WB8YYY/QRP and Home Construction Page

Ham radio operators have a long tradition of home constuction of useful radio equipment. In the early 1900's hams built gear because they had to. By the middle of the century commercial gear was available but still many hams built their own transmitters out of interest or because their finances did not permit a commercial one. It was then common to scrounge parts from old TV's to make a transmitter. When transistors became affordable they first went into QRP rigs, continuing the building tradition. My activities include both modest efforts at home construction and kit building.

My QRP Rigs

Ugly Weekender. This homebrew rig for 40 meters was built from a QST article by W7ZOI. I built it over several years and finally got it all together. It is VFO tuned, outputs a couple watts, and uses a direct conversion receiver. In my QSO's I have been complimented how the rig sounds - but on my end I must confess the receiver needs more work! It suffers from AM leak-through and the QSK has a loud thump. I have collected lots of information on how to upgrade the receiver which might eventually be done. My rendition is ugly indeed, but it does work with these limitations. This was my first attempt at rig building and my first QRP rig.

Norcal 38 Special Norcal 38 Special

Norcal 38 Special. This 30 meter rig features integrated circuit construction. Norcal kitted the PC board and components while the builder provided the enclosure, off-board controls & connectors. Also the board was designed to facilitate options the builder can implement. I have had such good results using the "stock" power output level specified at 300 mW (my unit seems to be putting out at least 500 mW) that I have not implemented the high power modification even though I have acquired the necessary parts. I do plan on adding an integral TICK keyer. I have made many domestic and a few DX QSO's with this impressive rig. Its main limitations are (1) poor rejection of the unwanted sideband due to only one crystal in the IF filter and (2) AM broadcst leak-through when there is a strong station coincident with the 12 MHz IF. However, since I have not implemented an RIT I did once tune the receiver to the unwanted sideband (the upper response of the mixer) to successfully work a DX station who was listening up!

Classic Heath QRP Transceiver

Heath HW-8. This rig was acquired at a hamfest along with the matching power supply. At the time, I thought I overpaid when I spend $ 60 but I have seen these priced much higher. This rig is nice in that it operates on 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters. I have worked DX on 20 and 15 meters with this rig. Mine seems to be all stock. The receiver is direct conversion, which usually does not bother me on 20 and 15 - but on 80 and 40 where there is usually more activity it is not so fun. I have tried using this rig in QRP contests and it is just plain crazy. Also the rig uses a mechanical relay so QSK is "quiet" but often so slow I miss part of the exchange from the other operator.

TenTec TKIT QRP Transceiver

TenTec 1340. I decided that when I wanted to operate a home constructed QRP rig on 40 meters, I really needed a superhet receiver since this is a busy band. After a short "trade study" I opted for the 1340 since it appeared to offer a great value based on all the info I could gather. Upon its completion, I have not been disappointed. The receiver preforms very good, and this is a pleasant rig to use. As assembled, it covers the lower 70kHz of 40 meters which is where the bulk of the CW action is. At my home operating position, the VFO is stable such that QSO's stay put without needing to tune the rig. The RIT has proven to be a useful feature. See my 1340 Construction Page
for futher details.

Elecraft K2. This is clealy the superior rig in my station and its a joy to use. The experience of building a K2 is an investment in funds and time. My building experience was relatively smooth with minor bumps along the way. My K2 serial # 2177 includes only the SSB and 160 meter options and is without any modifications. I originally tuned up the variable bandwidth filter using the manual settings that were good, but I have since optimized them for various modes using spectrogram.

20m rig uses advanced technologies SMT parts and PTO

NORCAL 2030. When this project was announced I found it very interesting. I had only build one SMT project prior to this - a softrock receiver. This direct conversion rig uses a similar IQ mixer that provides about 35 dB cancellation of the audio image. It features a permeability tuned oscillator (PTO) which is this case is a brass screw inside a coil that is remarkably smooth. The PA is 4 plastic transistors that stay remarkably cool being fed by a switching power supply that provides class E operation. I built mine for 20m as there is generally more QRP activity there.

Multiband self-contained portable rig

KD1JV PFR-3. I was interested in a one box, multiband portable station but I did not want to spend too much for it. This rig covers 40, 30 and 20m with a DDS VFO and has a built-in manual antenna tuner. Mine has the nice paddles from W5JH that come as a kit requiring polishing and assembly.

My VHF Transverters.

TenTec 1208. 6 meters. Nice unit gets me on 6m SSB and CW using my main HF rig. Outputs 8 watts and uses a 14 MHz IF. My unmodified TS-140 allows me to cover 50.000 to 50.450 MHz which is where all the small signal action is. The 1208 includes a switch to select between a 6m and an HF antenna, the latter allowing "pass-through" operation so one can switch to HF without disconnecting cables. Another application for this "pass-through" port is that it can be connected to the 1210 transverter for 2m, to permit rapid bandswitching from the common HF rig - ideal to watch for E-skip openings on 2m while working on 6m.

TenTec 1210. 2 meters. Nice unit gets me on 2m SSB and CW. Outputs 10 watts and uses a 28 MHz IF. Can also be used on FM, up to 145.7 MHz which is the limit of tuning on most HF rigs. It can be used to access repeaters on the lower part of the band by operating "split."

Accessories Assembled at Home

Heathkit Bench Supply. I found this unbuilt kit at a hamfest several years ago but after Heathkit was out of the kit business. It is 500mA capacity with adjustable voltage and current limiting.

TenTec Power/VWSR Meter. This kit covers 160 through 6 meters using one pair of connectors and 2 meters on another pair of connectors. It has 20 and 200 watt scales, with good low level sensitivity as it uses an OP amp to drive the detector diodes.

TICK 2B Keyer. This is my everyday keyer, supplied as a board kit by Embedded Research. I supplied a nice "deluxe" case I had purchased for another project many years ago but had found too small.

TenTec Desk Microphone. Since I also enjoy phone operation, I decided to build this kit since I did not have a desk mike for my main "QRO" rig. It performs well enough for my efforts in SSB operating.

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