Recent Posts

Ben Sinclair's avatar

BenSinclair.horse

Horse Example

I bought BenSinclair.horse. You know, because it was available, and it's a .horse domain. DOT HORSE! Why do we have a .horse top level domain? Who knows? It's awesome!

Did you know that detective.horse is taken? Cop.horse is also taken. I can only assume that's because NBC is working on a "Law and Order: Horse" spinoff. I can also only assume it will feature the ghost of Lenny riding a talking, crime-solving horse from the future.

As the owner of a .horse domain, I intend to provide a constant stream of high quality horse content. So just hoof over to bensinclair.horse for all of your horse content needs!

Actually, what I now serve at bensinclair.horse is the same content, but with most of the nouns changed to "horse." I used the Entagger gem to find any nouns over a certain length. I exclude a few specific words just so it doesn't get too horsey.

Ben Sinclair's avatar

Using an Apple Keyboard with vim

I've recently been trying to upgrade my development environment with a better vim setup, and by incorporating tmux. All of the cool kids use tmux these days, so I thought I'd try it out.

In getting vim up to speed, I realized that my Apple bluetooth keyboard doesn't work well for keyboard-shortcut intensive work. The main problem is the lack of a right control key.

The easy fix is to use Karabiner, which lets you customize your keyboard and mouse settings at a very low level. I was able to increase my key repeat rate beyond what OSX allows, and I remapped my right option key to control, and now I'm much happier!

If Apple made a modern version of their old full size wireless keyboard, I'd be even happier!

Update: I didn't realize that iterm2 lets you remap the right option key, so I'm using that now rather than run Karabiner just to remap one key. You can also use the OSX keyboard settings to remap caps lock and get a third control key!

Ben Sinclair's avatar

A New Oscilloscope

Oscilloscope

I finally found a cheap and functional oscilloscope! Here it is showing my 6502 running its single instruction over and over. The top trace is the clock, the bottom trace is one of the address lines.

This should make things easier! Next up I need to find a logic analyzer...

Ben Sinclair's avatar

Remote Control for the MFJ-1788 Loop

I've enjoyed using my Flex 6300 on wifi from anywhere in the house for digital modes and SSB with SmartSDR 1.4. However, my MFJ loop antenna needs tuning every time I change frequencies, which requires a trip back down to the radio.

Being lazy, I wanted to be able to remotely tune the loop. My first thought was to add relays to the control box switches, but the schematics aren't available, and I didn't want to damage anything. Instead, I went for the ugly, but fun, hack of using a servo to press the buttons!

Loop controller hardware

The servo is attached right over the slow tuning buttons using some metal brackets. On the servo is a horn, much like the type used for remote control aircraft, which just happened to be the right size to hit each button.

I'm just using one servo, and all it can control are the slow tuning buttons. That's not a problem with the Flex as I can visually see where I'm tuned, and don't really need the automatic tuning features of the control box. Using the slow buttons takes a while, but it's not too bad.

The servo is controlled by an Arduino, which is then controlled over serial by a Rails application. With a web application I can easily control it from almost any device, and could set it up for WAN remote in the future.

Loop controller interface

The first row of buttons stops and starts continuous movement of the tuner. The other buttons make short movements for fine tuning. There is a slight delay as the servo moves, so having the ability to do short button presses makes it easier to get the tuning just right.

It's a fun hack, and it works!

Ben Sinclair's avatar

K1N!

I finally made a contact with K1N, the DXpedition to Navassa Island. Navassa is the second most wanted DX entity, after North Korea.

Using the "Flex Advantage," I was able to follow where they were listening, and transmit right near a previous contact. Once I started doing that I got in pretty quickly.

I got them on 18mhz CW. I'll keep trying on other bands and modes while they're still on the island.

Calling them for hours was tedious, but it was a real rush to hear my callsign come back!

Update: People were asking me what the heck I'm talking about, so I'll give a quick explanation.

A fun amateur radio challenge is trying to make contact with as many distant places as possible. There is a list of geographical entities, consisting mainly of countries, but also islands or other geographically separated places, that count as separate entities. Many of these entities are major countries, which are easy to contact. Others are uninhabited or restricted somehow, so there just isn't anyone there to contact.

If you want to contact every distinct entity, you'll have to somehow make a contact in these remote or restricted places. The most wanted place is North Korea, which doesn't grant amateur radio licenses. The second most wanted place is Navassa Island, near Jamaica, which is on the air right now!

Navassa is a tiny, uninhabited American island, and is a restricted wildlife refuge. A team of amateurs obtained permission to go and is on the island right now making contacts all over the world.

This probably won't be allowed again for decades, so it's a pretty exciting!