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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Light Sail 2 Successfully Deploys Its Solar Sail


Congratulations to the Planetary Society. 

Monday, July 22, 2019

Making Fish Soup from Herring and Tuna (How to Build a Fish Soup 10 Transceiver)

Just in case some other fanatic someday thinks about trying to turn a Herring Aid 5 and a Tuna Tin 2 into a Fish Soup 10. This will also serve as a note to myself on how I did this.  Above are my suggestions on how to get the VFO signal into the transmitter and the receiver.  Both RX and TX can easily be returned to their original condition. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Frequency Readout for the Fish Soup 10 (with cool BLUE numerals)

Note the cool BLUE numerals.  They represent 7040, 7050, 7060, 7070.  The little black "pointer" is from a power cord wall fastener.  My tuning cap has a nice reduction drive -- the pointer follows the movement of the capacitor blades.  The VFO is very stable. 

Simplicity is a virtue.  CW is, I think, outmoded and kind of absurd (one letter at a time?  really?), but it does allow for extreme simplicity.  Using a rig with just 10 transistors, putting out half a watt of RF,  I am regularly communicating with people.  This is what I like about CW.   

I've had about 12 solid contacts with this rig since putting it on the air earlier this month.  The VFO was a huge improvement over being crystal controlled. Crystal control was OK back when receivers were broad and hams tuned around for replies, but those days are gone.  Getting the transmit offset set correctly was another huge improvement. 

From Bill's Apollo 11 Scrapbook

From the Apollo 11 scrapbook I made back in '69. I got the date for the moonwalk wrong. But hey, I was only 10 years old.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Video of Fish Soup 10 QSO (from N3MLB)

So cool.  During our QSO on 40 Meter CW today, N3MLB recorded it and put it on YouTube.  This is what my 500 milliwatt Fish Soup 10 rig sounds like in Pennsylvania. Thanks a lot Chris. 

From Chris's page: 

Monday, July 15, 2019

The "Fish Soup 10" Homebrew QRP CW Transceiver

The box with the two grey knobs on the left is the Herring Aid 5, the receiver that took me 38 years to complete. The box on the right is a VFO I originally built for my first BITX40Module -- it started out around 4 Mhz but I pulled turns off the coil until it was in the 40M CW band.  The Altoids in near center has the buffers -- a 40673 MOSFET and a 2n3904 BJT. The box in the back holds the Tuna Tin 2.  There the oscillator has been reconfigured as an amp.  A relay switches the output from the buffers between the receiver and the transmitter.  That big switch in the center switches the antenna and the 12 V for T/R.  The circular black thing is piezo buzzer used for CW sidetone -- I have it glued to the board upside down to keep the volume down. 

The whole thing is mounted on a kitchen cutting board.  A breadboard! 

The most difficult part of all this was getting the needed 800 Hz drop in TX freq on transmit.  You need to do this with a rig like this or else you won't be in the other fellow's passband.  I did a lot of cut and try -- in the end I put a 5 pf cap across the coupling cap from VFO to buffer.  This 5 pf cap switches in on transmit via a small relay.   It works.  I just spoke to N8AFT out in Columbus, Ohio and I was in his passband.  

So five transistors in the receiver, two in the transmitter and three in the VFO/Buffer. So it is the  Fish Soup 10.  

It puts out about half a watt.  On CW.   I am feeling virtuous and vaguely superior. I've made several more contacts.  It all works very well and is a lot of fun. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Feedback on QSOs -- Listeners are Listening

On opposite coasts and with rigs at opposite ends of the technology spectrum, Pete and I have been putting new homebrew rigs on the air.  I'm working on a QRPp transceiver using 10 transistors.  Pete is working on an SDR rig that must use, what?,  thousands or millions of transistors.  

We've both been getting nice feedback, often from SolderSmoke podcast listeners.  Above you can see my 8 July notes on a contact with K3QP.   I was running about 1/2 watt, crystal control, from the Fish Soup 7 combo rig. 

In an earlier post I mentioned Pete's success in working coast-to-coast on 40 SSB with his homebrew SDR RADIG.  Turns out that someone in St. Louis heard the contact: 

From: Steve 
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2019 6:16 PM
To: Pete
Subject: Friday QSO

Hi Pete

Heard your QSO to Virginia last evening. Conditions were rough but could hear good enough. I’m located west of St Louis and was outside portable with KX2 and wires tossed in a couple trees. Tried to tail end but of course my signal was not good for you in California.

I really am amazed at the work you put into your projects, websites, and podcast. Can’t thank you enough. Please keep it up.

