A Simple Radio Project

Originally inspired by Glen Gardner AA8C’s post here. I have decided to give this a shot with modular design as nearly everything is re-usable for future projects if I do not need or like the radio I build. I have finally gotten all of the parts in for this build. I could use an si5351 with uno or mega2568 or… I have a special DDS/PLL coming from the Ukraine soon enough. But that is for another post. You guys/gals are going to love it trust me.

Here we have the basic layout, for me I had an extra slab of copper laying about so decided I’d use it for this project. I also have an Ar2 .5-30mhz wideband preamp with a mere 2.5db noise figure, a minicircuits.com brand dc-30mhz lowpass, bias T, Ring Mixer, a future kit dynamic microphone preamp, and tone control, and lm386-4 power amplifier and of course a 7809 for 9v regulation for the preamp board.

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Go Home North Pole You Are Drunk

I woke up this morning thinking I was in Salida Colorado still but I was late for work and was surprised no one had bombed my phone yet. Then I realized no, its been five or six years since I lived at 7500 feet and dealt wth high desert cold. But then it occurred to me what the actual hell does North East Alabama have any business ever being this cold. What happened to the wet 40F winters with occasional sub-freezing temps. El nino and La nino paired with a low solar max and a deepening solar minimum on a larger scale , scaling down more and more.

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Awareness – Action – Accountability myARRLvoice.org Call to Action

I happen to run across this group while trying to follow up from my previous coverage of the ARRL Board of Directors debacle that Hamradionow and CQ magazine were covering. It seems in order to get the word out a small dedicated group has put the axe to the grindstone and has gotten a more than fair amount of work done. The only way to affect change is to be change. I invite anyone who reads this to head over to the below URL all you do is drop your info in and it sends the letter to all relevant stakeholders. Now is the time to get involved as we are roughly 9 days and an hour from the time of this writing from the next board meeting.

It is not unreasonable to postpone any votes or enactments of new policy until members have had time to comment and the leadership from sectional up to the board have time to consider whether they want to be a part of dismantling the spirit of the ARRL. I believe now just as I did with the situation surrounding the Florida Repeater Council that the members are left with the burden to make the difference and if we are not heard to take action against things that a majority of the membership may well likely not want. To do so without scrutiny of the members in a quick dash despite the venomous but sparse coverage would be equal to theft.

I myself am an ARRL member. It is the only gig in town as we all know. I am also a legacy circle member leaving a substantial amount of money to the ARRL upon my passing and final mortal coil. I will not stand for the board taking actions as have been outlined below. I am not endorsing members quit or give up. In-fact it is time for new blood to step in I feel as it seems some of the people at the home office have been in these positions to long much like our much beleaguered politicians.

This is poor leadership; and even more so those in the ranks that have a vested interest in amateur radio itself and not the business ($$$) of the ARRL have stood by to long and maybe it is because they felt alone, or that it was want the membership wanted. In my opinion it is getting close to time as to be the last chance for those within the infrastructure to speak up , speak out and be heard and let us all sit down together as a membership, organisation, board and amateur radio operators to discuss radical changes or at the very least give the membership an opportunity and means to contribute to the discussion behind closed doors.

If the current board goes thru with the scheduled actions in 8 days then I believe we as a membership in total solidarity should demand resignation and emergency elections held and immediate repeal of the issues at hand until such time that the membership has had an opportunity thru its area representatives or individually to speak their piece on the issues facing this body.

Drain the swamp.

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VFR 800 Adventures

Nothing says I’m bored in the middle of the night and can’t sleep like a 100+ mile ride back to your home town in the cold (37F) and in the rain, and in the fog.  Except having an on again off again foggy face shield. I got some pretty rad looks from some folks. When I would be slowing down to maneuver or turn I’d flip the visor open to see clearer. Summer blow thru riding jacket a sweater and a tshirt. 5.11 Tactical pants and some winter boots rated into the -f’s. I used them for hunting while I was in Colorado several years ago. The blow thru summer riding boots would not have been good.

