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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Test Gear/Workbench Maintenance

I mentioned in the last podcast that I was going to take a break from construction projects and spend a little time fixing up tools, test gear, and the work bench. First up was my old soldering gun. I bought this thing almost 40 years ago! It is pretty beat up, but I managed to patch it up and it now works fine. Even the original light bulb works.

I use this little AADE L/C meter a lot, but was having trouble getting parts across the test terminals. So I soldered alligator clips onto one of the parts connectors that came with the device. Makes testing easier.

Just a little audio oscillator. Puts out .2 volts at 713 Hz. Useful for testing the phone rigs.

I picked up this little Lafayette power supply at a hamfest and found it quite useful. But then I managed to knock the needle off the meter while fooling around with trivial electric motor. Any ideas on where I could get a replacement meter movement, or on what value I should use?

Here is a wave meter that I picked up at the Kemptom Park rally in London. Apparently at one point all UK radio amateurs were required to have one of these devices. I'm tempted to chop it up for parts. That variable cap with the reduction drive looks promising. And could that meter solve my problem with the power supply (above). If anyone can think of a reason to keep this as a wavemeter, please let me know.

Further proof of my extreme retro-ness. This is what I use as a signal generator. A Heathkit SG-6. Older than me!

This is my scope. HAMEG. Supposed to be good to 10 MHz but of course I can use it at higher freqs (which I do). I need to upgrade. Any suggestions?

A very useful little square wave generator.

I need to make more use of this noise bridge. Lots of potential here.

Obviously a London purchase. Very useful little AF sig generator from the UK's equivalent of Radio Shack. My only complaint: No auto-off. I forget to turn it off and run down the two 9 V batteries.

Long time listeners will remember this device. This is the one in which I soldered in the chip upside down. It works fine on th 5 Hz to 100 MHz range. Dead on the 4 - 600 MHz position.

I bought this power supply at the Kempton Rally, then converted it into a current limited supply using a chip and a circuit provided by Tony, G4WIF. My daughter Maria helped paint the cabinet. Lots of soul in this little machine.

Just three meters. The middle (analog one) is still very useful, and has considerable sentimental value for me -- my wife got if for me when we were back in the Dominican Republic.
My version of the W7ZOI power meter. Mike, KL7R, and I built versions of this device back in 2004 or so.
This is Cappuccio. He joins me in the shack most mornings. I'm not really a dog person, but I'm growing fond of him, even though he occasionally eats resistors and capacitors.

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  1. I have one of those Weller guns.
    I think every gadgeteer must have owned one at some point in their life.
    Of course, it must have some cracks in the bakelite (?) case and have a soldering tip made of a piece of copper wire.

    I like the workbench. I see it has the requisite tape, paint, burn marks and "drill holes" (or maybe you used it as a backstop for a pellet-gun target).
    Probably a lot of history there.

    Bill N5AB

  2. A 'scope? Well, it's hard to go wrong with a 465, 475 or 485 Tektronix. Sure, they're old but they're very good and very reliable. Plus help is out there if you need it.

    Don't forget a good set of probes!

    73.......Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"

  3. Dig that signal generator. Very groovy, man! (or perhaps "Far out" is more apropos). You've inspired me to set up my worktable again. Not a dog or cat person? They grow on you. Cappuccio looks jolly. Photo of Tyson, please. Hope he doesn't bite Cappu's ear, though ;)

  4. That Wavemeter looks like the beginnings of a promising receiver or transceiver project. Take out the wavemeter tuned circuits but leave the meter, tuning capacitor and vernier drive.

    I would suggest a DSB transceiver for 40m. The tuning capacitor looks small but will be enough to cover a lot of the US phone band with a 7.2 MHz ceramic resonator as a VXO (which can go up to 7.250 MHz or so and down to below 7.1).

    I would suggest starting with the ZL2BMI design but modified for 40m. Another by M0DAD (but using the variable capacitor instead) would also be fine.

    73, Peter VK3YE

  5. Or how about using that wavemeter as the basis for a Spectrum Wavemeter, designed by our own Tony Fishpool G4WIF. This would be a perfect ad-on for your HAMEG 'scope. Save the air-variable for another project.

    Tony's circuit has been published in, naturally, GQRP's "SPRAT" and his and Graham Firth's booklet, "Simple Test Equipment for the QRPer" which is a compendium of circuits they published in "QRPp", the journal of the NorCal QRP Club.

    73.......Steve Smith WB6TNL
    "Snort Rosin"

  6. Ditto what Steve said about 'scopes. My 465 is a solid piece of gear in addition to being a blast from my 80s vintage Navy troubleshooting past. Loads of 'em out there at good prices.

  7. The Tek 465B is a good workhorse and mine has done great service over the years. However the thing to be wary of is the timebase. It uses a tunnel diode and these do fail from time to time. Mine needed to be replaced back in the late 90s when the scope was about 15 years old. The problem is that the TD is hard to find these days, so I fear that if it fails again, that will
    be the end of the line for this faithful workhorse.

    That said newer scopes have hybrids and ICs that are also unobtainable.

    That said of course many of the parts are conventional and thus replaceable in older test kit.

    I think that the moral of the story here is to not spend more on an item of older test gear than you can afford to write off as a box of scrap parts for some future project.

    As to probes, some of the cheap Chinese ones on ebay work just fine.

    The other way to go with this is one of the newer digital scopes such as the Rigol DS1000E, which at a bit over $300 gives you a whole bunch of features in a single box. I have one of these and it works well.


  8. From W9HZC - Dar.
    I Enlisted in the Air Foce in 1961, they sent me to Tech school in Biloxi MS and the very first tool I received was my Weller gun. I still have it and use it any time two tellephone polls need to be soldered together. :)
    wouldn't it be nice of all my tools lasted as long as this wonderful tool has.
    Nice idea tapeing the replacement tip to the handle, wonder how many folks missed that?
    73's from Nebraska

  9. Tek 465. Yup.

    Hey Bill, check out this awesome desk/workbench, especially the analog meters built into the cabinets. Would that be somethin'!



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