Listen to Latest SolderSmoke Podcast

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Links Fixed, Podcast Version of Hamfest Presentation

Armand, WA1UQO, with BITX 17
 
Using Dropbox to post the video of my BITX presentation at the hamfest didn't work out too well, so I put it on Vimeo:

 https://vimeo.com/87725154

The slideshow is here: http://soldersmoke.com/winterfest.pptx

I stripped out the audio for those who would like to dispense with the video.

Audio only is here: 

http://soldersmoke.com/soldersmokewinterfest.mp3

73

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, February 26, 2014

Hamfest Presentation on SolderSmoke and BITX (Video)


The Vienna Wireless Society of Northern Virginia asked me to give a talk at their 23 Feb 2014 hamfest.  I spoke about homebrewing and the BITX transceivers.  Click on the link below to watch the video.  (Special thanks to Elisa for doing the video.)

https://vimeo.com/87725154

The Powerpoint slides are here:

http://soldersmoke.com/winterfest.pptx

For those who just want to listen podcast style,  I will try to turn the audio into a podcast and will post it via the normal channels. 


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, February 25, 2014

HB Chips! Discrete Component Version of 555 Timer


The world would be a better place if we could do more of this...  Thanks to David Cowhig for alerting me to this wonderful development. Details here:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/hands-on/build-your-own-giant-555-timer-chip


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, February 23, 2014

Tuna Tin Mojo Transferred to BITX17!!!!!!



It happened at the Vienna Wireless Society's Winterfest Hamfest today in Northern Virginia.
That is Doug DeMaw's original Tuna Tin. 
This may be the first time TT Mojo has been given to a phone rig. 
Doug DeMaw would, I'm sure, approve.

Thanks Rex!


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, February 22, 2014

Brilliant! New "TX Factor" Ham Radio TV Show from the UK



I really enjoyed this.  It is the first episode of what I hope will be a long-running series.
These guys did a great job.  Excellent quality video production and very interesting subject matter. A LOT of work went into this.  I liked the PSK from a smart phone on a foggy hillside (with Moroccan soup!).  The Marconi stuff was wonderful.  Beer barrels as 2 meter cavity resonators! Excellent Knackish-ness!  And a two meter repeater in an astronomical observatory.  Well done! 

Thanks to Nigel and Dino for alerting me to the TX Factor.

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, February 19, 2014

Taking the Knack a Bit Too Far



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, February 17, 2014

BITX 17 Build Update: More Filter Maintenance

 
 
 
Having had great success in straightening out the 11 MHz filter in my BITX 2040 (scroll down for details),  today I decided to see what I could do with the filter in my 17 meter BITX (four 5 MHz crystals in Cohn MIN LOSS configuration, with 40 pf caps all around).  The key to my success in all this has been the filter programs that came with EMRFD.  After characterizing my crystals with the G3UUR method, I plugged the values into LADBUILD 8, then took a look at the expected results.  As you can see from the image above the predictions were not pretty.  Yuck.  Lots of ripple and lots of insertion loss.

I went into the rig and using my DDS sig generator and my RIGOL 'scope, measured actual performance.  It looked worse than the prediction (part of the worsening is a difference in vertical scale):


LADBUILD lets you play around with the values of the components in the filters.  I know that ripple is usually related to an impedance mismatch.  So in LADBUILD I experimented (virtually) with different impedance values at the end.   I noticed that at about 1000 ohms, the ripple and insertion loss got better:


So I went and built two broadband toroidal transformers.   4 turns primary with 12 turns secondary (1:9 Z).  I'm assuming that the BITX has around 150 ohms at either end of the filter.  That would put about 1350 ohms at the ends of the filter.

Here are the results:


Much better.



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, February 16, 2014

ISEE-3 Spacecraft Returns after Being Forgotten



Hack-A-Day has issued a challenge to hams and hackers:

http://hackaday.com/2014/02/14/call-for-hams-and-hackers-welcome-iceisee-3-home/#more-114769

If a BITX 20/40 would help, I stand ready to assist!  


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

On the Origins of "Ugly"

Yesterday I posted a link to a Maker Blog article about a fellow who designed a DIY, junkbox, homebrew machine tool.  I noted that in the book "The Ugly American" the hero also makes use of old engine blocks.  Farhan commented on this, reminding me of the connection between "The Ugly American" and our beloved ugly construction method:  This is from Todd's (wonderful) QRP Pops site:
 
http://www.qrp.pops.net/ugly.asp

The Origin of the Term "Ugly Construction"

Roger Hayward, KA7EXM and Wes Hayward, W7ZOI coined the term "Ugly Construction" while writing the "Ugly Weekender" published in the August 1981 issue of QST. I asked Wes about this in 2009. The term was a takeoff from the 1958 book entitled The Ugly American by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick. 

