Category Archives: Antennas

Much Goings On

This first couple of months here have been busy. Building furniture, meeting new people, getting involved in the local radio scene. Trying to build the station up for HF operations.

Ham radio can be a lot of fun even as a solo practitioner, by that I mean working on your own projects. But the fun really kicks in when you are part of the larger community. There are opportunities to engage with fellow hobbyists and the community at large.

KBARA

The local radio club is the Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association. I started off with the group as a VE for one of the clubs exam sessions and then a couple of events with the group, the Crater Lake Rim Run,  and a Safety Fair. We also had a work party up at two of the clubs repeater sites, Hogsback Mountain and Plum Ridge. The folks are very nice and I have been making a lot of solid radio contacts. Several of the members have been very encouraging in my EmComm endeavors.

The folks are very nice and I have been having a lot of fun. Several of the members have been very encouraging with my EmComm endeavors.

The Community

CERT

I have been in communication with the Klamath County CERT group for a while and have been to one of the meetings, with another one tomorrow night.

Some of the KBARA folks are members of CERT as well so I’m not walking in blind or friendless.

I have turned in my County Volunteer paperwork and I’m just waiting to hear back. So, I’m not a member of the team yet, but things were looking good after the last meeting. We shall see.

NTS

I have wanted to get involved with NTS for a long time. In August I got in touch with the Section Traffic Manager to find out what I needed to do to get a local net going. After a few exchanged emails I started checking in regularly with two of the big Section nets that cover the whole state and several surrounding states, Beaver State Net, and Oregon Emergency Net.

After checking in to BSN and OEN for a couple of weeks I set up a local net, the Klamath Basin Traffic Net. Things are still very new and there hasn’t been much of a response yet, but that’s fine. It’s giving me time to work into it all.

I have had several opportunities to handle traffic from the net and I will start originating traffic once I work out a couple of issues in the station.

Skywarn™

I was hoping to get involved with Skywarn™ but the National Weather Service rep from Medford indicated that the local weather isn’t  that big a deal and the amateur radio presence in this area isn’t active or needed.  Without any support or interest from the served agency, there really aren’t many opportunities to serve. So, I guess I’ll just leave it at that for now.

The Station

There has been a lot going on with the station as well. After a couple of weeks of working the BSN and OEN with my low power, 5 watts, Yaesu FT-817 on the MFJ-1982LP end-fed antenna it was clear that I needed a bit more power to participate in nets, especially when the propagation conditions are bad.

I also needed to do something about the low power Baofeng UV-5R+ handheld transceiver I was using as a base station if I was going to be running a local net.

QYT KT-8900D

The mobile radio I have been using in the truck works very well, so it made sense to use the same radio for the base. This bumped me from a 5 watt HT up to 25 watts. The local net is running on a club repeater, and we do have a backup repeater as well and both have emergency power so 25 watts is fine for making contact throughout much of the southern part of the county.

The club has plans to link with other repeaters so we will have coverage throughout the county and beyond.

Diamond X50A

The homebrew J-Pole I was using would be okay, but it was limited to the 2 meter band and some of the repeaters in the area are in the 70 centemeter band. I needed something with a wider bandwidth and dual-band. Enter the X50A.

It was a simple task to swap out the twin-lead J-Pole antenna, which is now ready for my go kit, and put the X50 in its place. The X50 is also a commonly used antenna for amateur repeaters so it is reliable and can handle more power than I am putting through it.

ICOM IC-718

I mentioned the need for more power on HF. The solution that presented itself was an ICOM IC-718 that one of the club members wasn’t using and was willing to sell. The radio is rated to 100 watts which

The radio is rated to 100 watts, which has been helpful, though the last month band conditions have been crap making 5 watts nearly impossible and even at 100 it’s been difficult.

Initially, I only had the MFJ-1982LP antenna for HF that would cover 80 meters. The LP stands for Low Power, it can only handle 30 watts so when I first started using it I had to keep the power down low making it only a little better than the Yaesu FT-817.

Hy-Gain AV-18VS

The AV18VS is a nifty multi-band antenna that covers 10-80 meters. It uses a manually adjusted inductor to tune the various bands. Since the coil is at the base of the antenna, it’s not practical to get it way up in the air. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it.

