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 "Be who you are and say what you feel....
Because those who matter,
don't mind.
And those who mind, don't
matter."    - Dr. Seuss

"You've gotta: Make your own kind of music, Sing your own special song, Even if nobody else sings along". - Mamas and the Papas

"There is an obvious truth that people who make things are happier than those who buy them". - Anonymous 


I have been active on the air continuously since March of 1955. I am a CW-only op, and a ragchewer; real QSO's are what I enjoy. NOTE:  Please use my callsign if answering my CQ; I don't answer tail-end calls, since I never know if it is a station calling me, or calling some DX down the band.  I have no interest in hunting DX, nor in contests or awards, or swapping numbers, or 'cookie-cutter' QSO's, and I've found that many times, stations who tail-end are in those categories :o).

I am on the air generally every day, CW-only.   Amazingly, I run into operators these days who are attempting to use CW but without first learning how to send or receive consistently or correctly, nor understand essential operating procedures such as prosigns, Q signals, etc.  These things must be learned before one attempts to get on the air on CW.  This is what the (one year, non-renewable) Novice license used to require, before an op could get on the air.  And if you did not learn in 12 months as a Novice, and pass the General Class or higher CW and written exams, you were off the air.  Following are some quotes from the  ARRL Operating  Manual regarding CW operation: Regarding the use of prosigns:  "Prosigns are always sent as one character, not two spaced letters.  Thus, "AR" is sent as (didardidardit), not (didah  didardit)". Regarding an operator's fist: "Sloppy, badly spaced sending is one of the marks of a lid.  Good clean sending, evenly spaced, is one of the marks of a good CW operator".  CW competence: "The use of CW on the air doesn't usually get to be enjoyable until an operator can handle 20-25 wpm with ease, reading in his head, not "copying" down on paper.  Only after that knack has been acquired, can an operator justifiably call himself a "CW man" and take real pride and pleasure in CW operation".  Regarding straight key usage: "If operators limit themselves to a straight key, out of some short-sighted prejudice against going to an electronic key or bug, they generally condemn themselves to lives of drudgery and frustration on CW". (And, I might add, some frustration for the operator on the other end, who may be enduring tediously-sent, QRS CW).  I wish that more hams today who refer to themselves as "CW ops", would at least learn the common CW operating procedures and Q signals.  And use QSK; it sure makes QSOs more enjoyable!

I belong to no clubs (I guess I have never been a 'joiner').  I use homebrew-only equipment, currently a phasing image-rejection receiver with Tayloe front end, and a 50mW-550W variable power DDS-based QSK transmitter. It's a simple but effective all-band rig. I do not buy ham gear, because I have found that the rig performance and features that I want for my kind of operating are available only by building it myself.  Besides, homebrew has never been easier (or cheaper) than it is today! It is truly a Golden Time now for ham homebrewing. For anyone who wants additional information on my rig, contact me via email.  I'm happy to share ideas with any other interested ops.

If anyone is interested, I have an interview with Eric, 4Z1UG, on his web site/podcast page, at http://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/w6jl  where we discussed my early interests and entry into electronics, homebrew, and ham radio.

For anyone interested in building a very low cost 50-70W amp using two 90-cent power mosfets, for his QRP-only rig (a +10dB ERP boost can really help the receiving op on the other end sometimes), see my article in June 2010 QST. I've QSO'd several ops who have built and are using this amp on the air.  I built mine for less than $15 out of pocket.  If you are not an ARRL member, e-mail me and request the file.  Also there is some earlier information on my station to be found at Craig, AA0ZZ's interesting site at: http://cbjohn.com/aa0zz/PPLLUsers/W6JL/W6JL.pdf


Below is a picture of my current all-homebrew QRO QSK station, followed by some details of the QRO PIN T/R switch, and details on the modules that make up my single-signal DC phasing receiver. I prefer modular arrangements, not co-located in a single enclosure. This allows placement of the very few needed controls just where I want them to be, not constrained by a tiny vertical front panel layout. It also facilitates easy modifications as new techniques, devices (and ideas) arise.

