Thursday, 27 December 2012

I so agree

I am a strong Guardian supporter, especially when Zoe Williams expounded on the state of the Nation, sorry I mean the Government, sorry I mean the Coalition.

1. Burning our future: energy futures are so insecure that they are the only way to steal a march on the rest of the world is to frack our own land to within an inch of habitability, and then sell the gas to, rem, the rest of the world. What's the point of investing in fuel that goes against carbon targets? Why not spend the money on renewables, to the public good?

2. Benefits: has this been rendered unaffordable by twin evils of fraud and worklessness? How can benefits be responsible for a debt that was made from bank bailouts, how can fraud (0.7%!) have made up any dent in it? What have workless generations to do with it, less than 1% of households have two generations that never worked.

3. Housing benefit: is this yesterday's luxury? Do people just have to get used to paying the same money for the same squalid conditions - only with more overcrowding?

4. Education: is this in a crisis, so much that the best way to tackle it is to hand over control to people that know nothing about it, well meaning parents and sponsors?

5. The NHS: is it inefficient (?) and unaffordable (?), and will become inexorably more so as population ages? And the only way to handle that is to outsource it to people who want to profit from it. Why introduce private companies into the NHS when it is clear that outsourcing (old people's homes, waste management, trains, children's homes, asylum-seeker dispersal, Olympic security…) shows that these companies just drive costs up, do not innovate, operate as cabals and constantly look for way to cut wages and maximise profits?

6. Austerity: how can it be that the country's problems can be cured by more austerity, which caused the problem in the first place? Banks just sucked capital out of society, and left us nothing but higher prices, less jobs and big debts.

We are not all screwed! We are being screwed by poor government in favour only of political power and position - votes they call it.

We need to tackle real problems, face to face: housing is an opportunity, tax is just and must be collected, the NHS is the best in the world (or it was…). To govern is not to control a nation of crooks, it is to encourage a nation of honest, industrious people with natural resources coming coming out of our ears.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Give them up!!

You Americans HAVE to give up guns. Not just control them, give them up. Collect all the guns from the people and destroy them...

If not you will continue to be the barbaric nation you are killing 10,000 people every year from gun shot wounds. (The figure in UK is less than 40/year, taking population into account).

What is worse, your sad and stupid culture is spread to the rest of the world, by wars and hHollywood. This too has to stop.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The march of the atheists

The census 2011 for Uk has just been released. Two focus points picked up by news organisations seem to be the number of foreign born people now living in UK, and the drop in the number of people saying they are 'Christian', even if they are not regular church goers.

This last fact has led to a lot of people shouting gout, "well we don't need Chistianity", "UK is no longer a Christian country", " at last people have realised that religion is" … whatever.

But think about it a moment. If it is not for Christianity who defines the morality of the people? Islamic Sharia? The government and its laws? We have to be very, very careful here. Without some form of moral guidance and acceptance of moral principles and instillation of those principles, society can and will become savage. I think it is clear that more and more legislation is today being directed at what are social behaviour problems (ASBOs and the like), but these are also moral problems, "love your neighbour" issues. I am convinced that the church has a tremendous job to do to rebuild its presence in UK society. I hope that the new and dynamic Archbishop of Canterbury realises this and will do something about it.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The interface is the problem

PC's, whether Windows boxes or Macs, are great at stand alone tasks, with some reasonable connectivity to the internet, by ethernet or WiFi.

But try to do anything else and interfacing becomes a problem. What are the options?

1. WiFi. You can use this to connect to another server running in your connected device, and then transfer digital data in a format similar to Ethernet

2. USB. The most used and probably the easiest, but for some uses (like digital audio) there are sync problems and in other uses speed problems.

