Sunday, September 09, 2012

Hiking in Ponto Park

Ponto park is located in Carlsbad southern beach area. The park itself has camping ground where folks could camp right by the beach there. It has a long trail along the beach where you could hike for miles. At low tide the beach area is easy to walk on where you would see all sorts of shells and other treasures that come from the sea littering the white sands. At high tide the beach area might get impassable and you would be forced to walk on the bluff next to the beach instead. From the north entrance gate you could walk for about 1.7 miles to the lagoon area and then turn back. At the lagoon you could see the waves coming from the deep green sea water around it and splashing several feet high up as they hit the giant rocks. The picture here is about midway between the entrance gate and the lagoon.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Surfing in Labor Day

It is Labor Day long weekend and this is my first surfing experience. The weather was nice and warm. Yesterday we experienced a light earthquake at night around midnight. The bed was shaking a little bit, but nothing serious. I would not have noticed if they did not wake me up to tell me about it. I went back to sleep right after saying: "wow! An earthquake!". In any case, the waves condition today were not that great. It was rather windy and the waves were breaking in often rather than going smoothly for a while before they break, therefore not giving a good chance for the surfers to enjoy a long surf at each wave peak. They forecast the same windy conditions at the coast for the whole weekend so we might not get favorable surf conditions until next weekend. O well, there is nothing we can do about weather. As I said this is a new experience for me and will take a while before I can learn it properly and really enjoy it. I can see the potential fun in it, but it is not easy and needs good practice before one can really get the hang of it. Take it from a beginner.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hiking in Buena Vista Park

I discovered a nice park on Shadow Ridge Road near where we live. So decided to explore it. It is a nice hike up to the surrounding hills. The scenery is beautiful as can be seen from the picture. As always the way down is more difficult than climbing up because the trails are sandy and smooth, which makes them very slippery. There are flat trails as well for those who don't want to brave the uphill effort, but the scenery from above and the refreshing breeze is certainly worth the effort. Don't forget to bring a water bottle with you as it gets real hot with the effort and the sun.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Biking in Coronado

It was the Memorial Day weekend, and with an extra day to spare I decided to go biking in Coronado, which is an island off of San Diego. It is supposed to be one of the best ten beaches in the US, but it also has a very nice atmosphere and scenery. I carried my bike by car and drove from where we live in Vista to Coronado, about a good 55 minutes drive. I parked right on the beach (Ocean Blvd), and rode the bike to the trail on Silver Strand Blvd. which goes all all the way south to Chula Vista as you can see in the RunKeeper map. The ride was fantastic and the scenery was beautiful. Needless to say the weather was perfect for biking, with beaches on both sides of the road. I envy the owners of those houses along that road, because they have the ocean view on one side and the San Diego Bay on the other, with a span of less than a mile. By the time I reached the Southern-most point of the trail I was less than four miles away from the border of Mexico as you can tell from the map.
I stopped to take some photos along the way, and there was a nice guy taking photos with his family on the same spot who offered to take a picture of me, so I appreciatively let him use my iPhone camera to do that, but unfortunately he let his finger block part of my iPhone's lens as you may notice in the picture. Anyway, you can see the San Diego-Coronado bridge behind me in that picture - never mind that I was giving my back to the camera, because the nice guy inadvertently pressed the camera button before I had time to pose properly for the photo. It was definitely worth the trip and biking there. I would do it again when I get a chance, perhaps in 4th of July or something.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Carlsbad Bike Ride

It was ten miles from home in Vista to the beach in Carlsbad Village. Going there I took Melrose Rd to Palomar Airport Rd to Carlsbad Blvd. On the way back I took Tamarack to El Camino Real to Faraday Ave to Melrose Rd. Each way took about one hour. The beach was wonderful as seen in the picture. The bike lane is next to the cars lanes so it was a bit scary. The roads are not flat at all. I did not mind going up hill but down hill is more difficult and dangerous. Overall the trip is quite enjoyable and the best reward of course is the beach itself, but along the road there are wonderful scenes as well. No doubt the weather is fantastic, just like the mediterranean climate. It reminds me of Egypt's North Coast.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cleaned up Frequency Counter

So I decided to actually make a nice version of the frequency counter introduced in the previous posting. First of all I had to design a 2 layer PC board. That was done with the CAD software "Eagle" which generates a set of gerber files that could be used by any PC board manufacturer. I decided to make the boards in China at a fraction of the cost here. The shop I chose was iStore as they had a new year special of $29.99 for 10 boards 10 x 10 cm each. Man that was a good deal, especially that they include solder masks and silk screen and all. I received the boards in about a month, which is a very good turn around time. The assembled board is shown below. Looks real nice. Next I had to make a couple of more PC boards manually to include the seven segment displays and the other accessories. The layout of the boards inside the plastic box is shown below. Once all the wiring was complete (which was a tedious task) I closed the box and as you see it looks like a piece of art. So this is a nice functional frequency counter that works from 1 Hz to 10 MHz.

Of course a much better frequency counter could be made with a micro-controller chip instead of all this complicated jumble of ICs but the fun of building something complicated and actually getting it to work was challenging and I could not resist the temptation of it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A frequency counter

Here is my breadboard of a cheap frequency counter. It is based on the MC14553 counter. The idea is to make the counter count the number of pulses in exactly one second, and display the number on a seven-segment display. This number would then be the frequency in Hz. The counter counts to 999, so I added another counter, which is fed with the overflow output of the first counter. This arrangement extends the measurement to 999999 which is 1 MHz minus one. Then I decided to extend the range to 10 MHz by including a divide by 10 chip (CD4017), and with that arrangement the range now goes up to 10 MHz minus one. Here is a picture of the breadboard reading accurately the output from a DDS synthesizer. It works great and is small enough to be integrated in a little nice enclosure.

Another chip used in the circuit is a CD4521 (24 stage frequency divider) which is driven by a 4.194304 MHz crystal to generate the 1 second timing signal. Actually it generates a 0.5 Hz signal to obtain a 1 second high level and 1 second low level. The frequency measurement is made during the 1 second high level. The 0.5 Hz signal is obtained by dividing the frequency of the crystal by half 23 times.
Another part of the circuit is the wave shaping circuit which amplifies any incoming signal to be measured , turns it into a nice square wave suitable to trigger the counter IC. The wave shaping circuit is implemented with a 2N2222 transistor single stage amplifier, which drives a CD4093 NAND Schmitt trigger IC, which in turn generates the neat square pulses that are suitable to be counted by the MC14553 counter chip.
Last but not least, the measured count is displayed with two 3-digit seven-segment displays that are driven by two HCF4511 decoder chips, one for each.
You can watch the operation of the counter breadboard on this YouTube video.