I’ve long been interested in compact and fairly minimal SSB and CW rigs with good performance. I’m not into bells, whistles or menus. Menus are for restaurants! When hiking, walking or bouncing around summits I want to minimise things that are not absolutely necessary, things that can go wrong. Less is more when it comes to a transceiver for portable work.
Mt Feathertop (1,922 meters) is the second highest mountain in south eastern Australia (Victoria), and according to many commentators, the most picturesque and memorable. While Mt Bogong, the highest at 1,986 meters is a mammoth of bulk and stature, a bullock of a mountain with an ungainly rounded peak, Feathertop stands like a crafted blade fashioned out of a gigantic rocky plate tipped on its side aeons ago by the unfathomable forces that shaped our planet. So to stand on the top you must climb the supremely steep side from the valley below, or walk along its exposed knife-edge for 10 kilometers.
This module is an analogue and digital SWR and power meter/monitor, designed to replace analogue SWR and power metering in an AM Transmitter project. Of equal importance was the ability to detect high SWR and raise an interlock (a control line) to inhibit transmitter power in the presence of unreasonably high SWR. I make no claim to either SWR or power accuracy; my version is an indicative tool and an interesting experiment, not an accurate test equipment, although it could be made into same with some skill and patience.
Lockdown has made 2020 a year unlike any other. Melburnians were dealt a long and painful period of isolation with a CoronaVirus second wave, from around July to September, still in force, and looking like continuing to (at least partially) keep us housebound for some months yet. Days merge together, work and leisure time is largely indistinguishable. People are rediscovering reading, knitting, and endlessly bingeing TV. Makers are melting solder and stringing wires in the air.
Some winter nights were passed dreaming up an AM transmitter, and this VFO module is the first piece of it. It is designed for use in a two-band AM transmitter capable of around 200 watts carrier power, but could easily be used for other projects, such as a transceiver, or a transmitter for CW or digital modes. This module provides a 5v square wave clock at 1.8MHz or 3.5MHz (or any frequency you desire up to 144MHz), and transmit control lines needed to sequence a transmitter. It also includes a few ‘nice to haves’ including a transmit timer, CW ident, over-beep (or any CW character such as di-da-dit or da-di-dah), and a sleep mode which dims the displays when idle.
One of life’s simple pleasures is to rediscover something that bought you engagement and enjoyment in the past. And in COVID lockdown, stuck at home, it’s the perfect time to rummage through boxes in dark corners to sort, throw out, and rediscover old treasures. So it was that I came across this Ten Tec direct conversion receiver board, built around 20 years ago.
‘Summit Prowler 7’ is my name for this scratch-built multiband SSB and CW transceiver. This rig covers four of the most popular portable, Parks and SOTA bands — 80, 40, 30 and 20m, at a power level of 5 watts, but with an in-built switchable 50 watt power amplifier, so that you have the option to call up the extra power if the going gets rough. The rig weights in at around 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds, about the same as an FT-817, and is similarly sized. It’s a rig for a wide range of portable situations, and is equally at home on the shack bench.
In May 2019 I activated Mt Dandenong VK3/VC-025 with my latest homebrew rig. It was a CW only activation, five QSOs completed, but while I was handing out 599s, the reports coming back to me from the chasers were well down. Over the next few days on OZSOTA (the VK SOTA discussion group) several chasers made comments to the effect that they could hear other VK3s but nothing much from me. When regulars Tony VK3CAT, Ron VK3AFW and Gerard VK2IO reported the same thing, the evidence for a problem at my end mounted.
The coronavirus has stopped just about everything, and is undoubtedly changing our lives forever. With almost every group or event cancelled, there are predictions of mass boredom and social isolation. Many people apparently have no idea what they’ll find to do with their time. How odd. That’s never been a problem for makers like me. So in the interests of the bored and isolated, I offer this story of something useful that can be made in an afternoon — a linked dipole.
This post wraps up a series describing the construction of a 200W Class D AM transmitter for 160m, built, tested and put on air over 6 months from August 2019. The transmitter consists of a digital PLL VFO and driver circuit, an Arduino controller, a microphone amplifier, a Pulse Width Modulator, two H-bridge Class D RF modules each capable of at least 100 watts of carrier, an RF power combiner, Low Pass Filter, a 300W power supply and a switching regulator. At the Australian legal limit of 120W carrier, all parts of the transmitter run cool due the use of switching designs. Previous posts describe the switching regulator, 300 watt DC power supply and dummy loads for this project.
My journey of repairing and recycling anything I put my hands on that I believe is still useful. Not just hardware, but including software with relevant content and issues in the field of Cyber Security, Vulnerability Scanning and Penetration Testing.