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Monday, March 11, 2024

Radio Items Picked-up at VWS Winterfest 2024 Hamfest

As always, click on image for a better view

Above you can see what I picked up at the Vienna Wireless Society's 2024 Winterfest Hamfest. 

-- On the left in the blue box is an MXM Industries SuperRX/TX 40 transceiver. It is a kit from a Texas company.   Superhet receiver with IF at 455 kHz.  Crystal controlled CW transmitter on 7040 kHz.  The oscillator works, but so far no receive signals.  I will have to troubleshoot.  Does anyone have a schematic? 

-- Behind the MXM there is a nice box marked "Diode Detector" I opened it up and there is just a solid state diode and a 50 ohm resistor to ground.   Box may be useful. 

-- I got a couple of books: "Weekend Projects" 1979 from ARRL, and "A History of QST -- Volume 1 Amateur Radio Technology 1915 - 2013" 2013 from ARRL. 

-- On top of the Weekend Projects book you see a "Crystal Holder" from Gross Radio of New York City.  W1UJR has some good history on this company:  https://w1ujr.com/written-word/gross-radio-company-circa-1931/  This device seem to be intended to hold in place a raw piece of quartz!  Cool. 

-- To the right of the books there is a serious-looking VFO.  One dollar!  Deal!  It is a CB VFO, but the markings say it puts out 5.44 to 5.99 MHz.  So it should be useful.  The dual speed dial is very nice.  

-- Above the VFO is a nice step attenuator from the "Arrow Antenna" company of Loveland Colorado. 

-- Further to the right are some Electric Radio and Antique Wireless Association magazines that Armand WA1UQO gave me.  Really nice.  The AWA mags have a very thoughtful piece (warts and all) on Jean Shepherd.  And the ER pile has an article by Scott WA9WFA that mentions my work on the Mate for the Mighty Midget receiver.  Thanks again Armand! 

-- I also got some ADE6+ surface mount mixers.  The price was right! 

Thanks to VWS for putting on this great hamfest! 

Thursday, March 7, 2024

The Wizard of Schenectady -- Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Such a beautiful article.   Ramakrishnan VU2JXN sent it to me.  It reminded me of how puzzeled we were when we found "Schenectady" on old shortwave receiver dials, amidst truly exotic locations.  Rangoon!  Peking!  Cape Town!  Schenectady?   Obviously this was due to General Electric's location in that New York State city.  But reading this article, I am thinking that the presence of Charles Proteus Steinmetz had something to do with it. His informal title (The Wizard of Schenectady)  confirmed that we have been right in awarding similar titles to impressive homebrewers. 

Here is the Smithsonian article that Ramakrishnan sent. 


And here is a link to a PBS video on Steinmetz: 


Here is a SolderSmoke blog post about "Radio Schenectady":


Wednesday, March 6, 2024

N6ASD Builds a Zinc-Oxide Negative Resistance Transmitter (and a Spark/Coherer rig)

I saw this video and post on Hackaday this morning:

I got the fellow's callsign from  his Morse CQ.  
It is N6ASD in San Francisco. 

Check this out from his QRZ page: https://www.qrz.com/db/N6ASD

My journey into the world of amateur radio began in a very primitive way. My first "rig" comprised of a spark-gap transmitter and a coherer based receiver. A coherer is a primitive radio signal detector that consists of iron filings placed between two electrodes. It was popular in the early days of wireless telegraphy.

Spark transmitter (using a car's ignition coil to generate high-voltage sparks):

Coherer based receiver (using a doorbell for the "decoherer" mechanism):

When I keyed the transmitter, a high voltage arc would appear at the spark-gap and this produced (noisy) radio waves. The signal would be received by the iron-filings coherer on the other side of the room. A coherer is (usually) a one-shot receiver. You have to physically hit it to shake the filings and bring the detector back to its original state. That's what the doorbell hammer did. It would hit the coherer every time it received a signal. It amazed me to no end. A spark created in one room of my house could make the hammer move in another room. Magic!