I worked at McAir in St Louis and spent many hours in the MDEC building St Charles. That was in the late 80s.


Finally, earlier in July I had a contact with K1PUG.   Someone north of the border heard us: 

On Sunday, July 7, 2019, 01:17:47 PM EDT, Dave  wrote:

I heard your QSO with Hank K1PUG at my cottage in Canada (FN15ac) this morning. I wondered why you were so faint (since I had been getting good reports with 5W into your area) but when I read this morning’s entry in SolderSmoke, and saw you were 750mW, all became clear.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

N6QW goes Coast-to-Coast with HB SDR RADIG

From: Frank
Sent: Saturday, July 13, 2019 6:55 AM
To: Pete Juliano
Subject: Re: 40M QSO with N6QW

GM Pete 

Yes fun QSO last night. You did have a great signal and excellent audio from your HB SDR .

Lots of great info on your website. 

I am enjoying my wire beams.  I have two five element wire beams mounted end to end beaming Europe that I get on that direction a lot. I'm planning to get an Array Solutions StackMatch soon that will help my signal even more.

Keep up the good work with the SDR rigs Pete.
I look forward to our next QSO. 


Frank WA3RSL 

On Jul 13, 2019 9:42 AM, "Pete Juliano" wrote: 
Hi Frank,

Last night was the first coast to coast QSO with my homebrew SDR Transceiver. Thanks for the signal report and the comments on the signal.

This has been a fun project and my main band of operation these days is 40M. I have the capability to put the SDR on 75 as well as 20M. The second prototype (now in work) will use plug in coils for those two bands. It is simply amazing what can be done with a $35  computer.

I have several websites but one has been dedicated to SDR and there is more documentation about the SDR project.

Thanks again and at times you hit 15/9. Nice radio and nice antennas.

Pete N6QW

Monday, July 8, 2019

Chinese Micro-Satellite Photographs Eclipse -- FROM THE MOON

Back in October 2018 I posted about this Chinese satellite: 
According to report by Xinhua, a microsatellite developed by the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, which is now orbiting the moon, captured mesmerizing photos of Earth during the solar eclipse in the early hours of Wednesday (Beijing time).
It is to be noted that the microsatellite, weighing 47 kg and named Longjiang-2, was sent into space on May 21 last year, along with the Chang'e-4 lunar probe's relay satellite dubbed as "Queqiao" and entered lunar orbit four days later.
According to the research team from the Harbin Institute of Technology, the microsatellite carries a mini CMOS camera that only weighs 20 grams, which makes it easy to operate, and it can take pictures at short intervals.
“Since the camera uses an automatic exposure mode, the camera's field of vision must contain a certain area of the moon to realize correct exposure. When the recent total solar eclipse occurred, the orbiter was flying over the far side of the moon. In the few minutes before and after the moon blocked the earth, all the conditions were right to take the pictures,” Xinhua further quoted the team as saying.
According to the team, to avoid becoming space rubbish, the microsatellite will be controlled to crash into the moon after it stops operation at the end of July.
As per Xinhua, the team cooperated with amateur radio operators in Spain and Germany in taking and receiving the photos. Nearly two pictures taken by the microsatellite during the solar eclipse were sent back to Earth on Wednesday. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Fish Soup 7 QRP Rig -- On the Air on 40 Meters (video)

I don't know why, but this weekend I got the urge to get on the air with a very low power homebrew QRP rig.   I reached for my Tuna Tin 2 -- Herring Aid 5 combo.  I call it the Fish Soup 7 (seven transistors in total). 

I first tried to turn this rig into a transceiver by taking the VFO signal from the receiver (it is direct conversion) and using it to excite the Tuna Tin 2, but it just didn't work out.  The oscillator in the Herring Air 5 is very bare bones -- no buffering and an LC circuit that is mostly L (10 uH).  It became very difficult to get a stable amount of CW offset.  So I went back to crystal control for the transmitter.  I did replace the 5K tuning pot in the RX with a 10k 10 turn pot (thanks to W8NSA).  Tuning is now very smooth.  I used my old UK freq counter to monitor my receive freq. (Thanks to Tony Fishpool G4WIF-- back in 2009 he sent me the CMOS chip that brought this counter back to life.) 

I was putting out about 750 milliwatts.  

I had a very quick contest-like contact with K2D -- one of the "13 Colony" stations.  Then a longer chat with Hank K1PUG (see video above).  

I had lost my 7050 crystal, but this morning it re-appeared.  TRGHS. 

As you can see in the video I am using the beautiful VU3XVR  key that Farhan brought me from India. 

