Podcasting since 2005! Listen to Latest SolderSmoke

Sunday, December 31, 2023

South African Homebrew: ZS4L's "Griffin" 40 Meter SSB Transceiver


That's William, now ZL4L, and his homebrew 40 meter SSB transceiver.  He has given the rig a wonderful name from Greek mythology:  The Griffin (see below).  I talked to William this morning on 10 meter SSB.  I mentioned my homebrew rig and to my surprise (this doesn't happen much) he asked for more info.  Then he told me about his own homebrew creation, The Griffin.  FB William! 


From William's QRZ.com page (https://www.qrz.com/db/ZS4L):  

I have always wanted to build a homebrew transceiver-and recently I completed my pride and joy-a 40m SSB/MCW transceiver-I call it the ZS5WC "Griffin"..

"Griffin"..-well --if you know greek mythology you will find that it defeated much greater adversaries in battle.(to cut a long story short..)
The parallel I am getting at is..Big commercial rigs can be taken on by a rig constructed at home-and with great success!.
Sure, it does not have the bells and whistles of a 1000mp-but the TX audio is good, the RX is great , and the SMILE factor-even with all the little quirks is off the scale!..
Basically it is a single conversion superhet-4 tuned BPF stages,ATT, Gain control stage ahead of 1st Rec. Mixer/Bal. mod (NE612) , Xtal 10mhz homebrew filter,2 transistor feedback amp, second gain control stage,2nd mixer/BFO (NE612)-On TX to PA board-4 transistor pre-amp, IRF510 mosfet PA, LPF and RX /TX relay. ON RX to TL072 audio pre-amp, Spits to AGC/S-meter amp-(741 and BC107's) and audio amp TBA820m.
ALC is done on AGC board as well with BC107 back to back to AGC bc107.
The S-meter drive is developed in the emitter leg of the AGC BC107-simple series pot to calibrate-no zero pot is required..(Works great!)
There is a volt control PCB too, with RX/TX switching.
On the main PCB there is a phase shift osc. for MCW and sidetone. Alc is adjustable from front panel from 1/2 watt to 5 watt.Rit is included in the Hartley osc. circuit and readout is done with a pic and two line LCD disp.(from AADE.com..)
Freq. drift from warm is 200Hz down in frequency then swings round and stabilises close to start freq.
Rit is good for around 5Khz swing.
Amp keying is available on the back panel, as well as an aux. 12 supply-(To run a homebrew noise squasher and amp..)

Friday, December 29, 2023

7J6CBQ on Okinawa -- And a Translation of a Science Fiction Novel about Ham Radio in China


The article about Sergeant Malik Pugh USMC on Okinawa brought back memories from the 1990s. David Cowhig was 73 Magazine's Hambassador on Okinawa -- I had the same "position" in the Dominican Republic.  David and I were both in the Foreign Service;  we joked that 73 had afforded us our only chances to be ambassadors of any kind.  David's Okinawa QSL and the opening from his initial report to 73 magazine appear above.  You can see more here: 

A couple of my own "dispatches" as Hambassdor to the Dominican Republic appear here: 

Back in the 90's David sent me an old QST Magazine.  I wrote about this on the SolderSmoke blog: 

Later, I learned about another "Hambassador" who was still active as a radio amateur: Ron Gang 4X1MK:  

Finally (and this is really cool):  David Cowhig has been putting his language skills to good use, translating Chinese written material.  He sent me his translation of the opening chapters of a Chinese science fiction novel about ham radio.   Readers of the SolderSmoke Daily News will like this: 

We Live in Nanjing 《我们生活在南京》

Thanks David! 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Around the World Twice (and maybe more) on 15 meters

John EI7GL has a great blog post about some experiments recently done by Salvador EA5Y.  Salvador was aiming his 4 element yagi in one direction, sending dits, and watching for the signal to come around the other side.  You can see the results in the display above.  I commented that this might be the time for one of those antennas with which you can instantly reverse the pattern. Or, probably better, have some other hams aim their antennas in the opposite direction so that they can catch the circumnavigating signals. 

Check it out: 


Two trips around is 80,000 km or about 50,000 miles!  That's quite a trip.  But how about 3 times around?  Or more? 

Thanks to John EI7GL and to Salvador EA5Y.  

