Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ice Tube Clock


Tonight I finished the Ice Tube Clock kit from Adafruit. While this wasn’t the first kit I’ve built it was the most involved so far.  The PCB was tightly packed compared to other projects and getting all the wires on the IV-18 vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) tube through the holes and soldered took a bit of patience.  One thing I like about this kit was the steps where the circuit is tested as it is built.  It let me know that I had connected the parts correctly as I progressed.

In the future I plan to pick up a USBtinyISP AVR Programmer Kit so that I can update the firmware on the ATmega168V-10PU CPU.  One feature I would like to add would be switching the display between local time and UTC time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Run

Yesterday instead of setting off explosives to celebrate our Independence Day I melted some solder.  Taking my shiny new Hakko 936 ESD soldering station out for a spin I build the Continuity Tester kit from pQRP.  The soldering went like a dream, which I expected when using a better setup than the $10 soldering iron I had been using from Radio Shack.  With a bit of help from David, N8QG, to cut the necessary holes in the case the project is almost complete.  I still need to file out the holes and connect the jacks and switches to the case.

pQRP CT Progress

Friday, July 2, 2010

In our cups

Earlier this week was the monthly Pie & Coffee (P&C) meeting for the
Pacific Northwest QRP Club (pQRP). I hadn’t been in a few
months and I had forgotten how fun, informational and inspiring these
meetings can be. One of the things I like about the pQRP club is we
don’t have officers, dues or agendas. It’s just a bunch of people who
enjoy QRP and being social. The usual format of the meeting is we
order pie and coffee and then members who have something to discuss go
around the table and talk about what they like. Some highlights from
last nights meeting were:

Lyle, KK7P, talked about the USB Radio Interface (USBRI) project
he’s been designing. He passed around a prototype he had built and
explained its operation and design. Once the design is finish we’ll
purchase parts as a group and each have one to use in our shack. The
USBRI device connects to a PC via USB and provides a couple of serial
ports, line-in and stereo out audio connectors. Systems these days do
not have serial ports and the audio controllers on laptops leave a lot to
be desired. With the USBRI we get around that with a dedicated

Bruce, N7RR, showed off a Begali HST Single Sever paddle
and another paddle he has reviewed for an upcoming issue of QST.
After the presentations we chatted about learning CW and
backpacking with radios. A very enjoyable chat which we continued in
email the next day.

As I was about to leave Doug, W7RDP, asked if I was interested in
the pQRP Continity Tester kits the club had put together. I was but
thought I had missed out on the opportunity to purchase one. Luckily
Doug had a couple of extras. Doug and I also talked about soldering
stations since I have a few kits to build and have gotten tired with
the cheap soldering iron I have. I’m going to pick up a
Hakko 936 ESD this weekend.

A good meeting even if I didn’t get a piece of pie. ;)