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Something for the photo-oriented OS X user

I have released the beta of DTank, a non-destructive image manipulation system. It’s free; if it sounds interesting, by all means check it out.

Star Wars

Here’s how the Star Wars franchise has hit me over the years; I saw each movie when it came out. I consider myself a fan. I almost never see a film in the theater; but I saw every Star Wars film the first day I could get to the show.

☆☆☆☆☆ 1977 Star Wars ep. IV “A New Hope” Wow!
☆☆☆☆☆ 1980 Star Wars ep. V “The Empire Strikes Back” WOW! Again… WOW!
☆☆☆ 1983 Star Wars ep. VI “Return of the jedi” Wait, what? Ewoks? Who stimulated that think? When did the target audience become drooling three-year-olds?
☆☆ 1999 Star Wars ep. I “The Phantom Menace” Jar-Jar, “Gungans” featured, the spirituality-diluting idea of the “midi-chlorians”, Darth Maul, a great character, barely a cameo… this is not good…
☆☆☆☆ 2002 Star Wars ep. II “Attack of the Clones” Overall better, Jar-Jar nearly vanished, thank the force. Meesa thinks someone needs to kill him. Horribly.
☆☆☆☆☆ 2005 Star Wars ep. III “Revenge of the Sith” Okay, we’re back to Wow!
2015 Star Wars ep. VII “The Force Awakens” Disney grotesquely fumbles the ball. BB8: Sigh… 3y/o-level (attempt at) cute (but only achieving ridiculous.) Again. Ex-stormtrooper Finn is a monumentally weak character, and the poor acting of that character helps the film out not at all. Then there’s the very lame “monster on a freighter” scene with Solo and Chewbacca. Darth Angst… is angsty. Then Solo dies, poorly, at the hands of Darth Angst. Can you say “sucks”? The only redeeming major character in the entire show is Rey.
☆☆☆☆☆ 2017 Star Wars ep. VIII “Rogue One” Ooo, much, much better. Damn, these movies are so variable. It keeps me going back, though, so there’s that.

R.I.P. Peter Cushing
R.I.P. Carrie Fisher
R.I.P. Alec Guinness

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SdrDx 2.17a for OS X and Windows released

You can learn more and/or download the new SdrDx from this page.

New Features

  • 14 user-configurable, band-stacking VFOs
  • Old-time radio style station labeling
  • Dual-antenna phasing & noise reduction with AFE822 SDR
  • SwDb application to edit custom freq database
  • Deeper integration w/Dx Toolbox 4.7 and up
  • SITOR demodulator added
  • C-QUAM AM stereo demodulator added
  • Vector scope auto-set w/RTTY, SITOR
  • 10 RF notches added
  • DNR now fully configurable
  • 4 span memories added
  • 100% re-mappable keyboard commands
  • Comprehensive keyboard locking; time, codes, more
  • Integrated comprehensive key command reference
  • Two new spectrum / waterfall DSP processes
  • Stereo VU meter for stereo FM
  • Stereo Reverse added
  • Direct frequency, demodulator entry
  • Sideband demodulation extended to 20 KHz
  • FSK and CW carrier offsets
  • CB channel info for US, Euro, Down Under
  • Passband center indication
  • Auto-adjustment of waterfall
  • Bandwidth memory spread from BW1 to BW7
  • Mouse snap control
  • DGPS band added

Improvements

  • RTTY demodulator improved
  • File dialog improved
  • AFEDRI SDR handling improved
  • Memory tooltips improved
  • Bandwidth tooltips improved
  • Zone memset / drawing now optional
  • Audio waterfall improved
  • Anti-ringing improved
  • Bandwidth memories now include “-Ri”
  • Grid spacing and control improved
  • Audio scope spectrum improved
  • Audio scope vector improved
  • Various bug fixes

Goodies for the technical crowd

  • New TCP / UDP commands
  • Integrated network debugging for scripting, apps
  • Remote marker designation for scripting, apps
  • Improvements aimed at next beta test series
  • BUG button for instant bug reports

GAP 20m Monogap Vertical Dipole Review

I’ve been setting up a small trailer for use as a mobile, independently powered radio station for use at HF and VHF. To that end, it has its own deployable solar panels, internal power storage, and dedicated power conversion electronics. There are quite a few 12.6 VDC VHF and HF radios out there, and I own several, so the radios are less of a problem than a situation where I have to make some kind of fun decision between multiple good options.

VHF antennas are no problem. But the HF antenna… There’s the rub. If it’s to be truly portable, that means it cannot be large, and it will not be high in the air. Those are very significant drawbacks for most antenna systems; they directly impact both receive and transmit performace. So I went hunting. Eventually, I happened upon the Monogap 20 meter antenna, which is a vertical dipole; easily portable within the frame of reference of what can be safely transported in the bed of my pickup, light, easily mounted and unmounted, inexpensive, and — as it turns out — a surprisingly good performer.
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ICOM IC 7300 Transceiver Review

The

IC-7300

IC-7300

ICOM IC 7300 marks an important inflection point for the “big three” amateur radio manufacturers: The beginning of true software-defined RF processing from one end to the other.

As the first full SDR transceiver from “the big guys”, it is interesting to consider the price point, feature set, and performance both in light of the legacy analog designs, and as compared to what SDRs are known to be capable of.
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aa_counter.py — pre- and post-increment and decrement in python

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 3.36.42 PMI like Python. A lot. But it has its limits, and short of forking a new version of Python for myself, sometimes it is just best to implement some kind of work-around. In this case, for pre- and post increment and decrement operations on counters, which Python regrettably lacks.
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aa_bargraph.py — Bar graphing using text and image-free HTML

Need to graph something? Happens to me all the time. And I need some very particular functionality. But that doesn’t mean I want to code it up every time I need it, nor should you have to. Python’s import library mechanism makes “canning” nearly any functionality you can imagine easy to do, and once canned… well, you know the drill. Import libraries are wonderful.

Console (text) mode bar graph in XTerm  shell

Console (text) mode bar graph in XTerm shell

So in this case, it was bar graphs I needed. Sometimes at the console, sometimes on web pages. aa_bargraph.py puts that together and makes it usable at several different levels of sophistication, at both the console (in text mode) and within the context of an HTML web page.
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Amazon Echo really, really needs this feature

What if it was easy to make Amazon’s Echo do anything your computer knows about, or you can make it know about? That’s what I’m going to talk about here.

It’ll be worth your time, I promise.

The Echo is a nice device to have around the house; you can ask it some things that Amazon has set up, you can even launch a few (very few) things via the IFTTT website. But there is a huge, untapped area there, those things that are unique to you and your family.

What if you could leverage the Echo to do… anything!?!?
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