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Thursday, February 2, 2012

(Long) Cable storage

This might be obvious to some of you, but it's only just occurred to me, so I thought I'd share for those of you who've been suffering along with me.

I have various boxes that I use to store cables in. Often they're coaxial cables of various types, or audio cables and maybe they're power cables or the like. They tend to be inflexible.

Putting cables into boxes is a sure way to get them tangled with each other, so it makes sense to roll the cables up.

In order to stop the cables becoming unrolled (and tangled) in the box I've used all sorts of things such as tying knots in the cables themselves, using various types of tape and sometimes I've used twist-ties or even cable ties. Each of these methods has problems: knots come undone, tape deteriorates and becomes a sticky mess, twist ties risk damaging the cable and cable ties are one-use.

I now use the same sort of cable tidy that I'd use to bind a bunch of cables together and run them in a neat and tidy way at the back of my desk or TV unit. My two favourites are the spiral wrap and the velcro tie. Cut a few short lengths of these, roll your cable into a convenient circumference and secure it with two or three of the spiral wrap or velcro tape. They both work well with a minimum of stress to the cable itself, they're clean and easy to remove and they're re-usable.

I don't know why I haven't thought of this before.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Testing the Elecraft T1 Automatic ATU

Basic testing worked just fine. The unit powered up, the morse information display appeared to be working and satisfying relay clunks were heard when putting the unit into and out of bypass mode.

After sorting out some appropriate cables I tested the unit with my FT-817ND in the backyard with a 7 metre squid pole and a couple of counterpoise wires. I tested 80-10 metres successfully!

Tuning took a few seconds of relay clattering to accomplish but SWR was fine at both band ends and band-middle for each band.

I purchased the optional FT-817 control cable. This appeared not to work, but I suspect that is because it has made some assumption about the CAT data rate and I've modified it. I'll sort that out next.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Electraft T1 Automatic ATU Kit

I recently finished construction of the Elecraft T1 Automatic Antenna Tuner Kit. It's a very high quality kit and pretty easy to construct if you already have some kit experience.

More Information:

Elecraft T1 Automatic ATU Kit

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Up! Printer in Windows XP VirtualBox VM in Linux

I've successfully installed and configured the Up! 3D Printer driver software in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM under Linux. It's quite straight-forward with only one real issue to tackle.

My environment:

  • Linux Ubuntu 11.10
  • VirtualBox 4.1.8
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3
  • Up! Software version 1.15

  1. Build the VM. I used 1Gb RAM and 128MB of Video RAM. I don't think either of these are particularly critical for this application. I enabled 2D and 3D video acceleration. Everything else is up to you.
  2. Power-On the Up! printer and start the VM.
  3. Start the VM and from the VirtualBox Device menu enable the USB device for the Up!. On my system it was called: "China Free MC. 3DPrinter"
  4. On the Windows XP desktop, right-click the desktop and select the "Properties" option.
  5. Select the 'Settings' Tab.
  6. Select the 'Advanced' dialog.
  7. Set the Hardware Acceleration slider to the second from 'None' position, or fully to 'None' if you wish. This step is necessary because the Up! software uses GL instructions that the VirtualBox display driver does not support. This setting provides sofware emulation (I think) that allows the software to work.
  8. Install the Up! software in accordance with the standard installation instructions.
  9. Start the Up! software
  10. Test. All should work ok.