More IF Filters Than You Can Poke A Stick At

They say a picture is worth 1000 words, well here are 4 pictures so that has to worth a novel or 2. Anyway no opus this post, just the meat of it. I built 2 xtals filters, in each case i grabbed 8 random xtals out of the parts bins, no matching. The xtals are ebay specials 100 for $1 and are probably rubbish that did not meet specification and was taken out of the rubbish bins at the factory. So the highest quality man cannot buy in other words.

The difference between the 2 filters comes in the matching, filter one is matched with the traditional ferrite inductor, though i used binoculars as i prefer winding those for transformers over toriods and the 2nd filter was matched using low pass filters. The filter plots speak for themselves, the low pass filter matched has a better shape but -15db less attenuation in the stop band than the ferrite matched filter. And the losses were about the same -7db. -3db is 2200hz. So with some matching the crystals i should be able to improve the flatness in the passband and probably remove some losses.

But other than that, if you can live with -50db of opposite sideband suppression, the grabbing random xtals out of the box and matching with low pass filters might actually be a rather simple and crude way of IF filtering. For now, i think i will stick to winding the transformers, or buying 4:1 transformers off Mouser.

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SMD Is The New Black

I have a need, a need for speed. Well, not really, but I have a need for filter components that are small. I am building a hand held after all for 40 and 20m and you just cannot fit large toriods into a tiny box you can carry around very easy. Well, you might get them in there with some careful design, but the mechanical durability of thin wire being bounced about is going to be suspect at best.

And what if i want to sell 100 of these things? Who wants to sit there winding a bazillion toriods? Not me, that is for certain, i do not even want to wind 2 for a prototype. HEHE. Anyway, that got me to thinking, and my thinking i mean i really did not think a lot at all. I got on the confuser and did some jazz hands on my parts suppliers website and poked my peepers at what they stocked to see if there was an off the shelf solution to my problem.

So they have RF inductors, but the problem with these is the low Q. And we all know that Q stands for Quicksand and with a low Q your signal starts to sink into the mud and you might not hear the ducks anymore. Ok, so the question is HOW LOW CAN YOU GO. So i looked and I looked and in the end i found a 1.5uH inductor that had a Q of about 25. TWENTY FIVE you might rightfully exclaim and yes you would be right, that is a bloody low number. But such tiny inductors are always doing to have a low Q much like many hams have a low brow and low I and Q when they down convert their thoughts to base band.

So how bad is it. Well not as bad as you might think. -6db loss is -5.5db loss more than the same filter i built using hand wound T50-2 toriods, which on second thought is actually massively crappy. But hey, i still gotta stick this in a handheld box and have it mechanically secure. Thankfully there is a solution.

Back in the dark old days before time began, the Motorola company or was it Bell Labs, either way, it does not matter all that much as I am just spinning a tale here of those that do, or as I like to call them N Type and those that don’t, the P type and someone added in B J and T into this alphabet soup of inter-related terminology and created the PRE AMPLIFIER.

I need to have some gain in the system anyway so if i put some gain, i don’t know lets say somewhere between 6 and 10db before the filter, i can make up for those filter losses before we have even started. BUT WAIT you might ask, that is going to cost more, and yes sirreee Bob you would be right. But i can take those 2 SMD Trimmers out as they are not going to be needed and replace them with 2 1 cent caps and that just saved me $1 on my BOM cost.

WOO HOO i can do radio design me.

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40m BPF

Finally got this right. Well kind of. I need to add some capacitance out of it to bring it onto 40m because my inductors were a lower value than i thought I wound them at. But other than that, the shape looks fine and very low insertion loss.

As designed but using the incorrect inductance values.

This is the baseline, i still have not worked out how to reference things back to 0db.

 

Gerber files for the PCB Boards: bpf_singles

A quick update. Im happy with that. Shape is fine, low side attenuation is good and will kill any AM broadcast.

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Xtal Filter Nano VNA

I had reason last night to use the Nano VNA for something and while i was at it, i grabbed down an Xtal filter i had built ages ago and put it on for measuring. If i recall right, and I would have to go and look in old blog posts, when I measured this using the Bode Plotter in the Red Pitaya it looked alot like Bart Simpson and had 5db of ripple in the pass band and very lossy. Well, better tool, better measurements and this does not look all that bad to me. The ripple is acceptable and actual loss in the filter is around 3db which is more than fine. Its not quite narrow enough for a CW filter, but its good enough to get started with.

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Elliptic Band Pass Filters

So i am back into receiver design mode for the time being and figure i would try a different band pass filter topology. Elliptic filters have some rather nice attributes. Steep skirts for a low order filter, a relatively fixed level of attenuation in the stop band at the expense of some ripple in the pass band and stop band. The other major con is non linearity of the phase response. How much of an effect that will have on a desired signal is yet to be determined. The filter design below shows a 3rd order elliptic filter, if i can build something that looks something like that with acceptable loss figures, then it might be a good candidate to replace the weakly attenuating double tuned filters with a Butterworth response that I was using.

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Failure is always THE option.

Failure is always an option as the mythbusters were wont to say, but for me it seems more like failure is always the option. Built every module and tested each individually and then bringing it all together as a whole some of it refuses to play nice together. So, the idea of a multiband receiver might just get canned and i go back to making a single band receiver.

So what is wrong with it? Well, the rf preamp did not really work right. The bandpass filters were always crap, but that is an easy fix, the LO needs buffer amps to drive the mixers properly and the AF amps are kind of ok but i think need a little more gain in there and the attenuator, im not sure its even working. It makes noise but its nothing to write home about.

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Audio Amp and Filters

This audio amp is going to be the death of me. I am on like the 4th iteration of this board and still its not working right. Each time, something that worked now does not and this time it was the preamp. Everything else is working great, the SSB AF filter works perfectly, the AF amp works perfectly, i still have to build the CW filter and test it, but that I think should be ok. So i bypassed the preamp and things are great. Not sure i actually need the extra gain.

So now i have all the individual bits of the receiver working to the point where I can join them all together and see if I actually have a working receiver. If i get time tonight, that is exactly what I will be doing. Its getting close now to actually making noise.

 

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IF Amp Board

I have built and tested the IF amp board for my receiver project. Its all system goes. The amps themselves are termination insensitive amps “TIA” by Wes Hayward. No reinventing the wheel when these things work so well. Though the 2nd IF amp might eventually become a Hycas so there is some AGC happening there.

 

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One Small Step For Ham Kind

I have built projects before with SMD components on them, but this is the first time that I have included SMD components on my own projects. Yeah i know, its nothing extraordinary, its a 5V regulator, but we all gotta start somewhere. Which got me to thinking, perhaps I should do more with larger SMD components and be able to fit more on a board. We will see LOL 🙂


Oh and for anyone who is interested, this is a respin of my band pass filter board using these variable inductors i got. Anyway, all i have done at the moment is build one filter for testing. Testing which still needs to be done, but I will get to that soon enough and post up some results.

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