Content for Issue #3

Cover of HOMEBREWER Issue #3
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A Nuts and Bolts Approach to RF Design        Wayne McFee, NB6M
Let’s say you are like many other homebrewing hams ... you might have a limited understanding of how radio circuits work and don’t have a shack full of test equipment.  You probably have an HF amateur band receiver, an oscilloscope, a digital multimeter with an RF probe, an SWR meter or bridge, a dummy load and an antenna.  You have a basic set of tools and you have at least begun to get comfortable with the Manhattan, Island, or Ugly style building methods.  And most important, you have the desire to design and build some gear of your own.  If you fit this profile, this project is for you!

Getting started with Surface Mount Devices        Ron Skelton, W6WO
Look inside any commercial modern rig and it is hard to find more than a few traditional components. Gone are the brightly colored resistors and capacitors with clearly marked values. Tiny anonymous rectangular chips known as surface mount devices (SMDs) have taken over and much of our compact technology would be impossible without them. At first glance this can be discouraging to experimenters and home brewers as clearly such complex products cannot be built, or in many cases even repaired, by human hands ... but take heart - it’s not as difficult as you might think!

Surface Mount Construction Techniques        George Heron, N2APB
“Oh no, this project uses SMT parts!”  Some homebrewers recoil at the thought of assembling a kit that uses surface mount technology (SMT) components.  They fear the parts are too small to see, handle, solder or debug when assembled.  I had these same concerns until I tried it and found that it wasn’t so difficult when using the right tools.  Further, I discovered some benefits of using SMT parts that made my QRP projects smaller, lighter and more portable for optimized field use.

A Detailed Look at Transmission Line Performance        Rick Hiller, W5RH
Transmission line power losses are extremely important at QRP power levels.  A marvelous (and free!) software program called “Transmission Line Details” shows you what you are losing and why.

Transformations         Rex Harper, W1REX
They say beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  For W1REX, every piece of old, discarded, rusty or malfunctioning equipment is a diamond in the rough. Rex starts here a short, irreverent series of “mission impossibles” that may just give you some ideas of your own.

Hacking the K8IQY Precision VXO        Nick Kennedy, WA5BDU
I really like the Precision VXO circuit that appeared in the Atlanticon 2002 Proceedings and later in QRP Homebrewer.  With the kit available you can end up with a really nice looking signal generator. I wanted to customize it a bit, so I started putting it together Manhattan-style.  Here’s the tale with some of the variations I put in and some things I learned along the way.  Some feedback from K8IQY has been added, along with an interesting analysis of the Norton amplifier.

Manhattan-Style Building Techniques - III        Chuck Adams, K7QO
In Part 1 master homebrewer K7QO described the selection process for material and tools, and in Part 2 he described how Manhattan pads are created, mounted and used as circuit nodes on the bare copper-clad base board.  In this concluding installment, Chuck overviews the basics of soldering and converting a circuit diagram from paper schematic to a Manhattan-style layout.

A Kinda, Sorta Inverted L        Bob Logan, NZ5A
Here is an antenna that tunes all HF bands quite nicely, including the new 60 Meter band. Its performance not only consistently equals that of my old 80-Meter and 40-Meter inverted vees at 35 feet, but much of the time it outperforms them! The simple antenna also exhibits some gain on all bands above 40 Meters, and a low angle of radiation helps on long-haul QSOs as well.  

Power Isolator for a Digital Panel Meter        John Farnsworth, KW2N
Ever been tempted to buy one of those digital panel meters (DPM) advertised for around $10-$15? They look inviting: 3-1/2 digit readout, about 1% accuracy, and they could give that professional look to your next project. You can use them to display voltage, current, or other parameters with appropriate shunts or dividers. They are available from Marlin P. Jones, All Electronics and others. But there’s a catch.  

Fishing Pole Vertical for Twenty Meters                Ron Stone, KA3J
Building this light weight, inexpensive antenna is a snap!  

TTAM: Test Topics And More: “Batteries!”        Joe Everhart, N2CX
Many homebrewers and most QRP operators frequently rely on batteries to power their equipment. Naturally all of us want to get the most we can from batteries so while the column won’t tell you which is the ultimate battery, Coming to Terms discusses a number of battery characteristics, and Designed for Test shows how to perform battery life measurements based on understanding what makes them work.

QRP Operating: “Minimalist’s Approach to 10M QRP”         Richard Fisher, KI6SN
Due to impending house repairs and wind damage to a fence that my 40 meter full wave stealth loop runs (or rather, used to run) along, I took the loop down recently. That was my one and only all-band antenna.  That left me with no antennas - almost, except for a borrowed 40 meter DCTL (Distributed Capacitance Twisted Loop) that I was playing with. Oh, and the ARRL’s 10 meter contest was on that weekend. What to do?

Radio To Go: “For the Traveler”         James Bennett, KA5DVS/6
While I write this column, I am in an airliner at about 35,000 feet on a flight to visit family for the holidays.  Sitting here, I began to think about the things that go into preparing a station to take along when traveling by air.  Not only how to pack but what to pack.  When traveling by air, what we can carry as what we are allowed to carry may limit our ability to play radio at our destination. Since I travel frequently, I thought I would share a few ideas for successfully taking radio equipment along when flying.  

QRP Contesting                 Ken Newman, N2CQ
Three month forecast of QRP contests, Results of the Spring QRP Homebrewer Sprint, and rules for the AmQRP “Look Around in the Field” contest.

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Page last updated: May 21, 2004