AE EP#31 Zombiecalypse TV Station

Yeah this means we will have some more TV, when the undead arise!
This is a super simple setup – with only one flaw: under most jurisdictions it is illegal 🙁
But if we replace the Antenna with a wire and a 10 to 100 Megaohm resistor we are all good to go!

So come on Zombies and give me a chance as a program director 😀

The RF-mixer can be found here

The block diagram:

Why do free CAD programs suck so hard?

Some years back, when I wanted to design my first pcb I had a look ad KiCAD and gEDA. I just wasn’t able to make a board. Not just the Interfaces suck but also tutorials were rare and not very helpful. Then I got Target 3001! from a C’T CD and got my first board made within two hours. By the recent stir about KiCAD by Chris Gammel and Dave Jones I thought I’d give it another try.

Well, same shit as 6 years ago. At least I thought so I asked myself maybe I, as a hobbyist am not the target of these packages. Okay but who should use it the when not hobbyists and small companies?
Right now I’ve decided to write down my complaints to get off some air. I just would love to use OSS and not be limited by wtf moments all the way to a simple power supply design.

1. Why cant a footprint be automatically linked to a certain element?
2. Why do I have to see a Netlist if I don’t want to?
3. Why isn’t there a button to switch from Schematic to Layout to 3d-mode and instead there are 3 totally inconsistend programs with no clear naming system?
4. Is KiCAD an anti-thesis to good user-interface design?
5. Am I the one idiot who does not get it?
6. Why are there still (totally inconsistent) libraries and not one big database instead?
7. Why is there an autorouter? Wasted programming time – if hobbyists are the target they will rarely design PC-mainboard-level complex boards.
8. Why is everything so inconsistent?
9. Why does my mouse not do what I expect? (left-click->select, left-drag->move, right-click->menu and so on)?
10. Why don’t I have the skills to make a PCB-CAD program myself?

Really why is that? Are all these projects so engineer-borne and they do not get, that the user-interface is straight out-of hell? All these tools have so many functions but they all got the basics wrong: consistency, clarity, straightforwardness. When I start up KiCad I have no idea what to do. I don’t say, that eagle is better, its more like the grumpy grandfather of those programs. It seems, that all of them follow some kind of late 80ties paradigm: the user has to take a weekend-seminar to get his work done. I have spent 4 hours with tutorials now and my learning experience was not “aha, that how its done” but “whaaaat? thats how its done?”.

So until this is fixed I am stuck with the not perfect, but orders of magnitude better Target 3001! from an C’T CD.

Sorry for the rant guys, I’m just a bit angry at the moment…

AE EP#29 Oscilloscope Project: The heat is on!

Hi guys!

I just made up some working test setup for the homebrew oscilloscope project and the screen came to life for the first time:

Here is my setup:

By the way is the 3KP1 / DG 7-113 with the green p1 phosphor. If you ever come across the white phosphor (3kp4) you found some nice piece of rareness. The P4 version was used in the Pilot TV-37, one of the first portable TV-sets. Check out David and Marlene McClellans blog about restoring one! Also check out some video of it here.

AE EP#28 DC Motor Speed Control PWM Style

When I gave myself a little treat (a pack full of scrap electronics for €5) I found a complete DC motor speed controller Kit inside. So I built it up and show how this pwm thing works.

The trick here is, to not control the motor speed by using a lower voltage and therefore putting in less power continuously but to slice up the motors energy input into chunks. That will let the motor run even at lower speeds whilst letting it keep most of its torque. Pictures say more than a thousand words, so watch the vid:

Edit: here are the links to where I got it and the building instructions: Bausatz Drehzahlsteller für Gleichstrommotoren and instructuions. Mine was in this pack.