What’s (not) in a Name?
So, the typo gremlins were out in full force for the
January 2016 magazine. In regards to the Keytar article,
unfortunately, the writer’s last name was misspelled as
"Levin." The correct spelling is "Lavin." We apologize for this!
Bryan Bergeron’s recent editorial — "For Learning, Old
School Can be the Best School" — really resonated in large
measure with my own experience. It started with building a
crystal set in 7th grade. I was awed by how much pleasure I
had tuning in far off radio stations on a clear day; how I
could improve reception by learning about circuits. All wire
and parts then were from junk radios and coil forms from
around the house — all for very little cost. This then
expanded into understanding circuits for amplification of
sound and the enjoyment of high fidelity. Many hours were
devoted to experimenting with different amplifying circuits,
speakers, and their enclosures.
As I reflect, it started with the Edisonian approach to
learning, and then getting more academic with the study of
physics in college. That early trial and error experience,
however, heightened my passion for learning diverse things
— in my case, to improve the audio experience so that
classical music is exhilarating.
I support the premise of your article — especially for the
passion that can inspire the young. My observation of many
children today is that they have little time to dream about
their future because they are driven into sports. I have 11
grandchildren from 12-20, and only one had a technical
interest when young; he is now studying mechanical
engineering. The others seemed consumed with sports. The
technical career path was rewarding for me on several
levels, and I hope parents and educators will encourage
more young people to follow their technical interests.
Thanks for the note. I've seen the sports focus you refer
to. I enjoy sports and think it's important for students to
experience teams, but to the exclusion of all else is a mistake
for which we're paying the price. I'm glad that your grandson
is following your footsteps into a technical future.
I've been having a blast with the SDR receiver ("An
Ultra Modern Shortwave Radio," by George Steber) in the
July 2015 issue. I'm a Ubuntu Linux user, so I found Gqrx as
an alternative to SDR# and from there discovered Fldigi,
Pulseaudio, and Websdr.
Based on inspiration from Ron Hackett's articles, I did a
strip board layout for the 24 MHz upconverter. Amazingly
enough, it worked the first time! I did discover that what
looks good on a paper strip board layout can be very tight
when actually soldering the components, however. I will
spread things out a bit more on my next layout. I used
Fritzing to print out a bare strip board format and used this
to do a component side layout on paper. I then went back
into Fritzing to enter the trace cuts and exported this as a
png file. I read this png file into Gimp and flipped it side for
side to produce a solder side image that I could use to cut
the traces on the strip board. I used a 3/32 drill bit in a
battery screwdriver to cut the pads and a ball bit in a
Dremel to clean up the cuts.
I built the BPF version and I can pick up SWL stations
across the HF bands. I have not been able to pull in any
ham band activity (as was mentioned in the article). I’m
going to add the tuned filter/pre-amp circuit next; one for
80/40/30 meters and one for 30/20/15/10 meters.
Hopefully, I will be able to receive the ham bands at that
point. Many of the WebSDR servers use RTL sticks and they
Glad you put the article to good use!
We're both horologists! Can you imagine that?
I read in your editorial in the November 2015 issue that
you had an unfortunate encounter with a "magnetized"
timepiece. Ugh! I hate it when that happens. Typically, I take
everything apart and degauss the culprit part. That part is
the hairspring — the only part made of steel inside a quality
watch. It's always the hairspring. Even inexpensive watches
with steel mainsprings; it's the hairspring that gets all of the
"attraction" attention. I usually remove it and run it through
the coil treatment (gently pulling it away from my
homebrew circuit). Then, back it goes into the watch.
Why does it make the watch run erratic? Simple. As you
know, the hairspring drives the balance which toggles the
lever; that strikes the pallets, moves the escape wheel, and
Continued on page 64
6 March 2016