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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Signal for SETI? HD 164595

That's the Russian radio-telescope that picked up what was thought to be a possible signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.   This article from the SETI Institute has some interesting tech info on antennas and power levels.  Definitely not QRP!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Update on the PA3GSV M4MMRX -- And a Mystery

Note the establishment of a new acronym (M4MMRX) for Lew McCoy's Mate for the Mighty Midget receiver.  We  have needed this acronym for a long time, and SolderSmoke HQ is proud to have come up with it.  We do our part my friends.

Jan has made more progress on his amazing Dutch M4MMRX and has produced a short video showing the receiver in action with SSB and CW signals. 

Here is a bit of intriguing homebrew mystery:  Jan has gone to a LOT of trouble to create that semi-circular opening in the center of the front panel.  He even cut a corresponding semi-circular hole in the sewer pipe cap that serves as the large wheel in his amazing homebrew reduction drive.  But he won't tell us what he plans to do with that space.  So I ask you, dear SolderSmoke readers:  What is that space for?  Why the see-through panel and sewer-pipe cap?  What is Jan's plan? 

From Jan:

Hi Bill,
 The rattle is gone, so I made a little video of the MMMRX in ssb and cw mode.

In the text, a ch327 and a ch45 crystal is mentioned, but I can’t get this to work.
The ch45 has a 453.6 kHz fundamental, for ch327 can’t find one.
The ch327 is a FT-243 one, tested several, but no fundamental somewhere around 455 kHz.
For ssb there is a ch45 and a ch46 crystal in, which should provide a bandwidth of about 2kHz.
(Still not totally in the clear how this should work with the very narrow resonance response of the crystals.
One should expect two peaks and nothing in the middle?)
For cw I found two ch45 crystals about 130 Hz difference in frequency, which seems to work well.

Still need to correct the 40m oscillator coil, then move on to finishing the receiver.
This is my first home brew tube superhet.
The project isn’t finished yet, but it sure is fun to build, and learned a lot during the process.

73  Jan

Sunday, August 28, 2016

40673 LTSpice Model?

Does anyone have an LTSpice Model for the venerable 40673?  Or for a similar MOSFET?  I'm hoping to find something that I can easily plug into LTSpice. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

The NAA VLF Station (NOT QRP!) and Brad's Receiver

NAA Towers -- Arlington Va. 1913

Brad WA8WDQ wrote to us about a VLF (24 kHz) his receiver project (see below).  This led to some Googling about the VLF station NAA.  Wow, there is some important radio history associated with that call sign.   The station's original location was just a few miles from I where I live now.  From Wikipedia  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VLF_Transmitter_Cutler):

The station began operations in 1913 as a radio telegraphy station call sign NAA in Arlington, Virginia, at a facility next to Fort Myer. Although its broadcasts occasionally included band concerts and speeches, it was most famous for its nightly time signals. The three towers known then as "The Three Sisters" stood 600 feet, 450 feet and 200 feet (183, 137, and 61 m) above the ground. The site was referred to as "Radio", Virginia. The towers were the second largest man-made structure in the world behind only the Eiffel Tower. The word "Radio" was first used instead of "Wireless," in the name of this Naval Communications facility. The First Trans-Atlantic voice communication was made between this station and the Eiffel Tower in 1915. The Nation set its clocks by the signal and listened for its broadcast weather reports. The Towers were dismantled in 1941 as a menace to aircraft approaching the new Washington National Airport. The towers stand today at United States Naval Academy in Maryland, on the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Be sure to read about the de-icing system for the antenna.  It uses more power than the actual transmitter!

From Brad:

Bill, Pete,
Here's the current status of the 24 KHz NAA SID receiver.  All the major sub-assemblies are mounted in the chassis and power is hooked up.  For convenience, I've been using the PowerWerx USBbuddy switching DC-DC converter to supply +5V power to the Raspberry Pi from the +12V input.  I've found them extremely RF quiet, clean and stable; capable of supplying 3A though this project will only need about 1.5A @ +5V.  At this point, I'm just waiting for Adafruit to send the A/D chip I'll wire up to the Pi on that empty protoboard just under the meter.  Speaking of the meter, it's not really needed as the Pi records and broadcasts over Wi-Fi the received signal level.  However, I like my projects to have some sort of physical human interface so I added the signal level meter and an LED for SID event alarms :).

As previously mentioned, my bench test of the receiver using my signal generator was successful.  Once everything is wired, I'll do an actual on-air signal test receiving NAA.

Brad  WA8WDQ

Monday, August 22, 2016

Radio New Zealand Booming in on 7245 AM

The day is off to a good start here at SolderSmoke HQ, with Radio New Zealand booming in on my homebrew Mate for the Mighty Midget receiver.  I was listening from around 0900 to 1030 UTC on 7245 kHz. Once again we see that The Radio Gods favor homebrew receivers. Gray line propagation also played a role.  

