I've been working toward this for a while. Since I last visited the keyer project, I rearranged my workbench so my work area is larger. My computer, which used to share half the table of the workbench now covers the entire table, and I got my microscope out and went a little nuts with the surface-mount parts. Having finished that, there was no reason not to put the through-hole parts on the board, either. And now, well, a picture is worth 1000 words, right? One of the red LED's doesn't light, and I don't know why, but there will be time to figure that out later.
With the arrival of the 0805 LED's, all the keyer parts that I have been waiting for have arrived. A couple of weeks ago, I started to populate one of the boards that I had with the parts on hand, which were the MMBT3904 transistors. So, work can now begin in earnest. More events as they happen.
A couple of years ago, I wote about a new keyer I was working on. What I meant by "working on" at that point was the software. I got a ways into that project and then essentially no farther. Life intervened and I got interested in other things and ran into some issues that I couldn't immediately overcome and a dozen other wimped-out excuses. So, it might come as a shock, assuming that there's anyone left who is paying attention, that I've not only continued to work on this project, but have actually made progress.
Here's what I want in an HF antenna. I want a compact antenna that I don't have to put high up off the ground. I want a low radiation angle. I want something that works for lots of different bands. I want something that's easy to tune up. I want decent efficiency. I don't want ground radials or, well, ground anything.
I got help from some SparkSDR users and some Hermes Lite 2 users, and it now works. SparkSDR integrates really well with the JTX software, and I can receive just fine, although it's kind of noisy.
Next, I need to make me an antenna. Stay tuned.
A few weeks ago, a local ham of my acquaintance told me about the Hermes Lite SDR radio. It's available from makerfabs.com fully assembled for about $300. I happened to have the money for it, so I said "why not?" and ordered it.
It took a while (makerfabs is in Taiwan, and they make them in batches so you can wait quite a while if your timing is as bad as mine) but the radio finally arrived. I've been using quisk to receive signals with it and that seems to work. Quisk is much easier to work with when you're using it for something it actually supports.
I've been busy working on hardware and working at work, but I started to do some software at home that I kind of want to talk about. At least I want to write what I've discovered down where I can find it and who knows, maybe this will get picked up by a search engine and it might help someone else. In my last blog post, I talked about buying a HackRF One a few months ago, and I've been building a power amplifier for that. The first version of that power amplifier let the magic smoke out as soon as I powered it up, even before applying a signal to it.
This year, my place of employment gave me an end of year bonus, and it was substantial. It was, in fact, the largest bonus I have ever received. So, I went a little nuts buying stuff, mostly electronics. I got a couple of things I've wanted to get for a while. An SDR receiver dongle that works for HF, and a device I've wanted to buy for a while, which is a HackRF One. A HackRF One is a software-defined transceiver that covers all the frequencies from 1 MHz (and possibly lower) up to 6000 MHz.
I've been licensed as KA8KPN since 1980. I have sometimes told people that it was 1979, but that's my mistake. My true story about not having an ID for the general test, but having one for the amateur extra test implies that I was licensed the year I turned 16, which was 1980. That whole time, CW has been my mode. First, with a straight key, and then with a set of iambic paddles (I received a nice chrome based set of Bencher paddles for my 16th birthday.) The thing about iambic paddles is that you need a device called a keyer in order to actually use them for anything.
Well, after thinking about it, and using all the tools at my disposal, including colorful language, I managed to get the old S8050 out of the S-Pixie kit. Now, I've been buying component assortments for years. I figure that if I want to build my own equipment, especially equipment of my own design, I'll need parts and it's better to buy cheap assortments well in advance than to order the specific parts that I think I want. I mean, the fact that I have, say, an S8050 transistor, that can guide my designs to use parts that I have rather than be overwhelmed by all the parts that there are.