This was fun.   I may try to put a VFO of some sort into the TT2, just to get more agility.  But I want to keep things simple.  

Look for me on 7050.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Building Spark-Gap Transmitters -- And a Very Cool Coherer (video)

The creators of "Plasma" and "Blueprint" YouTube channels have collaborated on this very interesting video about spark-gap radio transmitters and receivers. Really nice work.  Especially impressive was the coherer build by Blueprint.  I detect the spirit of Nikola Tesla in his lab!  

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

LightSail 2 -- Solar Sailing Cubesat with a Beacon on the 70cm Band

Once deployed, LightSail 2 will automatically transmit a beacon packet every few seconds, which can be decoded into 238 lines of text telemetry describing the spacecraft's health and status, including everything from battery status to solar sail deployment motor state. Every 45 seconds, the spacecraft will transmit "LS2" on the spacecraft's frequency of 437.025 MHz, within the Amateur Radio 70-centimeter band.
Further details can be found online at, 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Caption (or meme) Contest!

Please supply a caption for this picture.  Or turn it into a meme.  

Place submissions in the comments section below (or e-mail them in) 

Feel free to use the hosts of the SolderSmoke podcast. 

Antuino's Cubesat Origins, and How it Works (with video)

In a series of e-mails to the group, Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE provided background information on the origins of his new "RF Lab in a Box' -- the Antuino. He also explained how the device performs the SWR meter, Power Meter and  Scalar Network Analyzer functions.  

Farhan's Antuino Page:

Dec 27, 2018 to


while trying to measure the swr on the cubesats, i figured i couldnt use any of the analyzers i had access to. they were simply too big to be stuffed inside a 10 cm cube. my simple resistive bridge was too insensitive for any reasonable work. so, i sat down and made an antenna analyzer from a spare raduino. 

the code is wobbly and just about enough to get my work done. it works on a superhet principle. this is not my clever idea, rahul had mentioned this approach taken by a russian builder. i havent seen the original design. it would be interesting if rahul or someone can point me in the right direction.

the code and a pdf of the circuit is on i am attaching the circuit for the lazy bones.

have a great holiday and get some dx !!

- f

Dec 28 2018


first, thanks. there is substantially your code in there.

second, onto the circuit. it uses two clocks. not three. the third is a spare output. more on that later.

the circuit here uses a resistive return loss bridge. the clock 1 drives the bridge through the R22 to a low level of -10dbm. If the bridge is perfectly balanced (that is, the antenna, R21, R29, R16, all the four are the same ohms), then, there will be no RF developed across pins 3 and 4 of the ADE mixer. Under ideal match conditions, there is no RF across the R26. As the mismatch increases, so does the RF across R26. 

We could directly detect the voltage across the R26 with a diode detector. This is quite a popular configuration with most of the simple resistive kind of SWR bridges (like the one designed by Dan Tayloe). This simplicity comes at a cost. The problem is that the detector responds to all the RF between the arms. For instance, if another ham down the block starts to transmit, that energy will show up across the R26 and you will get crazy SWR. I had that problem with broadcast FM showing up on my 7 MHz dipole! Even if there was no RFI from elsewhere, harmonics and spurs from your own transmission can show false readings. 

Here is an example: a 7 MHz transmitter with a 14 Mhz harmonic that is 20 db down is connected to a 7 MHz dipole. The dipole is perfectly tuned to show 1:1 SWR, hence, it should show no RF across R26. However, as the antenna is reflecting back the 14 MHz energy, the 14 MHz shows up across the R26.

What's the solution to get a clean dip?The solution is to substitute a simple detector like a diode detector with a simple receiver that is tuned exactly to the frequency that you want to measure the antenna at.

So, the ADE-1 mixer, Q2, Q1 together form a very simple superhet receiver with 25 MHz IF andCLK2 as the local oscillator. The RF at the IF is directly detected and converted to db range with the AD8307. This simple configuration makes this a very powerful instrument.

Here are things you can do with it:

1. Switch off the CLK1, now you have a receiver that can very accurately measure RF levels at any specific frequency in db range. For instance, you connected your transmitter with a suitable RF attenuator to P3, you can tune to various harmonics and measure them very accurately. If you inject a two tone signal into an amplifier, you could easily measure the IMD and IIP3. 
2. With the CLK1 on, the instrument now measures the return loss. you can measure the SWR of an antenna, S11 parameters of an amplifier, filter, etc.
3. With CLK1 off, CLK 2 on, the CLK2 can now tune to the frequency tuned in by the receiver's LO (CLK0). By connecting a device/filter between P3 and P4, you can sweep it to measure the gain, frequency reponse.
4. As the diode mixer (ADE-1) has harmonic response, a local oscillator at 135 MHz, will also convert a 430 MHz signal into 25 MHz IF (430 - (135 x 3)). This is possible because we are driving the diode mixer with a square wave from the Si5351 and the local oscillator at 135 MHz also has a 405 Mhz harmonic in it. Hence, the range of this instrument extends to UHF.

