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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Some HB SSB History -The Belthorn Story

The Eden Valley, Cumbria, England

 Hello Bill, 
As per your discussion with Pete in #177 I can indeed confirm that the correct pronunciation of Belthorn is “Bell-Thorn,” like Bell and Thorn concatenated. I named the design the “Belthorn SSB IF Module” in honour of the village I was living in at the time I developed it. I wanted to put the village on the map and in doing so leave my mark.
The design was published as a two part article in RadCom May/June 2000 intended to offer an alternative to the Plessey SL600/1600 IF strips of the late 70s early 80s. These integrated designs opened up simple SSB construction to many but by the mid 80’s sources of SL600/1600 ICs had all but dried up. I thought that a new design using readily available parts would be worth developing to offer a simple and repeatable basis for building an SSB transceiver.
From the emails I’ve received over the years it was and still is a popular project with many hundreds if not thousands having been built around the world. When the MC1350 IF amplifier became an endangered species I returned to the drawing board to produce a new version using a home brew diode DBM front end, a simple cascode IF stage and NE/SA612 product detector/modulator. An interesting feature of this was an AGC system based around an 8 pin 12F683 PIC. This new design offered considerable simplification and retained excellent performance. It was christened the “Eden SSB IF Module” after the Eden Valley where I now live in the north of England. It formed part of a transceiver project published on Yahoo Groups (Search for Eden 9). The gentleman who created the Yahoo Groups site mistook my schematic revision number (9) to be part of the name, and so it unwittingly became Eden9!!!  Fortunately the NE/SA612 remains in production although should it become obsolete I would probably make things right by bringing out a yet another version of the IF strip, perhaps with a switching mixer.  Here are a couple of links from the “old world” to give you a flavour of Belthorn the village and Belthorn the design;
The village website -http://www.belthornvillage.co.uk/ (Note that they’ve just bought a pub!)
The origin of the name “Belthorn” is quite interesting – although of little relevance to radio! Before the industrial revolution the village used to be on a pack horse route. to this day there is a house at the top of the village called “Bell in the Thorn” many years ago this used to be an inn. It’s thought that it takes its name from when a Bell hung in a thorn bush or tree nearby was used to signal when a horse change over was required to carry loads up and down the hill, probably from the mines or quarries on the nearby moors.
The link for the “Eden9” which you may find interesting is; https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/eden9/info There is a power point presentation in the files section which describes the project and which features a section on receiver design. It may be a useful primer for those interested in the design process.
You can still find my original website on the internet archive complete with an introduction to Belthorn the village and a few of my earlier projects here; http://web.archive.org/web/20090316093248/http://g4gxo.cwc.net/
73 Ron G4GXO

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  1. I am really glad that Ron G4GXO has cleared up the mystery and 1000 pardons please for calling it "Belt Horn". But no matter what you call it it is a superb transceiver design!

    Pete N6QW

  2. Yes...i am also very glad to see you mister Ron Taylor,my english is so bad but i just wanna say BIG thank you for Belthorn...a few. days ago i also finished my Belthorn and for now receiver world very nice...you can see on youtube my channel 9a3xz.
    Once again many thanks for Belthorn goes to Ron and Pete.73 de 9a3xz,Mikele Croatia


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