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Friday, June 30, 2023

SolderSmoke Podcast #247 -- Hating on the IC-7300, Pete Goes FT-8 with a KWM-1, Bill's 15-10 Rig, MAILBAG

Bill's 15-10 Rig -- Click on image 

SolderSmoke Podcast #247 is available: 

Audio Podcast:  http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke247.mp3

Video:  (482) SolderSmoke 247 -- Hating on the IC-7300, Pete goes FT8 (with a KWM-1), Bill's 15-10 rig, Mailbag - YouTube

Bill’s Bench:

The 15-10 Dual Bander.

n  10 pole crystal filter at 25 MHz.

n  G3UUR, Dishal, AADE and all that..

n  Testing woes.  Looked bad.  But it was a bad test cable. Duh.

n  VFO (Colpitts) at around 3.5 MHz.

n  Buffer blues:  Bad J-310s.  Beware!  

n  Variable cap from a Heath Q Multiplier

n  A bit of a black art – competing goals. Freq coverage, etc.

n  BFO needed an amp to turn on the diodes in the balanced modulator

n  TIA amps.   SIX dual direction TIAs.  18 transistors.

n  On a pine board (like Frank Jones)

n  Will use the N6QW all discrete AF amp.

n  Maybe an RD16 in the final?

n  Will build a second one for the DR.

 Shameless Commerce:  Mostly DIY RF and the PSSST kit.  Todd K7TFC reports:  “The P3ST is on track for Lee Deforest's birthday release (August 26th). I'm going to send out another newsletter on July 4th, and I'll give some details on P3ST development.” Results of Todd’s Survey.

Pete’s Bench

n  FT-8 on the KWM-1!

n  Presentation to the ham club.

n  Why the Icom 7300 is the anti-thesis of homebrew.


-- SPRAT 195  Summer 2023, in the mailbox.  A happy day at N2CQR

-- Armand WA1UQO sent a wonderful book about Faraday and Maxwell… And told me Jim K8OI was heading to our area.  I met Jim at the VWS Field Day event.  FB.  Thanks Armand.

-- Tony G4WIF sent Father’s Day greetings.

-- Alvin N5VZH asking about electrolytics for his 2-B.  Hayseed Hamfest!

-- John AC2RL replacements for the IBEW.  We need to start over!

-- Steve “Snort Rosin” Smith WB6TNL was in the area.  Sorry I missed him.

-- Joh DL6ID helping us to track down origins of a homebrew receiver Grayson saw in Berlin.

-- Grayson KJ7UM was in Europe visiting his wife’s relatives.  But I think he is back in the USA.

-- Walter KA4KXX sent a QRP HB family portrait. 

-- Wouter ZS1KE sent info on surface mount soldering.

-- George Zaff KJ6VU Ham Radio Workbench – re-runs! Recommended audio processor.  Let me know how it sounds. 

-- Michael AA1TJ   Great to hear from him. 

-- Alan Wolke W2AEW on the toroids  he used in Diode Ring video.  Thanks Alan!

-- Dean KK4DAS, AI and SWR meter project  And new lexicon word:  Hamsplaining. 

-- Bob N7SUR --  Let me know we are semifinalists in the Hack-A-Day prize!  

The 15 - 10 rig from above -- Click on image

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Australia and Apollo 11 -- Honeysuckle Creek

Trevor reminded me that Parkes ("The Dish") was not the only Australian antenna at work during Apollo 11.  This very nice video gives a more complete description of what happened.  

I saw one piece of Collins gear.  And some of Curious Marc's HP frequency counters.  

More on the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station here: https://honeysucklecreek.net/

Monday, June 26, 2023

The Carrington Event and the Current Solar Cycle (Solar Max "Sooner and Stronger")


From the article: 

"Sunspot activity has increased dramatically in early 2023, with sunspot numbers far exceeding NASA's predictions each month — though nothing as big as Carrington’s sunspots have been seen yet. Still, the profusion of sunspots and other solar weather suggests that the next solar maximum will arrive sooner and stronger than NASA previously predicted. Whether the incoming maximum brings with it a Carrington-level storm is a matter of pure chance — but scientists will keep watching for spotty signs on the sun, just in case."


