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Saturday, November 22, 2014

SolderSmoke Podcast #168 Software Inefficiencies! DSB Blues! Schematic Errors! QRO Confessions!

SolderSmoke Podcast #168 is available. 
22 November 2014 

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke168.mp3
The benefits of software inefficiency.
Don't throw a wet blanket on computer baby steps.
DDS-ing Pete's old boatanchors and Bill's BITX. 
Bill's DSB amplifier woes: a JBOT unfairly scorned.
Getting ready for solar-powered beach DSB.  
Michigan Mighty Mite Crystal Offer -- FREE ROCKS!
Tribal knowledge: Beware of mistakes in published schematics!
QRO update: Working Japan on 17 meters. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Tube Transmitter in a Cuban Cigar Box


Beautiful use of a cigar box by Ben, KK6FUT.   Ben is working in close proximity to Pete N6QW and has obviously fallen under the influence of Pete's "Build Something With Tubes"  field. 
Watch out for the high voltage Ben.  You aren't in Arduino-land anymore!  One hand behind the back OM! 

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Impedance Matching Transformers -- Pete's Magic Decoder Ring!



We got some questions on this and Pete was kind enough to write up some notes on the topic.  We may talk more about this during the next podcast (Saturday): 

Broad Band Impedance Matching Transformers.

Broad Band impedance matching transformers are designed to transfer power over a wide frequency range. More basic you have an amplifier that has an output impedance of 200 Ohms and you want to match that to a 50 Ohm load.

So what is the magic decoder ring so that you get a 4:1 match, ie going from 200 Ohms to 50 Ohms. Getting technical for a moment the maximum power transfer theorem says maximum power is developed when the source is matched to the load.  The Broad Band Matching transformer enables that to happen over a wide frequency range.

So how do we get from 200 Ohms (the source)  to 50 Ohms (the load)? Just as there are many airlines that fly from LA to NY so it is with the matching approach. We will cover several.

First a short discussion about broadband cores themselves. One of the most common cores for HF work is the type 43 core which is good up to about 50 MHz. For transformers up to 200 MHz then the type 61 are a better choice. Typically at HF the FT -37-43 is one of the more common ones see (3/8 inch in diameter), as is the FT-50-43 which is ½ inch in diameter. The iron powder cores are not the 1st choice for broad band matching.  

#1 Way:
Build a transformer that has a  primary of x number of turns (and since it is large, 200 Ohms will have more turns) and the secondary will have y number of turns ( and since it is smaller, 50 Ohms, will have fewer turns.) The transformer action is based on the ratio of the Primary turns Squared to the Secondary Turns squared. Our transformation is 4:1.
Thus if we divide the primary turns squared and divide it by the secondary turns squared the result is 4. Here are some example: if we had a primary of 8 turns ( 64) and a secondary of 4 turns (16) – 64/16 = 4. So that is our transformer a primary of 8 turns and a secondary of 4 turns. When building these transformers use two different colors of wire as that makes it much easier to identify the windings. Observe the phasing, meaning the end you connect to the collector of your output transistor is the start end. That same start end for the secondary winding is the output “hot” side of the secondary.

#2 Way.
The same ratio holds in going from 200 to 50 Ohms. But this time we will use a single winding of 8 turns and at 4 turns we will have a tap for the 50 Ohm point. Since that tap will very likely have Dc on it connect a 100 NF cap at the 4th turn winding and this is the output. What you have just done is create an auto transformer.

#3 Way.
At time one may have an oddball transformation and you can cascade transformers and multiply their individual turns ratios. At one time I needed a 9:1 transformation. I built a 2.5 transformer and then hooked that to a 4:1 and the result was a 9:1 transformer.

The attached table has “worked out” some common matches that are often needed like matching a 50 Ohm amplifier to a 500 Ohm Crystal Filter which is a 10: 1 match. This is easily done with a 6 turn primary (50 ohms 6^2 = 36) and the secondary has 19 turns ( 500 Oms 19^2 = 361). 361/36 = 10.03:1. Close enough for ham radio! The 1st way is probably more preferable for this application.

Pete N6QW

11/2014


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Electro-mechanical Heaven.... with Hell (Hellschreiber)


Bob LeDoux sent us a link to a really amazing site about the Hellschreiber system.  The site is filled with great videos, pictures, and animations like the one above.  Lots of radio history too.  Check it out: 

http://www.nonstopsystems.com/radio/hellschreiber-function-operation.htm 
This is all the work of F. Dorenberg, N4SPP.  Thanks OM! 

