Sunday, July 6, 2014

20 Meter High Performance Direct Conversion Receiver & VXO Controlled 6W Transmitter

Well, I haven't been posting for a while.  My QRO rig (Yaesu FT-101ZD) has developed a problem with the VFO.  The frequency jumps around.  I have no idea what could be wrong.  My only guess is that there is a loose connection.  I suppose if it were a capacitor it would drift instead of jump.  I plan on at least pulling the board and have a look-see.  I wonder if I could get the external VFO and just bypass the internal one.

I have bought a You Kits HB-1B qrp rig from Ten Tec and am quite pleased with it.  I have made QSO all around the world with its spankin' 5W.  Last night I made contact with a station in New Zealand and received a good report.  I took it camping and had a ball operating from a park bench next to the lake.  The ticks and chiggers were there to great me....never going back there again.

My other QRP rig is the Rockmite 20 and it is a little harder to make good QSOs but I have worked coast to coast with it and yesterday morning I held a 1 hour rag chew with a fellow in Canada camping out in the boonies.

20 Meter High Performance Direct Conversion Receiver & VXO Controlled 6W Transmitter

Look in QST Apr & Dec 1978 for the article on how to build this transceiver.

I purchased this homebrew QRP rig off of ebay from its builder K1NYK.  The workmanship is very nice and I hope to have it up and running soon. Taken from the 1978 QST article it uses a VXO on the 20M band and has a direct conversion receiver (the lower PCB).  It should put out about 6-7W.  I tried the receiver but all I get is static.  This will be my first attempt at repairing a radio.  I first try to find the problem with a voltmeter.  I don't have a signal generator or rf detector and I guess I'll have to make something from plans off the internet.

I finally have accumulated all the parts for building a replica of my brother's QRP rig he designed that are posted elsewhere on this blog.  The NE602s where not that hard to find.  I've already started the project with a proto board.  I better get her done before I lose some of the parts. :)

UPDATE: July 25, 2014  A fellow ham has suggested that I clean the VFO capacitor to try and resolve the freq stability problem.  I've built and audio oscillator using a 555 timer to test the receiver and the circuit from the mixer to the phones is good.  Also I tested the transmitter and it is also good.  So I suspect the circuit leading up and including the mixer and BFO.  I'm trying to find out how to test those circuits.  I wish I had a signal generator that would do AF and RF.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sad news for KF5RCH Josh Wells

Last night Josh Wells, KF5RCH, lost his amateur radio shack due to a fire.   The fire started in the garage and eventually reached his bedroom destroying everything.  All this after the 12 year old passed his extra exam last Sat here in Tulsa.  His Yaesu FT 101 had broken down and is in Dallas in hopes that it can be repaired.  That is all that is left of his shack.  Sadly his beloved dog was killed as well.  He called me last night crying frantically and appologizing about the Rockmite 40 I had loaned him.......not to worry Josh.

Josh had saved up all summer from money he earned by mowing lawns and doing odd jobs around his neighborhood to puchase his gear which included a 2m Kenwood, tuner, code practice oscillator and bencher keyer along with the FT 101 HF rig.  Also lost in the fire was his Ipad and his small QSL card collection.

This is a plea for HELP to his fellow hams.  If you can find it in your heart to help him rebuild his shack please let me know.   If anyone has an idea of how we can set up a fund for him it would be most appreciated.

Very Sincerly,
Michael Morris

Well, Josh is now back up on the air with a KNWD FT-440 making all kinds of CX contact.  He calls me each day for an update on his DXing progress. :)  He's been doing CW as well which is something I'm very proud of.  Many thanks to the hams that helped him out in his time of need.

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Here is the oscillator that I'm building.  Played around with the design to get the best performance I could out of it.  I will make an enclosure and dial and calibrate it for frequency selection.
This is the bread board from the schematic on the notebook page.

Here is the first proto on a perf board.

After testing the board I've found there is some distortion in the signal.  The components were tested and checked out alright so I'm suspecting a cold solder.  I couldn't get the board that went with the proto board and will have to order some off the internet.  Radio shack should have them .....but they don't have them in the store like they say they are. :(  I going to order the peripheral components along with a project box.  I may use a plastic AC outlet box if I have one.

15 Mar 13:  Well, I put the CPO in it's little box and decided to fire it up and it did just fine after I cleaned and re-soldered all the joints and modified the way I wired the components.  I drilled holes large enough to accept the wire and threaded the wire in such a way as to provide some strain relief.  I also made a circuit board holder from a drill press vise in order to free up both hands to apply the solder properly.

