VK3/VW-006 (Warrburra/Middleton Peak)
WWFF Grampians National Park (VKFF-0213)
A part of the VKFF weekend. Intention was to pick up the SOTA summit and activate the p[ark for WWFF.
This is one of my favourite sites.
There is a camping ground as the start of the track to the summit called Borough Huts. It is used as a destination for hikers coming through Mt Rosea or the Grampians Peaks Trail. You have to book (Parks Victoria) and is costs $15.30.
Michele was off to Port Fairy with her sisters so I decided to head up Friday night for an early start. Booked a site (28) near the start of the track. Left Ballarat in the rain, picked up spicy noodles from Ararat on the way through and made to the site on dark.
There is an old 4WD track that you can follow. Shows up on Garmin maps as “The Alley”. We used this area for navigation training with Scouts as you can stay on course as long as keep looking for where the road was. There are a few spots where you have to deviate around obstacles and the start is hidden. The regrowth is coming back and it is not as clear now. Took nearly 3 hours to cover the 5 odd kms to the summit. It does get steep and with the loose rocks you have to stay sharp. This was where I cancelled earlier as did not want to be in the loose rocks in the wet. Glad I did as slipped a couple of time in good conditions and scratch lower legs. Nothing that Betadine can’t fix. Once off the saddle you proceed through high grass and across slight valley.
Followed the track up then headed across the rock face to come put in the saddle. Did I say the regrowth is thick ? Setup once out of the depression and in the zone as the rock formations do not lend themselves to 40m of wire so need to take what you can. As it was I weaved through a couple of trees with the wire North/ south.
As the WWFF weekend was on there were amble chasers around and had no issues gaining 10+ contacts. I did not intend to stay for 44 as already qualified this park so really a case of once had worked all comers head backdown.
Had a couple of hours walk back to car another two parks on the agenda for the day.
If you intend to head up be aware the regrowth is getting quite thick, take a machete and compression bandage.
Great rock formations. Yes the undergrowth is taller then I. It was ok when waist high but this level of regrowth can hide a lot of dangers from rocks to cold blooded friends.
Looking across to Victoria Range
Once back at car, pulled down tent and headed back towards home.
Planned to activate two VKFF sites on the way home. Both just near Moyston. I use the Ararat-Pomanal road to cut from Halls gap to Ararat then head down the highway past Mt Cole to get home.
WWFF Jallukar Nature Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2115)
First park was easy access. Just turn following gate signs and head into the park. There a couple of clearings so you can get off the road but still a dusty operation.
Good 4G signal so used the ParksnPeaks iOS app on the iPad to watch spots and log the contacts. Collected 8 parks to park in 20 minutes so once had secured the 10+ contacts for VKFF packed up and headed to the next site.
WWFF Moyston Flora Reserve (VKFF-2404)
Access is again easy as you follow the signs to the tip just before Moyston. I was in the right spot but the signs were out of date. Confirmed with the mapping from the PnP app and also talked to some locals who were walking their dogs.
Again using the app so watching spots to collect 7 park to park contacts in 30 minutes before continuing the drive home.
Worked a few more activators from the car on the way home including CW Park contacts. Good weekend with great contacts.
Tasmania trip 2019
We had never been to Tasmania so though time to correct that. The trip was not a Parks and SOTA expedition but we intend to catch up with friends who had moved there and to sample the food, scenery and hopefully see the Aurora.
Went over on the ferry so could take Subie. I have HF and VHF in the car with a Outbacker Stealth setup. The VHF is a Kenwood DT710 setup for APRS and HF using a FT891 and mAT-30 auto-tuner. So from the car I can tx on 80 to 2M.
I had a list of candidates that was based on input from a couple of activators and activation stats from PnP. The idea was that those that had recent activations should have clean access. Whilst we had booked the time off and theferry months put but did not pay attention until the week before. Saw no reason to book accommodation as prepared to play it by ear.
Left Melbourne in the evening to arrive in Devonport bright and early. Had breakfast at the House of Anvers Museum of Chocolate as we headed down and around Port Sorell to access the Narawntapu National Park on the way to Launceston.
