The personal website of Scott W Harden

Scott is now Licensed! (KJ4LDF)

I’ve taken the plunge into the geek world by becoming a licensed amateur radio operator. My wife and I both took our technician exam last week, and this morning I discovered that our call signs have been processed. I’m KJ4LDF, she’s KJ4LDG. I’m a little disappointed that my call sign has an “F” in it. On the air, “F” and “S” sound similar, so I’m more likely to have people asking me to repeat it. The phonetics are Kilo, Juliet, Four, Lima, Delta, Foxtrot. Foxtrot! How silly is that? [sighs] Either way, I’m glad I’ve been added to the database, and am now legally able to begin broadcasting on VHF/UHF.

Beacon stuff (like I wrote about in the last post) would best involve lower frequencies, which would mean I have to take another exam to get a higher license class.

Molecules and Non-Steam Engines

Summary: The blog post discusses the potential of using molecules as a source of energy, specifically focusing on non-steam engines that could be powered by these molecules.
This summary was generated in 35.72 seconds from an original post containing 867 words.

Pointless Beacon Idea

Summary: The author wants to create a beacon that will keep everything inside it in pristine working condition by protecting against various environmental factors, including rain, heat, snow, hurricanes, and possibly even Florida panthers and bears, while also allowing light to enter through a glass or plexiglas window to charge a battery housed within the device.
This summary was generated in 62.72 seconds from an original post containing 392 words.

Pointless Beacon Idea

I got an idea today for an odd but interesting project. The idea is still in the earliest stages of development, and I further research the idea (for example, I don’t even know if it’s legal) but it’s a cool idea and I want to try it. I know I’ll learn a lot from the project, and that’s what’s important, right? So, here’s the idea: I want to build an incredibly simple, low power radio transmitter that broadcasts data on a fixed frequency. Data is provided by a microcontroller. What data will it transmit? uh… err… um… okay it doesn’t really matter and I don’t even know, I just want to do this project! Maybe temperature and light intensity or something. Who cares - it’d be fun to make regardless of what it transmits. I could put it all into a drybox (pictured).

Once properly closed, this box will keep everything in pristine working condition by protecting against rain, heat, snow (not that we get much of that in Orlando), hurricanes, and perhaps even Florida panthers and bears (oh my). I’d like to make a glass (or plexiglas) window on the top so that light could get in, hitting solar panels, which trickle-charges the battery housed in the device as well.

My idea is to keep construction costs to a minimum because I’m throwing this away as soon as I make it. My goal is to make it work so I can toss it in some random location and see how long it will run. Days? Weeks? Months? Years? How cool would it be to go to dental school, come back ~5 years from now, and have that transmitter still transmitting data. I’ve been poking around and I found someone who did something similar. They built a 40mW 10m picaxe-powered beacon using a canned oscillator as the transmit element.

I understand the basics of radio, amplitude and frequency modulation (AM and FM), etc., but I’ve never actually built anything that transmits radio waves. I could build a SoftRock radio, but my educational grounding is in molecular biology. I know little about circuit-level electronics, electrical engineering, and radio theory… so my plan is to start small. This project is small enough to attack and understand, with a fun enough end result to motivate me throughout the process.

Custom HDD LEDs

I was poking around the internet looking at various ways people made smooth-fading LED circuits and I came across the site of a guy who did something pretty creative that made me smile. Before I got too far, I wanted to mention that I saw a ton of plans involving fading LED intensity utilizing 555 timer ICs, but for my purposes a series capacitor before the LED should do fine. Here’s the site which documents the project. Basically it’s a skull with red LED eyes which glow in response to hard drive activity. The capacitor makes the eyes fade in and out smoothly, as opposed to the jerky on/off flashing of standard hard drive activity LEDs. Very clever!