tirsdag den 29. december 2020

One-valve transmitter for 7 MHz


Fig. 1. Valve transmitter.

Building this transmitter was inspired by an article in "Popular Electronics" 2/1955. The circuit diagram is simple, and the valve (6AQ5) can still be purchased. So I decided to build the project.
Fig. 2. Circuit diagram.

I find the circuit diagram clever. C6 and L3 are mounted on top of the chassis, and may be touched by the operator. However, the B+ voltage is neither available at the variable capacitor C6 nor at the coil L3. This is because C5 isolates the two components from B+, and they are both grounded. This precaution increases electrical safety.

High voltage is present at the bottom of the chassis. I decided to cover all components with high-voltage by plexiglass to avoid danger of electrical shock. 

Fig. 3. Top view.

Fig. 4. Bottom view. Note the plexiglass walls. 

The power supply is unregulated. When current is drawn during transmit, the B+ goes down from 215 V to 185 V, and this reduces the transmitter output to 2 W.
Fig. 5. Power supply for the transmitter.

I wish you a happy New Year, and hope for better times next year without corona-virus!

73 OZ1BXM Lars
Homepage: oz1bxm.dk

tirsdag den 6. oktober 2020

Replacing Network Time with BktTimeSync

I've used Network Time about 6 months. However, the PC clock deviation could be 500 ms or more during a day. This amount of drift is not acceptable - digital modes like JT65 and FT8 require less than 100 ms deviation in order to run smoothly.

blog post by N1RWY directed me to BktTimeSync by IZ2BKT Capelli Mauro.

Main page and software download: BktTimeSync 
Alternative page for download: https://bkttimesync.software.informer.com/

Fig. 1. BktTimeSync configuration. 

My configuration is shown in figure 1. Note that connecting to an NTP-server works only if the PC firewall allows traffic on port 123. "GPS Configuration" is not filled in as I don't use a GPS device as time source.

BktTimeSync should run automatically when the PC starts up. How to add an app to run automatically at startup in Windows 10 is described by Microsoft support

Fig. 2. Message from time.is: You have the exact time!

Checking your PC clock can be done by visiting time.is. You'll discover if your PC clock is off. Figure 2 shows, that my PC clock has the exact time, and the deviation is just 6 ms.

I hope BktTimeSync will continue its excellent timekeeping on my PC!

Note december 2020: BktTimeSync is still running on my Win 10 PC. System time is updated every 20 min via europe.pool.nt.org. I am satisfied with it's performance.

73 OZ1BXM Lars

Homepage: oz1bxm.dk

søndag den 27. september 2020

New 23 cm transverter from SG-LAB

My new 23 cm transverter comprises a transverter module and a PA module. Both modules came fully assembled and tested from SG-LAB in Bulgaria. The transverter version is 2.3. It has an optional input port for a GSPDO (10 MHz).

Fig. 1. 23 cm transverter block diagram.

The transverter's IF is 144 MHz. RF output is 1296-1298 MHz at 2 W which is raised to 25 W using the PA. Both units have two multi-color LEDs on the front:
  • Input power LED
  • Output SWR LED
When a LED is green, all is well. Yellow means warning, and red means a dangerous condition. Figure 2 below shows "all well" on the PA module to the right. The transverter LEDs display yellow and green. The reason for yellow is low input power. This is necessary not to overload the PA module. 

Fig. 2. LED indications on transverter and PA during transmit.

The IF-transceiver is Yaesu FT-847. It has a STBY port on the rear panel which goes low during TX. The STBY port is connected to the transverter's PTT port via a coax-cable.  

Fig. 3. Transverter and PA inside the alu-box. 

Figure 3 shows the transverter and the PA mounted inside a Hammond 1550J alu-box. The RF ports on both modules are fitted with SMA-female connectors. The modules are interconnected with short pieces of RG316D cable having SMA-male connectors. 

The PA  module becomes warm, but not hot during transmit. The PA module contains a pre-amp with 10 dB gain and NF 0.8 dB.

Fig. 4. The transverter is mounted below the 23 cm antenna.

The water-proof alu-box containing the transverter is mounted below the 23 cm antenna (fig. 4). The middle antenna is a 10-element yagi for 70 cm, and the lower antenna is a 6-element yagi for the 2 meter band.

torsdag den 16. juli 2020

Receiving 23 cm beacons portable

Last Saturday, I collected my 14 element yagi for 23 cm, my MKU13G2B Kuhne transverter, and my 144 MHz IF radio (Kenwood TR-751E). A rechargable 12 V battery, a camping table and a folding chair was also included.

I went to Trehoje JO46HE which is 102 m ASL. I wanted to listen for Danish 23 cm beacons. 

My 23 cm portable rig at Trehoje JO46HE.

The nearest beacon is OZ5SHF in JO45VX, 76 km away. The signal was stronger than I had anticipated: S9. The beacon is at 205 m ASL, and that certainly helps propagating a strong signal! You can hear my audio recording of OZ5SHF:

Beacon OZ7IGY in JO55WM is 216 km away. The signal was weak, but I could hear the PI4-tones. If I had brought my laptop, I would have been able to detect the PI4-signal using the sound card and the  PI-RX program.   

The beacon OZ1UHF 162 km away was very weak. I could hear it, but not read the morse code.

Next step is to become QRV on 23 cm transmit from my home QTH.

