Soldering SMD


A video montage of me soldering up a low pass filter board yesterday, between working some dx in the contest. Its sped up about 5 times normal speed, took me about an hour of actual work time. Yeah i am slow and my hands are buggered, but I still manage.


5 Band – 2 Antenna WSPR TX -an update


So after running for a couple of hours yesterday, I ended up with quite a number of spots. None on 80m which was a surprise, I did expect to at least see something there even though I was running the band into a 40m dipole. Sure efficiency would have been rubbish, but you would expect to see something from VK2 or locally in VK4 at a minimum. Not sure what the go is there, but that needs more thought and investigation.

The other band missing any spots was 10m. Turns out I have a problem with either my filters or my code. Not sure which one yet, but when 10m was transmitting there was no output at all, so there is something not quite right there and needs more investigation. I am not sure if I am going to fix the code and hardware or to prototype up the class C amp design i have made and see how that goes.

Being Saturday im doing some cooking, so I might not do to much in the way of radio at all LOL.




5 Band – 2 Antenna WSPR TX

Its a bit of a dogs breakfast to photo, but this is the latest incarnation of my wspr transmitter. The top board is the PA for 80/40m, the 2nd board down is the PA for 20/15/10m and the bottom board is the LPF for those bands. The single LPF is for 40m which makes it marginal for 80m, yeah its a sine wave, but you know its not going to have ultimate attenuation, so I need to build another switching LPF board for 80 and 40m.

Power out is about 5w on all bands with 20m being the lowest at around 4w. More than good enough for what I want to do. I plan to start it up again tonight and leave it run all night and see just where I can be heard.

As far as working goes, spots on 3 bands means that both PA and antenna are doing at least something.


Programming With PlatformIO

So sometime ago I stopped using the Arduino environment for programming micro controllers and started using PlatformIO. It offers a lot of advantages over the former and anyone who has programmed before using other environments will like the fact that you can use a really well featured IDE.

Programming for me was something I learned over 20 years ago, as a game developer for MUDS, which were text based roll playing games, written in C on linux. Mostly I was using the Kdevelopment IDE, but at other times I have used Netbeans and Eclipse when dabbling with languages like Ruby and LUA.

The great thing about PlatformIO is that its platform independent and supports over 800 different boards and you are not locked into using a particular IDE, you can use pretty much whatever IDE you like. I am using Visual Studio, but it supports about a dozen other IDE so you can choose what you like to work with.

The major benefits of using platformIO is that you have a propper debugger built in and that you have greater control over where your libraries are installed. If you look in the navigation pane to the left of the IDE, you will see that the non core libraries that I used are all installed in a directory called LIB within the project. This means when you do backups of your projects, you keep everything together where it needs to be.

For me, this means I have code, schematic, board layout, test documents and datasheets for the one project all together in one place and if i chance something, i have it tracked. There are a few things that work differently than with the Arduino IDE, like there are no drop down menus for selecting things, but once you get your head around using and editing the ini file, you will find that you have a lot more control over the things you are trying to do. And often, that level of control is very useful to have.

If you are looking to graduate from Arduino, give platformIO a go, I think you will be pleasantly surprised and enjoy your coding for ham radio projects just that little bit more.


Class C Power Amp

I have been thinking about re-configuring my WSPR transmitter and adding a few more bands. I have 2 antenna, a 40m dipole and a triband vertical for 20,15 and 10m. So, the way I see it, i should be able to run WSPR on 5 bands, 80 through 10m with the 80m band being not that great.

I also figured that WSPR is nothing more than CW, so why not use class C amps and gain some efficiency. After a bunch of googling and looking at what parts I have here, i settled on the following push pull design that should cover all the bands I want.

I can fit 2 of these on the same board, and run WSPR on 80/40 and 20/15/10 transmitting on both antenna at the same time. I have a board laid out, its just a matter of sending it off to get make. And before i can do that, i need to finish off a couple of other boards i have in the works.



First 10m FT8


First contact on 10m FT8. Kind of ironic that it was with an Fcall. Not really being heard anywhere other than Australia, but its good to know that things are improving. I am not a 10m fan boy, 15m is more my style, but i am thinking I should actually work on some more DXCC counts for this band as things improve.


Happy Birthday Corona Virus


Its officially been 12 months since the world awoke to the novel corona virus. While initially it was novel, the novelty has worn off. So far i have not caught it and I have no intention to put myself in harms way either. Stay safe, stay well is the motto here and hope you are doing the same. So happy birthday corona virus, lets hope you do not have a 2nd birthday.