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…