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Friday, June 5, 2020

Duga-2 The Big Soviet Woodpecker Antenna (Video)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

No Main-Tuning Reduction Drives in Stock Drake 2-Bs -- But why no mod articles?

Alan Wolke W2AEW and I were recently discussing our Drake 2-Bs (again!). Both of our receivers have reduction drives between the main tuning control and the string mechanism that moves the main tuning capacitor.  I wondered if these were the results of modifications by previous 2-B owners.  I vaguely recall that my Elmer -- Hilmar WB2NEC -- had done this sort of mod. 

OM Wouter ZS1KE sent me this very illuminating photo of the inside of his Drake 2-B.  No reduction drive.   So Alan and I obviously have modified 2-Bs.

One thing that puzzles me:  I can't seem to find a single article that describes this apparently common mod.  Does anyone know of an article in the ham magazines that might have described how to do this?  

Thanks again Wouter!  

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

"The Radio Collector" A TV Series from 1985

Here is a really nice five part series of PBS TV programs about the history of radio and about restoring old radios.   I got a kick  out of W6AM's description of the "exam" that got him his first radio license -- you will find that story at the end of the first episode (above). 

Here are all five of the progams:

And here is the background info (from the YouTube Channel): 

The Radio Collector from the California Historical Radio Society

5 videos 156 views Last updated on May 25, 2020

The 5-part PBS series from 1985, “Radio Collector” was nominated for a Los Angeles Area Emmy for Best Informational Series. Radio Collector was shot in 1985 on 3/4″ video, a marginal format that boasted 240 lines of resolution. It was edited 3/4″ to 3/4″ using a control track/insert cuts-only editor, then that 2nd generation 3/4″ was transferred to 2″ at KOCE in Southern California where the credits were added. KOCE sent it to PBS and it was available to all member stations, and it has been aired on many stations. Mike Adams' students in Radio-TV-Film at California State University, Fullerton, were the camera operators, musicians, etc. Twenty eight years later CHRS President Steve Kushman transferred a copy of a copy of a copy of the master which went from 2nd generation 3/4″ to 2″ to 1″ to Beta SP to his computer. The story has held up well, and of course many of those profiled here are silent keys/valves. Mike’s inspiration for this series was the original “This Old House,” thus “This Old Radio.” Enjoy

Monday, June 1, 2020

Adam N0ZIB's FB Station (and UGLY Michigan Mighty Mite)

Bill and Pete, 

Thanks for the work you put into your podcast. I’ve been listening to it on my commute and while at work (I’m a welder/fabricator). Fantastic content.  Keep up the great work.  

All your talk about Farhan and the Ubitx convinced me to order one.  I welded an aluminum case for it and upgraded to the Nextion 3.5” screen. Also added a tuning knob from a Heathkit SB-401.  So far I’m really enjoying this rig. Plan to add an audio amp (to drive a larger speaker) and a CW filter to it this weekend.  In the station picture I sent I also show my paddles made from a hacksaw blade and stainless steel hardware. It’ll send 25 WPM before it gets a little sloppy.  My QCX 40 is also pictured.  I have a commercial rig too but find I’m not using it very often. 

Plan to start building the simpleceiver soon and maybe a bitx 17 too. Your podcast played a big part in convincing me to pick up a soldering iron again.  You guys are awesome.  Keep it up.  


(Pete noticed that the main tuning knob on Adam's uBITX was NOT from Heathkit but was instead from a Collins KWM-2 or 32S3.  He advised Adam that the knob would sell quickly on e-bay.  It did, and will finance additional N0ZIB homebrew projects.  We are thinking of adding these knobs to our SolderSmoke Retirement Fund Portfolio.)   

Adam continues: 

I was listening to your older podcasts and heard several discussions about the Michigan Mighty Mite.  So this jumbled up mess probably doesn’t look like much but I built one. I need to order a 40 meter crystal and actually build it again on a board(with the coil rewound for 40) but my “proof of concept” build was a success. Using a variable cap from a Hallicrafters S20-R and the crystal holder from a Heathkit.  

Sunday, May 31, 2020

QCX SSB -- But How Much QCX Remains?

Hack-A-Day carried a very nice video describing recent efforts to turn Hans Summers' amazing QCX CW monoband transceiver into a multi-mode, multi-mode (including SSB) rig (see above).   This is project will greatly interest QCX and SDR fans.  

But I wondered how much of the old QCX is still there after the modification.  Not much, it turns out.  