It uses a manually adjusted inductor to tune the various bands. Since the coil is at the base of the antenna, it’s not practical to get it way up in the air. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it. In fact, it is intended to be used 3-5 feet above the ground. I have mine set at a little over 5 feet but it has a really good ground right under it.

It will likely be less convenient when the weather turns and we start to get snow. I plan on building some kind of hat to keep the snow off. I am still thinking that through.

Mobile

I have been running mobiles since July. I installed a QYT KT-8900D, a Midland MXT400 GMRS, and Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB CB when we first moved. Noone up here uses CB, but there is a lot of ham and GMRS traffic so I ended up pulling the CB.

I had always intended to install permanent mount antennas but it wasn’t practical at the time, which worked out well since I am driving a different vehicle than I started out with.

After getting the new (to me) truck in July I mounted a shelf that replaces the visors, the Vertically Driven Products Shelf-It. This works out great for holding radios and other stuff. We used to install these in all of the tow trucks when I drove tow.

I don’t use the visors, and with them mounted on the Shelf-It it’s hard to see traffic lights, so I just left the visors off.

Yesterday I finally got around to installing the NMO mounts in the roof of the truck. I installed three, one for the QYT KT-8900D, one for the Midland MXT400 GMRS, and a third possibility for the Yaesu FT-817 so I have a mobile HF rig. The only mobile HF antenna I have right now is for 6 and 10 meters. The nice thing about NMO antenna mounts is that they are easy to cap off and use later.

Below are some pics of the NMO installation.

Having the mag mounts on the roof with feedlines crushed through the window gap is just ugly, not to mention it does horrible things to the feedline.

Construction always starts with a bit of demolition. In this case dropping the headliner. I only needed to pull down one side so that’s what I did. It required pulling the Shelf-It out and removing the door trim pieces around the entire door as well as one coat hook and the cab light.

Here I have the back mount installed already and you can see the two 3/4″ holes for the other two.

It looks like quite the mess, but it’s really pretty simple. The white jar on the left is Chemplex silicone grease to coat the weather seals on the connectors and antennas or caps. Clockwise, the punch tool with a box open-end wrench and Allen wrench cuts the holes, in the large bag is a mount with cable just like the one just to its right. The small bags and black cap in the center are covers for the mounts when no antenna is attached. On the rag are needle-nose and slip-joint pliers to tighten the mount down. The brass disk is the installed NMO mount.

Three antennas installed. The front left is the dual-band ham antenna. The one on the right is for GMRS. The stubby one in the center is also a dual-band ham antenna I wanted to check out, a little performance comparison. The NMO mounts are much cleaner than the old mag mounts. I can still use the CB or any other radio that I can get an antenna with an NMO base. My CB antenna does. The advantage is I can move antennas or radios easily.

My apologies for the blurry picture, the camera kept focusing on the near headliner. The radio on the left is the QYT KT-8900D and the one on the right is the Midland MXT400 GMRS. The mics and cords stow on the shelf and there is plenty of room for more radios. I used the holes in the headliner from the visor clips for cables coming out, power on the left just behind the GMRS radio and antenna cables just to the left of the center hump.

Things Upcoming… too much to go into, how about some keywords.

Pi TNCs plural, radio go box, more homebrew antennas, homebrew filter cavities for a repeater, much more digital mode…

Until next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

The Move Is Done

Well, sort of…

We are here in Klamath Falls, Oregon now. We started the move July 1st and I was making runs all July. The old place was officially vacated July 31st. August was the slow unpacking of boxes and the beginning of several furniture building projects. I have built 6 bookcases; 2 of them 40 inches tall, the other 4, 70 inches tall.

I still have a number of things to build like the DVD cabinets that will hold our 1000ish movies and TV shows. I also have a lot of storage containers to build, think apothecaries drawers. Lot’s and lot’s of them.

You can see why I haven’t posted in a while. I have made some upgrades to the shack, well the mobile, the shack is looking rather minuscule right now.

I have absolutely no bench space for shop stuff or electronics. The station is occupying a puny 1 sq.ft. space across 2 shelves, but, I actually have an HF antenna outside! The MFJ-1982LP endfed is up. The feed point is about 15 feet up on the mast my 2m roll-up J-Pole is attached to and the rest of the antenna is supported by 2 31 foot Jackite poles and 20 feet up into the Ponderosa Pine in our front yard.

