Posts Tagged ‘re-use’

Getting off Windows XP

With the impending end-of-life of Windows XP a few weeks ago, I found myself with a bit of a predicament:  My shack PC is a dual-core 64-bit system (3.0-GHz Pentium-D) so it’s not really a slouch performer.  But, it had only 1 GB of RAM, which was fine for XP.  I could upgrade my RAM and upgrade Windows, or I could upgrade the RAM and dispense with Windows altogether.

I opted to drop Windows.

My almost-3-year-old son helped me install 4 GB of RAM last weekend.  (Actually, he spent more time asking about the capacitors on the motherboard. Kids these days.)

I’m a long-time GNU/Linux user (just over 15 years, actually) and fan.  However, as I wrote once in the past, I’m also fan of getting things done.  So, I kept using Windows 95 / MS-DOS for many years on my hamshack computer, with a brief several-year foray into using Windows XP when I moved to TR4W logging software.  Linux finally became ready for prime time in my hamshack when Kevin, W9CF, ported TR-Log over a couple of years ago.  After ensuring it wasn’t a fad, I was ready to jump.  Over the past week or so, I’ve been tailoring the setup of everything to bring back the functionality I had previously.

So, what broke?

  • I have an nVidia graphics card for my second monitor. Failure. Not sure how much I care. Maybe I’ll look for an old ATI card or something else with drivers?  Anybody have a plain PCI video card with VGA or HDMI kicking around?
  • Windows-specific software that I’ll probably just quit using:  AVR Studio and SH5. Didn’t really use these much anyway.
  • Now, for the truly bizarre:  My Elecraft K2/100 throws an ERR 080 on power-up if I disrupt communication between it and TR-Linux (does not matter if the K2 goes off first or TRLinux quits first).  I have to disconnect the RS-232 cable at the back of the K2 for a while and then it comes back OK.
  • ARRL’s Trusted QSL software version 2.0.1 didn’t compile immediately without dependency problems. Further study indicated.

And, what works?

  • TRLinux talks to both the K3/100 and the K2/100, as well as the YCCC SO2R+ controller.
  • Made some QSOs and uploaded the signed log to LoTW.
  • Pretty much everything else…

Paddle project

20140501-212934.jpg
Over the years, I’ve fancifully imagined that I would build a set of keyer paddles. I even went so far as designing a couple concepts and collecting materials…but, inevitably I moved on from the institution with the machine shop and sucker machinist who was showing me the ropes. About a week ago, Mike, W3MC, posted a bunch of goodies for sale, including a Schurr Einbau key mechanism. Since I love my Profi 2, I snapped it up, recalling also that I had a nice hunk of brass for a base. Today, I cut and milled a little base for it. Lots of finishing and some acrylic work remain, but for now, there’s something special about a freshly-milled hunk of metal.

Recycling LMR crimp connectors

A while back, I came upon about two dozen Times Microwave Systems TC-600-NM connectors that had been improperly installed and cut off.  Knowing that LMR-600 type cable is commonly available, I stashed them for later use.  These connectors cost between $8 and $15 each, so the ability to recycle could offer a substantial savings.  I endeavored to see just what it would take to do so.

The first step is to remove the heatshrink tubing (if installed).  These connectors employed a relatively easy-to-remove heatshrink, which I was able to get off with a sharp knife.  (That probably means that they would have filled with water if they had been used.)

Twist off the old crimp ring with two pair of Channel-Lock-type pliers.

Presto!  (Be sure to do this in a work area where it is easy to vacuum up the small strands of braid that will invariably fall everywhere.)

A butane torch gets the pin off in no time.

Unfortunately, I did not have enough hands to take a photograph and demonstrate the proper technique.  Place the tip of the flame on the widest (diameter) part of the pin and rotate the cut-off coax with the pin hanging down.  The solder will melt and the pin will drop.  Reinstallation can be performed in the exact opposite sequence with the pin sitting on top of the coax.

The secret to this whole operation is the replacement crimp rings.  I originally was going to make them but since I did not know the dimensions, I was searching around the Web.  And, I discovered that Times Microwave offers them individually (part #CR-600).  So, I contacted Joel at The RF Connection and he sold me a bunch of them (second from right below) at an attractive price.

The three rightmost components—connector body, crimp ring, and solder pin, form a complete connector.  You just need to add heatshrink, which is also available from the RF Connection and many other vendors.  The trick to getting a correct installation on the connectors is to be sure that the pin seats (clicks) into the body before crimping the ring.  The whole process of disassembly takes about as long as assembly (minus the stripping step)—just a few minutes.

I recently obtained about 250 ft (80 m) of LMR-600 pieces from various places for about what it costs to fill the gas tank in my Escort.  So, this should be a relatively attractive cable for use at K8GU.

The Rupture 2011

Thanks to some quick thinking on Sarah’s part, I was able to attend the Hamvention (Saturday only—the day that the sewer backed-up and “ruptured”…spewing nasty water down through the fleamarket) for the first time in a few years.  This is a recap from my perspective.

  1. Attendance was down.  The fleamarket was shrinking.
  2. There were a lot of lookers but few buyers in the fleamarket.  Predict that the fleamarket will shrink further next year.
  3. There were still good deals to be found in the fleamarket—I picked up some LMR-600, a WA2AAU 2304-MHz amp (unmodified 1900-MHz PCS amp), a Rohn 45G rotator plate, some 20-GHz rated SMA relays, and some miscellaneous parts.  And, I passed on a few good deals as well.
  4. I saw a lot more young people than I remember from past years.  Or maybe I’m just getting older and the population of hams younger than me is growing on account of that.
  5. Hamabouts (and their drivers) were not so obnoxious as prior years.
  6. Hara Arena may be a dump (K1LT told me the story—don’t know if it’s true—that during the Rolling Stones first U.S. tour, they had been booked at Hara, but refused to play when they saw the facility); but, it’s perfect for the riff-raff who show up for the Hamvention.
  7. In the end, the Hamvention (like ham radio itself) is about the people you know and meet.  I had fabulous eyeball QSOs  with guys from almost all phases of my ham career (except the early years from 1993-2000).  The VHF/UHF weak signal crowd is a pretty amazing bunch of hams.  I had a great time getting to know some of them in the fleamarket.

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