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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Adding 10 kHz of Coverage to My BITX 17

Solar Cycle 25 is underway.  The Solar Flux Index and Sunspot numbers are up considerably.  I have dusted off my old BITX17 transceiver.  This time around I am using it in conjunction with a waterfall display provided online by NA5B's KiwiSDR receiver, which is located about 9 miles east of me. This SDR receiver allows me to see the entire 17 meter band.   It was this panoramic display that made me pay more attention to the fact that the Variable Crystal Oscillator (VXO) that I am using in this rig prevented me from tuning the lower 10 kHz of the 17 meter phone band (18.110 -- 18.120 MHz). 

I use two crystals switched by a relay to cover the band. One is at 23.149 MHz, the other at 23.166 MHz.  The crystal filter is at 5MHz.  With a coil and some caps I could move the frequencies of the oscillator enough to cover 18.120 to 18.168 MHz (top of the band). 

When I first built this thing, I kind of wrote off the lower 10 kHz of the phone band.  I couldn't get the oscillator to work that low, and I was already satisfied with the top 48 kHz.  But the NA5B waterfall often showed SSB stations in that lower part of the band.  I wanted to talk to them.  So I started thinking about how to do this.       

Looking at my schematic (above) I remembered that most of the frequency lowering was done by L1, a 3.2uH toroid.  I figured that to go a bit lower, I would just have to add inductance.  But I didn't want to lower the frequency provided by BOTH crystals -- I just wanted to bring the frequency with the lower crystal down a bit.  

In my junkbox I found a 1 uH coil.  I disconnected the lower lead of the 23.149 MHz crystal from its connection to the relay.  I soldered the 1 uH coil between the crystal and the relay (see picture above).  This moved the lower limit down to 18.087 MHz. 

Now crystal one provides 18.087 - 18.144 MHz 
         crystal two provides 18.137 - 18.167 MHz

So now I have the whole phone band.  Bob is my uncle. TRGHS. 

This was a very quick and satisfying little fix. As Pete says WYKSYCDS: when you know stuff you can do stuff.  Indeed.  And as I re-build and repair gear that I built years ago, I am often reminded that as time goes by, we learn more. We end up knowing more and being able to do more.   

I am also planning on rebuilding my 17 meter Moxon;  this time I will make it better and stronger.         


  1. Sounds like you’re setting yourself up to be a 17 meter Big Gun. At least in the QRP world.

    Nice job on the mod!

  2. I appreciate that you stuck with the analog setup and didn't just stick an si5351 vfo on it. Not that the si5351 wouldn't have been a great upgrade! But there's something to be said for keeping it old school analog, crystal based even.

  3. I agree: WYKSYCDS! I'd add, in our ventures dealing with forces of Nature, an extra S (for Safely). It's an old aphorism, possibly as old as the rubbing of an Elektron rod with fur): "Electricity is a wonderful servant but a VERY bad master".

  4. Dex: This is why I prefer to limit the voltage to 12 Volts. You CAN hurt yourself with 12 volts, but you really have to work at it. :-) 73 Bill


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