Friday, June 23, 2023

Part III: Curious Marc Repairs an All-Discrete Freq Counter: DO NOT ATTEMPT REPAIR OF CAVITY RESONATOR

I love all the "DO NOT ATTEMPT" warnings.  Wow, even HP got so skittish about this stuff.  Marc has a great sense of humor and notes that, "no cavity resonators were harmed in the production of this video."   I like the description of the mixers and the photo of the mixer antennas. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Another Podcast -- "Lamp Talk"


This is a blast (!) from the past.   A SolderSmoke listener sent this to us in 2006.   

So hey,  be careful with the high voltage!  

Another Model Rocket that Lands like SpaceX -- With a Great Description of the Flight Computer, Software, and Design

Wow, I have to give the devil his due:  this is NOT something that could be accomplished with my beloved discrete (not discreet!) transistors. 

As someone who spent a lot of time as a kid shooting Estes model rockets into the sky, this project really caught my attention.   (My simple rockets used parachutes, "streamers,"  or nothing at all to land.)  This guy uses onboard computers, software, and retractable landing gear.  Very cool.  

Thanks to Jenny List and Hack-A-Day for alerting us to this.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Part 2: CuriousMarc Fixes an All-Discrete Counter -- "Like an IC, but in discrete form."

Marc nicely sums up this project with this line:  "It's an IC but in discrete form!"  On the same theme, he later says, "Who needs a logic analyzer when you can do a visual debug with neon bulbs?" 

Very cool.  Lots of troubleshooting and repair lessons in this video: 

-- Again we see the benefits of paper manuals.  (Todd K7TFC commented astutely on this under yesterday's post.)

-- 2N2222s to the rescue.  

-- A surprisingly large number of bad transistors (6?) found.  Why did they go bad? 

-- Marc repeatedly says, "Let me poke around."  Poking around is often important.  Mark fixes the reset line after poking around.  He is not sure HOW he has fixed it, but he has... by poking around.  Sometimes this happens.  Thank God for small favors. 

-- Marc has some fancy HP board extenders.  I am jealous.  

-- He also has a cool de-soldering tool.  More jealousy.  Want one. 

-- Marc's understanding of how the HP engineers had to put one of the flip-flops "on the edge of stability," and how his 'scope probe was capable of disturbing this stability. 

-- Remember that those Nixies are TUBES with enough voltage on them to really zap you.  So be careful in there.  This is an especially dangerous mix of transistor tech and tube tech.  With transistors you can work on them with the rig fired up.  With tubes, well, you have to be careful.

Part III tomorrow. 

Monday, June 19, 2023

CuriousMarc Repairs an old DISCRETE COMPONENT HP Frequency Counter

I really liked this repair video from CuriousMarc (aka AJ6JV).  This counter pre-dates the use of integrated circuits -- it is all discrete transistors.  Near the end, Marc mentions how this made this repair "like debugging a big integrated circuit, but with access to each transistor -- this made it quite satisfying."  I hear ya Marc -- with big ICs maybe all you would get to do would be to swap out a single IC.  There would not be much of a challenge there.  

With the older, discrete circuitry you get a good view of how Marc troubleshoots -- how he finds the precise points where the device is failing.  Note his use of the old HP paper manuals. I know this is an old guy thing, but I think the paper manuals (as opposed to the online versions)  just make the process easier.  Note too that Marc at one point had to go back to microfiche. 

The transistor tester Mark used was very cool. 

The whole physical structure of the HP device is very similar to my NYC HP8640B.  Thanks again Steve Silverman and Dave Bamford. 

I will look at Parts II and III of this series soon.  

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Sam WN5C Builds a Michigan Mighty Mite and Takes it to Lake Thunderbird

Sam WN5C built a Michigan Mighty Mite and then went the extra mile by putting it on the air from a field location.  And what a great name this location has for a QRP operation:  Lake Thunderbird. 

