Update on CW Decoder

January 25, 2015

Received the 4×20 (4 lines, 20 characters per line) LCDs. This made using the CW Decoder so much more enjoyable to use. I changed the code a bit to put the WPM rate and my call sign on the first line and then three lines of cw.

I need to take a picture of the setup now as it is easier to read the CW as it is displayed and then post it here on the blog.

Hello to Fred, KD8IXP. He is a local ham who is always bugging me about updating my blog. He just received two PIXIE transceiver boards, and has promised me to get on the air with one of them so I can hear what it sounds like. I will report back on this when he finally fulfills his promise!!!

Arduino Stuff

January 20, 2015

Been doing some Arduino stuff on the workbench. I saw an article that used an Arduino for a CW Decoder. Built it but it didn’t show anything on the LCD. After some checking, realized that the schematic I was using and the software I had loaded onto the Aruduino didn’t match as far as LCD wiring. After some experimenting with various pin-out configurations, I ended up with a working cw decoder.


CW Decoder-5

I also built up a breadboard for future Arduino experiments and prototyping. I have three books that I bought this last year that deals with Arduino projects and Ham Radio. This breadboard will be perfect for doing most of the experiments detailed in each of the three books.

BB-2

I am also doing a VFO/Sig Gen project with Todd, VE7BPO.  All of the project will be detailed in the Michigan QRP Club’s quarterly publication called the T5W. Todd is doing most of the work, and my part will only be the VFO section. It is based on a project done by Wes, W7ZOI in 2009. Called the 8640 –JR (a humorous namesake after the famous HP 8640 signal generator) this signal generator uses only 1 VFO but covers three ranges by applying HC74 series CMOS logic for frequency division.

That is it for now. Stay tuned for solder fume snuffing while the temps are chilly and the ground is white!

72/73…Mike, WB8ICN

KX1 Upgrades

December 4, 2014

I have been adding to my Elecraft KX1 rig. Added the 30 meter mod and as of tonight, have built and installed the ATU mod. I plan on using the KX1 while we are in the RV and having the ATU is a definite plus with a non-resonant antenna. I received the Ten Tec Rebel rig last week. Checked it out and all seems fine, but have to wait till Christmas morning before Santa will let me play with it. But, this will be a big part of what I plan on doing this winter…ARDUINO learning!

I do have some Arduino projects I might start now that all the outside work/chores are done. I do want to try to use an Arduino for a CW decoding project. Have seen a couple of blogs that have done some work in this area, so I won’t have to start from scratch.

The weather in November was quite an eye-opener for most of the northern part of Michigan…but December has proven to be quite tame and I hope it stays that way. I might even try to get some antenna projects launched if the current temperature trend continues.

That’s it for now…stay tuned.

2014 Fall Update…

November 1, 2014

Well, we had our first flakes of white stuff today, so guess summer is actually over. I spent most of the summer hiking and walking the many trails around our home town, but doubt I will be doing a lot of that for the next few months. The wifey has told me that we are staying put this winter as the weather forecast for most of the areas that we thought about going to during the colder months are not going to be much better. To be wet and cold is worse than snowy and cold in my book. When your in a 30 foot RV and can’t get out to do things, well it is better to stay home and play with all the toys!

I know I want to play with a lot of Arduino projects this winter and my spectrum analyzer I got at Dayton this last spring, so that should keep me busy for awhile. Still have a lot of kits to build and some homebrew ideas to work on, so won’t be bored. I have even thought about doing some antenna experiments.

I would really like to increase my operating time on CW this winter. I keep saying that every year but never quite get around to it. To be retired and not have the time to do things…go figure. But who knows, I might just do it this winter season. Have a few more winterizing chores to complete and then settle in for a few months of white “bear and grin it” weather…<smile>.

Todd, VE7BPO, has started a blog that looks to be excellent and a outstanding replacement for his web site that he had to terminate this fall. To see his new blog, go to http://qrp-popcorn.blogspot.ca/ and see what he is already posted.  He just conclude a three part series on a receiver called the “Funster”. Leave it to Todd to add excitement to a new project!

QRPHB Files

October 6, 2014

For those interested in getting a copy of Todd’s web site current as Oct  5th, go the the following address and download the 35MB pdf file,

….PLEASE DON’T POST THE URL IN PLAIN TEXT….

aa-qrp

QRPHB Web Site Development

October 5, 2014

Todd, VE7BPO, who runs the “Pop Korn” site for homebrewers may have to discontinue the QRPHB web site (http://www.qrp.pops.net/) all together. He and the web master have been having bandwidth problems and it looks like the issues may continue for the foreseeable future. Throughput has been really bad the last few days, and today the site server simply froze up due to a lot of download requests.  At present, Todd has taken the site off-line and will probably not bring it back up. Stay tuned for further developments.

