Technically correct…

Whenever I see wordy output or excessive logging data, I’m reminded of that old joke about a Microsoft Engineer vs. a pilot.

It’s thorough, complete, and technically accurate… but completely useless.

Found originally back in the early 1990s, reworked/reworded over time, pasted here for posterity, and because I don’t want to go following dead links again:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communications qquipment.

Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter’s position and course to fly to the airport.

The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter’s window. The pilot’s sign said “WHERE AM I?” in large letters.

People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.”

The pilot smiled, waved, looked at her map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely.

After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER” sign helped determine their position.

The pilot responded “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their technical support, online help and product documentation, the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless.”

It’ll Do…

The transceiver is fitted to the Altoids tin, and there’s sufficient space to include a battery as well.


I’ll need to fit the removable jack for the antenna, and wiring harness for the battery, but I think it’s turned out rather well so far.

Life With a TBI

My head [is] so full of things to say or share or do… but sometimes, before they get out, I forget.

So I take notes.

Lots of notes.

Sometimes actually writing things down.

Ideas, thoughts, stories, plans, sketches, pictures — our current technology helps me maintain focus.

It’s Working!

Apart from an astoundingly simple audio alarm and several car stereo installs, I’ve never built any actual electronic devices.

So I’m actually rather impressed that I managed to cobble together a Pixie_4.1 from parts and with only a schematic and some rather worthless Chinese-language only instructions:

E4GA1lNISMCba95Lt25wkwIt even works, as well. I’m sure nobody was nearly as surprised as I was.


No idea how much power it puts out — maybe 250mw or so. Which, on the 40m band is quite sufficient to get out. Fun fact: No amount of power in the world will get out if there’s no path for the energy to travel. I once had a QSO from Denver, CO to South Africa (about 15,000 km) with only 250mw.

Anyway, back to the Pixie: I did switch out the originally-included 7.023MHz crystal for the 7.030MHz (upper left quadrant) to keep in my license band. I’m not ready to upgrade to Extra, so for now, I’ll stay in the General area of the bands.

There are a few things I’ll do as well:

  • Change out the crystal to something like SIP connectors so I can easily swap crystals out.
  • Add a 9V connector.
  • Add a BNC type connector to aide with connecting an antenna rather than the two-pin connector.
  • Somewhere I’ve an Altoids tin that I’ll see about putting it in.

These are incredibly inexpensive, and, for me, rather relaxing to go about sorting through parts, assembling, soldering, de-soldering, testing… perhaps I’ll see about even building another. Just because.

Next, I’m quite interested in having a go at assembling the QRP Labs QCX CW Transceiver kit (greater complexity) and even a DSO138 Oscilliscope (SMD and smaller components) as well. Obviously, I’ll need to improve my CW skills, and I even have a J-37 key that K0AOG gave me many years ago… but I don’t have the needed manual dexterity or hearing (different story), but I’ll get to that.