The ADE-1 mixer is quite similar to the ubitx mixers. You could even use ubitx kind of discrete version of a diode mixer, it doesn't work too well beyond 50 MHz. The pins 4 and 3 of the ADE-1 are the primary winding of the RF-input side transformer. The documentation recommends that we must ground 4, but that is not essential. We need a differential drive between those two pins, that is what the bridge provides anyway. 

73, f


i built it so i could stuff it inside the cubesat to measure the antenna. an external spectrum analyzer and its cables were upsetting the RF model hence, i needed something that could read the return loss sitting inside the cubesat. then, i borrowed by daughter's DSLR with a monsterous tele lens and sat 100 meters away to read the the LCD display as it swept through the range. 
the analyzer was removed once we knew the correct dimensions and the actual payload went inside the bird.
- f

Monday, June 24, 2019

Mike KL7R's Web site on Way Back Machine

Thanks to Karl K5KHK for digging this up.  Excellent.  Three cheers for the WayBack Machine.

And thanks again to Walt K3ASW for voicing concern about the disappearance of Mike's site.  Good to know that all is not lost.

Pete N6QW's RADIG SDR On The Air!

Hi Bill: 

So far I have made about two dozen contacts with the new RADIG. Just finished one with a ham I know in New Mexico and he is an RF Engineer –he was a designer at Alpha. I asked that he do a critical review of how I sounded and looked on his SDR –  a good report and his comment was that if I hadn’t told him he would have guessed it was a $4 or $5K box.

So another goal achieved –on my 60th year anniversary and this makes #37.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

SolderSmoke Podcast #212 HDR, Boatanchors, SDR, Antuinos, Spurs, QSX, Mailbag

Dale Parfitt W4OP's  SBE-33 with modern digi freq counter
SolderSmoke Podcast #212 is available:

22 June 2019

CONGRATULATIONS TO PETE:  Licensed 60 years today

Pete Juliano during Field Day, 1959
Sideband Engineers Models 33 and 34 -- Thanks Pete! 
Hans's QSX SDR Rig at Dayton-Xenia and FDIM
W8SX FDIM interviews

Pete's SDR Projects -- Update

The Peregrino SSB transceiver in the summer SPRAT

Why no rare earth cell phone speakers in ham projects? 

My HDR "waterfall" project

Farhan's Antuino
Cubesat origins
RF Lab in an box
Superhet receiver with ADE-1 at front, and log IC at the output
Adapters (SMA to BNC) help
My dirty DIGITIA -- Denial, then acceptance
Useful programs:  SPURTUNE and ELSIE
A better bandpass filter for the DIGITIA 
The importance of a good test set up with Antuino

Manassas Hamfest: WA1UQO, W4WIN, AI4OT

Jeff Tucker -- Who owns Drake 2-B #4215? 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Wall Warts

Thank you to Michael Rainey AA1TJ who posted this cartoon, which I'm sure speaks to us all. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Face the TRUTH! LOOK at Your Signal with an Antuino!

At first, I didn't want to believe it.  I was in denial.  I wanted to shoot the messenger (in this case, the Antuino). How could my beloved HB 40 meter DIGITIA transciever have an output that was so.... so DIRTY!  Everyone tells me it sounds great.  But the little Antuino screen told a different story.  Strong spurs up at 9 MHz and down at around 5.4.  And lots of places in between.  (In these display images, the center frequency is 7.2 MHz and each division to the left or right is 1 MHz.) 

Farhan tried to get me to face the truth: "The frequency domain viewing of RF Signals is the opening of the third eye. Once you start seeing signals as a bunch of simultaneous  sines, you will always be wary of the waveforms on the scope. In fact, time domain readings make little sense."

At first I blamed strong VHF RFI and my somewhat hay-wire test set up.  My homebrew Rube Goldberg 20 db attenuator was probably picking up some of the VHF RF. But as I looked more closely at the output of the transceiver in the frequency domain, I gradually accepted that it was true.  There were a lot of spurs.   I have a general coverage receiver in the shack, and with it I could hear the little devils. And after some adjustment I could see them in the FFT display on my Rigol o'scope.  An exorcism was definitely needed. 

