Posted on

It’s Been Quiet Here

It’s been a while since I posted anything and people are emailing asking what’s up, so this is an update.  My day job is still really good but taking a lot of time, so there are evenings when Corsham Tech just doesn’t get the attention that it used to.  We’re still here, just not spending quite as much time as in the past.

A few months ago I talked about a shortage of parts, and we’re happy to announce most of the parts backlog has been filled, except for the dreaded Molex connectors used on every SS-50/SS-30 board.  A large order was supposed to ship the end of February but the vendor informed me that the manufacturer (Molex) won’t ship until late May.  That’s too long, so I looked at more expensive  sources and found big companies like Digikey also have zero in stock.  A bit more searching and I found a bunch and ordered a few hundred.  My expenditures on Molex parts is in the order of $700 for the year so far.

The number of products on the web page is a lot more than I had ever planned, and a few of the low-selling items will disappear.  However there will be some additions like those hard to find parts needed for some of the boards I sell, such as the MC14411, MC6875, 74HCT145, etc.  There will also be packages of those parts so someone can buy some of the least common parts along with blank boards.

I’m starting to spend more time with some of my other hobbies again.  Over the last few years I’ve made maybe 100 contacts on my ham radio, compared the few thousand a year in years past (ie, contesting).  I keep hearing more about the JT8 protocol and have finally gotten it going, hoping to spend more time on it this weekend.

Another old hobby is robotics, mostly spurred on by my son in college (Drexel) where he’s taking a cool robotics course this quarter.  The last time he was home he got my wife and I diving into our old robot stuff again, me doing some work on home-built bots, while my wife got back into the Lego system.  She uses them for STEM demonstrations for Girl Scouts, but is doing more with them now.

There is one new revision to an existing board coming.  I have the prototypes and just have to site down and do more surface mount soldering and then see how it works.  Nothing major, just fixing a problem I didn’t like in an existing board.



Posted on

KIM I/O and KX3 Band Decoder Shield ordered

I finally finished some updates to both boards and sent out for boards to be made.  The I/O board might need some fine tuning once it arrives but the band decoder should be all done at this point.

The KX3 band decoder project has functional software that we’ve used in our shack for a few months now, but there was one missing feature that’s been slow to get finished.  The 16×2 LCD limits how user friendly the UI is, so that’s taking some fine tuning.  Source code will be available for download and we’re hoping someone comes up with some better ideas and shares them.


Posted on

Happy New Year!

So it’s been a whole month since I posted anything, but things have been busy here behind the scenes and I simply didn’t get around to doing any updates in a while.

This is the prototype shield for the KX3 Band Decoder project:


A few more connectors need to be installed and then testing can begin.  About a month ago the matching driver board was done, so this shield is the last piece.  Speaking of the driver, I wanted an easy way to test production boards, so I built a one-off test jig:

web_3The board on top is the tester, while the lower board is the driver that is part of the actual product.  Power is on (the red LED) and pin 4, 40 meters, is currently selected (green LED).  In a final version, the driver is mounted with the DB-25 mounted to a rear panel.

What else… oh, the green house monitor!  We’ve had a monitor in Sui’s greenhouse for years now, but it draws a lot of current and the only working version isn’t in the workshop where I can add features, so I designed an Arduino shield that’s much simpler, has smaller code, and generally a better design.  This will turn into a product eventually but for now this is the crude packaging I’ve been working on for our version:

web_1The rear panel has inputs for three analog channels, one for measuring the output voltage of the solar panels, a one-wire interface for external temperature sensors (DS1820), and a connector for the SHT-11 temp/humidity sensor for use in the greenhouse.  There is also an analog channel for monitoring the input voltage to the controller so we can remotely track the solar panel output versus the battery state.

Every few seconds the display moves to the next set of values to display.  The sensor is sitting in the workshop right now, which explains the 67 degree reading even thought it’s below freezing outside:

web_2A new 60K RAM board for the KIM-1 has been sitting on the bench for weeks now; so much for my plans of building/testing over the holiday vacation.

Yes, there are a lot of things on the bench, and we’re starting to make headway finally!