So far 80 and 40 meters have been kind. The net controls have had to work me pretty hard, but I have been getting through. I have been heard as far away as Victoria BC Canada, La Jolla California, Somewhere in Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Not bad for 5 watts.

The power on the base, my Yaesu FT-817ND, needs a boost now that I am putting together a local NTS Net. I need to make the Local to Section hop on HF more reliably and not make control work so hard. The local net will be on one of the club repeaters.

I have also moved forward by getting involved with a local active club, the Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association. I have already done two events and a VE session with the club since we got up here. Also in the mix is getting started with the Klamath County CERT program.  There is some early work on getting an ARES/RACES group together. All kinds of fun going on.

Once we got up here I started work on the mobile. The Baofeng UV-5RE+ was not cutting it on 2 meters. I upgraded from 5 watts with a crappy little antenna to 25 watts with a QYT KT-9800D dual band mobile radio and an ANLI DC-124H TriBand antenna.  Much better performance. Also in the mobile, I installed a Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB Single Sideband CB and a Midland MXT400 GMRS radio. There is hardly any CB traffic up here, but surprisingly, there is quite a bit of GMRS traffic.

For a 2 meter base, I have been using one of the 5 watt handhelds attached to the homebrew 2 meter twin-lead J-Pole I built a while back. Now that I am getting hooked up with CERT, I think I should pull the J-Pole out of the PVC and use it as a portable roll-up. I also need a little more juice for poor weather conditions so a 2 meter base upgrade was in order. Another QYT KT-9800D mobile radio and a Diamond X50A dual-band base antenna should work nicely for VHF/UHF. Those will be incorporated into the station by the end of the week.

As for the HF side of the station… I need to poke around for something around 100 watts, which will require an antenna upgrade too. The MFJ-1982LP is only rated to 30 watts. As long as I keep the power down I should be able to use it for a while. That will still give me a 6 db power gain over the 5 watts I am pushing now. Anything should help. The section nets are on 80 and 40 meters so I will need an antenna that covers at least 10-80 meters. 100 watts should be more than enough for my needs.

Oh, one other thing, I finally got my Skywarn ID number, now I need to find a net for Skywarn. I haven’t found anything in southeastern Oregon yet. I’ll keep looking.

Anyway, that’s the status update for now. Look for an NTS page to be added to the site soon.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Another successful class

Just a short post today. This weekend I held another Technician license class, and it went great!

Another small and diverse class, best of all everyone passed with flying colors. I really do have a lot of fun doing these; by Sunday evening I am wired, completely exhausted, and absolutely fried mentally, I love every minute of it.

Two more classes in April, one Technician and one General, and that ends my currently posted calendar. I may be adding more classes after a visit from out of state family. We shall see.

In other radio news, I have been busy building dipole antennas. I am up to a 6 meter, 10 meter, and a 20 meter. I will definitely be adding a 40 meter to that soon. I have been looking for steel materials suppliers for 1/4 λ verticals. I want to build individual 70cm, 2m, 6m, and 10m. I think I may have found one. If so I will be working on a vertical array in the near future.

After I get all of the bands covered with basics, I want to start working on directional beams, at least for the main bands. I will wait for a while on these. Down the road, I also want to build some of the more exotic antenna varieties, including multi-bands, and arrays.

Antennas are usually relatively quick builds, which is great. Radio builds tend to take a bit longer. I have a couple of radio projects in limbo at the moment. Once I get some cabling projects finished for digital modes, I will also be getting back to the radio projects.

The build that seems to be taking forever is the Beach 40 project. This one needs to get back on the priority list. I should be able to get back to it this fall.

In VE news… This weekend will be my 54th VE session with the Silicon Valley VE group, something else I truly enjoy doing.

That’s it for now.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

July? Has it really been that long?

Wow, yes it has in fact been that long.

20151104_161606From a building stand point… nothing new has been going on. I am still working on the Beach 40 and the Bitx 20. The Beach 40 still needs the audio section rebuilt and the Bitx20 needs some troubleshooting . I don’t have the facilities to put up a 20 or 40 meter antenna and since both radios are QRP(p), a good antenna is vital to making any contacts.

20151121_072647From an operators perspective… ya, nothing going on there ether. I need to pull down my Frankenstein/Hill Billy mast because we are having our building painted soon. I have plans for a simpler replacement that should work out fine. I’ll post about that if and or when that happens.

