 3800 mA·h label:
I conjured a “test fixture” from a clamp, copper sheet, and copper tape snippets:
Which produced interesting results:
The 250 mA load = 15 hour rate seemed reasonable to simulate radios spending most of their time in power-save mode, but the packs still delivered only 2.8 A·h.
The packs also claim an unnaturally precise 28.12 W·h, but they’re still underperformers at 20 W·h:
Anyhow, I can run the radios for a week without (worrying about) running out of juice during a ride.
The DSO150 oscilloscope’s specs give a 200 kHz bandwidth, so a 50 kHz sine wave looks pretty good:
A 100 kHz sine wave looks chunky, with maybe 25 samples per cycle:
The DSO150 tops out at 10 µs/div, so you can’t expand the waveform more than you see; 25 samples in 10 µs seems to be 2.5 Msample/s, exceeding the nominal 1 Msample/s spec. I have no explanation.
A 10 kHz square wave shows a blip just before each transition that isn’t on the actual signal:
At 50 kHz, there’s not much square left in the wave:
And, just for completeness, a 200 kHz square wave completely loses its starch:
A 10% (-ish) duty cycle pulse at 25 kHz has frequency components well beyond the scope’s limits, so it’s more of a blip than a pulse:
The pulse repetition frequency beats with the scope sampling and sweep speeds to produce weird effects:
Tuning the pulse frequency for maximum weirdness:
None of this is unique to the DSO150, of course, as all digital scopes (heck, all sampled-data systems) have the same issues. The DSO150’s slow sampling rate just makes them more obvious at lower frequencies.
Key takeaway: use the DSO150 for analog signals in the audio range, up through maybe 50 kHz, and it’ll produce reasonable results.
Using it for digital signals, even at audio frequencies, isn’t appropriate, because the DSO150’s low bandwidth will produce baffling displays.
Baofeng UV-5 radios can (mostly) eliminate the loud hiss heard at the end of a transmission before the squelch kicks in after the received carrier drops:
Menu → 34 STE → ON. A detailed description of the option suggests it’s a 55 Hz subaudible tone sent for 250 milliseconds after the sender releases the PTT and before the transmitter stops sending, with the receiver muting its audio during the tone. Obviously, this requires a Baofend radio at each end of the conversation, which applies to our bikes.
Saying “laaaa” while kerchunking (into a smaller dummy load than the hulk) with STE OFF:
Compared to the received audio, the squelch tail hiss is really really loud.
Then with STE ON:
You can see the STE tone reception start about 250 ms before the audio cuts off, although it’s not at all clear the audio is muted on either end. In any event, there’s no squelch tail worth mentioning, even if there’s an audible tick when the STE tone starts.
Saying nothing with STE ON:
It’s unlikely the audio output would include the subaudible tone, but you might convince yourself something happens in the 250 ms between the STE blip near midscreen and the final pop (now clipped) as the audio drops.
All in all, a definite improvement!
Perhaps because we’re using better quality earbuds, the Baofeng UV-5 radios on our bikes produce extremely loud audio, even with the volume knob just above its power-on click. Reducing the volume requires a series resistor downstream of the diodes clipping the pops:
The color codes come from previous work.
Because we have different earbuds and different hearing, my radio has a 140 Ω resistor and Mary’s has a 430 Ω resistor. Getting the right value requires a few iterations of on-road testing, but it’s not particularly critical; the volume knob should end up roughly in the middle of its range.
For now, all the “circuitry” lives among layers of Kapton tape:
Speaking of volume knobs, Baofeng radios have large flat-top cylindrical knobs (unlike Wouxun’s fluted knobs), so I added a pointed snippet of reflective tape to make the position visible:
The flash lights it up, but there’s enough backlighting behind your (well, my) head to make it easily visible under normal conditions. Once you figure out the proper volume, it’s easy to set the pointer in that direction before every ride.
To the road!