Above is schematic of my 7034/4X150A 600W amp, which I originally built in 1972.  Still in daily use over 43 years later.  Amplifier has 40 dB gain (power gain of 10,000) so 50mW drive from keyed DDS VFO gives 550W output.   (The 7033/4X150A has the same plate dissipation rating, 250W, as the more expensive 4CX250B). The FCC limits commercial amateur radio amplifiers to 15 dB gain, max.  But when you homebrew, you have no such limitation.  Just one of many  things that one can do when you build it yourself.

 Above is the schematic of my AD9850 DDS VFO, based on the design of WB2V (SK), and many firmware improvements by Craig, AA0ZZ.  It just doesn't get much easier than this, for DC-30 MHz sinewave low distortion output:  No variable caps, no dial drives, no bandswitching, no calibrating, no inductors, no detectable drift!  All of this, in a 20+ year old design.

Above is the schematic of the keyed Class-A amplifier which boosts the DDS VFO output to about +20 dBm (0.1W).  This is sufficient to drive the final amplifier to 550W output on all bands.  Shaping of rise and fall times of the keyed RF waveform is accomplished by a single 2N3906 transistor, Q3.  This integrator-type keying circuit is found in many published homebrew designs over the past 40 years or so, so it is nothing new.

Below is the schematic, and an interior view, of my QRO QSK T/R switch, using inexpensive 1N5408 and 1N4007 diodes as very effective PIN diodes at QRO power levels.  All my PC boards are homebrew, and tin-plated.  This is easier to do than most hams think.  Both through-hole and surface-mount (SMT) parts are surface-mounted.  This minimizes the need for drilled holes.  The box is a four-chambered enclosure with all seams and PC board soldered permanently into the box for isolation/shielding. This PIN T/R switch scheme achieves 137 dB of receiver isolation from the amplifier output when the key is down. Thus, the receiver is never overloaded by my own 550W signal, and the receiver front end runs at full gain always. This is how I like QSK to be.  Is the use of inexpensive 1N4007 and similar rectifier diodes as PIN diodes in a T/R switch new? Not at all. See the May 1976 issue of Ham Radio magazine, or the May 1995 issue of QEX.  I have both of these articles in PDF format if you can't find them.

Below, double-balanced Tayloe detector front end in box on HB PC board, followed by its schematic. This amazing circuit has revolutionized HB phasing receivers. The MDS with no RF gain whatsoever, is better than -139 dBm. Notice how few parts are required to make an excellent wideband receiver front end which produces I and Q baseband outputs directly, with no high-level sinewave or quadrature L.O. required, as with the older dual-ring mixer architectures. The board appears sparsely populated because I have eliminated all the parts used for selectable USB or LSB. Since I am a CW-only op, there is no need for changing sidebands on any band, so I built an LSB-only Tayloe front end, which eliminates a lot of parts in the output portion of the front end.

Below, the receiver's Si570-based LO, modified, from Craig Johnson, AA0ZZ's design. LO runs at 4X signal frequency.

Above: 10-pole adjustable audio phase shift network (left) connected into PSN-QSK-FILTER-AMP receiver module. Below is the I/Q phase shifter schematic. I and Q audio inputs at left are from the double-balanced Tayloe detector front end. Output at lower right is single-sideband audio, with opposite sideband rejection of 70 dB in the CW bandwidth range.

Below is th schematic of the post phase shifter keyed amplifier and 3 KHz wide baseband roofing filter, which sets the basic bandwidth of the receiver. The first stage contains an adjustable keyed gain circuit for adjusting the QSK key-down audio gain.

Below, details of the selectable CW bandwidth filter. This 12-pole passive LC filter adds no noise to the system and is cascaded with the previous 7-pole SSB filter, providing ultimate 80+ dB selectivity on CW.


Below, the audio output module, with about 55dB gain max.  Again, note how simple the circuit is.   This is what makes homebrewing today so much more fun than when I started in the 1950's.

