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Monday, March 23, 2020

AM Diode Detector + 41 and 49 meter Shortwave Bands for HRO-dial Receiver (videos)

The COVID-19 emergency is a good time to look around the shack for projects you have been meaning to take on but didn't have the time for.  We have the time for them now! 

When I first built my HRO-dial receiver (using an HRO dial given to me by Armand WA1UQO and an enclosure from Tim KI6BGE)  my hope was to have the 40 meter ham band and some shortwave broadcast bands.  But it didn't work out that way.  I had trouble getting an AM detector to work properly, and I had a hard time getting a sufficiently broad filter to work right.  I ended up adjusting the VFO so that the receiver would cover only the 40 meter ham band.  

My recent S-38E adventures and a video from VK3HN have alerted me to the nice programming that is now on the shortwave broadcast bands (I really like WRMI's afternoon rock music program).  So I decided to take another shot at getting this receiver to cover SW BC frequencies. 

When I built this receiver, I made the front-end bandpass filter tune-able. There is a two section variable cap behind that "Pre-selector" control you see on the front panel.  That lets me tune two loosely coupled LC circuits from about 5.5 to about 8 MHz.  So without any mods to the front end, I could cover the 49 meter band (5.9 -- 6.2 MHz) our 40 meter band, and the 41 meter band (7.2-7.5 MHz)

Here is how I do it: 

For 49 meters:  I now have the VFO set to run from 6.34 MHz to 7.120 MHz.  The IF is .455 Mhz.  So to get down to the lowest frequency in the 49 meter band, I tune that front end preselector down to that frequency (variable cap in filter almost fully meshed).  Then I take the VFO down to 6.355 Mhz.  I take the difference frequency out of the mixer -- .455 MHz.  

For 40 and 41 meters:  I just tune the pre-selector to this range (variable cap about mid-range) and tune the VFO accordingly.   For a signal at 7.5 MHz, for example, I put the VFO at 7.045 MHz.  7.5 - 7.045 = .455 Mhz.  Note:  There is no sideband inversion in this case -- this is important because 40 meter SSB is lower sideband.  The Kokusai mechanical filter that Pete N6QW gave me is a lower sideband filter.  I have my BFO set at the right spot relative to the filter passband for LSB.

As you can see, I just tune to the "image frequencies" with the preselector.  This gives me double the frequency coverage.   

As for the filters, well Pete's Kokusai filter works great on 40 SSB.  My problem was,  ironically, getting a filter that was broad enough to let AM sound good.  I concocted a filter using old 455 kc IF cans, but I wasn't happy with it.  Paul VK3HN used a ceramic .455 MHz filter that was 6 kHz wide at 6 db down. I ordered some from Australia.  That should have been wide enough for AM, but I had gotten spoiled by the very WIDE bandwidth of my S-38Es (no real filters at all, just the two 455 kc IF cans).  At this point The Radio Gods interceded. Bruce KK0S heard me talking about this on the podcast and kindly sent me some 10 kHz .455 kHz filters.  Now we're talking!  I put one of them in this receiver and AM started sounding as good as it does in my S-38E.  BTW -- a look at NA5B's WebSDR receiver shows that most of the SW broadcast stations are running at 10 kHz wide.  See video below: 

Finally,  I had to get a decent AM detector going.   The SBL-1 product detector I have in there works great, but I had tried several AM detectors and none of them worked well for me.  This was puzzling -- it should be so simple, right?  Just a diode.  But I would get weak and/or distorted audio.  I realized that I really needed was something that looked to the rest of the circuitry like an SBL-1, but with just a diode and an RC filter section instead of the SBL-1's diode ring.  I ended up using a small 455 kc IF transformer that Michael Rainey (AA1TJ) had sent me a long time ago.  My detector looks like this: 

It works great.  During the day I can hear the Toronto CFRX talk-radio station that simulcasts with 1 kW on 6.07 MHz. In the evening I her WBCQ and many other stations on 41 meters (see videos).  And of course I am ready to use it for amateur AM signals on the high end of the 40 meter phone band.   

There is a lot of soul and friendship in this receiver: 
-- HRO dial from Armand WA1UQO
-- Aluminum box from Tim Sutton KI6BGE
-- Mechanical Filter from Pete N6QW
-- IF transformer from Michael AA1TJ
-- Ceramic filter from Bruce KK0S
-- 10k pot in the detector from Thomas KK6AHT
-- Inspiration and ideas from Paul VK3HN
-- Many parts from Jim... 

But you know, I find myself thinking that there are many stations I like on the 39 meter band.  I think it might be best to build a separate receiver for those frequencies.  Maybe throw in 30 meters.  Hmm, let me see what's in the junk box... 

1 comment:

  1. I'm not up to designing my own yet, so I built a kit. The Ozark Patrol Regenerative SW kit from 4SQRP is a lot of fun to build, and it works remarkably well! Brought back memories of the old Radio Shack Globe Patrol, and other regen receivers I've owned over the years!

    The Ozark Patrol is another great kit by Dave Cripe, NM0S. Truly a spectacular kit and fun to build and use!


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