Related Interests – Sterling & Fresnel Come Calling 17 - October - 2010Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Built, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: Fresnel Lens, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, Peltier Junction, Sterling Engine
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Seems that if a person has a good Amateur Radio interest that they are also prone to have a generalized interest in technology.
I’m in that large class of Radio Amateurs, having plenty of “tinkering projects” going!
A couple that have caught my recent attention are the low-temperature differential Sterling Engines being experimented with, and with Thermal Generation (of heat and/or electric power) by Fresnel lens.
In the Sterling world some device are now running with a Δt (Delta-t for Differential in Temperature) of just a few degrees. The small Δt sterling engine opens the possibility of meaningful power from from energy differentials like the change at evaporation, or from ambient summer air to water temperature in a body of water. Obviously more energy than can be gained shouldn’t be required to co-locate or create the situation where an usable Δt occurs. Though where a parasitic opportunity for a usable Δt happens in other, perhaps natural, systems the possibility of energy generation is there.
Whether low-Δt devices are limited to perhaps small scale autonomous power generation, perhaps at the nano or micro level for perhaps powering sensors, or whether the technique could provide larger scale power is an unanswered question.
In exploring Sterling technology we’ve been playing with model engines – the sort that have been desktop hobby demonstration engines for years – and having a blast playing with the little devices.
These engines are high-Δt sterling devices, requiring several hundred degree Δt differentials to overcome friction and efficiency limitations. Looking for a non-combustion source of that high differential led to the interest in Fresnel lenses.
The Fresnel lens variety we’re playing with is a focused lens that takes the combined solar energy of its 2 ft x 3 ft area bringing it to focal point in a roughly 4 square inch area. Observed temperatures exceeding 1200F have been reported, though my less careful use & measurement is showing a bit less than 2/3rds – still enough energy to be significantly useful!
I’ve sketched a heat-sink/receptor to bring this area down to the smaller focus to work with the model sterling engine to complete the experiment. More on the Fresnel-Sterling combination when I can get back to the testing.
A further natural extension, especially if the desired output is less the mechanical rotational energy of the sterling, and more electrical energy, is to use the Fresnel energy for direct conversion, perhaps via a Peltier Junction device. In the interest of this possibility I’ve sourced a small Peltier Junction for testing as well.
Perhaps I can get enough solar energy to charge batteries to run a QRP rig?
In clarity the total energy to create the equipment is disproportionate to the results at this stage, making this a group of “fun experiments” rather than a cost-effective solution – at least at this stage!
Mid-October SDR Cube Transceiver News 14 - October - 2010Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, N2APB, NUE-PSK, SDR-CUBE
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Much much more up at the website, and this sure looks to be a neat project!!
Videos, documents, lots of pictures – much to see!
Should be ready for prime time by Thanksgiving 2010.
Biggest decision will be to order a kit or a built-up version?
TWIAR & TWIARi’s back online, new website look 11 - October - 2010Posted by k9zw in Amateur Radio, K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, K9ZW Recommends.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled, This Week in Amateur Radio, TWIAR, TWIARi
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Received the following information from TWIARi, which has long been a favorite Podcast for me.
Glad to see them back
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After an off-an-on summer, This Week in Amateur Radio is coming back!
We have a new design you can view at http://www.twiar.org
TWIAR International #297 is available for download. The Repeater version (Ham Service) I’m expecting to be uploaded soon. I was last told it would be Sunday but it’s still not up there. And thus…we wait!!!
The below message was posted to the site from Executive Producer George Bowen, W2XBS, last Saturday when the site went live with the new layout.
Please email any bug reports or suggestion to me at k4hsm.
Also, visit our Twitter and Facebook pages. The links are on the top right of the site.
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An open letter to TWIAR listeners from W2XBS
Welcome to This Week in Amateur Radio’s official re-launch.
After a long summer hiatus, the team here at This Week in Amateur Radio has pulled everything back together to re-launch our audio services for the world-wide amateur radio community.
During the Spring of this past year, the release schedule for TWIAR became erratic at best. This was primarily caused by my dynamic work schedule which changes week to week, and by my firm commitment to a healthy lifestyle. During the summer of 2010, I travelled to Tenneesee and finally met with our webmaster, Greg Williams, K4HSM. Greg has been our webmaster for a really long time, and neither of us have met personally.