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A Marine's Home Workshop on Okinawa

Sergeant Malik Pugh recently won the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal for stepping forward and 3D printing a part that was needed to put a satellite terminal back in operation.  That's was great, but even more interesting for us is the fact that Sergeant Pugh has a home electronics workshop in his place on family quarters on Okinawa.  See picture above.  

The workshop seems to be focused on RC cars, robots and drones, but there is clearly ham radio potential there.  This may be the first time since David Cowhig WA1LBP's tour on the island in the early 1990s that we see a workshop like this one.  David was 7J6CBQ and, in addition to his duties at the American Consulate at Naha, Okinawa, served as 73 Magazine's "Hambassdor" (I was the Hambassador to the Dominican Republic at the same time).  

Read about Sergeant Pugh here: 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Nice Searchable Compilation of "Hot Iron" Issues

Tom K4ZAD writes: 


This might make good copy for the SolderSmoke Daily News:


Also it should be noted that starting with issue #122 W4NPN, Frank
Barnes is editing Hot Iron with help from the former editor G6NGR, Peter
Thornton. See: https://www.w4npn.net/hot-iron-directory/

I view the Daily News frequently, and also use the topics index on the
left when seeking more info on a subject. It often helps.

Tom    K4ZAD



Saturday, December 23, 2023

1000 Mile QSO with KC5U using Modified CB Rigs (video)

Eldon KC5U saw my blog posts about Jerry K5JC’s mods to the PLL02 CB rigs.

Eldon did the mod and we have been trying to make contact. We did so today. It was very cool. I was on my GE rig; Eldon was running a JC Penny! (See video above.) 1054 miles. Thanks Eldon. And thanks Jerry!

Friday, December 22, 2023

The New Display: The PHOLED


At first I thought, "faux-OLED"?    Then I thought, maybe an OLED from Vietnam (like the delicious soup)?  No, that was not it.  But this IEEE article explains how new blue phosphorescent materials fix OLED display weaknesses


Thursday, December 21, 2023

Sci-Fi Series with an Apollo-era Vibe

Kind of fun.  The Apollo-era and Saturn V stuff bring back memories of 1969 and all that. It is a series that you can watch on Apple TV. 

Here is a review: 


Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Computer Science is DOOMED Because Humans are Bad at Programming (Video)

Wow, this video of Dr. Matt Welsh's presentation to the CS-50 class at Harvard really put the whole AI, large language model into perspective. It came at a very good time for me, because for past week or two I have been struggling with what was, essentially, a programming problem.  (Dean KK4DAS got it fixed, but the fact that it wasn't easy made me think about the software problems discussed in the video.) 

So much great stuff in this video: 

-- Shel Silverstein!  Yes!  We have discussed him before. The guy who wrote both kids books and articles for Playboy magazine.   The author of "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" for Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show ("The thrill that'll hit ya...") 

-- Pong.  Toy Story (Mark K6HX worked on this).  War Games. 

-- The connections between EE and CS.  Slide rules. 

-- "ChatGPT is like an eBike for the mind."  (But it seems like the jump from Rust to AI is a lot more significant and involved than the jump from bike to eBike.) 

Matt's presentation made me feel a LOT better about never having learned a programming language. And it made me feel a lot better about never having forced my kids to "learn how to code."  I always thought that there would be PEOPLE who were better at this.  As it turns out, the AI is better at that.  

Matt's admission that we don't really know what is going on in the large language models was really interesting.  Especially his description of the "empirical discovery" of the need to use the phrase "let's think step-by-step." 

His description of the cost economics behind today's programming vs. the cost of future (AI-based) software development should be quite sobering for many.  

Monday, December 18, 2023

Pete Juliano N6QW Completes Another Orbit -- Happy Birthday Pete

 Today is the birthday of Peter Juliano, N6QW.  Happy birthday Pete! 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Make Your Own SDR Software! And, "Analog Man" by Joe Walsh of the Eagles (WB6ACU)

The above video appeared on Hack-A-Day this morning.  ON THE SAME MORNING, Bruce KK0S happened to send me this version of Joe Walsh WB6ACU's song "Analog Man." This version has the lyrics.  Thanks Bruce. 

