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Saturday, February 4, 2023

To Re-Cap or Not to Re-Cap -- Curious Marc on the Electrolytic Controversy in Ham Radio

A while back I got some fairly acerbic feedback when I DARED to suggest that perhaps it would be a good idea to replace the old electrolytic capacitors in ham radio equipment.  It was as if I had attacked motherhood and apple pie!   

Yesterday I was looking at CuriousMarc's YouTube channel and I came across the above video.  While I had been in the preemptive replacement camp, Marc makes a good case for leaving some of the old caps in place.   The fact that the electrolytics usually are open when they fail, and that there are fuses in the power supply to protect the transformers,  are important points.  His admonition not to replace electrolytics with tantalum caps (which fail closed) was also very useful. 

OK, my flame-proof suit is on! 

Friday, February 3, 2023

CuriousMarc (AJ6JV) Goes to a Hamfest

Jean Shepherd once said that all of us at one point come to a cross-roads in our lives -- one road leads to success, the other to ham radio flea markets.  

As I watched this, I realized that CuriousMarc sounds like a ham.   Sure enough, some Googling revealed that his real name is Jean-Marc Verdiell and his ham radio callsign is AJ6JV. 

I knew Marc was one of us when, in the video, he opens up the teletype.  He says that the seller claimed that it still worked.  But Marc comments that he hopes that this is not true, so that they will be able to troubleshoot and fix the device.  FB.  That's the spirit.  

We are really lucky to have someone as successful and creative as Marc in the ranks of ham radio operators.  

Be careful with the high voltage Marc!  

Checking Into the Vienna Wireless Pow-Wow Net after 23 Years!

I used to check into this net with my HW-101 from 1996-2000.   Last night I fired up my uBITX, hookied it up to my CCI .1 kW amp, and tuned the 75 meter doublet for 10 meters.  Bill AF4LL (Mr. 10 Meters) was net control.   Mike AE4R was also on frequency -- he was there the last time I checked in too.   It was fun.   

The QSL card shows the transceiver with the LiPo battery that was powering it. 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Direct Conversion Receiver Bandscan -- 40 Meters early on a Thursday Morning -- With W1AW/4

I superglued a San Jian frequency counter to the front panel of my High School Direct Conversion receiver.  Then I tuned it through the 40 meter band.  You can hear the W1AW/4 station.  And several SSB stations.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Hammarlund HQ-100 Misidentified in 1963 FCC Film

Oh the indignity!  It appears at 7 minutes 16 seconds in this FCC film.  It is clearly an HQ-100, but the FCC subtitles identify it at an HQ-110.  It is clearly an HQ-100 ( the model without the clock). 


As the owner and operator of what must be one of the few remaining HQ-100s, I feel obligated to defend the reputation of this fine piece of shortwave gear.   

How many of you have HQ-100s?  

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Curious Marc's Lab and Workshop

This is the guy who has done all the amazing videos on the Apollo communications systems.  And a lot more. This look at his lab is inspirational.  

There is so much to see here.  But a couple of things really caught my attention: 

All of the RF electronics in the Apollo spacecraft was made with discrete components -- the only chips in the spacecraft were in the computer.  And in the Apollo systems, they welded the discrete components in.  No soldering.  Welding.  That's hardcore.  That is how they got to the Moon.  

Curious Marc's YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/@CuriousMarc

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Rick N3FJZ Builds the Mixer for the High School Direct Conversion Receiver

Wonderful progress from Rick N3FJZ.   Having completed the PTO,  Rick went on to build the diode ring mixer and diplexer.  (See video above.)  He then connected these to boards to a band pass filter and an AF amp from previous project.  And wow, the resulting receiver sounds really great!  I think it sounds better than the ones Dean and I have built.  

-- It will be interesting to see how Rick's receiver sounds with the very simple AF amplifier that we are using.  

-- We need to get Rick a coil form for the PTO variable inductor! And getting him the PTO form will allow him to dispense with the varactor circuit (which, I must say, is pretty cool). 

-- In the PTO, for the coupling capacitor (C15) , I now have a 260 pF NP0 cap.  But your .1 uF ceramic disc seems to be doing just fin.  So maybe we don't need the NP0. 

-- I'm glad that Rick grounded the brass screw.  Without that, the hand capacitance effect is bad. 

-- I think results will be much the same with the dual tuned circuit bandpass filter that we use.   But it will be interesting to see if Rick's triple tuned circuit helps with AM breakthrough (I think I heard Radio Marti when Rick tuned to the top of the band). 

-- I haven't had a hum problem and I don't think Dean has either.   Dean is running his on two 9V batteries.  Maybe that would take care of the hum.  Our PTOs are completely Al Fresco! 