The bike as usual ran flawlessly and this ride finally puts me at 520 or so miles ridden total. So I should be (forgot to look above 36k now)  Funny thing I have ridden more of those at night and in the cold than during the daytime in the summer heat. I’m excited for the “winter” “gauntlet” “waterproof” “windproof” gloves that will be on the way shortly. Olympia let me trade up from my summer pair that had the silicon lined palms to reduce vibration. I fixed that with a new set of bar end weights, and unfortunately a seam came undone where you would pull them on snugly. Can’t say enough good things about Olympia and their gloves. Likely will be the only I use unless I pickup a dr650 or something and start to go offroad. Highly unlikely given how badly the last couple of sports cars would nearly beat me to death. I have a hard time imagining an average ride on a trail. I’m sure it is fun and I may even try it at some point, but probably just a warm weather thing. Falling off in the woods sounds horrible in warm weather. I’d hate to slam into something and high side in the freezing cold.

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MiniCircuits Mixer Project

An IRC buddy of mine “AlphaEcho” made up a quick eval board for the 12 sample ring mixers I received recently. The ADE-R6+, ADE-1+, and ADE-R1L+ respectively. These were provided via the EZsamplesToGet program after I purchased the pair of ZP-1-S+ ring mixers.You are allowed to order smt sample parts 4 units  each of three different varieties per 90 days. You can not order the same sample smt part within 30 days. This came to my attention after filling out a survey about the minimum order amounts. I really have little experience with smt and these can get expensive ordering 10-20 at a time for what might be a roll of the dice both for application and for installation by my own hand. I received notification from a sales manager via email informing me and inviting me to make use of this service. Even as an amateur radio builder this company backs its buyers and its products. After reception of the parts I received an email from my local area Field Applications Engineer out of the South East. If you are reading this Mr. Haiden thank you very much for following up and for the information.

In case I have not outlined this before all of this home brewing of radio equipment is building towards a home brewed EME (Earth Moon Earth Signal Bounce) with a 250db path loss and four polarization changes it can be challenging under the best conditions. I have yet to settle on a band to make my run with I would prefer something in the microwave bands but doppler shift even at 70cm is not incredibly easy to counteract. To go along with that would be an applicably sized RF power amplifier purpose built for feeding those many multi element beam yagis. No rush though one concept at a time. Nothing bigger than the small things someone once said.

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Simple Radio Project: Part One

The basis for the start of the “simple radio project”. A zp-1-s+ ring mixer with an attached zfbt-4r2gw+ Bias T. RF & DC side connected to IF out, and the RF dumped into a 50ohm terminator while the dc pass will bring audio to an lm386-4 to a speaker. For testing I used my Koolertron DDS since this is a zero IF / no conversion setup it can be driven with one LO.

I re-used one of the amplifiers from the LBS project and with no filtering had promising results. I ordered the zx75lp-30-s+ low pass filter last night. And Monday once Ar2 is open I will call in an order for the p.1-30/20vd wideband preamp (sma of course). I’m still contemplating whether to use the Arduino Mega 2560 or to run the Arduino Uno with the si5351 clock board for this project. I feel like saving the mega for something that needs more inputs and memory than this likely will so it looks like the uno will be back in the game once again.

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Lets Build Something Summary: New Project

As a wrap up to the Let’s Build Something project I decided to close the book for now. I had an unexpected power surge which I thought only killed the 3v3 converter on the uno and logic conversion board and tft display. After rebuilding another DDS from an arduino mega 2568 and 16×2 I decided to move on with the LBS project. Well. It seems whatever happened with the DDS was either spread to or from the bread-boarded radio. I got it as far as being able to tune stations in its final configuration, but had not biased the transmitter mosfet so no transmission were made. Both mixers are DOA and I lost a few 12 to 3 and 9 volt converters as well. It appears all the amplifiers in the RX chain also died. This was an expensive and complicated build compared to many, but it is a great way to learn applicable RF design. I have no regrets except that I can not figure out what started the cascade failure ruining a lot of good work. I’d say live and learn but I suppose projects will not be left unattended and uncovered.

Lots of parts are salvageable and several still working, for future projects. After talking quite a bit throughout the project with Glen Gardner AA8C he showed me one of his designs for a basic direct conversion double side-band receiver. Using readily available ring mixers for the product detector and a relatively inexpensive Chinese-made DDS synthesizer for the VFO. I will be of course be using a replacement arduino uno, or possibly the atmega2568 and the si5351 dds synthesizer for the vfo. Just as Glen’s Design used a high gain microphone pre-amplifier module mine will as well. I’ll either recycle the 16×2 display I have or try to find a red based 16×2 for this project. Glen  used the zp3+ ring mixer from mini-circuits while I am likely to start out with ZP-1-S+

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Ikea Lack – Hack: Altered Plans Part One

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The first of four new Ikea Lack tables arrived with the next two set to do the same in the next several days. Originally I was going to setup the printer situation but while I figure out some of the details on that and finish some upgrades I thought it would be nice to get the ancient and crappy roll cart I had and just go ahead and start the station “rack”. As you can see it turned out pretty nice. It is not “finished” work. As it stands all wire lengths need shortening, and wrapping (like the under-hood of a car) Also everything needs to be tucked and unseen. I also plan to run several strips of red smt leds in order to light the radio face plates in a power out situation, or whenever I don’t feel like bathing in light.