I dug out an old 9V wall transformer and hooked it up but nothing happened.  After checking the voltage I found that it was either the wrong polarity or AC voltage was getting thru.  I said Kaddish over the NE555 that was electrocuted and replaced it with another.  Next thing to do is install a diode to prevent that from happening again.  I don't know why I didn't do that in the first place.  The proto had one.

More to come

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rockmite 20 Exploration "The Dyno Mite"

Well, I've pretty much finished the Rockmite 20 and everything seems good to go.  I put it up on the 40 dipole antenna to test its receiver and can pick up stations but the volume is pretty low.  I think a tuned 20M dipole would help in that area.  Here is a JPEG of it before the lid is made for it.

11 Mar 13:  Made my first QSO with the RM 20 and snagged a Californian station.  Wow!!!  The audio is low and I'll have to look for a problem there.  Otherwise it is doing fine.  Went to the hamfest in Claremore and bought some miniature coax for a GO-PACK.  Going camping with my RM...

14 Mar 13:  Make 3 more contacts with the RM 20.  2 to IL & 1 to TX.  I found that if I just monitor the freq its on 14060Kc and wait for a station to start a CQ I have a pretty good chance of getting their attention.  However I did make one contact with my own CQ.  Since the Crock Mite died an untimely death in the Josh Wells house fire I've yet to name it's replacement.  My daughter has suggested Dyno Mite and so it shall be.  A hint to it's ability to bust up rocks.

UPDATE:  I found that the actual frequency was 14.058 which misses the QRP watering hole of 14.060.  I wonder if I could but a trimmer cap to have a little frequency agility.  hmmmm

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Building The 40M Direct Conversion Rcvr

I've decided to start the build on Steve's (formerly N5JBB) direct conversion receiver.  My goal is to build a replica to the original in his article.  (The first post of this blog)  The procuring of parts has been a very time consuming task.  I managed to find everything through ebay and various other sources, including the project box and vernier dial and so it will at least look the same as the original.  As of now I'm waiting for all the parts to arrive so that I can start on the printed circuit board layout and component location.

Here is the original description of the Receiver that is more legible than the photo copied one posted before on

An Experimental Receiver Using the NE602 Oscillator Mixer

Steven Morris, N5JBB
4913 Rustic Rd
Sand Springs, OK 74102

          The NE602 is an 8 pin oscillator/mixer chip made by Signetics which was meant for use in battery powered receiver circuits.  I was intrigued by the possibility of a very simple direct conversion portable receiver based on this chip and was able to get a fairly good 40 meter receiver onto only 3 square inches of board space.

          The NE602 contains an active mixer circuit optimized for best performance at 6 volts.  Biasing of the mixer is taken care of on the chip, making it simple to use.  An oscillator/buffer stage is also provided on the chip.  The base and emitter of the oscillator transistor are brought out on pins 6 & 7 respectively, where the frequency determining components can be attached.  The signal input is into pins 1 & 2 while the outputs are from pins 4 & 5.  Fig. 1 shows a block diagram of the NE602.

          This chip has several advantages over some of the active and passive mixers currently in use.  Since this chip provides about 20 dB of signal gain from the input to the output, there is not as much gain needed in the audio strip as that needed for a receiver using a passive mixer.  Its small size and on-chip oscillator and biasing eliminate much board space and many of the components that would be needed if another active mixer such as the LM1496 were used.  The chip has very good sensitivity but mediocre dynamic range, potentially a problem when working on the 40 meter band.  Nevertheless a good receiver can be built based on this chip, giving a very small, low power set good for portable operation.

           Looking at Fig. 2, the receiver is split into two sections, the oscillator/mixer and the audio strip.  In the first section T1 is used to match the 50 Ω antenna impedance to the 3 kΩ input impedance of the mixer.  It is tuned to reject out of band signals.  R1 is used to drop the 9 V supply down to 6 V.  The oscillator circuit is of the Colpitts type with C2 used as the bandset and C1 used for main tuning.  Output from the circuit is single ended, being taken off pin 4.  C8 R2 and C16 are used to filter RF before the audio signal is sent to preamp Q1.

          The audio strip contains a 2ND5210 preamp and an LM386 power amplifier.  The preamp is designed to have a gain of 10 although more gain can be had by bypassing R6 with a 10 µf capacitor.  R7 is the receiver volume control.  The LM386 is designed to have a gain of 20 but that can be increased to 200 by adding a 10 µF capacitor between pins 1 & 8.  The LM386 tended to oscillate when using 4 Ω headphones so I rewired the headphones for 16 Ω operation which cured the problem.