Above we see a technician at work at RNZ in 1945.  More historic photos here:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

First Signals from the PA3GSV Mighty Midget Mate

Obviously the Radio Gods (Spirits in the Sky) approve of Jan's work.  How could they not?  I can now see why he took the trouble to cut that hole in the sewer pipe cap that forms the large wheel on his homebrew reduction drive.  But what are we going to see through that center hole Jan?  What will the frequency readout be like?  
Hi  Bill,

Just finished the last stage of the Mighty Midget MK2.
There are first signals!
The first one I heard was a broadcast station, believe it or not, the song that was on was “Spirit in the Sky” ..
All stages were built, tested and as far as possible, adjusted separately.
It was built from back to front, so the RF amplifier was last.
I added an ECL82 for more audio, the first thought of only using an EL84 didn’t bring enough.
The triode of the ECL82 as a pre-amp, the pentode as final.
Furthermore ECF82’s were used instead of the 6U8, they’re more widely available over here.
The Miller coils are hard to come by, so the 300 uH coils are homebrew.
Also used a grid detector instead of the two germanium diodes.
The triode of V1 originally intended for audio was used for this.
Made the BFO adjustable as well, still remember the screwdriver sticking out of the coil on your side... 
Happily there was not much troubleshooting needed.
The 80m coil was only 5 kHz off, the 40m coil 300 kHz (to low in frequency), still have to fix that.
Initially the receiver worked reasonably well without adjusting, but C1 quit at some point.
After some investigation, the problem was a dirty wiper contact on the rotor.
An ultrasonic bath fixed the problem, so no looking out for a replacement there. (hope it stays that way)
After adjusting, sensitivity is around -114dBm (0,4 uV) / 10 dB S/N!  (with the FT241 crystals in place, and careful tuning of the controls)
Really not bad for this small receiver, Lew McCoy was right, it really is a Mighty Midget.
I wanted to make some video’s, but over here there’s a terrible S9 rattle from 160 to 15 meters.
Every now and then it appears out of nowhere, and disappears the same way.
As soon as it is gone, I’ll make some video’s.
I made one video though, just after completing the receiver.
Reception on CW and SSB sounds really well, but unfortunately didn’t record that.
The receiver is not finished yet.
Next to the 40m coil,  S-meter has to be tried, and there’s still some work on the cabinet and front panel.
More to follow.
73  Jan

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

N7UN Talks About Summits on the Air (FDIM Interview by Bob Crane)

Bob Crane, our intrepid correspondent at the Dayton Hamvention talked to Guy N7UN (pictured above) about taking ham radio up to the mountaintops.  It was nice to hear Guy mention Wayne Burdick and Wes Hayward and WG0AT.    Thanks Bob!  Thanks Guy!

Listen here:


More on N7UN here:


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reggae Knack?

Could it be that Bob Marley's son Ky-Mani has The Knack? Probably not (no mention of it in Wikipedia) but he certainly has some nice old receivers on his 2007 album cover.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Joy of Analog Oscillation -- A Character-Building Experience

I'm a younger ham, just 26, and I've just experienced what I think you call Joy Of Oscillation as I completed my first L-C VFO. What fun!

I'm working on Peter Parker VK3YE's
Beach 40 Double-Sideband transceiver, and while my natural proclivity is toward the SI5351 and it's brethren, I figured it would be character-building to actually put together an analog VFO for once.

After much tweaking of the feedback capacitor in the oscillator, and massaging the tank inductors, and conking out an additional buffer stage to drive the diode-ring mixer at the appropriate level, and gluing Manhattan pads on top of Island pads.... I say, without reservation, that this was
great radio fun! And isn't that what it's all about?
(Now it only it didn't drift so much... so I guess it's not quite complete yet)
Just wanted to share, love the podcast and the blog, I learn something new each episode.

All the Best,

Jeff, KK9JEF


Great stuff Jeff.  Character building indeed!    As for the drift, try this:

-- Replace the toroid in the oscillator circuit with a coil wound on a non-metallic core.  I use a cardboard tube from a coat hanger.

-- Make sure the capacitors in the oscillator and even in the buffer are NP0 caps (they don't change in value as they heat).

-- Try to run the oscillator stage at reduced voltage.  Six volts is better than nine.

--  After you solder, always let the device cool down for several hours (or even overnight) before you evaluate it.  Heat from the soldering iron will be dissipating and changing the freq for a LONG time.

Above all, IGNORE the inevitable recommendation from Pete Juliano that you forget about all this nonsense and just go with an Si5351.

Please keep us posted on your progress. 
73  Bill   N2CQR

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An Irish Knack Story

I think Tryg should get that Ladybird receiver working again. 