Soon after this project, I started experimenting with *slightly more refined* crystal detectors and crystal radio circuits. As most of you would know, these amazing radios don't require any batteries and work by harnessing energy from radio waves. I guess these simple experiments instilled a sense of awe and wonder regarding electromagnetic waves, and eventually, this brought me into the world of amateur radio in 2015.

My main HF rig is an old ICOM IC-735. The only modification on this is radio is that it uses LED backlights (instead of bulbs):

Icom IC 735

With space at a premium in San Francisco, the antenna that I have settled for is an inverted vee installed in my backyard (and it just barely fits). I made the mast by lashing together wooden planks. For this city dweller, it works FB:

I have recently gotten into CW, and it has definitely become my mode of choice.

I'm a self-taught electronics enthusiast and I love homebrewing radio circuits. I'll be sharing more info about them soon.

Thanks for checking out my page. I hope to meet you on the air!



Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A Contact with my Old Azorean DSB Transceiver

I've been thinking about balanced modulators, and I wanted to see how some of my early circuits performed.  So I pulled this OLD Double Sideband rig off the shelf and fired it up. The balanced modulator -- and everything else! - worked fine,  and I soon made contact on 17 meter SSB with Gene, AB9GK. 

This was the first DSB transceiver that I ever built.  I made this out in the Azores, probably in 2000 or 2001.  Years later I had replaced the RF power amplifier with a "JBOT" (Just a Bunch of Transistors) designed by Farhan.  

Over on my YouTube channel a comment came in from my friend Jack:  

"Looking inside and seeing the o-scope probe in place while the radio was on the air reminded me of neurosurgery where the patient is awake and talking while the surgeon probes different brain regions soliciting feedback. Sure, ham radio isn't neurosurgery, but it's not too far at times. Also, you already have rocket science covered."

Here is an article about my build of that first rig:

I think the article captures well the trials and tribulations faced by new homebrewers, perhaps with the twist that comes from being out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  

Mike WU2D is having similar fun with his homebrew 10 meter DSB transceiver: 

I was struck by how similar Mike's early QSO experiences were with mine.  We both put our DSB transmitters on the air before they made their way into real cabinets or boxes. 

Here's mine from 2001 in the Azores: 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Innovation and a Dual Band Sweep with Version 2 of the 15-10 Transceiver

Here are a couple of videos on Version 2 of my 15-10 SSB transceiver.  In the video above I try to show the advances and innovations that have been made since the start of my BITX construction adventure back in 2013.  

 The video below shows the receiver in action this morning on 15 and 10 meter SSB.  I think it sounds pretty good. 

Click on the image for a better look

Farhan asked what the passband of the 25 MHz crystal filter looked like.  I sent him this.  I think it looks very good, and shows that it is possible to use an IF this high.  This permits us to not only set up the transceiver for dual band coverage (in this case 15 and 10 meters), but it also allows for a lower frequency VFO (in this case around 3.5 MHz) with a resulting increase in VFO stability.  

Saturday, February 24, 2024

More on "Kludge" -- Merriam-Webster's Pronunciation Guide


What say our British cousins?  How do you pronounce the word? 

Kluge as in huge? 

Kludge as in fudge? 

Innovations and Inventions in Garages and Basements

The Hewlett-Packard garage

There is a lot of inspirational stuff in this blog post, especially for those of us who work in home workshops, often in garages or basements. 

Thanks to HackaDay for alerting us to this. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Some of my Double Sideband Rigs: Azores, Virginia, Dominican Republic

The above video describe a round of mods to the much modded DSB rig. And my alleged winning of the ARRL Sweepstakes (in a very elite category). 

The video above shows where I took the rig in 2014.  Bahia Rincon, Samana peninsula, Dominican Republic.  You can also see my power supply. 

Here is an article on the first DSB rig that I built, out in the Azores:  


I think the article captures well the trials and tribulations faced by new homebrewers, perhaps with the twist that comes from being out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  

Mike WU2D is having similar fun with his homebrew 10 meter DSB transceiver: 

I was struck by how similar Mike's early QSO experiences were with mine.  We both put our DSB transmitters on the air before they made their way into real cabinets or boxes. 

