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Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Islander -- A Homebrew DSB Rig from Cuba


This article, the pictures, and the comments are all so cool. They really capture the spirit of homebrew. Obviously we still need more information on  the Islander and the Jaguey.  If you have it, please send it to me and I will disseminate it via this blog. 

I've been in touch by e-mail with Jose Campos CO6EC (the guy in the picture above).   He sent me this partial schematic of the Islander (we still need the VFO circuit and the RF amplifier) .  Thanks Jose! 

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Comments: 6


By José de Jesús Enríquez Campos (CO6EC)

Next 2019 will be the 30th anniversary of the first convention of radio amateurs in the province of Villa Clara, in Campismo de Ganuza, municipality of Corralillo, on the North coast, about 100 kilometers from Santa Clara, the provincial capital.

This convention was held on a national basis and colleagues from all the country's provinces participated at that time. We did not reach a thousand members throughout the national territory and most of the radio amateurs worked in the 40-meter Band in Amplitude Modulation Then the Lateral Side Band (SSB) was the privilege of a few and the 2 meters was something rare, which did not yet exist in our environment.

At that meeting, a project for a Tube Transceiver was presented, quite simple, with just six vacuum tubes and a BF310 transistor. It was possible to work in HF in Double Sideband, achieving a greater efficiency than the transmission in Modulated Amplitude (AM). This project became known as the Islander.

In only two printed plates, one for the VFO and another for the TX and RX part, which by the way were printed for distribution, in a company in Villa Clara, due to their easy construction and acquisition of the components (almost all of them came out of a Krin-218 TV), a large number of such equipment were manufactured by radio amateurs from all over the country. Like everything made at home, it always comes up with a little problem that later is necessary with tinkering, correcting it.

I remember listening to an old radio amateur from Havana (whose callsign I don't remember) in a pleasant QSO with another colleague, who jokingly said, "... some "Bugs" have now appeared in the band, called Islander, which is worse than the invasion of the Vikings…”, which gives an idea of ​​how many were built at that time, when if you wanted to make radio, you had to manufacture it, something unusual in these times.

As soon as we saw the project we decided to build it, because at that time we had an AM “transmitter” with modulation by “Carrier control” with four tubes, a 12AX7 preamplifier; an ECL82, as a modulator, with cathode output to the final tube Screen grid, a 6DQ6 and a 6BH6 as VFO; and to receive, an old Russian receiver from World War II.
 We got involved in the construction and improvements of the project and we managed, with some changes, to improve its performance and quality, because among the modifications to the original, we added: 

 -A switch, with which you could change the transmission mode to DSB -CW-AM.
-A "Pi" Filter at the input of the RX, which considerably improved its quality.
-An automatic volume control, because since it did not have AGC (Automatic Gain Control), when someone nearby came on, it would break your speaker.
-A filter for the microphone input, which improved the quality of the modulation.
-A final power stage, with a 6146B, with 750 V on the board, for about 70 W of  output, taking advantage of the 6P15P as Driver.
-The chassis was built from scratch using aluminum trays that were sold at the hardware store for “four pesos” each and that were special for making cabinets for these purposes.

After the construction was completed in one afternoon, with Reinaldo Martínez Domínguez (CO6UK), from Manicaragua, the balanced modulator was adjusted, since the good transmission of this type of equipment depends on the relationship between the amount of RF and audio that are mixed At that stage, it took us a long time to adjust, until Reinaldo with his expert ear told me, “leave it there, don't touch it, it's 99% complete”.

There were many international contacts that I was able to make with this very simple equipment, with very good reports, many of them with Europe, the American continent, that was very normal, since the propagation conditions in those years had nothing to do with the today, you could do half the world in AM, with about 100 W.
Many colleagues at that time asked me what equipment I was using.  When I told them it was an Islander, they asked me to send them the plans of the improvements made, they were many modified plans, mimeographed.
Perhaps the youngest do not know what that was and the photos taken by colleague Joel (CO6JC) that helped to illustrate the distribution of the components in the chassis, were sent to radio amateurs from the different provinces, in the interest of contributing modestly to migrate from AM to the Double Side Band, today it is a rarity to listen to someone on AM, there are already few who appear in Double Side Band, which shows that we have developed in these almost 30 years, despite the difficulties, which We went from just under a thousand to about 8,000 throughout the country today.

