Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Straight Key Night

With New Years Eve in sight it is time to start thinking about the 2010 ARRL Straight Key Night.

This year I plan to set up a portable station in the family playroom and get out of the basement. This will also give me a chance to be with the family but also work the radio on the side.

My setup includes an Icom IC-718, a cool Junker Key, MFJ Mightylite power supply, and an inverted vee antenna in the yard.

A link from the ARRL is below.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Afternoons

Sunday afternoon, 3ish with not much going on. We did the morning shoveling, I would guess 6-7 inches of the white stuff fell overnight, looks nice.

Going to motivate myself, set up the Buddi Pole in a upstairs bedroom and see if I can get out qrp style. Will keep the football game on in the back round and send out a few cqs.

If any thing exciting happens I will be sure to post them later. This is turning out to be a very lazy afternoon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Podcast Online

I ran across a new podcast for the amateur radio and home brewer, Low SWR, put together by Rich KDOBJT and Brady KDOBJS.

This father and son team exchange ideas, conversation, and some good radio talk. I like the way the podcast flows back and forth in a raw talk radio type forum. Rich and Brady received their ham radio licenses together and it makes for some entertaining and informative podcast listening.
Be sure to listen and enter the contest they have going!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Radio Shack Visit

During the afternoon Christmas shopping I stopped at a Radio Shack and took a look around.

I have not been to a Radio Shack store in a long time. When I was younger that was the source for all my components and soldering needs. Back in the day the selves were full of all sorts of neat stuff, LED's, buzzers, IC's, etc. To my surprise they have two cabinets full of various components and a wall of a few test meters, soldering irons, and a fan or two. I guess if you need an item ASAP and do not want to wait for your mail order delivery to arrive it's OK, but price wise mail order is the way to go.

I did pick up a wire wrap tool for my perf board circuit building. The tool is a neat and easy way to wire up your circuits.

Time to look for something to build!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Errands

A typical Saturday running around taking care of the usually stuff, haircut, bank, and some bills to pay.

Looking forward to an afternoon on the radio, PSK, SSB, or CW. Nothing planned just make some contacts and have fun. It is a cold cloudy day in the garden state with a forecast for some rain and wet snow tonight, perfect inside type weather.

I did not start Christmas shopping yet, how many days left?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

QRP Dixie Pixie Project

A new blog by Jorge Luis KI4SGU is online which will guide the builder step by step in building the Dixie Pixie.

This is a great winter project and when complete the builder will have a fun little QRP rig to play with. Plus it is being assembled Manhattan style and should be ugly which is a good thing. I am going to be following the steps and building one myself.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Philmore Copper Antenna Wire

Philmore Manufacturing is now offering 14 AWG pure copper antenna wire for SWL, Ham Radio, and Crystal Sets, etc.
Included is a 1 page flyer with instructions for making a dipole antenna and dimensions for the ham bands as well as the short wave bands.

The copper wire is available in 50FT lengths, part number 15-630 and 100FT lengths, part number 15-635.

Street price is $18.00 to $30.00.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Source For Kit Builders

A new column has hit the pages of CQ magazine, Kit Building by Joe Eisenberg, K0NEB.

In the November edition, Joe starts out with Tips for Successful Kit Building. He includes some great ideas to make our building easier and much more organized. I especially like the idea of using a TV tray to do your building on, it keeps the parts from rolling off of the table. I do not know about you but my caps always seem to be running away from me right out of the bag.

A monthly column is a great way to promote and keep kit building alive.

Good Job CQ!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SolderSmoke Stuff

I put my order in for SolderSmoke - A Global Adventure in Radio Electronics by Bill Meara, N2CQR. They were having a 15% off sale this past weekend so I saved a few bucks and picked up what sounds like a good read for the colder weather ahead.

I have been listening to SolderSmoke the podcast for sometime now, and Bill does a super job.

Here's a few links to the blog and podcast:


The Paraset Transceiver

Here is a very nice 4 watt CW transceiver Paraset (Whaddon MK V11) built by Hakan F. of Sweden.

