Happy New Year

I’ve been quite distracted with end of year cleaning and partying.

But it’s a new year, so back to the blog.

This year: Erlang/OTP in depth. I was at the ErlangDC conference in December and was quite pleased. Erlang Factory is in March in San Francisco, but I’m not sure how I will swing the expense just yet. I really want to go.

My boy is a blast! He’s 6 months old now and doing great.

Bennett always smiles like this!

I named my fiddle Philip, after my great grandfather Philip Francis Nolan (b.1850 Baltimore MD) who played  fiddle for my mother when she was a child. I have a project to locate the violin, and it’s provenance.

There’s more of course, so stay tuned!


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Ale Möller and Aly Bain

Being a fiddle (violin) player I ran ran into Aly Bain (A fiddler from the Shetland (Scottish) tradition) through the old-time community, in particular, Clifftop. I regularly scan YouTube looking for old-time and other tunes, and the original players; which are showing up there more an more.

I came across a CD, which I bought on iTunes called “Beyond the Stacks” which is a collaboration between Aly Bain and Ale Möller: a traditional Scandinavian (Swedish) Cittern (and more) player. I found it quite inspiring and highly recommend it.

Here’s a video of Aly guesting in Ale’s band. There’s a great story that precedes the tune.

Ah… the Vikings!

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Crowd-sourced Hardware

Take a peek…


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WSPR anyone?

I’ve been working on Ham Radio lately with the hope of a cool demo at the HacDC show and tell. (I joined about two months ago and have been thoroughly enjoying my local engineering lab. — More on that later)

My initial choice is to construct a WSPR beacon for the club station W3HAC. I’m hoping to use W3PM’s work with the PIC and Arduino to create a waterproof stand-alone solar-powered box with a MFJ 1630T helical whip mounted to it that we can place on the roof and see who can hear us around the world on the 30-meter (10.140 MHz) ham band.

What will the results look like to the casual observer with a ‘net connected computer, tablet or pda/cell? Like this:

Eniire world view: 30 meter WSPR spots for WA1IVD on 10/28/2011Being built on Google Maps, you can expand around any point and use a roll over to get a quick idea of who hears who.

WSPRnet expanded around WA1IVDFor those that want more detail, there’s a searchable database of spots:

Searchable database of spots, view is of WA1IVD on 10/28To do this testing I have integrated my ICOM 7200 and computer using the radio’s USB interface for audio and control. The computer has full control of the radio: frequency, mode, power, audio levels… everything.Then I downloaded Joe Taylor’s (W1JT) WSPR program from his web site and installed it. The result looks like this:

WSPR program screen at WA1IVD

WSPR program screen at WA1IVD

So we’re off to a good start! More as I progress.






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What’s new?

Just back from a trip to visit my friend Gary in CT, then to Vermont/NH to spend some time staying in a cabin on Mascoma Lake. Rode my bike on the converted rail trail and enjoyed the free kayaks.

A little wrinkle: my car broke down. Fixed it in White River Junction, VT.

Next to my sister’s in Boxboro, MA and then to my Mom’s in Farmington, CT.

And back home. Next I need to “pull up my socks” and get blogging.

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New project – Software Defined Radio (SDR)

I just purchased a “RXTX Ensemble” Kit from Tony Parks, KB9YIG. From Tony’s web page:

The SoftRock RXTX Ensemble Transceiver Kit provides a 1 watt SDR transceiver that can be built for one of the following four band groups: 160m, 80m/40m, 30m/20m/17m or 15m/12m/10m. Components are included for all four options and can be assembled at the builders choice. The kit combines the functionality of the prior SoftRock v6.3 RXTX+Xtall Transceiver Kit, the USB I2C Interface Kit and the PA Filter Kit on a single circuit board with connectors along one edge for easy access.

Robby, WB5RVZ put together a diagram of what the system looks like:

The ensemble is the green circuit board. The display is from PowerSDR, a popular SDR program that is used with the FlexRadio series of SDR transceivers (but has support for the Ensemble board). There are many software options.

You can read quite a lot about the project at Robby, WB5RBZ’s web site, and extensive SoftRock SDR RXTX Ensemble compendium.

There is also a Yahoo group: softrock40 which has expanded to cover a whole series of boards.

Very good, you say, but I thought this was software defined radio and that’s a piece of hardware. Very true, think of this board as an interface adapter to a computer. The computer takes the data stream form and to the board and implements the entire radio in software. Performance is remarkable, if not spectacular and the feature set is amazing!

More about the software options next.

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Made it!

Walked up to the Richard Montgomery High School track this morning and ran three miles continuously at an average 150 BPM heart rate. After patiently working up to this I’m finally beginning running again. Very exciting.

As I finished Betty Smith was there, we spoke and she invited me to the Chi Running class at 6 PM Friday, same place.

Betty is our Chi Running “ambassador”, at 70 she is running 24 hour races and doing great!

You can learn more about Chi Running here. Betty Smith here.

Off we go….

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