August 12, 2015 | In: Geocaching, Ham Radio

Finish One, THEN Start Another Project…


Well…I’ve done it again. Multiple projects going at once, and none are actually getting to completion.

Project: Raspberry Pi APRS gateway. I got a RPi for Christmas, and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. I’ve settled on turning it into an i-gate for the Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS), so amateur position reports can be forwarded to the internet.  I got started on this idea after one of the California Near Space Project balloons crossed almost directly overhead as it completed a circumnavigation of the globe.  These balloons use APRS to report their locations, altitudes, etc. and I thought it would be cool to be able to relay information such as this from the aether to the interwebs.

Project: Michigan Mighty Mite 80 Meter transmitter.  I feel kinda obligated to finish this one sooner rather than later, as I got the crystal from the good folks at the SolderSmoke blog and podcast, with the idea that it would be used to build this 7-part transmitter.  I did make some progress recently, when I found the appropriate tuning capacitor.  I’m having David create a bracket with his 3D printer to hold said cap to my breadboard.  I’m also using a breadboarding technique I read about in high-school involving a wooden bread-board, and screws and cup washers to make the electrical connections.

Project: Buddipole Portable Antenna. When we head out to lighthouses for ARLHS events, or do other traveling, I want an antenna that is easy to transport. (Actually, easily transportable batteries and a smaller/lighter rig would be nice too, but they’re a ways off at this point…)  There is a commercial version of this antenna that starts at about $200, but the homebuilt version (the design of which predates the commercial one) is very doable for a quarter of that, plus I’ll be able to say “I built it myself!”  I’m in the parts gathering phase at the moment.

Project:  Function Generator.  I’m looking at modifying the plans from this Instructable (I don’t need to build my own case with a laser cutter, for instance) using an Arduino Pro Mini instead of the Arduino Uno in the plans.  I have an Uno that I could use, but I have several Minis (actually Chinese clones…legal since it is open-source hardware) that I’ll use the Uno to program.  Programming was actually one of the biggest hurdles ahead of me on this…the FTDI programmer I bought to program the Minis wouldn’t talk to them.  I finally found (thanks to the Googles) instructions for using an Uno to act as a programmer for them.

New Toy:  As you may have noticed, these projects are almost all electronic in nature.  I’ve been eyeing an L/C meter for a while to take measurements of coils and capacitors.  I recently stumbled across a bunch of inexpensive component testers that will do L/C measurements as well as testing resistors, diodes, and several flavors of transistors.  I found one I liked on Amazon, and ordered it.  First (useful) thing I did with it was to test a bunch of variable capacitors from my junque box to find one suitable for the MMM project mentioned above.

I really need to finish at least one of these projects before the end of summer, but this weekend I’ll be busy with the final Geocaching Block Party and a couple weekends later we’ll be taking Drew back down to George Fox University to start his Junior year.  We’ll just have to wait and see what transpires…

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