Listen to Latest SolderSmoke Podcast

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Homebrew QRP Fun on 75 Phone

OK, I take back all of the bad things I said about the 75 meter phone band. I recently finished work on my Kick Panel 75 meter DSB rig.  Last week I took portions of the multiband antenna that Solder-Lexicographer Steve Silverman sent me and turned it into a 75 meter dipole.  It is now suspended in the trees above my house.  With some trepidation I ventured out into the 75 meter ether.  And, to my surprise I found friendly hams willing to give my 3 watt DSB signal a chance.   The first contact was with K2WS.  I had called Billy into the shack, thinking that I was just going to show him the beauty of a Direct Conversion receiver.  To my astonishment I found K2WS calling CQ!  On 75!  Who knew?   I gave him a call and -- BINGO -- we had a wonderful QSO.  Alan is at the other end of the tech spectrum -- he was running a Flex Radio.  With that rig's panoramic display he was able to SEE that I was running DSB.  Very cool.  Billy was duly impressed. 


Yesterday morning I ran into a very congenial bunch of guys from the Gallups Island Radio Club.  They welcomed me into the group and allowed me to join in the roundtable.  Thanks guys! 


Then came the icing on the cake.  This morning I heard a familiar voice calling together the Mid Atlantic chapter of the Quarter Century Wireless Association.  Could it be?  Yes indeed, it as an old friend, Ray, a guy who had brought me into the QCWA group during our previous stint in Northern Virginia. I checked into the net and had a great time. 

Above you can see the latest version of this long-evolving rig.  It has a built-in speaker.   Below you can see it with the top off. 

Three cheers for 75! 

  
Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Soldering in SPAAAAACE!

Take a look at this NASA page on zero gravity soldering.   Just look at that rosin go!  

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2004/16aug_solder/


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Communal Shacks: TechShops

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-05-23/techshop-paradise-for-tinkerers#p1
We've talked about these places before.  Lots of potential here!   I'm pleased to see that one of them is coming to my area. 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Update from the QRP Ranch

 Bill,
      Really enjoyed SolderSmoke 143, great job as always.
I wanted to fill you in on the happenings at the WA6ARA QRP Ranch. A bunch of us are doing a kit build. We meet at the QRP Ranch Man Cave for a few hours of building several times a week. Several of us are building the 40 meter SSB rig that won the homebrew challenge a couple years ago and there are a couple BTX20s and 17 meter rigs being built as well. I'd like to say they are from scratch but alas, we are building them from Hendrick's QRP kits. The first one has been completed, a BTX17, by a 15 year old Extra Class ham in about 3 days. BTW - he already had WAS and DXCC. The next project is the W6JL 50 watt amplifier that won the amplifier homebrew challenge. I am building both the 40 meter and the BTX17 rigs. The 40 meter rig, plus amp is going in a ammo can and then in the jeep for back country emergency use. I've enclosed a couple of photos, including the required chocolate chip cookies to keep the gang going and the solar oven to cook them in.

--
Mike Herr
WA6ARA
DM-15dp
Home of The QRP Ranch

 




Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Two great sites from Rogier



Our Bay Area correspondent Rogier (orignally PA1ZZ, now KJ6ETL) recently sent us links to two very interesting sites.   The first is a collection of Jean Shepherd programs.   EXCELSIOR!
http://www.flicklives.com/Mass_Back/massbackpodcast.xml

The second is a collection of electronics tutorial videos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Afrotechmods?feature=watch

 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Friday, May 18, 2012

Feynman on Electricity



Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Has your solder EXPIRED?

Wow, here's another thing to worry about:  Has your solder expired?  Is it past its "use by" date?

This came up in the discussion of the Heathkit voltmeter being built on the Evil Mad Scientist blog (see our post on this from a few days ago).  One commenter wrote:

If you ever look at a spool of solder-- one made for use in industry --it will have an expiration date. And that date always seems surprisingly soon, to us.
Here in Silicon Valley, we regularly purchase solder (including flux-cored 60/40) that is discounted because it is sold after its stamped expiration date-- sometimes as much as five years past. To us, this is just "a good deal." We've had some spools work better than others, and it would be very hard for us to *prove* that one is "bad" because it's old.

None the less, the solder manufacturers are explicitly clear on the subject.
Kester, one of the most important manufacturers, says "Flux cored solder wire has a limited shelf life determined by the alloy used in the wire. For alloys containing more than 70% lead, the shelf life is two years from date of manufacture. Other alloys have a shelf life of three years from date of manufacture."
Source: http://www.kester.com/Portals/0/Knowledge_Base_Articles/Shelf_Life_Policy.pdf

Alpha, the manufacturer of the solder included with this kit, says of (at least one of their) flux-cored solders, "If >36 months from manufacture, please submit sample to Cookson Electronics Assembly Materials for testing."
Source: http://alphacpmd.com/~/media/Files/CooksonElectronics/TB-RELIACORE15-WRC-USAPE-SM334-9%20%2010-09-28.pdf

 What happens when it expires?  Does the smoke start to smell bad?   Steve Smith -- please help us out here.


