Art and Wires

I’m going to take this old assemblage piece and put dual cameras in side – looking out through the eyes. Then I will take two Nema-17 Stepper Motors and a proximity detector and have the head tilt and pan in an effort to follow someone as they walk by.

I’ll need to add a realistic plastic rat inquisitively checking Old Sal out …

I will also add something that makes a shrieking sound or a growl that grows in octave when someone gets near – like a dog growls and then howls. Maybe put a red led in the nose so you know he’s “locked onto you” . . .

Measuring The u.RAT With an Oscilloscope

This is a nice little tutorial on how to use a signal generator and oscilloscope to measure the resonance of a tank circuit. Here is the video:

He doesn’t show a frequency counter, but my Rig Experts AA-30 will act as a frequency counter. Here is a great video on what I might try with the u.RAT:



Siglent SDG800 Function Generator

I’ve been researching test gear, and it is actually more for my education than anything.

For pure digital circuits, the Salaea Logic Analyzer is a good choice, and while I understand it can handle some analog signals, this is where a function generator and oscilloscope comes in.

At, I can draw a schematic diagram and simulate what it would look like in an oscilloscope:

Then I can build the circuit on a breadboard and measure it with my test gear. 

Between this simulation and the real test gear, plus my favorite new electronics book:

I will be learning so much and haven’t been this excited about the ham radio hobby pretty much ever. I always wanted to really understand electronics – and in a very hands on “visual” way. Today’s technology is where I have wanted it to be for a long time. We live in an amazingly great time, technically speaking, wish I could say that politically . . .  alas ….

So, with this gear, plus my Fluke DMM and Rig Expert AA-30, I set to test, explore, and learn about electronics in a way I couldn’t before.

First u.RAT Presentation at EBARC and Making vs. Collecting

Saleae Logic Analyzer- with an Arduino sketch that loops and continually sends the word “Hello”

My good friend Mike, KJ4Z and I had a nice chat about DX-ing vs. Making in the Ham Radio hobby. Mike made a comment that is so true – he said DX-ing is all about “collecting” and that over time there is less and less to collect and it gets harder to collect – meaning there is a certain “planned obsolescence” baked into that pursuit. Collecting is a very solitary pursuit – you really only care about your own collection. On the other hand, Making offers building and learning and as you go, and it gets easier as you go. I would add that because technology changes, the opportunity to grow is limitless. As long as you have some imagination, making never gets stale or obsolete.

Mike has been doing the (modern) Maker thing longer than I have, although, back in the 90’s I did build several QRP transceivers as a way to try to get back into the hobby after being completely out of it since 1977. So “Making” is not new to me, but the world has changed since the days of stuffing PC boards with discrete components. Even after I stopped making QRP rigs, I did continue to design and build antennas and matching circuits.

From 2001 until 2013, I worked toward DXCC Honor Roll, and was pretty much a 100% dedicated DX-er. I was a full time collector and collected ATNO’s while being holed up by myself in my shack. .

I also made 8BDXCC, and soon will have 9BDXCC with 160M DXCC. The problem – its been so drop dead boring since Honor Roll, and yeah – I agree with Mike – the planned obsolescence really can get to you if all you do is wait around. I totally disagree with those who think adding new entities to keep the participants happy is the way to go. I find that as pathetic as someone who laments that things were so much better in the past – and so they anachronistically live for days that are long gone. They can have that.

Saleae logic analyzer sampling data being sent by the Arduino

The Maker world is one where people share and work together – like a friendly world wide net where people say hello and share ideas. If you are so inclined, there are Maker Faires, Maker Spaces and Meetups where you can get together and share.

One thing I found with the DX Community is that there can be really weird and negative behavior – both amongst “armchair DX-ers” and DX-peditioners. There is a lot of anti-social behavior in the DX Community, and I’ve grown tired of it. At the same time, I have come to meet and greet Makers who are always upbeat and sharing. What a difference!

Last night I gave my first u.RAT Presentation at EBARC, and the presentation is posted here:

The place was packed, and I had been warned ahead of time that attendance lately at the Club Meetings had been very lite, so expect that it would just be a good “warm up” for Pacificon.

To my surprise, not only was the place packed, but the interest level was much higher than any of my DX or DX Antenna presentations. They had always gone over well, but I could tell by the questions at the end that the Maker aspect of ham radio will have a much larger crowd than DX-ing ever will. Pacificon is usually a big EMCOMM ordeal, but the Maker contingent there has grown in recent years. It has never had much of  DX presence – you have to go to Visalia for that, and honestly, DX Conventions start looking the same after just a few years. There’s announced DX-peditions, praise for successful DX-peditions, a raffle and sometimes a “Last Man Standing”. I have always found the DX Community to be quite “cliquish” and somewhat closed.

I will pursue both – I don’t think one boxes out the other, but my participation moving forward will be 95% Maker and 5% DX-er – its just because I am at the end of the “collecting” line.

The Mandelbrot Set and Art Chaos

I just Googled Mandelbrot Set Art and as I had expected, found an amazing psychedelic world way better than silly tie dyed. . .

I am going to play with variations on the Mandelbrot Set equation, just to see how it renders as art work. You might know that I absolutely love “The Monochrome Set”:

So, my “inside joke” is that there is a New Wave band called “The Mandelbrot Set”.

Also – I now have a logic analyzer and a function generator to go along with my Oscilloscope. You know that I have been fascinated with reducing noise on 160M, and well, The Mandelbrot Set came about due to noise on a telephone line disrupting data transmission. 36 Years into my career, and Electronics, Computing and Art converge!

Mandelbrot Set

IBM had a problem – they had noise on telephone lines which caused data errors way back in the day. They hired some very interesting people to solve the problem, and this video is quite fascinating – and really fun:

Just for fun, I found and ran a simple Python program that produces a Mandelbrot Set (a Fractal):

from pylab import *
from numpy import NaN
def m(a):
	z = 0
	for n in range(1, 100):
		z = z**2 + a
		if abs(z) > 2:
			return n
	return NaN
X = arange(-2, .5, .002)
Y = arange(-1,  1, .002)
Z = zeros((len(Y), len(X)))
for iy, y in enumerate(Y):
	print (iy, "of", len(Y))
	for ix, x in enumerate(X):
		Z[iy,ix] = m(x + 1j * y)
imshow(Z, cmap =, interpolation = 'none', extent = (X.min(), X.max(), Y.min(), Y.max()))

First Stop on the u.RAT World Tour: EBARC in El Sobrante

I will be giving my first Maker – Ham presentation at the EBARC meeting this Friday:

7:30pm, Friday, August 11th, at the El Sobrante Library on Appian Way

This will be my “warm up” for Pacificon, and several Diablo DXers will be on hand