Wednesday, February 29, 2012

472kHz I/Q-SDR kit

Nothing is for free, up to now, there is no kit available for 472kHz.
However, there is one for 136kHz, which can be easily modified to match the new band.
Check out box73's longwave I/Q-SDR kit.

You will see that a 15MHz signal is divided by 25. This results in a 600kHz signal which is further divded by 4 in order to create the phase shift. All in all, this ends up in a center frequency of 150kHz.

We can use the same oscillator and divide the signal by 8. This results in 1.875MHz, which will be further divided by 4 providing a center frequency of 468.75kHz.
With a sampling rate of mere 24kbps, or +/- 12kHz bandwidth, the entire band (472 to 479kHz) will be covered.

The digital part is rather simple to modify. A suitable ripple counter could be the 74HC93.
The frontend is even more simple... just pick a 455kHz i.f.-filter/transformer and replace C1, C2 and L1.

Should the old experimental range, somewhere above 500kHz, be a desired range, the additional modification would simply replacing the 15MHz canned oscillator with a 16MHz one.

I will see if I can persuade the OM at to provide such a kit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MF/HF Aerial

And along came an idea....
You may have heard about the CobbWeb aerial. Essentially, this is a cluster of dipoles for the bands 20m, 17m 15m, 12m and 10m. The cluster is fed via a coax choke.
Maybe there is a way to squeeze more out of this aerial. The amount of wire in the dipole array creates a decent capacity, I figure.
It may be worth a try to build such an aerial, feed it with RG-6. And, for MF purposes, use the feedline's shield (and core) as vertical and the dipole array as capacitive load. The rf choke could further help to increase the load on the (very) short Marconi for 600m.

This would be somewhat like the antenna disclosed in the U.S. Patent 3,569,970, (see Figs.7a,7b) but using the CobWebb in place of the stretched dipoles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

472kHz Phasing Transmitter

We have seen that a 1.8432MHz oscillator will provide us with a 460.8kHz I/Q-SDR LO.
This is very much in a comfortable range for of the new amateur radio MF band, i.e. 11.2kHz to the lower band edge and 18.2kHz to the higher band edge.
Now, how to generate the modulator signal? Phasing style, the easiest would be to build an oscillator for the 44.8 to 72.8kHz and use two Flip-Flops to generated the 90 degrees phase shift.

  1. Such an oscillator could be a rather simple function generator. Other solutions could be based on micro-controllers such as PICs, PICAXE, AT-Tiny, etc. With such a controller, it would also be possible to program features like memory channels, frequency display, beacon-keyer...
  2. Another approach would be to build a crystal oscillator, using cheap industrial xtals, and divide it down. Some ideas could be crystals from the XMHz range divided by N (by means of a binary counter) before feeding the Flip-Flops:
    • 3.000MHz / 64 = 46.88kHz resulting in 472.5kHz
    • 3.072MHz / 64 = 48.0kHz resulting in 472.8kHz
    • 3.2768MHz / 64 = 51.2kHz finally resulting in 473.6kHz
    • 3.579545MHz / 64 = 55.93kHz resulting in 474.78kHz
    • 3.6864MHz / 64 = 57.6kHz resulting in 475.2kHz
    • 3.93216MHz / 64 = 61.44kHz resulting in 476.16kHz
    • 4.000MHz / 64 = 62.5kHz resulting in 476.4kHz
    • 4.096MHz / 64 = 64.0kHz resulting in 4768kHz
    • 4.194394MhZ / 64 = 65.54kHz resulting in 477.2kHz
    • 4.433619MHz / 64 = 69.28kHz resulting in 478.1kHz
  3. In the light of the above, ham-radio crystal such as (in MHz) 3.530, 3.535, 5.540, 3.550, 3.555, 3.560, 3.575611, 3.880, 3.885 can fill in gaps. Those crystals are found at "expanded spectrum systems".
  4. With some luck, one finds tons and tons of surplus crystals in the range of 2.8672MHz to 4.6592MHz. As I recall, there where channelised commercial transceivers (e.g. military, maritime etc.) making use of crystals in that range.
  5. Similar to the crystal approach, one could consider to use 3.58MHz, 4.0MHz, 4.19Mhz, 4.50MHz and 4.91MHz ceramic resonators for a VFO. The 6.00MHz, 6.50MHz and 8.00MHz resonators would require one additional division.
  6. The deluxe version of it all would be a DDS for the range 2.8672MHz to 4.6592MHz. I wonder is there is any kit in which the LO offset can be easily programmed to (f/256)+460800Hz. Maybe a project with the DDS60 board.
When modulating the phase shifted AF signals, one has to consider that those are essentially square waves. In order to reduce harmonics, it would be required to do some severe low pass filtering at about 19kHz before injecting the signals into the I/Q mixers.

As to receiving, the 11.2kHz to 18.2kHz is in the comfort zone of any 48kbps sampling sound card.

There you have it, my presently preferred solution for the new 600m amateur radio band.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

600m Signal Source

As we know by now, 472-479kHz it will be. In an earlier post I revealed some "cheap" frequencies which would mix into the new band.

Some further options using industrial crystals:

DigiKey sells a 4.754687MHz crystal... count to (divide by) 5 and further divide by two results in 475kHz. A super-VXO could be an option here.

The above mentioned count to 5 solution applies to the following crystals, found at the same source: 9.494531MHz, 9.509375MHz and 9.545MHz. Other crystals would allow for an out of band I/Q-SDR LO: 9.600MHz, 9.625MHz and 9.7941MHz. Here, the chain would be count to 5, divide by 4.

Further: 18.9375MHz, 19.0625MHz  and 19.069928MHz and for I/Q-SDR: 18.869MHz, 18.8696MHz, 19.200MHz, 19.280MHz and 19.440MHz. Consequenctly, the chain would be count to 5, divide by 8.

Plus: 28.59375MHz, 28.5938MHz, 28.636MHz, 28.6363MHz and 28.63636MHz (count to 3, count to 5, divide by 4).

Taking it even higher: 38.000MHz and 38.00053MHz (count to 5, divide by 16). I/Q-SDR: 38.400MHz and 38.880MHz.

Also found at DigiKey: a 7.680MHz crystal. Divide by 16 results in 480kHz. Again, a super-VXO and some (severe) down pull should generate a signal in the band. This crystal provides easy access to I/Q-SDR: LO spot om 480kHz, even a mere 24kbps sample rate would cover the whole band. The same applies to the 15.360MHz found at the same store.

All the above mentioned crystals are of industrial kind. One option would be order one for the favorit solution, the other option would be to carefully watch out for those frequencies before dumping old computers & Co.