WWFF Narawntapu National Park (VKFF-0005)
Narawntapu National Park proved to have straight forward access. We drive through heading up to the on the and proceeded to gain 10 contacts and qualify for VKFF. Intersting location as very different to the summits I’m use to. Smallish rugged costal plants. Finished up and headed down to Launceston.
Spent a couple of days and a night in Launceston. Went to a restaurant called Geronimo. This was the pick of the trip. if you do nothing else in Tasmania, go to this resturant.
From Launseaton we headed down to Hobart. Tasmania is quite compact and we were slowing down and getting use to the lack of distances involved.
Hobart felt like a country town. We got a hotel in the CDB and parked the car. We are country folk so happy to stay in city and explore. You can walk all over Hobart and we did.
VK7/SC-001 – Kkunanyi / Mount Wellington
WWFF Wellington Park Other Conservation Area (VKFF-2932)
We could see Kunanyi from our hotel window. The weather was undecided. My initial plan was to go up in the late afternoon hoping to exploit the evening grey line for 20m contacts and to get a view of the city. Access is restricted due to snow so plann to activate morning.
Headed off in the morning after breakfast in the city. Setup in the carpark with the endfed running out east west. Secured the summit but not the park. It was hard going with CW coming to save the day. Once qualified headed back down as had a dinner date in the city with Michele’s friends.
VK7/SC-037 – Mt Direction
Mount Direction is on Hobart’s eastern shore. Access is but steep in parts but overall an excellent trail. The walk is worth the views of Hobart and the Derwent Valley alone. Starting at the Risdon Brook Dam this is a straight forward walk but we left to the afternoon and were not aware that the carpark had a lock out time of 4:30pm. (Gates are open from 7:30am – 4:30pm and until 8pm during Daylight Savings) Managed two contacts on 40m before had to leave. Rejoined our party and made it back with minutes to spare. The ranger was waiting in the car park. Plan to do in morning not afternoon and take a packed lunch.
Whilst in Hobart we explored the Botanical Gardens, a-good walk from the CBD and a full day in itself. Drove up to Mona, not taking the ferry which would be a better idea, and spent a full day there. I’m a heathen and had to read what some of the pieces meant but have a lot of time for artists. We need artists in society to keep us challenged and Mona achieves that.
From Hobart we headed down to Glaziers Bay in the Huon Valley.
The goal here was lunch at Fat Pig. We stayed in B&B overlooking the farm which allowed us to walk there and back, given the red a good choice.
We headed back to see the Salamanca Market but should have stayed in Cygnet and had more of fennel and pork rolls.
Returned to Hobart and continued the quest. Franklin left us wanting. The Saffron had excellent veggie options. Fish on the pier with mayonnaise was a good as anywhere. Not a big seafood person but the fish in Tasmania was excellent. I have a rule of only eating fish if I can see the ocean. The options on the pier in Hobart lived up to this criteria. We later had fish from a cafe in Devonport on the last day where they catch and cook the fish, again excellent.
We booked two days (3 nights) in Lake St. Clair so said goodbye to Hobart thanking her for the hospitality and headed into the wilderness.
Again Tasmania in nice and compact with no real traffic stress. We headed off having lunch at the Agrarian and staying overnight in New Norfolk
Lake St. Clair – Lake St Clair Lodge
Lake St. Clair is at the southern end of Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park.
There are plenty of accommodation choices in the park, ranging from high end luxury to basic camping. Our preference was to stay at Lake St Clair Lodge positioned in Heritage listed area covering Cynthia Bay and Lake St. Clair National Park.
The car park and visitors centre are at Cynthia Bay. This is also the end point for people completing the Overland Track from north to south.
From here there are a number of good day walks as well as longer walks. The information centre has walking notes for the area and we used the National Parks map.
I wanted to pickup Mt Rufus but nature had other plans.
I’m a simple country lad. Grew up in regional NSW and central Victoria. Whilst did do some X-Country skiing, snow was not a part of my existence. When we moved to Ballarat 20+ years ago it would snow but Climate change has put a stop to that. When ever I have activated SOTA peaks in the snow it has been with at least two others. We have also tuned back in harsh conditions. Should have been aware of the level of snow but was not. The snap put a stop to my extended plans but did not stop us from enjoying this area. We did take the time to walk down two the Overland track and past the lake side. Also headed off to see platypus (but they had other plans) SOTA peak or not this is beautiful area to be walking in.
