Sunday, October 12, 2008

More September QST comments

Time to wrap up the September QST; October's has been here for two weeks and I haven't even cracked it yet.

The TinyTrak4 looks like an interesting device.  It's being sold mainly as a position encoder, but the article indicates that it's an "empty vessel" which means these could be very interesting devices to play with.  I might end up using one of these in lieu of a general purpose computer for my APRS station; I'm sure they draw less power than a GPC does.

I was disappointed that the article on "stomping out pesky wall warts" didn't discuss providing voltages other than 12V, nor did it discuss multisourcing.  Of course, can't expect too much of that with what is basically a thinly-disguised product review.  This article didn't really add much to my knowledge on DC power systems; it just presented a couple of load center options, which I suppose is marginally useful to someone.

The next article is on software-defined radio.  I'm not sure what the lead time for QST publication is; part of Joel Hallas' (W1ZR) article is quite similar to some of what I wrote here back in May, although his article has better pictures.  I'm pleased that he hit on several of the issues that I care about: open source, flexibility to reprogram in the field.  I've noticed that there's a lot of general misunderstanding on the SDR issue; I routinely hear people on the local repeaters confuse SDRs, which are still rather rare in the amateur community, with software-controlled radios, which is virtually every radio on the market, or with radios equipped with DSP filters, which is an increasingly large segment of the high-end transceiver market. 

There is an interesting article by Jan Bruinier (DL9KR), who may well be the first ham to work 100 countries in 70 centimeters, a feat which is just about impossible to accomplish by any means other than EME, and it's quite a challenge even then.  I would love to do EME, but the equipment required for it is well out of my budget, and I doubt that my neighbors would appreciate the funky looking antennas required, either. 

Finally, there is a brief mention of WSPR, something else I've mentioned before.  This remains on my interest list, although I'm pretty sure that I'll set it up originally in 30 meters.  I've found an antenna design that ought to work on 30m at my location with only minimal tuning losses.

That wraps up the September issue; I'm not going to talk about the 80 pages of ads at the back.  If you want to see them, get your own copy.