Ham Radio Universal Prototyping System

Now i mostly work in SMD and design board for things I would like to test. But i do have a lot of through hole parts still that are sitting there pretty much doing nothing, so I started thinking of ways I can use them up and I think I have a solution. Anyway, I have a whole bunch of ideas I would like to try, different circuits to built, test and assemble into working transceivers. Back in the day, which day, ummm, ye olden day LOL, hams would breadboard circuits using actual breadboards. My idea here borrows on that concept and brings it into the modern age.

Starting with the baseboard, rather than mums old chopping board we have a PCB that has 2 power rails for 12 and 5v, a bunch of bypass caps, a DC barrel jack for power input and a 5V regulator. Lets face it, most of what we do only has 2 power rails and those are the most common. Along the baseboard we have 2 rows of dual 10pin headers for our plugin modules to slot in and out of. Each header has 2 power, 2 ground and 6 unused pins for moving signals between the plugin board. Making for neat and tidy wiring.

 

The prototyping module boards connect to the baseboard with right angle header pins. Either dual or single row header pins can be used, I used single row so i can easily wire stages to the header pins for routing between board on the baseboard.

The tops of each board can be locked together using brass standoffs. This makes for a modular system you can plug and play, mix and match different circuits for testing and characterization.

The backside of each module board contains grounds top and bottom as well as power buses on each side to make veroboard type prototyping nice and simple. This system should allow for quite interesting builds to be achieved  one stage at a time.

DOWNLOAD: Baseboard_gerber

DOWNLOAD: ProtoBoard_gerber

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Soldering Pro Tip

Lots of people say they have a hard time soldering. Well, I wear reading glasses because my eyes are not what they used to be and my hands are fucked with arthritis, i have only 55% use of my right hand and 70% in my left hand. It is what it is and they are only going to get worse over time, so no use bitching and moaning about it, i just get on with living as much as I can.

So, soldering, here is the tip and only the tip mind you (AVE HAHA) bright white light so you can see, and extra magnification. Even as a handycapped I am working with SMD components, I just magnify things enough and use the right tools. And the tools being different shaped tweezers and a nice thick 3mm chisel tip on the soldering iron. Yes, that big chunky tip is the key to things, you want to hold as much heat in the iron as you can. Use thin solder, 0.6mm or thinner because a little dab will do ya (AVE) and with heat in the tip, you are not spending time heating things up, just dab and go, dab and go. Tack one side of the part, lay the solder over the other pad or pads and dab the iron and its done.

The parts I use go down to 0.2mm pin pitch, SOT23 and 0802 in passives. I stay away from BGA and other leadless parts, they just suck, but everything else is pretty much good to go. So don’t be afraid, just illuminate and magnify, if you can see it, you can solder it. OH and flux the fuck out of it HAHAHA, flux will make you a winner.

 

 

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Antenna Tuner, It Works

Well, the saying goes, 3rd time lucky. In my case it is 4th time, well 4th version of the design and 3rd time I have had boards made for this. The good thing is, it works this time. There are not masses of strays floating about anymore. They are just about all eliminated. You can see by the gain plot that its nice and linear with 0.5db loss from 1 to 30mhz. That is good enough for me. The losses are actually a little less than that, because i did not calibrate out the cable losses, but lets call it good enough for the kinds of girls I go out with.

Now its just a matter of rewriting the software to account for the changes I made and then putting it to use. Next version will have the capacitace switchable from low Z to high Z and there will be an SWR bridge and probably auto tuning. For now, i will finish this off and put it to use with some other home brew bits I have here.

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