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, February 15, 2014

Homebrew Junkbox Machine Tools


In the book "The Ugly American"  the hero (the ugly guy!) come up with a way to use old engine blocks to build water pumps to help farmers in South East Asia. Now, Mr. Delany is putting them to similar good use.  Homebrew junkbox machine tools!  Yea!

http://makezine.com/magazine/make-37/patdelany/

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, February 13, 2014

BITX 2040 Build Update #10 : Fixing my Filter


That dip on the high side of the passband was bothering me.  The GPLA crystal design program predicted it, and indeed, when I measured the performance of the actual filter, there it was.   The rig was working fine -- the receiver sounded fine and everyone tells me that it sounds great on transmit.  But still, it bothered me.

So I started working out with the various crystal filter software packages.  

This filter was -- sort of -- a Cohn Min-loss filter, but I had built it with four crystals and three shunt caps (80 pf each) and no series caps at the input/output.  This morning I decided to see what would happen if I put the series caps in there.  Here is what Wes's GPLA predicted:


Wow, that looked a lot nicer.  And the 150 ohm terminations seemed to be just about perfect for the BITX design -- no need for impedance transformation.  I heated up the soldering iron and searched the junkbox for suitable caps (I found 2 82 pf caps -- close enough).

Here is what the results looked like (I didn't measure insertion loss so the top of the curve is just the peak of the response curve).


Exactly as predicted!  Thanks Wes! And thanks to Farhan for encouraging me to characterize my crystals and to use the available software

Now I have to go back and de-ripple the 5 MHz filter in my BITX 17.

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

Back to the W7ZOI/W7PUA Power Meter

Recent e-mails and Facebook postings from Jim (W8NSA) and Michael (AA1TJ) got me thinking about my old W7ZOI/W7PUA power meter.  The 15 inches (38 centimeters) of snow that fell last night gave me the day off -- and time to play with this very useful and interesting piece of gear. 

The last time I used it I remember thinking that a digital readout would be nice.  But I didn't feel like going back into the world of Arduinos and LCD screens.  So I came up with a real Kludge solution:  I had cheap little DVM that I wasn't using, so I just velcroed it to the side of the power meter.  That little connector above the BNC is the output for a DVM.  I might work on calibration later today.

Wes has some very interesting info follow-up info on the meter on his site: http://w7zoi.net/qststuff.html
I really like the part about how the meter is so sensitive that you can see the thermal noise in the input circuit and can actually measure the strength of signals from your antenna. 

I think I might need a low pass filter at the input of the meter.  There are strong FM broadcast transmitters in this area (some of you may have listened to them in the background of early episode of the SolderSmoke podcast!). I notice that just bringing my fingers close to the input causes the meter and the DVM readout to swing up.  That's not good.

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, February 12, 2014

A Very Simple SSB Transmitter

 
 
I found this in the files section of the BITX20 Yahoo Group.  There is no information on the source.  I see two balanced modulators and two very simple phase shift networks. 


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, February 11, 2014

Mars Star Party from La Palma (video)



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, February 10, 2014

BITX 2040 Build Update #9: On-the-air Observations


The BITX 2040 has moved from the bench to the operating position and is producing a steady stream of contacts on 20 and 40 meters.  In the picture above it is the rig with the copper-clad front panel (the BITX 17 is below it).  It has already crossed the pond on both bands.

Some observations:

I get significantly more power out on 40 than on 20:  about 7.2 watts PEP on 40 and about 4.4 watts PEP on 20.  I saw a QST article that showed similar frequency/power out variations from IRF510 amps.   But I notice I get more power out from my 17 meter rig.  On that rig I am using trifilar (9:1 Z) transformer instead of the standard BITX bifilars. 

My 40 meter receiver is LOUD.   Too much AF out.  I am not used to having this problem!  On this rig I am using the same discrete component 2n3904 2n3906 transformer-less circuit that I used in the BITX 17.  But AF out on 40 was so loud that I had to go back and add 20 k ohms to the top of the volume control pot.   I didn't have this problem with the 17 meter rig, and I didn't have it on 20 with this rig.  Any ideas why this rig would be so loud on 40?

I still want to go in and fine tune the crystal filters in both rigs.  I am studying the various software packages out there (especially Wes's LADPAC).  I hope to get rid of the ripple.   

