26 May, 2011

Five LEDs in buttons for the Elecraft K2

The Elecraft K2 is quite a small transceiver, made for portable use. Therefore it has fewer indicators of status than many other transceivers. There isn't really much space for this on the rather small frontpanel. But I felt for a long time felt that it should be possible to put additional LED indicators on the K2 but I wanted to avoid drilling holes in the front panel. Here is a method based on using small LEDs in the keycaps, see info from W3FPR/KR5L, as you can always get replacement key caps from Elecraft.

On W3FPR’s recommendation I have used 2 mm LEDs of types HLMP6300 (red), HLMP6400 (orange/yellow), and HLMP6500 (green). They can be bought from Digikey as well as from ELFA in Northern Europe. The first two of the five LEDs that I have added can be connected from the front panel board without additional wiring to other boards.

This YouTube video shows the three first LEDs, the Zero-Beat Indicator, the Split Indicator, and the Audio Filter On indicator:

24 May, 2011

QRPp: Ultra low power operation with the Pixie 2

QRPp is radio amateur jargon for communication using a transmitter with less than 1 Watt power output. That’s less than a handheld GSM mobile phone (max wireless range ~35 km) or a flash light. My Pixie 2 transceiver has so far contacted 15 different countries on 3.5 MHz CW. The first version from 2002 was made in an Altoids tin (picture later), but in 2010 I repacked it in one of the nice clear top tins from the 4SQRP (picture below).

My repackaged Pixie 2

23 May, 2011

How to make a very cheap VHF receiver

What is the cheapest receiver you can make for VHF? Here is a candidate where all you need to do to modify a small FM headphone receiver is to desolder one end of two capacitors, and connect a short cable with an antenna connector. 
    One 22 pF capacitor lifted on the right-hand side near the headphone 
     connector for connection to the external antenna, and another one lifted on 
    the left-hand side, above the volume control for increasing the tuning range 
    (The receiver IC is on the foil side of the board).