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Monday, July 11, 2022

Surface-Mount Solder Smoke -- Is THIS Really Homebrew?

I was recently noting that the assembly of IC, CPU-based projects doesn't seem like real homebrew radio.  I realize that there is a danger here -- there is a tendency in ham radio to reject the new and to stick with the old.  "SPARK FOREVER" was the rallying cry when CW came along.  There are still a lot of AMers who refer to SSB as "Single Slop Bucket." So, with that in mind I point the blog to the above video.    He is using complicated ICs that probably have thousands if not millions of transistors.  But he is definitely making something new. And he releases some real solder smoke in the process.   FB.  

It is probably not for me, but others may like it. Like the old song says "Different strokes for different folks." YMMV.   

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A Truly Great Book: "From Atoms to Amperes" by F.A. Wilson (Free Download)


This is a really wonderful book.  I'm glad worldradiohistory.com has found a way to make it available as a free download.  This is the kind of book that you want to download and keep available for future study.  The day will come, for example, when you will want to understand how Einstein's special relativity explains how that transformer in your rig actually works.  F.A. Wilson explains that, and much more. Here is the link:  

Thanks to Joefish for the heads-up. 

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Would this Really Be Homebrew?

Hack-A-Day has an interesting post about an FM Broadcast radio project.  I took a look.  The Github page has the schematics for the hardware.  For me, the thing is, there is just not a lot there.  It is a bunch of chips.  The FM Tuner IC is the heart of the project.  With that one you have to dig down to see that it is a digital processing chip:

All of the action -- all of the magic of radio -- is locked inside those little SMD chips.  I suppose if you were skilled enough to write the software or to significantly modify it,  you'd get closer to the experience of homebrew radio,  but very few of us have those kinds of skills -- we just download the software, then struggle to get it into the chips. 

And sure, you could struggle to solder those chips to a PC board, but really, why bother when 99% of the components are already inside the chips?  You should just buy a board with the chips on them and with the software already loaded.  There you have it:  the store-bought appliance is really, really close to the supposedly homebrew receiver. 

But hey, to each his own.  This is a hobby and it is all for fun.  I just think I have more fun with old-style, analog, discrete component HDRs.  YMMV.     

Monday, July 4, 2022

Ciprian Got His Ticket: YO6DXE (and Romanian Mighty Mite FIXED!)

Ciprian writes: 

Thank you so much to you all... and thank you SolderSmoke for always writing about my learning in homebrew gear. I did finally got my license... just waiting for the paperwork to arrive. But now I'm finally YO6DXE ( DX Explorer lol ). I did found my issue with the power... it seems that it's from the cheap BD139 that doesn't seem to work as expected. I get about 500mW with a 2n2222. So I ended up making another version of the transmitter that I'm really happy about. 73 to you all DE YO6DXE.

SolderSmoke posts about Ciprian: https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/search?q=Ciprian

Ciprian's QRZ.com page: https://www.qrz.com/db/YO6DXE

Ciprian's blog:  https://dxexplorer.com/

Ciprian's YouTube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/c/DXExplorer

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Homebrew Variable Capacitors -- VU2NIL's Antenna Tuner (and other projects from Basanta)


OM Basanta VU2NIL  built a very nice antenna tuner using homebrew variable capacitors (above).  After seeing this, I feel unworthy -- I used FACTORY-MADE variable capacitors. I feel like such an appliance operator.  I hang my head in shame.  

Details on Basanta's tuner are here: https://www.qsl.net/vu2nil/projects/20210/20210.html

More project from him here: https://www.qsl.net/vu2nil/

And more here (his blog): https://vu2nil.blogspot.com/

Basanta has obviously made great contributions to the radio art.  Thanks Basanta.  And thanks to Alain F4IET for alerting me to Basanta's work. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

A Double Sideband Transmitter from France -- F4IET's "Master Robert"

The Radio Gods seem to be steering us toward Double Sideband.  A few days ago I got an e-mail from Alain F4IET.   We had him on the SolderSmoke blog two years ago, talking about his French backyard pandemic Field Day.  His recent e-mail reminded me of his very fine homebrew DSB transmitter, which is his only rig and with which he has worked the world. 

The rig is named for the fellow -- Robert F6EUZ -- who is Alain's teacher from the local radio club. 