Sam wrote up his experiences for K4SWL's QRPer blog: 

Below is a picture of the rig.  NOTE THE LOW-PASS FILTER.  FB OM. We wouldn't want that rig tearing up the electromagnetic spectrum. 

Looking ahead, Sam writes: 

Next step is a DC receiver (maybe the high school receiver?) and then a more substantial transmitter married together, I think. This is all incredibly fun.

Thanks Sam! 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Nine Homebrew Transceivers by Walter KA4KXX (and some QRP and QRO RC planes)


Our friend Walter KA4KXX in Orlando recently sent us this really cool "family photo" of his homebrew rigs.  Be sure to see the key that explains the photo (below) FB Walter.  Thanks too for the model airplane pictures. (Click on the images for better viewing.) 

Walter wrote: 

I recently realized that I am now operating nine homebrew transceivers, which would fit nicely in an “aerial” photograph, so I grabbed my stepladder and everything did fit well in the frame.  Six of them come from the BITX side of the family, with #1 and #7 direct conversion and #9 a single conversion superhet but using the NE602.  More basic information is included in the sketch.

I tried a Si5351 VFO once in the dual-band rig #4, but by the time I built the QRP Labs kit with so much closely-spaced soldering, and then added sufficient filtering and amplification to properly drive a 50 ohm load, I was exhausted!

These nine were created during the past eight years, and were preceded by eight more transceivers that I can document, but those have all been disassembled, with many of the parts being used in these later rigs.  I build my transceivers to be operated often, and since 20 Meters has been hot lately, for example, my POTA Hunter log shows over 300 CW and SSB contacts in 2023 alone, so rig numbers 7 - 9 have been earning their keep lately.

In summary I have created a lifetime total of seventeen transceivers so far, and although I am nowhere near the fifty-plus tally of Pete N6QW, I did spend a lot of years instead homebrewing many radio-controlled model airplanes of my own design.  Two photos show one example that I flew in the 2011 Blue Max Scale R/C Contest at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida against some stiff QRO competition.

—Walter KA4KXX

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

How they Make Raspberry Pi 4 Single Board Computers

So, if the Raspberry Pi is a key part of your new "homebrew" rig, how much of the rig did YOU actually build? 

Monday, June 12, 2023

Germany: Direct Conversion Receiver Success!

Dear Bill,

Please my apologies for my late update on our DCR project. We started with the course in the semester break and once the semester started only a handful of students were able to finish their receiver. A long shelf of shame .... 
Here is what we've got so far (those were finished at the end of April already). 3 nice DCRs completely sufficient to copy CW indoors without additional antennas starting from late afternoon. Strong stations can be heard all day. I found that coupling some 6m of wire with one or two windings to the ferrite core can boost the signal dramatically but can also increase noise. 

The PTO is based on your design (Bill Meara N26QR &  Dean KK4DAS) which was sparked by Farhan  (VU2ESE) , except that I've swapped the FET for a NPN. The input amplifier and antenna is from the JUMA active ferrite antenna by Matti Hohtola (OH7SV), the band pass filter is from Hans Summers (G0UPL), the mixer and the headphone amplifier is inspired by Pete Juliano (N6QW), you told me that the diplexer (as well as the whole DCR idea) is attributed to Wes Hayward (W7ZOI) and the perfect schematics of Rick Scott (N3FJZ) where crucial to get me started in the first place. I enjoy keeping track of original sources, as I would do in science. This shows that even little achievements are based on the ideas of many other great people -  and this is nothing to be ashamed of. 

This was a lot of fun! Thank You!
Best and yours sincerely,

Wow, the direct conversion re-engineering of education continues, this time at graduate-school level with biologists in Munich!  Amazing.  

Andreas points out that his group was also plagued by semester-related problems that caused many additions to the German shelf of shame.  Let's hope that someday soon these builders will come to their senses and join the ranks of those who have finished their homebrew projects.  

