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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Splashing Out Somewhat

Well,

I decided to get myself a new toy. The idea is that this replaces the linear amp, the antenna switching, the radio switching on HF plus the ATU - all in one box. Also it doesn't need to "warm up" or tuning on each band.

So I brought it home, somewhat excited:


Now, I first tried it with my TS-990 as the exciter. The manual doesn't actually tell me anything about required drive levels, but anything from the TS-990 generates "INPUT OVERLOAD" error - even only with 5W output. So more consultation of the manual and it seems they are keen on you using ALC connections to control the exciter drive levels, so I hook up the ALC line and then this is what happens:


Now that's really quite strange.

Next I try the IC-7610, connect up the ALC and PTT lines and it seems to work OK, however, I have very little control over the RF out - in fact I cant get the amplifier to deliver less than just over 500W output even on the lowest power output setting. That's not very clever - I want to be able to control the RF and gain of the amplifier.

So, some email back and forth to the manufacturer and it seems there are two versions of this amp. One for the US market which includes an attenuator in the drive line so that 25-30W of RF is required for full output, and an EU version without the attenuator.

SPE sent me this table which shows the input RF needed for full output by band and power setting (you can have the amp on Low, Med, High):


So at this point I fell off my chair! This amp eneds only 2W of drive on the low bands for maximum output. The only way that low level of drive is possible with most modern transcievers is by using the ALC all the time to restrict the output of the rig - which is exactly how this amp is "designed" to operate. I think the issue with the TS-990 is that despite ramping the ALC voltage to the most -ve it can, the output is still too high to drive the linear.

Either way, there is no way you can set the controls to deliver, say, 200W output. You can have maximum bananas (which seems to be 500W, 1Kw and 1.3Kw) depending on the Low, Med or High selection of the amp power switch.

The manufacturer recommends you run your rig at FULL RF output and rely 100% on the ALC circuitry to protect the MOSFET in the linear from being fried. I personally don't like this theory at all.

Needless to say the amplifier has been returned today for modification to the USA version so I have some hope of controlling the RF output.

Here you see the drive level of 3W:


which produces 508W out in the "low" power setting:


Bonkers, don't you think?

Monday, 21 May 2018

Afterthoughts

Well,

I'm forever adding bits to projects after they are complete. The recent PTT Switching box I made back here is no exception.



Since the original design I've added/changed a few things:


  1. I've significantly sped up the sequencer;
  2. I've added automatic relay switching for the DRV and RX antenna connections to the TS-990. This means that the transverter RF connections are automatically selected when the band select switch is on 2M or 4M. There's even a delay to the relay activation so that passing the switch through that position doesn't falsely change things over;
  3. I've included all the external switching into the schematic as best I can


So there are 4 external PTT connections - these are the triggers to the sequencer and are selected as Radio 1 - Radio 4.

Associated with each Radio PTT input is an ALC output back to the radio so that the selected radio does not generate any RF until the sequencing is complete.

There are PTT outputs to the 3 amplifiers; HF, 2M and 4/6M - these are only keyed when the band switch is in the appropriate place.

There are PTT outputs to both by transverters. Ditto for the amplifiers, these are only keyed when the Band Select is in the appropriate place.

The full schematic is:

and also in a higher res PDF here.

This is our very beautiful Bonnie Dog; in our local dialect her facial expression is translated as "thank God it's spring".


Local conditions.


Thursday, 17 May 2018

DB0XY on 432.475

Well,

Some interesting propagation on 70cm this AM:


Fun, egh?

Friday, 11 May 2018

PTT Revisited

Well,

This all started when my 2M masthead preamp from here failed. This can only be because there has been some RF into the device, as everything else int he preamp looks fine.

So, how can this have happened?

On 2M, the preamp is powered via the coax and all this is taken care of by my Beko Amplifier.

So to add some more "belt and braces" protection to this I decided to re-visit the PTT switching arrangement I created way back here. Now I've learnt a lot since then and have built a few sequencers now, so the ideal solution seems to be to keep the same switching concept, scrap all the relays and use a sequencer. I also decided to add an ALC output to each radio so I can keep RF at bay from source until the very last sequence event has occurred.

Here's the design I came up with:




I've uploaded a PDF of the schematic here.

This copies a number of previous sequencer ideas but now also adds a ALC -ve voltage output that I can switch to the appropriate radio with a front panel selection.

U1D is configured as an oscillator which is then -ve rectified by D6 and D7 and then switched on and off by the sequencer using U3.

Here's the finished build just about to go into test:


You can see that I have also used some co-ax relays (the latching type) and the drivers we finalised here to switch the DRV and RX Ant connections between my 2M and 4M transverters. The box also has a radio select switch (1-4) and also a second selector for HF, 6M, 4M and 2M.

The second switch operates the HF linear only in the HF setting, the 6/4M linear only in the 6M setting, the 6/4M linear and the 4M transverter in the 4M setting and finally the 2M linear and the 2M transverter in the 2M setting.


I just need some feet and some knobs!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

3cm Learning

Well,

Ween up a big hill today to play on 3cm:


Pretty nice day in my bit of England:



Here's a video of the Finningley beacon as RX today:


Here's what I learned today:


  1. The beam heading on the dish is extremely sharp;
  2. I need a more accurate way to determine beam headings;
  3. I need a way to turn the mast whilst also tuning round on the radio;
  4. The fitting of the mast into the base is a bit loose; the pole isn't completely vertical
All in all, 3/10 could do better. But I have made QSOs now on 10GHz and that feels like a great achievement.

#GHzbands

Here's Miss Pepper, assisting as per usual:


Sunday, 29 April 2018

RIP Chopsey

My beautiful Chopsey cat died this morning.

He was our git bastard cat from hell and we loved him dearly.


Friday, 27 April 2018

Completing 23cm

Well,

You may recall last time, I was changing my portable setup for 23cm. Well, on my travels I found a Kuhne Electronic PA for 23cm and have installed it in the waterproof enclosure with the rest of the gubbins:


I have a 14dB attenuator between the transverter TX output and the PA input. Thats a bit bigger than I need, but I don't have anything else suitable at the moment. The G4BAO amplifier that I now have here (thanks John) is going to get utilised as a DATV amp (I think).

I've been fiddling with a cheap Chinese board with a variable attenuator on-board. You can control this using the DIP switches on board or by software. I've written a very simple bit of Arduino code and interfaced an Arduino Nano to the board using serial comms:


This allows me to step through from 0-30dB attenuation in 0.5dB steps. Really quite neat for just under £12 GBP delivered from the far east! I may decide to use this to get the transverter to PA attenuation exactly on the money - let's see.

I'd like to introduce you to the best and most useful screwdriver in my possession:


This belonged to my Father who sadly passed away just over 31 years ago:


I'm often heard muttering to myself "now where's Dad's screwdriver". If it's of interest Dad, I still use it regularly!

Local conditions.