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the great podcasts and also to Pete for his unique contributions. I have been interested in radio since I was a kid but only really got back into the hobby in 2009. Back when I started playing with electronics in the 1970's I hankered after a soldering iron of my own. I bought the one in the picture in 1977. A "modest" 60 watt job, it was the cheapest one in the shop but I used it to harvest parts from all manner of abandoned old iron. I was really surprised to find it clearing up recently. The snips in the picture was a tool that my late Uncle had surplus and passed on to me, it too played a role in my scavenging for parts. In Ireland in the 1970's it was hard to get parts. I remember my Grandmother taking me from Galway to Dublin - 3 hours each way!!!) to buy parts for my first project, Rev. G.C. Dobbs venerable transistor radio from the "Making a Transistor Radio" book by Ladybird. I still have the book and the dusty remnants of the radio, long since plundered for parts. When I returned to the world of radio it wasn't long before I discovered QRP and the GQRP club. It was a real surprise to find the good Reverend was at the helm there. I just thought that the picture and story might raise a smile amongst followers of the blog. Thanks to yourself and Pete for the podcast. Keep up the great work! QRP Forever!


Tryg de EI7CLB


Saturday, August 13, 2016

KB8M's Mighty Mite -- Beware the Treacherous P2N2222!

Doug KB8M did a beautiful job with his Michigan Mighty Mite.  But, as often happens, it still didn't work. He turned to us for advice.  I gave him a long list of things to check, but Pete brought the power of superior tribal knowledge to the problem and spotted the defect immediately: The transistor was in backwards.  It is a P2N2222.  That means the pin out it C-B-E  not the usual E-B-C.  I had fallen into this trap with one of my BITX rigs and had to pull out and reverse many of those transistors.  Fortunately for Doug he had used a socket for the transistor.  TRGHS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  JOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Some Really BIG Coils

I met W1VLF on 40 meters last week.  "VLF" was a hint.  And indeed, Paul has been experimenting in the 10 kHz range.  His antenna loading coil is seen above.
More info here: http://rescueelectronics.com/9-Kilohertz.html
Very cool that Mike was working with Jay Rusgrove, W1VD, on this project.  Jay designed the 6 watt VXO rig that was my first homebrew transmitter.

And additional VLF info here:

Saturday, August 6, 2016

SolderSmoke Podcast #189: Juliano Blue, FET Amp, Si5351 QSK, Bill LC VFO, QSOs

SolderSmoke Podcast #189 is available:


Billy in Europe.  Bill in Virtual Reality. 

Great News:  Little Gonzalo is "all clear."  Thanks for the help.

Pete paints the rigs blue. 
Pete's FET amplifier project with FET switching and key pad
Using an Si5351 for CW offset and QSK.

Bill working on VFO for a rig built around HRO dial and gear box.
HRO gears seem a bit loose.  What should I do?
The search for an Imperial Whitworth.
For variable caps, brass is better, but two bearings beats brass.

Pete having fun with homebrew rigs.
Bill works K3MRK, WA3O, W4OP, W1VLF and N6ORS

Dallas CBLA
Conventional Current Flow Controversy
"I regret ever listening to your podcast!"
LCR recommendations

Gonzalo just turned TWO and is doing very well

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Dallas Mighty Mites from a MakerSpace

Monday, August 1, 2016

Walking the Plank with N8NM's 60 Meter Rig

Steve N8NM writes:

The free-range rig is coming along!  I'm receiving with decent sensitivity (my generator's only calibrated to -100 dB/m, and I hear a CW note there just fine) and I'm getting about -2 dB/m out of the mixer.  Yippee!
I ended up using an IF of 20 MHz, mainly because I had a bunch of crystals left over from my Minima.  The architecture (left to right) is: Diode ring mixer using 1N4148s, 20dB W7ZOI bilateral TIA, 6 pole crystal filter (BW ~= 2.3 KHz), Another 20dB bilateral TIA, 1N4148 product detector (cribbed from the Minima), 2N3904 audio driver, LM380 PA.  Microphone amp is two FET stages (J310).  Oscillators are courtesy of an Si5351, controlled by an Arduino Uno.  T/R switching is done using a couple of counterfeit 2SC1969 RF transistors that, ironically, don't amplify at RF, but work fine as power supply "pass" transistors.
Yet to do is the PA, which I've noodled in LTSPICE (shooting for 20W PEP using a bunch of BD139s, just because...) and cleaning up my Arduino sketch.  Right now, I just modified the start-up values of the sketch from my all-band rig for testing.  Since that code is pretty full featured (dual VFOs, RIT, filter switching, LCD Display, etc.) using multi-function pushbuttons to select all sorts of crap, I'm betting that 80% won't be used in this rig.  Adding simplicity is always good.
So, nearing the end, I'm already thinking about my next rig (that and building a 60m antenna...)  I think this one will be similar to my "all band" rig, but limited to the WARC bands (I have a WARC tribander that's screaming for a rig of it's own.)  That's kind of boring, so, to challenge myself, I'm going to try using a touch screen in lieu of the usual pushbuttons.  What would really be cool, though, is an interactive slide-rule dial - don't think anyone's done that before!  One of the things that has always drawn me to the SX-101 is that large slide-rule dial.  To me, that allows each station to occupy a physical place on the dial, so after scanning the band, you know were everyone is.  It's really a joy to operate those rigs!
73!  Hope to work you HB2HB on 60M soon!

Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column