          I laid out a circuit board just to see how small I could make it.  The circuit board is 1.5 X 2 in., occupying 3 sq. in. of space.  The layout is shown in Fig. 3 and the component location is shown in Fig. 4.  The completed receiver was built in a metal cabinet purchased from Radio Shack and is shown in Fig. 5.  The cabinet was modified to make the cover more easily removable when replacing the battery.  This was done by using #6-32 knurled thumbscrews instead of the sheet metal screws supplied and cutting slots in the cover so it can slide under the thumbscrews.  Fig. 6 shows the internal layout of the box.

          I believe this receiver would make a good portable set because of its small size and low power drain.  There is much room for experimentation too.  The antenna circuit could be reqorked to eliminate the input attenuator and raise the Q of the input tank.  The oscillator circuite could be reworked to obtain better frequency stability.  I think that some improvement in dynamic range could be gotten by using an audio transformer across pins 4 & 5 of the NE602 for balanced output from the chip.  Some experimentation with gain in the audio strip is called for.  The headphones I use are very sensitive, other headphones might require more gain.  By increasing the gain in the LM386 enough ti might be possible to eliminate the preamp.

          You may have to go through a Signetics distributor to get the NE602.  I have not seen them for sale in any of the common mail order outfits.  I bought mine from Schweber Electronics, a nationwide distributor which handles Signetics.\


Signetics 1987 Linear Data Manual, Vol. 1:  Communication, pp 4-60 to 4-74

Signetics application note AN198, “Designing With the SA/NE602”

Signetics application note AN1982, “Applying the Oscillator of the NE602 to Low Power Mixer Pllications:

Here is the parts list:


J1                BNC Connector
J2                1/8 in. phone jack
T1                T50-2 toroid
 L1               T68-6 toriod
C1                15 pF variable cap
C2, C6            75 pF trimmer
C3                 100 pF
C4, C5           680 pF
C7                .1 µF
C8, C9, C10     .047 µF
C11               .068 µF
C12               .01 µF
C13, C14        10 µF
C15               .05 µF
C16               .22 µF
C17               1000 µF
R1                120 Ω
R2                1.5 kΩ
R3                100 kΩ
R4                2.2 kΩ
R5                12 kΩ
R6                220 Ω
R7                10 kΩ Pot
R8                10 Ω
U1                NE602
U2                LM386
SW1             SPST Miniature Switch
Vernier dial
Head phones
Circuit board
Stand offs
Machine screws
Project box
9V Battery
Battery connector
Enamel wire
Hook up wire
Thumb screws
Foot pads

I'm working on the schematic.  The original can be viewed from the link below:

15 Mar 13:  Today I'm starting the Regen project.  I've gathered all the major components and onto the proto board they will go.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


So now I have 3 projects going.  1) Fix the o-scope, 2) Fix the Yaesu, and 3) Finish putting down my hardwood floor.   

I have to finish the floor first because we've temporarily moved all the furniture around to clear the room to put down the floor.  I have to use my table saw a lot when laying the floor, because I have to fit the pieces that lay next to the walls. Two weekends ago when I started, my table saw malfunctioned and the power on switch wouldn't turn off.  The contacts in the switch burned and fuzed together.  

All weekend I turned the saw on and off by plugging and unplugging the power cord.  Not very safe!  I tried to order a replacement switch, but Harbor Freight says that manufacturer doesn't make them any more, even though those turkeys are still selling the exact same model of saw on their site right now.  I found some promising safety switches from Grizzley and I'll probably order one of those.  However, when I got home today, I decided to disassemble the switch and clean the contacts. This turned out to be fairly easy to do, though I had a little trouble getting the switch to snap back together again.  Now the saw works...  

So tomorrow, I'll start work finishing the floor...

I found more capacitors that I can use to fix the o-scope, so I'm gathering those up to finish the o-scope repair after finishing the floor.

Then, on to repairing the Yaesu....

Thursday, January 3, 2013

My tube rigs

I found a couple of color photos of my old antique replicas.  Below is the 6L6 transmitter, which had a power output of about 12 watts. I made my own plugable coil form out of a tube socket and PVC pipe.  It would run on 40 meters and 80 meters, with a change of coils.

Below is the regenerative receiver.  I sent my QSL card to a ham who did a magazine article about old rigs.  He sent me the old style vernier dial.  So this photo shows the rig as more realistic than the rig as shown on my QSL card, since the modern vernier dial is replaced by an antique vernier dial.  Using the plugable coil, the rig would work on 80, 40 and 20 meters.   I need to find the original magazine article I used for these rigs.