Craig Combes just posted this to the PalmAstro Yahoo Group (note that you’ll need to be a member, or become a member, in order to follow the link and see his picture):

Hi Guys,
I came up with a newer board that fits nicely in a roughly 3 3/4″ x 2 3/8″ x 1″ enclosure that has a space for a 9v battery. So I have some complete systems that I’m selling for $100, and that includes some encoder connectors. I’ve uploaded a photo here:

Craig Combes

Earlier this year Craig sent me a description of his bluetooth DSC system which I added to my Digital Setting Circles pages. Go there for a full description. Contact Craig directly if you have questions or want one of his systems.

If you’ve read my past posts here about my antenna projects, you know that I live in a covenant-restricted neighborhood that supposedly doesn’t allow outdoor ham antennas (at least none visible from the street). Thankfully, there is no homeowners association or dues that support covenant enforcement, and none of my neighbors had thus far even mentioned the short vertical antenna I built and installed in my back yard.

Up until now, I hadn’t really given that antenna a good workout. But last weekend was Field Day, and this year I had to settle for working Field Day from the shack. Sadly, I was disappointed by my antenna’s performance. Although I managed to work 50 QSOs in four or five hours, I struggled to hear and contact other stations, even when running 100W. The noise level was very high, and signal levels were underwhelming. I worked only two SSB stations, the rest being CW contacts. It was time to rethink my antenna situation.

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For a surprising number of folks, my Digital Setting Circles project is their first introduction to electronics construction techniques–mainly, the art of soldering. If you’ve never seen it done correctly, soldering can be an intimidating prospect. Someone asked me the other day whether there were any YouTube videos of someone constructing my project (none that I know of). That got me thinking–there must be plenty of “how to solder” videos around. So I checked, and sure enough, YouTube has quite a few of them.

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The parasitic Lindenblad, that is. I wrote in a previous post about how I was gathering the parts to build the parasitic Lindenblad antenna for 70 cm that appeared in an article in the February 2010 QST magazine. Since then, I’ve actually managed to build one of these beasts, and for what it’s worth, it even looks like the one in the picture in the article. My first trial with it on a good pass of AO-51 was less than impressive, though. For this trial, I used my Kenwood TH-F6A connected directly to the antenna with a three-foot section of RG-8X coax (to minimize the effect of feedline losses, which can be appreciable at 70 cm). There were moments when I had good copy on the satellite, but they were few and far between. I was a little disappointed, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet. Knowing that the antenna, being more-or-less omnidirectional, didn’t have much gain (especially compared the the handheld Arrow Antenna yagi I’d been using), I wondered if a preamp might be necessary.

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A few weeks ago I posted about a new Chinese ham radio satellite, and mentioned a couple of satellite antennas I was considering building. Just a few days later I found the latest QST magazine in my mailbox, complete with an article about (you guessed it) another ham radio satellite antenna project! This one, by AA2TX, describes an antenna he calls a parasitic Lindenblad (here’s a link to an AMSAT article). The antenna, for 70 cm, is right-hand-circularly polarized with an omnidirectional radiation pattern. This makes it well-suited to amateur satellite applications. I liked this design better than some of the others I was considering, so I decided to give it a whirl.

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When shopping for a new car, a ham isn’t thinking about performance, color, or gas mileage. Instead, he’s asking himself, “Where can I put the ham radio?” It’s not that a ham will necessarily disqualify a car from consideration based on the ease with which a 2-meter rig can be installed. Rather, he looks at it more as an interesting engineering challenge–the more interesting, the better. After all, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be interesting, would it?

I certainly made things interesting for myself last week when I purchased a 2007 Pontiac G6 GT hardtop convertible. It’s quite a car–200-hp 3.5L V6 (not overwhelming, but adequate), power everything, heated leather seats, awesome Monsoon sound system with XM radio and a 6-CD changer–it’ll be nice and comfy for my half-hour-each-way daily commute.

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On 15 Dec 2009, AMSAT China launched a new amateur radio satellite, now designated as Hope Oscar (HO) 68. This satellite not only has a V/U FM repeater but also a V/U linear transponder for SSB and CW as well as a packet BBS system. This one should be great fun to work. Here’s a Youtube video giving the details:

Now I really need to get crackin’ on that backyard satellite antenna–maybe W4RNL‘s turnstile antenna (from the Aug 2000 QST), or W6NBC‘s quadrifilar helix antenna (from the Oct 2009 QST). Or maybe it’s time to concoct that servo-driven crossed yagi for auto-tracking the satellite…

I confess to a general loathing of antivirus software. For many years I ran Norton Antivirus on all my computers, gritting my teeth and forking over the subscription payment every year while wondering if it was worth it. And, over those years, Norton forced me to upgrade periodically or I wouldn’t continue to receive antivirus signature updates. Every upgrade was more bloated than the last and further degraded the performance of my computer. Norton and McAfee were in such a race for market share that their products were increasingly stuffed with “features” that I neither needed nor wanted. And never during this time did Norton ever report finding or protecting me from a virus. Was all this virus business just a bunch of hooey?

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