Saturday, 19 March 2016

Anglian transverter

Some of the readers of my blog will be familiar with my Anglian 144MHz transverter kit.
Around 200 of these have been sold with the majority being of the form of an assembled SMD PCB. The builder is then left to install the board in the supplied case, solder in the leaded tunable inductors and the crystal. 
This has worked well and although there has been the occasional dry joint problem, most seem to work first time and provide the builder with a transverter that is high in performance and low in cost whilst allowing the builder to boast that they built it themselves.
I am now coming to the end of the current batch of assembled boards, helped by a recent 'sale'. This has been more successful than expected and the boards have quickly depleted.
My dilemma is what to do next. Having boards assembled has not been without its problems and is by no means an economical way to go with relatively small production runs.
I am not inclined to have any further boards made this way.
Unfortunately the PCBs are designed for reflow solding and therefore have small SMD pads. These are awkward to solder to when using hand soldering.
As the Anglian has been so successful I am reluctant to stop production. Maybe the best way forward is to re-design the board, changing a few aspects of the circuit for even better performance and selling this as a kit where the builder has to solder around 120 SMD and leaded parts onto the board?
With about 12 boards left I am going to have to decide soon!
73 de Sam

Life on 23cm EME

Last weekend I got the 23cm EME system back on line. A careful check of my log shows I had worked 62 'initials' ( first contact with a new station or #) up to May 2012, when I last operated on 2cm EME.
Since last weekend I have brought the initial score up to 74
It is quite clear that a lot of new stations have appeared in the last few years. I recognise a lot of the callsigns as those belonging to customers who have bought an VLNA23 from me. I find that very gratifying!  I think it should be possible to raise the number of # to 100 by the end of the year. At least it gives me a target to aim for and means I will have to keep the 23cm preamp and feed on the dish.
The majority of new contacts have been worked on JT65C and running MAP65 has allowed me to see who is on without sitting in front of the PC laptop all the time.
I can see that not withstanding last weekend's 23cm DUBUS CW EME contest, when up to 16 stations at a time were visible on the spectrum display ( P3 and SVGA card to 23 inch monitor), the move to digital on the band is seriously underway. I realise this will unsettle a good few of the old CW stalwarts, but King Catute showed the fallacy of trying to hold back 'nature'. In this case human nature.
I'm not a good CW operator and am always relieved when a CW contact has finished and in the log, wheras I actually enjoy the surety of digital contacts. It's not fashionable to say this, but I still can't see the attraction of CW when digital allows so much greater reliability of contact exchange information. And for me personally, far less anguish about not copying callsigns correctly or dealing with 'off sequence' information.
Sorry guys!