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I've begun to set up my electronics workshop again, this time with somewhat more modern equipment (relatively!). My main interest is in PICs (Programmable Interface Controllers) and constructional projects that use them. I have purchased an electronic design and simulation package called Tina, and a high level PIC software design and simulator called Flowcode. These packages together, form the basis of my quite primitive design capability. The resulting output files are taken to a Brunning Microcontroller programmer that is now, after some trouble, happy to accept them. I have only attempted basic experiments so far, but I hope to develop this capability into something much more useful over time.

Writing PIC programs takes me back to the days when I used to teach machine code programming in octal and hex to the technicians at the Digital Equipment Corporation (Scotland) manufacturing plant in Ayr. A bit of nostalgia!

My test equipment now consists of a Philips dual beam 50mhz oscilloscope, a number of digital and analogue meters, quite a few bench PSUs, an old LabGear audio signal generator, a home built frequency counter, quite a collection of soldering and hand tools, and of course my microcontroller programmer and some test breadboards. I'm glad that I held on to many of my discrete components as I find now that they're hard (and sometimess expensive) to obtain.

One of the more recent things I've built is a SoftRock Software Defined Radio (SDR) receiver for the 40m band. It had a lot of SMDs (Surface Mount Devices) that took some careful handling, but I got it working with some free software ( Rocky ) off the net; in fact, I built four of them and they all worked. Flushed with success, I proceeded to purchase the parts to build a 1w tranceiver for 40/80m, the SoftRock v6.2 RxTx, which incidentally had stayed put on my workbench for a good few months till I got up the momentum to finish it, which I did recently, just in time to have it on display at the Amateur Radio rally at the Magnum Centre in Irvine, here in Ayrshire. After finding a faulty Xtal, I am proud to say that it worked first time on both receive and transmit. Once again, however, quite a challenge when it came to the surface mount stuff and winding those inductors!

I've got a bit of the SDR bug now, and my next plan is to get the updated HF transceiver kit, the SoftRock v6.3 RxTx, which covers all HF bands in all modes with 1watt output.

For anyone interested in SDR, you should read the messages, (and possibly join,) the Yahoo SDR group at: where all the relevant information is available in regard to current activities on SDR development within the amateur radio community. I'll mention here my personal appreciation for all the work that has been put in to this project by Tony Parks KB9YIG and those that support him. Thank you to all !



© GM4DOZ 2007

QTH - Prestwick Scotland
Latitude 55deg, 30min, 9sec, North and Londitude 4deg, 36min, 51sec West
NatGridRef. NS 349 262 / Locator IO75QM / WAB Square NS32 / QRA Locator XP37F / Lat Dec 55.29 Long Dec -4.36