The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

November 27, 2011

Colpitts Oscillator

Filed under: Electronics,ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 5:41 pm

I built my first functional Colpitts oscillator today. I tried a Hartley oscillator, but I think my cheap transistors couldn’t switch fast enough for the small value of inductance I was using. My oscillator was based on the neat animations found at
And a Movie too

November 26, 2011

Ham Exam Complete!

Filed under: ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 3:40 pm

No, I haven’t been inspecting ham… Well I have, but only for sandwiches. What I mean is that I took my amateur radio exams today and passed all three elements in one go (Woohoo)! That means my extra class privileges are only a few days away. Thanks to the folks at North Shore Radio Association for putting up with my tedious rechecking of every answer. They seemed genuinely happy for me. So now I want to go find a cheap 2 meter rig to get on the air while I consider what kind of permanent rig I want to build. The possibilities are endless.

November 22, 2011

Studying for my Amateur Radio License Exam

Filed under: ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 9:45 pm

After digging around on the Internet, I have settled on a few guides to study for my ham license exam. I also have a favorite practice exam site. For Technician class and General class study materials, the No-Nonsense Study Guides are darn good. They address the questions directly with diagrams, and there is just enough color to help you remember why the correct answer is. Extra Class study guides are more difficult to come by. I like the Arrow Communication Association guides. It’s not much more then the questions, and it helps to have the full question pool with diagrams handy. My favorite practice site is It’s clean. It has the features I need, and it’s fast. If I pass the exam (or exams), I’ll be donating to the sites where there is a mechanism for it.

November 19, 2011

An Echo From the Past

Filed under: Electronics,ham radio — Cranky Sysadmin @ 6:38 pm

I mentioned to my parents a couple of weeks ago that I was going to take the exam for my Technician’s class amateur radio license. They informed me that the remainder of my grandfather’s shack had come into their possession after he passed on (in 1993). I asked them if I could try to put it to use and they graciously unloaded the parts that the could easily find on short notice. Turn the page if you’re interested in seeing some photos and commentary.
Photos of an old ham’s stuff

November 11, 2011

Some Starter Electronics Projects

Filed under: Arduino,Electronics — Cranky Sysadmin @ 6:03 pm

I’ve been having a lot of fun putting together my electronics lab and building some projects. I’m re-learning how to read schematics, and how to troubleshoot circuits. Even though I spent my time in the Marine Corps in a bit of a drunken haze, I’m recalling a lot of the basics quickly. Turn the page to see some of my most recent projects.
My starter projects

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