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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Update on the Direct Conversion Receiver -- Now only 4 transistors

I took a new look at the receiver, did some measurements, and decided to take out the RF amplifier and the AF pre-amp. The receiver works fine without them, another indication that they were unnecessary. Line-up is now: Band-pass filter, Mixer, VFO, AF amp. I think there is only 49 db of gain in the entire receiver, but it is useable with an un-amplified speaker, and is a bit too loud on ear buds. Not bad for just 4 transistors. And I think we could do this with just 3 (no need for the VFO buffer).

Here is the AF amplifier I used:  

Friday, September 30, 2022

Sticker News (from Holland)

Lex PH2LB sends this really interesting Vice story about stickers and sticker culture.  Who knew?  The original article is in Dutch, but just hit the Google Translate button and Bob will be your uncle. 


I shared with our Solder-Sticker Community these thoughts: 

Really cool Lex.   This reminds me that we need more stickers.  And maybe a new design.  The IBEW thing confuses Americans -- here it looks like a labor union thing. 

The Color Burst Liberation Army logo (below) is one possible element that we might want to include.  I think our new stickers should exhort people to DO something:  


"LIBERATE 3.579 MHz!"  




Things like that. 

Thoughts?  Discuss.  

Bandsweep with the New Homebrew 40 meter Direct Conversion Receiver

It is inhaling nicely but some improvements are still pending. Click on the video above to see and listen to the bandsweep done on 40 this morning. 

-- The front end consists of capacitive divider input impedance matching circuit, followed by one LC circuit and an FET RF amp.  

-- The VFO is a super-simple Colpitts design by Farhan.   The two feedback capacitors do double duty in the LC tan circuit.  

-- I am using an old variable capacitor instead of the PTOs that we have been experimenting with.  

-- The mixer is singly balanced using one trifilar toroid and two diodes.  We have found out that even with these three simple devices, there is significant variation in how people connect them to VFO, RF in and audio out.  I think we have found the best way to do this:  Be sure to put the VFO on the primary of the transformer, and let this signal turn the diodes on and off. 

-- For the AF amplification, I have one FET, followed by two BJTs.  I have a small audio transformer between the speaker and the final AF amp.  There is plenty of audio. 

You may wonder why, after all the SSB superhet transceivers, I am building a simple Direct Conversion receiver.  Well, we hope to help a bunch of high school kids build one, so we need to be really familiar with how it works.  And I find that as simple as it is, there is still a lot to learn in a project like this. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

A Bout of Direct Conversion-ism in Northern Virginia -- DC Receivers Under Construction

There I was, minding my own business,  when suddenly I was dragged into the construction of Direct Conversion receivers. 

Here is a video about my latest effort.  But I feel the urge for more simplification -- I may go back to the seminal DC receiver designed by Wes W7ZOI and presented in the November 1968 issue of QST.  It is on page 15 here: https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-DX/QST/60s/QST-1968-11.pdf

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

SolderSmoke Podcast #130 Feb 5, 2011 Trivia Questions! Recorded on a D-104! Heroic efforts to Suppresssss Ssssibilant SSSSs

February 5, 2011

For many reasons, this is a pretty amazing SolderSmoke episode. We presented some radio-electronic trivia questions. This is the one where I used an Astatic D-104 microphone to record the show. I even describe putting Starburst candies, Chicklet gum, and even Duct Tape on my teeth in an effort to get rid of the sibilant S problem. This was truly heroic podcasting my friends! There is lots of other great stuff in this one. Maria arrives in the shack with both Tyson the cat and Cappuccio the dog! Lots of space talk. The story of Grote Reber's name. Much more: Some important trivia questions (answers will be given in the podcast): What is the connection between radio amateur (and pioneer radio astronomer) Grote Reber and world famous astronomer Edwin Hubble? In the world of radio-controlled helicopters, what is "TBE"? In Britain they have radio "rallies," but at one time they had hamfests." When did this happen? Only one terrain feature on Venus is named for a man. He is man of radio. Who is he? What music did Neil Armstrong listen to on his way to the moon? Plus: -- The Air and Space Museums -- Our music -- The SolderSmoke D-104 -- NASA asks for our help -- Telescope repairs -- A BFO for the Trans-O -- Back on Echolink MAILBAG! Please send reports on the D-104 audio!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Open Circuits: Cutting Open Components for a Look inside -- First Chapter Free


Bob KD4EBM sent me this: 

