Showing posts from January, 2017

Very Interesting ~ ?????

                        Pete N6QW   

SolderSmoke Podcast 193 ~ Insight and Comment

All Information is Good Information! Someone once told me that and I have firmly come to believe that. Not that the information in itself may be good; but it is good to know that certain individuals believe something (which maybe erroneous) that you now know where they stand. The other side of the good information is that you may be presented with thoughts or concepts that perhaps were unintended in what you personally have presented. An example is to merely say "hook it up" and run the test failing to mention that the test needs to be run with a dummy load. You know to hook it into a dummy load; but that may not be clear to others.   For three years now I have participated in a monthly podcast along with Bill, N2CQR who has been at it for 10 years and is one of the original founders. Check out Bill's blog for a link to the latest podcast (#193). The subject matter of the blog --yep ham radio with an emphasis on homebrewing, curren

You Never Know ...

Yes! Ham Radio Is a Very Small World! As many who have read this blog for the last year or so know that my XYL is not in the best of health and as such we typically have a medical appointment almost every week. I literally have an autopilot button on my car's dashboard that says UCLA Healthcare Center, Thousand Oaks and boom we get there almost automatically.   This past Monday was no exception and the only exceptional thing is that we have been having a lot of rain the past several weeks and it was cold too! (Cold is relative at a mere 52 Degrees F.) Well at this time of year I love to wear my wool Beret as not only does it keep my head warm but also is a great chick magnet! The beret was not my headgear of choice on Monday since it was raining and my alternative was to wear my DX Engineering baseball cap. No I did not spend $9.95 and buy one; but it was sort of a consolation offering after DX Engineering screwed up an order of mine.   So yes it was really raining and

More on Color TFT Displays ~ The Big Ones -- 240 X 320

Really Big (bigger) Displays the 240 X 320 Color TFT About two years ago I bought several of the 240 X 320 displays and immediately was struck by how much information can be displayed on the face of the unit and  like a choice of 256K colors. Lots of customization can be had here. Unlike the 128 x 128 or 128 X 160, which I used straight into the Arduino pins, these larger displays Do Not Like to see 5 VDC.   They like to see 3.3 VDC and typically a "Level Shifter" must be interjected between the 5 volt Arduino Pins and the pins on the display which like to see 3.3 VDC. So this is where I get emails about running the Arduino at 3.3 VDC and then no level shifting is required. Not sure my heart is that strong to do that. The literature abounds with tricks and tips to do the level shifting.   One method involves a series resistor combination of a 4.7K in series with a 10K (the 10K other end is at ground). Now to the high level math. If you ran 5 VDC through the 14.7K r

A Time for Ranting!

Things that are obvious are obvious!!!!! I receive many emails regarding some of my projects. Sitting on this end I wonder a bit about those who send the emails. Mind you I am not saying I am infallible or not subject to error; but there is a difference between asking good questions and just being lazy.   Often I resist telling the sender to turn off his soldering iron and take up knitting as a hobby. This is not snobbery; but more symptomatic that many individuals find it easier to email Pete than to look up the information.   Here is an example of what I am saying. The sender tells me that his Arduino and OLED work FB when connected to his computer; but when he connects it to his power supply it will not work. He has done this cycle several times and the next step is to email me.   Well lets think about this for a minute as the only difference in these two situations is the source of power. It has nothing to do with the code or the hardware --it works on the USB port.

A visit with an old friend ~ The KWM-4!

