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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

AA1TJ's Point Contact Contacts

I was very glad to see that Mike, AA1TJ, is back in his underground shack and once again pushing the limits of QRP technology. This may be one of his greatest QRP-capers:


It was one of those rare days on the bench where everything I touched
turned, if not to gold, at to least silver. At the end of my last shop
session on Friday I could only get Jack Ward's point contact
transistor to oscillate as high as 385kHz. And that was without a
load. I brushed up on the theory over the weekend and set upon the
circuit today after lunch with a vengeance.

Better yet, over the weekend I found a wonderful circuit in a
transistor handbook dating from 1956. This circuit first appeared in
"Wireless World" in may of 1954 ("160 Metre Transistor Transmitter").
At first glace, the circuit looks identical to George Rose, K2AH's
historic circuit. However, Mr. Cockle (don't yet know his call sign)
shows a dotted transformer and headphones next to the collector bias
transistor. He'd figured out the point contact oscillator could double
as a direct conversion receiver! A 1954 vintage "Pixie," only
simpler! The key to it all is the signal tank in the base circuit.
That is to say, the transmitter output power is picked off the base
circuit tank. It sounds daft, but bear in mind the circuit has more in
common with a tunnel diode oscillator than it does a feedback
oscillator that most of us are familiar with.

I'll cut to the chase as I want to get back on the air ASAP. The
Western Electric point-contact transistor is sending 12mW up the
transmission line. The same circuit is working FB as a receiver with
full break-in and 800Hz RIT offset. I put it on the air at 2234 this
evening. At 2247 K1IQI answered my CQ. He first sent a "QRZ?" so I
repeated my call several times. He came right back with my call and
gave me a 219 report from Monson, MA. Unfortunately, QSB wiped out my
next transmission. He returned with an apology, wished us better luck
next time and then he was gone. Close but no cigar!

I'm headed back to the shack once I send this message. I'm rock-bound
on 3533.6kHz. I'll be calling CQ and listening until 0300, or so.

Right, here I go.

Mike, AA1TJ

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