Category Archives: homebrew

Getting Owen KJ6AKQ/VK3EAR on air

September 2018: I ‘met’ Owen KJ6AKQ on Twitter, I cant recall exactly how or when, maybe 6 months ago. He was a KJ6 who had landed (with family) for work in Melbourne, with a KX3, a real ‘ham sensibility ‘, and an obvious desire to get back into the hobby. But living in an inner city townhouse was going to cramp his style somewhat. After finding how to take out a VK3 callsign he registered VK3EAR. Callsign, rig, but no antenna. I knew he was itching to get on air when he started calling CQ on Twitter.

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A compact Arduino, si5351 VFO with Keyer and OLED display

The remarkable compact transceivers of Peter DK7IH inspired me to dream up a compact transceiver of my own. This project would be an experiment on a shirt-pocket scale — not as dense as some of Peter’s rigs, but small on my scale. Starting with the PLL VFO/controller along the familiar lines of Raduino (Arduino Nano and si5351), I sketched out a physical design, and it became clear that the display choice would dictate the size of this module. Where small displays are concerned, there’s only one option … OLED.

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A scratchbuilt G6LBQ BiTx ‘Walkie-Talkie’ for 40 and 20m SSB/CW

After completing a 6-band SSB/CW QRP transceiver (Summit Prowler IV) I found myself thinking about a more compact QRP SSB/CW rig for SOTA, with two of the main day-time SOTA HF bands (40/20m). The design driver this time was to try a different ‘form factor’ — I wanted a rig with a narrow and long case, such that it would easily slide inside a backpack, and on a summit sit vertically against a rock or be hand held. All my SOTA rigs so far use both front and back panels for connections and controls, so they need to sit level on a horizontal surface. As most rocks or tree stumps are low, you can’t easily read the display. Some designers get around this by putting the display on the top of the box, a sensible adaptation but one that makes the rig look like a flounder. Because I spend a lot of time building and using these radios at home on the shack bench as well as on a summit, I wanted a design for use in both situations.

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Scratch-built 8-band HF/6m transceiver (EI9GQ) – Part 1 Receiver

Eamon EI9GQ’s book (‘Building a Transceiver’, RSGB 2018) started me down the path of another modular transceiver project. For this build I wanted to continue working with surface mount but without the compulsion to pack it all in tight. More space and the freedom to replace a module later. It would be a Shack Sloth rig (a base station), not a Summit Prowler, so the space, weight and power budget shackles fell off from the start.

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Remembrance Day Contest 2018

Remembrance Day Contest is a 24 hour amateur radio operating contest conducted each year by the Wireless Institute of Australia, to commemorate those Australian licensed amateur radio operators who lost their lives in World War 2. It is ‘designed to encourage friendly participation and help improve the operating skills of participants‘, and is held on the weekend closest to the 15th August, the date on which hostilities ceased in the southwest Pacific. This year it commenced at 1pm local time on Saturday August 11th.

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Replacing an LCD: more to it than than meets the eye

Until this weekend my homebrew QRP SSB/ CW rig (Summit Prowler IV) possessed an un-backlit black on green LCD. Unfortunately the backlight never worked. The transceiver worked well, and I overlooked the dark display, perfectly usable in daylight but useless at night unless lit with a direct table lamp. I justified it in my mind by thinking of it as not a limitation but a feature — it’s a battery saving measure in a portable rig, a design choice, not a construction failure or component fault. A few weeks ago I set it up on a side bench with no direct light and found myself shining a torch on it to tune. Finally the niggling annoyance got to the point where I could ignore it no more.

Summit Prowler IV with nice new blue display. Now ready for those twilight activations.

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Desklamp conversion to 12v DC 20w power supply

Picked up a halogen desk lamp from a street hard rubbish pile the other day. This particular desk lamp model has been a popular product for many years and appears to be still available. As I stood on what Melburnians strangely refer to as a ‘nature strip’, starting at someone else’s pile of junk, I faced a familiar dilemma– take it and do something with it, or walk away.

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Arduino GPS Clock

A while back I prototyped a ublox GPS unit with an Arduino Nano on a breadboard. I wrote up some thoughts here. The ublox GPS unit streams messages on a serial line that contain a variety of time, date, location, altitude and speed fields. So one obvious application is to make these parts into a desk clock. The big advantage of a GPS clock is that it never has to be set. Just power it with 12v and you know the time is correct. Well at least until the next Carrington Event.

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‘Building a Transceiver’, Eamon Skelton EI9GQ and Elaine Richards G4LFM (RSGB)

I first laid eyes on this book when Glenn VK3PE brought it to an Amateur Radio Victoria Homebrew Meeting a few months ago. Eamon Skelton EI9GQ writes the ‘Homebrew’ column in RSGB’s RadCom. I don’t see RadCom (my loss) so it was a pleasant surprise to skim the pages and see every aspect of building a relatively high quality transceiver getting a good, readable coverage, with full construction details.

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Arduino GPS experiment for SOTA

How could a GPS unit integrated with a SOTA transceiver assist in activations? I’ve been turning that thought over for a while now after seeing David VK5KK’s GPS and Arduino based grid square locator (posted to the ‘VK Homebrew’ group on facebook).   The ready availability of cheap GPS units with a simple serial interface makes the option straight-forward.  As my homebrew rigs are using Arduino Nanos and si5351 breakout boards, the GPS is just another (serial) attachment.

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WA2MZE

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Paul Gacek

W6PNG/M0SNA

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