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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Presence (Absence?) and Direct Conversion Receivers (with wise comments from Farhan)

Hello Bill,
    I was reading an online article by Wes Hayward, W7ZO  from 1968  about the history of direct conversion receivers (http://w7zoi.net/dcrx68a.pdf)  .  It was linked in an email in qrptech.    It recounts how he had first build a dc receiver with a single diode for the detector, and how microphonic it was, and dissatisfying an experience.   This was in the early days of solid state devices, and so they were hard to come by.   He describes meeting another ham engineer at work Dick Bingham, W7WKR who immediately recognized that what he needed was a diode ring mixer.    The story goes on to describe their experiments, and success at this design.   

  They decided to write up the design for QST.   I won't bore you with the details...the article is well worth reading about how Wes mailed the radio and the design to ARRL, and how it ended up in the hands of a new person on their staff there, Doug DeMaw, W1CER (later W1FB.).  Here is an excerpt from the article describing Doug's reaction to the receiver:

"This was the epiphany, the moment when Doug realized that solid-state technology had produce a new way to build a simple receiver. Doug tuned the receiver higher in the band and found some SSB. Again it was like nothing he had ever heard. It was as if the voice came from the same room. Doug used the term presence in his description."

Here I present the earliest use, that I know of, of presence being used to describe a receiver.    I have to say when I read it, I immediately thought of you guys, and decided to share.

Thanks for all you guys do.
   dave    /nt1u
Bill replied:

Thanks Dave.   Yea, that's the 1968 article that launched the use of DC receivers.  I had forgotten about DeMaw's early use of "presence." 

Just to cause trouble, perhaps we should start commenting on "absence"  i.e.  "I dunno OM, I think your rig lacks a bit of absence in the mid-range... turn menu item 63b to ELEVEN!"  
73 Bill 

Farhan wrote: 

Mon, Aug 3 at 3:22 PM

When I got my license, my friend Anil SM0MFC was living in Hyderabad. He lent me his HW-8.  I stringed up a 40 meter dipole with a lamp cord and worked with it. Somehow, the combination of the lamp cord length and the 40 meter inverted V made it resonate on 20 m as well. The HW-8 had a nominal antenna tuner and I worked pretty good DX.

Till date, it remains the best receiver that I have used for regular contacts. The only trouble it had was the the MC1496 was a nominal detector, it overloaded heavily with shortwave broadcast stations. There was an unnecessary RF amplifier in the front-end that they could have done without.

I made several direct conversion receivers, but never managed to hang on to any. This makes me want to build one, one of these evenings. I even have a KK7B R1 kit. but real men solder on without any PCBs or even circuit diagram!

A 7/14/21 direct conversion radio that puts out 3 watts of power is what my ideal setup would be. I am not too bothered with the images on CW. I just tune them out in my head. Real soon now, at the moment, i am trying to finish a radio that has been in the works for years.  Finally, I am making some headway.
Farhan of course is no slouch in the DC receiver area.  Years ago he wrote a wonderful post about building a DC receiver with his cousin for her class project: 

Included in this post was a passage that I included in my book  SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electonics: 
Why build a receiver?
    Why do you want to build it? These are available at the Dubai Duty Free asked Harish, an old friend, when he spotted us struggling over the DC40 one evening. I didn't have an answer to this question and considering the amount of work piled this quarter, it appeared to be a sensible thing to ask.
    I think this question is answered by us all in different ways. My personal answer would be because we human beings are fundamentally tool builders. We have an opposable thumb that allows us to grip the soldering iron.
    For an engineer (by the word ‘engineer', I don't just mean those who have a degree, but anyone who applies technical knowledge to build things) the act of building a receiver is a fundamental proof of her competence and capability. It is much easier to put out 1 watt signal than it is to receive a 1 watt signal.
    A simple definition of a good receiver is that a good receiver consistently, clearly receives only the intended signal, such a definition hides a wide range of requirements. The receiver has to be sensitive enough to pick up the weakest signal imaginable (note: clearly), it has to be selective enough to eliminate other signals (only), it has to be stable enough (consistently).
    For a ham or an engineer, building a usable receiver is a personal landmark. It establishes a personal competency to be able to understand the very fundamental operation of the radio and mastery over it.
Bill:  OM Ryan Flowers did a 5 part series on building the DC40.  If you are want to build one, I suggest you use the schematics on Ryan's site.  There was an error in Farhan's original schematic -- Farhan corrected it but some of the incorrect schematics are still floating around the internet.  Here is part one of Ryan's series: 

Farhan's DC40

1 comment:

  1. The 50th anniversary article was covered here last year.

    I'd point out that the very first issue of Ham Radio magazine, Feb 1968, had an article about diode ring mixers. The Oct 1969 issue had a few construction articles that used hot carrier diodes, including a 2M converter, though it tuned circuits rather than broadband transformers.

    Lets not forget that "ring modulators" long existed, I think even in the days of selenium rectifiers. It's just tgat hot carrierdiodes were recent when Hayward did his receiver.


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