Over the past few months, Greg has totally redesigned our web site. While it was my job to figure out a scheduling system that will work to get our programs out on a regular basis. After discussions with our News Anchors and Segment Producers, a new script release and recording system was worked out. In the weeks to come, we will be releasing programs weekly for the ham service (and podcast) as well as our International program for WBCQ Radio (podcast as well).
However, a few changes will be taking place.
First, This Week in Amateur Radio International will be released as a single broadcast quality mp3 each week.
Second, our over the air ham service, This Week in Amateur Radio will be released as a single high quality mp3. This Week in Amateur Radio Headline News will no longer be produced. The running time of the ham service will be reflective of the news happening in each week, and the length of our weekly special features. For those that may still need a shorter version of the program, please download an audio editor (such as Audacity, which is free) import the mp3 into the editor and cut the program to your needs.
For those that were using the static file version for your repeater sites, we will still support that need, however the available file will be the full length ham version.
Also, almost all of our staff is available on Facebook, Twitter, and on personal blogs. TWIAR itself also has a Facebook page, and it is there that I will be posting most TWIAR release updates. The links are at the top of the page.
Well that’s it. We’re back. Please feel free to report any bugs or broken links to Greg as we work through the new web site.
As before, I am ALWAYS on the search for new news anchor talent, or segment producers, so if that tickles your fancy and you have time to contribute, please contact me for more details.
George – W2XBS
Quick Thoughts on the Future of Amateur Radio 2 - October - 2010Posted by k9zw in K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled.
Tags: K9ZW, K9ZW Just Rambled
Just a few quick thoughts on the future of Amateur Radio from out here in the Wisconsin Countryside.
Over the last several months I have taken a bit of time to ponder what direction I see Amateur Radio going – not just for me, in my personal experience, but for the hobby as a whole. Here a few of my completely non-scientific thoughts:
Amateur License Numbers will continue to slowly rise. Adding interest to our hobby are additions from the Home Schooled, a segment who have found Amateur Radio a welcome science addition to their studies, from Preparedness Buffs (both individual “preppers” and organized, often church led, preparedness followers) who find communications to fit with their world view, and a steady interest from the traditionally interested society segments. Many of these newcomers are motivated mentor/coach/teacher types who are picking up the Elmer slack in developing more interest.
The hold-back wave of introspective “Ham Generation ‘ME’ types” are retiring from the hobby. Their life progression is now post-retirement or retirement, and the issues caused by their not developing much amateur radio interest in many of their offspring or other family becomes less a downward pull on the hobby.
The License is “just a license” and skills recognized as a life-long pursuit. An improvement over the gatekeeper mentality of former licensing schemes enhances the hobby for more ongoing-life-learners – the sort who will work to add skills, not just wallpaper, as they live the hobby.
Retro Interests will be Good for the Hobby. Whether the challenges of doing more with less (you have to love QRP for this), building kits (where else can you build useful gear, and often with through-hole technology … the resurgence in CW Morse Code as a voluntary taking-up is a great sign of how important Retro Interests are.
Mixing of Old with New makes for an Awesome Experience. Things like boat anchors with replacement high reliability components, add-on enhancements and even computer “cyborgism” makes for an experience like one’s father or grandfather’s amateur radio experience, without the downsides. Neat stuff!
I should wax on more, as the future for amateur radio is fantastic. I remain surprised at individual hobbyists who have “lost their radio mojo” and would generalize that malaise to the entire hobby. Afraid I’ve just not seen the same hobby doom and gloom out there.
Other upsides to reflect on are the very low ongoing costs to operate and continue in the hobby once involved, the relatively low cost of entry (yes you have those who complain that you need at least a little bit of investment to get started, though I think they are just being cheap and somehow forget that this is true of almost every hobby – I mean price up a decent piano if you want to start playing, or a league grade trap-gun if you want to shoot trap; or price up the huge investment of racing or big water fishing – in comparison amateur radio is not stand out expensive at all, in fact it is fairly cheap!)
There are nearly endless opportunities to try new modes, work DX, set up Emcomm efforts and join in nets. DXpeditioning, Special Events, US Island Operations and county hunting are just a few of the focus interests people find themselves involved in.
Perhaps there is some truth that it was a different world when an Amateur had to travel to an FCC Office and test in person, often built their own gear and always had CW abilities. That different world had a lot of good going for it, though we must remember that it had just a great lot of bad in it, and much of what we know now was unknown then.
Most importantly it is a memory only – a past that won’t return – and a past that provides a solid foundation for the bright future of our Amateur Radio hobby for the time to come!