Here's mine from 2001 in the Azores: 

The Mars Helicopter and its CO2 Insulation

This video isn't about homebrew ham gear, but nonetheless I found it very interesting.  Of particular interest is the bit about their need to find a very low-weight insulator to protect the instruments from the cold of the Martian night.  Aerogel would have been too heavy.  So they just filled the instrument chamber with Carbon Dioxide.  That was their insulator. Think about that, especially those of you who still deny CO2's ability to heat up the atmosphere.  

There is a lot of great stuff on Veritasium's YouTube  channel:  

Monday, February 19, 2024

Grayson Evans KJ7UM Video on Homebrewing with Thermatrons

Grayson Evans KJ7UM is the author of Hollow-State Design for the Radio Amateur, a wonderful book about using Thermatrons (aka tubes, or valves) in radio projects. Buy it here:


More info on the book is here: https://kj7um.wordpress.com/2020/12/02/hollow-state-design/ In this video, Grayson talks about construction techniques (including the use of Thermatron Me-Pads), and Manhattan construction for Thermatron projects. FB! Visit Grayson's blog: https://kj7um.wordpress.com/

Jean Shepherd has Trouble with his Heising Modulator (and his date)

This is probably Jean Shepherd's best program about homebrew ham radio.  It is about how we can become obsessed with the problems that arise with equipment that we have built ourselves, and how normal people cannot understand our obsessions.   

I posted about this back in 2008, but I was listening to it again today, and quickly realized that it is worth re-posting.   Realize that Shepherd's Heising modulation problems happened almost 90 years ago.  But the same kind of obsession affect the homebrewers of today.  

Note too how Shepherd talks about "Heising" in Heising modulation.  Heising has an entire circuit named for him, just like Hartley, Colpitts, and Pierce of oscillator fame.  Sometimes, when I tell another ham that my rig is homebrew, I get a kind of snide, snarky, loaded question:  "Well, did you DESIGN it yourself?"  This seems to be a way for appliance operators to deal with the fact that while they never build anything, someone else out there does melt solder.  They seem to think that the fact that you did not design the rig yourself makes your accomplishment less impressive, less threatening.  This week I responded to this question with Shepherd's observation -- I told the enquiring ham that my rig is in fact homebrewed, but that I had not invented the Colpitts oscillator, nor the common emitter amplifier, not the diode ring mixer, nor the low-pass filter.  But yes, the rig is homebrew, as was Shepherd's Heising modulator.    

Guys, stop what you are doing. Put down that soldering iron, or that cold Miller High Life ("the champagne of bottled beer") and click on the link below. You will be transported back to 1965 (and 1934!), and will hear master story-teller Jean Shepherd (K2ORS) describing his teenage case of The Knack. He discusses his efforts to build a Heising modulated transmitter for 160 meters. He had trouble getting it working, and became obsessed with the problem, obsessed to the point that a girl he was dating concluded that there was "something wrong with him" and that his mother "should take him to a doctor."

This one is REALLY good. It takes him a few minutes to get to the radio stuff, but it is worth the wait. More to follow. EXCELSIOR! FLICK LIVES!

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Nate KA1MUQ's Amazing Thermatron Receiver

Wow, some really wonderful work is taking place in Nate KA1MUQ's basement in California. 

-- I really like the pill bottle coil forms.  I wonder if Nate faced suspicion (and possible arrest) in the pharmacy when he asked for the pill bottles.  (I got some suspicious looks when I went I asked for empty pill bottles while building my thermatron Mate for the Mighty Midget receiver back in 1998.) 

-- The variable capacitors are also quite cool, as is the big rotary switch.   Is that for band switching? 

-- Oh  man, all on a plywood board.  Frank Jones would approve!  

-- Indeed Nate, that beautiful receiver NEEDS an analog VFO.  And we need to hear it inhaling phone sigs, not that FT8 stuff. 

-- Please keep us posted on your progress.  And of course, one hand behind your back OM.  Lots of high voltage on those thermatrons.  

Thanks Nate!  

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