Monthly Archives: February 2012

Softrock RX TX – We have a Reciever!

After several days of working on the Softrock RX-TX kit, I have completed the receiver section of the radio kit. Initially did this did not go well. When I plugged in the rig for testing, I was getting a large ac hum right in the middle of the SDR display. I was receiving signals, but they were very weak. After changing cables and trying several SDR programs, I continued to get weak signals. Since I am using a not so fantastic antenna for 20M, I thought that was the best this radio would do, and I would just have to tune around the hum. I went back over the the receiver section several times checking my work and could not find anything obviously wrong.  After a couple of days, I decided to give it one last look. I suspected the problem could be in the op amp section. Under closer inspection under the giant magnifying glass, I saw a couple of pins on the op amp chip that looked a little suspicious. Often with these small ICs, the pins look like they may be soldered to the board, but they may not be making a good connection. After I re-soldered …

Building the Softrock Ensemble RX/TX SDR Radio

Bottom View of Ensemble board with the LFEA and SI570 chips installed

 

I am currently building the Softrock Ensemble RXTX SDR transceiver kits from Tony Parks KB9YIG. I will say that this is a very challenging kit. I have built previous kits from Tony Park and Elecraft and I would say this one is a real challenge. It has plenty of tiny parts, but the LFEA (aka FLEA) chip used in the 3.3 voltage USB circuit was especially interesting (to be kind) when soldering it to the board. (Click on the photo and look in the upper left corner, the LFEA is the tiny speck of black.) The SMA capacitors look terrifying, but are actually fairly easy by putting a little solder on one pad and then holding the part in place with a pair of side angle tweezers. The use the soldering iron to tack one end of the capacitor down to the pad with previously applied solder. Also WB5RVZs builders notes should be required reading.…

Adding an Inexpensive Weather Station to your Shack

Most hams are interested in weather at some level or another. With today’s internet services, very detailed information about the weather in your area is often just a click away. However, depending on your location you may not be able to get information that is close to you. Wouldn’t it be nice to get information about whats going on in your own backyard? You can check the rainfall or the wind speeds right at your backdoor. Set alarms that will notify you that the winds are increasing and it is time to go crank down the antenna. You can even share this information with other hams via APRS or your neighbors using such services as Weather Underground. All you have to do is add an inexpensive weather station to your shack.…