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Friday, April 28, 2017

An Old but Cool DiFX: The Epiphyte

I've been hearing about this rig for many years.   It first appeared in the September 1994 issue of QRPp, the journal of the NORCAL QRP club. A condensed version of that article appeared in SPRAT 81 (Winter 94-95). The designer is Derry Spittle VE7QK from Vancouver, British Columbia.

The name always puzzled me.  Here is the explanation:  It started with the Neophyte: A very simple direct conversion receiver that many of us built.  The Neophyte was mostly an NE602 and an LM386.  In the Epiphyte, a crystal filter and a second NE602 were added, turning the Neophytes into a superhet receiver and -- with some additional circuitry -- an SSB transceiver.  The Oxford English Dictionary reportedly defines an Epiphyte as "a plant that grows on another plant"(see picture below).   The Epiphyte grew out of the Neophyte.

And this plant grew in British Columbia, which seems -- like Australia and New Zealand -- to be fertile ground for simple phone rigs.  I'm pretty sure the "Wee Willy" DSB rig also came out of BC, and it may have had a similar purpose:   allowing for portable contact with the BC Public Service Net on 75 Meters.  

There are many features of the Epiphyte that I like:  There is a simple 455 kHz filter and a ceramic resonator BFO/Carrier oscillator. The original design featured a VXO-like circuit using a ceramic resonator at 4.19 MHz.  And it ran off AA batteries (as did the NE602 DSB rig I took to the Dominican Republic).

Unlike my NE602 rig, the Epiphyte made an artful use of the fact that NE602's can be set up to have TWO inputs and TWO outputs.  Where I used DPDT relays to switch inputs and outputs from both NE602s,  OM Spittle left all the inputs and outputs connected, and simply switched the VFO and BFO signals.  Ingenious.  

There were updates and improvements.  The Epiphyte 2 and 3 featured increased power out (5 watts vs. 1 Watt).  Version 3 has an IRF-510 in the final, driven by a CA3020A chip.  That chip is capable of 70 db gain.  Wow. 

In 1996 NORCAL and G-QRP donated 50 EP-2 kits to radio amateurs in third world countries. Very nice.

In 2000 NORCAL did a kit of the EP-3 -- it sold out in 24 hours.  Here is a nice article on the EP-3:

And above we have a video from Japan of an EP-3 in action.


  1. How fun. Maybe I should get out my EP-3 kit and build it. :-) 73, Jim, AL7FS

  2. I built a version 2B from a Far Circuits PCB. It works great. I strung up a long wire on a rail fence with a tuner at the end and worked 4 states on 75M nets. I spoke with a ham in Madison, WI running 1000 watts and he was astonished he was hearing my 5 watts. John KC9OJV


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