A Visit with an Old Friend!  1/17/2017 ~ Scratch built homebrew rigs!   Late in 2012, I decided to build a solid state version of the famous Collins KWM-2. This now must totally convince you that I am several corn flakes short of a full bowl. Well take a look at the masthead photo and you will see that I was successful. My KWM-4 even sports a keypad (like in the KWM-380) and two of the buttons let you up / down tune the rig. Try that with your Bitx40.   It has been some time since I last had it on the air so today was a good day to light up the old rig. The KWM-4 is QRP in that it will  produce 5 watts on SSB. About now I am expecting a correction on what constitutes QRP from some of the illuminati. Anyway I have temporarily put aside the FPM5 while I noodle a low drive condition on the higher bands which may entail a redesign of the famous EMRFD driver stage. Sometimes you will find EMRFD circuits are not pantyhose where one size fits all!   For those who may not kno

Shirt Pocket Transceiver with the Si5351 and OLED

Moving on with the latest Technology! In 2011 I fulfilled a dream of building a shirt pocket sized QRP SSB transceiver. Well actually I built two of them and the second was a diminutive 2" X 4" X 2". Both used through hole components --so no cheating with SMD. In each case the IF was 4.0152 MHz and employed a crystal switched VXO that essentially gave about 100 kHz on 20M SSB. But it was a VXO and there was not full band coverage. But nevertheless a small miracle (or so I thought) that they both worked! You can see the two versions blow.           But with new technology now available to us my next goal is to fit the larger rig with the Si5351 and an OLED display. Today I made that happen!             We now have a documented QSO with VA7LTX in Canada using the rig barefoot ( 2 to 3 watts) on 20M.          Having proven this works I am now undertaking building a smaller board to fit in the existing case. This should incen

Bitx40 Operating with a Hombrew PLL and OLED Display.

You won't find this on EMRFD or QST! My Bitx40 Operating with a homebrew PLL and OLED Display!   My Bitx40 with Homebrew PLL and OLED Display!         Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!!     73's Pete N6QW

Back to Bitx40 and OLED Displays

Expanding the Bitx40 Horizon ... More Hacks! 1/10/2017 ~ I was asked what does Size 1 look like on the display?  The frequency information is in Size 2 and the other info was in size 1. I guess it is readable but small letters. It is obvious you could pack more info on to the display. But I think I will stick with Size 2.   73's Pete N6QW 1/9/2017 Posting In the course of adding a few refinements to my Bitx40 OLED display, I now have found  new dimensions to displaying information and some additional possibilities for the rig. In the realm of "cool factor" I now have managed to juggle information locations so I can include my call sign (N6QW) on the display. This is not ego stuff but more of displaying pride in your homebrew rig. Well there is some ego stuff too, where it is something I did and you can too!. BTW you can adjust the print size of what is displayed and what you see is Size 2. The Size 1 selection is almost unreadable but none the le

A Diversion from all the Bitx40 Stuff!

Does anyone in Radio Land know what this is?      OK do you give up? Well guys and gals this is the world's most important tool vintage 1965 if you were in a forward combat area and wanted to eat. Yes this foldable, carry on your key chain, (along with your dog tags) is a can opener! I have had it on my key chain for the past 52 years and serves as a reminder of another time and another place.   In May of 1965 while assigned to MCB Ten (US Navy Mobile Construction Battalion Ten) as a part of the US Marine Corp RLT4 (Regimental Landing Team 4). RLT4, we made the first over the beach amphibious landing since the Korean War. It was a heady time filled with excitement as we landed on the beaches of Chu Lai, South Vietnam about 90 miles south of DaNang.   With such a landing comes combat rations (for about two months) known as MIC's which stands for Meal Individual Combat. The MIC's came in cases of 12 meals and included in every case were several of these t

More Hacking of the Bitx40

Still even more Hacking of the Bitx40!   1/7/2017 ~ Dress up your OLED Display! Same code works for the Color or Black and White OLED So there is no reason why your Bitx40 cannot have the finished feature rich appearance just like those kilobuck black boxes. Imagine that when you show off your rig to your friends you can get the OOOhs and Ahhhs and "Gee how do I do that" comment. Well you could check the EMRFD reflector but you might not find it there. QST probably doesn't have it either. But N6QW does! Here is what I am saying! The OLED will have one display feature during receive but hit the PTT and the OLED displays something else. Release the PTT and it goes back to the normal mode. Now how cool is that? This feature only takes a small additional modification to the hack I provided to switch in line an external linear amplifier. Yes I figured out the code kink. Email me at  if you would like the code snippet. So aside from the code you w