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Sunday, April 23, 2017

DiFX! My New NE602 Rig is On the Air


Pete would call this a DiFX:  a transceiver that is Different from a BITX.  This started with my effort to get an Si5351 working with a little 1 inch square OLED screen.  Tom Hall AK2B helped me with the software (thanks Tom). Once I got that done, I figured I could build a simple receiver with a homebrew 11 MHz crystal filter, two NE602 chips, and an LM386 AF amplifier.  That was working great, then Pete told me to turn it into a transceiver.  I used some of Pete's boards (thanks Pete).  

The Epiphyte transceivers also use two NE602's, but they ingeniously switch the BFO and VFO between the two chips.  I didn't switch the oscillators -- instead I switched the inputs and outputs of the two chips using two DPDT relays (thanks Jim).  A third DPDT relay switches the antenna between T and R, and turns on and off the PA stage and the AF amplifier.

This is a DIFX, but there is some BITX circuitry in there.  The power amplifier stages are right out of the BITX Module, as is the AF amplifier (thank again Farhan).

The only real problem I ran into had to do with the very low power out of the NE602 VFO mixer on transmit and the impedance matching between the NE602 and the PA chain.  I had to increase the gain on the first RF amp (pre-driver) using ideas from Steve Weber's 40 meter SSB CW QST contest rig (thanks Steve).  I experimented with various connections between the NE602 and the BP filter.  Finally I got it going.

The heat sink on this one is different too:  it is just the chassis.   The IRF 510 is bolted (insulated) to the aluminum box.

I fired it up this afternoon and in spite of horrible conditions on 40, quickly had a nice rag chew with KJ4ZMV in Indiana.  I haven't even built a mic amp yet!  I am running the D-104 right into the NE602 balance modulator.  There are no signs of unwanted modulation or spurs.

FB!   TRGHS!   VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!


  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

VFO Tribal Design Wisdom from Joseph Carr K4IPV (SK)

I had in my files somewhere this great article by Joseph Carr K4IPV about the design of ham band VFOs, but then I lost it.  Yesterday I found it, but the paper copy was in bad shape.  Internet to the rescue!  Here it is.  Go to page 79.  
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Poptronics/90s/93/PE-1993-07.pdf

There is a follow-up article the following month, on page 78:
http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Poptronics/90s/93/PE-1993-08.pdf

Something I heard on 75 meter AM this morning may have gotten me thinking about VFOs: I hear that International Crystals is going out of business.  That might be the last manufacturer willing to make bespoke crystals.   If that is true, that has big implications for homebrewers.   We will now have to build stable VFOs or succumb to the siren song of the digi synthesizers.  "L and C FOREVER!"

Joe Carr K4IPV mad so many contributions to the radio art.   I have several of his books.  He had a real talent for explaining circuits.  Sadly, I find very little information about him on the internet.  I know he lived in the same Virginia town that I live in.  Does anyone know anything else about Joe Carr? 
http://forums.qrz.com/index.php?threads/joseph-carr-ki4pv-silent-key.50027/

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

HB2HB! BITX40-BITX40 with KC1FSZ


This was very cool.  I got on 40 SSB this afternoon with my trusty Digi-Tia.  I heard a station saying he was running 5 watts... Hmm, could that be a BITX40?  Indeed it was.  And it was the Peppermint Bark BITX 40 of Bruce KC1FSZ that we featured a few weeks ago.   He was up in Boston.  K3MY was kind enough to let us have the frequency.  Bruce and I had a nice contact.  He told me he is working on a completely scratch-built BITX.  FB.  TRGHS.   

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pete Juliano's Expulsion from the QRP Hall of Fame


First, I'd like to thank the many, many radio amateurs who sent in e-mails demanding that our friend Pete Juliano stay in the QRP Hall of Fame.  Their outrage at his expulsion was palpable.  They were angry and fired up.  Many compared Pete Juliano to baseball great  Pete Rose (who also got expelled from a Hall of Fame).   They wrote to us from all around the globe.  Several saw the action against Pete as yet another example of the deep divisions that are affecting modern society -- several saw it as being connected to our recent Presidential election, and/or BREXIT. 

