Friday, October 12, 2007

I am a junk-box junkie

I am planning to bring my Yaesu FT-817 to St. Kitts as my backup rig. Should something horrible happen to the IC-7000 I would still be able to make some contacts. In fact, if I were to enter the CQ WW DX SSB contest in the QRP category I would set the record for that category on St. Kitts by default as no QRP entry has ever been made from there!
One problem with the FT-817 is the lack of a speech compressor. Speech compression can make an enormous difference in putting punch in your signal, especially at QRP levels.
A few years ago I purchased two of the DYC-817 compressors from Box 73, a web site associated with FUNK Amateur radio magazine. I assembled them both and gave one to a good friend Steve (W1CTO). We then traveled to Maine to the house of Steve's in-laws to operate Field Day QRP. The units appeared to work fine for the first hour or so, then Steve's unit died. About an hour later, mine died. I can't explain it. {sigh}
The failure of the DYC-817s was pretty disappointing. And, I still had the problem! I next opted for the W4RT One BIG Punch, a circuit board inserted into the hand microphone for the radio. This works very well! I could just use this hand microphone but I would much rather use my headset and foot pedal. So, I'm back to where I started: I would like to have a speech compressor available for the FT-817.
I started looking around for a solution to this problem again last weekend and stumbled across the FAR Circuits SSM2165 kit. Well, "kit" is a little bit of a stretch. FAR Circuits sells the board bundled with the ICs, one of the two voltage regulators, and an inductor. The ICs and inductor are surface mount devices. The other components: resistors, potentiometers, capacitors, connectors, and enclosure are left to the builder to scrounge.
The board and ICs arrived today and I began the scavenger hunt this evening looking for the passive components. I had most of the resistors and capacitors in my junk box but came up empty on the circuit board-mounted pots and connectors. I'll drop by Electronics Plus in the morning to pick up the remaining parts. Perhaps I'll have a working stand-alone compressor for the FT-817 complete by the end of the weekend.
Or, perhaps I'll have a non-working stand-alone compressor by the end of the weekend. That's the problem with junk-box projects of course: they don't always work first time. If it doesn't work first time, it will likely sit until after my return from St. Kitts since I've got very little time left before we depart and there are many unfinished tasks still on my list. Cross your fingers.

Finally, a few quick notes out to my fellow bloggers:
  • Jeff (KE9V) mentioned my videos in his Long Delayed Echoes blog. Thanks, Jeff.

  • Steve (K9ZW) mentioned my MFJ Cub Transceiver pages in his With Varying Frequency blog. Thanks, Steve.

  • Scot (K9JY) got a well deserved call out from the ARRL main page today for his Amateur Radio Contesting blog. Yeah, I'm repeating myself (I mentioned this earlier) but Scot's blog is really good stuff! Thanks, Scot.


Post a Comment

<< Home