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Monday, July 31, 2017

Yellow Fever! The Cold War Origins of Juliello

How could you miss them?  That yellow was bright!  Apparently you needed high visibility to cope with the looming danger of nuclear annihilation.  The operator in the ad is obviously calm in the face of Armageddon -- note the cigarette dangling from his lips. In this 1956 Gonset ad we can see the inspiration behind what -- many decades later -- has emerged as the avant-garde ham radio color scheme known as Juliello.  The roots of this aesthetic are clearly not in the psychedelic "Mellow Yellow" hippie era.  No, this color has harder, more flinty origins.

Pete Juliano is not the only one to embrace this look.   Podcast #198 elicited this response from our friend Armand WA1UQO: 

Don't let that Meara guy give you a hard time over the yellow Rigs.  The last three of mine have been yellow and I'm happy to see I'm not the only one with good taste.  In the picture they are from top to bottom a 30M One Watter, a 20M One Watter and of course the BITX 40.  The 20M does have a Juliano Blue cover though to give it an extra bit of class!  As always, enjoyed the podcast.
Bill,  see you at Berryville?
73, Armand WA1UQO

Saturday, July 29, 2017

SolderSmoke Podcast #198 - D-104, HW-8, Juliello, DIFX, Dishal, Baofeng, MAILBAG

Bill Breshears WC3K (SK)
SolderSmoke Podcast #198 is available. 

29 July 2017

Sign on a beach store:  SHACK-TACULAR! 

Noticed that EB63 amp was getting hot. Why?  

TT2, Herring Aid5, Farhan's Key:  QRPp and CW!  See?

D-104 lore -- Reading from Bill Breshear's (WC3K) ER article
Astatic  crystal/ceramic element -- disappointingly flimsy
Electret-ing it.  The G-Spot (see picture above)
Walery KB2FIV sent crystal mic element and piezo buzzer (reverse for mic!) FB
HW-8 AF filter Center Frequency Problem.  IT'S TRUE!  Fixed!  Finally. 

Shack re-org at N2CQR
Got Steve Silverman's HP 8640B Sig gen on the bench.  Required reinforcement

Pete's new DIFX
LM373 rigs.  Perhaps with that CA3020 Pete sent me. Chips Ahoy! 
Juliano Yellow? Origins of Blue?  Juliello? Julionyx? 
HB Crystal Filter Capitulation? Don't give up Pete --  just dish the Dishal!
Ceramic VXOs?  K.P.S. Kang
Crystal testers by G7WKE and Dino KL0S.  Impressive. 

Antennas and BITX40 modules.  Antennas are important.

Bill's new Baofeng HT on 440.

Fixing my Sony SW7600GR

Steve Silverman alerts us to NYC radio row now in the Bronx.
Tony G4WIF on the cover of SPRAT -- Getting the Don Cameron award. FB 
Armand WA1UQO points out that the Berryville hamfest is coming up... 
Thomas KK6AHT F4HDQ writes in. 
On the air with W8NSA

Juliello.  No. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ralph Baer -- Video Game Inventor

Thanks to Stephen G7VFY for alerting us to this very nice video.   Ralph Baer did pioneering work in video games.   It is fun to see him in his workshop. He obviously has a variant of The Knack.  Stephen hinted at a reference to "noodling" but I didn't hear it -- perhaps Stephen meant that the whole thing was about what we'd call noodling.  I found the box on his bench labeled "Wire Wrap Materials" kind of ominous -- remember our April 1 announcement about the launch of the new "Wire Wrap Rap" podcast?

I liked Ralph's summary comment about how these days he just has fun building things.

Monday, July 24, 2017

KC8WBK's Cakepan BITX40

I talked to Paul KC8WBK last night during the regular 7277 kHz Sunday night BITX gathering (7 pm local). I like his BITX enclosure.  Very practical and economical.  It provides ready access to the circuitry.  He also has nice enclosure for the microphone and push-to-talk switch. He has more info on his QRZ.com page. 

Einstein's Knack (for Refrigeration)


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Intuitive Repair of a Sony Shortwave Portable

A few years ago my wife got me this nice little Sony ICF-SW7600GR receiver.   On the front it proclaims that it is "AM DUAL CONVERSION" and "PLL SYNTHESIZED."   It has a BFO, and a filter of suitable width for SSB.  It also has a synchronous detector -- it generates an internal carrier that matches the frequency and phase of the carrier being transmitted by the SW broadcast (or ham AM) transmitter.  This helps overcome the selective fading that often plagues AM signals.  Sony advises switching to USB or LSB once the synchronous generator locks onto the carrier.  Pretty cool. 

The BFO is the reason I wanted this receiver. And wouldn't you know, when I dropped it,  it landed EXACTLY on the little BFO fine tune control pot.  It was as if the Radio Gods disliked all the fancy digi PLL synchronous IC circuitry.   