WWFF Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (VKFF-0117)
We were stating inside the National; park. Operating from the car in the car park I was able to pick up park to park contacts. Parked the car down by the ferry pier hoping for better contacts and whilst cannot write it off on poor conditions all reports were low and basically struggling.
Woke up and headed offsite a plan for SOTA peak VK7/CH-020 Mt Rufus. Great tracks but the reality was waist deep snow once above the tree line. This is where it dawned on me I was not prepared for the snow and would not get the summits on my list. Being bold and pushing limits is one thing, there was more snow that I was prepared for and also alone. I had enough safety gear but that does not justify pushing beyond limits.
Headed off the well marked track to Mt Rufus. Clear run with no real navigation going on, just follow the signs. A group of monks came up behind me as I was walking . Dressed in heavy ’skirts’ and boots they were by no means observing silence but rather enjoying themselves. They caught up to me once up on the plateau before the final push to the ridge line. By this time I had decided not to proceed but will admit considered heading off with them. They offered and I declined and proceeded back to operate from a clear position that was noted earlier and they proceeded off to the ridge line with plans to get to he summit. I could see them and noted that whilst two got up onto the ridge, the majority had decided to spend the time sliding down the snow. Sounded like a pack od school kids.
I setup in a clear position and proceeded to call WWFF. It was slow with poor reports both ways. By the time the monks had started to come back it was time to pack-up and head back down to the unit .Talking to them on the way down they described an inability to walk through the snow on the ridge and also deciding turned back. That made me feed good about my decision. This is a great walk and would recommend if in the area. Don’t get hung up on the summit, its a journey its self.
yes wombats do have rectangular poos.
WWFF Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park (VKFF-0185)
The target was SOTA peak VK7/WC-009 – Mount King William I. Following the track advice from the Lake St Clair information centre which involved following a track (old 4WD) then turning right to approach the summit from the east. There was so much water around that I would call the track a creek. Actually went off course to find a creek that the maps indicate was running in parallel to verify was on the right path. As I progressed up the track the summit would present itself through the clouds and it came clear that again (surprise) was hosting snow. Continued to walk up as the track was fun and I was not in any danger. Turned back once the track started to climb and headed back to the car. As alway the fall back plan was to activate the park.
Once back at the car I proceeded into a large cleared marsh area on the road that was noted on the way in and activated the park. I did have alerts up and wanted to come up so as to ensure no concerns as to timing. Once I had worked all callers proceeded to head back down the A10 to see what access to other lower summits was like. The bush is thick and decided not to go off track so after an hour decided to turn back and pickup Bedlam Wall. This was my fall back summit however become the only summit activated in the area.
VK7/CH-097 – Bedlam Wall
Access is off A10 down logging tracks. The tracks didn’t match my maps but was able to leave car in a safe spot in a logged clearing and headed through thickish bush for a 1.3Km to the summit. The bush was clearer then that off the road but still not to be discounted.
Deployed the doublet due to the vegitation and also hoping to shake the poor performance that was common to this trip.
Picked up Ian VK5IS on CW and went to gain a S2S with Brian VK3BCM to qualify with 40SSB. Happy to finally get a summit and a first activation in VK7.
WWFF Central Plateau Conservation Area (VKFF-1158)
To activate Central Plateau Conservation Area I will have to drive out of Lake St Clair and back down the A10. Decided to wait to dusk then headed out to a point where I noted a truck parking area within the park. Parked the car so as to exploit the ground plane (car) directed the signals to the mainland and proceeded to qualify for VKFF on 40 and 80 comfortably. Again selecting an area with marshy overlook must have helped my signals.
After two days at Lake St Clair it was the end of the trip and time to head back to Devonport and back home.
Didn’t get as many summits or parks as you could. Will acknowledge that should have spent more time planning but have no intention of pushing into the snow.
So no idea why it has taken us so long to get to Tasmania. The pace, food and scenery are spot on. We were fornatute to stay in the heritage areas and I would recommend it.
Shall return if not only for more fish but now the overland track is on the list.
