Archive for February, 2010

TS-700S repaired

February 16th, 2010

I finally knocked a radio off my repair list.  The TS-700S gave out during the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes.  It turns out that most of the problems were due to bad connections internally.  I hit the heterodyne crystals and their sockets with contact cleaner and reflowed a few joints.  I may yet fix the LNA, but with 10 watts, I haven’t had too much trouble being an aligator.

Epic Snow

February 7th, 2010


We got some snow this weekend.  Although it was an average winter storm for my friends in Minnesota, it is a snow-removal headache of epic proportions for the DC area.  With a little effort and the right tools, we cleared our cars out this afternoon:  better life through engineering.  (I was tempted to caption the picture above after the Troy McClure film Man vs Nature: the Road to Victory.  But, you have this instead.)  The plow came through later and it only took 15-20 minutes to clean up the rest and were out to get pizza.

i is for intuitive

February 6th, 2010


Sarah got me an iPod Touch for Christmas, which I am enjoying considerably.  One of the things that struck me about it when I first opened the package was that it came with no instructions.  I marveled briefly that it was so intuitive.

That thought perished from my mind until I was at my mechanic’s shop getting the oil changed in the car on Wednesday.  The shop manager was telling me how he had given his teenage daughter an iPod Touch for Christmas and they couldn’t figure out how to use it at first.

What is the difference between our experiences?  How does Apple get away with not including instructions?  I just found it interesting from a design perspective…

Trials and Tribulations of a Geriatric Electronics Specialist

February 6th, 2010


I have an old radio problem.  Make that three old radio problems…err…problem radios.

My first used radio was the TS-930S you see in this picture.  It’s been good to me, and I’ve tried to reciprocate, although I am a contester.  It hasn’t quite been the same since I put the third set of PA drivers in it and repaired the power supply.  Something deeper must be wrong.  I found out tonight that something deeper was indeed wrong, in the form of not one, but two, exploding electrolytic capacitors.  At least I had one of them in the junk box, but I figured I was pushing my luck and came up here to the shack to blog instead of blowing up another one.  The power supply pass transistors were assuredly toast since they were riding high at 40 volts—got that fixed.  But, it still pops caps.  Crap.  Something is amiss in the final PA bias circuit (MRF-422).  I don’t think that the ratings of the MRF-422’s have been exceeded.  So, it should be a matter of diagnosing the bias circuit and getting back on track.

The TS-700S at right is my most recent used find.  It’s in practically perfect cosmetic condition.  But, during the ARRL January VHF Sweepstakes, the output power started fluctuating before finally going to zero.  The T/R relay driver transistor failed, but there’s still something else going on—it looks like an ALC issue of some sort.  I did just finally find a service manual for this guy and that should help the diagnosis.  Although, the service manual is unusually vague about the purpose of some of the control signals that are passed between functional blocks.  This might take a while, too.

The other TS-930 actually works, except only on 40 CW.  On the other bands, the PLL unlocks.  KA5IPF suggested that I tweak the master oscillator to keep it off the ragged edge of unlock.  I’ve done that a few times and can’t quite hit the sweet spot.  My next plan is to pull the PLL unit out (a real pain) and reflow all the solder joints on the board since it comes from the early era of the TS-930, when cold solder joints were common.

I’ve pulled the FT-840 out to be the second radio for bands other than 40 CW.  And, I’m missing the Sprint tonight to spend time with my wife since I spent the better part of the afternoon tracing through the TS-700 and hooking up the FT-840.  Fortunately, I have the FT-840 configured as a drop-in replacement for a TS-930—this is in no small part due to the fact that the PIEXX boards use Yaesu-style BCD band-decoders—so, I can plug right in with the appropriate adapter.