I tried without success to find the value of the destroyed pot.  Finally, last week I just decided to have a look in there to see if I could just figure it out. 

On the board I could see that the pot only connected at two places, so I figured it would be a varactor circuit on the BFO with one end of the pot to DC and the wiper to the varactor diode.  I figured I'd try a 10K pot. 

This seems to have been some good radio intuition.  It works.  I went with a small trimmer because it is less obtrusive and because once I set the BFO in the right spot, I think the de facto channelization of the 40 meter ham band will keep most of the SSB sigs in tune. And the Sony only tunes in 1 kHz increments. If necessary I can move the BFO a bit with a small screwdriver.  I just glued the trimmer pot onto the back of the receiver -- two wires covered by heat shrink run back into the circuitry. 

10k might be a bit too small.  Maybe 100k would be better?  As it is, I can move the BFO above and below the "zero beat" point, and I don't need more range. Mouser has a small trimmer pot with a tuning wheel that looks like it might fit, so I may try for a proper repair. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

K.P.S. Kang's Minimalist VXOs (and one for the BITX)

K.P.S. Kang provides us with some great ideas for simple VXOs.  He includes an intriguing reference for a 5 MHz circuit useable in a BITX.  Tell us more OM! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

NYC's Radio Row Survives (sort of) in the Bronx

Thanks to our friend (and official lexicographer) Steve Silverman KB3SII for alerting us to this important bit of radio news from the Big Apple.  It seems that a part of old Radio Row was saved and moved -- first to Brooklyn and now to the Bronx.   I got a kick out of some of the comments in the New York Times article about the store:  The insurance company determined that the contents of the store were "non-pilferable." And one young audio enthusiast was quoted as saying that old American tubes "sound better" than Chinese tubes.  I guess they have more presence.  Or brightness.  And less feathering.  Or something.

Here is the 2011 NYT article: 

To N2CQR  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Excellent Description of the Electret Microphone

I've been experimenting with electret replacements for the D-104 crystal element.   I found this site with a really excellent description of what lies inside those little electret capsules.  Here it is: 


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dino's FB W1FB Crystal Tester

A couple of weeks ago I noted that the complexity of DeMaw's circuit caused many of us to wimp out on this test gear project.  I joked that those who had built the device might be able to set up small businesses to do the testing for the rest of us.  Perhaps our friend Dino can cut a deal with G7WKE to divide up the world market for crystal testing: Dino could have the Western Hemisphere while Rob covers Europe and points East.  

Bill -

Enjoyed seeing someone else who has built Doug’s crystal tester on the blog.  Here’s mine, built this back in early 2007.  Anyone who wants to duplicate the tester can find the article in the January 1990 issue of QST or the updated article in the W1FB Design Notebook (page 192).  Note that the QST article has a missing component value and a missing component (both corrected in the Design Notebook):

(1) R24 is missing its value - it’s marked in the Notebook as 56 ohms.

(2) There should be a 220 ohm resistor connected between the output pin of U2 the LM317T regulator and the top of R1 the voltage adjust pot that is connected between U2’s adjust pin and ground [corrected in the March 1990 QST Feedback column].

I built a FT-243 adapter to let me work with larger crystals.

73 - Dino KL0S

Friday, July 14, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different: 70cm FM

So there I was, talking to KE5FV on my scratch-built 17 meter BITX, when in walks my son Billy with this walkie talkie.  "Hey Dad, I'm cleaning out my room -- could you use this?"  I'd seen it before but I thought it was some Family Radio Service device that he had picked up.  But no!  It is one of those very cheap Baofeng UV-5R FM transceivers.  I soon found myself scrolling through menus, trying to figure out how to use the strange new appliance. 

I got it on 70cm and soon established contact with a Bill W3HXF -- that was my first ever UHF contact.  We then switched to 2 meter simplex. 

It works fine.   I've been looking for something different.  This could be fun.  Any suggestions on how to make the most use of this thing?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Have You Ever Seen What's Inside a D-104 Crystal Element?

I had not seen this  I must say, I am disappointed.  I had visions a circular collection of shiny Rochelle salt crystals.  But look at this thing.  It is quite flimsy -- not at all what you'd expect from the sturdy D-104 exterior.  It has kind of a "Wizard of Oz" behind-the-curtain feel to it.  Yuck. If I can't find a D-104 element in good shape, I might reach for a dynamic element or -- gasp -- an electret.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Stop Me Before I Commit an Electronic Atrocity!

Sadly, not mine
I like the D-104 mic.  I bought one from Astatic shortly before they went under and it has provided good service with many different rigs for a long time.

I wanted another one, primarily for my DX-100/HQ-100 station.  I saw one on e-bay and a few days later it was here.  Unfortunately the seller was correct when they warned that it showed no output.  I had hoped it was a problem with the amp in the base, but no, it seems that the crystal element is quite dead.  It is an MC320 cartridge marked 7-77.  There is an aluminum sheet at the front that is apparently supposed to be riding atop a center support that connects mechanically with the magic crystals.  But it looks like a circular tent that has poked through the center support and collapsed around it.