I am currently struggling with some DNS server problems.  Dean KK4DAS is helping me.  In spite of many years on the internet, this DNS problem has reminded me that, like Joe Walsh, I am an analog man.  I mean, just take a look at my Mythbuster rig: (1382) Mythbuster for Lamakaan ARC - YouTube

But there are limits to my analog fanaticism.  First, while Joe proclaims that he is looking for an analog girl, I very luckily found a digital girl.  Elisa is quite digital.  Second, even though digital tech is not my thing, I am willing to accept its usefulness.  I mean, there is so much we wouldn't be doing if we were all "analog men." Like going to the moon

This is a hobby -- it is all for fun.  Whatever floats your boat, right?  Still, Joe's song reminds me a bit of the old "SPARK FOREVER!" that you can still see on old QSL cards. That's kind of sad.  I just recognize that my comfort zone is more analog than digital.  

Friday, December 15, 2023

Check out the Hyderabad, India Hamfest! LARC-6

This all looks very familiar.  It is very much like the hamfests and rallies I've seen in the US and UK. 

Note in the video above that we see the HF Signals table and our good friend Farhan VU2ESE.

I was privileged to speak to the convention about my Mythbuster transceiver: 
Joseph VU2JQE recorded and uploaded many short videos on the LARC-6 convention and hamfest.  You can see the on his YouTube page:  https://www.youtube.com/@VU2JQE  Thanks Joseph and thanks to the Lamakaan ARC. 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Mythbuster Video for the Lamakaan Amateur Radio Club of Hyderabad, India

I was really pleased when Farhan asked me to speak at this year's Lamakaan Amateur Radio Club convention.  He asked me to talk about my Mythbuster 75 and 20 meter SSB rig.  It was especially nice to talk about this rig because so much of the inspiration and circuitry for it came from Farhan's BITX rigs.  

I recorded a video so that we could avoid WiFi trouble -- the video appears above.  Below you can see photos of the convention and the presentation of the video.  

Thanks Farhan and thanks to the Lamakaan ARC! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Super Solar Storms May Not Be So Rare

Click on the image for a clearer view

Yesterday's Washington Post had a good story about large solar storms.  We are all aware of the Carrington Event (September 1859) but there were others.  The Japanese painting above depicts an event of February 4, 1872.   

Around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, 1872, the sky above Jacobabad suddenly brightened, as if a portal to heaven had opened. A passerby watched in amazement and terror, while a pet dog became motionless, then trembled. The godly glow morphed, from red to bright blue to deep violet, until morning.

Electric communication cables mysteriously glitched in the Mediterranean, around Lisbon and Gibraltar, London and India. Confused telegraph operators in Cairo reported issues in sending messages to Khartoum. One incoming message asked what was the big red glow on the horizon — a fire or a faraway explosion?

This of course reminded me of the event that I witnessed as a teenager in New York in 1972: 


That post has resulted in a steady stream of comments, mostly from non-hams.  Apparently people remember seeing the event, then search the web for clues as to what it was.  Google brings them to that post on the SolderSmoke Daily News.  The comments are usually along the lines of, "Wow!  I saw it too!"  Very cool.  

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Help! Bill Needs Computer/Website/DNS Help!

Some SolderSmoke fans have noticed that many links to earlier podcasts (and other things) have disappeared from the SolderSmoke Daily News blog.  This is my fault.  I am trying to correct it, but have been having a tough time.  This is definitely a problem that is outside my analog, discrete component comfort zone.    

The host is Bluehost.  They also are the DNS host.  This morning I wrote to them explaining the problem: 

 -- For many years I have had a website on Bluehost called soldersmoke.com.  On this website I stored many (around 250) .mp3 files, a .rss. and other important files.  

-- On November 20, I created a WordPress site on bluehost: https://dqu.......

-- On November 29, I attempted to have my Bluehost soldersmoke.com site point to the new WordPress site. I may have renamed the WordPress site.
-- After carrying out this action on November 29, I was dismayed to find that all of the many .mp3 and .rss files I had on the soldersmoke.com site are no longer accessible.
-- I have carried out backups of the soldersmoke.com site going back to November 15.  While these backups appear successful, the files remain inaccessible.
-- I think there is a pointing/naming/DNS problem that remains to be resolved. 

-- Please go back to the pointing/naming action I took on November 29 and undo or reverse this action so that the files that I have on the soldersmoke.com site are again accessible. 

-- I am not concerned about the new WordPress blog --  can recreate this later.  

