Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Secrets to Homebrewing ~ Revealed!

Secrets to Successful Homebrewing -- An Art!

Many years ago there was a joke going around about the person who widely advertised "Become Rich Quick!" Send $2 and discover how. As the story goes a reply would be received in the form of a postcard ( at that time 3 cents) which simply said "Do What I Did!" 
Well I could tell you to do what I have done; but that would undoubtedly be a disservice in that simply repeating what I have done has no guarantee and you didn't even have to spend the $2.
So for free -- you know how good free is -- are some suggestions for the would be or seasoned homebrewer on being successful in your builds.
  1. Getting organized by having a good information storage and retrieval system. A well established library, collections of data sheets, and cataloged project articles are worth their weight in gold
  2. A suitable well lit workspace where you can stop a project and return to it later picking up where you left off. I remember an article about a ham who had very limited space in his home save for the family laundry room. Clever guy that he was he built a swing down work table that was above the family washer and dryer. When he wanted to build something he simply let down the chains on either end of the hinged table and instant workbench. That worked very well once! Seems his XYL (like my XYL) absolutely hated ham radio. His XYL literally waited in the bushes until he just had everything ready to go and she would come in with the laundry basket and announce it was time to do the laundry. Of course they had a top loading washer --so his bench had to be put back. Find a better solution than this chap.
  3. Tools and Test Gear -- take a tip from Tim Allen (Star of Tool Time and also a ham today) and get the best tools and you do need something more than a 1920's voltmeter for test gear.  There have been many suggestions on a minimum tool set and test gear and if you navigate over  to there are several pages devoted to getting a good stock of basic tools and info on test equipment.
  4. Junk Box. Start now by collecting common parts in your junk box. You will not find a Radio Shack open at midnight when all you need is a 10K 1/4 resistor. Several years ago I wrote an article on how to stuff a junk box. You can find it on my website under Konstruction Korner. This is a recommendation on what you should have in the bins.
  5. Start with a small project like building the Michigan Mighty Mite one transistor transmitter as this has many benefits starting with low part count (less than 10 parts), low cost as many of the parts cost pennies, short build time, and UNDERSTANDING --yes not only build it but take the time to know what is the function of each part. Finally 9 out of 10 builders smoke the transistor for various reasons. Thus another few pennies and you are back in business. Smoking a set of finals in your Yaseu, ICOM or Kenwood will cost well  over $100. A small project is easier to troubleshoot!
  6. If it is a receiver you want then start with a direct conversion receiver (low part count, good sensitivity, easy build) and get that working. A DCR is a very usable rig! Once you have that going you can move up to a superhet with a crystal filter and other goodies. In 2015, Ben KK6FUT and I wrote a series of articles on the LBS (Lets Build Something) which is a project that did exactly that and the bonus literally all of the DCR was incorporated into the Superhet.
  7. A word here about the Bitx40 which is a pre-built complete radio including a digi LO and LCD for an amazing price of $59 delivered from India. This is a good starter project as there is much support and documentation to assist the builder. Costing only $59 and pre-built save for mounting in the customer supplied enclosure, this satisfies many of the criteria mentioned earlier.
  8. KEEP NOTES and RECORDS of settings, wiring diagrams, modifications, parts substitutions and as built sketches. You simply cannot remember all of this in your head!
  9.  Finally :Do not be afraid to ask questions from suitably knowledgeable people, in fact ask lots of them. Asking WHY leads to understanding and wisdom =. (Tnx Rob)
That is it --secrets revealed.
Pete N6QW