Just a few years ago there were some options for replacement elements, but it seems that most of these are gone.  Bob Heil does have a dynamic element replacement kit for about 68 bucks. 

There are many schemes for putting electret elements in the old D-104 head...  I was reaching for the junk box but I stopped myself.  NO!  I will try not to commit this kind of electronic barbarity. (I have already sinned by killing several QF-1 Q multipliers and a couple of Benton Harbor lunch boxes.)  I will instead turn to the SolderSmoke brother/sisterhood and ask if anyone out there has a crystal element that could bring this old mic back to life.  My DX-100 deserves nothing less. 

Anyone have a D-104 crystal element in their junk box? 

Steve N8NM Gets Modular -- With Both Hardware and Software

Steve N8NM has an excellent article on his blog about the benefits of modularity.  He breaks new ground by extending the concept into the software realm.  Check it out:


Subscribe to Steve's blog, or link to it.  Hopefully this will encourage him to post more great things like this.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Another LM373 Rig - Pete Is Not Alone!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Radio Laboratory at Bandung, Java -- SSB in 1927

Anton PA0AST alerted me to this important piece of radio history:

The first phone radio between Indonesia , the city of Bandung ( Dayeuh Kolot, Jalan Radio 1 ),  and Holland , Radio Kootwijk  were made  in SSB already in 1927... Before that time they had only a CW  1 Mega Watt spark transmitter in Malabar.
One of the receivers still exists in a museum in Amsterdam (cdvandt ). It is 3 meters in length and 2 meter in  height....  All made with plug-able units with 1 tube inside .

The transmitter was 10 kW. Ua was 6kV was made by dynamotors. Transmitting Tubes locally made by craftsman in a workshop.  Both  buildings as well  in Bandung and in Kootwijk still exists .


The old images come from:

At the other end was Radio Kootwijk in Holland. 

Before you jump to the English version of the page, be sure to check out the Drone video of the site, and the audio file of the Morse transmissions: 

http://radiokootwijk.nu/     Thanks to PA0JWU for the wonderful site.

Quite an impressive shack!  My favorite part is the note indicating that local residents cleaned out the cooling pool and used it for swimming each summer.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

AC9JQ's Mini Digi VFO/BFO Al Fresco with OLED (and noise test)

From Dean AC9JQ:

Just completed the VFO/BFO/Arduino/OLED module for my radio.  I also have the LPF, BPF and crystal filters completed and tested.  Next will be the audio amplifier and NE602 modules.  I will probably build one of the NE602 modules and test things out as a DC receiver.  My ultimate plan is to have the rig no more that 1"x3.5"x3".  I still have a lot of "stuff" to stuff into that size of box.  I'll keep you posted.

I have been able to contain the entire Arduino/Si5351/OLED into a small cube in the front.  The rest of the radio has to fit on two levels in the rest of the area behind the Arduino/Si5351/OLED.  I think I will build the audio section and on NE602 mixer and run it as a direct conversion first to vet out any noise or other problems.  Bill, that small coax that you pointed out will really help on this build.  I used a small piece as a power feed-thru and will use it to feed out the VFO/BFO signals, thanks again for that pointer.

I decided to test for noise on the TIA transceiver test bed.  See the video of the results.  Not too much noise.  I'm only using my indoor magnetic loop for an antenna.  Video is kind of sloppy, but taking off the antenna and turning up the volume shows how little noise is left in the system.  Now time to stuff the rest of the radio into the tight quarters.

I purchased OLED from ebay.......

They are nice and compact, although as time goes on, I'm sure they will be harder to read.  I'm hoping to have an alfresco version in a week or two.  I used much of Pete's code from the shirt pocket transceiver upgrade, modified the code to address the smaller display and add USB/LSB capabilities. 

73's  Dean AC9JQ

Saturday, July 1, 2017

G7WKE's Crystal Tester

Wow, this is an example of dedication to the cause.  I think many of us wimped out when confronted with the complex circuitry of the test device prescribed by DeMaw, but Rob G7WKE actually built the thing, and did a great job on it.  I'm tempted to suggest that Rob might want to set up a small business leasing this rig out to less dedicated filter builders.  Or perhaps he could have batches of crystals sent to him for DeMaw-ian analysis.

Hi Bill,
After listening to you and Pete discussing crystal filter design during SolderSmoke 197, I thought you might be interested in my latest project.

This is the Crystal Tester from January 1990 QST that is reprinted in W1FB's Design Notebook, which I believe is the circuit you and Pete were referring to.

It all appears to function as it should, so the next step is to sit down quietly with a pile of crystals and hopefully start along the road to a working filter!

Rob G7WKE.

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