Homebrew is alive and well in Vienna Virginia #homebrew


Dean Souleles
 

Hi all -

Some exciting news to share...

20 members of the Vienna Wireless Society Maker's Group are building a 100% scratch-built SSB transceiver based on N6QW, Pete Juliano's SimpleSSB, which I completed last year.  Not a bitX, but a close relative.  Pete's design using only 10 transistors combined with an Arduino/SI5351 controller.  I've extended to include CAT control, a Nextion touch screen, and made it a dual bander for 20 and and 40.  Since completing the rig last year I've worked stations on phone and digital all over the world.  This is a fun project for anyone wanting to build a transceiver from scratch.

I started the group build about six weeks ago and the first of our maker's got the receiver chain working just this week.  Read all about it and see videos and pictures of the in-progress build on my blog 

https://kk4das.blogspot.com/2021/04/homebrew-lives-furlough-40-simplessb.html

73,
Dean
KK4DAS


Don - KM4UDX
 

As a uBITX devotee, I can report that the SSB home brew is "uBITX adjacent".  The SI5153, the arduino, dual purpose architecture,  IFR510 final, etc all parallel the uBITX.  And Dean's Furlough 40/20 has scored numerious QSO's with other uBITX operators. 

I'd like to think that is some way, the uBITX gave way to the F40/20. A more primal primitive offspring. 

The uBITX got me into the radio hobby. It was approachable, reasonable, wickedly capable,  and CAT-enabled.

But mostly, and I did not appreciate this when I started, it had a vigorous supporting ecosystem.  Having a group of smart and kind folks to answer the same questions with grace, and point out the obvious to a newbie, was actually the key secret ingredient. The uBITX and tribe was a perfect gateway drug. 

The SSB F40/20 is now helping me learn how these darn mystical miracle devices called radios work. It has the same (if much smaller) supporting environment.  And that makes it all work. 


Jerry Gaffke
 

The N6QW rig is worth looking over.
I am a little bit frustrated that there is no complete and current schematic presented.
If somebody has a complete schematic, would be nice if you could post it.

No mention of previous work, but does look like a Bitx20 derivative.
It is almost as old:
    https://groups.io/g/BITX20/topic/fw_first_qso_with_the_bitx20/4100707

The N6QW rig is simple in part because of all the relays.
At this power level I'd prefer zero relays for better reliability.

When evaluating how simple it is, keep in mind that it has ready made
ADE-1 mixers and a purchased crystal filter, which does make construction easier.
The BItx rigs keep costs to a minimum by using 3904's almost everywhere,
discrete mixers, and a scratch built crystal filter.

I've been thinking a good way to reverse an IF with mixers at each end plus an amp and a crystal filter
is to have have RC low pass and high pass filters at each end to separate audio and rf,
the tx/rx switch is done solely by programming  different Si5351 frequencies for the mixers.
Seems better and cheaper than using relays.

Jerry, KE7ER


On Fri, Apr 16, 2021 at 06:35 AM, Dean Souleles wrote:
Hi all -

Some exciting news to share...

20 members of the Vienna Wireless Society Maker's Group are building a 100% scratch-built SSB transceiver based on N6QW, Pete Juliano's SimpleSSB, which I completed last year.  Not a bitX, but a close relative.  Pete's design using only 10 transistors combined with an Arduino/SI5351 controller.  I've extended to include CAT control, a Nextion touch screen, and made it a dual bander for 20 and and 40.  Since completing the rig last year I've worked stations on phone and digital all over the world.  This is a fun project for anyone wanting to build a transceiver from scratch.

I started the group build about six weeks ago and the first of our maker's got the receiver chain working just this week.  Read all about it and see videos and pictures of the in-progress build on my blog 

https://kk4das.blogspot.com/2021/04/homebrew-lives-furlough-40-simplessb.html

73,
Dean
KK4DAS


Dean Souleles
 

Jerry -

You missed the point entirely.

20 hams, some whom had never built anything will soon have 100% scratch-built SSB transceivers on the air.  The design goal was a low part count, common component, easy to assemble rig that performs well on the air.  There is no "complete schematic" by intent.  This is a project for for inexperienced builders and we take it one module at a time.  I don't need the full rig on one piece of paper in order to build the audio amplifier stage. In fact, if I had had to start with a full schematic I would never have picked up a soldering iron.   But if you really want a full schematic, in the spirit of a community project go ahead and make one.

