Or….how I almost ruined my own birthday present.

I had it planned so well: on Friday night I put in all the resistors and capacitors on the Opentracker+ PCB. On Saturday I soldered them on, then put in the other components and soldered them on too. Did a pretty good job, with neat soldering joints. Then last were the two DB-9 connectors. Piece of cake, until I decided to hook the cables up: Bugger! I had switched the male and female DB-9 connectors, so I couldn’t hook up anything!

An hour, a meter of soldering wick and some strong words spoken to myself later they were off. Have I ever mentioned that I don’t like double sided PCBs? No? Well, here it is: I DON’T LIKE DOUBLE SIDED PCBs!!! From a designers point of view I can understand that double sided or multi-layered PCBs are easier to work with and much more efficient. But from a tinker’s point of view they are horrible if you want to (ex)change some components. I noticed that too with the Hi-Per Mite PCB which I made last time.

And yes, I did damage the PCB a bit when removing the connectors and moreover, Murphy paid a visit because it was the most important connection on the data side of the board. After I had figured that one out I carefully soldered a by-pass and I had communication going on between the tracker and my PC. (The Opentracker software is running under Wine on Linux and had no problems with my KeySpan USB-to-serial adapter). The new Baofeng UV-5R was connected to the laptop running Xastir and my other HT, a Kenwood TH-F7E was connected to the tracker. And guess what? It worked! The GPS module found a satellite signal and tracker happily broadcast it to the world, telling it where BX2ABT was located at Sunday afternoon. It was a small world, because I was only running 50 milli-Watts, so the only one who heard it was myself.

But that doesn’t matter. The first steps of BX2ABT on the APRS path are a success and soon Taiwan will have another APRS beacon to track.

Hans "Fong" van den Boogert, BX2ABT, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Taiwan. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “Bugger!”

  • Cliff Fox KU4GW:

    I am so glad that everything worked out for you in the end Hans! Enjoy your APRS tracker and very 73!

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