From time to time, a colleague in the 40 meter Band, from another province, has told me that he still keeps the plans and photos that were sent to him at that time, or as "Kike" (CO6GO) that he still has a Islander as a relic.

Ours passed away a long time ago and part of its components went to other projects, thanks to Joel (CO6JC) there is a graphic record of it, and that at that time I had hair, which I have lost in these bustles.
With this brief comment, we only want the new generations to know what radio amateurs were like in those days and the older ones to remember it.

Nothing, to remember is to live again.

Here he left you some images.

  • (co6ec) Jose de Jesus Enriquez Campos

    The first Image was the prototype presented at the Ganuza meeting, the rest of the photos were the ones we built with the improvements, and the photos and plans were sent to many colleagues, the colleagues who went to that meeting will remember, well, they still have to there are many left, because that was almost 30 years ago,
    greetings CO6EC

  • (co8zz) Raul Verdecie

    Magnificent photographs!!!... They seem to have been taken today with some digital "super camera"!!!
    Really, from what I can see now, the CO6EC Islander was the perfect example... mine (my first radio and built by me) was also made like this, with the plates that the FRC sold and it was good, but very ugly ...HI... The AGC worked wonderfully as it came, I don't know if Jose's improvements were later! With it I made my first hundred or so entities only in 40 meters / CW (between 7,100 and 7,150) when it was CL8ZZ. I gave it away so that someone would have their license and now I regret not having kept it... I would have liked to show it now to those who regret not having a radio!!!

  • (co8zz) Raul Verdecie

    Ah, I can never forget those headphones!!!... my external hearing aids (read ears) are much smaller today thanks to them, they exerted tons of force on the operators' skulls!!!

  • (cm6vml) Vidal

    Very good article, I hope that one day, with a good teacher, I can build my own team, congratulations Jose, regards Vidal.

  • (co7wt) Pavel Milanes (CO7WT)


    My first radio and with which I got my CL7WT license back in the 90's an ISLANDER, like that in capital letters.

    I remember that the CL only had a small 40m segment (like now) and that it was full of broadcasts as soon as the afternoon fell, it was an odyssey to speak on the radio... you had to find a "little hole" between the Broadcastings where it wouldn't bother you " a lot" to be able to talk.

    I remember that the old CO7OC (he is no longer a radio amateur) and CL7HU (now AC7HU) helped me build it with a board I bought at the radio club. I took almost all the valves from the deceased KRIM 218, then I found a store in Camagüey that sold idle things from the workshops...

    Turns out they had such a large inventory of "idle" tubes that they couldn't put it on the counter...they let me through to the warehouse...huge...stack of tubes, if I remember correctly I ended up with Chinese or Japanese tubes that they were more sensitive in the receiver... the driver went from a 6P14P to a more robust 6P9, by the end that was a humble 6P44 it became two 6P7s that were a Russian version of the RCA 607 if I remember correctly... in the end it had like 80W.

    It goes without saying that when I said on the radio that there were valves in that place "they flew"....

    The VFO was the one from the Jagüey, not the original from the Islander, I never knew about the AGC modifications.

    I would like if someone has the plans with the modifications to send them to me, just for nostalgia...

    My email pavelmc@gmail.com

  • (co2jc) Carlos Alberto Santamaría González

    Brother, your article is very good, because of the nostalgia and also because it talks about what we radio amateurs like: tinkering. I didn't have an Islander because what I started with in 2000 was a Polosa to which two colleagues helped me adapt it with VFO for 40 and 80 m. But I talked a lot with colleagues who did it with an Islander or a Jagüey and participated in the Rueda del Behique that I started in the 80 m. Others in the Hurricane Wheel that started a little later and were heard well. As you well say, the propagation at that time had nothing to do with what it is now, but it was very good to listen to the colleagues who came out with the equipment they had built. Thank you once again for your article. CO2JC

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