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!
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.
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!
June 11, 2014
Well, the signal level loss was not as bad as I first thought…but the ability to discern AF is not what I was hoping for. With a -40 dBm input signal level, the AF (in headphones) is just barely noticeable. Actually, from -35dBm input and lower, the AF is nearly useable.
I have post the signal level loss with a -3dBm input signal level to show the loss for the RF portion of the receiver to be about -7dBm (from input to product detector).
June 9, 2014
The RF Amp is working, but I am losing a lot of the signal before it gets to the Product Detector. The RF Amp is giving at least 25 dBm of gain…but from the collector to the Product Detector I am losing almost 20 dBm…so something is amiss with the RF portion of this project.
I need to measure each section to map out the loss and then figure out why…or just call it quits for now and move on to another project. I was thinking of using a NE602 for the front end and use the output pins (5 & 6) for the input to the Product Detector. I built a DC receiver a few years ago that used the NE602 and it worked rather nicely. I found the project and wondering if I want to just “jerry-rig” up the idea to see if it works. Since I am deaf in one ear, a binaural receiver isn’t of much use to me…but i did want to play around with the crystal resonator LO and that is what got me started on this project in the first place.
Am quite happy with the LO part of the circuit and I can duplicate it for both 80 and 40 meters…so may build up a couple LO circuits to have on-hand for bench work. Nice to have a steady sig gen with only a few parts!
Have to think about all of this for a day or two and then decide what I am going to do. But that is where I am for now. I can make the receiver work…but it is about as deaf as I am and that is really no good to anyone .
Hello to Fred…glad your happy with my more frequent updates!!!
June 7, 2014
Well, wired up one stage of the AF section (which provided one earphone worth of audio). Using my sig gen I could hear and tune above and below the signal…but that is with about zero dBm of input signal. When I connected the project to a 40 meter antenna, I heard nothing!
Need to check the Input RF Preamp and see if it is working. There were enough 40 meter CW signals on the air tonight that I should have heard something. I may have to add a RF amp to the front end if everything else is working as it should.
The RF Phase Splitter is working as I can turn it all the one way and have lots of audio when using the sig gen for an input, and then when turned all the other way, have nothing. I am not going to build the second AF section until I determine what or why I cannot hear any 40 meter CW signals.
May 28, 2014
Finally made some time to work on the Binuaral Receiver today. Finished installing the parts for the RF Phase Shift and Product Detector sections and now am ready to install the LO/Product Detector interface transformer. The transformer is a trifilar wound torroid “roid”. I don’t care too much about winding them, or tinning the leads…but do like them as I can make each into a value that is needed and not have to order a particular inductor for each project.
I was checking the LO output with the DSA815-TG spectrum analyzer earlier today. Noticed that the second and third harmonics are only down about -15 to -17 dBm from the fundamental frequency. I may have to build either a LPF or BPF if this project turns into a transceiver instead of just a receiver.
Anyway, time to eat and get to Bible study (Wednesday night activity at our church), so will have to finish the install of the transformer either tonight or tomorrow after I get back from a group hike along the Waterloo Trail near here.
May 21, 2014
Have about recovered from the trip to Dayton. Rained the entire time except Sunday and Monday (the day we came home) and quite cool. But, if you don’t have to like the weather to enjoy it at Dayton. We stay at the KOA campground every year and love the friendships we have made the there.
As far as what goodies I bought…some 2.5″x3.0″ prototyping boards at a dollar a piece (good deal), an interface for my MFJ-259B so I can plot my sweeps on the PC, and finally broke down and bought the DSA815-TG spectrum analyzer. I have been struggling about buying one for over a year…so made the plunge. I have been playing with it for a few days now and makes me wonder how I ever got along without it! I put it next to my DS1052E scope and was able to remove several pieces of older test equipment that I won’t need anymore on the bench. Also picked up a hiking pack for three to four day trips on the trails.
I hope to get back to the Binuaral Receiver in a day or two. I am anxious to use the new SA on it and see how clean the crystal resonator really is. If it is clean, I will use those prototyping boards and make both 40 meter and a 80 meter resonators for the work bench.
May 10, 2014
Tinned the pads for the next two sections (actually four: LPF, RF Amp, RF Phase Shift, and Product Detector). I also laid down and tinned the three pads for the LO/Product Detector interface transformer. Have the RF Input section (LPF and RF Amp) done and most of the RF Phase Shift section done.
I have also been doing a wood working project for the wife (five shelf bookcase) for her scrapbooking/circut hobby. That and made a pedestal block set for the fifth wheel landing legs and stabilizer jacks for our stay at the KOA campground near Dayton. I can’t say enough good things about this campground. We used to stay there for family outings when I was stationed there at Wright-Patterson AFB before I retired in ’98, and now stay there for FDIM/Hamvention. The campground hosts go out of their way to make the week we spend there for FDIM/Hamvention one of the best camping trips of the year!
The weather is supposed to be nice tomorrow (Saturday), so will spend most of the day outside getting the RV ready and some yard chores. Sunday through Wednesday is forecasting rain showers so may have extra time available for the workbench, though I doubt I will finish this project before we leave for Dayton.
May 8, 2014
Started the layout of the RF input and Product Detector today on paper…and just finished gluing down the pads for these next two stages. I normally draw the layout on paper and then use it as a template to glue down the pads on the PCB. This time, after doing the layout on paper, I used a black marker and did the template on the PCB and then glued down the pads. A bit more organized and less stressful to say the least. Here is the schematic for these next two stages:
I will also do the LO to product detector interface transformer when I do these two stages. Have to let the pads sit for at least an hour or else they have a tendency to pop-off the PCB when I tin the pads.