“…. Eric Schlaepfer (@TubeTimeUS) and Windell Oskay (co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist)’s latest book, Open Circuits, is a celebration of the electronic aesthetic, by literally opening circuits with mechanical cross-sections, accompanied by pithy explanations and illustrations. Their masterfully executed cross-sectioning process and meticulous photography blur the line between engineering and art, reminding us that any engineering task executed with soul and care results in something that can inspire feelings of awe (“wow!”) and reflection (“huh.”): that is art. …”

I saw on Hack-A-Day today that the first chapter of the book is available as a free download: 


Many of our favorite parts are dissected in that chapter.  The innards of a ceramic disc capacitor, for example, are shown above.

Thanks Bob! 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Talking about Homebrew Radio with the Williamsburg Virginia Radio Club

It was very nice to talk to Dino KL0S and the Williamsburg area radio club.  Thanks Dino! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Nick's "Shelf-17" Al Fresco Homebrew Transceiver -- Frank Jones Would Approve!

This is a really wonderful video from Nick M0NTV.  

Some reactions:
-- Wow, a real celebration of Al Fresco!  And of the wooden chassis -- Frank Jones would be so pleased. 

-- Nick's description of the tales of woe caused by metal boxes is right on the mark, as is his description of the benefits of leaving the circuitry visible.  He's right -- this is an art and science kind of thing. 

-- That's a shelf, but it is FAR from being a shelf of shame! 

-- I am jealous of the S-meter.  I may need to include one of those in future rigs. 

-- Great to hear the shout outs to VK3HN, ZL2CTM, and N6QW -- we are are indeed the IBEW! 

-- I think we can see the N6QW influence in Nick's decision to use a steerable filter/IF amp board.  FB. 

-- I liked hearing Helio PV8AL in Boa Vista.   When I was building simple Direct Conversion receivers for 40 meters, I knew that I had it right when I could hear Helio's roosters in the morning! 

Be sure to watch this video, and to subscribe to Nicks Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/M0NTVHomebrewing
He has done many other videos providing more details on the various stages that make up this rig. 

I hope to work Nick on 17 HB2HB soon. 

Thanks Nick! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The James Webb Space Telescope -- Background Video and Update Article

The Scientific American video (above) has some really interesting info on how they built the JWST and what its capabilities are.  For example, they tell us that it could detect the heat from a single bumble bee at the distance of the surface of the moon.  How the mirror was made, and how it is adjusted in space is really amazing. 

The Scientific American article provides a good, balanced view of how the initial results from JWST are calling into question the basic models of cosmology: 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Video version of SolderSmoke Podcast #240

Show notes appear in blog post below. 

I had some technical problems that caused audio distortion, but we talked about so much good stuff that I decided to go ahead and post the podcast.  We can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. 

Thanks again to Pete Juliano for his willingness to use a big chunk of his very limited free time. 

SolderSmoke Podcast #240 NIMCELS? Hex DX, CBLA RX, PTO? Solid State HT-37? Exotic caps, Benches, SBE-33, TenTec 540, KWM-1 MAILBAG


SolderSmoke #240 

Monday September 19, 2022


Sorry, I had some technical difficulties so my audio is a bit distorted. 

NIMCELS?  Niche Internet Micro Celebrities. I dunno....  Can our listeners come up with an acronym that describes our place in the universe?  

Sponsors:  Parts Candy.  Carlos in Chicago.  Great leads.  Don't scrimp with a crimp!  You need some good quality test leads on your workbench.   Get yours from Carlos.  Click on the picture on the blog page or go to PartsCandy on e-bay.  

"Techno Wizardry"?   Our lawyers at Dewey Cheatham and Howe will be after them for that!  

Bill's Bench: 

Hex Beam has made me a DXer.  91 countries. Having fun. Mozambique (Long path), San Andres island, and Saudi Arabia, all on Friday. All homebrew SSB 100 watts. 

Put my old 20 meter CW station back on the air:  Barebones superhet and the VXO 6 watter.   WYKSYCDS. This may be one of very few CBLA Receivers in the world!

Been getting active in the Vienna Wireless Society.  Dean KK4DAS is President and a lot is happening in the Club.  Makers group. Lunch with the group on Tuesdays.  Lots of fun.

We are looking at Farhan’s Daylight Again Analog rig.  Using parts from Dean’s 3D printer, we have made PTOs. See blog post for picture.   (But are they really PTOs? Or just Variable Inductors?) 

