RAN Technology

"B" Bench update

Technical 0 Comments 02/03/2020 

Making my work area suit me rather than vice versa

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)


Like most of those reading this, I've upgraded and added to my test equipment inventory over the years, starting with the Heathkit VTVM I built when I was 15 or so.   There's no "right" piece of equipment, just personal preferences, and while I'd be the first to say my work habits are anything but "right" they are what they are, and I'm old enough to realize that my workbench layout will have to conform to my preferences, rather than the other way round.

I recently decided to make some changes to my "B" bench, which either stands for "boatanchor" or because it's the second-best equipped.   My primary bench is used mostly for design and building and SMT assembly and it's undergoing some changes too, but the "B" bench is where a newly acquired piece of gear is most apt to land for an initial check-out and where restoration of most gear will take place.  

It's an 8 ft. wide stand-up (my preference) bench where the needed variac and power related stuff occupies the right hand end area.   I'd had peg hooks for tools but found I was very poor at actually putting things back, so I decided to try the four plastic bins instead.   Tools are organized loosely from the most frequency used in the left-most bin.    A Weller soldering station is to the left (I'm a southpaw) and the Haako desolder and 150 watt gun are underneath.    I do not like having to look "up" to see a meter, so I'm anxious to try the Fluke 37 which I recently acquired which is front-and-center on the bench and will be nicer to read and use than a handheld.    The very good HP 3466A DMM is atop my bench receiver, the Heathkit SW-7800 when morr precision is needed.   The SW-7800 is not Heathkit's best effort but works well in this role because it has digital readout, an attenuator, and USB/LSB/AM/Wide AM modes.   It's used only for audio monitoring of whatever RF emitter I may be working on at any time.  There's also a B&K "Flip-o-Matic" VTVM, mainly because I think it's cool.

There is just nothing better than an analog scope for looking at analog signas, IMHO.   The Tek 475 is a mil-spec upgrade of the basic 250 MHz scope  and replaces a Tek DSO which I'll get more use out of as a portable.    Other gear:

B&K Function Generator.   I like that it has enough output to test speakers yet is very simple to use.

To the right of the Heathkit, top to bottom:  Elenco signal generator/counter   I'll bring over a signal from my main HP sig gen for alignments, etc but it's nice to have an RF source with a knob handy.  Boonton 8210 Modulation Analyzer.  This is a new addition and since I work on AM transmitters a lot it will see some use.   Racal-Dana 1992 universal counter timer.  I've needed a better counter and this 1.3 GHz counter fills the bill nicely.

Next:  HP-410C   I don't need a VTVM often but this is the industry standard and the RF probe also covers the range I'm interested in.   The Waters dummy-load wattmeter has switchable ranges from 10 to 1000 watts.  For  more accurate measurement I'll use the scope for low power or a Bird.

Those with sharp eyes will note the Supreme "Audolyzer" on the top shelf.   This instrument from the late 1930s is very handy when repairing AM radios because it can act as a tunable RF voltmeter to check RF and IF stages and as a signal tracer.  It was scrounged from a dumpster at a hamfest because no one knew or appreciated what it was.   The box with the red chicken-head knobs on top is a speaker substitute box known as a " Coastwise Ferret 721".    Panel jacks allow selection of voice coil or it's built-in transformer - these were popular items in the day when a serviceman would bring the chassis of a radio into the shop for repair but would leave the heavy cabinet containing the speaker and its transformer in the customers home.

Lastly there's a B&K transistor tester, an HP DC power supply, a Fluke DMM and a big honkin' semi-regulated Motorola DC power supply that is basically a battery substitute for mobile radios.   I don't use it often but it's nice because it has a variac to make up for voltage drop.

Every shop and every person's needs are different, and I have a bunch of other gear I'll bring in when needed but this set pretty much does what I need for boatanchor tube and solid-state repair and restoration.   My FT-817 is often used as a  low-power signal source and as a receiver, very handy piece of test equipment when not being used on the air.    The same is true for a simple RTL-SDR but that will be another story!




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    Not much more to be said - if you can't find it here you probably don't need to know!RADIO BOOKSMany are from non-US sources, some are in languages other than English.   Included are 23 volumes of Riders manuals, Beitmans most needed diagrams up til 1967, and much more.   Incredible resource!...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/02/2020 

Ed Marriner, W6BLZ/W6XM (SK)

One of ham radio's most prolific builders and authors
Category: Historic
 This tribute to Ed Marriner will be updated over time.   Having known his writings since my earlies ham days in the 1960s, I knew about the "SSB Transceiver from a BC453" conversion article/booklet, but until I had the good fortune to acquire two homebrew SSB transceivers made by his good friend Ernie Mason W6IQY did I know that my vintage SSB friend Lynn Fisk K5LYN was a...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  10/25/2020 
   EFJ transmitter sales data from former employees....  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/16/2020 
   Like most hams, I remembered seeing the FPM-200 at an astronomical price in the 1962 Allied Radio catalog and wondering just how rich would a person have to be to own one?    For my 11 year old self, such things may as well have been on another planet, but well...things change.I'd seen only one FPM-200 sold (to a guy ahead of me at a hamfest) and in the pre-eBay era most rare ra...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/12/2020 

why 50 ohms?

The Forgotten Impedance
Category: Technical
 Why do we use 50 ohm cables?    If you're like most hams the answer is:  "I dunno!"In fact, it's a compromise (like most things in life) - between lowest loss when handling power and voltage breakdown, as Belden engineer Steve Lampen explains hereA pdf copy can be found below as well.   And now you know!...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/06/2020 

"Crystal Plugs"

DIY version by "RAN Crystals"
Category: Crystal Replacement
Crystal sockets were popular for pluging in ... crystals, of all things!   But they were also used for other purposes, such as the antenna relay connection on some EF Johnson transmitters.    If you want to connect a VFO to a transmitter with just a crystal socket, for example, you're going to have to either carve up an old FT-243 type crystal or if you want to outboar...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/01/2020 

A visit to the D J Everett III Radio Room

Honoring the legacy of a small town radio station owner
Category: Historic
Many successful career people are grateful for mentoring they received on the way to the top. But few have honored a memory as passionately as has been done by Beth Mann.   She's the owner of Ham Broadcasting which owns five stations in western Kentucky but the story is about her mentor, the late DJ Everett III who started WKDZ in Cadiz Kentucky in 1966.   Everett worked as...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  08/14/2020 
   Bob Heil's favorite radio is the Moseley CM-1 which the developer, John Clemmons, told Carl Moseley stood for Clemens Manufacturing number 1.   "No", Mr. Moseley said, "That stands for Carl Moseley number 1!"As that may be, there's yet another CM-1 receiver and it was made by the Multi Products Company of Oak Park, Michigan.As wikipedia states:  "CON...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  08/13/2020 
    Jay Miller KK5IM recently wrote an article in Electric Radio magazine about fulfilling his dream of building a homebrew "AM Kilowatt" transmitter (375 watts output by today's standards).     His crystal-controlled exciter that drive the 813 was based on his Novice transmitter, which was built by his grand-uncle back in the 1960s when Novice class hams were l...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/09/2020 

Bias control of Class E amplfiers

Previously undocumented phenomenon
Category: Technical
Micro SDR innovator Guido PE1NNZ has implemented polar modulation using an Arduino MCU and a class E PA.   For more informartion on this fascinating project, join the discussion group at https://groups.io/g/ucxInitially, Guido's design implemented the polar or EER modulation scheme using modifications to the QCX CW transceiver hardware in the traditional way as described by Leonard K...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/20/2020 

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Cool mics from my collection and ones I wish were

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