Dave Richards AA7EE

June 19, 2011

No Commercial Rig In The Shack For Now And All Sorts Of Homebrew Plans

Filed under: Ham Radio,QRP — AA7EE @ 3:55 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I sold my FT-817 just days after mentioning 2 posts ago that it was up for sale.  After a week on Craigslist, I was planning on putting it up in a few of the online ham forums and then on eBay. It didn’t come to that though. In fact my rig sold not because of Craiglist, but because of the post here on WordPress.  I didn’t know that many folk read this blog!  Shortly after posting here that the 817 was for sale and including a link to the Craiglist ad, I received a call from Frank KA8SYV, saying that he was interested, and courtesy of Paypal and Fedex, the deal was finalized. I’d assumed that he found me on Craigslist but then remembered a remark he’d made during the phone call in which he complimented my large CD collection. The only way he could have known about that was if he’d seen this blog first before following the link to the Craigslist ad to get my phone number.  Hope that’s not against WordPress rules 🙂

The day that Frank received the radio, he called to let me know, and we had a great conversation. Frank’s been getting back into the hobby in the last couple of years, and his enthusiasm is infectious.  He told me about a great little 80M indoor loop that he built (which he forwarded details on) and it turns out that he has the kit to build K8IQY’s SS-40 receiver.  I’m envious, as I have really enjoyed the receiver on Jim’s 2N2 transceiver and the SS-40 is also reported to be low-noise. It was just great to converse with a fellow ham who has similar interests to mine – thanks for the phone QSO Frank.  I knew that Frank would be a trustworthy buyer – not only is he a fellow ham who can build things, but he also has a picture of a kitty in an astronaut suit on his QRZ page.  He just had to be cool!

As a result of that sale, the band coverage here in the shack is a little slim, but that’s fine by me.  I have the Tut80 on 80M, the Norcal 2N2 on 40M, and NT7s’ VRX-1 direct conversion receiver – also on 40M. My 80M activity is sparse, due partially to the fact that my only antenna is a co-ax fed inverted vee for 40, so 99.5% of my activity is on 40M CW.  Most amateurs would consider this a very meager ham-shack situation, but it’s working out well.  I never have to try and figure out which band to operate on, and I spend zero time adjusting the ATU. The 2N2 is always on so when I want to operate, I just turn the volume up on the rig.  Also, the lack of a commercial transceiver is a very good incentive for me to build equipment for the other bands.  I like what not having ready-built gear does for my creative juices.  If I want to go on 20, I have to sit down and figure out what to build for that band, as I’m not about to buy another commercial rig just yet.

The plan here at AA7EE is to spend more time building and experimenting.  I don’t design circuits, but I have enough gumption to build from schematics, and have been wanting to get lots of practice in Manhattan construction for a long time now, so the plan going forward is to build stuff. With that in mind, I spent a day or two putting in a big order with Dan’s Small Parts And Kits, as well as a small order for toroids and some transistors from W8DIZ –  “The Toroid King” (how can you say no to 50 x 2N3904’s or 2N3906’s for $3?)  The goal is to have a big stock of the most commonly used components, as well as enough PCB material to make Manhattan pads and build cases. Once I have a well-stocked junk-box, I can see what I’m using from it and order ahead to keep it stocked up. Hopefully, most projects will only require me to order just a few parts, with the rest coming from the personal stash of parts.  As a kid I had a big junk-box of parts, but it consisted mainly of donations from local and benevolent hams with the contents of a few self-purchased “grab bags” thrown in. I’ve never purposely ordered bulk amounts of all the common resistor and capacitor values and types, along with quantities of commonly-used semiconductor devices. What pleasantly surprised me was that (as long as Dan comes through with this order, and it’s good stuff) if you look for deals and buy from the right places, it needn’t break the bank.

I can’t wait to have my own personal arsenal of resistors, fixed capacitors and trim caps, diodes, transistors, pots, toggle switches, DBM’s (Dan has ADE-1 DBM’s for $4.50 each), ICs and who knows what else. The teenage me would have been so excited to know that I would one day achieve heaven on earth 🙂

Once everything arrives, here’s the plan of action:

 

* Build an active bandpass filter for NT7S’ VRX-1 DC receiver. I’m excited to see what what Jason’s receiver sounds like with audio filtering

* Build a regen receiver for 80M so that I can listen to the weekly West Coast AM net – and maybe mod it for 40M

* Consider building a QRP AM TX for 40, which can later act as an exciter for a linear amp (you think I’m crazy enough to try AM QRP on 80 and 40?)

* Build K8IQY’s 2N2-20 Manhattan-style

* Remove the Tut80’s polyvaricon and modifiy it for tuning with a varicap, so I can use a 10-turn pot, then put the Tut80 in a more stout case made of PCB material

*Lots more things.

 

The above are just ideas and we’ll see which ones come to fruition and which ones remain in my head, but I think I have plenty to keep me occupied, especially considering the fact that I work at a snail’s pace (solder one resistor, take a swig of coffee and look out the window, solder another resistor, take another swig of coffee and play with the kitty etc etc.)

It’s going to be so much fun!

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