3. Firewire. Now being phased out on Macs and never really bought on in PCs. Good for high speed links for video and hi end audio

4. Thunderbolt. So new no one is using it! Must be tricky to implement as makers are very slow to implement on displays, video or audio. Most people use a TB to Firewire converter…

5. Internal PCI cards: exclusive to desk tops, most PCs and the Mac Pro.

Probably the best choice among these is WiFi. This is a wonder solution as it is the only one with no wires, a trend that is popular for obvious reasons. But there are problems of latency here also, and mistiming of packets. So who knows what is best. It is a bad compromise today, and a sad fact that no-one has yet solved the universal I/O problem. Personally I morn the end of Firewire.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Antenna tuning network

I am planning to buy an antenna that I can fit in the loft, this cannot be longer than 10m so will be OK from 14MHz up, but will need an ATU for lower bands. I have two SDRs (one receiver on 3.5MHz and one transceiver on 7MHz) so I need to design an ATU to match their 50R output to the antenna.

A simple network for matching different impedances is the 'L' network. Which can be on one of two configurations:


These are just the same, as you can swap IN for OUT! The right hand one is the one to chose if your antenna has a higher impedance than the transceiver 50R output. The values of L and C are calculated like this, ignoring the reactive parts and assuming IN & OUT are resistive:


Here's a table of values calculated in a spreadsheet for f = 3.5 to 28MHz, Rin (Rs) = 50R and Rout (RL) from 100 to 1000R:

ATU L 3 5 18MHz numbers

Friday, 30 November 2012

A vastly improved experience

Welcome to the new iTunes 11, just released by Apple. What a refreshing experience. A new and logical way to include many, many functions that iTunes can perform - from syncing your devices, to buying in the store.

Screen Shot 2012 11 30 at 10 30 23

The first screen allows you to easily select your library contents (Music, Movies, etc) then display them by their attributes (Songs, Albums, etc). From here a smooth switch can be made to the iTunes store to purchase new media.

As usual everything is in the iCloud, and synchronises to you devices (iPads, iPhones).

Airplay seamlessly allows media to be streamed to Airport Express (analog audio) or Apple TV (digital audio and HDMI video). All wonderful and smooth - well done Apple.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Ham Radio request

Is there by any chance someone out there thinking like me and working to develop a magic radio box?

SDR (Software Defined Radios, RX and TXRX) are mostly designed to connect to a computer, using a USB connection for control and one (RX) or two (TXRX) stereo audio signals.

But what I want to do is to put an SDR in my loft, along with auto ATU and loft aerial. Then I want to control it over WiFi from my MacBook. So I need some sort of box (or complete SDR design) that can communicate with the SDR software (I use DL2SDR's DSP Radio software) for both control and audio channels. Something like this

Screen Shot 2012 11 22 at 16 47 15

I have in mind to use a good auto tune SDR/ATU, like perhaps the Flex-1500?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Well now, fancy that, no more wires

There was a very interesting news report on 'Zite' (an iPad news aggregator app) that ATT in the USA thought they might abandon wired, fixed phones.

So what? Well most of us have a mobile don't we? But think about it seriously, the main purpose of the wires today is not the fixed phone, but the ADSL modem connecting you to the internet. And the performance of this channel is rapidly becoming obsolete with as upper limit of 8-10Mbps or so. So now there are two pressures combining to rid ourselves of the 100 year old copper wire, and move to fibre!

Would it be reasonable that all wires could be replaced by fibre to the home, whoopee 100Mbps, all TV coming this way, shutting down all those new digital TV transmitters, freeing up the air space for more mobile technology, and …?

Wow that's a thought:

1. Abandon fixed wire phones - boom in mobile sales, and phone chargers! Move to fast LTE delivery.

2. Big move to swap wires for fibre - technically not obvious, but a practical challenge - gives everyone, and I mean everyone, as this would be legally mandated, to have 100Mbps internet delivery

3. Quickly move from linear transmitted TV to internet delivered Video On Demand - a huge boom in companies offering VOD TV, movies etc. Big boom in Internet connected TVs.

4. Finally closing down all recently installed digital TV transmitters, at considerable cost! They were a bad choice anyway, based on the mistake that linear TV would continue to be the forward delivery for programs, whereas as many companies (TVcatchup, Netflix, LoveFilm, even BT video… and things like the iPlayer) have shown people want a different on-demand delivery system. So let's cut our losses and free up TV bandwidth frequencies for mobile and stop digital TV.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Household expenses

Just a quick note to say something about household expenses.

