Blog fade, goodbye fox hunts, and arduino work

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Posted by w0ep on April 3, 2020 at 7:31 am

[Sat (3/28): 5 miles; Sun 3.5 miles; Mon: 2.5 miles; Yesterday 3 miles]

My excitement for blogging has really gone off the cliff recently I am sorry to report. I think to myself, “you’re supposed to do a blog.” But then I continue on doing whatever it is I’m doing and it doesn’t get done. So I apologize. Maybe I’m running out of things to say?

In the ham radio world, after stringing up an antenna here in the city, I attempted to participate in the winter fox hunts with poor results. City noise levels are much higher than what I had in rural Mississippi (as you might imagine).

I might have struggled through except that I’ve come to the conclusion that straining to find morse code signals in the static really aggravates my hearing loss problems. So I quit doing that.

I’m not sure what is next for me in the ham radio world. I had my teensy-duino WWVB clock project. There is more to be done with that. So I haven’t given up on electronics and radio. I just think weak signal morse code isn’t where I should be right now.

Meanwhile, at my job I was given a project to prepare for a show-and-tell. It involved an arduino and some other small parts. In addition, we were all sent to work from home due to the corona virus situation… so I’ve been getting paid to do an arduino project at home. So the WWVB clock was pushed aside for the work project, but I’m getting paid to do arduino at home. I’m very happy about that!

When I do get back to the WWVB thing, I’m thinking I may need to go to a more sophisticated solution to do the phase-encoded modulation. For some reason that seems counter intuitive to me. The phase modulation is supposed to be easier (?) but I don’t see a way around the need for a higher clock rate than what the teensy audio-SDR can do. So then I’m looking at something using I/Q heterodyning oscillators and it kind of spirals up the parts count.

And I need to get what I’ve got put into some kind of an enclosure, which is always daunting.

The thing I built for work, last night I handed it off to a co-worker for testing and so that he can do a video that we want in our presentation.

The Corona virus thing has made everything more difficult. He came over to pick it up. I had it in a box. I set the box out earlier and he picked up the box. I stood about 10 feet away while I talked him through plugging the parts together and seeing it run.

Then we talked for awhile. He’s the first co-worker I’ve physically seen in the last 10 days. Both he and his wife are at home along with their three children. And he lives in a smaller outlying town so his internet is junk (exacerbated by a lot of people working from home!) and he said he mostly does skype meetings all day on the projects he is doing.

Our show and tell is going forward but the big bosses aren’t going to be there, it will all be power point presentations with some demo video. This is instead of having people actually drive the machines.

And they had someone in the factory part of the operation get diagnosed with the virus, so they shut down the whole site for a few days and we can no longer get to our demo machines… and when we will be able to, there are lots of new procedures and protocols to keep potentially sick people away. So the co-worker may not be able to make the demo video after all.

I’m glad to still be working. It is a challenge to make forward progress but I actually have it pretty good considering the various issues.

Speaking of internet… I called up the company that has man-holes in our sidewalk to ask about getting on to their fiber ring. I had done that before without success. This time was different and it looks like we are going to be able to get 50 Mbs service for a reasonable price. I had to start a “business”, so I registered for an IRS EIN number a new sole proprietor operation called Elfpen Consulting. (I’ve been using email address domain for a few years already… it was just a short name that I discovered had not already been registered.) The fiber installers came out and marked up the lawn with white paint and flags. Soon there will be an rj45 jack in my basement that gives me 50Mbs no-limit up/down internet. I’m kind of excited about that! (I’ll have a dedicated IP address in IA to go along with my address in MS. One man with two IP addresses. I’m rich!)

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  • On April 3, 2020 at 8:51 am Jonahtan Howard said

    Concerning Internet, congrats on the success there. It would be nice if rural and small town American saw some improvements in that after this COVID experience – all the work from home situations and teaching with Zoom, etc. I get 50+Mbs for $45 (I have to call each year to ask for the special rate – five minutes for them to try to upsell me). With an REA-type initiative and real market competition for service many people would benefit. It feels more democratic to me.

    • On April 5, 2020 at 6:47 pm w0ep said

      I agree with you. I think faster internet is the rural-electrification of our time. Mississippi recently passed a law that would allow rural electric cooperatives to get into the internet business. That may or may not be the best way to do it, but at least someone is taking interest. I get the impression that the Feds have thrown some money at the problem, but they’ve been distracted by the cell phone companies and other interests (maybe the word is bamboozled), so the numbers say it is “done” but it isn’t done.

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