I did decide at least so far as much as I can without testing it first that I will not be making two stacks one for ham one for 3d printing. I’m going to cut the legs short just enough for healthy clearance for the ft950. Above that will go the 3d printer eventually enclosed for temperature and dust control. In this cube I will also add the raspberry pi for octoprint. And likely a pi camera for stop motion of builds or streaming live builds to the site. /shrug.  Unfortunately I decided to be lazy and order the wooden dowels from amazon and they made it as far as the local post office on the 23rd but never to be seen again. Amazon as usual zero hassle refunding (multiple parts for printer in this order) and even added another month of Amazon Prime membership for the extended delay.

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Happy New Year!


I have to say 2017 went by in a flash. Between improved health both mentally and physically and the litany of doctors appointments I’ve kept busy. Over all it was a great year for the Patton household. I hope that you and yours can say the same, and I also hope and wish for a better 2018 for you in advance.

Be safe, and if you are going out be even safer. Please do not drink and drive. It just isn’t worth the cost. New Years Eve should be a celebration of the taking out of the old and starting anew. I never really did or do the resolutions thing. But this year I believe I will make a few.

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New Goodies

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I also hope everyone has safe plans for the upcoming New Year festivities. I enjoyed a nice quiet day with the wife just relaxing and spending quality time together. We exchanged a few gifts and well the rest is history. I did finally part ways with my 2002 Tahoe. Which was an amazing truck/suv. We decided to downsize a little at least in the mpg department. Enter our new to us 2007 Dodge Magnum SXT Magnum with the 3.5L HO. My first Dodge, and only because the long term reviews for this lineup which includes the challenger and charger were so high I decided to get another wagon.

Previously I had sported in the distant past an 01 VW Passat Wagon with a i4 turbo setup. Not very peppy due to emissions restrictions but comfortable and had an amazing in car lighting scheme of red and blue. Of course the check engine light never turned off. It is after all how you know a vw is working correctly. (sorry internet forum humor). We got a decent deal for an 07 with 130k miles on the odo. Mechanically it runs and drives great. Idles smooth as I have ever seen. Very quiet engine. It needs its own like many used cars TLC in some places. A former owner was most certainly a smoker. Easy fixes but time consuming none the less. It rides much more like a sports car. Very flat no body roll turns and really likes the brake late and apex accelerate out of a turn. Not much in a straight line I’d doubt it would run a 14 in the 1/4. But passing gear and OMG mode make it move sufficiently to be safe for today’s modern defensive driving environment.

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The Ikea Lack Table: Let The Hacking Begin

Enter the Ikea Lack table. An oldie but still a goodie. Starting production is 1979! It has been one of the best selling items for many years. I happened to catch a sale on the black ones which go with my office furniture for $7.99 each and $10 shipping. I had already ordered two for the 3d printer enclosure project, but I got to thinking I have really wanted to ditch the rolling cart that the remains of my ham radio and power/backup station has been relegated to for a long time. Even before downsizing from many radios hf/vhf/uhf. And I was thinking why not do the exact same thing. I would be well within the weight limits and would be able to fit the two “towers” side by side with some space between them the wall and my desk.

Outstanding! So I should see those arriving early January so expect to see more updates on the actual build for each as separate posts. For folks who value space or the space you have comes at a premium this can be an awesome little hack. We are basically going to assemble the table per directions. I know it is super complicated four legs and a top. Watch out there. Once we have it build we will drill an offset hole for some fluted wood dowels and depending on composition your favorite wood glue or two part epoxy appropriate to bond the two tables perfectly together. We do not want to drill the center area of the legs from the table top because of the metal that will be in the way. And remember its just a wood dowel so half in the leg half in the table. Don’t get carried away. While the black versions of this table are 7.99 each at the online store it makes no sense to destroy the inexpensive furniture at this stage.

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