In most of my contacts with these rigs, I end up describing the circuit and its Indian origins.  Most people are really fascinated.  Yesterday W1IDL in Michigan suggested that I contact my Indian friends and get some assistance in making some Hindi or Urdu labels for the rig and the controls.   I think that is a very cool idea. 

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, February 5, 2014

Coils, Magnets, and Special Relativity (video)



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, February 4, 2014

Inductive Reactance and Special Relativity


Bill,


I'd been meaning to share these stories with you after I read your book a couple years ago but I never got to it.  I thought you might enjoy them, from an "engineering perspective", I guess.

One of the courses I had to take for my undergrad was an engineering physics type class.  I loved it.  I think a lot of hams seem to have more curiosity about the physics of electronics than regular non-ham engineers, at least that's how it's always seemed to me.  Anyway, I'm sending you a snapshot of the relativistic length contraction figure in the book "Concepts of Modern Physics", 4th Ed by Arthur Beiser.  I thought you'd enjoy it as it is almost identical to what you mentioned in Soldersmoke (from your "Atoms to Amperes" book I think).

Hopefully there's enough resolution there to make it out.  Basically, when you flow current in the same direction in both wires, they attract.  That's because the electrons see effectively many more positively charged nuclei from the other wire than they do other electrons due to the nuclei distances being compressed by the Lorentz-Fitzgerald contraction (later refined by Einstein). 

When I first saw this, in my early 20s, I was completely floored!  Nowhere had I ever learned anything like this from the ham license manuals or even my basic physics course.  The implications were also very profound -- magnetism was nothing more than electrostatic attraction, the attraction between charges.  The "electromagnetic" force was really just an electric force.  Relative motion between charges gives the illusion of "magnetism". 

Much later, I listened to some of the old Feynmann lectures.  In them at one point he adamantly proclaimed that there's only the electric force between charges, and there is no magnetic force!  I still find this confusing.  Recently I brought this up to a university RF engineering professor.  I wondered why we dealt with Maxwell's equations when in reality the magnetic field is an illusion.  The "real" formulas come from Feynmann's theory of quantum electrodynamics!  His reply was something along the lines of Maxwell's equations being a solution of quantum theory that worked well for our purposes.  To be honest, I didn't really understand his reply and I'm still skeptical!  I think his point was that the QED calculations are overly complicated and unnecessary for most problems we deal with, things like patterns from an antenna.  I don't think Maxwell's equations appropriately describe things like lasers though, which are more quantum in nature with the coherent beam.

FYI, most engineering students I ran across had only passing curiosity for these things.  Only in graduate school did I start to find people curious enough to really try to understand "what lies beneath" some of this stuff, mainly this physics.  Honestly not even everyone in grad school was all that captivated.  As you've said before, there's a lot of "turn the crank" mentality in engineering where you wade through mathematics to get answers, not always thinking about the physics.  It's even worse in the digital world, where everything gets boiled down to computer code! 

One more quick thing.  I talked to a physics prof once, asking him if there was any research happening in his department
focused on electromagnetics and radio waves, etc.  His reply: "radio waves are nothing more than the result of accelerating electrons".  Period!  Discussion over.  In other words, that's ancient history.  Engineers are still very much involved with new technologies involving antennas and amplifiers, etc.  But as far as the physicists are concerned, I get the impression that our whole field is pretty ho-hum.  But he was right about accelerating electrons, I also found out later.  And it doesn't have to be electrons.  Anything carrying charge undergoing acceleration will emit photons.  That's another crazy situation that I only more recently learned.

Hope that was entertaining!




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, February 2, 2014

BITX 2040 Build Update #8: All Boxed Up and Ready to Go!




Its kind of scary:  my BITX 20/40 is starting to look vaguely appliance-like!   Once again I find myself missing having the rig exposed -- sans-cabinet -- on the bench.  For me, the contacts made under those conditions, with solder smoke still in the air, are the most satisfying and memorable.  

But anyway, it is in the box now.  I think it looks pretty good.  I enjoyed working with the copper foil.  I did some trial and error testing and found that ordinary Krazy Glue is the best adhesive for joining the plastic material on the back of the foil to the wood of the box.  I like the look of the foil -- it reminds me of the copper (or gold?)  foil covering that they put on some spacecraft. 

There is always the danger that a rig that works well on the bench will go into rebellious oscillation when confined to a metallic box.   That didn't happen with mine. 

We discovered that the wood in the box is not actually walnut.  But I'm not complaining because whatever it is, it is very easy to work with.  BITX or Minima builders should consider these boxes (available via Amazon). 



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