From an experimenters view point…  I have been kind of busy lately. Many of the newer radio projects I have been looking at use micro-controllers and embedded Linux systems. All of which I am totally fine with. There are so many other applications besides radio that I can employ these technologies. The only impediment is getting some play time in with these technologies and getting familiar with there capabilities, use, and programming.

arduinoEarlier this year I picked up some Arduino hardware. I haven’t had much time to work with it yet as the Day Job has been keeping me hopping as well as a lot of stuff in the personal life, nothing bad, just a lot of changes and preparations.

Many projects are done with the Arduino and various shields. Some require a little more direction in the form of an embedded system with a true OS. Enter Raspberry Pi and Raspbian.

rpi3bLast week I added a RPi 3B to the hardware pile and began working with it. Along with the Pi I picked up a copy of Exploring Raspberry Pi: Interfacing to the real world with embedded Linux From Wiley written by Derek Molloy.

Linux doesn’t worry me at all. Many moons ago I was a Solaris 7/8 admin as well as a RedHat 7 admin. The problem is that well over a decade has gone by since I actively worked on those systems. I have been in a Windows only environment for so long my Unix brain has turned to mush. So now I’m re-learning the Unix command line and re-acquainting myself with the Linux directory structure along with some all new unique elements of embedded systems and the Raspbian OS in particular.

With all of the projects piling up and now adding a lot of general computer stuff to the pile, Arduino Sketches, Python, C/C++, and picking up where I left off with Perl, it almost feels like I should go back to school and get credit for all of this work. I could pick up a CS degree with everything on my “tech to learn” plate right now. Add in all of the projects and an engineering degree (EE or ME) isn’t far behind. Thoughts for another time.

Radio specific plans are to read and build along with Crystal Sets to Sideband by Frank W. Harris W0IYE, and then get back to Experimental Methods in RF Design and do the same. I don’t expect to do a lot of operating other than 2 meter until we have the facilities to put up a real antenna, and there is no solid timeline for that.

Life outside radio has taken all of my time lately and I am just now slowly getting back to things. Most of it is general electronics/computer experimentation and adding to the knowledge pool right now.

So in conclusion, no I haven’t been busy, I’ve been too busy.

:-/

hamverseryP.S. Today’s post is brought to you by Hamversary. On this day in 2013 I received my license grant about a week after I walked into the Saratoga Fire Station a non-ham. Since then I have worked my way up to Extra Class, begun teaching license preparation classes to prospective hams, and I have been a Volunteer Examiner for 42 exam sessions, most of them at the Saratoga Fire Station.

I have learned so much in so many ways in this short period of time. Thank you Amateur Radio.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG 

Holy Hanna!

20151121_072647February is half over and I haven’t posted at all this year so far!

In truth, I haven’t done squat so far this year with regard to radio stuff. Well almost nothing, I have made it to three VE sessing so far this year. The next one is this Saturday.

I really wish I had more to report but I basically had to shut down all of my radio projects because I just don’t have the time right now.

One radio related project I can report is a partial disassembly of the Hillbilly Radio Tower. I pulled the 70 cm and 40 m antennas down leaving only the 2 m antenna in place.

The 70 cm was working fine, I just don’t use it that often and I needed to pull the 40 m down anyway, so I opted to clean up the cabling on the back porch.

The 40 m had to come down, or be adjusted. It was tilted from the high winds of the last storm that blew through. It was still useable, just leaning about 30 degrees off vertical. After cleaning up the mast the 2 m is hardly noticeable, which is a good thing.

Other than the antennas, nothing going on or planned for the near future. I will make an attempt to get back before another 2 months goes by.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Antennas & More

20150507_192446Today was a good antenna day. I finally got the PVC cover on the 40 meter helically-wound antenna I started back in April. I have been using the antenna without the cover as a test antenna next to the bench but it’s time to get it up on the roofline for some actual use.

By “actual use” I am referring to the Beach 40 project that is back in motion now that I have a VXO that pulls more than 1.8 kHz of selectivity. Yay 148 kHz selectivity! Now all I need to do is get the Tx/Rx switching working for the transceiver to be operational.

