Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Touching, Brass Monkeys and a Versatile Singer/Songwriter

One of the things that caught my eye at this year's G-QRP Rishworth Mini-convention was a range of touch-sensitive paddles and associated keyers in the exhibition of homebrew. I'm afraid I don't know the brewer's name (but would be pleased to add my thanks here if anybody can help identify her/him).

I've got something of an affection for keys in general and have dabbled with making both straight keys and paddles (the latter just for fun) - but I've never tried electronic touch-sensitive paddles before. Having been touched by them (and vice versa) for the first time at Rishworth, I decided to make one...

I found a truly elegant design by Matthias Volkert, df4sq, in Sprat 48...


and - whilst I'm not interested in the keyer part of Matthias' beautiful, simple, efficient design (having the m0xpd PIC keyer and its Funky derivative), I decided to try the paddle section.

My version follows Matthias' words and music pretty closely, but with the addition of open collector outputs to connect to a keyer or a rig...


I knocked up a quick version on a solderless breadboard...


(eagle-eyed readers will see the power supply plug-in of a few weeks ago pressed into service)

The paddle was rough-hewn from PCB offcuts...


The whole thing worked very well indeed. I was keen to try it on air, but the bands were out of action last weekend due to a cacophany of QRM caused by something called CQ WW DX ("- . ... - / - . ... - / - . ... -" ad nauseam). [There is, of course, the possibility of shelter in the quiet haven of 30m during a storm of contesting - but that is occupied by my beacon!]

What's worse, I couldn't even go outside into the workshop to make a nicer paddle or a PCB for Matthias' circuit due to a spell of very cold weather! It would be nice to have been able to say "unseasonably cold weather" at that point - but extreme winters are becoming a habit.

Despite the frustrations of contesters, cold spells and failed attempts to build a switching bandpass filter, last weekend did have one high spot - and very high it was too...

A daughter had kindly given me tickets to see Sheffield's Versatile Singer/Songwriter in his "A Man with No More Rolls" tour at the DanceHouse...


Brilliant.

Anybody not familiar with Graham (a.k.a. John)'s work should take a look at his very acutely observed, skilfully delivered and immensely entertaining take on northern life.

...-.- de m0xpd

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