Archive for October, 2010

W3LPL-inspired 160/80 RX splitter

October 25th, 2010

In an earlier post, I described my K9AY loop system.  QRX for an update on the outdoor portion.  But, after returning from a short and much-needed vacation at the beach yesterday afternoon, I whipped-up this little guy:

One of the big problems I have living in the city is overload from broadcast stations in the AM band.  (This is especially true in the heavily-populated, full-of-hot-air DC area—Ed.)  But, I digress.  I also wanted to protect the preamp and receiver when I was transmitting on the higher bands into nearby antennas.  So, some sort of filtering was in order.

I contemplated a number of topologies.  But, the W3LPL filters were a good choice because they’re cheap and very good.  A good reference on what I did is the NCJ article by K3NA and W2VJN about the VP6DX receiving antenna system.  The Ducie Island system is considerably more complex than mine.  But, they had more stringent requirements, more land for Beverages, and more money than I do.

Following the K3NA/W2VJN/W3LPL topology, I constructed a little diplexer filter for 160 and 80 meters that splits my K9AY to two receiver ports.  This splitter is the first thing after the K9AY coax passes through the station ground bulkhead, requiring a preamp on each port.  Since I don’t have a TX antenna for 160 yet, that port will go to the SoftRock-160.

I’ve only tested the 80-meter portion (since I didn’t get the 160 portion done until this morning before work).  But, it works like a champ and there is no overload from broadcast stations.  Although there are some curious mixes coming from some of the big AM stations in the area that seem to be external to the receiver (this has been confirmed by N3OX—pretty amazing stuff); but, that might deserve its own post at a later date.

Keyboard Trays, QRP Rig, and SoftRocks

October 18th, 2010

Time, as they say, has been of the essence of late.  So, when I do have time to play radio, I rarely have a chance to write about it.  Here are some photos of my latest tinkerings.

Keyboard Trays

Sarah has always talked about using a keyboard tray at work as a part of an ergonomic workstation.  Until recently, my work invovled enough variety of computer and non-computer time that I did not think about it.  But, after coming home from work with stiff shoulders and wrists, I decided something should be done.  While I was at it, I upgraded the HF and VHF/SDR operating positions at K8GU with pull-out trays, as well.  These were $10 each at IKEA and pretty easy to install, although I told Sarah that I was grateful that she didn’t witness my contortions to hold them up with my knees while driving the first screws.

Liberating my inner QRPer

Back in high school, I built a Small Wonder Labs SW-40 that I had seen in a QST article.  It lived in a variety of enclosures, but spent the last decade in the ugly PC board half-enclosure that looked like a redneck pickup truck at right.  I decided to put it into a proper enclosure, being the diecast box at left.

Despite the fact that I made the radio impossible (no room for front panel controls) to assemble the first time I drilled the board mounting holes, I’m pleased with the result.  Four dabs of gray epoxy cover the errant holes.  I probably could sand and polish those now.  The power connector is a pair of Anderson Power Poles.

VHF Softrock and Enclosures

Readers of the blog have seen the screen capture from my new Softrock Ensemble II VHF.  Tony does not advertise these on his site because they are not 100% supported with documentation yet.  Robby, WB5RVZ has done a great service to the community by preparing step-by-step instructions for most of the SoftRock series.  I’m not a step-by-step kind of guy, so I just used his photos showing the locations of the 0.1 uF and 0.01 uF chip capacitors and built the rest my way:  mount all chip caps, all SMT ICs, all through-hole ICs and sockets, all through-hole resistors and diodes, all through-hole capacitors, all inductors, and all connectors.  It worked right away.

I also have two v6.0 SoftRocks that I built a few years ago while I was in grad school.  One of these (for 160) has been a bare board all these years and the other (for 40 and 80) has been living in an ugly little RadioShack black plastic project box.  I decided to upgrade them to diecast boxes with external power connectors (also PowerPoles—I’m slowly switching the station over) and a switch for 40 and 80 meters.  Here’s the happy family of little radios…

The 160-meter SR v6.0 is on top of the diecast box holding the SR v6.0 40/80.  The Ensemble II VHF is on the right.  It’s unfortunately too long for either size diecast box.  I don’t like the commercially-available box for it.  So, we’ll have to see…

Bureau Cards

October 18th, 2010

If you have come to the site checking to see if I am still alive because you have not received a QSL card via the bureau system, you have come to the right place.  I finally mailed about four years worth of CE/K8GU, KP4/K8GU, PJ2/K8GU, and K8GU bureau cards out this week.  (Yes, it was a nice-sized pile, but not as big as it could have been.)  There are a few recent requests that have not been filled because I ran out of CE/ and KP4/ cards.  I will get some more soon.

144-MHz SoftRock

October 14th, 2010

144-MHz SoftRock Ensemble II VHF by KB9YIG and VE3NEA Rocky 3.6.  Yup, that’s W3APL/B (off the back of the beam) and WA1ZMS/B in the same waterfall.  How cool is that?!  More later…  This has many implications for many projects!