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Saturday, October 14, 2017

SolderSmoke Podcast #200! 17, Knack Nobel, QCX, 630, UHF, Fessenden, TROUBLESHOOTING

DL3AO 1950
SolderSmoke Podcast #200 -- TWO HUNDRED!!!!-- Is available

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke200.mp3

-- Old friends on 17 meters.  

-- Another Knack Nobel in Physics.  

-- Hans Summers' QCX transceiver:  $50 IS THE NEW 10 GRAND! 

-- New Bands!  630 and 2200 Meters.  BIG ANTENNAS! 

-- Nuke Powered QRP.  No joke! 

-- The Challenge of UHF.  Not for the faint of heart. 

-- Reginald Fessenden, Father of Phone. 

PETE'S BENCH REPORT:   The New Simple-ceiver.  Soon to be a Transceiver. 

BILL's BENCH REPORT:  Discrete, Direct Conversion, Ceramic Receiver in iPhone Box.  

THE EDUCATIONAL PORTION OF TODAY's PROGRAM:  
HOW TO TROUBLESHOOT A HOMEBREW RECEIVER. 

MAILBAG. 


DL3AO 1950

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SPRAT -- The 007 Connection


The eagle eye of Brent KD0GLS spotted this frame in the 007 movie "Casino Royale."  
Wow -- I just knew those GQRP guys had to be much cooler than they seemed.  I guess there were some indications: They do seem to talk quite a bit about "Q".  There is that weird fondness for Parasets. I understand that several of the senior GQRPers drive Aston Martins.  And that Dobbs guy -- a kindly retired Anglican minister you say?  Really?  I can just hear him saying it:  "Dobbs, George Dobbs."  

Monday, October 9, 2017

DL1YC's Flat Moxon with Armstrong Rotation

DL1YC Moxon
I had a very nice contact on 17 meters yesterday with Jan DL1YC.  It was a rare Moxon-to-Moxon contact, with homebrew 17 meter Moxons on either end.  Jan's is a bit cooler than mine:   His is flat, without the "blownout umbrella" support that we see in mine (below) and in the Hex Beams.  Jans told me that he achieved this flatness by starting out with very long telescoping fishing poles -- he discarded the the thin portions of the pole and used only the more rigid pieces.  (I used 16 foot, 5 piece Shakespeare Wonderpoles from Amazon.) I think he also used thin wire for the elements.  The crossbar that you see in the picture above is there to support a balun at the feed point -- without the cross bar the balun and the feedline would cause the balun to droop. 

I couldn't resist a little front to back testing.   Jan's antenna does not have a rotator -- he used the "Armstrong" method of antenna pointing.  I didn't want to make him go outside to spin the thing around by hand, so I just turned mine and asked him to take note of the difference front to back.  He saw 3 S units.  18 db.  Not bad.   

Jan said his antenna weighs about 8 pounds -- mine is very similar at 9 pounds.  Jan expressed some concern about UV deterioration of the fishing pole fiberglass.  Mine has been up there three years without any problems.  

Like me, Jan had considered "nesting" an element for another ban (perhaps 20 or 12) but -- like me-- had concluded that this would be too difficult. 

N2CQR Moxon

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Direct Conversion iPhone!


Well, really a DC receiver in an iPhone box.

I think the Apple iPhone boxes have great potential as project enclosures.  They are cardboard, but they are very rigid and solid.   I decided to use them for a Direct Conversion receiver project I've had in mind.  


This is a 40 meter DC receiver.  No chips.  Ceramic resonator VXO tuned by a varactor diode. 9V battery as the power source.  Ear buds as the transducer.  Passive, two diode, singly balanced detector.  It sounds great -- so great that I may have to add a gain control. 

The nice fit is no coincidence -- I cut the board so it would fit in the iPhone box.  


