Now that the speaker project is done, it’s time to get going on the next project, this one with a whole lot more soldering! Warm up those irons!
Actually, not quite yet. This next project is going to be a doozy. Remember the Tek 475 Oscilloscope repair? Oscilloscopes display signals in a format called time-domain, which essentially means that on a ‘scope display, the vertical axis shows amplitude, and the horizontal shows time. This way, you can measure the peak-to-peak distance between waves, and determine frequency (and a whole lot of other cool things).
Spectrum Analyzers display signals in a format called frequency-domain. The vertical axis still shows amplitude, but instead of showing nifty waves like you’d see in a 70’s Sci-Fi movie, it shows frequency. That way, instead of having to try and count, calculate, and guess as to what frequencies may exist in a signal (because signals rarely have just one frequency, which if it did would be called a perfect sine wave).
Anyway, back to the project. Scotty Sprowls is a genius. He invented a Modular Spectrum Analyzer, that uses a computer as the control interface, and competes in function and accuracy with the really $$,$$$ units.
Where cost is greatly reduced, build, test, modify, tinker, play, curse, tweak, swear, break, repair, etc, time is greatly increased. But that’s okay, because most of the fun of a project isn’t the finished product anyway, it’s the process! I estimate getting to a functional unit will take the better part of a year, and getting it calibrated, boxed up and in a place where it’s really usable may be another year.
It’s been interesting participating in the Yahoo! SpecrumAnalyzer group, where the MSA builders get together and share stories and offer solutions to questions. If you’re considering building an MSA, I strongly suggest you join the Y! Group, and lurk for a few months first, to see if it’s really something you want to take on. I’m kinda apprehensive about embarking on such a big project, but I really think it’ll be fun overall. There is lots of support available, and the guys on the Y! group are very helpful.
I’m sure I’ll be doing some other smaller projects throughout, but this will be the big one.