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Home of the G7CKF range of electronic kits

12 Mar '16

UK to Australia with a Pi-TX

Posted by Jenny List

For some weeks now the prototype Pi-TX transmitter board has been sitting on an early Pi model B with a 30m Tiny-LPF plugged into it, sending out WSPR packets to the world through an attic dipole. Spots from Europe are very common, and from the eastern USA come most days. Then early in the morning UK time on the 11th of March came a spot from VK3XQ, just north of Melbourne and 16940KM from the G7CKF QTH in Oxfordshire.

So we've proved that 150mW into a modest antenna can traverse the world. Our next step will be to try it with 10mW direct from the Pi, but that will be another story.

27 Nov '15

Raspberry Pi Zero support

Posted by Jenny List

Raspberry Pi Zero support

Out of the blue on a damp Thursday in November, the Raspberry Pi foundation launched a new model in their line of single board computers. And what a model it was, a Pi on a tiny board and one cheap enough to give away for free on the cover of the MagPi. Well done if you managed to find a newsagent that still had a MagPi, our local Smiths must have sold out in minutes. Fortunately Pimoroni lived up to their reputation for speedy delivery and our Pi Zero reached us the next day.

Here at Language Spy, the priority was to test our product line with the new model. With the same underlying hardware as the rest of the first generation of Raspberry Pi boards it would be expected to work straight away, however there is no substitute for a real board to test on the desk in front of you. 

The Pi Zero comes without the expansion pins fitted. Soldering a 40-pin connector is a straightforward job, though care needs to be taken to avoid damaging tracks on the Pi. Our connector went on without a hitch. One thing to note, our Pi Zero wouldn't boot from an SD card loaded with an earlier Raspbian version that boots with a B+ model. Your Raspbian may vary, make sure you find an up-to-date version.

So with a working Pi Zero, on to the tests. Plug in a Pi-HF and power it up, all works fine. Both the Pi-HF and the PiVFO RF software perform exactly as you would expect it to on a Model A or Model B. Same with the breakout board, generated RF comes forth from a Pi Zero just as on the other boards.

Mechanically, both boards overhang the edge of the Pi Zero. They were designed when the only Pi boards were full-sized and have appropriate dimensions. There are no points at which they foul any of the Pi Zero though, as the Zero has no tall components on board.

So there you are, we're pleased to say that the Language Spy kits are supported by the new raspberry Pi Zero board.

Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

21 Nov '15

Our Square Inch Project entry

Posted by Jenny List

HF upconverter PCB    We're big fans of Hackaday here, so when they announced their Square Inch Project competition we had to give it a go. Language Spy's entry is pretty simple really, an HF receive upconverter for use with VHF radios, in particular cheap SDRs like the RTL chipset USB TV sticks. So it takes 0 to 30 MHz on the input, and transforms it to 50 to 80 MHz on the output. Thus you can listen to all the HF bands with your SDR.

    If when the board comes in and we build a prototype it performs well enough to be considered a product, we'll put it in a kit and have it on sale here. Meanwhile take a look at the project page.

06 Nov '15

First Day

Posted by Jenny List

First Day

Here we are then. All the i's dotted, all the t's crossed, kits packed in bags, CE and WEE compliance sorted, small print read with a fine-tooth comb. What started as an impulse decision to put a board made for personal use on Kickstarter has brought us here, and the Language Spy shop is ready to go.

For a very small language software company, setting up an entirely new front selling electronic kits is a huge step. But we've put a lot of time into designing and perfecting our kits, and we think you'll like them. And we're not stopping here, the aim is to bring out a new one each month to build up a comprehensive range of kits for amateur radio, the Raspberry Pi, and other applications.