Take a look at that top cover.  It is all, well, empty.   I could put another board in there, right?  Maybe a balanced modulator,  a mic amp and an RF amplifier.  Then this thing would be a Double Sideband transceiver.  We could even make use of the little microphone that comes with most of the ear buds.  


I'm thinking that this might be the kind of project that people would like to take on this winter.  Build the VXO first.  Then the AF amp.  Then the product detector and front end. At that point you've built a receiver.  For extra credit you could go on to the transmitter.  No need to use Apple boxes (but they are cool...)  I will try to get the schematic done soon.  My nephew John Henry will test the prototype. 



Saturday, October 7, 2017

IZ7VHF's Video on on Hans Summers' QCX Rig, and a Video from Hans



Thanks to W8SX for alerting me to this. 

There is a lot of good stuff on Roberto's site.  He obviously has THE KNACK. 

http://radio-signals.com/

Hans himself has a less detailed video on the rig:

Friday, October 6, 2017

VE3BOF's Regens and DC Receivers

VE3BOF BENCH
Hi Bill:

This is Clark, VE3BOF, in Hensall, Ontario, Canada.
Hensall is located in southwestern Ontario, north of London and a 2  
hour drive west of Toronto.

Last Sunday night, 2017-10-01, I tuned in to 7277 kHz to listen to  
the BitX40 net. I heard you and 2 or 3 others.
Your signal was 5-7, perfectly readable.

The receiver I was using is a modified version of the WBR receiver.
It is still on the piece of chipboard that I mounted all the modules  
onto.  It's an excellent little regenerative receiver.


In the same state of incompleteness, is a modified version of the  
Easy Receiver (QRP Kits) direct-conversion receiver,
I use this receiver for the CW end of the 40M band.



Both receivers have been fitted with 10-turn pots for easy tuning,  
and also lcd frequency counters for displays.

I'm a former Motorola Communications tech, and used to maintain the  
radio systems of District 6 of the Ontario Provincial Police and our Ministry 
of Health emergency services radio system.

Being retired now, I have more time to check Soldersmoke every day  
and listen to your
conversations with Pete, N6QW.

Thank you for very interesting and worthwhile QRP information and  
programming.

Clark Forrest, VE3BOF



Wednesday, October 4, 2017

ANOTHER Nobel Prize Winner with THE KNACK


When I heard that the guys who ran the LIGO gravitation wave experiment won this year's Nobel Prize for physics, something told me that at least one of those involved in this historic detection of weak distant signals would have THE KNACK.  It did not take me long to confirm this.  Rainer Weiss (above) definitely has had the THE KNACK all his life. And what an interesting life it is.  Check it out:
http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/08/meet-college-dropout-who-invented-gravitational-wave-detector

Knackish excerpts: 

The family soon had to flee again, when U.K. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed an accord ceding parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany. They heard the news on the night of 30 September 1938, while on vacation in the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia. As Chamberlain’s address blared from the hotel’s massive radio, 6-year-old Rainer stared in fascination at the glowing array of vacuum tubes inside the cabinet. The hotel emptied overnight as people fled to Prague.

As a teenager, Weiss developed two passions: classical music and electronics. Snapping up army surplus parts, he repaired radios out of his bedroom. He even made a deal with the local toughs: If they left him alone as he lugged radios to and from the subway, he’d fix theirs for free. “They would steal things and I would have to fix them,” he says. “It wasn’t a good deal.”

Weiss was drawn to tinkering partly as a reaction to his family’s cerebral atmosphere. “This is a German-refugee kid with very self-consciously cultured parents, and he’s rebelling against them by doing things with his hands,” Benjamin says. “But he’s surely not rejecting doing things with his head.”

He applied to MIT to study electrical engineering so that he could solve a problem in hi-fi—how to suppress the hiss made by the shellac records of the day. But electrical engineering courses disappointed him, as they focused more on power plants than on hi-fi. So Weiss switched to physics—the major that had, he says, the fewest requirements.
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