Month: February 2015

SOTA: gathered season bonus points this weekend

It’s the middle of February, sunny outside and I’m in an outdoors mood – of course some SOTA will happen. As in this time of year the mountains are covered in snow, I decided to go for two low-effort high-reward 6 point summits I’ve visited before – only this time I will also collect the seasonal bonuses. These are YO/EC-252 Piatra Arsa and YO/EC-241 Fitifoiul and more details about them you can find in the previous activation article. First in line is YO/EC-252 Piatra Arsa and this time the 10-minute walk from where I could park the car to the lodge at the base of  the mountain turned into a 30-minute one, since because of the snow I couldn’t park on the side of the road, let alone enter the road leading to the lodge. So I had to park further away – in a small motel’s parking lot, plus once I entered the woods the snow wasn’t exactly making things easier. There were older human tracks as well as various animal tracks in the snow, but nothing to worry about – it looked like lonely dogs or other small animals. In the meantime, I turn on my handheld and listen for some activity, quickly find a nearby repeater I didn’t know about  with two guys in a QSO. Wait for them to finish and then call, none of...

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Raspberry Pi 2 freezes when photographed

The all new Raspberry Pi 2 is the new maker’s sensation, sporting 6 times more performance and 2 times more memory than the previous model, keeping the same affordable US$35 price label. And this is not everything, Microsoft is also offering a free version of ARM-compatible Windows 10 for it (yes, you just read a sentence that includes “Windows” and “free”). These are great times if you like fiddling around with hardware, software and electronics. There is however some sort of a funny issue with the Raspberry Foundation’s new creation: when exposed to strong infrared light (such as that from a Xenon photocamera flash or a small red laser pointer) it just freezes and crashes. The source of this problem has been identified as a small PWM voltage regulator that powers the processor and the memory – NCP6343 made by OnSemi, wich is dubbed U16 on the small Raspberry Pi 2 board – I dare you to find it in under 1 minute in the image above (click to enlarge). Following space constraints, this chip is made in the Chip Scale Package technology, wich means there is no extra plastic packaging and the actual semiconductor is exposed. Due to the same effect used in a solar panel to generate electrical current when exposed to sunlight, the tiny diodes and transistors in U16 generate unexpected currents of their own wich...

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