20140430_131323Another antenna project completed today is the 2 meter twin-lead J-Pole. This one was also waiting for a PVC cover so it could be mounted on a pole. The original design was intended as a portable antenna but the twin-lead J-Pole on any frequency above 50 MHz lends itself well to mounted vertical use, it just needs a housing to keep it in the vertical position.

This little antenna works really well. On numerous occasions I have been unable to ping the local repeaters with my HT with the stock or aftermarket antennas for handhelds. If I attach the twin-lead J-Pole I can actually get out and participate in the nets. With this antenna up in the air at roofline I should have no problems working any of the local repeaters including the packet and Winlink towers.

Speaking of which, I want to get into digital modes once I get the antennas up in the air. I’m not quite up to building a TNC from scratch so I need to save up a hundred and fifty bucks to get digital rolling. Soon…

20151111_145644The other antenna project today was a new-start. When the 2 and 40 meter antennas go up I also plan on attaching a 70 cm half-wave vertical with counterpoise. This one is an experiment. I originally planned on building a 70 cm full-wave twin-lead J-Pole, and I likely still will, but I wanted to see if I could make a vertical with counterpoise that works well. I may even mod this one into a full-wave vertical with half-wave counterpoise radials. Dunno. Like I said, this is an experiment.

Another near-term antenna project, as-of-yet not started, is an aviation band twin-lead J-Pole set up like the 2 meter one. Being a pilot and mechanic, at some point I would like to have either a hangar at a local airport or a small strip at home to work on restorations, so it would make sense to have an AvBand radio in the shop. I have a Vertex Standard (Yaesu) HT for aviation VHF, it just needs an external antenna. I also have a few old radios salvaged from aircraft that would never make it back into an aircraft, but may be suitable for base station operations.

I have a number of other antenna experiment/projects in various configurations, in particular 2 m and 70 cm yagi and/or helical beam antennas suitable for satellite and moon bounce communication. But these are for the future. I also want to build some highly directional antennas for radio orienteering and high-gain narrow-beam antennas for really low power communications.

As for the “More” in the title, once I finish the 40 m transceiver I plan on building a 20 and 10 meter versions. I also have an idea for simple low power beacon transmitters I want to play with. I also want to get set up for QRSS, WSPR, and APRS.

Lots to do. One step at a time.

Till next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

40 Meter DSB Coming Soon

Busy weekend for me.

20150530_161129Before moving on to Beach 40 progress, I got something else in the mail. A frequency counter module I ordered off eBay for ten bucks. I am thinking about using it in a future radio project as a digital frequency display.  Not sure what project, but it beckoned to me and I figured it might work out well.

20150530_221434In a related sidebar, I have been doing some VFO research. I have been looking at several options and one that seems simple and efficient is using varactor diodes to replace the air dielectric capacitors in tuning circuits. I have some ten-turn potentiometers and found a good deal on Motorola 68ρF varactors so I bought a bag of 100.

I found N6QW’s website with some great information including a test circuit for testing the tuning abilities of various diodes and transistors. Definitely more to come on this venture after the DSB project is done.

Now, on with our regularly scheduled program…

20150529_164741In the last post I talked about skipping the Balanced Modulator/Product Detector and moving on to the Audio Amplifier.

I built the Audio Amp and got everything all tied in to the panel mount components.

20150529_165009I still haven’t tested the Audio Amp yet and I am saving that for after I get all of the sections built out.

About the time I finished up the Audio Amp the 200Ω potentiometer I was waiting on showed up. With the parts in hand, I moved on to the BM/PD.

20150527_153801The BM/PD build went well. with no real surprises.  The diode ring ended up being laid out in an actual ring configuration with the RF transformer being mounted right in the middle.

The one thing I don’t like about this layout is the really long lead from one side of the diode ring all the way around to the other side of the board to the potentiometer. I don’t know if I can come up with a better layout in a future rendition but for now it should be fine.

20150530_214234One of the first things I started with today was building the interconnect cables out of RG174 coaxial cable and SMA connectors. I considered MMX connectors since they just push on rather than thread on but they are way expensive. I have seen a number of builders use coax interconnects for modularized construction and it makes separation for experimentation much easier.

20150530_220849One cable I made was actually an antenna, a test antenna at least. For testing transmission sections giving them something to radiate out of. By using a receiver near the transmitting device I should be able to copy the transmission. It’s the one on the right if you hadn’t guessed.