Expenditure = Income

(… unless you max out your credit card… but you can only do this once)

So if any houshold item increases in cost, for example gas/electricity, then something else has to either be abandoned, or its cost has to go down.

The question is what will go down, under financial pressures?

It seems that little is susceptible to these pressures… Mortgage? No the banks have got you by the short and curlies here, even if the housing market goes down, they still want the full value of their loan to be paid back… Food? Yes you could starve yourself, but only so far! …Energy? Yes you can cut this down by 18C freezing instead of 21C warm, by sitting in the dark, by not watching TV or using the internet, by eating cold meals, by insulating your house. But none of these choices are pleasant, and insulation is expensive in capital terms (why spend capital to save expenses… Taxes? Very unlikely as these taxes pay for local services, but there is some room to demand they are cut… what else??? Oh yes, insurance! Have you ever seen this come down, yet again financial services have you by the short and curlies.

The problem then is that very little is susceptible to market pressures, and that is a major problem which is causing people to scream and shout about any price increases.

We need to look at things very differently and keep in mind the best split in expenditures for your family.

Of course the other solution is higher wages and pensions. But both of these are highly dependant on market conditions. You can change your job, if you have guts and qualifications. But you are unlikely to be able - no really it is impossible - to increase your pension.

More Reprap

What we have discovered about our Reprap 3D printer is that the plastic delivered with the kit was PLA, not ABS as we expected - after all the kit was called ABS - Prusa! For weeks we had poor prints, lots of misaligned squirts from the extruder, wiggly output, poor adhesion.

But now we have purchased some correct ABS material, and tuned the slicing software "Slic3r" to have the best parameters for our setup, and whoopee great prints. By the way we are also using Replicator Host on both PCs and Macs for printing. Great software!

For example,

2012 10 16 13 47 55

Looks good, eh?

We have also printed a sturdy and quite large item, a reel support which clips onto the side vertical support of a chair and holds the reel of plastic. This is a great idea and the plastic un-reels easily as we print.

Two projects are in progress, like everyone an iPhone case! and a complicated, many pieced, heat exchanger for a kitchen extraction system. Here's the iPhone case downloaded from Thingyverse, thanks.

Screen Shot 2012 10 16 at 14 16 12

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Eye poppingly bad maps

I haven't written for a while, but I have to now. I have just upgraded my iPhone to IOS6, and I wish I hadn't. (Can I go back?)

The new Apple Maps app is very, very poor.

Just take for example: the village of Chipping Warden, nearby to where I live, is not found in the search and not labeled on the maps.

On the way to here there are two roads labeled "Banbury & Oxford Canal", their is no such thing, it is the Oxford Canal, and its not a road.

The satellite photos are much worse resolution than the previous Google ones. And they are obviously shot years ago, at least 5 years!! As many features have changed since then.

So, bad Apple, bad, bad.

Infact there is no feature of IOS6 that I have found that is better than IOS5...

Monday, 23 July 2012

Morning out with the girls

Our grand daughters have come to stay, here they are out playing:

2012 07 23 11 31 09

2012 07 23 11 56 28

2012 07 23 12 05 51

2012 07 23 12 07 20

2012 07 23 12 07 41

Then we went to the allotment and climbed trees!

2012 07 23 13 12 44

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Reprap gets going

After a lot of fiddling with settings in the slicer (slicer) this is the result.

Here are a couple of iPad stands, which need a cross bar the hold them up, but otherwise work well. The design comes from the web site thingyverse:

2012 07 21 14 03 48

And this stand along, but rather chunky design:

2012 07 21 14 03 59


The hot end extruder has developed a leak, and hot plastic dribbles down the side, spoiling future prints. Later… this has been fixed, had to take it off the carriage and tighten it in the heat insulator tube. All now seems well and I have started printing again.

By the way here's the hobby area:

2012 07 22 10 01 45

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A better SDR Ham radio setup

I have been looking for a while at the conventional ham radio setups. They look like this:

Screen Shot 2012 07 15 at 10 01 43

The ATU and TXRX are in the shack, with a long cable to the antenna. The ATU and TXRX can be integrated.

