Re: Results of MAX9814 in uBitx #ubitx

Tim Gorman


Good job!

tim ab0wr

On Tue, 27 Feb 2018 20:42:11 -0800
"John" <passionfruit88@...> wrote:

After trying a few schemes I have settled on a MAX9814 circuit for
the AGC.

I used the Adafruit board but there are a few variations on eBay with
some probably requiring less hacking than the Adafruit design. I had
to solder a wire on a SMD component to access the CT (time constant
capacitor) pin of the MAX IC, and remove the Electret capsule.

I have attached the schematic and a few pictures of the AGC circuit
as I now have in the rig. The 5VDC is taken from the Raduino board.  

Performance wise I took two sets of measures, one with the AGC turned
down low and one with the AGC turned one third of the way up.

A few notes on the tests. I used an A/B comparison with an FT-817,
with the pre-amp off, receiving  a carrier at 1,500Hz  from local
radio stations (with attenuation). The FT-817 S-Meter seem
notoriously non-constant in the steps between the S-units, but that
is all the reference I have where I am. The AGC voltage is taken from
the CT pin of the MAX9814.

The AGC voltage fluctuates quite a lot, so I tried to record the
average value.

At high signal strength, to determine if the saturation was coming
from the AGC circuit or the uBitx upstream, I would bypass the AGC
and keep the volume down to prevent the audio circuit past the volume
pot from saturating. If the harmonics of the audio disappeared, the
AGC alone was producing distortion, otherwise it appeared at least
before the AGC, and possibly in as well.

Here are the results:

1. "Medium" AGC: input pot turned to about 30% of full scale.

FT817         AGC
S-Meter     voltage(mV)       Notes
S0                  0               
S1               300
S2               350
S3               400
S4               460
S5               510
S6               650
S7               750
S8             1,700         Large variation. FT-817 S-meter S8
plateau issue? S9            2,200          Some saturation of AGC
noted (starts to appear in audio FFT, not noticeable) S9+10
 2,460           Saturation of AGC audible, but not unplesant. S9+20
   2,460           Audible saturation of both uBitx and AGC (harsh

The AGC kicks in early and keeps the volume pretty constant until
saturation occurs. Saturation of AGC does limits the dynamic range of

1. "Low" AGC: input pot turned to about 7-10% of full scale.

FT817          AGC
S-Meter      voltage (mV)       Notes
S0 -S4               0                                
S5                50-200            (100mv avg)
S6                  200
S7                  360
S8                  500
S9                1,260
S9+10         1,800
S9+20         2,300                 Saturation of both uBitx and AGC
(visible in audio FFT, but not really audible) S9+30         2,400
             Audible saturation of uBitx and mostly of AGC.

This is the most "FT-817 AGC" like, from my perspective, and is what
I have settled for.  I want to use the AGC voltage as an s-meter
input and this setting does produce a gap at the bottom end, but this
is not critical IMO.

In both cases I noted some small "clicks" when the AGC kicked in on
strong sudden signals. 

The maximum gain of the MAX9814 as set in the schematic attached is
of 50dB and requires screened cables in the audio circuit. I
originally had the input and output of the circuit fed to a two core
"stereo" screened cable and I would get feedback. I had to use two
single screened audio cables.

73, John (VK2ETA)

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