Looking back to Mt Rufus,
Back to Lake St Clair
From Lake St Clair,
or dumpster diving for computers.
I’ve noticed a trend. At the end of university terms the skip bins around student accommodation fill up with fridges, lounges and computers.
I’m putting this down to the the high cost for freight and low cost of technology.
Its not like I don’t have enough computers. In the shed there is an Apple IIe Clone, varies 8080 -> Pentium based devices (IBM XT & AT339) and collection of RISC (ultra 2, SS2,10 & 20, HP and a dual CPU DEC Alpha) devices.
They all worked before being put away. Doubt they would boot up without addressing NVRAM issues and the odd wasp nest but they are going nowhere. Well that’s debatable as whilst the cases and boards may stay in my shed their souls will be reward in Silicon Heaven.
I use a Apple Mac for my desktop (the 27’ 5K iMac screen soothes old eyes) and for my personal notebook. There is a Dell notebook with Windows XP and a serial port for programming radios and everything else runs Linux.
I rarely purchase new. The Macs come from Apple refurbished site and if I need components, eBay is the first port of call. Anyway I have recently acquired two computers by not being too ashamed to jump into a skip bin.
MSI 7688v1.0(G52-76881X1)(P55A Fuzion). i5 CPU 760 @ 2.80GHz with 8GB memory.
Walking home down Collins St noticed a skip bin with the results of an office refurb. Hidden between the discarded partitions and lighting there were several computers cases, LCD screens and a printer. Seriously ? computers are considered office waste now ? Ok going in….
I was not alone and had to act fast. These computers had attracted the attention of another ‘recycler’ and we worked together. He took two boxes and a screen whilst I only grabbed a single box, did retrieved memory from one of the other boxes and just made it to the train heading home.
Knew it was a intel based device due to the sticker on the fan and assuming later then a Pentium based device as no ‘Intel inside stickers’. It was a long ride home wondering if I was bringing someone else’s rubbish home or had hit silicon jackpot. Michele is very tolerant but we don’t need another ancient device in the shed. Got home and ran it up to setup as no HDD. The case was low end and missing feet but did have a power supply. Also has a NVIDIA GT216 PCI-E video. The mother board supports Multi-GPU Computing. Ok that sounds cool so lets get another card tomorrow. Went back to the skip bin on the way to work on the next day armed with screwdrivers and pliers to retrieve more memory and a second video card but there was only had plaster and cables left. Too late.
Sourced a tower case and HDD. Installed Linux Fedora 29 and configured as a LAMP box so now it is hosting test instance of the ParksnPeaks website. This use to be hosted on the HP8100 but ran out of space and unable to add another drive.
The HP 8100 was sourced second hand from eBay. It has a 2TB drive and runs Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS hosting AppleTalk as it is the backup target for our Macs. The idea here is to pick it up one computer when leaving for fires so whilst you may loose hardware, will have data.
Dual Xeon Server
Intel® S5500BC Server. Dual Xeon(R) CPU E5506 @ 2.13GHz with 16GB memory.
Walking back from lunch recently I noticed a tower sitting next to a skip bin. It had empty slots where HDD carriers had been removed. You could see two heatsinks. This device caught my interest but I had to leave it as the case was too big to take back to work. I was receiving enough ribbing from by lunch buddies all-ready so stashed the case behind the bin to and took the ribbing whilst walking back to office.
So once back at the office and out of sight of my ‘friends’ I grabbed a Phillips head and went back to see what was under the heat sinks. Took off the heatsink and rubbed back the compound to find an Intel Xeon processor. Half the memory banks were filled. There where no hard disks nor a power supply so decided to take the board leaving the case in the bin.
Got a case out of the shed and ran her up. She booted to setup no issues. I took a photo and sent to those who doubted it just to prove I’m not just a nutter, but a nutter with a dual Xeon server. Added a HDD and installed CentOS Linux. Setup up a search for ECC memory and picked up additional 16G from the US for $77 delivered. Now all the memory slots are filled, just need a decent case. The device is a SSI CEB form factor – 305 X 276mm slightly larger than a ATX 305 X 244 mm so a slight challenge as don’t want to buy (or pay for) a server case. Here she is running. Notice doing nothing.
So what am I going to do with them ?
