Project collaboration

During my working life I collaborate with a large groups on multiple sites and we do stuff together. When I am attempting a radio projects I take on a different tack. I attempt to be either an expert in many things or I follow sets of instructions slavishly. Most of the time it takes a long time and there are numerous failures or dead ends along the way. I’m not sure why I do this.

There are many websites that will offer support to the frustrated builder or keen expert. But few that offer hobby collaboration (or at least I haven’t looked too hard but a quick trawl didn’t really yield much). I wonder why that is? A probably misquoted quote goes along the lines of ‘Travel alone, travel fast. Travel together, travel further’. You could argue that sites such as forums offer support and collaboration by using a project management analogy, I can not agree with that. Tasks are not identified, resources are not defined and task durations are not agreed. Expertise is sought, sometimes this results in no responses.

A local ham was at the centre of a project that has now become a major SDR rig. He worked from home, in the evenings with a group spread around the world. They have developed a really astounding product that is now sold as part of the Apache Labs brand. Why is this approach not prevalent?

I’m not offering a solution, just a question. Does a place exist or am I right in assuming that there are some international superstars that produce lots of ‘things’ from 3D designs through to circuit boards and kits that hobbyists use? I think there ought to be a place where we can go to collaborate. I just don’t know where it is or how to engage with it….yet.

SatNOGS lives

The 3D printed satNOGS rotator that a few of us are building lives. Its a big deal for us as its taken us a while to get to this point. There’s still quite a few things to sort out but its good to see the thing running. Here’s the proof

RPiGate again

For a few weeks I have been attempting to use an RTL-SDR and a raspberry Pi 2 as an APRS iGate. Dutifully following a number of tutorials I failed to ‘Kalibrate’ the dongle several times and so put it to one side. Today however I have managed to get the thing running. Not with the original tutorial but with a different application called ‘Direwolf’.

There are quite a few clever sods kicking about and the guy who pulled this together is no exception. John Langer,WB2OSZ has not only produced a cracking application but also one of the most straightforward and detailed installation documents as well. What I particularly liked was the way that there was a step followed by an explanation of what the step was meant to achieve. I’m no great linux fan, partly because I don’t understand what the hell is going on and more importantly for me, why its not doing what I thought it should do and why. This small success may point me more in that direction though.

More to the point see. I told you it was working!


speed = distance over time


Speed does = distance over time. In terms of CW my speed is currently around 12wpm with a character speed of around 20wpm. I have been at a distance from a qso for over a month now and I am experiencing what is called a plateau. Or is this my natural speed?

If I go for a run, I know I can run at a certain pace for a certain distance. Nowadays no amount of training will get me down to what I could once do when I was in my teens (back then I could do around 1 to 2 minutes quicker for a mile). This was the same back then. I have a capacity and I know it well. Is the same true for CW?

Can I only do a certain speed?

How do I find a natural speed and maintain it? (Overtraining is a crime!)

My normal excuse is I need a new pair of trainers. Surely I need a new morse key, right?

Minima Digital Board

After procrastinating for a very long time I finally summoned up the ‘whatever it was I needed to summon up’ to get a move on with the Minima transceiver. I planned on tackling the digital board first as it seemed logical. It did however need me to solder an Si570 onto the board without any solder paste. So it was going to be a bit of a struggle.

The method I chose was to put a healthy load of flux on the pads and a blob on both of the ends. Align the chip then solder one end, applying a small amount of pressure onto the chip. Then the other end, then back to the first and then to the second again. Making sure I had seated it correctly. after that the other pads seemed dead easy.

The result was that it worked (I think). Although I am unsure as to why is does stay on a single frequency. This will need a bit of looking at. Here’s a very brief video.