Listen to Latest SolderSmoke Podcast

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ralph Baer -- Video Game Inventor



Thanks to Stephen G7VFY for alerting us to this very nice video.   Ralph Baer did pioneering work in video games.   It is fun to see him in his workshop. He obviously has a variant of The Knack.  Stephen hinted at a reference to "noodling" but I didn't hear it -- perhaps Stephen meant that the whole thing was about what we'd call noodling.  I found the box on his bench labeled "Wire Wrap Materials" kind of ominous -- remember our April 1 announcement about the launch of the new "Wire Wrap Rap" podcast?

I liked Ralph's summary comment about how these days he just has fun building things.

Monday, July 24, 2017

KC8WBK's Cakepan BITX40


I talked to Paul KC8WBK last night during the regular 7277 kHz Sunday night BITX gathering (7 pm local). I like his BITX enclosure.  Very practical and economical.  It provides ready access to the circuitry.  He also has nice enclosure for the microphone and push-to-talk switch. He has more info on his QRZ.com page. 

Einstein's Knack (for Refrigeration)

https://www.wired.com/story/einsteins-little-known-passion-project-a-refrigerator?google_editors_picks=true

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Intuitive Repair of a Sony Shortwave Portable

A few years ago my wife got me this nice little Sony ICF-SW7600GR receiver.   On the front it proclaims that it is "AM DUAL CONVERSION" and "PLL SYNTHESIZED."   It has a BFO, and a filter of suitable width for SSB.  It also has a synchronous detector -- it generates an internal carrier that matches the frequency and phase of the carrier being transmitted by the SW broadcast (or ham AM) transmitter.  This helps overcome the selective fading that often plagues AM signals.  Sony advises switching to USB or LSB once the synchronous generator locks onto the carrier.  Pretty cool. 

The BFO is the reason I wanted this receiver. And wouldn't you know, when I dropped it,  it landed EXACTLY on the little BFO fine tune control pot.  It was as if the Radio Gods disliked all the fancy digi PLL synchronous IC circuitry.   

I tried without success to find the value of the destroyed pot.  Finally, last week I just decided to have a look in there to see if I could just figure it out. 

On the board I could see that the pot only connected at two places, so I figured it would be a varactor circuit on the BFO with one end of the pot to DC and the wiper to the varactor diode.  I figured I'd try a 10K pot. 

This seems to have been some good radio intuition.  It works.  I went with a small trimmer because it is less obtrusive and because once I set the BFO in the right spot, I think the de facto channelization of the 40 meter ham band will keep most of the SSB sigs in tune. And the Sony only tunes in 1 kHz increments. If necessary I can move the BFO a bit with a small screwdriver.  I just glued the trimmer pot onto the back of the receiver -- two wires covered by heat shrink run back into the circuitry. 

10k might be a bit too small.  Maybe 100k would be better?  As it is, I can move the BFO above and below the "zero beat" point, and I don't need more range. Mouser has a small trimmer pot with a tuning wheel that looks like it might fit, so I may try for a proper repair. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

K.P.S. Kang's Minimalist VXOs (and one for the BITX)


K.P.S. Kang provides us with some great ideas for simple VXOs.  He includes an intriguing reference for a 5 MHz circuit useable in a BITX.  Tell us more OM! 


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

NYC's Radio Row Survives (sort of) in the Bronx

Thanks to our friend (and official lexicographer) Steve Silverman KB3SII for alerting us to this important bit of radio news from the Big Apple.  It seems that a part of old Radio Row was saved and moved -- first to Brooklyn and now to the Bronx.   I got a kick out of some of the comments in the New York Times article about the store:  The insurance company determined that the contents of the store were "non-pilferable." And one young audio enthusiast was quoted as saying that old American tubes "sound better" than Chinese tubes.  I guess they have more presence.  Or brightness.  And less feathering.  Or something.

Here is the 2011 NYT article: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/nyregion/leeds-radio-is-a-haven-for-lovers-of-all-things-analog.html   


To N2CQR  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Excellent Description of the Electret Microphone

I've been experimenting with electret replacements for the D-104 crystal element.   I found this site with a really excellent description of what lies inside those little electret capsules.  Here it is: 

http://www.openmusiclabs.com/learning/sensors/electret-microphones/index.html
Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column