Some writers took a diplomatic approach and tried to suggest ways that this ugly conflict might be ended -- one fellow suggested that Pete try to redeem himself by agreeing to enter some kind of QRP 12 Step Program.  Others got legalistically combative and said we should just "lawyer-up."

A number of our correspondents took note of the seasonal nature of these kinds of events. Who can forget the April  move a few years back by the New Jersey State Legislature to ban the use of soldering irons in the home?   "This kind of thing always seems to happen in the Spring-time!" said one irate Juliano surrogate,  "It is like Shakespeare wrote:  'Beware the Ides of March' -- only two weeks later!" Another ham also spotted the seasonal nature of these stories and quoted from T.S. Elliott's poem "The Wasteland":  "April is the cruelest month, especially the first day!"

We must point out that not all those who wrote were opposed to Pete's expulsion -- one writer said, "It is about time that that Pete "KW" Juliano got what he deserved! Good riddance!" (We have sent this e-mail to one of Pete's Italian-American relatives in New Jersey for, uh, action.)

Several of those who wrote in support of Pete are prominent members of the amateur radio community (they will -- if they follow our instructions -- remain anonymous.)

One activist supporter said that Pete's expulsion should lead to a street protest movement called "Pete's Award Matters" and that the chant at demonstrations could be "NO JULIANO, NO PEACE!"  Kind of catchy don't you think?

Anyway, we sincerely hope you have ALL figured out what was going on here. For those who have not, and for all those who wrote in, let me complete the tradition by saying it: "April Fool!"   

We'd like to thank all who participated in this long-standing amateur radio tradition.  Special thanks to Preston Douglas and the QRP-ARCI for putting up with all this.  (Tony Fishpool told us that he knew this couldn't be real, because someone as nice as Preston Douglas would NEVER expel anyone.)     

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Micro-Shocks (and QRP Power?) from Nearby High Voltage Lines (video)



I spotted this on Hack-A-Day.  It caught my attention because many time, while riding my bike along the Washington and Old Dominion bike path, I have felt electrical shocks from the handlebars. 
Now, before you all conclude that OM Bill is losing it and start suggesting that I wear an aluminum foil hat, realize that the bike path is directly under some seriously high voltage power lines.  And that esteemed UK newspaper "The Daily Mail"  confirms that these shocks are, as the kids say, a thing.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2655190/Cyclist-told-grab-metal-bike-time-rides-overhead-power-line-gives-ELECTRIC-SHOCK.html
So think these Russian dudes are onto something.  How long will it be before the QRP community starts exploiting this power source?   (Please be careful about where you put the antenna!)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Another Thermatron Receiver (video)



Thanks to Steve N8NM for sending this along.   He said it seems to be crying out for a synthesized VFO -- I disagree,of course. 

I like the filter arrangement -- one crystal at 455 kHz,  two tune-able IF cans and a phasing control.  This seems like a good way to get both AM selectivity (broad) while still having the ability to narrow the bandpass for SSB. 

The builder did a great job. Does anyone know who he is? 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Soul of the Old Machine


I continue to peruse the stack of Electric Radio magazines that Armand WA1UQO gave me last month.   Great stuff.  I'm really struck by how much of our ham radio history is captured in the pages of ER... and nowhere else.  This is a resource that should be protected.

In the last podcast I shared a few lines from the "Amateur Radio SSB -- The First Fifty Years" series or articles.  Today at lunch time I was reading the March 1994 issue, there was an article by Don Meadows N6DM entitled "A Homebrew CW Receiver."  From the last paragraph:

"This homebrew receiver as the main station receiver until 1975... In 1989 the homebrew receiver was finally mothballed... In its place I acquired an imported box that does everything.  This box is friendly and cooperative, but I have no rapport with its soul. When it ultimately falters, it will need to be cured in the manufacturers sanitarium for sick gear instead of on my own workbench.

I've always been proud of this homebrew receiver. It did its job exceedingly well. Retrieving recently this old friend from storage for photographs, cleaning out the dust and dead insects, inspecting its wiring up close --  all this evoked fond memories."
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column