Similarly the decision to use a commercial filter and mixers was a design decision to increase the likelihood of success for the first time builder.  You could say the same about the SI-5351 and Arduino.  The decision to use relays for steering is also a design choice. Reliability has not been an issue to-date and if it is, they are easy to swap out. 

As far as  citing sources -  most of the modules are pretty standard circuits that derive from many sources.  The bi-directional IF module is decidedly not a ubitx derivative.  The bidirectional amplifiers that comprise it are documented in EMRFD and were originally in a Plessey Manpack. 

The result is a fine performing transceiver - I have worked much of the world SSB phone on 5 watts - and the whole world on WSPR.  I get great audio reports and the rig produces a very clean and compliant spectrum. 

It is also an experimenters platform.  The modular design makes it easy to try different design ideas - you don't like the relay steered IF - substitute your favorite circuit and share it.   Since my original build I have added CAT control via software, made it a two bander (I used relays for the BPF and LPF switches also),  Added and S-meter and audio derived gain control.  And the sketch now supports LCD's, color TFT's or Nextion displays. 


73,
Dean
KK4DAS


Jerry Gaffke
 

Dean said:

>  Similarly the decision to use a commercial filter and mixers was a design decision to increase the likelihood of success for the first time builder. 

I get that.
I would probably use ADE-1's if I were to build such a thing.

>  As far as  citing sources -  most of the modules are pretty standard circuits that derive from many sources. 
>  The bi-directional IF module is decidedly not a ubitx derivative.  The bidirectional amplifiers
>  that comprise it are documented in EMRFD and were originally in a Plessey Manpack. 

I can't think of an actual use of bidi amps in ham gear prior to the uBitx, but otherwise, it's all pretty stock as you say.
Few construction articles bother to cite precedents, but I do encourage the practice.

Modules are good, and that has come up in the forum with regard to *Bitx* builds.
Several advantages, allows easy testing of individual modules, you can stack them like Legos
to build something different, an be individually shielded if necessary and have independent power supply filtering.
Though auto-inserting an entire Bitx40 or uBitx onto one board is simpler and cheaper.


>  There is no "complete schematic" by intent.  This is a project for for inexperienced builders and we take it one module at a time.

This I will argue with, sounds like a rationalization.
Describing each module separately does not preclude having a complete schematic.
I considered printing out the dozen or so pages of description, cutting out the schematic bits that mattered,
figuring out was was old history, then gluing the schematic bits together following the various block diagrams.
Concluded it was not worth the bother.
I can't imagine that process is any easier for inexperienced builders who aren't being mentored.
But tastes vary, perhaps some would find the big picture too overwhelming.

Jerry, KE7ER




On Sat, Apr 17, 2021 at 11:07 AM, Dean Souleles wrote:
Jerry -

You missed the point entirely.

20 hams, some whom had never built anything will soon have 100% scratch-built SSB transceivers on the air.  The design goal was a low part count, common component, easy to assemble rig that performs well on the air.  There is no "complete schematic" by intent.  This is a project for for inexperienced builders and we take it one module at a time.  I don't need the full rig on one piece of paper in order to build the audio amplifier stage. In fact, if I had had to start with a full schematic I would never have picked up a soldering iron.   But if you really want a full schematic, in the spirit of a community project go ahead and make one.

Similarly the decision to use a commercial filter and mixers was a design decision to increase the likelihood of success for the first time builder.  You could say the same about the SI-5351 and Arduino.  The decision to use relays for steering is also a design choice. Reliability has not been an issue to-date and if it is, they are easy to swap out. 

As far as  citing sources -  most of the modules are pretty standard circuits that derive from many sources.  The bi-directional IF module is decidedly not a ubitx derivative.  The bidirectional amplifiers that comprise it are documented in EMRFD and were originally in a Plessey Manpack. 

The result is a fine performing transceiver - I have worked much of the world SSB phone on 5 watts - and the whole world on WSPR.  I get great audio reports and the rig produces a very clean and compliant spectrum. 

It is also an experimenters platform.  The modular design makes it easy to try different design ideas - you don't like the relay steered IF - substitute your favorite circuit and share it.   Since my original build I have added CAT control via software, made it a two bander (I used relays for the BPF and LPF switches also),  Added and S-meter and audio derived gain control.  And the sketch now supports LCD's, color TFT's or Nextion displays. 


73,
Dean
KK4DAS


Scott McDonald
 

......I can't think of an actual use of bidi amps in ham gear prior to the uBitx, but otherwise, it's all pretty stock as you say. ......

