Make-It/Take-It

Maker Projects at the Convention:

PROJECT #1

This year’s first build session kit is the Humanalight, a simple LED flashlight for weak AA batteries

The Humanalight is sold by the charitable organization Ears To Our World as a means of providing radios and flashlights to those in need of communication and light. Thomas Witherspoon, K4SWL, is the founder and executive director. Here is their mission statement, copied from their website. “At ETOW, we believe access to information is access to education. We provide innovative, simple and appropriate technologies to schools and communities in remote, rural and impoverished regions of our world.”

This little flashlight makes use of the most commonly available battery in the world, the ubiquitous AA. Equally common are “dead” AA batteries. The Humanalight is an adaptation of the ‘Joule Thief’ circuit with a pcb designed by David Cripe, NMØS. A typical AA battery discharged too far to be useful in any household item can provide up to two weeks of continuous operation in a Humanalight.  A fresh alkaline battery can operate continuously for over five weeks!

ALL THROUGH HOLE parts make this kit very easy to assemble in approx. ½ to 1 hour. The price of this Build Session kit is $10, and is selected and paid for during the registration process.  This is a great fun activity for all, experienced builders or not, so plan to attend and enjoy AND you will get to carry home this nifty kit selection that you built. Pre-Registration is necessary as there is a limited number of the kits available for the building session.

Attendees will need to bring their own hand tools for the session.

  • Soldering iron with a stand. A small tip on the iron is suggested. This could be a simple 25 watt iron with a bent coat hanger stand.
  • Damp sponge to clean the soldering iron tip
  • Rosin core solder – Kester “44” or similar. Note that we will have some spare solder available.
  • Small wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Magnifier and/or light
  • Hi-lighter to mark off parts as they are installed
  • Cookie sheet with upturned lip to catch stray parts, to reduce static discharge damage to components and to protect the table surface

More information about Ears To Our World, as well as the Humanalight, can be found here http://www.earstoourworld.org/

PROJECT #2

This year’s second Build Session kit is an entry level CW transceiver for the 80 meter band, the Cricket. The Cricket is a minimalist 80M crystal controlled CW transceiver designed to be a simple, easy-to-build project, yet very functional. Favorably reviewed in the December 2017 QST, It is comprised of only 43 components, but maximizes features and performance of each of those components. It will take approximately 2 hour to build.  The crystal included in the kit is a frequency usable by ALL license classes, Technician through Extra!

Specifications:
Voltage Input: 9v battery, clips mounted to board. The battery will be included!
Receive Current: <20mA typical
Transmit Power: 0.75w, typical
Transmit Current: <80 mA
Operating Frequency: 3.579 MHz, crystal included.
Antenna Connector: BNC, on board
MDS: -105 dBm, typical – good sensitivity.
Audio jack: ⅛” Stereo
T/R Offset: 600 Hz, typical
Sidetone: Included!
Key: Included!
Toroids: None!
Wiring: None!

It bears a family resemblance to the well known but much lower performing Pixie. However it is very different and vastly improved over the Pixie. This was designed to be a usable rig and is far superior!  It features low parts count, MOSFETs for better receiver sensitivity and switching, and a modern NJM2113D audio amp. An TX/RX offset is included so that you can work other stations that have zero beat you, or are using a crystal on the same frequency. Full QSK and a sidetone complete the essential operating features. Inductors made of etched spiral coils are included on the pc board, so there are NO TOROIDS to wind.  Additionally a straight key is included on the pc board, just snap it off, mount it on the board, and the whole rig is then self contained. These are many features for such a low parts count, fun, and and inexpensive transceiver.

ALL THROUGH HOLE parts make this kit very easy to assemble in approx. 2 hour. The price of this Build Session kit is $20, and is selected and paid for during the registration process.  This is a great fun activity for all, experienced builders or not, so plan to attend and enjoy AND you will get to carry home this nifty kit selection that you built. Pre-Registration is necessary as there is a limited number of the kits available for the building session.

Attendees will need to bring their own hand tools for the session.

  • Soldering iron with a stand. A small tip on the iron is suggested. This could be a simple 25 watt iron with a bent coat hanger stand.
  • Damp sponge to clean the soldering iron tip
  • Rosin core solder – Kester “44” or similar. Note that we will have some spare solder available.
  • Small wire cutters
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Magnifier and/or light
  • Hi-lighter to mark off parts as they are installed
  • Cookie sheet with upturned lip to catch stray parts, to reduce static discharge damage to components and to protect the table surface

For more information about this kit, see the kit web page at http://www.4sqrp.com/cricket.php.

PROJECT #3

Tape Measure Fox Hunt Antenna (Details TBD). The price of this Build Session kit is $15.

If you have been interested in participating in a fox hunt but you don’t have a directional antenna, we have the perfect opportunity for you! We will be supplying a complete kit and hands-on instruction for you to build your own WB2HOL-design tape measure antenna, with some slight enhancements to the design.

These antennas have a really great front-to-back ratio with a very deep notch in the pattern toward the rear. It uses three steel “tape measure” elements that fold easily to allow you to quickly get in and out of your vehicle and yet remain stiff enough to be self-supporting when hunting for a hidden transmitter. Between hunts, the elements can be folded or rolled to reduce storage space. This antenna design has been in use for decades for ARDF and transmitter or fox hunting, but also can be used to contact astronauts on the International Space Station, make satellite repeater contacts, extend your HT range to hit that repeater in the next county, sniff out local RFI noise, locate a stuck transmitter or jammer… the options are endless.

There are no special skills or tools needed to participate in the workshop, just the ability to follow instructions and an interest to have a good time. Each participant will get a complete kit with all the parts needed to build an antenna with a male BNC connector on the end of the coax. Adapters for your HT or handheld scanner will be available for a small additional fee when registering. We will have all the tools and supplies available so you will leave the workshop with a tested and functioning antenna. During the workshop, we will provide some additional ideas for enhancements to make later if you so choose. If you bring your HT or handheld scanner, there will be a fox hidden outside for you to practice finding.