None of the devices are doing any real work. Need a box for testing and backup.
The inner accountant says should do nothing and keep using the HP8100 as backup and dev box. It requires no new hardware and uses the least energy.
The inner geek says not to listen to that idiot. If he had his way you would have been eating lunch at your desk not enjoying luksa and there would be a dual xeon server in land fill now.
So have got my eye on a case for the Xeon. Will add a couple of drives for backup target and use it as the dev / test box going forward.
Want to add some devices outside for sensors and to automate garden activities. Glenn VK3YY raised the opportunities LoRaWAN present so intend to work out how to build a mesh of small devices reporting to the server using 70cm band. Will need a device to host a database and process all the data that will be generated and this would be a honourable task for such a device.
VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park
VK3/VS-001 (Mt William) in VKFF-0213 – Grampians National Park
VK3/VW-002 (Red Man Bluff)
Looking back towards Halls Gap over Lake Bellfield from operating position on Red man Bluff.
Access is from Mt William Road. The walk in is a short challenging 2Km. Challenging as the scrub is fierce and thick. The goal is to get onto a ridge line so as to avoid the thick gullies and to get up to the cliff line and follow the line across. Put your gloves on and pack the pack tight to get through the thick growth.
Took 80m antenna and ran 40 odd meters of wire down the rock outcrops with the squid pole in the middle. Worked a treat with 40 and 80m contacts and a single 2M FM
VK3/VS-001 (Mt William)
The walk up Mt William is a 1.5Km on sealed road but steep. Left to end of day as easy and clear.
Mt William has a large flat activation zone with several comms towers. Given the easy access you could bring up elaborate antenna and supports. I go to the left between the towers so as to avoid the traffic. Once on site I pulled out the antenna to discover it had come off the winder and had transferred itself into a rats nest. Spent good 10 minutes unravelling to finally decide to cut the end off and use what I had. The KX3 tuned the 30 odd meters that was left and I secured the summit on 40 and 80m.
Looking towards Ararat from Mt William.
Patches of snow on Mt William. The snow was from the weather earlier in the week but shows how cold the summit was. Also highlights micro climates as these pockets were cold.
Overall a straight forward operation. Home on dark with 12 points for my efforts.
K3NG CW Keyer using the K5BCQ Board
Open source Arduino CW keyer
The board supports most but not all options available in the software. You can populate for the features you want or build in stages testing as you go.
High quality board visit K5BCQ to order a PCB – https://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Kits/Kits.html
I intend to install all options and headers where possible.
Already had a Mega 2560. The wrong type for this board.
You can see the differences here. The unit above will not match the board as it has additional pins to the top left (fro ground) and missing connections for references and reset bottom left.
You could jumper around these but I jut ordered an new unit. Info – https://robotdyn.com/mega-2560-pro-embed-ch340g-atmega2560-16au.html
I sourced a 3X4 keypad. This keypad has 12 buttons, arranged in a 3X4 grid. It’s made of a thin, flexible membrane material with an adhesive backing
This only needs 7 pins (3-columns and 4-rows) whilst the board has 8 pins to support 3X4 or 4X4.
The difference between a 3X4 or 4X4 is the number of columns. The PCB has 8 connectors so as to support both types. I will be using 7 but will install a 8 pin header so as to keep options open later. Info – http://www.circuitbasics.com/how-to-set-up-a-keypad-on-an-arduino/
Obtained a PS2 keyboard as a result of a site clean up at work. Put the word out to keep eyes open for one. After sending photos of a PS2 connector as considered ancient these days.
These points are in the excellent instructions but to be sure,
Uncomment #define HARDWARE_K5BCQ in keyer_hardware.h
Note serial speed = 115200 defined in keyer_settings.h
Compiled the software and loaded;
- Sketch uses 57844 bytes (22%) of program storage space. Maximum is 253952 bytes.
- Global variables use 2324 bytes (28%) of dynamic memory, leaving 5868 bytes for local variables. Maximum is 8192 bytes.
Heaps of memory spare so believe they are using a MEGA 2560 due to the 54 digital I/O pins.
Had failures with uploading the software as the Micro-USB connector cable I used only supported power. A quick look in the hardware bin at work secured a suitable cable off phone headset and away it went.
