Category Archives: Electronics

How to build, debug, understand, and work with electronic circuits.

A Safe Source of High Current

The pistol-grip soldering gun, typified by the style originally offered by the Weller Company, makes a very convenient source of current. The soldering gun is, in effect, a power transformer with a large ratio of primary to secondary turns, and very heavy secondary windings. Continue reading…

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Sky Temperature Sensor

The first sensor to go on my instrument platform may be an infrared sky temperature sensor. The sky temperature can be used to determine if the sky is clear or cloudy and when the sky is clear the temperature is a measure of the total column water vapor above the sensor. The sensor electronics consists of two modules from SparkFun Electronics,  an evaluation … Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Climate, DIY, Electronics, Experimentation, Imbedded Software, Instrumentation, Measurement, Programming, Sensors, Software, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Wanted: Raspberry Pi Columnist(s)

Image: PC Magazine

CSL is looking for one or more people who are conversant in using Raspberry Pi and other types of microcontrollers who would like to share their expertise and enthusiasm with our readers. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Community, Computer Science, CSL News, DIY, Electronics, Engineering, Instrumentation, Invention, Makers and Making, Open Science, Open Source, Publishing, Research Tools, Software, Tools | Leave a comment

Amateur Radio Operators “Ping” Juno Satellite


The idea was to coordinate the efforts of amateur radio operators all over the world, and send a message in Morse code that could be received by the University of Iowa-designed-and-built instrument on the Juno spacecraft. Continue reading…

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Citizen Science Musings: Remembering Grace Hopper

Today (Sunday) is the 107th birthday of computer pioneer Grace Hopper, who did most of her ground-breaking work while part of the US Navy Reserve. Continue reading…

Posted in Citizen Science Musings, Computer Science, Electronics, History of Science, Mathematics, Navy Stories, Programming, Software | 1 Comment

Magnetic Fields and How to Measure Them

Figure 2. Circuit diagram for a simple magnetic field readout.

There aren’t a lot of fields in physics to study beyond gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Since the last two are essentially impossible for an amateur to study, that only leaves gravitational and electromagnetic fields. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Electricity, Electronics, Experimentation, Instrumentation, Magnetism, Measurement, Physics, Sensors | Leave a comment

A Cheap, Quick, and Dirty SDR Radio

SDR dongle

A new computer TV tuner came on the market a few years ago. The computer “dongle” (NOT dangle, for those of you with dirty minds) allowed European users to tune their TV on a computer. But… it also contained troubleshooting mode that allowed tuning radio signals for Software Defined Radio or SDR. Continue reading…

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Upcoming Radio Astronomy Conference

This purpose of this conference is to bring researchers and educators together to explore the importance of education in the area related to Radio Astronomy and the related sciences. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Radio, Astronomy, Community, Electronics, Events, Experimentation, Instrumentation, Invention, Measurement, Physics, Radio Astronomy, Space | Leave a comment

Snap Circuits Science: Cable Tester


The liquid (my coffee) conducts electricity because tapwater contains small amounts of contaminants. Some of the contaminants include anions (these have a negative charge) such as chloride (250 ppm), nitrate (10 ppm), and sulphate (250 ppm) as well as cations (these have a positive charge) such as iron (0.3 ppm) and aluminum (0.2 ppm). Continue reading…

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The Citizen Scientist, Way Back When

Some of you may know that in the beginning, there was The Citizen Scientist, an electronic newsletter of the Society for Amateur Scientists. Continue reading…

Posted in Amateur Science, Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Climate, DIY, Electricity, Electronics, Geology, Mathematics, Nature Study, Ornithology, Photography, Physics, Research Tools, Tips | 1 Comment