March 26, 2010


Prior to receiving my ham radio license in 1991, I was already an electronics experimenter.  I had built a lot of audio-frequency gear, such as guitar effects devices and preamps and mixers and such.  But I didn't really keep good notes on the stuff I made.  Shortly after I was licensed (originally as N0NZQ), I decided to begin a radio electronics experiments notebook.  In it I keep schematics of circuits I've built, results of experiments I've tried, calculations of component values for VFOs, and stuff like that.  I also periodically have written down my amateur radio goals for the year.

I've drifted in and out of the hobby over the years (mostly because work or other interests have supplanted radio at times), so I'm still using the same notebook I started with (although it is nearly full now).  (For what it's worth, the notebook I chose was one of those composition notebooks with the black speckled cover, like they sell at college bookstores, except mine was filled with graph paper, to make it easier to draw neat schematics and diagrams.)

Anyway--today I sat down and reviewed that notebook, which now covers about 18 years of messing around with radio electronics.  And I read with particular interest my recurring lists of goals, noting that some of the same goals keep coming up, time after time.  For example, it seems like I'm always hoping to get a better antenna system up, and another recurring theme is the goal to build small QRP rigs for every HF band.

One of the things I've learned over the years about setting goals (not just in ham radio, but in any area of life) is that it is a good idea to review them periodically, keep track of your progress, and if necessary, change or update them.  This spring I think I'm finally going to get that antenna project done--my new son-in-law is a strapping young man who is game for climbing a tall tree in my back yard, so I'm optimistic that I'll at least have some wire up soon, higher than I've ever had it before.  I also have noted that I have completed small QRP rigs for 40 and 20 meters--granted, they were kits and not purely homebrew designs, but I'll count them.  One goal was to try one of the digital modes--PSK31, and while I haven't transmitted in PSK31 yet, I've got some software and have been able to receive, so that goal seems attainable soon, too.

My goals in the past have often included acquiring or building various bits of test gear, and I've been fortunate in that regard, as well.  I now have a pretty nice (albeit basic) 30 MHz oscilloscope to replace an old 5MHz 'scope that I borrowed from my dad years ago.  I've managed to find a nice frequency counter at a hamfest, and a signal generator, too (although it only goes to about 2MHz).  I've recently built a crystal test oscillator that works from around 2MHz to around 25MHz, which has been quite useful, and I also built a small dual-range QRP wattmeter--it's not calibrated, but it has two ranges (50 mW and 4W), and it's enough to tell me if I'm stirring the ether at all.  One of my goals for this year to is figure out a way to calibrate the thing and replace the meter's scale with one that is more useful to me.

So here are some of my latest goals:
  1. I want to build something with tubes.  I have a bunch of old tubes and high-voltage parts (resistors and capacitors), plus some broken tube-type gear that I can cannibalize for parts.  Maybe I'll start with a simple one-tube regenerative receiver or something.
  2. I want to restore an old Atwater-Kent radio that a friend gave me a few years ago.
  3. I want to restore a couple of old tube testers that another friend gave me a long time ago.
  4. I want to build a CW rig for 6 meters.
  5. I want to try my hand at QRSS or WSPR.
  6. I want to experiment with frequency multiplier circuits.
  7. I want to build a variable DC power supply.
  8. I want to build a very small trail-friendly 40-meter CW transceiver to take on hikes and bike trips (with a portable antenna and transmatch).
  9. I have a large supply of 2N2222 transistors, so I'd like to try one of the 2N2-xx rig designs.
That's probably enough to keep me busy for the year, don't you think?

So (in case there is anyone reading this out there), what are YOUR goals for this year?

73 de aa0ms

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