But first came a tightening up of the test setup.  Pete advised me to do this.  I had in the shack some really nice dummy load/attenuators from the HP8640B Signal Generator that Steve Silverman had given me (and that Dave Bamford had hauled across New York City for me).  I ordered the necessary N connectors and adapters and soon my test setup improved a lot. 

All this got me thinking about spurs.  I consulted EMRFD and was reminded of a really great program in the LADPAC software pack that came with the book.  The SPURTUNE program predicts spurs and tells you what to look out for.  It is really illuminating.  Try SPURTUNE. 

Through this, I gained a better appreciation of the importance of the bandpass filter in an SSB transceiver.  I'd always thought of it as something that allowed the other mixing product to be eliminated while passing the one you want.  But I came to realize that it does a lot more than that -- it also helps get rid of spurs.   If it is designed right.  Mine was not.  I had plucked it out of an old QST article and had not paid much attention to it. All it needed to do was knock down the unwanted mixing product, right?  And in my transceiver (9 MHz IF,  VFO running 16.0 - 16.3) MHz that unwanted product would be way up at 25 MHz.  It wouldn't take a lot of selectivity to knock that down.  But I'd forgotten about the closer-in spurs.   Antuino reminded me of them.  And SPURTUNE explained where they came from.  

For the exorcism, I decided to use the bandpass filter design from Farhan's BITX-40 Module.  I had made the BP filter on this rig "plug-in" so it was easy to build a new filter.

I even checked out the filter design in a simulator.  For this I use ELSIE.   Another very useful program.  Here is what ELSIE predicted for Farhan's BITX40 Module filter: 

I plugged the new filter into the DIGITIA and... SUCCESS!  The big spurs that were bothering me were gone and the remaining spurs were all below 50db down from the main signal. Here is what it looks like now:  

The Antuino is a very useful device.  You can learn a lot from it, but you have to realize that this is not plug and play radio.  You have to think about what you are testing, make sure you have the test gear set up properly, think about the circuit you are looking at, and be careful not to put too much RF into the device.  

Three cheers for Farhan and his new Antuino!  More on this soon.  And we will talk about this on the next podcast.  

Sunday, June 9, 2019

First Use of Farhan's Antuino Scalar Network Analyzer

I was learning my way around Farhan's new Antuino this morning.  Very cool.  I decided to start with the Scalar Network Analyzer.   I've spent so much time measuring and plotting filter response curves BY HAND... the Antuino is an opportunity for me to move into the 21st Century.  

In the picture you see the results.  I was using a Heathkit SSB filter with the center frequency at 3.395 Mhz.   The Antuino was set for that freq, with the screen range set at +/- 10.  That means each division on the screen is 1 khz (right?).  The Heath filter is advertised as being 2.1 khz wide at 6 db down.  That pretty much matches what we see here.  

You can see ripple in the filter passband.  This is almost certainly the result of an impedance missmatch.   It looks to me like the Antuino is set up with 50 ohm inputs and outputs.   The Heath filter probably needs higher impedances to have a smooth passband.   I will try later to set it up for a smooth passband. 

It is easy to see how useful this device will be.  Thanks Farhan! 

More on the Antuino here: 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ham Radio in Germany 1955 (video)

Don't be deterred by the lack of English subtitles -- radio amateurs around the world will be able to follow what is going on in this very interesting 1955 film.  It is only about 14 minutes long. 

This video takes us back to a time when hams were hams and rigs were RIGS!

Note the German OM who apparently slept fully dressed (with necktie) in order to be ready to spring into action on the ham bands in the middle of the night.  That's dedication my friends. 

Also note the fellow sending out QSL cards that feature the schematic diagram of his rig.  Lots of solder melted in 1955.  Great stuff. 

Thank God for the Heaviside Schicht!    

Monday, June 3, 2019

FDIM Interview with Farhan VU2ESE

I didn't realize that our correspondent in Dayton/Xenia had interviewed Farhan.  There was a typo in the audio file name and I was wondering who this UV2ESE guy was.  A Ukrainian QRPer?   I was really pleased to find out that it was Farhan.  

In Bob's interview you will hear Farhan discuss the capabilities of his new Antuino (pictured above).  Pete's Antuino is in the mail, going transcontinental.  It should arrive in the Newbury Park Laboratory later this week.  

As for the spectrum analyzer that Farhan got me last year, I am waiting for retirement (soon!) to get that one going.  But there is a danger that the Antuino will leave little room for the older tech... 

In the interview you will hear Farhan talk about the Antuino circuitry, and about the roots of the three main devices in the Antuino box.  Very cool.  

