The u.RAT as an Educational Platform

What started out as a personal project – to use the Elecraft KPOD to control the Palstar BT-1500A, has turned into an educational platform that I can use to write articles and give presentations at Makers Meetups and Ham Radio Club and convention gatherings. I’m giving my first urat presentation at EBARC in San Pablo in just two weeks –  August 11. EBARC has a bunch of Diablo DXers, so that is “my club”. I presented at their February meeting and it was “Low Band DX Antennas”.

Here are the “facets” or educational aspects of this project, and its far more than I really thought much about when I started this project:

  • The Raspberry Pi Zero W and its uses, plus “headless” operation
  • Controlling Stepper motors with the Raspberry Pi, the GPIO and WiringPi – that emulates the Arduino
  • Embedded devices and the Internet of Things (IOT)
  • Ham Shack Remote control – wired or wireless
  • Antenna tuners and when you need a balanced antenna tuner
  • Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi
  • C and Python as Maker languages
  • USB device drivers and HID vs. HIDRAW
  • OLED devices on the Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • Github and Open Sourcing a project
  • How antenna tuners work – and the different circuits employed
  • Antenna impedance matching and solid state amplifiers and what they “need” . ..

Now – this just leaves sitting on my fat behind waiting, bitching, pissing and moaning about “bad conditions” or pining for the fjords for that next ATNO. Holy smokes – this is a hobby, not a frickin job – so lets have fun!

I am going to add in wiring for my antenna analyzer – the Rig Expert AA-30 and then I can really start also teaching antenna feed points and matching circuits. I can teach all variations of an LC network. That leads to vertical feed vs. tuned feeder feed, etc. Then we can get into radials vs. non radial based low band antennas. Its the gift that keeps on giving.

I have gotten WAY more of my money’s worth out of this project – than sitting around doing the DXCC list chasing thing. Wow – DXCC can be a very limiting experience!

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