Above, measured sideband response of complete receiver with no baseband audio filtering (wide bandwidth limited only by the Tayloe detector's tracking bandwidth). This illustrates the desired and opposite sideband responses out to +/- 6KHz. In the CW bandwidth of 500Hz, opposite sideband suppression is 70 dB or better, which is excellent. Notice the remarkably abrupt attenuation very close-in to zero beat, something which is difficult to do with superhet architecture, but is achievable with phasing techniques requiring no I.F., no crystal filters, and no second detector/BFO. Receiver also has beautiful audio, another desirable characteristic of phasing receivers, but only if no DSP processing is used. My receiver uses all analog passive LC back end baseband filters,which contribute no noise and have very high dynamic range while preserving good group delay characteristics. When you homebrew, you can tailor your rig to exactly your own preferences, something not available in factory ham gear at any price. The very high cost-effectiveness is a bonus.


Below, my latest HB XMTR.  A departure from modern homebrew and a nostalgic throwback to WWII electronics and tubes, which I enjoyed playing with so much in my youth.   This is a 75W XMTR using an 829B twin tetrode in the final, running in push-pull Class C, link-coupled and cross-neutralized, and built on a wood base.  The XMTR includes a new PIN diode QSK system and DDS VFO with broadband MOSFET Class A driver, as well as a HB switching power supply which runs at 55 KHz.0th century electronics.  So the rig has a mix of 21st and mid-20th century electronics.  This rig is a blast to use every day on the air.  Below is a photo of the transmitter's final stage.


Above:  Entire 829B rig.  L-R: Homebrew switching PS (runs at 55KHz), DDS VFO, Mosfet Driver, 829B amp, and (above amp), PIN diode QSK switch. Yes, I have an aversion to 'cabinets' and such cosmetic niceties.  And control labeling.  After all, I am the sole builder/user, so I know what all controls and connections are for.

Above:  DDS VFO with Arduino Uno with Atmel328P controller, during firmware development.  The finalized VFO runs stand-alone with the object code downloaded into the onboar Atmel328, and so does not require the Arduino board for operation.  I modified some AD9850 DDS VFO code that was originally written by AD7C.

Below:  The schematic of the entire XMTR, except for the DDS VFO.

I recently wrote a series of three articles which have been published in the German Amateur radio magazine, FunkAmateur.   One of these articles covers my QSK PIN diode system for my 550W QRO homebrew transmitter, which is briefly shown above here on my QRZ page.   The other two articles cover the 829B transmitter described here also, and a companion PIN diode QSK system I built for it.  These articles appear in the October and November 2016, and the Feb 2017 issues of FunkAmateur.  I thank the editors of FunkAmateur for the opportunity to publish in their fine magazine, which contains much good technical information and homebrew articles less commonly seen on a regular basis in ham radio publications here in the USA.




For essential CW operating procedures and symbols,  See :http://ac6v.com/morseaids.htm#CW 

For homebrewers, some useful links below:  

Basic online electronics tutorials (FREE), starting from ZERO electronics knowledge.  (No licensed ham has ZERO electronics knowledge, right?):







For a  very informative treatment of how vacuum tubes really work, see:



Info on Si570 and DDS VFO's and the older KK7B phasing rig designs:







PIN diode info:






There are some useful links for homebrewing out there; here are a few:

http://www.ae6ty.com   Ward has some terrific information here.

http://qsl.net/va3iul/  Iulian has lots of useful HB info here.


http://www.pan-tex.net/usr/r/receivers/elr.htm    An interesting transceiver design.









European homebrew::  Highly recommend you take a look. Great stuff being done by homebrewers there.











Useful links to suppliers if you don't have them already. Parts are SO much easier to obtain now, compared to 50+ years ago when I started, thanks to the Internet. I run into ops on the air who ask me how do I get parts?  The following may be especially informative for those who seem to think that parts and info are hard to come by today.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  Gads, they must never have looked! To wit:







http://www.w0ch.net/kits/kits.htm    Many references here for parts and QRP kits.


























Tayloe Detectors and phasing network design tools for phasing receivers:

http://www.norcalqrp.org/files/Tayloe_mixer_x3a.pdf Dan Tayloe's own circuit description.










8380731 Last modified: 2017-10-10 15:26:51, 39115 bytes

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