There are some little things in life where you want to go the extra mile and have something that is very nice. Coffee is one of those thing. Why drink dirty dish water when you can have an espresso. We got all excited here the other day and went out and bough a coffee machine. Not the most expensive machine out there, but a compact one what would fit on the limited space on the kitchen bench. But the proof is in the drinking and yeah the coffee it makes is nice.
A couple of months back I bought a pair of cheap lab power supplies off ebay that turned out to be crap. 20mv quoted ripple was closer to 200mv. I managed to clean one up with some massive filtering, but it was impractical and still the ripple and switch noise was to high.
So while searching for something else i came across these on ebay. 28v, 10A and a linear supply. They weight about 8Kg each. So did some googeling to see if there are any issue and there is one, over shoot when you cycle the power on and off and there is an easy fix to that by adding a cap. But hey, who cycles power supplies on and off anyway.
So i grabbed one and then checked the ripple, about 10mv. Thats perfect, so grabbed another one, cause you just cannot have enough power supplies.
So it looks like I am becoming a HeeHaa fan boy. 2 power supplies and soldering and reword station. Oh the humanity LOL
I updated the board and so its a bit better laid out than previously and have shortened the rf path by moving the SMA connectors
Gerber files for the board can be downloaded from here:
I am going to redesign this board. The layout is sub-optimal. But for now, I am going to assemble it and see if I can make 2 filters worthy of use.
The one thing that has always frustrated me with many SSB/CW homebrew rigs is that you get one filter and one filter only. I have seen some use varactor diodes to solve this problem, by varying a voltage on the diodes you can vary the capacitance and this the width of the filter. I thought about going down that route myself for a while, but in the end, settled on having 2 filters as I have lots of relays already.
The plan is for an SSB filter that is about 2200hz wide and a CW filter about 500hz wide. I am also using the good crystals for these also. 4.91520Mhz xtals sorted to within 10hz of each other.
Each crystal was loaded up into my you beaute xtal tester and the frequency measured to within an inch of its life.
My function gen also has a frequency counter that counts down to 1hz resolution. So I measured my crystals and sorted them into piles within 10hz of each other. If i cannot make acceptable filters with such tightly grouped crystals, then there is no hope in hell i can ever make a good filter ;
Out of this pile of crystals I have 6 groups of 8 crystals all within 10hz of each other and a few more groups all within 20hz of each other. Buying these crystals was certainly well worth it. The pile in the bottom right corner are the outliers. It seems even good quality crystals have some in each batch that should be rejected.
Got the parts all sorted, just gotta build it now. Will update this post once i have built and tested each filter.
Part 2: Well i kind of expected that to not take forever, but anyway here is the update.
The build is pretty straightforward and all went to plan
Other than the width being a little wide in both cases and a bit to much ripple, I will say that I am happy with the shape of both filters. I can narrow both up easy enough, just need to change the cap values and the ripple, well it might be a bit of work, I will need to play with transformer values. I used 4:1 impedance transform, but 3:1 might actually be closer to the mark. I will have to play there and see what i can come up with, but a better match will remove some of that ripple.
For now though, I can keep on building the rest of the project as these will be acceptable to get things working. I can make them perfect later. Next job is IF Amps and mixers.
Being invasion day here in Australia with not much doing, between watching the cricket, sleeping and doing not a lot more I managed to build and test the bandpass filter board.
Overall, well its MEH. The filters are nothing to rave home about, they will work for now, but I do think i am going to redesign the board using a different topology and get much better attenuation in the stop band.
I ran all the filters though the bode plotter and remembered to screen grab 3 of them which i will now present here for laughter and ridicule.
40m bandpass filter is a 2 humped camel. The width between the peaks is fine, but i will have to play with the coupling cap value to see if i can take some of that hollow out.
20m bandpass filter looks ok, its just to narrow.
The 15m band filter is also to narrow and the high side attenuation is kind of poor at best.
The 80m filter was also MEH but i forgot to screen grab it, It was double humped, but only -3db down in the middle and the high side attenuation was also poor.