What I have thought of as a better solution is:

Screen Shot 2012 07 15 at 10 01 52

The SDR and ATU are integrated. And the control is by WiFi. The box is placed at the base of the antenna. No long feeder cable, in fact no cable at all, except for the need for an AC supply, or maybe a rechargeable battery? The system can be controlled from either a PC, or from a mobile phone or pad. You could offer others to log into a server and for them to control the system?

Thursday, 28 June 2012

1st Reprap prints

Got the Reprap printer going!

Some notes about this are below:

* Usefull g-codes are: G1 Xn Yn Enew Fnew: move to coord, new extrusion, new federate. G28 [X0 Y0 Z0]: home [X, Y, Z]. M104 Snnn: Ext temp, return. M109 Snnn: Ext tempo, wait. M140 Snn: bed temp, return. M190 Snn: bed temp, wait. M84: Stop after print job.

Calibrating the extruder. You have to make sure that the extruder consume the right amount of filament. So heat the nozzle up, then feed in filament until some comes out. Then give a command to feed in precisely 10mm and measure what actually goes in, say 13.8mm as ours did. Then you can set the Slic3r parameter Printer & Filament > Extrusion Multipler to 10/13.8 or about 0.75.

Running the printer. Noe: I use a MacBook, and Replicator Host and Slic3r software. MAke sure you have the latest versions installed. After setting up the various parameters in the slicer, and in Repetier Host software… Output an STL file from your CAD software (e.g. from Sketchup), Add this file to RH, check the objects orientation and that it is sitting on the bed, adjust if needed by rotating and shifting. Open Slic3r chose external version and load your configuration then Generate the g-code. Finally check that the right start and end g-code have been generated, and hit "Run".

You can monitor the bed and nozzle temperature as it rises, and then watch the printing happening. IF all goes wrong hit Kill or Emergency Stop.

These are our first attempts at printing as we learnt the Slic3r settings and played about a bit:

2012 06 27 22 31 59


2012 06 27 22 34 39

The results after various tries. Not yet perfect. The main problem we have is getting the object to stick on the print bed. Need to try different temperatures.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Using a computer as a scope

I have a MacBook. On the Mac there are a number of programs which can display audio signals as would an oscilloscope. One I like is called Signal Inspector which as well as displaying as an oscilloscope can also display spectra and generate signals. There is another very useful program called PTHVolume which gives you an audio routing selection and gain controls in the menu bar.

The range of the spectral display depends on the settings of the Audio MIDI program where you can chose the A/D sample rate for the audio inputs (up to 96kHz giving a 48kHz bandwidth).

But the audio input to the computer is fairly low level, around 100mV at maximum gain. If you want to check, for example the frequency response of an audio power amplifier then it can have an output of 100V Peak-to-Peak which will severely overload the computers input. On the other hand if you want to monitor low level signal down to just a few milli-volts them the computer is not sensitive enough.

This calls for a preamplifier. And here is one with switchable gain of on the input of 0/-40dB (approximately) and a gain of 0/+20dB, giving a total of 0-60dB range.

2012 06 26 11 20 50

Looking at the circuit, the input attenuator needs to be aggressive, for if an input of 100V P-P is to be tolerated and an output of 1V P-P (max) is needed then it should switch 0/-40dB so the lower resistor is therefore just 100R. This would give gain settings of -40, -20, 0, +20dB.

Amateur 40m receiver - will it work?

I have been dreaming again, about very simple but unusual receiver designs for CW and SSB reception. This one is the latest idea:

2012 06 26 10 48 56
It has three parts:

1 The input mixer which heterodynes the incoming RF signals with the local VFO to produce an audio signal.

2 A simple audio amplifier.

3 A simple Hartley VFO with electronic tuning using a varicap diode.

The input transformer is a wide band one, using a ferrite core. The diodes are schottky type for low voltage drop. The RFC is 47-100uH "resistor" type. The FETs are the BF245A, a very, very useful transistor which can be used with zero bias (it conducts 2-6mA at a Vgs = 0). The values given here for the oscillator are about right for 7MHz, but may need tweaking a bit to centre the band and adjust the tuning range: to do this a variable trimmer can be put across the 100pF capacitor to centre the thing range, and the varicap series capacitor of 47pF changed to limit the width of the tuning range.