20150531_110751Cables, of any kind,  are one of those things that can seem fairly easy to do, but when they go bad, they can go epicly bad and it can be hard to detect. The only preventative effort I know of is to take your time, use a light touch, don’t force things, and pay attention to detail.

I made 4 interconnects, 1 antenna, and one single end cable for connecting to the antenna outlet. It took a coupe of hours, but all of them are solid mechanically, and test to be solid electrically.

20150530_221209After getting the cables done, I hooked up the antenna and one of the interconnects but I still haven’t done any of testing beyond the Local Oscillator.

I have a lot of testing to do but I’m almost done with the modules so I wanted to plug away and finish up the modules.

20150531_143223The last thing I worked on before turning off the soldering iron was the three stage RF Amplifier.

The pic is the first stage, a buffer stage. I started the board with a configuration in mind but by the time I got to the third stage I had shifted a few things around.

20150531_150232One thing I wanted to point out is the spacing of the stages. In this pic I have most of the second stage done and the pads for the third stage laid down. The gaps between stages are for the addition, if needed, of shielding between the stages. This amp is fairly low power so I don’t think it will need the shielding, But I wanted to make the option available.

20150531_161643The third stage saw several pads moved and things reconfigured a little. The yellow leads are the RX Amp Bypass (short lead) and Amplified RF (long lead) lines going to the relay circuit which after a lot of thought this evening will be replaced with cable ports and the relay section will be moved off this board entirely onto it’s own module.

The other bit on the RF Amp board that still needs work are the two bifilar toroids that still need to be wound and installed. It sounds like a lot of work still to be done, but it is getting very close to First Contact.

Thats all for this post. May the magic smoke remain contained in all your circuits.

73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Marker Generator and more

20150507_190019Picking up where I left off in the last post, I got the drill bits and finished the 40 meter Helically Wound Vertical antenna. I will get a project page up soon.

Now when I say “finished”, what I mean is the antenna is useable. I still need to seal and cover it but I wanted to get it all tuned up first. As far a receiving goes, the vertical is out performing the dipole strung in the house just sitting on the floor leaning up against the wall next the operating station, so it’s looking good.

I need to finish the tuning with a transmitter on it. Since the only transmitter I have for 40 meters is a CW 250mW transmitter I am holding off on that.

20150508_121409In the mean time I put together a Marker Signal Generator. The design takes an 8 MHz crystal and divides the signal down several time ending up with the desired 1 kHz signal with many harmonics to mark out a tuning dial in 1 kHz increments.

20150508_150243It was fun to build and I leaned a little about some ICs I had never used and some of the basics of working with multiple devices in a single package.

When I came to function, I was very disappointed. The oscillator was anything but stable and we very dependant on an extremely stable input voltage. The onboard diode voltage regulations stunk so I tuned down the power supply from 12 volts to the 5 the ICs need.

20150508_153648At this point I was finally able to calm down the oscillator and get close to 1 kHz I was hoping for. A millivolt up or down and the frequency was out. Not a particularly useable device as it sits but it does give me some ideas for using out of band crystals to generate a signal.

As always, this is the whole point, to experiment and learn about RF design by doing, not just reading and modeling on a computer.

The big news, and the reason I missed a post last week is that I have been doing some research on finding my next big build project. The winning design was the Beach 40 by VK3YE. I have been scouring the web looking for a simple phone (voice) transmitter. I was hoping for SSB (Single SideBand) but the Beach 40 DSB (Double SideBand Suppressed Carrier) is simple and straightforward as is.

IMG_20150513_125237Being me, I had to make some modifications to the design and tweak a few things. One of the great things about this design s that it uses discrete components rather than ICs.

At one point Peter (VK3YE) recommends changing the audio amplifier to one that uses the LM386 chip rather than discrete components because the output is rather low. Since one of the main reasons I chose this project was to keep to available discrete components I went out in search of a different audio amp.

Enter Arv Evans K7HKL and his Discrete Component AF Amplifier paper. By the way, at least via email, Arv is a really nice guy. Thanks for the help Arv!

20150513_170104Now with the circuits mostly settled and parts enroute, Digi-Key arrived a day early! 🙂 I sat down tonight and began kitting the parts for each of the transceiver subsections beginning with the Super VXO. I am only installing one crystal set right now but the plan is to set it up for several banks of crystals. I also had some ideas as to using the banks for multiple bands as well as sections of a single band, but that’s for later.

