26 February 2016

Marching on.

So, it's nearly March. Time's marching on, and people are getting on with it; both dancing on inexorably toward the future.

Good for them.

Myself, I'm still here. Still being who I am: a writer and an amateur-amateur radio nerd.


I'm just under half way through drafting the follow-up for Journeyman, and as it goes I'm happy that that's good progress, considering I started two months ago, because it means (as it stands right now) I'm slightly ahead of schedule.

However, I know I'm likely to need to pull it apart once it's done, because a lot of the writing so far seems - to me, at least - to be rather boring and dry, and because it's written in the voice of someone who's having a bad time, a little depressive and irritating. Maybe that's what it's supposed to be like, I don't know. All I do know is that I'd like to do a fair bit of polishing.

Also, as I've made more progress with the text, I've become less certain what I want to call it. When I first started writing, I was going to call it Guardian, but I realized pretty early on that a title like that would be likely to draw in the wrong sort of reader. So, right now, I'm somewhere between Provost and Regent. Make of that what you will, as regards the plot.

Finally, for those who might remember Singularity, I'm considering doing a big rewrite once the FOTG cycle is done: looking back, it was a pretty desperate attempt at getting a book out. Yes, I'm proud of it, but what I'm proud of is the story, not the writing.

Amateur-Amateur Radio Nerd

That might seem like a bit of a daft way to put it, but it's true; I'm an amateur, even compared with amateurs. I don't buy proper equipment, I improvise everything, and mostly build to century-plus-old plans - Marconi-era stuff, none of which would be legal to operate at full power.

However, my main station is now pretty much completely to the spec I originally designed it to, the only exception being that I'm powering it from a couple of lantern batteries, rather than a small car battery as I had intended. The main difference here is that uing lantern batteries vastly limits the power of the system as a whole (smaller spark, smaller range, probably extremely inefficient), though that could be a good thing from the legal point of view: at full power, this thing could probably achieve a range of a handful of miles.

That being said, I have done a significant upgrade to the transmitter this last week, in the form of a full-size tuning coil (made from copper brake pipe, which cost me a fortune) and a respectably-sized glass-plate condenser (capacitor) for the other half of that tank circuit, made from old glass photo photograph plates and measuring about 3.3nF.

So, it's now up to about the same sort of specification as those century-ago operators' stations would have been, which is what I've been ainimg for. All the parts were made by my own two hands, including the Ruhmkorff coil powering it (which, I might add, took me nearly a month to wind entirely by hand).

Also, for the fun of it, I've got a couple of other things working, including a small (pocket-sized) transmitter based on an electromagnetic buzzer (again, made by myself) and a transistor battery, and a microphonic detector based on a battery carbon suspended between two steel wires. That transmitter has achieved a range of maybe a hundred feet, and the detector... well, I've no way to gauge it, because there's no transmitters powerful enough to actuate it around here, other than my own - though both the Marconi-type transmitter and the buzzer have been picked up by it.

I'll go into much more detail about these things at some point. Actually, I'm considering writing a short textbook about it at some point in the future.