Yesterday morning, I grabbed some breakfast and a cup of coffee then headed to the Hardware Hacking Village–a space in the Hotel Pennsylvania with over 50 soldering stations–sat down and started to build the Cricket QRP transceiver.
I’ve always found that kit building and soldering calms my nerves and since my presentation was later that day, it was just what the doctor ordered.
I opened up the kit at 9:00 am and started working.
All of the components were accounted for and the instructions were clear and easy to follow.
Although I didn’t need extra help I did have the extraordinary luxury of having the kit’s designer, my buddy David Cripe (NM0S), sitting across the table from me at one point.
Dave (NM0S) giving my Cricket the nod of approval.
The Cricket was incredibly easy to build, taking only about one hour or less start to finish.
The cool thing about this transceiver is that there are no coils to wind (they’re traced into the board) and by breaking off a pre-scored length of the circuit board, you can build an on-board hand key.
I had it on the air by 10:30 at the special event station W2H.
The Empire State Building as seen from the roof of the Hotel Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, the blowtorch AM broadcaster on the Empire State Building (ahem…next door!) overloaded the Cricket in no small way. I was, however, able to confirm output power, audio and that the receiver was functioning.
Incidentally, Dave tells me he has a limit number of the Cricket kits available on his eBay store for about $37 US shipped, if you’re interested.
If you live near or are planning travel to New York City next week, I would encourage you to check out the HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) conference at the Hotel Pennsylvania (July 20-22, 2018). The location couldn’t be more accessible: across the street from Penn Station and down the block from the Empire State Building.
The HOPE conference is diverse with an incredibly wide range of topics spanning technology, culture and so more. We’re talking about “hacking” in the best sense: those with the technical knowledge and ingenuity to overcome problems and better understand/explore the world around us. HOPE always has a strong contingent of radio enthusiasts as well–many of whom also attend the Winter SWL Fest in Plymouth Meeting, PA.
Since the earliest days of radio transmitting, individuals and organizations have made an effort to record and preserve radio signals in the form of broadcasts and other over-the-air communications, especially those of historical significance. Now low-cost software-defined radios (SDRs) coupled with today’s faster memory-enhanced computers allow us to record not just individual signals from one radio station at a time, but an entire broadcast band – a wide swath of frequencies – all at once. Each recording from a particular day and time can easily contain dozens, if not hundreds, of stations broadcasting and communicating simultaneously. Later, via a software-defined radio application, recordings can be tuned and listened to (decoded) as if they were live. This talk will discuss how you can build your own “radio time machine” which supports such virtual time shifts by utilizing an inexpensive ($25-$100) SDR, and also show how you can – for free – virtually “travel” through recent history on radio archivists’ preexisting radio time machines.
Time & location: Saturday 1900 Booth
My two main goals with this presentation are to bring more radio converts into our hobby by showing how accessible and dynamic radios are today and also to give The Radio Spectrum Archive some exposure.
This mini-lamp developed for use in impoverished regions where there’s no electrical grid is powered by a surprising, but ubiquitous, waste product – the residual energy in depleted (used) AA batteries. Workshop attendees will build a HumanaLight on a high-quality printed circuit board. The kit includes all necessary parts, even a “dead” AA battery! No experience required. There is a $15 fee for the kit, with the proceeds going to the nonprofit organization Ears To Our World, which developed this valuable and important technology.
Time & location: Friday 1900-2030 Hardware Hacking Village (Mezzanine)
No kit building experience is necessary! We’ll help and guide you as you build an incredibly useful tool!
In my spare time, I also plan to help with HOPE’s special event amateur radio station W2H. If you can’t attend the event, consider trying to work us on the air! Here are the details:
Amateur Radio Special Event Station W2H and 70cm Repeater
If you’re an amateur “ham” radio operator, you’re part of a hacker community that goes back over a century. Bring your handie-talkie to QSO with the many hams at HOPE to keep up with what’s happening. Visit Special Event Station W2H and operate on several HF/VHF/UHF bands in various voice and data modes to freely communicate with hams around the globe – sans telecom infrastructure! Our 70cm repeater input is 442.875 MHz (PL 167.9) and the output is 447.875 MHz which W2H operators will be monitoring. We also encourage simplex ops on 147.545 MHz and 433.545 MHz (PL 77.0). More details at http://ham.hope.net.
Time and Location: Friday through Sunday – 18th Floor (next to the 2600 store)
If you can’t tell, it looks like an action-packed weekend! I’m super excited and (admittedly) a little intimidated! Should be lots of fun.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:
You might consider reporting on The SWLing Post that there will be several talks at the The Eleventh HOPE conference this Fri/Sat/Sun that might interest your readers, including:
Tuning in to New York City’s Pirates of the Air
Pirate radio in New York City is a homegrown cultural phenomenon that is at once aesthetically vibrant, technologically tumultuous, and undeniably illegal. Emanating from clandestine studios and hidden transmitters, the sounds of Kreyol, Yiddish, Spanish, and Caribbean-accented English waft into the urban atmosphere. On an average night in Flatbush, Brooklyn, it’s not uncommon to be able to hear as many as three dozen pirate stations between 87.9 and 107.9 Mhz. This flowering of outlaw micro-radio stations in Brooklyn and throughout the greater New York City region is a major disruption to the status quo of corporate controlled, robo-playlisted mega stations. Their unregulated presence and programming often reflects the throb and hum of a diverse city more authentically than traditional media outlets. Join radio producer David Goren for an audio tour of these stations featuring the music, programs, and personalities that make up New York City’s pirate radio scene.
Monitoring Dusty War Zones and Tropical Paradises – Being a Broadcast Anthropologist
Tuning in distant foreign radio and television stations is a conduit to unique and exotic information. These signals are often confronting, uncensored, and unsanitized. In the western world, we blur or pixelate images of death and torture, but signals from war zones or rebellions show tragedies happening live on the air. Other signals broadcast the joy of life on this planet through exotic song, music, and film. Digital wide-band recordings of the electromagnetic spectrum allow virtual time travel, a form of mental teleportation whereby recorded spectrum is tuned to hear stations as if they were being tuned in real time. Take a virtual tour of Mark’s monitoring station in Sydney, Australia which is wired to access the world’s mass media via whatever delivery conduit is needed to capture the content. The station receives hundreds of thousands of inbound digital audio and video channels that let him monitor domestic radio and television from most parts of the world. If he wants to watch breakfast television from Tibet, or maybe the nightly news from the remote Pacific islands of Wallis and Futuna, then it’s available in perfect studio quality. You’ll also see his visits to remote broadcasters and rare, uncensored video from telejournalists that captures the tragedies and joy served up by our planet.
Democratizing Wireless Networks with LimeSDR: Open Source, Field-Programmable RF Technology
This talk presents new, low-cost, open-source, field programmable RF technology, where flexibility is extended from the digital to the RF domain. See demonstrations from the open-source community using the LimeSDR platform, which incorporates two transmitters and two receivers covering 100kHz to 3.8GHz which can emulate GSM, LTE, UMTS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, RFID, HDTV, radio astronomy, passive RADAR, 2G/3G/4G cellsites, IoT gateway, amateur radio, wireless keyboard/mouse transmission/detection, aviation transponders, utility meters, satellite reception, remote tire pressure monitoring, drone command and control, RF test and measurement, and more.
We have more than 150 speakers this time over three days in three tracks.
Thank you Ed! I trust a number of SWLing Post readers will attend HOPE 2016. I certainly wish my travels would make it possible for me to attend this year–it would especially be great to see presentations by my good friends, David Goren and Mark Fahey.