Thanks again Farhan. And thanks Bob. 

Here is the interview: FDIM 2019.m4a

Farhan's Antuino page:

Sunday, June 2, 2019

FDIM Interview -- NM0S on John Reinartz W1QP K6BJ -- Scandal on an Arctic Expedition?

John Reinartz, 1QP, at the operating position of WNP aboard the Bowdoin

Bob Crane W8SX interviewed Dave Cripe NM0S about his FDIM presenation on radio pioneer John Reinartz 1QP and later K6BJ. Listen to the interview here: FDIM 2019.m4a

Here is Reinartz's obit in the New York Times:

Here is some background info on Reinartz:

Dave Cripe's interview left me wondering what the north pole scandal was all about.   I found this passage from a book that seems to partially explain what happened.  Can anyone else shed more light on this unfortunate event?  

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Antuino: Farhan's Compact RF Lab In-a-Box

I now have Farhan's latest invention, the Antuino.  Pete will have his shortly.  Very cool.  SWR meter and antenna analyzer, power meter and scalar network analyzer all in one box. I put an old-school knob on the rotary encoder -- it seemed like the right thing to do.  Soon I will be able to find out if my rigs have spurs or are somehow non-compliant.   I'm sure Farhan's "RF Lab in a box" will be an important addition to my test gear arsenal. We will be talking about this in upcoming podcast episodes. 

Mike N2HTT did a nice write up of the new device:

And here is the info from the page:

Thanks Farhan! 

Friday, May 31, 2019

KG7SSB -- Homebrew SSB in Tuscon -- Learning from the BITX40 Module

On Sun, May 26, 2019 at 1:45 PM William R Meara wrote:

  I was talking to Jim W9UD on 20 SSB today.  When I told him I was running a homebrew transceiver he mentioned that he talked to another guy who is on the air with homebrew SSB gear -- you! 
There are so few of us Dale.  I felt compelled to send you an e-mail.  
What are you running?  
After several years on DSB, I started building separate SSB receivers and transmitters, mostly for 17.  Lately I am running versions of the Indian BITX transceiver. 
Please send info on your homebrew SSB projects. 
Bill N2CQR

Hi Bill, 

I have two radios that are completed to date. I started out building the BITX 40 transceiver from scratch and also a companion 60 watt solid state linear rf amplifier. Then I decided to construct the second transceiver for 20 meter using some of the BITX design concepts and mixed with the UBITX design for additional rf amplification. It too is amplified to about 25 watts output. The 20 meter rig is my favorite radio at this time but I am going to go a different direction on my next build. It's presently just in the design stage but I'm thinking about using the MC1350 integrated circuits for the IF amplification and for the front end I may try using a FET rf amplifier. The beauty of the bitx design is the use of wide band amplifiers that don't have a tendency to oscillate. But, the new design I'm working on will have more shielding between critical circuits and I will use a small amount of negative feedback in the high gain circuits. The reason for changing the radio to a higher impedance design is to simplify the design build. I will basically build a receiver that I can reverse the signal direction over to transmit using the same amplifiers and filters. This will cut in half the amount of circuit building however it will increase the switching circuit complication associated with this new design. 

Today I'm beginning the build of a 100 watt rf linear amplifier design using the kit parts from China (minipa 70) amps. This provides the transformer components and circuit boards. I purchased two kits of parts and I have a large heatsink to build it on. I'm working on a current sensing circuit for protecting the final FETS.  It  will run 4 IRF530's tied together with a splitter and combiner for the input and output matching transformers. It should produce at least 100 watts at 75/80 meters and maybe a little less on 40 meters but 20 meters it will drop off to about 60 or so watts. 

I'm just having as much fun as a guy can have playing around with the homebrew radio's and like you say there's not many doing it these days. I love operating a radio that I built vs. running a factory made radio. I have two commercial rigs on my bench and a couple of Collins radios but the homebrew takes the lead. 

Jim W9UD has become one of my ham friends this year. We end up talking every week or so on the air and keeping touch with local weather conditions.
Side Note:
I wanted to build a SSB radio since I was a young lad with a technician license in the early 60's. SSB came into the picture many years after I was first licensed.  Then move forward to 2015 my ham license had long ago expired during my time in the Vietnam war. I spent several weeks studying the tech, general and finally the extra class exam information and passed on through that adventure. So I decided it's time to build my own radio from scratch. So I started to look online and in books and I still didn't have the confidence to begin building. Then I ran across Farhams BITX 40 and I thought why not buy this radio and just use it as a model of how sideband circuits work. So I did just that and I got it working fine I took the radio and placed it on the test bench and began circuit analysis and signal level evaluation until it all made perfect sense. This is accomplished while transmitting so the levels can be seen on the oscilloscope. Just kill the voltage on the final stage of the bitx. I put a 1khz signal on the mic input. That was just about the only thing I used the bitx 40 rig for and I still keep it handy when I need information. 

