Monthly Archives: August 2010

Autumn Projects

It is always hard to find enough time to make headway on one’s projects when you’re busy with work & family.

I had already started clearing my schedule of volunteer activities that either have poor personal satisfaction, or where I don’t feel I can be effective – a process I started a year ago, and I am now pushing even more to drop activities that don’t measure up this season.

The goal is to clear the time for a few simple projects:

  • Finish the HF Portable Station
  • Finish the Satellite Portable Station
  • Build the Retro-75 75m AM QRP kit
  • Revamp the Lightening Protection on my Main Station
  • Get on the air at least 3 hours a week as a regular practice.
  • Upgrade the Rubidium Station Frequency Reference by building an enclosure and protection circuitry
  • Regain QSO level CW competency (practice practice practice)

All simple projects and projects I’ve left lingering too long.

As part of this season’s personal time clearing, I’ve stepped back from a number of activities.  This summer I substituted on Saxophone only about a few times – much less I usually would over the summer.  I only did two WI-001L Washington Island brief activations.  And I have stepped down as anything more than a rank & file member of our local radio club.  All of these free up a quite a bit of time.

In addition to the projects, clearing space will give me more on-air time.  This summer, outside of casual time on,  I worked part of one Sprint, a QSO party and one part of another contest, which is too little contesting to satisfy me!

Thinking a couple projects will be let go.  I’ve an Amp build kit I don’t think I can make time for, and a non-radio woodworking musical instrument project that has stalled completely.  Might just eBay them off rather than store them.

Given the choice between endless projects and getting on the air, the projects will wait – I’d rather light-up the station and be on the air!

Fortunately Amateur Radio is a hobby that is really an individual’s pursuit that the other side of the QSO – especially a DX QSO – is a someone who you usually first meet on the air, and through that QSO make a new radio friend.




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Pulse… More in a few days

Keeping quite busy here. The draft articles I have need more attention to post, so look sometime in the next week for more “With Varying Frequency”



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W9DXCC Convention & Banquet



Have made plans to attend “The 58th W9DXCC DX CONVENTION & BANQUET – SEPTEMBER 10 & 11, 2010” in Elk Grove IL.

Should have George W9EVT along:

W9EVT's Shack (partial)

W9EVT's Shack (partial)

Looks to be an excellent schedule:


7:30 PM – Registration Open
7:30 PM Welcome Reception – Hospitality Suite – Hosted by Northern Illinois DX Association


8:00 AM – Registration Opens
9:00 AM – Program Begins – Master of Ceremonies – Jim O’Connell, W9WU

  • K4M Midway Island by Bruce Butler, W6OSP and Craig Thompson, K9CT
  • T32 DXpedition by Mike McGirr, K9AJ
  • A Year of DX by Bob Locher, W9KNI
  • Telepost Inc. – Larry Phipps, N8LP
  • Propagation Update- Cycle 24 Predictions by Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA

12:00 PM – Lunch
1:00 PM – Program Resumes

  • Antenna Tuners – Peter Chadwick, G3RZP
  • ALPHA and Amplifiers – Molly Harman, W0MOM
  • IOTA Update, by Bruce Osterberg, N9BX and Mike McGirr, K9AJ
  • NCDXF by Bruce Butler, W6OSP
  • ARRL News and Views -with Joel Harrison, W5ZN, ARRL President, Dick Isley, W9GIG, Central Division Director, Kermit Carlson, W9XA, Vice Director, Jim O’Connell, W9WU, DXAC Advisory Committee

4:45 PM – Raffle Prize Drawing
5:00 PM – CW Copying Contest
5:30 PM – Reception – Hosted by The Directors of the Northern California DX Foundation
6:30- PM Grand Banquet and Grand Prize Drawing

  • Banquet Speaker – Bernie McClenny, W3UR, author of The Daily DX, The Weekly DX, “How’s DX”, DXpeditioner, DXer

10:00 PM Saturday – Hospitality Suite – Hosted by Greater Milwaukee DX Association

(This is a rough-up and NOT the exact program list – check with the W9DXCC group if any time is important for you)


Let me know if you will be there, and perhaps we can chat in person!



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REPOST: Another Nixie Clock Project – ArduiNIX

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

ArduiNIX Demonstration from Flock of Butterflies

The last circuit boards have arrived and I am again experimenting with Nixie Tubes and Clock Making.

This project uses an ArduinoArduino Shield” and Display Board from ArduiNIX with the small IN-17 tubes providing the display.

Flock of Butterflies has a great series of articles on the ArduiNIX:

The ArduiNIX also has a forum at Robot Pirate’s:

I’ve covered writing about the Arduino “brain” before, but if you’d like to read more about this project the Main Arduino proge page is:

I’m hoping to scale-up the display board for the larger IN-12 Tubes I would like to use, but first to get the clock running.



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REPOST: Nixie Tubes – a Blast from the Past

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

In the midst of the all my computer chaos I’ve also started another project – building a Nixie Tube Clock kit.

What are Nixie Tubes?  They are a Cold Cathode Display Tube harkening back to the Cold War.  For the most part most Western Countries dropped Nixie Tubes in the Early to Mid 1970s, but the former USSR kept them in production another 20 years.


Nixie Tube of the type I am using

Nixie Tube of the type I am using



The Clock Kit I’m doing was sold by a UK based Nixie Specialist and uses the IN-12 & IN-17 size tubes. 


Nixie Clock Frank in a plain case

Nixie Clock "Frank" in a plain case

I’ve something quite different in mind for my case.


Former USSR countries are  the primary source for bulk Nixie Tubes, and though these tubes have rated lifetimes measured in many decades bulk packs of spare IN-12 & IN-17 tubes were also sourced, along with a good supply of the FET transistors and driver micro chips for further experimentation.

Will do some build pictures for a follow up.



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REPOST: Building with Nixies, Dekatrons and Other Unusual Display Tubes

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

A Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in Action

There is a whole wonderful world out there of really interesting display tubes from the 1950’s on that used a variety of methods to display numbers, control displays and in some cases like the Dekatron even count data and display the results.

You can do a web-search on any of the tubes and come up with various websites ranging from offers to sell artwork grade clocks featuring the retro-tubes driven by modern circuits to do-it-yourself projects.

One website that has a great amount of explanation on how the tubes work and includes some of the least common interesting tube type is

Roland’s Electronic Project Site

Roland covers an amazing variety of of these vinatge tubes with repeatable projects. His father started him on the path by bringing home strange tubes and taking the then young Roland to the speciality shops where they could be found.That youthful introduction has lead to lifetime of building and experimenting with the neatest of vintage display tubes!

Some of the Tubes that Roland Explains and Builds with in a Montage

I found that I have returned to his website many times as we design our Nixie Tube clock project.

Recommended Website!



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