Bob writes:   I'm working on a microcontroller based reader for
this mode.  For old fossils, like us, this mode looks perfect.  It can
be sent using simple CW equipment and it appears to be a great
replacement for those who are tiring of Morse code.
Its perfect for Knack victims. We can even build mechanical printers. Thanks Bob!



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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pete's Video on Connecting Arduinos and DDS chips (video)



After watching all Pete's work with the smaller Arduinos, that Uno R3 board seems HUGE.  That's what I should stick with.   Great idea using those robust terminal strips.  Thanks Pete. 

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Pete and Ben's "Let's Build Something" Direct Conversion Receiver



This direct conversion receiver is part of the "Let's Build Something"  project of Pete N6QW and Ben KK6FUT.  Publication will be in QRP Quarterly late in January 2015. Pete reports that the front panel is a piece of galvanized sheet metal from Home Depot –total cost 82 cents.






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Sunday, November 16, 2014

N2CQR WINS ARRL SWEEPSTAKES! AGAIN! (video)



We did it AGAIN!   Winners in the Homebrew Double-Sideband QRP Northern Virginia Category!  Sweet!  I can't wait to pick up the trophy!   

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Amazing Rigs of Lee Snook, W1DN



Back in March 2013 we ran a blog post linking to a video of a beautiful superhet receiver built by Lee Snook, W1DN (that's his shop).   Then the video disappeared.  Today Peter Parker, VK3YE, alerted us to the reappearance of the video.  Some Googling led me to Lee's YouTube channel and many other videos of some truly amazing homebrew projects.  

Here is his YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/swradios/featured

And here are all his videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/swradios/videos

Check this out digi fans (from his QRZ page):





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Friday, November 14, 2014

At the Comet



That's an awe-inspiring "selfie"!   This looks like something out of Kubrick's "2001 -- A Space Odyssey." Congratulations to the European Space Agency! 

Using the CIVA camera on Rosetta’s Philae lander, the spacecraft have snapped a ‘selfie’ at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The image was taken on 7 September from a distance of about 50 km from the comet, and captures the side of the Rosetta spacecraft and one of Rosetta’s 14 m-long solar wings, with 67P/C-G in the background. Two images with different exposure times were combined to bring out the faint details in this very high contrast situation.


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Colin's BITX


With advice and tribal knowledge from N6QW and MeSquares from W1REX, Colin M1BUU, is making excellent progress on his BITX.  I see that he has some territory on the board reserved for a DDS VFO.  That's fine, but here's and idea for Colin and other builders:  Why not build it with the standard VFO first and then add the DDS or Si570 VFO later, perhaps as an external accessory?   That way you get the experience of building an LC VFO -- the full BITX experience. 

Yea, it is hard to imagine Paul M0XPD as a newcomer to the hobby such a short time ago -- he is definitely now in the ranks of the esteemed digital Elmers.   

And yes Colin, we do hope you avoid unwanted oscillations.  Because of Farhan's great design you have a good shot at avoiding this plague.  But be prepared OM.  It happens to the best of us.  A lot.   Stiff upper lip!  Never give in!  

*************

Hi Bill,
I enjoyed your video about your Arduino experiment. You bet me to it! I'm really looking forward to getting my version of an Arduino powered BITX up and running.
Steady progress is being made, yesterday I added my first bidirectional amplifier to the build. I now have the mic amp, BFO, balanced modulator and first amp completed. I tested the BFO on it's own and got a respectable looking signal out of it and with a good swing below 10MHz.
Next I need to add the crystal filter, second IF amp and mixer. Pete's video will help for the mixer! BTW, I'm using the ver3 schematic but I intend to use the ver1 band pass filter.
I set out building the circuit following the N2CQR layout diagram but I've already run short on space! I do have a good excuse though, my board is smaller than yours (10"x6").
Despite my best intentions, I'm falling back towards old habits of making my circuits physically small. I'm using MeSquares in order to try and force myself to space things out a bit. I do hope that I don't end up with any unwanted coupling!
I must try hard to leave lots of space between the next bits of circuit.
I was listening to SolderSmoke 104 today and Paul M0XPD was introduced as a new ham. Little did we know that Paul would become such a big player!
73, Colin M1BUU

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