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Sibeband Inversion: 9 MHz, 5 MHz, and the ARRL Handbook

The 2006 ARRL Handbook had it right.  Jeremiah went back and took a look: 


Bill:

I have a comment about the question of the LSB/USB convention mentioned in the most recent SolderSmoke podcast and the follow up blog post:

I checked the 2006 Handbook and there is a sidebar (page 9.27) explaining the 5/9 MHz connection with the Lower/Upper Sideband convention in use today. It explains that there was a popular rig that used a 5 MHz VFO and a 9 MHZ IF that were mixed to create the 75/20 meter RF signals. This is certainly a reasonable method, but would not result in the inversion. The article then goes on to explain, however, that other rigs used a 5 MHz tunable IF and a 9 MHz local oscillator which would indeed result in sideband inversion and thus the convention we use today. 

73,
Jeremiah, KB0OFF

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

GE Ham News -- All of Them! (1946-1963)

Walter, AJ4UM, alerted us to this. Here's yet another treasure trove of ham radio literature.  I'm going to have to retire just to make time to read all the stuff that is coming on line! 
http://n4trb.com/AmateurRadio/GE_HamNews/ge_ham_news.htm


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Saturday, May 12, 2012

EDN Article on Performance of Modern Ham Transceivers

Mike, KC7IT, alerted us to a very interesting EDN article about the performance of modern ham transceivers:
http://www.edn.com/article/521690-High_performance_HF_transceiver_design_A_ham_s_perspective.php?cid=Newsletter+-+EDN+Fun+Friday


On the phase noise, how do old fashioned LC or crystal oscillators compare to modern PLL or DDS circuits?


And congrats to Elecraft for the high ratings on their K3.



Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Friday, May 11, 2012

In the Shadow of Giants (at Tektronix)



From: Dave Haupt
Subject: Club 465
To: n2cqr
Date: Monday, May 7, 2012, 1:40 PM

I work at Tektronix, in a group that designs, among other things, front-ends for our spectrum analyzers.  In our lab full of gear, the most coveted scopes are the 465, the higher frequency 475 and the ultimate manifestation of the breed, the 2465 (four 350MHz channels).  Yes, we have the more recent higher-frequency digitizing scopes in the lab, and for much of what we develop, we need the higher frequency and superior triggering capability.  But for ease of use, confidence that what's on the screen is the real signal and not some processor's guess, those of us with more gray in our hair than any other color still have warm and fuzzy feelings toward a good analog scope.

What REALLY makes me stand still in my tracks is when I comment to someone at work that I have a 465 at home, and they reply, "Oh, yeah, I remember that design.  I did the horizontal sweep circuit."  Talk about standing in the shadows of history!

Dave W8NF


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Evil Mad Scientist Builds a Heathkit

You guys will get a kick out of this:  An old unbuilt Heathkit is discovered, and is then put together by "Evil Mad Scientist." EMS obviously loves electronics, but is clearly of the digital/IC generation:    "The tubes are gorgeous!  Their exteriors are glass with electrodes extending from the bottom!"  Wow.

The Evil Mad Sci guy fears that the solder provided by Heath will have "gone bad over time" and says that he will use "more modern solder."  Hold your horses Frankenstein! Don't you dare put that Heathkit together with lead-free solder!  That could tear a hole in the fabric of space time!  Also, I dunno about the idea of putting all the components on the lugs and rotary switch terminals first, with all the soldering coming later.  The boys at Benton Harbor wouldn't have liked that.  And you might want to gradually bring the voltage up on that big electrolytic cap up using a variac.  Which brings to mind some needed advice:  BE CAREFUL!  You have moved out of the realm of 12 V DC.  That old Heathkit could zap you good! 

http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/heathkit-part1


Thanks to Mike Butts for alerting us to this.

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

USB/LSB Urban Legend DEBUNKED!

Astute aficionados (like Steve --Snort Rosin -- Smith) immediately recognized that I was talking rubbish when, in SolderSmoke 143, I said that the current LSB/USB convention on the HF bands has its origins in the FACT (not!) that when using a 9 MHz filter and a 5 MHz VFO, with a single carrier oscillator crystal you can very conveniently get USB on 20 and LSB on 75, supposedly because of "sideband inversion" that takes place when you switch from the sum product of the second mixer (20 meters) to the difference product (75 meters).  I got out paper and pen and quickly discovered that Steve was right.  No sideband inversion with this scheme.