I originally met Hakan on a request for a few vernier dials he purchased from J-Tron back in June. He mentioned they were for a transceiver project he was building and was kind enough to send along a few photos. He told me the radio is in the testing stages now and working on getting his radio license.
The Paraset has a long history dating back to the second World War. This radio was built for Britain's Special Operation Executive which conducted espionage behind German lines. You have to admit this is cool stuff.

A quick google search brought up a few links with more info.

A very nice job Hakan!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Circuitbuilding For Dummies

I picked up Circuitbuilding For Dummies by H. Ward Silver at my local Library a few weeks ago. Overall a very useful book for the beginner or seasoned builder. This is the type of book where everytime you read it will pick up something new.

Table of Contents:
The Toolbox:
Basic tools, solderless breadboards, software tools.

Basic Techniques:
Metalworking, soldering, reading schematics.

Using a Solder less Breadboard:
Breadboarding an Audio Amplifier and Digital Timer.

Building a Printed Circuit Board:
Covers through-hole and surface mount boards.

Building a Prototype:
Building and constructing an audio level controller, audible alarm, and regulator.

Building from a Published Schematic:
Good info on Dead-Bug, Manhattan, and wire-wrap building.

Terminals and Connectors:
Crimp terminals, tools, and correct installation advise.

Wiring for Wireless Radio:
Covers coaxial connectors, type F, UHF, and BNC connectors.

Mastering Power:
Covers AC switches, fuseholders, and plugs.
Audio and Sensitive Connections:
Installing phono plugs and microphone connectors.

Meet the Test Equipment:
Voltmeters, testers, probes, scopes, all the good stuff.

Measurements That Test Your Circuit and Projects:
Ohm's Law, checking and testing transistors, measuring voltage, current, and resistance.

Who Let the Smoke Out?:
Trouble shooting and debugging basics. Diagnosing audio problems.

Maintaining Your Cool Stuff:
Maintaining your electronic equipment.

Getting a Charge Out of Batteries:
A overall good write up on battery basics.

Electronics in Motion:
All about mobile installations.

Getting Rid of Interference and Noise:
Dealing with interference and installing high-pass filters and chokes.

Ten Circuitbuilding Secrets:
A nice list of helpful ideas.

Ten Circuit First-Aid Techniques and Supplies:
Great hints and tips for the builder.

Tons more useful stuff in every chapter, I even like the listing to a distributor for hard to find items. In a future write up I add to the list of where to go for the hard to find stuff.

This is a great book to keep on the shelf within easy reach when working on a project and need to a quick refresher on using a scope or new idea. I plan to pick up a copy soon since I had to return this one.

Cuicuitbuilding For Dummies is a keeper.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday Evening Post

Now that the colder weather is on its way time to start thinking about a few indoor projects.

I was going through a box of old QST mags in the basement and came across two that caught my eye. The September 2000 has a review of the MFJ QRP-Cub Transceiver. The ARRL has a special bundle pack which includes the Low Power Communications book with the 40-Meter CW Cub Transceiver kit for $99.00. The idea of a small radio, wire antenna, battery, and key in a backpack sounds pretty cool.

Another article that I came across was in the July 2001 QST, a home brew Miracle Whip. I know this has been described as a dummy load but I have read a few interesting positive things about this whip. The bands have not exactly been on fire these days but it would be neat to play around with this on low power.

Tonight I plan on reading a few of the articles and see what I am in store for.

On the radio front will try my hand on CW tomorrow afternoon and maybe fire up the soldering iron.

This week I saw a flock of birds heading south, won't be long now. Burr.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Velleman Help Forum

Here is a handy link if you have any questions or need more detailed information on a Velleman kit or product.

Velleman Projects Service Forum


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Electronic Varactor Tuner Transmitter Kit

This past Sunday I put together a Varactor Tuned FM Transmitter / Mike kit# 80-065 by Philmore Datak. This kit is advertised as the best of the miniature FM transmitters, transmits to FM radio frequencies. The Cadillac of FM transmitters and wireless mikes. This started as a backyard picnic table project until the heavy rain came than it was a scramble into the garage to finish up.

This kit features a varactor (tuning diode) tuned Colpitts oscillator and an RF amplifier stage that offers solid performance in the 88-108 MHz broadcast band. Varactor tuning is free from stray capacitance and drift. Recommended voltage is 9 to 12VDC. Per the instructions typical range is from 50 to 100 feet depending on antenna and other conditions.