73 from OZ1BXM oz1bxm.dk

mandag den 18. maj 2020

Noisy PC Speakers - and a Solution

My PC-speakers are pretty standard: A pair of Creative A50 powered with 5 V DC from an USB-port.

I noticed noise coming from the speakers, when no audio signal was present. Changing USB-port did not help. I seemed like my USB ports were noise polluted! When I connected a power-bank (lithium-ion battery) to the speakers, the noise disappeared, but during pauses in the audio, the power-bank shut itself down!

I decided to build a noisefree 5 V DC PSU using a transformer with iron core and a 7805 which has 68 dB ripple rejection and low output noise. The 7805 is thermal overload protected and short-circuit protected. I had all parts laying around, so the building cost was nil.

Figur 1. The noisefree PSU.

Figure 2. Noisefree PSU with open lid.

Figure 3. AC Adaptor. 
Figure 3 shows the transformer which is an old AC adapter with iron core. It is heavier than modern AC adapters! The advantage: no switching technology is involved!

Figure 4. Circuit diagram.
The rectifier bridge is an integrated piece, but four discrete 1 A diodes can be used as well. I found C1, C2, and 7805 in the drawer. The circuit board has holes and solder islands, but no tracks. Figure 5 shows how the component wires are connected on the bottom side. The alu-cabinet is Hammond 1590A.

Figure 5. The circuit board seen from the bottom.
The PC speaker's power consumption is low. The noisefree PSU does not get warm at all.

Now I can enjoy music and speech without background noise - and a good feeling of having improved something!

73 from OZ1BXM
My homepage: http://oz1bxm.dk


tirsdag den 24. marts 2020

Replacing Meinberg NTP with Network Time

I purchased a new PC last month with Windows 10 preinstalled. The Windows specs are shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. My new Windows 10.

I had problems after I installed Meinberg NTP. Whenever I booted the PC, the system clock was set by Meinberg, but then time discipline was lost. After some hours, the system clock could deviate as much as 1 sec. It seemed like Meinberg could not control the system time. I worked with this problem for a while, and then I decided to uninstall Meinberg NTP and try another piece of software for time control.

I need accurate time keeping because I'm using weak signal digital protocols in amateur radio. A time deviation of less than 100 ms is required with JT65. I use JT65 when I'm bouncing radio signals off the Moon and back to Earth (distance 800,000 km).

Figure 2. Network Time.

Network Time was easy to install, and it worked right away. Under "Settings" I set "Update Interval" to 20 minutes because I wanted frequent updates. Remaining options were left at the factory settings.

Before installing Network Time I opened UDP port 123 (inbound/outbound) in Windows Defender Firewall. This port is used by the NTP (Network Time Protocol). I named the rule "UDP-port-123-time1", see figure 3.

Figure 3 Windows Defender Firewall (Windows 10).

I changed "Set the time automatically" from On to Off as shown in figure 4. This tells Windows not to use W32time.

Figure 4. Date and Time (Windows 10).

You can check the accuracy of your computer clock by visiting this page.

Vy 73 from OZ1BXM Lars
Webpage: oz1bxm.dk

onsdag den 12. februar 2020

2 GHz Spectrum Analyzer with SDRplay

SDRplay RSP1A can be used as a spectrum analyzer between 1 kHz and 2 GHz. "RSP Spectrum Analyser" is free Windows software developed for this purpose. "RSP Spectrum Analyser" can be downloaded from the SDRplay website.

Figure 1. SDRplay RSP1A with a 20 dB attenuator.
I wanted to test a Pierce crystal oscillator. The circuit diagram is shown in figure 2. I've built the oscillator on a piece of Veroboard using leaded components. The crystal frequency is 7.030 MHz.

Figure 2. Pierce crystal oscillator.

Figure 3. Measuring the crystal oscillator.

The different items are connected as shown in figure 3. A is the crystal oscillator. B is an active probe; it has no amplification but Zin is 10 Mohm and Cin is 0.5 pF. C is a 50 ohm coax cable. D is an 20 dB attenuator. E is SDRplay, and F is the USB-cable connecting SDRplay to a Windows PC.
Figure 4. Screen-dump from RSP Spectrum Analyzer.
The screen-dump in figure 4 shows a 5-25 MHz sweep. On the vertical axis, the reference level is 0 dBm and the lowest level is -80 dBm. Spike A is the fundamental frequency, C is the 2nd harmonic at 14 MHz and E is the 3rd harmonic at 21 MHz. The remaining spikes are B, which is a spurious signal, D is a real signal, and F is a spurious signal from the SDRplay clock at 24 MHz. Spike F can be removed be activating "clock spur removal".  

Another example is measuring a band-pass filter for 1090 MHz. I connected a noise generator in front of the filter in order to create an input signal. The RSPplay was connected to the filter's output, and no attenuator was used this time (the noise signal is weak and should not be attenuated). 

Figure 5. Measuring a band-pass filter.
The reference level in figure 5 is -40 dBm, and the lowest level is -120 dBm. The sweep is 1000-1200 MHz. The filter curve is clearly visible. 

I've had much fun running SDRplay as a spectrum analyzer. The RSP Spectrum Analyzer software works excellently. For the radio amateur and the hobbyist, SDRplay is an acceptable alternative to dedicated (and expensive) spectrum analyzers!

73 from OZ1BXM Lars
Homepage: http://oz1bxm.dk/