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Friday, January 1, 2021

Glowing Numerals for the Lafayette HA-600A (With Jeweled Movements)


I really like this receiver.  I have strong sentimental ties: it was my first SW receiver.  But the frequency readout situation was kind of rough -- depending on where you put the Main Tuning cap, your Band Spread dial could be WAY off.  

China to the rescue!  Specifically the very nice San Jian PLJ-6 frequency counter boards.  I have used these in several projects.  I like them a lot. I get mine on e-bay.  They are very cheap.  Here is the manual with specs: 

As I did with my BITX20, I put mine in an Altoids-sized box.  I got to use my Goxawee rotary tool with circular metal blade to cut the rectangular hole.  Hopefully future efforts will yield neater results, but the flying sparks were fun;  they made me feel like one of those car-part  "fabricators" on cable TV. 

To tap the VFO frequency, I just put a bit of small coax at the point where the 10 pf cap from the VFO circuit enters the first mixer.  I ran this cable to the unused "Tape Recorder" jack on the back of the Lafayette -- this connects to the input of the counter.  I attached 11 volts from the power supply to an unused terminal on the accessory jack of the Lafayette -- this powers the counter.

Having a counter on the VFO proved very illuminating -- in more ways than one.  I measured the Center Frequency (CF) of my IF to be at 456 kHz.  I set the PLJ-6 to display the VFO frequency MINUS 465 kHz.   For AM broadcast signals, this worked fine:  I'd tune the signal for peak S-meter reading.  This meant that the carried was right at the CF.  

For SSB, things were a bit different.  I set the BFO knob  to be RIGHT AT 465 kHz when the dot is in the center position.  With the BFO there, I could tune in SSB signals.  The suppressed carrier would be right at the center of the IF passband, with the audio information above or below the suppressed  carrier frequency.  But it didn't sound good this way -- it sounded better if I would tune an LSB signal 2 kHz down from the center, then adjust the BFO down about 2 kHz.  This put most of the the audio in the peak portion of the IF filter(s) curve.  Doing it this way means that I have to remember that the number displayed on the PLJ-6 is 2 kHz down from the actual suppressed carrier frequency of the transmitting station.  I can live with that.  

I am going to leave the Lafayette on the corner of my workbench so that I can easily tune in hams  and SW broadcast stations.  Having modified the product detector and added the digital frequency readout makes listening to this receiver even more pleasing.  The jeweled movements are as smooth as ever. 

So 2021 is off to a good start on my workbench.  HNY to all!  


  1. Deep joy of the reciprokay, Bill! and to all readers :)

  2. Isn't the, "...with Jeweled Movements," a marketing term?


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