My personal thanks to Todd for all these years of service and sharing with the homebrew community. On the plus side, he will have more time to devote to experiments and testing/measurements that would normally be spent on web site updates. I came across Todd’s work and site back in the late 90’s and have been a fan ever since. He and his site will be missed!

Short Update…

July 3, 2014

Wanted to mention what I found by comparing the molded inductor verse the use of a toroid for the RF Phase Shift.

Found that the molded inductor (molded inductor for the primary and four turns of hook-up wire for the secondary) has at least a 10 dBm loss at 7 MHz. I wound a toroid for the same component with ten turns for the primary and four turns for the secondary on a FT37-61 and had only a 2.8 dBm loss at 7 Mhz. So, using the toroid is the better choice. But, modeling this new insight with LTSpice still leaves me with some doubt. The RF level going into the Detector stage is still not up to 700mv which I think would be necessary for good sensitivity. I doubt I will continue on with this project in its present form. Still have some desire to use the LO ceramic osc and hook it up to a homebrew NE602/LM386 receiver I build a few years ago to see if that would work.

Have discovered some really interesting functions for LTSpice…things I wish I had known years ago.  Still learning how to set-up sources for driving oscillators, mixers, etc and what types of analysis’s tell me what type of information. This learning has turned out to be more fun that I first imagined!

With the fourth just around the corner, I doubt I will get much done till next week. I have started to do the 30 meter mod for my KX1 and also want to do the auto tuner kit while I am in the kit building mood.

Hope everyone has a good and safe Fourth of July weekend!

72/73…Mikey, WB8ICN

Time to Relearn a Few Things!

June 25, 2014

Been trying to use LTSpice with the binuaral receiver project. What I have learned is I am quite stupid when it comes to modelling a stage and understanding what is going on (using LTSpice). I have pestered a very patient friend from down under and I decided this morning that I should be able to answer some of the questions I have been throwing his way.

So, for the near future, I need to get a better handle on understanding and using LTSpice … then I can go back to modelling what I am doing before snuffing solder fumes. There is enough tutorial info out there on the web about LTSpice and how to make the best use of it…and I need to learn (relearn???…now I am wondering how much of it I learned the first time) LTSpice from a homebrewers point of view and how to make it a useful tool for  me.

This is rather embarrassing to admit, but it is the truth and I really want to be able to use it (LTSpice) the way others have come to use  it and learn from it.

Mark, again thanks for some really important “learns learned”!

P.S. – I can now model a VXO with some success!

Relook at Measurements…

June 21, 2014

Well, found that a bad scope probe can be a big problem when trying to understand things…LOL.  Since replacing the bad probe, I discovered that the LO is working fine, have just over a volt coming out and going to the Product Detector. The RF input section still bothers me but it seems to be working as it should. However, the RF Phase Shift inductor (molded inductor) may be a problem, so after looking at things, I am going to take Mark’s advice and try a torroid. This may help recover some gain I seem to be losing. I get a three fold gain in voltage (317mv input/922mv output) from the RF Amp…but this varies as the input signal decreases in amplitude.

I have thought about incorporating some type of feedback for the RF Amp section to help maintain the RF level from the input to the Product Detector. I can hear a signal with -50 dBm input, but any less than that and I lose all AF going to a speaker/headphone. I should be able to use half that value of input signal and still hear a signal. I am thinking after I try swapping a torroid for the molded inductor, I may switch to a single signal type detector or pop a NE602 in-place of the current front end and see what I get. Since I wouldn’t be able to hear the binuaral effect anyway (due to being deaf in one ear), I might as well move on and try other ideas.

I built a 40 meter NE602 receiver a number of years ago and it was fun and simple. I may use the LO from this project and incorporate that receiver into a single signal receiver. I want to make up one 80 meter LO and one 40 meter LO on separate PCB boards to have on the bench for future use. All in all, this has been a fun  and thought provoking exercise. I need to keep a focus on little things that can affect the overall success of the project (Thanks Mark of helping me learn this!), and remember to check my measurement methods to ensure they are sound and accurate.

I will probably have one more update after this and then move on to another project involving a remote terminal for my PHSNA.

Corrections/Update

June 20, 2014

Been wrapped up in a bunch of chores/Honey-Do’s/etc and haven’t had much time to spend at the bench. Finally got back at it tonight and rechecked some measurements I did earlier on the LO and RF portion of the receiver project…and they do not match what I had recorded earlier.

Since the forecast is for rain all day tomorrow, I hope to remeasure everything and re-evaluate what I have so far and where to go from here. Since I am deaf in one ear…making a binaural receiver makes little sense. Have been thinking of changing directions with this project since the LO was the main interest when I started this whole thing. Thinking of rewiring the front end and using a NE602 to see what that produces…and spend some more time with the current product detector to better understand it.

A special thanks goes out to Mark Dunning from down-under who has pointed out some items I overlooked…and in general made me reconsider just what I am doing and where I might go with this. Its always better to have an extra pair of eyes and a second opinion to help one focus on what they are doing!


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