Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beam me up Scotty!

This looks fact it looks like my Samsung Mobile Phone with internet access and built in camera!
Next to the Classic Phaser, the Star Trek Communicator is one of Science Fiction’s most popular props. This is also one of Star Trek’s most accurate predictions, the hand held communication device. Back in the mid-sixties, the idea of such a technological marvel was only a dream, but nowadays we think nothing of a mobile phone with caller ID, custom ringing, light up activation, camera and even broadband internet access.

No wonder Captain Kirk was always attached to it!

Amazing how a simple analogue prop with LED's can turn into a digital masterpiece that we can't live without!

Last night I was playing with an iphone in the Apple shop at Trafford Centre, the ultimate communicator. I feel like i'm missing out on the latest technology. I see people using this technology as part of their life, even kids, but I am trying to understand the technology instead of accepting it. Trouble is ... I can't accept what I don't understand!

What was it Bob Dylan said...

Don't criticise what you don't understand!

Well, I don't criticise, its great technology!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ernie Worthington

I came across this photo on Friends Reunited of Mr Worthington (centre), my chemistry teacher at Hayward School. We new him as 'Ernie' and was a great teacher! He made us learn by heart the periodic table and valancies, chemical equations, balancing and number of electrons. I can still remember most of it now!
Sadly, Ernie is no longer with us, strangely, he died on the same day as his best friend at school Mr Eccles, my Spanish teacher and fifth year form teacher. Another great guy (but handy with a ruler)
A great guy!

TBA120A ... remember it?

Well, at college back in the early 70's we learned all about FM demodulators. WoW! the maths involved was amazing, we talked about phasor diagrams and had to understand them. Adding / Subtracting signals, producing audio from a Frequency Modulated signals. Drawing graphs and diagrams. I remember doing this at night school with Mr Tudor our principles tutor at college. Enough to do your head in!!
Then in the late 70's along came the TBA120 or SN76660 FM demodulator chip!
What a wonderful device this was...forget the principles...stick a 455khz FM signal up it's a**e and audio came out the other end. Before long all televisions had a version of it fitted and got rid of loads of discrete components.
I used it myself in a few projects, especially my VHF / UHF Receiver, a little gem of an analogue silicon chip.
I still have all my notes from college all written in fountain pen and beautiful graphs and diagrams!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back in '74

Here is an old picture that I found showing parts of my shack back in about 1974.
In the foreground is my 160m / 80m Transciever that provided 10w SSB, my first attempt at this mode. A lovely Eddystone 898 dial! Next to this is the 144Mhz Transmitter, 10w to QQVo310 valve, a great rig that served me for a long time. Then of course is the Halicrafters SX24 Receiver and morse key.
Above these are the 70 mhz and 144Mhz converters, perfected after many attempts!
On the top shelf is the 160m Transmitter and ATU. Below the benches you can see the Power Supply Units. (health and safety was not problem in those days!!)
Note the switching and wiring ... three switches on the right of drawers controlled all the transmitter send / receive functions ... clever eh?
Must mention the matching colour scheme ... mid blue front panels. I spent so long painting and lettering the front panels to make them look cool!
This picture doesn't give it true justice, butI was proud of my set up!
Looking back at this picture I remember the satisfaction I got from building this equipment from scratch. The time spent drilling and filing, the hours spent wiring and soldering components. Visits to rallies, Michaels and Modern Radio, sending for stuff from RadCom.
I often wonder if I could build something like this now ... feelling pretty de-skilled!!