And FWIW even solid state bidirectional transceiver amps go back at least into the late 60s in the Sideband Engineers SBE-33 and 34 rigs - kinda neat studies in early transistor rigs for a rainy, no sunspot day.

73 Scott Ka9p

On Sat, Apr 17, 2021 at 2:44 PM Jerry Gaffke via groups.io <jgaffke=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
Dean said:

>  Similarly the decision to use a commercial filter and mixers was a design decision to increase the likelihood of success for the first time builder. 

I get that.
I would probably use ADE-1's if I were to build such a thing.

>  As far as  citing sources -  most of the modules are pretty standard circuits that derive from many sources. 
>  The bi-directional IF module is decidedly not a ubitx derivative.  The bidirectional amplifiers
>  that comprise it are documented in EMRFD and were originally in a Plessey Manpack. 

I can't think of an actual use of bidi amps in ham gear prior to the uBitx, but otherwise, it's all pretty stock as you say.
Few construction articles bother to cite precedents, but I do encourage the practice.

Modules are good, and that has come up in the forum with regard to *Bitx* builds.
Several advantages, allows easy testing of individual modules, you can stack them like Legos
to build something different, an be individually shielded if necessary and have independent power supply filtering.
Though auto-inserting an entire Bitx40 or uBitx onto one board is simpler and cheaper.


>  There is no "complete schematic" by intent.  This is a project for for inexperienced builders and we take it one module at a time.

This I will argue with, sounds like a rationalization.
Describing each module separately does not preclude having a complete schematic.
I considered printing out the dozen or so pages of description, cutting out the schematic bits that mattered,
figuring out was was old history, then gluing the schematic bits together following the various block diagrams.
Concluded it was not worth the bother.
I can't imagine that process is any easier for inexperienced builders who aren't being mentored.
But tastes vary, perhaps some would find the big picture too overwhelming.

Jerry, KE7ER




On Sat, Apr 17, 2021 at 11:07 AM, Dean Souleles wrote:
Jerry -

You missed the point entirely.

20 hams, some whom had never built anything will soon have 100% scratch-built SSB transceivers on the air.  The design goal was a low part count, common component, easy to assemble rig that performs well on the air.  There is no "complete schematic" by intent.  This is a project for for inexperienced builders and we take it one module at a time.  I don't need the full rig on one piece of paper in order to build the audio amplifier stage. In fact, if I had had to start with a full schematic I would never have picked up a soldering iron.   But if you really want a full schematic, in the spirit of a community project go ahead and make one.

Similarly the decision to use a commercial filter and mixers was a design decision to increase the likelihood of success for the first time builder.  You could say the same about the SI-5351 and Arduino.  The decision to use relays for steering is also a design choice. Reliability has not been an issue to-date and if it is, they are easy to swap out. 

As far as  citing sources -  most of the modules are pretty standard circuits that derive from many sources.  The bi-directional IF module is decidedly not a ubitx derivative.  The bidirectional amplifiers that comprise it are documented in EMRFD and were originally in a Plessey Manpack. 

The result is a fine performing transceiver - I have worked much of the world SSB phone on 5 watts - and the whole world on WSPR.  I get great audio reports and the rig produces a very clean and compliant spectrum. 

It is also an experimenters platform.  The modular design makes it easy to try different design ideas - you don't like the relay steered IF - substitute your favorite circuit and share it.   Since my original build I have added CAT control via software, made it a two bander (I used relays for the BPF and LPF switches also),  Added and S-meter and audio derived gain control.  And the sketch now supports LCD's, color TFT's or Nextion displays. 


73,
Dean
KK4DAS


Curt
 

N6QW perhaps has homebrewed as many rigs as anyone the past couple days, and he shares his designs to encourage others. 

If you look carefully he tries to major in inexpensive parts.

Wonderful to have a group of 20 folk building a rig. 
Ashhar certainly mentioned w7zoi publishing these bidirectional amplifiers maybe 4 decades ago, in fact I remember him visiting with Wes on a trip to US.  

Thanks Dean for showing us the build there. 

Curt


Gordon Gibby
 

That’s fascinating. Thank you for all the information. I may try to do a bit of that at some point with our local group. We have been doing it local NVIS net on 80 m as low as five watts.  

Most of our people would not be able to succeed without some printed circuit boards.   But this doesn’t look too difficult to create a few different boards and have them made in China.

Gordon KX4Z


On Apr 17, 2021, at 16:46, Curt via groups.io <wb8yyy@...> wrote:

N6QW perhaps has homebrewed as many rigs as anyone the past couple days, and he shares his designs to encourage others. 