-- The Traders Net sounds like fun!  

Thanks Rick!  73 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Hugo Gernsback -- Was he Like Wayne Green?

"The Electrical Experimenter" sent to me by Nick M0NTV reminded me of Hugo Gernsback.  Many of the radio books I have on my shelf have his name on them.  He played a big role in early radio and television, and in science fiction. Check out the Wikipedia article on Gernsback:  

I see similarities between Hugo Gernsback and Wayne Green.  What do you guys think?   

Gernsback's TV goggles in 1963 

That's Gernsback watching TV in 1928

Friday, January 27, 2023

N3FJZ Builds PTO for High School DC Receiver

Rick N3FJZ has stepped forward and is building the direct conversion receiver that Dean and I have been working on.  This will be big help in our testing of the receiver.  See above for the video report on his build of the PTO stage. 

When I saw this, I found myself thinking two things: 

1) Those really are "rigs." 


2) I am not alone! 

Years ago, I was having a tough day on 40 meters.  The Waterfall Policemen were gleefully attacking my admitedly less-than-perfect SSB signal.   Unbeknownst to me, someone out there was listening, and listening with a homebrew receiver.  A receiver with a PTO.  It was Rick N3FJZ.  He made my day when he sent this video: 

Here are the other blog posts on the amazing rigs of N3FJZ here: 

More to follow, both on Rick's receiver and on the work of other intrepid builders. 

Thanks Rick. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

"The Electrical Experimenter" -- A Treasure Trove of Inspiration

Oh this is really phenomenal.  Nick "the Vic"  M0NTV is on the mend from some routine surgery.  While mending he found this 1915 issue of Hugo Gernsback's "The Electrical Experimenter."  I just spent a few minutes quickly going through it and I can see that this is a treasure trove that could keep us -- the modern day electrical experimenters -- busy for a long time.  

-- We see Signor Marconi in Italian military uniform (I never saw that before).  

-- There is mention of successful DX reception of the station in Arlington Va. (just down the road from me).  

-- There is a an article about the radio station of T.O.M -- Hiram Percy Maxim.  

-- There are detailed maps of Mars, complete with the canals. 

And there is a lot more.  

Above all, I think what stands out from this magazine is the homebrew spirit,  the notion that we can and should build our rigs ourselves, and seek to understand them. 

Below is the whole magazine.  Please take a look and use the comment section below to point us to passages of interest to the electrical experimenters of today.  

Thanks Nick.  Your e-mail came during a discouraging period filled with a few "tales of woe."  The magazine really lifted my spirits.  

Here it is: 


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Update on High School Direct Conversion Receiver Project + .asc File

So far, in response to my recent request for testing,  no one has stepped up to build the DC receiver Dean KK4DAS and I are testing out.  We did get a couple of comments explaining why guys are opting not to help, but so far no other builders are actually melting solder in response to our recent request. 

So Dean and I decided to each build second versions of the receiver.   That will bring the total finished build population to 4.  I finished my second version yesterday.  Picture above.   It works great.  

One change:  The emitter resistor on the final AF amp was too low in value.   The transistor and the transformer were getting hot.  I switched from 10 ohms to 100 ohms and the problem disappeared.  I have made the change on the LTSpice Schematic.   Here is the .asc file (I hope!) : 


Dean posted the .asc file (and some other info) here: 


If you have trouble accessing that file, please let me know and I will try to e-mail it to you.   In any case the schematic appears here: 


You will notice that this Spice schematic actually works!  The PTO turns on, and I put a simulated RF signal at the antenna port.  Audio appears at the output.  

Time is getting very tight.  Dean and I will begin presenting this project to the high school students on February 2.  So it is not too late to help. But helping is, of course, strictly voluntary -- if you are reluctant to build this thing, DON'T!   

Saturday, January 21, 2023


My fellow Vienna Wireless Society Member Ron WA6YOU is a real expert collector of QSL cards.  He was rightly critical of a very crude homebrew QSL that I made a while ago.   So when I got back from the Dominican Republic I decided I had to clean up my act.  Some Googling, some printer ink, and some cardstock later, I came up with the above.   I kind of like it -- it looks better (believe me!) than my earlier effort, but it retains an element of homebrew (I kind of made it myself).  

The picture is of Juanillo Beach, the beach we use when in Cap Cana.  This one was filled out for Mike KA4CDN, who was the only Vienna Wireless Society member I contacted from HI7.  

I made about 38 contacts from HI7.  If anyone out there worked me and wants a card, my printer is at the ready!  

To make the card, I used:  https://www.radioqth.net/qslcards

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