Category Archives: Kits

The BitX 20 & More

The BitX

20160618_120709I was fortunate to recently have been gifted a BitX 20 kit by a friend and fellow VE. The kit came from QRPkits.com some time ago, I believe at least a year or so ago.

My intention was to build it for Field Day 2016. Sadly, while I was well on track to getting the radio built, 2 parts were missing from the kit. BS170 N-Channel MOSFETs to be specific. This put on the breaks for the final assembly and stopped me dead in my tracks with the finish line in sight.

20160624_193754I have the parts waiting for me at Jameco will-call for Monday. Once I get them home, populating the remainder of the circuit board should take about an hour. Then its on to the initial tuning and getting the radio packaged up in its housing.

I will do a full project write-up in the Projects section soon, but for now just an update.

A Homebrew Signal Generator/Oscillator

20160622_084953During the BitX build I ran into a small hiccough. The testing at some point calls for the injection of an 11 MHz signal. I would normally use my Lafayette signal generator but for some reason it’s on the fritz so I had to come up with another solution… build an 11 MHz signal generator.

20160622_085219With the crystals in the kit it was easy to build a simple generator with parts on hand and while I only had 1 of the five crystals installed it was easy. By the next testing phase I had installed the remaining 4 crystals. Now I need one for the homebrew SigGen! (click the image for the circuit diagram)

Off to HSC Electronic Supply for some 11 MHz crystals.

This project will also get a write-up in the Projects section soon. This one in in particular has a lot of use in checking unmarked crystals as long as they are between 1 and 20 MHz and is a great foundation piece for beginning builders.

A Homebrew TNC

20160524_145401Before I got started on the BitX I was working on getting my Baofeng 2m/70cm HT on digital. I found a couple of designs for a homebrew TNC and set out to make that work.

Because of the way the PTT key works on the Baofeng I haven’t been able to make the TNC work with the HT but it should work fine with my 40 meter QRPme.com Splinter II and the BitX 20.

A full write-up post is coming on this one too.

Look for all three of these in the Projects section for full details on the builds coming soon.

It’s been a long time since I posted, and most of that time I have been working on non-radio stuff. Now that I am back in the swing of things I have more time for radio stuff so I should be able to post more, and make updates to the Projects pages

As soon as the BitX 20 is up and running I plan on getting the Lafayette working again and get back to the Beach 40 DSB. Another Field Day has slipped through my fingers. I don’t plan on that happening again!

That’s all for now folks, 72, 73, and good night!

~Jon KK6GXG

 

Blue ESR Meter

20151103_114924Something great showed up in the post, a package from Anatek with the Blue ESR meter kit.

I have been trying to get an LCD/LED TV set working. I was running into some problems in the diagnostics. Everyone I came across online that does TV work says the  best tool for basic electronics diagnostics is an ESR meter, and the Blue ESR is an affordable ESR solution. As a kit, it’s $80 and worth its weight in gold.

20151103_122349There aren’t a lot of parts, so the kit is fairly simple to assemble. The assembly order is based on parts types, first the 1% resistors, then the 5% resistors, followed by capacitors then semiconductors and so on.

Getting the parts on the board goes quickly. My best recommendation to anyone building the kit is to take your time and be sure of each part and it’s placement.

20151104_095312Once all of the parts are are on the board it’s time to calibrate the meter. Calibration is easiest if you have a variable power supply for testing the low battery indicator, but you can get away without one. The assembly instructions include a simple circuit you can build for this test.

20151104_100108Calibrating the meter itself only requires the two resistors included with the kit for this purpose and the turning of two trim pots. I decided to take the calibration resistors and keep them stashed in the battery compartment for possible recalibration at a later date.

20151104_101648With everything calibrated and running well it’s time to button it all up. After buttoning it all up, it’s time to get back to that TV project.

Although the TV project is still pending, the Blue ESR is done.  More to come on the TV in a future post.

~Jon KK6GXG

Radio Kits

When I first started this blog I planned on posting a separate page for each project I did. After some thinking on the matter I decided that scratch-built projects would have a page dedicated to them.

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L/C Meter IIB from Almost All Digital Electronics AADE.com

The last post was an example of a project while important and interesting, I don’t think it rated a page. I am of course referring to the post on the AADE L/C Meter IIB.  Part of the reason I’m not devoting a page to the project is that it is a kit, a great kit, but still a kit.

Don’t get me wrong on this, kits can be a really useful tool. Often times kits can cost less that the parts purchased individually. They can also be useful in overcoming sourcing issues.

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Scratch-built, from paper to product

For the beginning builder kits are a great way to get your feet wet and try the building process as well as exercising the construction skills needed in scratch-building. A kit can get you on-the-air faster than scratch-built as well. Kits give a potential scratch-builder a chance to see if they actually like building.

Kits also offer a choice for the builder. The kit can be built by just filling up the board following the instructions, or if you are looking at going scratch-built later on, taking the time to trace things out and compare the schematic with the board layout, and understanding what components perform what function along with how and why things are placed as they are goes a long way in improving your understanding of the circuit.

While kits can be a good learning tool or refresher for the builder, they off-load a lot of the mental gymnastics involved in design, sourcing, layout, placement, and proximity matters. Or at least they should, a poorly designed kit can be a real challenge for even the most skilled builders.

I decided to post about kits rather than page them because of this off-loading. While the kit may be of educational value, it is the mental exercise not the physical work that provides the real educational benefit. I don’t think I would be bringing much to the table beyond the instructions that come with the kit.

Breadboard Radio Kits
4 kits from BreadboardRadio.com waiting to be assembled

So don’t be surprised when you see a project as a post rather than a page. I will start the trend in my next post when I show off the BreadboardRadio.com kits I built before beginning my 40 meter Direct Conversion receiver. I will likely set up a Kits page as an index to kit projects if it looks like I need one.

Stay tuned and 73,
~Jon KK6GXG