With help from Dean KK4DAS we will today again attempt to fix this problem.   But if anyone out there has any good ideas on how to fix this,  please let me know.  

Thanks,  73  Bill 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Beginning of MY Radio Life...

Unlike Pete (see below), I don't have any cool pictures of me in front of an early station.   But in the picture above,  there I am, at the Thanksgiving table in 1973 age 15.  I was on the air by this date, on CW as WN2QHL.  Armed with a Lafayette HA-600A and a DX-40, I was tearing up the ham bands, especially 40 meters.  Look at the tension in my face, the grip of my fist... I just wanted to finish that turkey and get on the air!  But no, I had to have Thanksgiving dinner. 

I recently realised that I have been a ham for more than 50 years. Is there an HCWA?    

This and the recent movie from India led me to think about the timeline of my early radio days: 

-- Christmas 1972.  Santa brings me a Lafayette HA-600A general coverage receiver.  With jeweled movements.  Age:  14

-- April 27, 1973.  Novice Ticket becomes effective.  WN2QHL.  Age 14. 

-- July 19, 1973.  First contact (with Elmer WN2NEC).  Age 14.

-- February 1 and 2 1973.  A grumpy old-timer calls -- during the Novice Roundup! -- to tell me that I'm putting harmonics onto the 20 meter band.  I get scared and go off the air.  Geez!  I probably just needed to retune the tank circuit.  Age 15. 

-- February 23, 1974.  I go back on the air with a DX-100.  Age 15. 

-- March 5, 1974.  I take the General Class exam at the FCC office in New York City. I pass. Age 15. 

-- April 11, 1974.  I buy the Drake 2-B from WN2NEC. This revolutionizes my radio life.  Fifteen meter contacts become possible.   Age 15. 

-- April 13, 1974.  I work ZL2ACP on 15 meter CW.  I wake up my parents to tell them.  Age 15. 

-- April 21, 1974.  END OF NOVICE OPERATION.  Apparently we were still working under a one year limitation on Novice operation.  Could the expiration date have been marked on the license? 

At this point the FCC screwed up and sent me a Technician License instead of a General Class License.  My father got on the phone to Gettysburg and straightened this out.  Thanks Dad.  So I was only a Technician for a few weeks. 

-- April 9, 1974.  General Class License effective.  I become WB2QHL,  a man of substance.  Age 15. 

-- May-June 1974.  I acquire a Heathkit HW-32A 20 meter SSB transceiver from the Crystal Radio Club.  But I have to build the power supply from an old TV.  Somehow, I survive. Age 15. 

-- June 11, 1974.  First contact with the HW-32A.  Age 15.   

-- November 9, 1974.  Last contact with the HW-32A . Age 16. 

-- March 15, 1975.  First contact with my Hallicrafters HT-37. Age 16. 

Above is my only photo of my teenage ham radio station.  I can date it via the QSL card above the map. I still have that card.  I worked W7RUK on March 25, 1975.  That contact was on 20 SSB, but when this picture was taken I was on CW (the key is plugged in, not the microphone).   

-- June 1976   I graduate from High School.  Age 17.  

-- I was active and on the air through the summer of 1976. 

-- July 1976 -- QST article on the Herring Aid 5 receiver.  I try to build it and fail.  Age 17. 

-- October 1976 -- I depart for Army Basic Training. 

There is someone else who needs honorable mention here:  My sister Trish.  Here she is, next to me at the Thanksgiving table in 1973.  Trish helped me keep my ham radio log book.  Thanks Trish! 

Pete Juliano, Field Day, 1959.  With a DX-100B and (gasp!) a QF-1. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

"My Radio My Life" A Film about Radio Enthusiasts

My Radio My Life | Trailer | 4K from Makarand Waikar on Vimeo.

Wow!  VU2DTR is presenting a film about radio made by her mom VU2RBI.  They are showing it in Bethesda, Maryland today.  

Trailer above, summary below:  This looks really great.  I hope we can see the whole film on-line soon! 


Set in the 21st century, the film revisits the golden era of radio in, when it was the dominant, popular, and only source of entertainment, news, and knowledge.

Being a medium that is heard across national borders, the radio has been instrumental in expanding horizons and enriching the lives of generations. Besides giving companionship to individuals, the radio brought families together and inspired people to make life choices.

Radio continues to enthrall people with its evolving nature and the sentiments associated with it.

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