I was susceptible to this urban legend because when I was building my 17 meter SSB rig out in the Azores,  I used a 5.174 MHz filter from an old Swan 240.  I started out with a VXO running around 12.9 MHz, obviously using the sum output from that second mixer.  Later, I decided to move the VXO up to around 23.3 MHz and take the difference product.  Here I DID get a sideband inversion, and I had to go back to the carrier oscillator and change the crystal so as to get LSB coming out of the filter.  When this 5.173 MHz LSB went to the second mixer, the sideband inversion took place and --Viola!-- 17 meter USB resulted. 


The key factor here of course is that the VFO freq was now ABOVE the filter freq.  


In the podcast I said that I "learned" about the alleged origins of the LSB/USB convention from the 2006 ARRL handbook.   I had read it very quickly while in the local library.  I don't think they would have gotten this wrong.  It was probably my quick reading of the article that caused the rubbish talk.  


Maybe it was this:   Could it have been that in the early days of SSB, guys were using a 5 MHz FILTER with 9MHz VFOs?  Maybe from old Command Set surplus gear?  With the VFO above the filter freq you would get the sideband inversion that I was babbling about, right?   Or might this have been the result of the phasing method of sideband generation popular back in the day?   
 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Monday, May 7, 2012

SolderSmoke Podcast #143

SolderSmoke Podcast #143 is available:


http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmoke143.mp3


Cappuccio the Flying Retriever
Kite Flying (no  injuries this time!)
April 1 getting more and more difficult
Turtle Wax and Telescope Maintenance
Titan's Orbital period
NJQRP's Amazing "Chat with the Designers"
QRP-Tech and A-QRP
Billy's workbench and computer build
Sony Vaios goes toes up (really)
Digi modes make me grumpy
Kick Panel rig gets a receiver
The Joy of Belden 1671A
I want to bulild a BITX 75/20!
Solar Flux when I was born (300+)
SPRAT 150! Congrats!
Jason NT7S and his new OpenBeacon QRSS kit
BONANZA!
MAILBAG


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hans Summer's Homebrew 'Scope

  
The picture right away gives you a sense of the depth of this project, and of the guy who completed it.  One of my biggest mistakes in the UK was missing the opportunity to meet Han Summers, G0UPL.  Check out Han's Homebrew 'scope project, and be sure to look around his site for other, similar adventures:


http://www.hanssummers.com/tinyscope.html

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Friday, May 4, 2012

Alan Sends Video Through HIs 'Scope



Who needs plasma screens!  Real hams get their video on the screens of Tektronix oscilloscopes! 

Good one Alan!  Glad to see that you made it onto Hack-a-Day with this one! 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kick Panel Progress; Podcast Delay

 

I'm kind of behind on podcast production, but once again I have a good excuse:  I've been melting solder.   I decided to finally finish the Kick Panel DSB rig that I started building back in London.  It is built on a kitchen cutting board purchased in a Dyas store in Windsor.  The cabinet is fashioned from an aluminum kick panel for a door (a pub door!).   

I originally intended this to be just a transmitter (for use with my trusty Drake 2-B) but it is so easy to add a direct conversion receiver to a DSB rig that I just threw together a version of the NE-602 LM386 Neophyte receiver and hooked it up to the 75 meter VFO.  It sounds great.  I love DC receivers. They seem to connect you directly to the ether. And now I'll have a complete 75 meter DSB station in one box.

This morning I tested the balanced modulator (singly balanced with two diodes).  DSB is being generated.  All I have to do now is put a little 6 db pad between the modulator and the amplifier chain, then work on the antenna a bit and I should be on 75.  The amplifier chain dates back to the period when Mike, KL7R, and I were using LTSpice to design amps....

I was very pleased to include in this rig a part that Michael, AA1TJ, sent me:  I have a little 10.7 MHz IF can in the front end of the RX.  A cap allows it to tune in 75 meters. Thanks Mike!

I hope to get a podcast out this weekend (if the computers cooperate -- the Sony Vaios "light bulb-repaired" laptop finally gave up the ghost last weekend.) 

Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

SolderSmoke Lexicographer



Mike, AA1TJ, is the QRPoet Laureate, but I think we can now officially name Steve Silverman, KB3SII, our official SolderLexicographer:

Hi Bill

Here is an interesting possible explanation for the term LID:

'It's a term that goes back to land based telegraphers, before radio was even used. Some say it has to do with placement of a tobacco can or lid to enhance hearing the telegraph sounder. Such things were apparently trademarks of the poorer ops.'

So there you, using a tobacco can sounder "hearing aid" defined you as a LID, as in using the lid of the can to tune your RIT.  But in telegraph location with lots of QRM, such as in a major telegraph office or along side of a noisy train track, the lids enabled an operator to distinguish his sounder from the background clicks and clacks.  The Car Talk guys would love this explanation.

73

Steve

KB3SII






Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column