Saturday, November 25, 2006

Audio capture with TuneTalk

Word came through today that our charter flight between Antigua and Montserrat has been officially booked. This nagging detail was finally put to rest by Chris (W6HFP) and he notified the group my email tonight. That was one of the last big details; the other big detail is licensing.
I am nearly done packaging up all the materials everybody sent me for the licensing. I'm enclosing a letter for our friend on Montserrat and another letter for the licensing authority, just in case there is confusion from two applications possibly being submitted (if, indeed, they found the other one from September). The materials will be bundled up and sent via Federal Express first thing Monday morning. I was able to get the street address of our contact on the island confirmed by email tonight (I didn't want to have the second package become wayward, too!) so I now have nearly everything I need. Just a quick stop by the Post Office in the morning to get an international postal money order (or something similar) and it should be ready to go.
One of the little side projects I've had planned is to figure out a way to record lots of audio from the QSOs during the DXpedition. The idea was to find some digital audio recorder that was capable of storing dozens or hundreds of hours of audio and then just record everything. I believe Sandy found something today that will address most of this. We were in the Apple Store and she spotted one of these: TuneTalk Stereo for iPod video. The device connects to an iPod and turns it into an audio recorder. It produces .wav files and, according to Belkin, the unit can record up to about 350 hours of audio on a 60GB iPod. I bought the 80GB today. Quick tests tonight with the built-in microphones on the device produced good results. I plan on capturing audio from the Icom 7000 tomorrow.
There is still a missing piece: I'd like to be able to record my side of the QSO directly with a microphone mounted on the headset boom. I found a wireless microphone system, lapel microphone, and some other audio stuff in an old video accessories bag last night and should be able to make something out of all that. I still need a set of cables, or maybe even a mixer, to make this work out just right. I'll try everything separately, then solve the integration problem.
By capturing every moment of audio I can with this system, I'll be able to have lots of great sound clips for presentations or videos I produce after the trip. It also gives me a second way to capture audio while doing videotaping. If you've already got a video iPod, check out the Belkin unit.
Finally, a little goodie I spotted in an email reflector this week. MacOS X has a dashboard that can run lots of little utilities. These utilities are called widgets (not to be confused with the X-Windows and Motif concept of widget). Here's a widget called SunClock 1.0.1 that gives you a nice map of the Earth with the terminator. Nothing fancy, just a fun little software add-on. Macintosh users enjoy.


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