Yeah, I admit I like being right. Most of the time. But sometimes I really wish I wasn’t right about something. Like the prediction I made when we bought this house that “Those carport tarps won’t last a year” despite the sellers assurance that “They have a 7 year warranty and are only a year or so old.” Which of course means – it happened again.
Read on for more details, more photos, and something completely different.
So yeah, last night we had a bit of a storm blow through. 44MPH gusts I was told. we knew the tarp was going to need replacement soon, its color was fading quick. But I really thought it had one or two more storms in it still. Based on where it tore I’m guessing the two small holes were enough to seed it’s destruction. The TV antenna had fallen a few weeks ago in a wind storm. I knew it was going to go since the wood is real soft on the side of the house there and the biggest screws I had didn’t seem quite big enough to hold it. Need to get some good lag bolts and maybe a bit of epoxy to stregthen the old wood there as well before I put it back up. It did move in the storm last night but I suspect that was more due to the tarp pulling it around than it tearing up the tarp.
On the plus side the cheap tarp we put up to replace the last torn original tarp held up just great. But when I went up to the store we got that one at today the price had jumped from $37 to $50 🙁 And they can’t blame gas prices either since it looks like it has been sitting on the shelf since we bought that last one. They only have one left though so I guess I should bite the bullet and go buy it. Their tarp selection was much more limited this time than last despite the higher prices.
The storm also took out my new flag which I didn’t have time to take down first 🙁
Up is actually to the left in this photo…I forgot to rotate it before uploading and it appears the gallery in wordpress won’t let me rotate 🙁 The wind was strong enough to crack the wood and pull the screws out as well as mangle and bend the metal flag mount.
There we go, with up facing up in this photo it’s a little more obvious what the damage was like. I noticed nicer heavy cast flat mounts at Walmart the other day so I’ll probably get one of those as a replacement. May have to get a friend with a welder help me make something a bit sturdier than my wooden insert though.
At least the light still works!
Now, as promised something completely different:
This is my latest little electronics project. It’s a SoftRock+Xtall v6.3 created by Tony Parks KB9YIG. It’s a software definced all band amateur radio receiver and 1 watt transmitter. It’s only partly constructed in this photo…I’ll have finished photos up by the end of the weekend I hope. The small daughter board is one of the 4 RX filter modules that have to be changed for various bands. It comes with modules for 160m , 40/80m, 30/20/15m and the final for 15/12/10m. Pictured is the 40/80 filter. I probably won’t bother to bulid the 160m filter since I have no antenna for that band and no plans for one. I build the 40/80 first since I the 30/20/15 and 15/12/10 modules are the ones I care most about so I figured I’d do the one I don’t care about first for practice.
Yes, I do already have 3 other softrock RX/TX kits and a couple of RX only kits. I have the original 3 board stack that upgraded a v6.1 for 40/80m and a v6.2 for 20m that is still waiting for me to wind the last 7 inductors (and has been waiting nearly a year…I need to finish that.) What makes this new one so much nifitier though is that little silver chip on the bottom – the Si570. The Si570 is a programmable oscilator that gives this version of the SR full frequency agility. Instead of being locked to 48khz on either side of the crystal this one can be tuned just about anywhere in the HF bands I could want. It could theoretically even get up to 6m and possibly even 2m – but the switches that make up the mixer in the SR wouldn’t work at those frequencies so other methods would have to be employed.
The other reason I built the 40/80m RX filter first is that the kit only ships with the 40/80m TX PA and Filter. The other PAF kits are still being tested to make sure they meet FCC requirements but should ship soon. I’m also anxiously awaiting the new USB kit which I’ve pre-ordered.
You see, while the Si570 is programable there was no connection to the computer to command it in the v6.3 design. Instead there’s a small microcontroller (a pic to be exact) right next to the 4 dip switches. The 4 switches can be changed aroudn to select 1 of 16 different frequencies that the pic will command the Si570 to hold. The USB kit will replace the pic microconroller with another small daughterboard which provides an i2c bus allowing a USB connection to the PC to command the Si570 giving full tuning ability. The USB kit also gives a serial port which can be used to control the PTT line making hooking the SR to the computer much simpler. You still need stereo audio in/out for the SR as well as audio out and mic in (necessitating either two sound cards or a 4 channel card like the Delta 44 I recently gave my dad due to the lack of 64bit Vista drivers) but overall the connections to the computer become much simpler and you get better frequency control.
I still have to finish assembling the PAF board and tuning this setup….so that’s on deck for this weekend. Not a big hurry though since I’m holding out for the 20m PAF and the USB kit which should be here sometime in September.