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Monday, May 2, 2016

Hallicrafters S38-E Saved! it is not a "Pig with Lipstick." It Sounds Good! (Video) (And Radio Moscow recordings)




You guys know how it is:  You get tired of struggling with an old piece of gear.  You put it aside, thinking that you might never work on it again.  But it sits there in the corner, sort of looking at you.  A few days or weeks or years pass and you think, hey, I'll take one more quick look at this thing to see if I can get it going.

That's what happened to me this weekend with the Hallicrafters S38-E.  I hooked up the isolation transformer and put a fuse in the primary. I checked the wiring of my rewound antenna coil primary and found that I had connected it wrong.  Duh.   I then found that the antenna tuned circuit tracks fairly well with the tuned circuits in the local oscillator. 

I hooked it up to my 40 meter dipole and fired it up.  As evening rolled around the shortwave bands started to perk up.  The Chinese Broadcast stations were there, as was that fire and brimstone preacher Brother so-and-so.   But then I tuned into Radio Havana Cuba and the guy was talking about homebrew shortwave antennas.  Could it be?  Yes indeed.  It was Arnie Coro CO2KK.  The Radio Gods had spoken!  They clearly had wanted me to get this old rig going.

I still have a few things to do:  I need to fix the front panel light.   I want to put in a three-wire (with ground) AC cord.   Perhaps a real BFO (the original circuit seems to run out of steam with strong SSB signals).  And I need to spruce up the alignment on the 1.7-5 Mc and 13-30 Mc bands.

I think Pete and I may have been too harsh on this old receiver (calling it a pig with lipstick and all that).   It is clearly not a great communications receiver, but it is nice for casual shortwave listening. 

And here is a bonus treat for you guys: Remember Radio Moscow in the bad old days?  Yesterday I found a site with good recordings of some of their 1965 broadcasts.  This is  just what you would have heard coming out of an S38-E in 1965:


Sunday, May 1, 2016

1625 Tubes and Si5351 Chips: JH8SST's FB Rig



Peter has been helping Jun JH8SST and other Japanese hams get their Si5351 synthesizers working with various displays.   Jun has had some great success as you can see in the above video.  I really like the combination of old (1625) and new (Si5351) technology.

Jun is a long-time homebrewer who as built some amazing stuff.  Check out the pictures on his QRZ.com page:

And look at his cool 128x128 TFT display:



Other videos here:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

KC9KEP's Superhet Receiver with HOMEBREW 455 kc IF Transformers



No store-bought 455 kc IF cans for Big Nick!  FB OM.  Great stuff.

We have featured Big Nick's beautiful work twice before:

More of his videos here:
Be sure to check out his coil winder.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Reduction Redux: Searching for Some Smooth Spin

OK, here is yet another picture of my Mighty Midget's Mate receiver, this time with yet another main tuning dial. I gave up on the large reduction drive on the right -- it worked fine but was very stiff.  I cracked open a smaller version of this very common Japanese-made reduction drive, but in this smaller one I was kind of surprised to find  a Jackson Brothers drive in there.   I now had three of these beauties available -- all of them worked fine but with considerable difference in ease of turning.  I picked the one that was easiest to turn.  

I had to cut the main shaft of the beautiful Hammarlund 35 pf variable cap that I am using. This was dangerous, because of the risk of messing up the delicate bearings.   I stayed out of trouble by putting the tip of the shaft in a vise and then cutting the shaft with a small coping saw.  This prevented any force from being transferred to the bearings.  It worked. 

I was careful to try to line up the shaft and the reduction drive as closely as I could. 

I needed something to serve as the tuning indicator.  I used one of those small CDs that often carry the drivers for cheap electronic devices.  It fit nicely.  A standard sized CD was too big. 

The final element was the knob itself.  I had an old Drake 2-B knob in my junk box (who sent me that?).  It was perfect and added a nice touch of soul to this old-new machine.

I built this receiver in 1998 and when I finished it I thought it was pretty good.  But it is much better now.  It has a nice 455 kc Toyo Crystal-Mechanical filter.  The tuning ranges on 40 and 75 now line up perfectly with the phone bands.  It now has a fuse in the power supply. And the tuning is now SMOOTH.

   

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Always Listen to Pete! Second Thoughts on the S38-E


After working a bit on the Hallicrafters S38-E receiver, I am forced to admit that Pete was probably right about this receiver when he warned me that I'd be putting lipstick on a pig.  For those of you who have a sentimental attachment to this receiver, please don't take offense -- I understand.  But while I had one of these as a kid, I never really BONDED with it. That Drake 2B was stiff competition for my radio affection. So I can be more objective about this thing.  And I now think Pete was right. 

Problems: 

-- It is mechanically rickety.  It jiggles around mechanically and, as a result, electrically.

-- The front end is no match for Northern Virginia RFI.  All it has between the antenna and the converter tube is one puny LC circuit.  Not enough.

-- The LO mixer and the LO are stuffed into one 12BE6 tube.  The IF amp and the BFO cohabitate in another tube. In each case there  just seems to be too much going on between one plate and one cathode. 

-- The whole AC/DC transformer-less thing is kind of nuts. You have to get used to TWO ground symbols on the schematic: one symbolizes B- (and is not attached to the chassis).  The other is to chassis ground.  Turns out that my E model is not really a "widow maker" -- they have a 470K resistor and a cap between B- and chassis ground, so the damage you could do to yourself was quite limited.  Still, it is all kind of goofy.  I have an isolation transformer on the chassis, ready to move this receiver into the 1960s if the spirit ever moves me.  KB2WIG commented:  "At closing time, I don't care if the S38 has lipstick."  

As I worked on this thing, I began to realize that the little homebrew 6U8 receiver I have next to it on the bench is a much better receiver.  So I began to lose enthusiasm for putting lipstick on the S38-E.  At least for the moment.  I do like the cool 1950s place names on the S38-E's front panel:

Java
USSR
Vatican
Singapore
Edmonton (!)
Congo
Milan
Iceland
Angola
And of course, the CD (Civil Defense) frequencies. (For when you wanted to do some shortwave listening while ducking and covering. )

But for  now, me and the S38 are on a break. 
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column