Alain's rig was shown to the world in the G-QRP club's Winter 2020 issue of SPRAT (SPRAT 185).  Once again, let me note:  If you are not subscribing to SPRAT, you are just WRONG.  Join G-QRP and start receiving SPRAT:  http://www.gqrp.com/join.htm

Alain gives some nice shout-outs to Pete N6QW,  Charlie ZL2CTM, and Basanta VU2NIL, all of whom provided advice and counsel on this project.  So think about it:  the Master Robert rig was built in France under the guidance of a French Elmer, with advice from hams in the U.S., New Zealand, and India, and was featured in journal of the British QRP club.  That, my friends is the International Brotherhood at its best. 

As I read about Alain's rig, I found myself thinking about the Direct Conversion receiver projects underway around the world.   The Vienna Wireless Society's Maker Group, is, for example, building a simple DC receiver.   It would be relatively easy to pair up a rig like the Master Robert with a DC receiver (the VFO could be the only stage common to both transmit and receive) to make a simple phone transceiver.  That kind of rig was my first phone transceiver.  Alain reports that he is currently working on a second version of the Master Robert.  It will be a transmitter-receiver (TRX) and will be used in SOTA operations. 

Alain's description of his transmitter is a lot of fun: http://www.f4iet.fr/mdwiki/#!master_robert.md
I especially liked his comment about how the other phone stations never knew he was on DSB: http://www.f4iet.fr/mdwiki/#!dsb.md I had similar experiences out in the Azores with my DSB rigs.  

Here is Alain's main page: http://www.f4iet.fr/mdwiki/#!index.md

Alain's QRZ.com page:  https://www.qrz.com/db/F4IET

Here is the Master Robert schematic from GQRP: http://www.gqrp.com/Maestro_Robert_Cct.pdf
Here is a link to the 76 DSB posts on the SolderSmoke blog (keep scrolling down!): 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Flip-up Workbench Build -- Possible Application for Our Test Gear

Interesting workbench build.   While his tools were all for woodworking, this got me wondering about using this technique to store bigger pieces of electronic test gear that are not in use every day.  


Monday, June 27, 2022

Pete N6QW's Hybrid Wireless Set -- A Thing of Beauty, with Thermatrons

Pete Juliano is amazing.  He is admirably carrying a very heavy load of family responsibilities.  But  he still can build some really unique and innovative rigs.  He tells us that getting up at 3 am and only sleeping 5 hours per night allows him to do this.

Pete also blames Grayson Evans KJ7UM for this rig, what with the thrematrons and all.  Pete has a 7360 mixer in this rig, something that Grayson had in the 3rd edition of his Hollow-State Design book (get yours here:  https://www.ermag.com/product/hollow-state-design-2nd-edition/).  Pete reports that he first built the chassis for the tube (I mean thermatron) portion of the rig in the 1970s -- it has been in his junkbox ever since.  Grayson admires Pete's compact construction and point-to-point wiring.  

I too noticed very poor conditions on Field Day this year.  

Three cheers for Pete Juliano!  

Thoughts on Homebrew, Makers, DIY, and Hams -- from Lex PH2LB

Sometimes we get a comment that is so good that we elevate it to the main blog page.  That was the case with Lex PH2LB's comment on the blog post of Owen Duffy (yesterday). 


When I started the hobby, it arose out of technological curiosity, the interest in understanding things and the will to make things myself (designing myself was not my main goal). It doesn't matter to me whether it is 100% DIY or a kit (such as Heathkit, Elecraft, QRP-Labs etc) which is modified or not after construction. Just having fun with the hobby and pushing boundaries. And yes I also have some off-the-shelf transceivers (I'm super happy with my FT817ND) and my QO-100 uplink is also a kit (which is then already soldered a little more than average). As far as new tools are concerned: here at home are 2 types of 3D printers, various tools for SMT assembly, and I have a nice workshop equipped with tools and equipment for metal / plastic / wood processing. And every day I try to learn something new, because I stand by the IBEW moto : If you know stuff, you can do stuff.

