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Friday, 27 April 2012

6m Beam Swap

I decided I should swap the 6m beam that I have up here. A number of reasons for this decision, firstly everyone round here seems to have got used to it being there, so an mysterious increase in size one dark and stormy night was probably going to go un-noticed. Secondly the SWR on the old antenna is not so good.

This 3 element beam came from Lam Communications in Barnsley:

I believe it's actually a Sandpiper antenna:

It went together really easiy and is much sturdier constructed than the two element beam I was using:

The new antenna has gone up OK, it's a bit trickier to lift past the eaves of the house and attach to the pole (thanks to the ever patient Vince, G0ORC) it's in place.

We altered that the beam antenna I had pointing upwards for satellite working to be horizontal. In the process of doing this we wrecked the SWR and lost some of the grub screws from the Gama match. Hey, ho - that's another story.

Here's the new 6m antenna:

Good egh?

It's nearly over (Until the next time)


After changing the bench last time:

I've finished finishing the desk (if you get what I mean). I've added some trim to the edge and it's finished it off rather well. Having done that (of course) I then decided that I should stain and wax the shelves to match. Whilst that bit's quite easy; the replacing the shelves without removing any of the equipment was harder. You've seen the trick of removing the tablecloth and leaving the china on the table - it was a bit like that!

The cat seems to approve of the new bench, he stopped of here en-route to his favourite napping position:

Looks ok though, don't ya think?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Even More Change

Well as part of my ongoing attempt to cram as much equipment and other rubbish into my shack, I have had yet another change around. I've thrown away an old set of drawers which included a filling draw, and purchased a proper filling cabinet. This has freed up a big space in the shack which I have now extended my operating desk into. I've also extended some shelves and the results are really quite good.

The desk top itself is simply 18mm thick MDF which I have cut to fit exactly into the available space, I've then finished it off with some "B&Q value" vinyl floor tiles for the grand sum of £8 GBP.

I'm really quite pleased with the results:

I now need to find something suitable to edge the desk with, but the new surface this should cope OK with me spilling tea on it and burning it with my soldering iron!

Not bad, egh?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

TS-590 on 5MHz

I've received an NoV (Notice of Variation) to my radio license today; this gives me some restricted and secondary access to the 5MHz frequencies. There is plenty of information on the NoV for the UK here:

I wanted to open up my European Kenwood TS-590 that I got here:

I found the details on the mod but thought it would be worth showing others what I have done. The first job is to turn the radio upside down and remove the 10 screws that secure the base:

Then I need to locate the wire link labelled R968 (it's a jumper) and this needs to be cut and separated apart to open up the 5MHz transmit frequencies. This is the jumper before the snip, if you open the image you can clearly see it just to the left of the ribbon cable:

And here it is after the snip:

Immediately in front of the ribbon cable is R900. This needs to be removed to enable full wide TX; I haven't tried this as I have no desire to TX out of band. But the option is there and available if you need it.

Easy, egh?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

All Change in the Shack!

Well, I've been thinking for some time about changing my FT-950 and getting something else to play with. The FT-950 was (is) a fantastic radio but when I bought the FT-2000 I knew I was getting a bigger and better version of the same thing. So the two radios are rather similar.

I paid a visit to LAM Communications today, there outside Barnsley in S Yorks:

and came home with a Kenwood TS-590. I also bought a basic Yaesu 2m/70cm FM transceiver, so I've rearranged a few things in the shack:

You wouldn't believe how difficult it can be to get the cables out and re-routed into the right place once I've moved a radio. I want to know who comes into the shack when I'm not here to tie knots in all the wires. Here's the new Kenwood radio:

And this is the Yaesu:

Chopsy cat's not been helping much as normal:

Good egh?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Extreme Soldering (DDS-60) Complete!

It seems that the extreme soldering is complete for another project! The DDS-60 I got from AmQRP is built.

I've found that photographing the soldering and then inspecting it blown up is about the best way I have found for checking the integrity of SMT soldering. Here is the complete board (top and bottom):

But when you actually look at the soldering blown up, it's quite a mess! I don't think there are actually any problems or shorts though:

Tomorrow or over the weekend I'll be testing this....

Fun, egh?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It's extreme soldering again!

Well, I've started with my Arduino WSPR beacon project from here:

I've hit some obstacles with the GPS module and am planning to come back to that bit later.

The original plan that I am going to follow uses an American QRP Club project the DDS-60.

This is a AD9851 based DDS but includes a small on-board RF amplifier and a low pass 60MHz filter. As this was the board used in the design, I ordered one. It arrived today and looks like this:

It's another surface mount project and came very neatly packaged. I had to purchase the AD9851 separately (I think when the kit was originally put together you could get a sample from Analogue Devices). Now, this AD9851 is a very small component indeed and has 28 pins... Using a suitable soldering iron and a magnifying glass I have managed to get the chip on the board OK. This is the best I can manage to show the result:

If you open up the image above you can see that it's not a bad job. Here's the other SMD chip installed:

So the rest should be quite easy going in comparison as they are just Rs and Cs....

All in all not a bad start to the latest exercise in extreme soldering.. not bad, egh?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

GPS Time Sync? How's That Work Then?

I've made a bit of progress with the latest project that I mentioned here:

It's this project here for WSPering using the Arduino development board and the Analogue Devices DDS 9851 chip I've been experimenting with:

So, I've got the Anduino board:

And have just soldered together the GPS module to get the timing information:

So I have no idea how to interface to this GPS module, but I have an extended Easter weekend to try and find out. There seem to be loads of reference pieces of code on the Internet for almost anything you could think of, so I'm sure I'll think of something.

Here's the Geddy cat, he really isn't helping much today:

Not such a great shot, but here's where the bed is (out of reach of the pesky Chopsy cat):
Fun, egh?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Well, This Looks Just Great!!!!

Not much been happening here recently; the job is getting badly in the way.

Been WSPRing on 6m over the past few days; the results are rather dull but there are some interesting peaks in propagation across the UK.

I've been rummaging on the Internet and happened to stumble across this:

This is a really neat project combining the Arduino technology (similar and a Cousin of Pinguino - well Pinguino is an off spring of Arduino) and the AD9851 DDS that I have been playing with recently.

I've just gotta build one!

So I've found the Arduino board in my local Maplin and the DDS boards I already have should work in this application so it's soon to be play time!

Here's the obligatory cat photo:

Watch this space!