Logger project

Progress on my radiology equipment tracker has been coming along pretty nicely. After adding a bunch of new much wanted features, development on it has slowed down a bit while I figure out what else I want to add, and learn more to fix/refine what I’ve already done.

In the coding world, everybody says the best way to learn something is to work on projects that you’re interested in. In that spirit, I started working on a web based logging program using Laravel and PHP.

There are already lots of great logging programs out there, and maybe eventually this will become one. The primary purpose of this newest project though is to expand my Laravel/PHP/Javascript programming skills. Both PHP and Javascript have come a long way from the simple HTML add-ons they were when I first started doing web stuff, so in some ways it’s like starting over with new languages now. In the process, I’ll take the new knowledge I gain and carry it over into my equipment tracker.

The logger is still in the very early stages. I’m still working out the database schema, so there’s not really any working code yet.

For lack of creativity, I’m calling it AB4UGLogger for now. Feel free to following along, contribute, fork or make suggestions.

Mystery component

At some point in the recent past, probably at a hamfest, I acquired these red square components.

Mystery component
Mystery component

I’m sure whoever I bought them from at the time told me what they were and that I thought they’d be something I could make use of. However, I neglected to label the bag with any information about them, probably because I figured I could find info about them online.

Silly me.

Fast forward to the future and I come across them again during another round of the “Organize the closet” game.

According to the printing on the components, they’re some kind of wide band transformer made by the Vari-L company. I’m guessing 9531 is the part number, and Z-Match is a model or branding for this part. No idea what the HF:112 might refer to.

They’re 0.5″ square by 0.25″ tall with 6 pins spaced 0.2″ apart (they fit nicely into a breadboard).

Mystery component pin numbering
Mystery component pin numbering

The numbering of the pins seems a little odd to me, but what do I know.

My Google-fu hasn’t yielded any useful results about the component itself, although I did find out the company was sued by the SEC in 2001 for financial reporting fraud and sold its assets to another company in 2002.

No idea how far back these parts date to, but considering the company history, it’s likely these little red squares are old enough that there won’t be much info online.

Using my multi-meter to probe the pins, I found that pins 1-3 and 2-4 are connected, while pins 5 and 6 don’t appear to be connected to anything. I guess my next step will be to put some kind of signal through and see what comes out the other end.

Update: Thanks to Thomas/LA3PNA for pointing me to a datasheet for the part (his Google-fu is strong). It turns out the 9531 is a date code (Week 31 of 1995) and HF:112 is the part number. Naturally, an obsolete part which Mouser shows as being manufactured by Qorvo, while the data sheet shows Sirenza Microdevices. The specs on the datasheet are consistent with the parts that I have. Thomas also suggests that they would probably be useful in an transceiver, so it’s doubly nice to know I have potential uses for them.

A trio of QRPGuys kits

A while ago (back in October) I ordered a few kits from QRPGuys: a dummy load, mini-paddle, mini keyer and two digital frequency counters (PTH and SMD versions).

I finally got around to assembling the dummy load, paddle and keyer over the past week.

QRPGuys kits
Iambic paddle, mini-keyer and dummy load from QRPGuys

The dummy load was the easiest to assemble, and parts placement was pretty obvious (I’m only a little bit bothered because the resistors don’t line up…). 5 minutes of soldering and you’ve got yourself a nice compact little 12 watt dummy load that also lets you measure power output via a voltage measurement.

The mini-paddle was only a little more difficult because of the size and length of the screws being used to attach the paddles. Still a relatively easy build, although you have to be careful with the alignment of the little PCB pieces that are soldered onto the base. The hardest part was getting the little nuts that hold the paddles secured. There’s not a whole lot of space to work in, you have to hold the screw, spacers, washers and metal paddle part while trying to get the nut on, and there’s not a whole lot of screw remaining to get the nut started on. Moderately difficult to assemble.

In terms of parts count, the single lever keyer/paddle was the largest kit, but easier to assemble than the iambic mini-paddle. On the electronics side, the only thing I had to consult the assembly manual for was to find out the correct orientation for the 1N4148 diodes. Placement of all the other parts is pretty obvious from the silkscreen outlines. On the keyer side, assembly was similar to the mini-paddle, but with only one lever to worry about, getting it put together was significantly easier. I did end up leaving off two nuts for the two screws that serve as contacts for the paddle. With the nuts, the screws were just too far away from the paddle. I don’t know if the screws I got were just too short to begin with, or if the kitting changed but the instructions didn’t get updated.

True to their mission, these are fun, inexpensive little kits to put together. Looking forward to working on the frequency counters next.

 

 

Antenna box

First step in getting the shack back on the air has arrived.

Ordered an antenna entry box for the house from KF7P Metalworks that arrived the other day.

Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box
Antenna entry box

It’s a pretty spiffy box with a locking hatch and enough space and grommet holes for future antenna expansion. Feels pretty solid, and the lid already has weather stripping installed to keep the elements out.

Next step will be to mount it to the house and run some coax into the box.

Charleston Hamfest 2017 haul

Managed to get to the hamfest for a little bit today, but because of a pinched sciatic nerve, I was only able to stay for less than an hour before giving in to the pain.

Early morning hamfest crowd
Early morning hamfest crowd
Early morning hamfest crowd
Early morning hamfest crowd

There was a decent crowd when I got there around 8ish. A few empty tables, but the ones that were there had lots to offer. Didn’t get to make it out back to see if there were any tailgaters though.

I did manage to find a couple of books to add to the library. If I was able to stay longer, I probably would have left with a lot more stuff.

One person at the hamfest had a bunch of books he was selling including this ARRL Antenna Modeling Course book.

ARRL Antenna Modeling Course
ARRL Antenna Modeling Course

He also had an old copy of Single Sideband for the Radio Amateur that I picked up.

Single Sideband for the Radio Amateur
Single Sideband for the Radio Amateur

The SSB book was one I heard mentioned on an episode of the Soldersmoke podcast. It seemed like a good one to look for to add to the bookshelf. Nice coincidence to find one at the hamfest.

Disappointed that I couldn’t stay longer, but glad I made it even if it was just for a little bit.