23 April 2023

CPB S160 Silicone Soldering Mat Kit

 In the future, I would like to develop new skills and experience in making and repairing electronics.  Since I like to keep my workspace as organized as I can I decided to invest in something that would help with that. This is eventually what I came up with. 

This is an ESD (Electro Static Discharge) 17.8" X 11.8" high temp soldering mat. As you can see it has several storage compartments built in so that you have a convenient place to store tools and parts. You can check it out right here: CPB S160 Silicone Soldering Mat Kit. I paid $18 for it and it arrived on my doorstep the next afternoon. 

The soldering mat came with three pairs of tweezers so that you can get in and handle small parts like SMT components. In the not-too-distant future I plan on learning to work with tiny SMT parts so I am sure that these tweezers will defentally come in handy.   

An ESD bracelet came with the mat so that you will have a smaller chance at zapping your electronics with a static discharge. I have destroyed a couple of parts this way so I know first hand that you need to be careful. You don't want to let the magic smoke out of your parts. 

In the center of the mat is a nice flat area to work on your PSB projects. Here is an LPF and BPF for a uSDX SOTA Quad Band QRP Transceiver. Someday this will be creating some RF at a park near me. I might even do a POTA (Patio On The Air) activation or two with it. The future has yet to be written.  
Along the right side of the mat are several compartments that were molded in. There is three build in magnets to help you keep track of those screws that like to wonder around. 
Across the top is a large compartment that is just large enough to hold a few tools. The small holes across the top are for your precision screwdrivers. Just pop the tip in one of the holes and those important screwdrivers are always within easy reach and organized so that you don't have to look at all f your screwdrivers to find the one that you need. 

As you can see there are many compartments to keep you organized. There are places to keep all of the screws and tiny parts for the project that you are making. The mat turned out to be a bit thicker than I thought that it would be. In the top left corner, there are three part boxes with lids on them. The pic that I took there turned out to be very blurry, but I'm sure that I will show them in future projects. This mat is supposed to be heat resistant enough that you can hold a lighter to it and it will do no harm. Forgive me for not doing that, I don't want to burn a hole in a nice soldering mat. Just don't have the funds to destroy something just to test it. 

I give this mat a solid 5 stars. For the price, it is of good quality and you also get the ESD bracelet and the tweezers. I would recommend this to a friend which is what I am doing with this post. If you get one for yourself, tell me your thoughts about it. 

Drop a comment in the comment section below or email me at Aaron@K5ATG. 
Be Safe
Aaron K5ATG

21 April 2023

April 19 2023 Tornadoes

 On 19 April 2023, Oklahoma was hit by yet another tragedy on that hallowed date. A series of supercell thunderstorms formed in southwestern Oklahoma and wreaked havoc as they moved northeast across the state. A total of 12 tornados have been confirmed that caused damage in the following cities/ towns:

  • Cole
  • Shawnee
  • Tinker Air Force Base
  • Etowah
  • Pink
  • Bethel Acres
  • McLoud
A map of the paths that the different tornados took. 

The city of Shawnee and the town of Cole were hit the hardest and unfortunately, we lost three lives in Cole. At the time of this post the largest tornado is estimated to be an EF5. 

Damage at Oklahoma Baptist  University

What is left of the Shawnee High School Gym

Supercell forming over Oklahoma University in Norman

When tragedies strike you usually see catchy hashtags like #Boston Strong, #Paris Strong, and #Vegas Strong. That is a great way to show support for those affected by tragedy. In Oklahoma, it is called the Oklahoma Standard. I guess that you could say that it started on 22 April 1889, but it was not given a name until 19 April 1995 with the Oklahoma City Bombing. It isn't just the show of support but it is the overwhelming show of support. Where people will gladly stand in line for 12 hours to donate blood or a reporter notices that a search dog has a minor cut on its foot and within hours tens of thousands of dog bootys are donated. Oklahoma is a harsh environment. We can have blizzards in the winter and months of triple-digit temps in the summer. Our weather to say the least can be extreme. February 2011 in Nowata drives this point home. 10 February 2011 Nowata recorded a temperature of -31 degrees and 15 inches of snow on the ground. Just seven days later on 17 Feb Nowata reached 79 degrees. That is 110 degrees in just 7 days. When has that happened where you live? From wildfires to drought, floods and hailstorms, dust storms to microbursts, we have it all. Over the years we have learned time and time again that if we don't stand together we don't stand at all. 

With my neighbors recovering from our most recent storms I feel as though I have let my people down. I got my amateur radio license in April 2013. Wow has it been 10 years already? The following month, May of 2013 Oklahoma was once again struck by tornadoes, including the Newcastle-Moore Tornado that took out two elementary schools and took the lives of 7 children and a few days later the El Reno Tornado which had a base of 2.6 miles and was the largest tornado on record (The El Reno tornado was classified by its 300 mph wind speed as being an EF5 but because it hit farm fields and struck very few buildings it was downgraded to an EF3) The path of the El Reno tornado could be seen from the International Space Station

After the May 2013 storms, I would work my normal 12-hour shift and then I would go to different areas like Bridgecreek, Moore, Newcastle, El Reno, and Shawnee and operate radios for several more hours. This went on for several weeks. Now due to my back issues, I can't go help out at all. So if you are in good health then savor and appreciate it for one day it could all be taken from you.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with all of those affected by the recent storms. To learn how you can help please visit: American Red Cross Tornado Relief Also anyone anywhere can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross Disaster Relief which helps people affected by disasters of all types including this week's Oklahoma tornados. 

As always you can leave any thoughts or comments in the comments section below or you may contact me directly at Aaron@K5ATG.com

Aaron K5ATG

19 April 2023

Oklahoma from fence parts

A while back my neighbors had this dog that would not tolerate the wooden privacy fence that was between our properties. Every time I went out to the back yard that dog would just start tearing up the fence so that he could see me better. It seemed like every day the neighbor was removing the fence parts that the dog broke and was putting up new boards. I went up to the neighbor and asked if he would just toss the broken fence boards over to my side of the fence instead of tossing them in the trash. With the broken fence parts that he gave me I was able to make the great state of Oklahoma. 

It is not to scale and it is not meant to be. I just laid it all out freehand. As always feel free to leave me any comments in the comments section below. Don't forget to follow so that you may receive notices when I add more to this blog. You may contact me at Aaron@K5ATG.com


Aaron K5ATG

New Desk

 I finally got my new homemade desk in. There is still a lot of organising and getting used to it but after a few weeks I really love it.