Tag Archives: K9ZW Built

Building Things – QRP Gear: Dummy Load, Antenna Tuner and QRPometer

As part of my interest in QRP low power work & gear, I’ve been putting together a few kits as I assemble a viable QRP station.

First to dust off the soldering iron, a simple Dummy Load kit was tackled a couple weeks ago. Took me more than ten minutes, but then I had to find & set up my gear too!

Hendricks QRP Dummy Load

Hendricks QRP Dummy Load

Hendricks 10 Watt (DC-150MHz) 50 Ohm Dummy Load/Power Meter kit Link: http://www.qrpkits.com/dummyload.html

Next put together was a Summits On The Air (SOTA) style antenna tuner kit. Technically this one isn’t quite done, as I have the back-of-case label to sort out. I want to confirm the antenna lengths & setting for various frequencies myself before doing a label.

Hendricks SOTA Antenna Tuner

Hendricks SOTA Antenna Tuner

Hendricks 40m – 15m SOTA Halfwave Tuner Link: http://www.qrpkits.com/sota.html

This weekend I snuck a bit of time and put together what looked to be a harder kit, but turned out to be pretty straight forward. The QRPometer is a SWR Meter kits designed for QRP use. I want to reconfim my calibration one more time, then there a few final steps beofre it is fully mechanically assembled. Thinking of upgrading my kit to use BNC connectors rather than the supplied RCA ones before the final bolting together.

QRPometer

QRPometer

QRPometer Link: http://www.wa0itp.com/qrpom.html

Next up is a Small Wonder Labs Retro-75 and Retro-Helper VFO kit.

I gave away my QRPme setup (Two-Tun Tuna & Sudden Storm) but have another set unbuilt, so those may follow.  Already complete is a Small Wonder Labs Rockmite in a MityBox enclosure.  I’m not happy yet with the American Morse key I put together and I have to knock it down and get agressive on lapping the paddles for clearance.

Slowly coming together, and will eventually be a complete multi-ability QRP Station in a Cigarbox for grab-n-go QRP fun!

73

Steve K9ZW

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PC to PCB in under 30 minutes – Quick ‘n Easy PCB Fabrication

After being shown some PCBs made with these methods, I did some quick research to find web references.

I’ll be running a few boards later this month – so let’s compare notes!

With the explosion of the hobbyist microcontroller scene the past few years, PCB fab houses have sprung up left right and centre. At these wonderous places, you can get professional quality PCBs fabricated for your every desires for reasonable costs. They can range from very low cost and looooong lead times, to acceptable prices (~$50-$100) for low volume runs (‘protoype’ services). At the larger end of the scale, you can panelise your design and get even better value per PCB…

via PC to PCB in under 30 minutes – Quick ‘n Easy PCB Fabrication | Make, Hack, Void.

Another great tutorial http://hackaday.com/2008/07/28/how-to-etch-a-single-sided-pcb/

73

Steve
K9ZW

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REPOST: Another Nixie Clock Project – ArduiNIX

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

ArduiNIX Demonstration from Flock of Butterflies

The last circuit boards have arrived and I am again experimenting with Nixie Tubes and Clock Making.

This project uses an ArduinoArduino Shield” and Display Board from ArduiNIX with the small IN-17 tubes providing the display.

http://www.arduinix.com/

Flock of Butterflies has a great series of articles on the ArduiNIX:

http://flockofbutterflies.blogspot.com/2009/10/arduinix-part-1.html
http://flockofbutterflies.blogspot.com/2009/10/arduinix-part-2-building-kit.html
http://flockofbutterflies.blogspot.com/2009/11/arduinix-part-3-high-voltage-power.html
http://flockofbutterflies.blogspot.com/2009/11/arduinix-part-4-multiplexing.html

The ArduiNIX also has a forum at Robot Pirate’s:

http://www.robotpirate.com/forums/index.php?board=2.0

I’ve covered writing about the Arduino “brain” before, but if you’d like to read more about this project the Main Arduino proge page is: http://www.arduino.cc/

I’m hoping to scale-up the display board for the larger IN-12 Tubes I would like to use, but first to get the clock running.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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REPOST: Nixie Tubes – a Blast from the Past

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

In the midst of the all my computer chaos I’ve also started another project – building a Nixie Tube Clock kit.

