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LeTourneau Radio Club
radio : by Tommy - September 16th 2006, 02:50PM
Since I've been here at LeTourneau, I've had the chance to meet a few other ham radio operators. Problem is, none of us can have any substantial antenna setups in order to make many contacts, if any at all.

After speaking with a couple of guys, we decided to reorganize the LeTourneau Univ. Amateur Radio Club (LUARC) and host a special event station. LUARC was more or less disbanded once the old shack was torn down to make way for Glaske Hall.

Since none of us have been able to play on the air very much, our special event will be nothing more than a chance to get on the air and hang out. It just so happens that the day we chose will coincide with the opening of the Texas QSO Party. We will be meeting on top of the birm, in the center of campus. We will be putting up the antennas around 12:00pm on Saturday and operating into the early evening. Everyone is welcome to stop by and check out our setup or operate - no license is required.

If you're on Facebook, you can see our LUARC Special Event page for Facebook.

tags: ham_radio txqp

( Comments : 11 | Full article )

Shotgun Hax!!1!
guns : by Tommy - August 13th 2006, 09:55PM
I recently found an amazing deal in an Academy sales paper. I found that they were selling the Mossberg Maverick 88 for ~$140. "Something's up", I thought. I read a few reviews and found that the Maverick 88 is indeed a "value" line by Mossberg, but wholly compatible with the more popular/expensive Mossberg model 500.

I consulted with my father-in-law, whom I had asked to keep an eye out for a good deal on a shotgun about a month ago. I showed him the sale ad and he was amazed at the low price. I told him what I had read and he said that Mossberg wouldn't put their name on something that will fall apart. He suggested that I jump on the deal as soon as possible. I did. After leaving their house, the first stop was at Academy where I looked the gun over to really examine the quality of the low-priced shotgun. Everything seemed to be in order and it looked like it would be all that I really need for now. So I purchased.

After some brief paperwork, I walked out of the store with my brand new 12-gauge Mossberg Maverick shotgun. Later I stopped at Walmart and stocked up on Winchester shells - I bought 100 shells.

Tomorrow, Notorious and I will have a "barrel warming" with some skeet to put this gun through its paces.

Update: Just got back from Walmart where I found they have 2 other chokes for this shotgun at $5 each. I picked up Full and IC chokes on the cheap. Good stuff.

( Comments : 8 | Full article )

Worlds Simplest Radio
radio : by Tommy - August 3rd 2006, 12:58AM
I just finished making quite possibly the world's most simple radio. I had read a few HOWTOs for constructing a crystal radio. Some links offered the basic formulas for figuring the specs needed for the coil if you wanted to tune various frequencies. I purchased 3 spools of "Enamel-Coated Magnet Wire" from Radio Shack for ~$5, and picked up a crystal ear piece while at EPO in Houston.

After reading that just about any round object will do for a coil-form, and not having an empty toilet paper tube, I settled on an empty fish food container. It was small, compact, and just the right size - plus with the screw on lid, I can keep the antenna, ground and ear piece inside. I rinsed out the fish food residue, tapped 4 small holes with a drill bit and started wrapping the 22awg copper wire around the bottle. Every 5 turns I would wrap around a toothpick. After wrapping the bottle - which took a while - I ended up using about 30ft. of wire. (FWIW: my coil came out to be about 118uH) The toothpick wraps were then scraped free of the enamel coating to make antenna taps for rough tuning. (how this works) After ensuring there were no shorts along the coil body, I hooked up the 1N34 diode, ear-piece, ground wire and antenna and was greeted with some shortwave radio broadcasts. The first station I heard ID was WWCR out of Nashville, Tennesee, although there are plenty of others I can hear.

The trouble with such a simple receiver (no variable capacitor) is that there is little selectivity and the listener is bombarded by 2 or more stations at once - a mixing of all of the signals within a range of frequencies.

Continue reading...

tags: radio kit

( Comments : 102 | Full article )

New Stereo (w/USB)
music : by Tommy - June 16th 2006, 07:00PM
After selling some stuff I no longer want/need/use, I saved up enough money to purchase a new car stereo. I had been eyeballing a neat radio I saw at Walmart, it has a USB port on the stereo itself, allowing you to play MP3s directly from a thumbdrive. (Something I thought was unique to that model.)
{Apparently, they were introduced in mid 2005, but only recently went mainstream.}

The particular model I was looking at was the VRCD400SDU from the same people that made the FM modulator I got for Christmas. The FM modulator is pretty neat, but it is lacking in some areas. It resets your song back to the beginning whenever power is lost. It plays the songs in reverse alphabetical order, and you only get FM quality sound (not the full range of the music). I needed something more, and the VR3 stereo at Walmart seemed alot nicer than the modulator. The stereo with built in USB port would fast forward through MP3s, let you browse by folder and other options.

I stopped by Best Buy one afternoon to see if they had anything comprable to the novel idea of having a USB port on the stereo - and they did! They had a couple of generic stereos with USB ports that looked/sounded better than the VR3, and 2 JVC models. One thing I didn't care for on the VR3 was the display, it would only dislpay about 8 characters at a time, then the next 8, then the next. It didn't smoothly scroll the text, not to mention that it was using the alphanumeric segmented display.

After seeing the dotmatrix LCD, I realized the JVC KD-G820 was the one for me. It has a beautiful display, smooth scrolling, MP3/WMA playback, sounds 100x better, more sound control, front USB port, rotary dial, ability to connect to either XM or Sirius satellite radio or hook up an iPod interface.

I purchased the stereo, and installed it last night.

Continue reading...

( Comments : 8 | Full article )

Late to the game.
games : by Corey - May 21st 2006, 10:10AM
A couple of weeks ago I ordered an Xbox from a guy on the SA Forums. I paid $80 shipped and felt that this was a good deal considering that new units are still running $180 in stores. After a shipping snafu, I received my Xbox. It was in a box with no padding and had made three trips to and from the east coast. I'm sure that the package had been the game ball in a FedEx corporate soccer tournament. This did not bode well.

And indeed, the DVD drive had ceased to function properly. I found large caches of drives on eBay for $40 shipped. I bit the bullet and bought one from the closest shipper I could find. So now I was at $120 for my v. 1.0 Xbox (made in Hungary!) when for $40 more I could have a brand new one (made in Mexico!). In any event, I realized that Microsoft was attempting to subsidize the odd screw market and invested in three different sizes of Torx screws to secure the case and internal components as well as needlessly making my life more difficult.

I had ordered a set of T10, T15, and T20 Torx screwdrivers from Northern Tool but they would not bee here until a couple of days from now. I found myself at Fry's yesterday and so picked up a 9-in-1 Torx tool that included the correct sizes for the Xbox. I'm still wondering why the Phillips head isn't getting as much love these days. Thankfully the computer hardware industry has kept with Phillips, be it ever so skewed in choice for head size.

I woke up this morning and, after scratching my head for five minutes then finding the two stupid hidden screws, popped the case off. The folks up in Redmond took a page out of Dell's case design with this one.

Continue reading...

( Comments : 12 | Full article )

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