Parts identification and assembly went smoothly. One resistor lays flat and all other resistors are mounted standing up on end to fit in on the small PC board. The electret mike is mounted directly on board. Kit contains 33 components. Board size is 3/4" x 2-3/4".

How it works: The circuit is broken up into three stages, audio, Colpitts oscillator, and RF amplifier. Audio is picked up by the electret mike and converted to a voltage signal and amplified by a PN2222A transistor. This acts as a small signal linear amplifier. This signal is coupled out to the Colpitts oscillator to provide DC isolation. The advantage of the Colpitts is there are no coils to wind or mess with. The kit instructions give a decent description of theory of operation and a piece by piece run down of the Colpitts oscillator. The RF amplifier uses biasing components (resistors and capacitors) to configure a PN918 to provide amplification of the oscillator signal.

Tuning and alignment went very smoothly. Per instructions I just centered the 10K pot, attached 9V battery, and did a smoke / heat test. Everything checked out, turned on a FM radio with a digital display and found my signal near 92MHz. I put the transmitter in another room and was able to pick up sounds from the radio speaker with antenna wire supplied. But to get the most out of this circuit you will have to play around and tweak it. Using the formula AL= 234/FM Hz to make a antenna that will be compatible with the frequency your listing on. Just divide 234 by the frequency your circuit is broadcasting, cut a wire to that length, should improve your distance and signal.

Overall a very easy kit to put together, just take your time soldering. Street price is around $15.99. I still have to attached a proper antenna cut to size and maybe increase voltage to 12 volts and see how we do. Range on package is 140 feet. With its small size this kit can be hidden just about anywhere, James Bond type stuff. Remember, this is an educational kit only, do not get in trouble.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Summer Heat

Summer is finally here in New Jersey with the temps heading for the ninety's this afternoon and tomorrow.

Before it gets to hot out I am going to do some soldering on the picnic table and finish off the electronic kit started last weekend. Only a few more components to go and do the important smoke test.

I might even set up the Buddipole antenna and try few a few contacts on 40 meter CW before an afternoon drink or two.

Get outside and build something!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday Evening Post

This afternoon I decided to build the Philmore RF Sniffer / Bug Finder kit, #80-990. Yes it is weekend project time.

Chances are I will not find a hidden transmitter at home or my place of work, but when the cooler weather comes I might have to take this kit mobile and play around just a little. The circuit can also be used for testing or troubleshooting RF Circuits. Since it was a nice afternoon I starting building in the backyard on the picnic table. It is always a bonus to be outside building. I managed to load up the resistors and two IC sockets before evening came and my light source got darker. My next component up was a surface mount Hybrid RF Amplifier, better wait until tomorrow for this installment.

They are calling for rain tomorrow so maybe I can finish up and test it out.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Magic Message Kit

Velleman Magic Message #MK155

Street Price: $12.95 USD"

Wave the wand to make the message appear, looks like it is floating in the air. This is a small compact circuit built on a pc board that fits into a handheld wand.

"Notes: Easy to build and solder with simple part placement. Just be careful with LED's, try to keep them same height on board. Best bet is to place the first LED on board and bend leads on underside of pc board. Before soldering play it safe and size up LED with cover to make sure it is at proper height and fits in cover hole. This small move saves time and desoldering efforts later. Other than that kit assembly is pretty straight forward and simple.

Circuit details: The circuit is built around the PIC18C505-20/P IC which is inserted into a socket. Six limit resistors are for the six high intensity red LED's. Circuit has a roll ball switch that get triggered when you wave the wand. Two "AAA" batteries are needed to power the circuit.

Smoke Test: None.

Takes a few minutes getting the hang of waving your forearm slowly and getting the message readable, a dark area works best.

A cool kit to play around with, I like circuits with LED's.

The Magic Message worked the first time!


Thanks for stopping by and checking out the Melted Solder Blog.

This blog is a collection of kits, circuits, and home brewing stuff. Plus I find this is a great way to keep my notes and general electronic / radio junk in one convenient place.

I find in easier to update a blog on the fly than the meltedsolder.com web site.

Be sure to stop by for an afternoon coffee or Friday night beer.

Comments are always welcome.