What I want to try also is to connect the output to my MacBook and run an SDR program, this then hopefully will display a +/-48kHz range of frequencies and let me tune across and change modes to LSB/USB or CW. The program I have is DSP Radio from DL2SDR, which works well with my dedicated SDR radio front end, from Kanga products.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Beautiful Painting

A new friend of Charlie's (my youngest son) is a fine arts graduate. I asked her to reproduce a painting - from a small plaque I photographed in Greece. Here it is:

2012 06 24 15 22 20

If you are interested in having Amberle paint something for you, please contact me. You can find other examples of her work on the web, just Google Amberle Dickson.

Apple PhotoStream vs Dropbox Upload

Dropbox recently updated to version 1.5. This introduced a new feature, iPhone Camera Uploads. And very good it is too.

Previous to this the way to get your photos from the iPhone to your computer was to use Apple's PhotoStream. This automatically uploaded photos from the phone to iPhoto app on your computer. But it had problems:

- it was very slow and uncertain in operation; often I found my pictures never got sent from the iPhone.

- it brought the photos directly into iPhoto, with no way (well only a complicated way) to get at the photo files without opening iPhoto and exporting them - for example to join a series together as a panorama (I use DoubleTake for this…)

- it only works on WiFi, not on 3G. I have an unlimited 3G contract and my 3G speeds are just as fast as my home broadband, so this is a stupid and annoying limitation.

So I have decided to switch Photostream off. A brave move you might say, but I don't mss it.

Because instead I am using Dropbox. A new menu option at the bottom of the dropbox screen on the iPhone now includes "Upload"; hit this and immediately any new photos you have taken are uploaded, over WiFi or 3G. They arrive in a new Dropbox folder called "Camera Uploads" which is then accessible from anywhere.

I can run through the photos quickly (select the file and hit the Space bar to Quickview), delete any I don't like (⌘/Command - ←/Delete) and then either drop those pictures I want to keep on to the iPhoto icon in the dock to import them. Or put them together first as a panorama using DoubleTake (which has a very convenient button to automatically import the result into iPhoto).

An additional benefit is that screen shots made on the iPhone (Home+Power buttons) are also uploaded.

2012 06 24 13 12 13

There, quick and easy

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

3D Printing

May be I mentioned it before but an update won't do any harm. My son purchased a 3D printer kit, the ABS Prusa Mendel. We have now put this together and it looks like this:

IMG 2190

We have tried to make as neat a job of it as we can, since we have seen a lot of Heath Robinson printers on You Tube!

However its not yet printing. The available software is a shambles, largely because it is developed by hundreds of people and there are few, if any, commercial offerings. We are running both PC/Windows 7 and Mac OSX computers. So far we have not managed to get the PC to run the printer at all (strange since there are more packages available for the PC and more developers). But we have one good package working for the Mac, this is Repetier-Host, using the slicer STL file to g-code converter. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2012 06 12 at 10 19 08

At the top are the basic buttons, for such things as connect to the printer, Run etc. On the right you can see the g-code that has been generated and an image of the object on the printer bed is on the left. As the printer runs around a red line is drawn on the blue image to show the current slice and ABS extrusion taking place in real time.

Sound easy? It certainly seems to work. But this is only half the story, the difficult bit is calibrating the software to correctly drive the printer - temperatures, dimensions, extrusion rates, layer thickness, and on and on. We have not yet solved these issues but a few hours would do the job.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


I have been in the dark about the fundamentals of finance, especially about loans, leverage, credit, bubbles, derivatives and de-leveraging. What? you too?

OK here goes:


Credit is cheap and abundant, "you never had it so good", UK borrows millions, house prices keep rising. The good times?

You buy a house, for say £100,000 (a low figure I admit but just an example). You get a mortgage which needs a 3% down-payment (only), this means you pay £3000 cash and get a loan of £97,000. The leverage on this is 33:1, or 97,000/3000.

