Every year or two I convince myself that I should buy a text editor like Slickedit. After all it’s the self proclaimed “World’s most powerful code editor”, right? And I really liked using it a long time ago in the version 6 days. But that was a long time ago and a lot has changed in the programming world. Can text editors like Slickedit keep up and still provide value?
PCB Software Comparison
How much should you spend on PCB design software? Is free really a good deal? I recently needed to find a package on a budget for my personal work so I set out to see what was available. I’ve used packages like PADS, OrCAD, and Altium Designer for a long time but they were out of my price range. It was apparent after I went through many of my previous projects that most of the designs I’ve done only use a small portion of the features that those packages offered. In fact, I would guess that 90% of those designs could be done with a basic entry level tool so I decided to start there.
Magnetron Spectrum Output Success
It’s been along time since my last update, but I’ve managed to measure the magnetron spectrum output using a Signalhound. I sent an email to Signalhound and this was their reply:
For quick hoppers (FHSS), you will probably need to turn image rejection off to catch the signal. This will speed up the sweep but will also pass the image frequency (21.4 MHz below frequency of interest). If you turn video bandwidth down to 6.5 KHz and RBW to 25 KHz, Power Average mode, then turn on Max Hold, you should be able to capture and measure the signal.
These suggestions pointed me in the right direction to get the Signalhound working the way I wanted. Unfortunately I think the signal is very rapidly changing frequency so the max hold suggestion is the only way to see the signal.
High Voltage High Power Fun
A friend stopped by this weekend and dropped off some fun toys.
He needs a frequency locked 1000W 2.45GHz signal based on a microwave magnetron. I like the magnetron solution because it’s a cheap way to generate such a high power RF signal but they wander between 2.42GHz and 2.48GHz which is a problem for his application. I have volunteered to help him figure out a method to lock the output frequency. I think it will make a great writeup for the blog since I expect it will take a significant amount of reverse engineering and experimentation to make it work.
Serial Port Silliness
Do you frequently use serial ports without a second thought? All you need is RX, TX and GND for a basic configuration along with some RS232 or MIL-STD-188 drivers for the cable, right? The fact that the bits are transmitted asynchronously is implied. The only difference between a Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) device and a Data Circuit Terminating Equipment (DCE) device is just the connector pinout. At least that’s what I always assumed.