Am I a maker then? I wouldn't call myself that. Just like I don't call myself a hacker because I'm quite handy with computers, technology and have certain skills. I'm just a hobbyist who wants to do and make things after work.
Lex is a true member of the International Brotherhood.  He is the one who took our beloved stickers onto the European continent and into a Netherlands pub.  He is the one who -- unforgettably -- saw the parallels between ham shacks and the "pleasure room" of "50 Shades of Gray" (See below -- apropos of his current message, we labeled his meme "50 Shades of Homebrew") For more on Lex see: https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/search?q=PH2LB

Lex's web site (Shack on the Internet):  https://www.ph2lb.nl/blog/index.php?page=hamradio

 Thanks Lex! 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

ZL2BMI Double Sideband QRP Transmitter in SPRAT #191

Very cool that SPRAT had a Double Sideband (DSB)  transmitter article in its current issue (#191 Summer 2022). The author is DSB guru Eric Sears ZL2BMI,creator of the famous ZL2BMI  DSB QRP transceiver. 

I think DSB is a great way to break into homebrewing for phone.  Building a DSB transmitter is a LOT easier than building an SSB rig.  The DSB transmitter can then be converted into a DSB/Direct Conversion transceiver.   

Here is a link to 75 SolderSmoke blog posts about DSB (keep on scrolling, keep on hitting the "older posts" button): https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/search/label/DSB

Here are a bunch of blog posts that mention ZL2BMI: https://soldersmoke.blogspot.com/search?q=ZL2BMI

Thank you Eric, and thanks to G-QRP. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Australian Homebrew: Owen Duffy ex VK1OD now VK2OMD. Are Hams Makers?

This week I stumbled upon this amazing blog from Australia.  I had to check with Australian friends to find out more about the author.  Owen Duffy has for many years been a rigorous homebrewer who has documented his findings on his blog:  https://owenduffy.net/blog/

For example, Owen asks the question, "Are hams makers?" https://owenduffy.net/blog/?p=122

There is a lot of great material on this blog.  It goes back to 2013.  Peter Parker notes that an earlier version of the blog (before Owen was forced to change his callsign from VK1OD to VK2OMD) goes back even further and is accessible via the Way-Back Machine:  https://web.archive.org/web/*/vk1od.net

Check it out.  Lots of really useful and interesting material there.   Thanks Owen.  And thanks to the Australian friends who provided background info. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

W8ZAP on 40 AM with a Collins 20V3 Broadcast Transmitter

I was on 40 AM yesterday morning and I talked to Jerry W8ZAP (great callsign) out in Michigan.  Jerry was running his Collins 20V3 (above on the right), which was originally an AM broadcast band transmitter.  FB.  

Here is Jerry's QRZ.com page: https://www.qrz.com/db/W8ZAP

Thursday, June 23, 2022

WIRED on the Dangers of another Carrington Event, Solar Cycle 25, Capacitors Could Save Us All

This Wired article has some really interesting info on competing theories about the solar cycle, about the danger to the Earth from solar flares, and about what a flare like that of the Carrington event could do to the transformers we are currently using.  The article points out that large capacitors could protect these transformers from the effects of the flare.  But the power companies are not installing the capacitors. 

I think one of the scientists Pete mentioned in SolderSmoke podcast #238 is mentioned here: 


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Hammarlund and Homebrew Heroine: Janis AB2RA, HQ-100 Filter Cap Question


I was searching for Hammarlund HQ-100 wisdom when Google pointed me to the Electric Radio articles of Janis AB2RA.  They were in  ER #380 and #381 (February and March 2021).  Lots of good stuff  in there.  

This morning I happened upon a 2014 SolderSmoke blog post (as you do) about my Tuna Tin 2. Turns out that Janis was my first contact with this rig.  And she too was running a homebrew rig. TRGHS. 

I continue to work on my HQ-100.  The AC hum is getting worse so I have ordered a replacement capacitor can from Hayseed Hamfest.   But I was a bit confused about which cap to order.  Hayseed has two caps listed for the HQ-100 -- one (it seems) for the early model of this receiver and one for later models.  Is that right?  Did Hammarlund update the power supply to add filter capacitors?  Take a look: 

Dean KK4DAS is getting ready to work on his dad's HQ-170A.  He too will find lots of wisdom and tribal knowledge on Janis's wonderful web site.  

Her main page: http://www.wireless-girl.com/  (with a vast amount of technical info available through the links on the upper left side of this page) 

About Janis: http://www.wireless-girl.com/AboutMe.html

Thanks Janis!  

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