AD831 Mixer Module

I have a couple of these AD831 mixer boards that I bought off ebay ages ago. Been thinking about building a receiver out of ebay modules just for laughs. So i got them out of the parts trays and fired one up to see if they are even working and functional. Looking at the output on the spec an, it would seem they work plenty fine and are within spec.

 

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Standards

So the other day I broke the USB connector off my board. Plenty of ways to fix this, but going forward I am going to start putting programming headers onto the boards I use and plug in an FTDI programmer to do the business. If you take a look at the picture above, you will see how I solved the problem in the short term, just cut a USB cable and wired it directly to the CH340 serial chip.

This is where I ran into trouble 🙂 you would think that red and black would be Vcc and Gnd, but no, this cable is not wired up to the USB standard at all. Red is D-, Black is D+, yellow is Gnd and White is Vcc. I was scratching my head for a while after I first wired it up and it was not working, then proceeded to buzz out each wire with the continuity meter.

Put the correct wires in the correct place and BOOM, i was able to program the micro. More to come on this board soon,

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Programming, I Don’t Like It

So i have been working on the talkie walkie and this time around, I have done something totally different. I am using a different SI5351A module and a different LCD screen. And here in lies the problem. To many changes at once and none of them wanted to work out the bag. Firstly I normally use a 16×2 lcd and I2C backpack. Cannot fit that in the case so its an 8×2 and regular parallel connection. Second thing is I used the Eat A Fruit style si5351, where i normally used the ones from QRP Labs and the drama there is the different crystals used and the fact that I was still using a very old version of the SI5351 library. So i upgraded it, and broke all my code, fixed all my code and now it actually works. Oh one last thing about the LCD, seems there are 2 different types of 8×2’s one with 16 pins and one with 14 pins. I think i smoked the 16 pin one, before my PSU went into current limiting. Not sure what the deal is, but anyway, after much messing around, this part of the project is actually working.

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A 21st Century Novice Station

So i got excited and wired up the tx rx switching and the extra relay and got on the contest tonight to see if I can make a qso or 2. Well i didnt get there, but hey I tried, that first qso will come soon enough. 5 to 10w in the contest was probably not going to cut it with the time of day and conditions not perfect.

But as a concept, it works. Its not all that practical, tuning both the transmitter and the receiver to the same frequency and then flipping the switch and keying the transmitter. I am really going to have to work on some auto switching method so i can just key and having a single vfo dealing with both the transmitter and receiver would be nice.

So next thing after the hand held will be a receiver to mate with this and some integration to make it work as a transceiver should. All in all though, this has been a good learning experience and totally worth it and its been fun also.

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Leaky VFO Fix

The fix for the Lo Leak was nothing more than a 2nd relay to disconnect the transmitter entirely when in receive. I am currently listening to 40m to whatever the contest is on tonight, and I am hearing everything other than my transmitter HAHA. I really should wire up the switching and make a few qso’s. But its late and its been a big weekend and I think i will go to bed instead. At least i know that this will work. I might take it portable up the road to one of the WWFF parks tomorrow and see if i can drum up the first qso or 2 with it.

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Pro Crastination

Pro as in very high skill level of doing nothing but looking busy. HAHA, Well i really should be building the hand held, I have the boards here and its just a matter of assembly and giving them a go. But, for some unknown reason I was digging in my box of arduino crap and came across these 2 modules. The first is an Analog Devices SSM2167 variable compressor and noise gate, the second is Maxim Integrated MAX9814 which is an AGC mic amplifier.

And this got me thinking because after the hand held build the very next thing will be a superhet receiver which will start life as a receiver to mate with the CW transmitter and later will become a ssb transceiver. Part of that build will be a single unified front end board, that has on it a micro controller, in this case its going to be an ESP32, a bunch of peripherals, like keyboard interface, SD Card slot, real time clock, SI5351 PLL Synth, a few push buttons for various radio functions, a couple of LCD screens, rotary encoder etc.

Also on the board will be the entire audio chain, which, when i designed it originally contained an pre amp with agc, select-able ssb or cw active filters and an LM386 AF amplifier because i was not thinking ahead of myself. I have a better AF amp ic that i can be using and it has a shutdown pin, so i can send logic level from the micro and mute the AF amp on transmit. And now, i have these 2 modules.

I can now see using 2 sets of these in an SSB transceiver build. First in the receiver, audio coming out of the product detector is routed into the compressor and noise gate, then into the agc before it is sent off to the audio filters and then to the AF amp. Seeing that I would have quite a bit of gain just in these 2 modules, I would not need to lots of gain from an LM386 and I could then use a much better sounding and higher wattage audio amp.

And then on the transmit side, have the exact same thing, compression, noise limiting and agc on the mic. Lets be honest here, how many home brew transceivers actually incorporate such luxuries as these. Each of these modules is around $5 aud off ebay, the Analog Devices IC i can buy for a couple of bucks and the passives I have, its a TSSOP package and something i can solder, so it is something i can integrate without mounting the module. The Mic AGC is a leadless package and not something i can really deal with at home, well i could, but i really do not want to. So that module will have to be mounted to the board.

People have been saying that 2020 is going to be a very interesting year for home brew, and from the way things look to me, it looks true. From the QSX probably making an appearance to novel items like AGC, compression and noise gates being incorporated, to other unique SDR based receivers like this one over on Circuit Salad https://circuitsalad.com/2020/01/06/compact-si5351-based-sdr/ things are already looking rather interesting indeed.

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