Now say you want to refinance the house to reduce your mortgage. The best offer you get is a loan of £100,000 but 20% down-payment. So you have to find an extra £17,000 cash and you mortgage is then £80,000. Th leverage is now 4:1, or 80,000/20,000.


You have £100,000 cash to invest, your bank gives you a leverage of 2:1 and you buy £200,000 worth of stocks. Whoopee!!!

But the stocks fall in value by £50000, this is cash you have lost and your collateral is now only £100,000 - £50,000, and your stock value is now £150,000. i.e. a leverage of 3:1. But margin accounts like this can have a maximum of 2:1 so you have to either find £25,000 extra cash to put in or sell enough stock to get back to 2:1 leverage.


So you have a portfolio of £200,000, if the assets rise to £300,000 your collateral is now the original £100,000 + the new £100,000 = £200,000. And with this you can buy £400,000 worth of stocks. Or house owners can buy more houses, etc.

Then the bubble pops, and the assets fall dramatically. Your collateral declines, the lender faces losses, houses are given back to lenders…

Look at it from the point of view of the bank. The bank keeps some cash around, called reserves. This is around 4% of the a value of the loans it has extended (cash is £1 for every £25 loaned!). If it has losses then they can eat up the 4% cash pretty quickly, if they do so the bank is insolvent and cannot offer any new loans. The bank is forced to sell some of its assets to get some cash.


Say the bank has extended £1M loans, but its cash lok likely to go down to just £1, a leverage of 1,000,000:1, then it must liquidate its liabilities and raise cash to restore the 4% (25:1) it needs, this means raising £40,000 cash. How?

Sell assets, even at a loss which it must absorb, e.g. it sells the house above which is now worth only £50,000 against a mortgage it extended of £100,000 and get £50,000 from its reserves. Or it can keep the loans on its books at full value (that is assume the house is still worth £100,000 or the market will bounce back). Or it can sell assets it has of gold, bonds, property…

But here we enter the world of derivatives. It sells derivatives against assets it does not own, for cash, but which it believes it can buy at a later date for less than it now sells them. It also hedges against possible losses by buying derivatives from someone else. Any difference in the performance of these derivative in the market place is a profit to boost its collateral, or a loss…

Now finally if its cash reserve is too low it is in a bind, it cannot declare the true value of its assets (houses) NOR can it sell them and take to losses as the cash reserve is too low and even negative, so it is in solvent. That a bind! You see the true collateral it has = assets at market value, i.e. what it could sell them for.


If the market goes down, the house asset is impaired and could lead to insolvency. The house may "go under water" with a mortgage > house value. Then there are two choices, continue to demand and get the "owner" to pay the mortgage and come up with the cash to meet mortgage - value. Or the owner declares bankruptcy (he is then most unlikely to ever get any new loans).

If a factory has outstanding debts greater than it cash + assets, then it cannot pay them off. It can sell some assets to "put off the day" and hope the market will rise again. Overall if the assets are sold for cash then cash rises in value, and the assets decline in a flooded market.

It's all a fiddle and very, very complex. Some find it fun, others think it a stupid way to provide money to make the world go round.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Blimey - they are at it again, and again, and agaon

The USA MPAA has just said they want to

"provide consumers with content when they want it, where they want it and how they want it".

What could be further from the truth. They want to just provide content through their restricted channels - cinemas they control, DVDs with DRM… or if they do provide content then it is sliced and diced by region, delivery media… and when someone like Netflix or iTunes sets up a service people like and use, they restrict the content to older, less popular movies.

Sorry but the MPAA (and all the others like them) are liars.

And just to cap it we are stupid and let our laws be used on their behalf to insist ISPs block web sites that index sources of content (think Pirate Bay) . We all know they don't own the internet, and they are doing this just because they don't own the internet, as a delivery channel.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Letter to my MP Tony Baldry

Dear Tony

The internet is global. There are millions of pages out there. The way that people find things is by using sites that index those pages, e.g. Google, Bing, etc and this includes specialist indexers like Pirate Bay. It is just a search engine, it does not host or download copyright material. It is no different from a site that indexes, for example, only academic papers.