If you look carefully he tries to major in inexpensive parts.

Wonderful to have a group of 20 folk building a rig. 
Ashhar certainly mentioned w7zoi publishing these bidirectional amplifiers maybe 4 decades ago, in fact I remember him visiting with Wes on a trip to US.  

Thanks Dean for showing us the build there. 

Curt


Jerry Gaffke
 

Yes, Farhan has often referenced EMRFD as a primary source.
But I don't recall any complete rig using the bidi amps described in EMRFD
prior to the Bitx20.

http://w7zoi.net/Farhan-visit.html

Jerry, KE7ER


On Sat, Apr 17, 2021 at 01:45 PM, Curt wrote:
Wonderful to have a group of 20 folk building a rig. 
Ashhar certainly mentioned w7zoi publishing these bidirectional amplifiers maybe 4 decades ago, in fact I remember him visiting with Wes on a trip to US.  


Jerry Gaffke
 

I was being a bit cranky about this rig a few posts back.
That comes mostly from finding I had to spend several hours figuring out
what the design was before I would know if I was interested in it.
 


Gordon Gibby
 

Yes, you were being a bit cranky. The gentleman was providing insight into some very interesting work they are doing which some others might be interested in.  If his presentation was not up to your desires that’s a different matter.     It was nice of you to observe that you could have handled that differently.   




On Apr 17, 2021, at 19:32, Jerry Gaffke via groups.io <jgaffke@...> wrote:

I was being a bit cranky about this rig a few posts back.
That comes mostly from finding I had to spend several hours figuring out
what the design was before I would know if I was interested in it.
 


kx4om
 

Dean,
If you haven't seen it, WA7MLH has several projects of modules, many from EMRFD on Osh Park as Shared Projects. Jeff was the builder of several projects that were photographed in EMRFD and other projects that Wes, W7ZOI designed over the years. The Osh Park designs include module boards including double-balanced mixers (pure homebrew and ADE-1, and diode ring mixers using BAT45 dual diodes) and other handy modules.  These can be purchased in lots of 3, and are priced based on the square inch. The takeaway is that small boards are cheap, and some may be useful for your group's builds.

Jeff documents his projects on his neonanderthal website. Search on WA7MLH. His Osh Park Profile page is:

https://oshpark.com/profiles/WA7MLH

73, Ted KX4OM


Dean Souleles
 

On Tue, Apr 20, 2021 at 11:08 PM, kx4om wrote:
WA7MLH has several projects of modules
HI Ted,

Thanks for the nice note. I had not previously seen W7MLH's modules. That's a terrific find and great for making compact builds.  For homebrew in particular I am a big believer in building in modules and these make it easy.  For our current project we decided to go with Manhattan and Ugly style construction for a couple of reasons.  The first is that we are striving for the homebrew ethos as much as practical with our simple design.  To quote W7MLH himself...
"I am not a proponent of board stuffing and then calling it home brew. Stuffed PCBs are hard to debug and do not lend themselves to modifications the way ugly does."
And the extra benefit is that for our first time builders, the experience of going from schematic to layout really helps them get familiar with the circuit.

I've got Jeff's page and Osh Park store book marked and will be visiting them often!

And since my post at the beginning of the week we now have two more homebrewers experiencing the joy of receiving HF SSB on a radio they built themselves.   By field day we will have at least a dozen SimpleSSB transceivers on the air! 

73,
Dean
KK4DAS


jim
 

oshpark also has a "qrp bitx tia" ...surface mount termination insensitive amplifier ... again from EMRFD and similar to the amps in the micro-bitx...nice gain block

Jim

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 8:08:21 PM PDT, kx4om <wirehead73@...> wrote:


Dean,
If you haven't seen it, WA7MLH has several projects of modules, many from EMRFD on Osh Park as Shared Projects. Jeff was the builder of several projects that were photographed in EMRFD and other projects that Wes, W7ZOI designed over the years. The Osh Park designs include module boards including double-balanced mixers (pure homebrew and ADE-1, and diode ring mixers using BAT45 dual diodes) and other handy modules.  These can be purchased in lots of 3, and are priced based on the square inch. The takeaway is that small boards are cheap, and some may be useful for your group's builds.

Jeff documents his projects on his neonanderthal website. Search on WA7MLH. His Osh Park Profile page is:

https://oshpark.com/profiles/WA7MLH

73, Ted KX4OM