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Sunday, October 5, 2008


The online grabber of Johan, ON5EX, provided instant gratification this morning. Right after I finished some modifications that I hoped would result in a Frequency Shift Keying signal on the 30 meter visual QRSS band, looked at the grabbers and found this. That's me. It is a kind of "upside down" FSK. Look along the bottom of the square wave and you can read the CW.

I used a fairly standard approach to get the FSK, but with a twist: I added the usual LED and a cap to the oscillator circuit. Now, on key down, the positive voltage from the keyer causes the LED to conduct, putting the additional cap into the circuit. But here is the twist: for the capacitor, I just used some of that twisted-up two conductor insulated wire that often comes with cheap old (mono) ear phones. In the old days this would have been called a "gimmick" capacitor. I started out with 3 or four inches. Using Spectran to monitor the amount of shift, I just cut off bits of the wire until the shift was at the desired 5 Hertz. I just clipped away at the wire until the shift looked about right.

The rig is now key down all the time, and even though power out is still only about 20 miliwatts, I have the final in Class A, so I actually had to put a heat sink on it. But there is still no need for a muffin fan, or liquid cooling or anything like that!

Five hertz isn't much of a shift. I think I can hear it, but barely. Shows up nicely on the grabber screens.

It was a lot of fun to start out with a vision of what I wanted the signal to look like, then actually make it happen.


  1. This blog is awesome! Thanks for all the great information and entertainment!

    If I understand the 'gimmick cap' correctly, might it also be called a gimmick mutual inductor, or a gimmick transformer? Why is it called a capacitor?

  2. Hamilton: Thanks. It is a capacitor. The two wires are the "plates." The insulation is the dielectric. By trimming the wire, I was just determining the size of the plates! This is a good "gimmic" when you just need a very small amount of capacitance. 73 Bill


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