So I am afraid I consider it very wrong that Pirate Bay has been found guilty of inducing the downloading of protected works. Google does exactly the same. Not only, but that it has been found guilty in a jurisdiction outside its home location.

The judgement is also frightening, that the networks which carry our internet signals (ISPs) should intercept them and block those that certain industries or governments fined objectionable.

Copyright infringement is simply by the two people: one who provides the material and the person who downloads it, the channel of communication cannot be guilty. Nor any indexing site that helps us navigate the internet.

I hope you will come to see the problem in this light and press for our laws on copyright be updated for the internet age.


Antony Watts NOTE: its now 14-5-12 and he has NOT replied...

Internet freedom attacked again

Pirate Bay

I have to say that I don't use Pirate bay for fear I might be downloading copyright material.

But where would the material come from if I did use it?

Not from Pirate Bay.

Let's get the argument clear: breaking copyright means copying and distributing a person's work without their permission. Pirate Bay does not do that. They do index other sites that host copyright works. These are offered by these sites for downloading. If the protocol used for downloading bit torrent, then the sites that the actual download comes from are many none of which is Pirate Bay, but a bit from here and a bit from there.

We are faced with these issues:

- The internet is global , you cannot enforce local laws about it

- Information out there is found by indexing and search, e.g. by Google

- Copyright is not broken by indexing and searching, but by copying from the indexed sites

So why do people put up copyright material on their sites? To make money by advertising, because they think its amusing or simply don't understand the issues, or because they are frustrated at not having legitimate download sites they can buy the work from? This last one is feel known as the main motivator for music and movies to be available from lots of sites.

So, lots of copyright material held on sites illegally is motivated by the lack of legitimate hosting sites where you an purchase it, particularly music and movies driven by the industries outmoded business models which release movies by country, by channel, by time. The internet is global, if a movie is released in USA but not in UK, then people in UK are going to want to see it, and they are motivated to illegally download it.

Accusing Pirate Bay of secondary guilt is simply wrong for free speech. The claim that the harm to copyright works can be equated to harm to physical products or to people, e.g. by an incitement to murder or promotion of physical copy-products which may be unsafe or break someones Intellectual Property rights, is wrong. Any laws that are interpreted to mean that it is illegal to index internet sites is wrong.

Try prosecuting Google not Pirate bay, they index many more sites with copyright protected works listed in the search results, just as does Pirate Bay. If Google is legitimate then so are other search engines. All of them make money from advertising.
The illegality of downloading a copyright work without permission and possible payment is between the hosting site and the downloader, nothing to do with any index which enable you to find the work on the global internet.

Radio Low Pass Filters

I have found a really useful number of tables for making Low Pass Filters, mainly used for suppressing harmonics from the output of amateur radio transmitters. Here are the charts:

Screen Shot 2012 05 02 at 11 44 58

Basic filter configuration, input and output are 50R.

Screen Shot 2012 05 02 at 11 58 52

These are the values recommended for each band.

Screen Shot 2012 05 02 at 11 44 08

Here is the data for the most common toroid cores, from which you can decide the core to use and the inductance per 10 turns.

Screen Shot 2012 05 02 at 12 10 05 This is the formula to use to calculate the number of turns required.

Screen Shot 2012 05 02 at 11 44 30

And this is the smallest toroid to use for a given power capability.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Fundamental changes

It seems to me that we need to make two fundamental changes.

First to reform the banking business - more service not product, stop the money go round, e.g. CDS. Stop pouring good many after bad - if you make a poor investment you must be allowed to loose it, e.g. housing equity versus mortgage loans.

Second to change our gaze from making money as a life goal, to making wisdom or intellectual achievement as our life goal. After all we are better designed to think than just shove money around.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lots of Amateur Radio circuits

Here's a bunch of Amateur Radio circuit ideas, none have been tested!