What are Nixie Tubes?  They are a Cold Cathode Display Tube harkening back to the Cold War.  For the most part most Western Countries dropped Nixie Tubes in the Early to Mid 1970s, but the former USSR kept them in production another 20 years.

 

Nixie Tube of the type I am using

Nixie Tube of the type I am using

 

 

The Clock Kit I’m doing was sold by a UK based Nixie Specialist and uses the IN-12 & IN-17 size tubes. 

 

Nixie Clock Frank in a plain case

Nixie Clock "Frank" in a plain case

I’ve something quite different in mind for my case.

 

Former USSR countries are  the primary source for bulk Nixie Tubes, and though these tubes have rated lifetimes measured in many decades bulk packs of spare IN-12 & IN-17 tubes were also sourced, along with a good supply of the FET transistors and driver micro chips for further experimentation.

Will do some build pictures for a follow up.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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REPOST: Building with Nixies, Dekatrons and Other Unusual Display Tubes

*** A friend had asked for copies of the Dekatron & Nixie Tube Posts***

***which seems a good excuse to repost them ***

A Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in ActionA Dekatron Tube in Action

There is a whole wonderful world out there of really interesting display tubes from the 1950’s on that used a variety of methods to display numbers, control displays and in some cases like the Dekatron even count data and display the results.

You can do a web-search on any of the tubes and come up with various websites ranging from offers to sell artwork grade clocks featuring the retro-tubes driven by modern circuits to do-it-yourself projects.

One website that has a great amount of explanation on how the tubes work and includes some of the least common interesting tube type is

Roland’s Electronic Project Site

Roland covers an amazing variety of of these vinatge tubes with repeatable projects. His father started him on the path by bringing home strange tubes and taking the then young Roland to the speciality shops where they could be found.That youthful introduction has lead to lifetime of building and experimenting with the neatest of vintage display tubes!

Some of the Tubes that Roland Explains and Builds with in a Montage

I found that I have returned to his website many times as we design our Nixie Tube clock project.

Recommended Website!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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Satellite Antenna Project – Next Step

With the Diplexers and Wiring Harnesses completed, it is time to do the easy part – the physical antennas. (for the Diplexer & Harness Build see  Building Microdiplexers with Victor KC9NWB )

Looking locally for the 1/8″ diameter common brass rod VE2ZAZ designed his antenna version around neither the quantity nor price-point were very attractive.  Little short pieces and expensive.

Found that McMaster-Carr has the rods at a very good price in 6 ft lengths.  They must have a special deal with their shippers as the shipping charge was very modest as well.  I also bought the CPVC tube and Vinyl End Caps from them, to top up my order above minimums and for ease of shopping.  Those prices were also very very good, though I don’t know what I am goingto do with all the extra vinyl end caps, given that the minimum order quantity was 100 pieces!

Did find that my circuit boards are a hair oversized, and I will need to make a decision whether to go to a larger boom or if I am going to add a “Diplexer Pod” externally.  I am leaning to the Pod and exterior wiring, with the idea of using the Pod as a future attach point for a receive preamp.

Mechanically I am looking at ways to make the elements easy to remove and reinstall.  Thinking of trying a couple ideas with scrap materials before drilling the booms.

Thinking of using an epoxy putty ball  with a small plastic cross-pin through it applied to each element on one side of the boom and then using elastic rubber bands to hold the elements in place when assembled.  Would provide for positive indexing and I could use letter stamps to mark each element for location.  Have a couple other ideas with heatshrink tubing and a clip.

Pictures soon!

73

Steve
K9ZW

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