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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

N8NM's SAVED VFO 30 Meter Rig

In early December Steve Murphy N8NM picked up this "mystery box" at a hamfest.   Dr. Juliano identified it as an old CB VFO.  Even though Steve is deeply committed to the dark side of frequency generation (digital synthesis) I was able to convince him to put this VFO to legitimate and proper amateur radio use AS AN ANALOG VFO.  I mean just look at that dial!  It would be a sin to connect that beautiful mechanism to a rotary encoder.   We see the results below.


The 30m rig that I had hoped to have QRV for SKN is finally ready to hit the airwaves!  I still have a few odds and ends to tidy up, but it's essentially done.

Where I ran into problems was my original choice of IF and VFO frequencies: I'd gone with a 13.51 MHz IF because I had the rocks, but that put the 3rd harmonic of the VFO right in the middle of the band.  Oops.
Moving the IF to 13.56 fixed that problem, but I still had a spur from that harmonic that needed to be filtered.  At first, it looked like a trap on the output of the VFO would squish it, but it ended up requiring a few extra poles of bandpass filtering to get it below -40 dB/c.  Now we're legal.
Anyway, here's a few pics. The chassis are bent from 22 ga aluminum on my trusty Harbor Freight brake.  They're almost square, they look cockeyed because I still need to make brackets to hold the top and bottom together.  The heat sink is overkill for 5 watts, but it was cheap :-)
Electronically, almost everything between the audio and power amps is straight-up Bitx.  The power amp uses a RD16HHF1 driven by my spin on Farhan's RF-386, and the audio is an LM380 driven by an LM324, with gating between CW and digital mode input handled by a CD4066.  The CW tone generator is based on WB0RIO's "clickless" sidetone circuit, which, while a little complicated, creates perfectly formed CW elements that really sound nice.
I'm still amazed at the stability of the LC VFO; I was monitoring JT65 signals over the weekend and noticed zero drift after warm-up.  To keep it ready to rock, it's powered from the "hot" side of the on/off switch, as is the CW oscillator. 
I can't think of much else to say about it...  It is what it is :-)
73 - Steve N8NM


  1. Steve, im guessing here that the avocado
    is for size reference, and if so is it a metric or US avocado?
    Keith N6ORS

    1. Looks like a number 2 imperial whitworth hass avocado to me ;)

    2. Ha! All my avacados are metric, oranges SAE and limes Whitworth.


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