A two SA612 receiver: The first is a mixer amplifier feeding the IF crystal filter, followed by a second as mixer/beat oscillator giving an audio output

RX 3

An unusual receiver with a balanced detector, an audio amplifier and a local oscillator using a CMOS invertor

RX 4

Here's a mixer using a CMOS switch. With as RF preamp and audio amplifier.

RX 5

What could be simpler? a one transistor radio. With a balanced mixer and simple VFO

RX 6

Now something different: an electronically tuned ATU, for receive only obviously.


Lastly an SWR meter, with easily wound torrid transformers SWR METER

Torroids from

Screen Shot 2012 04 26 at 16 49 58

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Money - I have a theory about that

Maybe we have got everything the wrong way round? Incessant publicity or news mongering these days insists that financial markets want Europe to fix things. It seems that we have all borrowed too much, but the corollary of that is the someone lent us too much, and who was it? The banks!

So maybe the right way forward is for Europe to fix the banks? And there is a lot to be said for that. After all money belongs to society, it is something we have created to allow us to trade. It is not a plaything for banks to make their financial instruments, or products. Finance is after all a service not a productive industry, they have no such things as products, and should only provide services. And they are not very good at that.

Most of their business just involves swallowing up capital, making it go round and round faster, if the capital becomes too scarce then they avidly look for other ways to get or create some. For example, inflated house prices, they get millions on their books in assets by promoting higher and higher, bigger and bigger house prices and bubbles. Credit cards and loans and sharks - again a licence to print more money, and they regularly lend 10-50 times more money than they actually have, its called leverage.

Then if they make a mistake and some of their loans go bad, that is we don't pay up, then they bully us for more money saying their will be a global crash. Maybe but it might be just what is needed. The problem is how to protect you and me and our savings, no problem to write off our debts! Thank you!

Its just that the banks take little or no risk on their loans, you buy a house, it belongs to them as they just advanced the money on a loan and kept the deeds. You start to pay it back. Now the market in houses falls and your house is not worth what you paid for it - more common to day than you might think - you are in what they call negative equity, you do not have the asset value to pay off your loan. But the banks has lost nothing, they still have the value of the loan you signed up to. Surely they should take a risk too? If the house market falls, their assets should also have lower value? No?

Money I repeat is ours not the banks. We earn it, we spend it, they just facilitate it going round. The huge debts built up today are a misuse of money and entirely the banks fault.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

UK's lost moral compass

As a society we have a choice: open or police state.

And I am talking about surveillance: CCTV, Internet, mobile phone… all of these are increasingly being used to survey people's place and actions. The actions may be criminal, but that is in the spectrum of society. Not all of society is good. And punishing the bad is not a way to reform society. Even prisons now focus on reform of the individual rather than punishment, the re-enforcement of moral values.

UK has more CCTV cameras than any other country in the world, they are used for viewing the most absurd activities: like emptying the wrong things into a wheely bin.

Internet surveillance is reaching increasingly across all of us, when we thought we had finally a tool to improve society's communication and understanding, the UK government want to treat it with special concern and monitor all communications. They surely are stupid, the internet is just like standing talking to a friend on a street corner - or is that illegal now too?

Mobile phones are widely used to track people, as long as you have your phone switched on it spends an amount of time polling for the nearest cell tower, so that it knows where you for are any incoming phone call. This information is all in a computer and accessing it provides a way to track you. Even shopping complexes are using it now to track shoppers as they go round and build a view of there activities.

So it is time to say NO. We do not want to be tracked and monitored. The intrusion outways the risk of non-detection and crime prevention.

There is a better way to improve society: that is to improve our moral education. This is the job of churches, mosques and other moral or religious establishments. A challenge that they are not facing up to today. When we elect (sorry appoint) a new archbishop of Canterbury soon, let's keep this very much in mind.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

About SDR

Here are a few slides I just made explaining how SDR works: SDR Slides 001 SDR Slides 002 SDR Slides 003 SDR Slides 004 SDR Slides 005 SDR Slides 006 SDR Slides 007 SDR Slides 008 SDR Slides 009 SDR Slides 010 SDR Slides 011 SDR Slides 012 SDR Slides 013