Good hearing from you I hope I haven't over done this reply but I really enjoy talking about this subject.
73's Bill.... keep up the building and good luck on your next radio. 



And of course, Pete N6QW knows Dale and has been talking about SSB with him for some time... 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

DIY Waterfall -- A Quick and Easy Panadaptor Using a Sig Gen and O'scope (video)

I've been getting waterfall envy.  The panoramic frequency display is the one thing that could lure me to the dark side (SDR).   Heck, they now have 3D waterfalls!  What next?  Holographic waterfalls? Virtual reality waterfalls?  This is almost too much. 

Anyway, in an effort to counteract all of this waterfall seduction and to show that us analog HDR guys can go panoramic too, I decided to try to create my own panoramic display without resort to SDR.  

Of course, this is a very old technique.  It was invented in the 1930s by Marcel Wallace, F3HM.  He was the inventor of the Panadaptor which was the forerunner of today's waterfall.  Panoramic reception was used by the armed forces during WWII.  In 1946 Hallicrafters marketed a Panadaptor for its ham radio receivers (see below). 

In figuring out how to do this, I thought back to my use of my Feeltech signal generator to scan the response of a crystal filter.  The Feeltech has a very handy sweep feature.  

In this case I set up the Feeltech to sweep from 4.85 MHz to 4.75 MHz in one second.   With the 12 MHz IF of the BITX40 module, this would result in a sweep from 7.150 to 7.250 MHz. 

The sweeping Feeltech just replaced the VFO on my BITX.   I hooked up the Rigol oscilloscope to the audio output of the BITX.  I set the horizontal scan rate at 100 ms per cm.  This would have the trace go across the whole screen in 1.2 seconds. 

After a bit of fiddling, I could see signals on the 40 meter phone band.  But my display would kind of drift along the screen making it hard to know the frequency of the signals I was seeing. 

Alan Wolke W2AEW provided the solution.   He advised me to put a big stable signal at 7.150 MHz near the input of the BITX, then use this strong signal to trigger the 'scope scan.  The HP8640B signal generator that Steve Silverman gave me (and that Dave W2DAB picked up for me in NYC) provided the triggering signal.  

I put a piece of tape across the bottom of the scope display to calibrate the display.  See video above. 

It works!   It is not as cool as the SDR waterfalls, and it does not convey nearly as much information, but it was a fun project. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

KJ5VW's Cool uBITX Mods (Video)

Beautiful work Gary, and great to see that you are putting ideas from Pete and from Don Cantrell in your rig.  

Gary wrote:
Don and Pete,

I thought you would be interested in the QRP station accessory I added to my version 3 microbitx transceiver.  In addition to using Don's AGC and Reverse/Forward Power and SWR  circuits, I developed another board using a separate Nano and TFT display to show day, date, time, temperature and humidity as well as showing the relative audio strength in three separate bands centered on 400 Hz, 1000 Hz and 2500 Hz.  In addition, when I put the transmitter in a 'tune' mode the power out and SWR will show on the TFT display as well.  The date, time, temperature and humidity information is updated once every minute, the audio is displayed continuously during receive and the power/swr is only displayed when the transmitter is activated.

The audio frequency analyzer is based on the MSGEQ7 microchip and it actually picks up the audio strength in 7 bands covering 63 hz to 16,000 hz.  I just display the three most likely to show up in a SSB transmission.  You can see a 'live' example near the end of the video showing a 20 meter QSO and how the audio strength by audio frequency varies over time.

This project falls into that 'frivolous but fun' category that was a challenge to design but I doubt many other hams would want to replicate it. I learned a lot and wanted to thank both of you for arduino scripts, useful circuits and lots of inspiration for getting started.  I have long admired the work both of you contribute to our hobby.

Here's the link to the YouTube video. 

73,  Gary KJ5VW

Friday, May 24, 2019

Nigerian Knack: Hope Emmanuel Frank

I hope this kid has a lot of success.  He definitely has The Knack. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

FDIM Interview with KI4IO -- Homebrew Direct Conversion Transceiver

I've been a big fan of Jerry's for several years.  He is the homebrew wizard of Warrenton, Va.  Warrention is just about 25 miles west of us.  Cappuccio the wonder-dog was born on a farm in Warrenton.  