Looking at the schematic (below) of Andreas's project, there are a couple of significant differences from ours:   

-- Their AF amp used a transformer-less push-pull design.  We had considered this but abandoned it thinking that it would be too complicated to explain the workings of this circuit to our students.

-- Most significant, is Andreas's use of a ferrite rod antenna and an RF amplifier.   I think a simple 33 foot quarter wave antenna (with a ground or a counterpoise) might work better.  But hey,  to  each his own!   The important thing is that a number of these receivers were successfully built.  They look beautiful.  

Congratulations to Andreas and the successful Munich homebrewers!  

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Canadian Build of the Direct Conversion Receiver -- Do This in Your Town! (Video)

This is so cool.  We have been getting reports from Daniel VE5DLD up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Daniel is a teacher and he has been building the receiver with a group of students.  

They have been doing very well.  They may end up having more success than we have had here.  

This morning Daniel fired up his build of the receiver and it was inhaling 40 meter signals.  You can hear the CW and the FT8 and you can also hear shortwave broadcast signals just above the 40 meter frequencies.  Congratulations to Daniel!  He is now one of very few radio amateurs who has homebrewed a receiver.  I think his students will soon do the same.  

Daniel's students have built several of the boards and appear to be on the brink of full success.  

Their PTOs look very nice. 

The AF amps were the most challenging of the boards.  Theirs look great.  Excellent soldering. 

We want the receiver project that we carried out at our local high school to serve has a model for others.  After all, we got our inspiration from Farhan in Hyderabad.  We want to see this kind of homebrewing continue.  All of the information on this receiver is on our Hack-A-Day.io page: 

We strongly encourage others around the world to find ways to use this project to teach analog electronics.   We think the circuit strikes the right balance between simplicity and usefulness -- when they are done, the students will have a useful receiver capable of worldwide reception.  

Please let us know if you are building this receiver; we are especially interested in the use of this receiver in student-focused group-build projects.  

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

"Ham Radio Ireland" June 2023 edition (and Free Propagation Guide)


Get the latest edition here: 


Thanks to Steve Wright EI5DD.  I had the great good fortune of running into my friend Michael EI0CL on the 17 meter band recently.  Mike mentioned that he had been talking to Steve.  So Steve is in good company.   

Steve also sent me a useful Solar Indices Data Card, suitable for lamination.  You can download it here: 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Can you ID this Receiver? Grayson Finds a Homebrew Receiver in Germany. From the GDR. Circuit? Schematic? Thermatrons?

Grayson Evans KJ7UM (the author of  Hollow State Design) was recently in Germany where he spotted this museum display of a homebrew receiver built in the GDR (the old East Germany) around 1983 by a 13 year-old.   Very cool. 

Here is today's task for SolderSmoke:  Can you provide any more info on this receiver? The card indicates 0-V-1 which would be a regen with no RF amplifier, right?  Maybe something like this: 

 Look carefully at the pictures and try to gather any additional information on the receiver or its builder.  

Thanks Grayson! 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

George Heron N2APB talks about Coherent CW at FDIM: Interview #7 by Bob Crane W8SX

It was great to hear George's voice again.  I was a big fan of his "Chat with the Designers" podcast. And it was great to see that Pete Eaton WB9FLW (an old friend of SolderSmoke) was also involved in this presentation.  

At FDIM George was talking about Coherent CW.  Now, my views on CW have been made quite clear, but I am going to deliberately avoid snide comments about how Coherent CW might be a contradiction in terms.  Thank you.   I think this is something that Pete N6QW and I can agree on. 

Nevertheless, this is all technically interesting.  This reminds me of what happens with WSPR.  But I wasn't quite sure what George was getting at with his discussion of the phase of the incoming signal -- I can see the need to get the receivers' narrow filter exactly on the transmitting station's frequency, but why the phase?  

Here is Bob Crane's interview with George: 


And here are a couple of things with background info on CCW. 



Thanks George, thanks Pete, and thanks Bob. 

Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column