Here is the bloc diagram of the QCX.  It is essentially a phasing rig, using the same principles as my venerable HT-37 transmitter and my version of KK7B's R2 receiver: 

Yesterday Paul VK3HN sent me the schematic of the new multi-mode, multi-band version:  

Notice how different it is.   I thought that perhaps the new rig would keep something of the I-Q circuitry of the QCX, but it does not.  This is not a criticism, just an observation.  

But here is something that harks back to a topic we've been debating on the blog and podcast.  Notice that the top diagram is a bloc diagram.  There is a lot of circuitry in most of those boxes -- lots of resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transistors.   There is a schematic diagram under that bloc diagram.  But look at the second diagram.  While it looks like one, that one is NOT a bloc diagram. That IS the schematic diagram.  Most of the circuity has been sucked into the chips.  

While many will prefer the rig described by the second diagram, I remain an HDR guy, and don't really like seeing the circuitry disappear into the ICs.  But, to each his own.  This is all for fun.  Congratulations to the guys working on the new rig. 

AJ4SN Homebrew

OM Stan AJ4SN reports that his operating position is on the left. The workbench is on the right.  FB. 

I like the Turner +3 Transistorized microphone. 

Thanks to Ed B. for the link. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

An Amazing Catalog of Circuits from HA5KHC

HA5KHC is a club station in Budapest, Hungary.  The photo above shows a portion of their worshop.  The link below is for their really amazing collection of links to ham radio circuits.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Tribal Wisdom from KE3IJ

Lots of homebrew wisdom on OM Rick's web site.  Excerpts: 

Why am I not on the air as much as I'm tinkering with toy radio circuits? Well, if some of the hams reading this don't mind my saying so, the manners of many of the people using the bands these days leaves so much to be desired that I often find more pleasure in futzing around with "minimal" QRP [low-power] ham-band transmitters and receivers, as well as good-old AM broadcast receivers, than in getting on the air anymore. 

So I've found a certain twisted fascination with trying to build the simplest pieces of junk possible, and seeing what I can pick up with them. I usually start by drawing a rough schematic on paper, then tack-soldering a haywire "spider-web" of components, as a 'first pass,' and then I rebuild the circuit more neatly once its design is finalized.

It still amazes me that we can connect some modified "rocks and sticks" together (that's basically what copper wire, silicon transistors, etc. really are, when you think about it) and hear voices and music magically appear out of nowhere...

He has many regen circuits.   And his Drake 2-B dial skirt looks just like mine.  

Visit Rick's site:

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Antennas, Money, and Ham Psychology

During SolderSmoke Podcast #222, Pete lamented the fact that many hams are willing to spend significant amounts of money on "manufactured" dipole antennas that are little more than pieces of wire.  Tony Fishpool G4WIF sent a graphic on the wire antenna he uses (see above).  He also shared an anecdote about G5RV antennas and G-QRP Club founder George Dobbs:  

From Tony: 

The aerial that I’ve had so much fun with, an End Fed Half Wave, cost me £8 ($9.80) for the toroid and the rest came from the junk box. The reel of wire was probably a £1  ($1.25) from a radio rally. You never pay big money for wire at a rally. People take it there to get rid of

It covers 80m and all  harmonically related bands.
My garden is too small so I cheated by using some linear loading to
make it fit. (on the back fence).

WIth 5 watts CW on 40m I can hit the USA reverse beacons most mornings.

It was about £9 ($11) to make - but if you count the Spiderbeam

12m pole, it  was another £98 ($120).

I have a little George Dobbs story relating to aerials. Probably around
15-20 years ago. He was speaking at a radio club near to me so I went along to support
 him and have a beer with afterward.

He gave his usual entertaining (and always funny) talk during which he
paused - and said, as if in confidence to the audience:

“Do you know, I’ve heard, and I don’t know if it is true, that there are
people who actually pay real money for a pre-made G5RV”

I swear that it went very quiet and there may even have been the odd foot
shuffled.    Tony

Coincidentally Mike, WU2D put out a VERY ILLUMINATING YouTube video on the psychological aspects of ham radio operators and their antennas.  Here it is:

And, speaking of antennas and ham psychology this image has been circulating on the internet.  Mike WU2D included it in his video, so -- for information purposes only -- I include it here.  I blame Mike. 

Emilio's Mirror of JF1OZL's Site

JF1OZL's site was for many years a real treasure trove and source of inspiration for homebrewers around the world.  It recently disappeared from the internet.  And I find no listing for JF1OZL on   I hope Kazuhiro is OK.  

Emilio in Mexico has put up a mirror site.  Thanks Emilio.  We need to protect and preserve JF1OZL's work.

Here is a SolderSmoke blog post on Kazuhiro from 2011:
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column