Anyway, these will allow me to get building and testing more parts of the radio and think about changing the topology and laying out a new board and having it made. I have 2 other board sitting there waiting to be sent to JLCpcb, the 3rd iteration of the audio board and the first of a final PA board. More on those to come.
http://robs-blog.net/2018/12/22/receiver-rf-front-end/ To see where things have come from, here is a link to the original post:
So between the first iteration and the 2nd, I have changed from using Sprint Layout to using Diptrace. I have tried a few different programs from Kicad to the free version of Altium and I just could never get the hang of how to make components and footprints in either of them
Diptrace on the other hand I find to be much more intuative and straight forward to use and I can make components and footprints in it with easy, as will be seen later when i get the latest batched of board back from china and write a blog post. So many new parts all created by me in the one library so i can find all my parts easily.
Anyway, to the board at hand. Its still got a couple of minor mistakes on it, the cap footprints were in 2.54mm not 5mm which the caps I use mostly are, the 5v regulator and caps are in the way of the right angled SMA connector and I am not sure that the variable RF preamp is actually varying. Circuit wise it should work, but the spectrum analyzer was not showing any gain change.
Anyway, the design will not be changing now, its built, tested and it works. And i can stay like that :
The gerbers can be downloaded from HERE: http://robs-blog.net/Files/rf-frontend.rar
Got to do some building on this the other day and knock up the LPF board. Ran it though a battery of tests and other than Elsie screwing up the values of the filters, everything worked at designed. I gotta suck the inductors out and add some turns. Not a fun job but its gotta be done. Gerbers for the board can be downloaded, from HERE: http://robs-blog.net/2018/12/16/4-band-lowpass-filter-board/
This picture will give a bit of an idea on the stackup and how these things well all fit together. Using the 10w ebay PA for now for testing until I find a transmitter design i want to use and lay a board out for it. But as an idea, it will be using a pair of RD16HHF1 conservatively biased for 10w or so.
So today I populated the 2nd IF mixer, the 2nd mixer and some of the switching circuitry and gave all those elements a little bit of a test.
To follow on from the test of the first IF amp, I put a 10mv signal into the first IF amp and tested the whole IF strip through the Xtal Filter and out the 2nd IF amp buffer and it all seems to be working quite well.
But there is one issue and I am not sure what the cause is. The 470R resistor from voltage divider on Q6 does not go straight to ground and trying to find its ultimate path to ground has been elusive.
To make matters worse there are q Q10 in the schematic and Q10 and 21 on the board, there are 2 diode on the board not on the schematic and I cannot for the life of me work out what the actual cause is here. Either one of the Q10’s is not being biased on or there is some part missing or either VR7 or VR2 are not providing the emitter ground path on the emitters of those Q10 transistors.
Anyway, I think what i will do is pull both the Q10’s out and related circuitry, part of which is for a signal meter and just hard wire the 470R voltage divider to ground. That will at least leave me to be able to complete the receiver and actually test it.
At one point today I had fed a 9mhz signal into the IF strip and was getting a 600Hz tone out the audio amp, so that in itself is promising as I was worried about the dodgy design 2nd mixer. Which looks like a ring mixer but does not have trifilar windings on the inputs and outputs, but some crazy bifilar winding on one side and a variable resistor and cap divider on the other. I am not sure about this mixer design and I have not done any google foo to see if i can find it, but it does work
Oh and for the diodes in the mixer i did not use the typical 1n4148 diodes that everyone uses, but rather I used a Schottky Diode 1N5711, it probably means i have way to much drive from the BFO as the switch on of these are much lower, but its working and for now, I call that a win, particularly so when i really do not understand the mixer topology being used.
Oh and as far as audio goes, of the 2 AF stages, I am only using the LM386 first stage because the TDR2003 is motor boating or oscillating or just acting like a tard and I am not sure why here either
I do hope the next post will be a video of it receiving signals. Failure is always an option here, but so far this build has been very challenging, but its been rewarding and even if it ends up being a pile of junk, i will have learned a lot.