20150513_202942I also kitted the Local Oscillator/Buffer and the Balanced Modulator/Product Detector sections. There are a few bits that will need some refinement, mostly inductors, but these will be addressed as needed.

And speaking of inductors, since I sent back that crappy one I am still in need of one. I will be ordering one tomorrow because I wont get far in this build without one. The goal is to have this radio up and running before Field Day June 27-28.

Look for a project page soon.

Till next time, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

LC Meter Disappointment

LC meterThe Newcason XC4070L Handheld LCR Meter I ordered showed up on Monday. Wow, what a disappointment. No stability in measurements whatsoever and I’m not talking bounce between two consecutive numbers. 32 ρF to 64 ρF on a 50 ρF capacitor which by the way I checked with another meter that pegged it at 49 ρF.  This puppy is on the express return train.

20150505_085212I did get something good done while testing the meter. I wanted to make a set of alligator clips on banana plugs to easily check through-the-board components. I wanted to make a set of these for some time. Now I have them.

20150505_085407One of the advantages of using these is that it reduces the inductance and capacitance errors that can be introduced by some meter cables and close proximity of hands.

In other pending order news, I have the tap and dies for the antenna. Of course I am waiting on the drills. So there the tap and dies sit, on the group W bench, just waiting on the  for the drills.

20150501_131901As soon as I get the drills I should be able to get all of the antenna parts all connected up so I can start tuning and testing. Then I can move on to the ATU.

Thats it for now, 73,
~Jon KK6GXG

Package Pending

shopping-cart-blur-hiI have some tap and dies on order that I need to finish the 40 meter vertical antenna. I also have some parts  in transit that I need to get started on the antenna tuner which is the next project on deck. As well as the project parts I ordered a couple of items for stock.

One acquisition I have been needing is an LC meter to test inductors and capacitors.The one I ordered measures inductance (L), capacitance (C), resistance (R), and it also checks transistors. A very handy piece of equipment. I have several meters, digital and analog, nearly all measure resistance and voltage, a couple can check transistors, and one can test capacitance in a very limited range.

Since I am planning on making my own air dielectric capacitors, and a variety of inductors and transformers, having a wide scale LC meter will make this work much easier. It will also be a lot of help at flea markets and garage sales to check out components that I am interested in.

With all of this in transit I have some time to get some administrative stuff done. The main thing is to plan out the next few projects. The basic 40 meter direct conversion receiver is done, the antenna is almost done, and the antenna tuner is next with most of the parts enroute, so it makes sense to build a transmitter for 40 meters, I am leaning towards a CW/SSB transmitter.

One of the reasons I want to build CW/SSB is that it will add several other digital modes as well. Many of the digies can be connected straight throught the audio in/out ports on a computer or a handheld device. Leaving only the need to provide a key  or key signal to switch between the receiver and transmitter which could be done manualy or by serial connection to a RT swiching circuit in the radio.

It sounds a lot more complicated that it really is. With a little planning and some experimentation setting up a cable with a couple of connecters on each end will do the job nicely.

I will need to add a couple of circuits to the receiver at some point in the near future as well. An second stage audio amplifier is a must, and a switchable audio filters with bandwidths for CW, SSB, and something in the middle for digi, between first and second stage audio amplification. Neither of these should be all that dificult.

Once I get the 40 meter station all put together I will start work on building another station in another band. By this time I will have figured out a lot of the kinks and bugs and beable to build the second station much more efficiently.

At this point I’m not sure what the next band will be. There are 16 amateur bands currently with the potential of two more that I can gain access to under an experimental license so it is wide open. Each band presents new challenges, ether in technique or materials.

VHF and UHF present strictor tolerances and microwave (UHF-SHF) presents even more challenges. Most bands in HF will be about the same requirements as 40 meter since it is about the miiddle of the HF band. MF presents some challenges in radiators (antennas) because the wavelength is so long. LF presents more challenges in power and radiaors, not to mention the need for that experimental licence.

Fortunatly ist’s all about the fun and learning. As long as I am learning new things, honing skills, and having fun it’s all good.

Until next time, 73
~Jon KK6GXG