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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Peter Parker's Knobless Wonder Minimalist SSB Rig


Oh man, Peter Parker has done it again!   As he did with the Beach 40, he has come up with a circuit that will attract a lot of attention.  It is a single frequency SSB transceiver with no knobs (or windows, or menus!) 

Peter Marks recently had breakfast in Melbourne with VK3YE:
There are some great pictures of the new rig, and the Beach 40.

Here's the message  from VK3YE (to the Minimalist Radio Group) that may
someday be seen as the start of the Knobless Revolution:

Some might reckon that SSB is inevitably too complex to be in the minimalist
class, but I beg to disagree.

I reckon you could build a whole SSB transceiver in 2 days of solid work. I
took a day to build what will be described below up to the stage where it

was receiving & producing a low level SSB on Tx.

Take this recipe:

1. Build the back end of the BitX
That is everything to the right of (and including) the Q2 & Q12 stages.

2. Use cheaply available 7.159 MHz crystals in the crystal filter and
carrier oscillator. Keep filter capacitor values the same. Remove L3 in the
carrier oscillator circuit. Use a slightly bigger trimmer in the carrier
oscillator (say up to 50 pF) and wire in series with crystal. Align trimmer
so carrier freq is 7160 kHz.

3. Build a power amplifier stage / relay / LPF as per the Beach 40. Just
the last 2 stages (using BD139s) should be enough. Output maybe 2w.

The result is a 10 transistor / 1 IC SSB transceiver on 7160 kHz. It's
crystal controlled but at least during the day 2 watts to a good antenna
should be enough for people to hear and reply to your CQ calls up to 800 -
1000 km away. Of course you could go a bit more minimalist and remove the
LM386, substituting 1 transistor instead (as per the original Beach 40)
which is what I did.

The main thing that's odd is it has no knobs - no tuning, RIT, volume, RF
gain etc. Just sockets - for mic, phones, antenna and power to feed it what
it needs (Rx RF, Tx audio, DC power) and give what you want (Rx audio and Tx

It is philosophically different to using any other transceiver. You either
accept what the radio dishes up (frequency, AF gain, mic gain etc) or you
don't. On or off - there is no other state. Take it or leave it. Like a
cat this is a radio that lives on its own terms.

Those used to fiddling with adjustments will find the 'knobless wonder'
transceiver causes them to be at a loose end. Those so afflicted will smoke
more, bite their nails more or eat junk food more. Sometimes elegant
simplicity in radio can be a health hazard - maybe knobless rigs should
carry health warnings.

On the other hand, and in my view this outweighs the above, there is the
aesthetic satisfaction that comes from using a rig that cannot be made any
simpler. Especially if it's a mode, like SSB, that's widely thought
constructionally complex. Plus it takes little in return - the power
consumption will be a fraction of what a commercial rig will demand.

73, Peter VK3YE

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