Friday, October 30, 2009

Wee Willy Transceiver DSB 3.5 Mc



VE7GC Wee Willy 75 Meter DSB Transceiver Project
Introduction
I meet a lot of interesting amateur radio enthusiasts online and on the air. Among them is Dick Pattinson, VE7GC who was first licensed in 1934. When Dick isn't sailing he builds and operates his homebrew QRP gear to hams around the west coast of Canada and the U.S.
Presented is a double sideband transceiver that Dick calls "Wee Willy". This rig has a low parts count and is easily built using non-etched PC board techniques. Dick even makes his own radio case using copper clad PC board for the front and back panels and cardboard for the rest of the case. The set itself is in a case 1 1/4 by 2 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches. There is a separate container which holds a 6 volt rechargeable battery and speaker. The speaker/battery case is about 2 1/2 inches cubed and is not shown.
The circuits are built in three sections on the circuit board, namely TX, RX, and VFO. An electret condenser microphone is on front panel along with T/R switch, volume and frequency adjust. The back panel has the antenna jack, power input cord and the speaker jack. The battery pack has a 100 uF capacitor to across the power leads for additional filtering and is shown in the VFO schematic.
The text that follows is clipboard pastings from email that Dick sent me with some additional comments and expansions by me. Dick's project exemplifies practicality and innovation and with that is a major contribution for the QRPHB site.
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Construction Methods
Dick's electronic construction method is quite fascinating and represents yet another derivation of ugly construction. The electronic wiring is done on single sided PC board, copper side up. Small holes are drilled through the PC board material to allow component leads to pass through them. Then the holes carrying active leads are chamfered ( countersunk ) with a larger drill bit which is not run all the way through the PC board. This leaves an ground-insulated side to the hole and prevents a component lead short circuit. The copper being topside allows both convenient and short component grounding. The Wee Willy parts layout is extremely neat and compact. Dick, presumably through practice has great skill with this technique and I plan to try it in the future.
The project case is constructed from 1/16th inch cardboard which is cut and bent to fit the electronic PC board. Once cut, the outer surface and edges at the front are covered with tissue paper or Kleenex (tm) type tissues soaked in white glue. The applied tissue paper and glue is allowed to dry and then additional coats are added to build up a body. Alternately, the cardboard case can be coated with lots of glue and the covering material imbedded in the glue. The air bubbles are pressed out and extra glue is added where necessary. When enough material has been added to cover up and strengthen the case joints and the glue is perfectly dry, the case is painted with Rust Coat Enamel available at hardware stores. The end result is a glossy, durable finish which looks very sharp.
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Transmitter
This transmitter uses an electret condenser microphone ( Dick used an Archer 270-90 ). The mic is built right into the front panel of the chassis and this of course guarantees short mic leads. A 741 op amp is used as a speech amplifier which in turn drives the balanced modulator a Signetics NE602 doubly balanced mixer. The input and output impedance of the NE602 mixer is around 1500 ohms.
To adjust the transmitter, set the bias control on the VN10 stage to ground and tweak L1 to resonance using an RF probe or scope on the VN10 input. The input signal must be audio, spoken into the front panel microphone to get the DSB. Once L1 is tuned, connect a 50 ohm load to the antenna with some sort of RF indicator (such as a RF power meter) and advance the bias control to give a watt or so output. Then speaking into the microphone should result in a DSB signal suitable for communicating on QRP! No audio input should result in no RF output. The supplied voltage should be kept at 6 volts, remembering that NE602's cannot stand voltage greater than 9 volts. With suitable voltage control such as a 6.8 volt zener diode on these chips, one could use higher input voltage with a corresponding RF output.
There is another way of setting the bias on the VN10. After aligning L1, with a ammeter in the six volt supply line, advance the bias control until the input current increases about 10 mA (with no modulation). If you do not have an FT37-77 ferrite core, substitute 10 bifilar turns on a FT37-43 ferrite core for the T1 transformer




Receiver
The receiver is a direct conversion type with a manual RF gain control in the form of a 5K potentiometer. Listening to a weak signal on the desired frequency the RF stage and the mixer core ( T1 and T2 ) adjustments are made until you hear the loudest possible signal, keeping the input test signal as low as possible. When the receiver is connected to a doublet antenna there is no lack of incoming signal, which can be controlled by the front panel RF gain control.
The antenna and 6 volt supply is switched manually from TX to RX mode and back by a front panel mounted switch. If you can not find Tak Lee green 10.7 MHz IF coils, probably any other brand of 10.7 MHz slug tuned IF transformer would work. The Mouser catalog number 421F123 would work well and in another 80 meter project I used it with a 470 pF capacitor instead of the 330 pF cap shown. I would start with Dick's 330 pf cap and if it will not tune to resonance sharply, slightly increase the cap value up to see if a bit more capacity is required to resonate it on the desired 75 Meter frequency. Note that the secondary coil on the L1 transformer in the transmitter schematic is unused. If your 10.7 MHz IF coil has a built in capacitor at the base, remove it.
During receive, the standby drain current at 6.0 volts was 24 mA and on loud signals it rose to 100 mA. If this is too much, probably the easiest thing to do would be to put in a series resistor from positive to the LM386 to limit the drain current. To get output on the speaker it is a matter of how loud you want it for the drain you draw. If earphone only reception is okay, then the drain could be reduced considerably.

VFO
Dick's diagram indicate that this VFO was based upon a design presented in SPRAT for summer 1995. The main inductor L1 is wound with #32 AWG wire on a 1/4 inch slug-tuned coil former. This coil would have an XL somewhere between 250 - 310 ohms, so if you cannot find a coil former as described , you could easily wind one on a powdered iron toroid and make a portion of the C1 capacity variable for adjustment. A suggested alternate inductor is 53 turns of #26 AWG on a T68-6 core powdered iron core.
Dick suggests checking an old television to find suitable coil formers such as the one he used. It would probably be best to distribute the 120 pF C1 capacity among 3-4 capacitors to enhance stability. These caps should be NP0 ceramic for best results with frequency stability.
Dick's oscillator uses the slug tuned core to put VFO frequency close in frequency to where you want to operate and the variable resistor tuner on the front panel allows adjustment around the incoming signal to get the correct pitch. The desired band-edge is easily set by adjusting the slug while listening to the VFO frequency as audio on another receiver that has a frequency readout or directly with a frequency counter.
The L2 150 uH RF choke can be a simple epoxy unit which resembles a resistor. The D1 variable capacitance diode is a BB104 which has ~ 35 pF capacitance on each side. These are available at Dan's Small Parts and Kits whose URL is in the Links section of the site info web page. Experimentation with other tuning diodes could produce a practical alternative to the specified D1 part.


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Operating Wee Willy
Dick sent me Willy in the mail and the first available moment I fired the little rig up and spanned the VFO which tuned from ~ 3721 to 3738 KHz. I then proceeded to tune 3729, the frequency of BCEN, our SSB provincial public service net and on my first break was able to check in with one call sign repeat to the net control station. The band conditions were noisy and most signals were S8 or lower, however Wee Willy's 1.5 watts P.E.P. were able to check me in with my folded Marconi antenna. I later changed the L1 slug and worked some stations higher up the band. My audio reports were favorible and no one knew I was running DSB. This is a fun radio and it looks cute to boot!
When transmitting, I had to be careful to keep my hand away from the VFO compartment to prevent pulling the VFO frequency with the capacitance change from my hand. The VFO has reasonable long term frequency stability and copying CW stations with the receiver was possible without frequent tuning readjustments.
The following are some digital photos of Wee Willy taken by VE7ZAC.
Move your mouse over the images for a larger version.