So as it stands the board is up and running. Time to start playing with the device whilst considering options as to packaging.
K3NG Arduino CW Keyer Software – https://github.com/k3ng/k3ng_cw_keyer)
The K5BCQ PCB – https://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Kits/Kits.html
The W0ODJ documentation – https://github.com/muurtikaar/k3ngKeyer-K5bcqPCB-w0odjDoc/blob/master/doc/k5bcq_k3ng-V03.pdf
The softwares wiki – https://github.com/k3ng/k3ng_cw_keyer/wiki
VK3/VC-003 – Mt Ritchie – WWFF ID – VKFF-0556
Took the ATS out to Mt Ritchie.
This is a great summit and one I do each year.
Mt Ritchie is a good winter summit as 8 points with seasonal bonus and can be completed in harsh weather. You can access the summit from the north in summer with a 4WD but I prefer to park off Acheron Way at the gate on Road 15 and follow Road 10 to the summit. Easy clear access but the roads were not open due to several trees down. Not a issue as walking. Ive been off track in this area and its slow and wet. No need and no intent. Didn’t take the GPS. This is not a reckless choice as used hiker app on watch;
Its a 7k walk and all uphill to the summit. The summit is clear and open with enough room for long wire antenna. Several trees to support as well as sign posts to secure squid poles to.
This year it was time to take the ATS out. Keen on the ATS as it supports 80m. Setting up an antenna for 80M has challenges due to the space the wire requires. A shorter length (26.8m 88f) wire and L Match Tuner has been raised to address. Whilst this setup matched 80 to 15m, it was too touchy on 80m so took a trapped 20/30/40m end fed to be sure. Really didn’t want to blow out the transistors on the first activation.
There was light rain and cold, no snow but it was still cold. I addressed this with the proved method of layers on and still had two layers backup in the pack.These small radios do not do rain but to be fair neither does the KX3. The FT817 in its bag is best for such conditions. Ok but 817 requires external tuners and is heavy both itself and on the battery. The KX3 is brilliant with internal batteries and tuner and lighter than 817 but not as rugged. The KD1JV devices (MTR & ATS) are small, light and efficient but requires external tuners and batteries.
Secured the summit on 40M and CW with a P2P with VK5FLEA in Nurragi Conservation Reserve (VKFF-2247) and the usual loyal chasers.
Happy with the performance of the radio and antenna. Called on 30 and 20 with no takers regretted not taking 80. After an hour on the summit packed up and walked back down in the light rain.
The quest for the ideal SOTA radio is ongoing ….
Recently acquired a unbuilt ATS4b kit.
This is a miniature 5 band CW radio. A KD1JV kit. It is small, lightweight, and fairly rugged HF QRP Radio. It uses very little current on receive and is efficient on transmit.
- 80, 40, 30, 20 and 15/17 meter operation
- LCD display with back lighting
- DDS VFO for wide tuning range with crystal stability, 50 Hz tuning steps.
- Single step or auto increment tuning
- Sensitive, 0.2 uV receiver with very low internal noise for exceptional S/N ratio.
- Selective CW filter with 4 crystal IF filter and audio band pass filter
- 7 to 12 volt supply supporting;
- 4.5 to 5 Watt transmitter output on all bands (with 12 volt supply)
- 2.5 watts output typical with 9 volt supply
- 50 ma no signal receive current
- 680 ma maximum transmit current at 12 volts
- Small size, 12.5cm wide, 6.8cm deep, 2.5cm tall
- Light weight, 178G.
This is a SOTA radio.
This kit was released 2011 so lucky to get my hands on one (Thanks Tyler and Bill). You can purchase an assembled similar radio being a LNR MTR4B (80,40,30 & 20) at 400US$ + freight. Given the declining AUD (thanks mining why does the need for foreign owned enities to profit override my desire to play radio ?) it really has not been high on my list to purchase one. I jumped at the kit. This device supports 80m.
Have a mate in the US (Thanks Jason) and he was happy to receive and send on to me so ended up landing here at around $400AUD inc freight.
This is a part of the quest to reduct weight so as to pickup some of the more challenging summits. Whilst are not a long walk they will be a big effort given the terrain and conditions. This device will keep the radio and antenna equipment well under 1Kg and support 5 bands be it CW only.
