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Friday, May 26, 2017

Homebrew Peppermint BITX: KC1FSZ Goes Scratch-built and Sweeps a Filter

Hi Bill/Pete:

Congratulations to Bill on the award.  Very well deserved!  

I just watched the video that Bill made with Farhan and I really enjoyed it.  As usual, lots of useful information there.

Farhan’s demo of the Sweeperino was particularly timely because this past weekend I was doing something very similar.  

As I’ve mentioned to Bill before, I am working on a scratch-built BITX to accompany the Peppermint BITX-40 module rig that I’m running right now.  I took Pete’s advice and started from the audio end.  After building the audio amplifier, product detector, and first/last pair of IF amplifiers, I was able to connect the VFO where the BFO is supposed to go and enjoy a pretty reasonable direct conversion receiver.  It works great!!  My first working receiver.

So my next step was the crystal filter.  I puzzled over all of the different articles, tried to follow the G3UUR method, sorted crystals, etc. and finally put the whole thing together.  But all along I’ve had this doubt that I could have possibly followed all of the steps closely enough to achieve the precision needed for a 3.5 KC SSB filter - it just didn’t seem possible.

Last week I decided to try to “sweep” the filter.  This was a multi-day undertaking in itself.  I pieced together the microprocessor, an AD9850, a TIA amplifier, the RF power detector from the SSDRA book, and some software that generates the necessary frequency sweep and collects power readings.  The picture of the test rig is included below.  It’s not much to look at.

With low expectations (and wires that are too long), I ran a few seeps and then downloaded the data onto my computer for analysis.  No fancy software here, I’m just using Excel.  When I put the data into a line chart in Excel, what emerged from the jumble of seemingly random numbers was a thing of beauty: a 3.5 KC passband right below 12 MHz. It’s the next stage beyond the Joy of Oscillation:  The Joy Of Selectivity!

It’s even showing about the right insertion loss.  Note the setup is very primitive and noisy so the fact that I can’t measure anything below -8dB isn’t surprising, you can ignore that part.

But I’m starting to get the feeling that this might actually work.  Onto the diode mixer …


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