VFO madness.  Solid stating an HT-37 VFO. Grayson: “You have clearly lost your mind.” Perhaps.  100 MHz FM broadcast RFI. This brought me to capacitors and linear tuning:

SLC, SLW, SLF and Midline/Centerline caps.  Do special caps explain why some VFOs have linear tuning while others do not?  NO, not really.  You can get linear tuning with ordinary caps.  See blog post

Working on the bench.  Reading Adam Savage’s book on workshops and tools. (link to the book in the right hand column of the blog.   Some other workbench links on the blog.  Upgrading tools and test gear.  I have a proper bench power supply. Better side cutters.  Engineering rulers.  Digital calipers. Better solder (I was talking to Ron WA6YOU – a real solder authority - about this.  Kester 60/40 ).



Currently offering seven items:

·  UDVBM-1 (in three versions)

·  PG-TIA Broadband IF Amplifier

·  TIA-AGC IF Amplifier

·  Dual-Gate MOSFETs

·  OA741D Op-Amp (discrete components)

·  8-Pole QER Crystal Filter

·  I2C Rotary Encoder

Three more are shown as coming soon:

·  GP Audio Amp (general-purpose audio amp)

·  HyCas IF Amplifier with AGC

·  M-Cubed (Michigan Mighty Mite kit)

·         Mostly DIY RF offers hardware for hardware-defined radio. That's not a comment on software-defined radio. SDR is cool and useful, and it has its place.

·         In fact, I believe in explicitly making use of technology from all eras (vacuum tubes, discrete semiconductors, and integrated circuits

·         What does "mostly" DIY mean? It means making what you want and using ready-made for the rest. Even the most fanatic DIY'ing home brewer does this without much thought. He uses components he didn't fabricate, electricity he didn't generate, and theoretical knowledge he didn't discover. One can't fight all battles, one has to choose which to fight and which to leave to others. If an appliance-operating Ham doesn't want to fight at all, that's okay, but Mostly DIY RF has nothing to offer him.


I need YouTube viewing hours.  So I am putting some of the best SolderSmoke podcasts up on the YouTube channel.  Please listen/watch on YouTube. Here is the playlist:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv9MEKq1quk-gnxog7eBqY_y7cpQadf6T   

Google feed no longer sending our e-mails.  So please follow the blog, Get yourself a blog feed reader.  I use Feedly.  It is free.   Download, search in Feedly for SolderSmoke, hit subscribe and you are done. https://feedly.com/i/discover Follow Pete’s blog too!  It is easy.

 Pete’s Bench



TenTEC Model 540



Dan KC5VPI getting into homebrewing. No longer WRONG!

Michael AG5VG built subharmonic DC receiver, put it on 40 and 20.  FB.

Mike AA9IL working on old tube stuff including a DX-100 AMD UUHF gear up to 122GHz.

Ed WA4MZS liked the SolderSmoke book. USCG vet.  As is Mike Rainey AA1TJ Semper Paratus!

Clint KA7OEI – The Music of the Beams – My Hex  does not sing!  So far!

Walter KA4KXX – The Knack started early.  Video of getting a toolbox for Christmas. And working on PTOs!  He likes them!

Phillip G4HOJ Also working with subharmonic mixers – using the more complex 4 diode version.

Peter GW4ZUA Built an amazing rig from RADCOM (1980s) Cool VFO with varactor fine tuning and a coil with a dust core that was cut in half to minimize temp effect. Box now holds 3  band version of Pete’s SimpleCeiver. FB.

Bruce KC1FSZ building 25 Watt amp for his Peppermint Bark rigs.  We won’t turn him in to the QRP authorities.

Grayson KJ7UM tested the 12BY7A from my DX-100 VFO.  It was in fact weak. Thanks Grayson.

Charles Smith KV4JT has some really interesting stuff on how to solid state tube gear.   Especially R-390s. https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/2022/08/trigger-warning-solid-stating-old-tube.html

Gianfranco I0ZY Old friend from Rome.  Amplifier manufacturer.  FB.

Paul WA1MAC getting started again after long hiatus.

Vasily.. I mean Todd VE7BPO.  Always great tech info.  Thanks.

Mark WB8YMV building a superhet with a 455 kc IF.

I sent Farhan some comments on his Daylight Again video: He wrote back “I marvel at their stamina to watch an hour long video of a man talking with a funny accent!”  

Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column