Reluctant to go out without 80m. For the chasers as much as to ensure enough contacts to qualify. Not having issues getting CW contacts these days.
Had spent the morning soldering copper tubing for fire sprinkler system. This is using the gas torch, liquid flux and 3mm solder. The afternoon was to be different. Once it started to rain (the geese were happy) I decided to come in and get out of the mud and cook up a radio.
This kit contains SMD components. Previous build of SMD based device was a KD1JV MTR v2. This went well with the only real issue being as a result of losing a component and replacing with the wrong type.During the build, you have to choose between 17m or 15m. I will go for 15m.
Having read the manual and check the parts it was time to start assembly. This is not a task to rush into but rather progress in an orderly manner.
First step is to add the IC’s. Decided to hand solder these as a single task as the idea of placing all the semiconductors, capacitors and resistors then melting the solder in one sitting did not sound like a good idea.
At end of day one I had the IC’s on ready to inspect. Completed page 15 of the manual.
Day Two. Testing the rework device.
Was not filled with desire to start heating up the board yesterday. Decided to verify the hot air soldering process before going forward. Using Solder Paste from Jaycar which has the Chemtools ID on it. Found the spec sheet on Chemtools website.
Yes using leaded solder. Have had trouble with using unleaded solder and think by now I have enough lead in my system given the paint used when a kid and the years of soldering not to get too worried about it.
Didn’t trust the 852d+ soldering rework station so checked the temp and tested with an old board from the shed. Yes the display was out so experimented until in the range and able to take caps off the S3 board and solder them back on in a timely manner. All good.
So think I’ve procrastinated enough so time to commit to melting solder, tomorrow caps ….
Day Three. Check and Check again.
Zoomed in on some components with a 2MP USB microscope from eBay checking.
Upgraded the lights above the table but basically my eyes are not what they use to be so need such a tool. Not the absolute answer but these microscopes are worth the $A30.
Mixed results. The microscope stand had to be extended to get a good view. It did expose issues (surprising number of joints that were missed) and they were addressed. Once checked and addressed went back with magnifying glass and checked again. If this was left it would manifest as failure in the field so keen to fix now.
Day Four. Capacitors Bottom Side.
Capacitors went on well. So will check the board again to be sure.
Day Five. Through Hole Components.
Not consecutive process as well work and we went Wuthering Saturday. Checkout the video, thats us in the red to the left !
The SMD parts went well. Very happy with the result. Working through the through hole components now.
Wet and windy weekend to was able to continue work on assembly Sunday. I have been following the instructions carefully as aware may not get such a kit again and that components may not be available should I loose or break some.
Adding the Low Pass filters (Page 20 in the assembly manual), which states that “These all go onto the Bottom Side of the board” whilst the picture on same page shows C73,C74 and C75 mounted from the top. I soldered C74 was per the instructions and whilst checking noted the discrepancy created by the picture. Removed C74 and placed in on the top of the board as per the picture. This caused conflict in my head and went checking out pictures on the web and which show them mounted on the the bottom.
See no reason to tempt fate de-soldering and moving C74 again so leaving as is on the top. Also have enlarged the hole to support a BNC connector for the antenna. Files the hole so it was slightly higher so as avoid the board. As you can from a dry run it will fit without causing grief.
Working through the toroids now, again carefully and without time constrains.
Day Six. Final Assembly.
Well actually 10 days in total but have to go to work and other things….
After winding and installing the toroids its a case of assembling the hardware and connectors.
She did not come up on the first test and this was quickly traced back to a faulty 9V battery connection. Found another in my sons junk box and away it went.
From here it worked as described. The DDS came up on 10Mhz exactly.
Outputting 2w on the 40 – 15M 9V with 80M around half that. I took note of the torrid winding (loose for even and tight for odd) but there is not a lot of room to move for L12 & L14.
Connected to the home antenna and turned the receive to peak noise.
The unit is operating so ready to take out onto a summit.
I see no value in disassembling and trying to refine the windings on 80M. Ok yes did chase this device for 80M but its a fall back frequency. Let’s get out on a summit and see how it works before playing with the number of turns.