I'm really glad that our ace correspondent Bob Crane W8SX caught up with Jerry at FDIM.  I liked his description of the joy of using a homebrew rig, and of the advantages of direct conversion.   Inspiring stuff!   Listen to the interview here: FDIM 2019.m4a

Be sure to check out the KI4IO page on

Monday, May 20, 2019

Woz on the air -- Age 11

We discussed Steve Wozniak's early involvment in ham radio here:

Thanks to the K9YA Telegraph for relaying this great picture. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

FDIM Interview with Hans Summers G0UPL on QSX SDR Rig, Probable Price, Features

Wow, our ace correspondent in Dayton/Xenia Ohio, Bob Crane W8SX, did a great interview with homebrew hero Hans Summers G0UPL.  

Hans discusses the success of the QCX CW phasing rig -- more than 7,300 sold.  That's amazing.  I didn't think there were that many solder melters in the world.  

Even more amazing is his description of his QSX SSB SDR rig, which is currently in development.  Click on the link below to listen to Bob's 6 minute interview.  You will be blown away by the features and the price of the QSX.  Go Hans! FDIM 2019.m4a

Thanks Bob! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Pete sent me his SBE-34

Pete is such a great guy, and such a great ham.  Earlier this week I came home to find a box in the living room.  In it was the SBE-34 that you see in the video.  Pete had been talking about this rig about 18 months ago.  

So many cool features:  The main tuning dial is dual-speed.  There is the "Geneva" band switching method.  Hybrid, with sweep tubes in the final.  All analog.  A power supply that will take 110V AC or 12V DC (internal inverter).   Collins mechanical filter at 455 kc.   Bilateral amplifier stages.  PNP Germanium transistors. 

Pete suggested that I might want to use this rig for parts.  No way!  There is real radio history and amazing innovation in this rig. Plus, it has been worked on by Pete Juliano, N6QW.  

Here is the write up from Pete's YouTube page. Note the part about how they get the BFO signal. 

Here is an example of what an IC7300 might look like some 50 years ago. It is a hybrid rig using Germanium (mostly PNP) transistors in the low level stages. So OK a couple of NPN (2N706) in several key locations such as the VFO. The driver uses a tube similar to a 12BY7 and the finals are a pair of sweep tubes, the 6GB5's. The rig operated on four bands (mostly the then phone portions) 80, 40, 20 and 15 Meters. The power out on 80-20 was 60 Watts PEP and dropped down to 50 Watts on 15 Meters. That was a real stretch. The AGC sucked as you will see in the movie and the receiver gain was a compromise --too much on the low bands and weak on the higher. This was a bilateral design -- which predates the Bitx series by some 40 years--but not the 1st.The first bilateral design was the Cosmophone - Google that one. The major selling point --a Collins mechanical filter. Also an innovation was how LSB / USB was achieved using a single crystal. It was pure magic and innovation. The basic BFO frequency of 456.38 was doubled and then doubled and tripled again. The first 2X gave you 912.76 KHz and the 2nd 2X gave you1825.52 KHz and a tripling gave you 2738.28 KHz. Mixing that back with 456.38KHz gave you 2281.9 KHz USB or LSB. The VFO operated in the 5.5 MHz range and there were heterodyne crystals to put you on the proper bands. Now that was some clever math! You can download the maintenance manual at BAMA manuals. There were some smart guys leading our ham radio efforts back in the day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Stop what you are doing! Go to the Radio Garden!

This is really fantastic.  The screen display is like Google Earth, but all the green dots are local broadcast radio stations.  Put your cursor on the dot and listen to that radio station live.  And it works very well.  If there are several stations in the same town, just zoom in.  

In the course of a few minutes this morning I was listening to stations in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Getxo Spain, and Bengaluru India.  

Go to the radio garden: 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Another Amazing SSB Rig: VK3HN's "Summit Prowler 6"

Here is another truly amazing compact SSB rig.   Paul Taylor VK3HN is a true homebrew wizard.  So many great homebrew rigs come out of Australia.   

More details:

Paul's page:

Friday, May 10, 2019

Peter DK7IH's Amazing Rigs and Blog

It has been a few years since we last mentioned Peter DK7IH.  He has continued to melt solder and to document his work on an excellent blog:

I was especially interested in the rig pictured above.  NOTE:  NO GLOWING NUMERALS.  That rig has an analog VFO.  The blog article provides some great pointers on how to achieve thermal stability.  Also, be sure to check out his "Old School" rig.  

I've put Peter's blog in the blog listing on the right side of the SolderSmoke blog.   
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column