Cool Stuff

You Got Your Linux in My Ham Shack!

No, you got your ham shack in my Linux!

I’ve been grumbling to myself about the lack of active ham radio podcasts (sorry but the usual generic ham radio news shows don’t count as podcasts in my book). Lo and behold, I see that KB5JBV and K5TUX have just launched a new podcast, Linux in the HAM Shack. This is right up my alley! The first episode just dropped tonight and I’m exicted to see where the podcast goes in future episodes. This first one is mostly an introduction, so there’s not a lot of meat in it, but I’m sure that will be remedied by episode 2. If you run a Linux box in the shack, or even use open source software like Firefox, I recommend that you subscribe to the podcast feed. Let’s support these guys in a worthwhile effort!

Cool Stuff

Turnkey CubeSat

Check this out, if you are interested in launching your own CubeSat into orbit, look no further than this kit:

The 10x10x10cm, 1kg CubeSat standard has evolved to become the basis for one of the most widely accepted families of nanosatellite designs. Originally proposed by Professor Bob Twiggs at Stanford University, it and its companion P-POD deployer were later developed in conjunction with Professor Jordi Puig-Suari at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo. Despite its emphasis on simplicity and low costs, the CubeSat standard address all the critical issues required for a successful mission, from the external mechanical dimensions of the nanosatellite, to the CubeSat-specific P-POD launcher, to test and integration procedures, etc.

So what do you get in your CubeSat kit?

Conforming fully to the CubeSat specification, the CubeSat Kit is an affordable off-the-shelf hardware and software development and deployment solution that includes:

  • Complete, finished and ready-for-launch CubeSat structure with high strength, low mass, and exceptionally large internal volume
  • TI MSP430-based ultra-low-power electronics with bus-based expansion, with Flash emulation tool (FET) for programming and debugging
  • Both a Development Board for in-lab development and testing, and a separate FM430 Flight Module for the actual Flight Model
  • Plug-in modem / transceiver support and built-in USB
  • Pumpkin’s multitasking Salvo Pro RTOS software
  • HCC-Embedded‘s EFFS-THIN FAT file system for use with the CubeSat Kit’s SD card socket
  • Example projects, code and software libraries
  • Power supplies and tools

All you need is a PC and an MSP430 C compiler certified for use with the CubeSat Kit to begin work …

Sounds great, but how much does it cost? According to the pricelist, you are looking at a starting price of $6000 to get going in the exciting world of CubeSats. Not cheap, but I suppose it might be worth it since they claim that their design has successfully flown into space.

Found at ladyada’s ranting.

Cool Stuff

Must Be Something in the Water

I got my September QST in the mail last week and when I was doing my preliminary flip through the pages, an article caught my eye. Featured on the pages were quite a few screen shots of an application running on the very distinctive Ubuntu Human theme. It turns out that the article is about a new bit of open source software suite for D-STAR users that’s called D-RATS. I’m not very intersted in VHF repeater ops, but this got my attention. Then I noticed that one of the screenshots had a GPS map that looked kind of familiar. A closer look confirmed that the map was a view of the city of Hillsboro, just a few miles away from my QTH. It turns out that the author of the software and QST article, Dan Smith KK7DS, is a local resident who is heavily involved in the local EMCOMM group. Dan also works at the IBM Linux Technology Center in Beaverton. It’s amazing how many talented hams we have over here in the Pacific Northwest. Off the top of my head there’s W7ZOI, KK7B, WA7MLH, and NB6M (I’m sure I’m forgetting some other big names). It’s great to see some up-and-coming new blood like KK7DS to keep the strong Silicon Forest tradition alive.

So do yourself a favor and check out Dan’s blog at I just might have to reconsider my interest in VHF/UHF activity.

Cool Stuff, QRP

Another Willamette in the Wild

Tualatin VFOPardon me while I take a moment to direct your attention to the website of KC5WA, who has been simultaneously working on builds of both my Tualatin and Willamette transceivers. RC does an excellent and really thorough job in documenting his work on his projects, and his web pages are a great resource for those who might be building or troubleshooting these rigs. Both pages are still a work in progress (as are the rigs), but RC updates them on a regular basis. Check out his very detailed page on the Tualatin or the one that he is currently working on about his Willamette build.

Cool Stuff

Willamette QRP Rig Spotted in the Wild

I just got my Summer copy of the QRP Quarterly and got a nice little surprise in the 2008 FDIM Building Competetion and Show & Tell article on page 32. Right down at the bottom-center of the page is a photo of the W8BH entry, his homebrew Willamette rig! Bruce did an incredible job with his build and deserved to win an award (in my very biased opinion). You can see some better photos of his work here and here. FB job Bruce and congratulations for making it to the pages of QQ!