Monday, May 28, 2018

WinKeyer 3 Serial

The finished product.
What's the use of having an excellent soldering station like the Hakko FK-888D if you don't have something to build?

I recently splurged about $40 and bought a WinKeyer 3 Serial. This is a very nice little board that has a WinKeyer 3 chip powered solely by the RS-232 signals on the serial port. I figured this would end all the timing problems I have with keying the rig from a serial port RTS line.

I would have preferred to buy the similar WinKeyer USB Lite, but unfortunately, that product has been discontinued. I suspect it may be because the Lite cut into the sales of the more expensive WKUSB-SMT.

The WK3 Serial Kit.
The kit arrived in a little plastic pouch. There's no manual, but there's a little slip of paper with a URL to download a manual. Not a problem. I just parked one of my computers on the workbench to read the instructions.

Assembly went quickly. I actually ended up following the steps out of order. I guess I should pay better attention, as the first part I assembled was the IC socket. I skipped assembling the resistors and diodes. Oops.

I quickly realized my error and went back and assembled all those parts. This is not a Heathkit. It's more like "insert all the resistors, solder, insert all the diodes, solder, insert all the capacitors, solder" type of kit.

Flip side of the kit. Not
many parts in this one.
For me, this was a piece of cake. Given how simple this kit is, it wouldn't be hard for a much less experienced kit builder. I elected not use use the speed potentiometer at the moment.

Once assembled, testing is a matter of hooking it up to a Windows machine and using a test application.

K1EL provides two programs: WKtest and WK3demo. The WK3 Serial Kit manual has a link to WKtest, although this appears to be an older application. WK3demo is the preferred application to use, at least according to the web site. I tried both, and they both worked.

This kit fired up and worked right after assembly, so no troubleshooting was necessary. I could easily program CW text to flash the on-board LED. Perhaps the hardest issue I had was figuring out exactly which USB Serial device I had hooked it up to.

Now that it's assembled and tested, I'll need to find a suitable box to mount it in, and wire up connectors to hook it to the rig. I didn't manage to complete this before the WPX CW contest, so perhaps next time.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Eliminating the Middle Man

When I first started taking Martial Arts over ten years ago, I weighed 252 pounds. I recently weighed 226 pounds. Perhaps not a huge difference -- especially since most of that weight was lost in the first six months.

That's not to say I haven't experienced any changes from my training the last several years. Far from it. I continue to trade fat for muscle, even if my weight is virtually unchanged. When I look at myself in the mirror in the morning, I don't see the fat guy I used to be.

Indeed. From about four inches above my waist up, or eight inches below my waist down, I actually look kind of skinny.

It's that one foot in the middle that's trouble. That's the fat guy still hanging on. Eliminating him is going to take a lot more work.