RAN Technology

"B" Bench update


Technical 0 Comments 02/03/2020 

Making my work area suit me rather than vice versa

Posted By: Robert Nickels (ranickels)

 

Like most of those reading this, I've upgraded and added to my test equipment inventory over the years, starting with the Heathkit VTVM I built when I was 15 or so.   There's no "right" piece of equipment, just personal preferences, and while I'd be the first to say my work habits are anything but "right" they are what they are, and I'm old enough to realize that my workbench layout will have to conform to my preferences, rather than the other way round.

I recently decided to make some changes to my "B" bench, which either stands for "boatanchor" or because it's the second-best equipped.   My primary bench is used mostly for design and building and SMT assembly and it's undergoing some changes too, but the "B" bench is where a newly acquired piece of gear is most apt to land for an initial check-out and where restoration of most gear will take place.  

It's an 8 ft. wide stand-up (my preference) bench where the needed variac and power related stuff occupies the right hand end area.   I'd had peg hooks for tools but found I was very poor at actually putting things back, so I decided to try the four plastic bins instead.   Tools are organized loosely from the most frequency used in the left-most bin.    A Weller soldering station is to the left (I'm a southpaw) and the Haako desolder and 150 watt gun are underneath.    I do not like having to look "up" to see a meter, so I'm anxious to try the Fluke 37 which I recently acquired which is front-and-center on the bench and will be nicer to read and use than a handheld.    The very good HP 3466A DMM is atop my bench receiver, the Heathkit SW-7800 when morr precision is needed.   The SW-7800 is not Heathkit's best effort but works well in this role because it has digital readout, an attenuator, and USB/LSB/AM/Wide AM modes.   It's used only for audio monitoring of whatever RF emitter I may be working on at any time.  There's also a B&K "Flip-o-Matic" VTVM, mainly because I think it's cool.

There is just nothing better than an analog scope for looking at analog signas, IMHO.   The Tek 475 is a mil-spec upgrade of the basic 250 MHz scope  and replaces a Tek DSO which I'll get more use out of as a portable.    Other gear:
 

B&K Function Generator.   I like that it has enough output to test speakers yet is very simple to use.

To the right of the Heathkit, top to bottom:  Elenco signal generator/counter   I'll bring over a signal from my main HP sig gen for alignments, etc but it's nice to have an RF source with a knob handy.  Boonton 8210 Modulation Analyzer.  This is a new addition and since I work on AM transmitters a lot it will see some use.   Racal-Dana 1992 universal counter timer.  I've needed a better counter and this 1.3 GHz counter fills the bill nicely.

Next:  HP-410C   I don't need a VTVM often but this is the industry standard and the RF probe also covers the range I'm interested in.   The Waters dummy-load wattmeter has switchable ranges from 10 to 1000 watts.  For  more accurate measurement I'll use the scope for low power or a Bird.

Those with sharp eyes will note the Supreme "Audolyzer" on the top shelf.   This instrument from the late 1930s is very handy when repairing AM radios because it can act as a tunable RF voltmeter to check RF and IF stages and as a signal tracer.  It was scrounged from a dumpster at a hamfest because no one knew or appreciated what it was.   The box with the red chicken-head knobs on top is a speaker substitute box known as a " Coastwise Ferret 721".    Panel jacks allow selection of voice coil or it's built-in transformer - these were popular items in the day when a serviceman would bring the chassis of a radio into the shop for repair but would leave the heavy cabinet containing the speaker and its transformer in the customers home.

Lastly there's a B&K transistor tester, an HP DC power supply, a Fluke DMM and a big honkin' semi-regulated Motorola DC power supply that is basically a battery substitute for mobile radios.   I don't use it often but it's nice because it has a variac to make up for voltage drop.

Every shop and every person's needs are different, and I have a bunch of other gear I'll bring in when needed but this set pretty much does what I need for boatanchor tube and solid-state repair and restoration.   My FT-817 is often used as a  low-power signal source and as a receiver, very handy piece of test equipment when not being used on the air.    The same is true for a simple RTL-SDR but that will be another story!

 

 

 

Click on the image title or on the image itself to open the full-sized image in a separate window.

    Looking for a tool?   Important papers?   Parts you just had your hands on minutes ago?   ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  12/04/2021 
     Among it's early products, the Multi Elmac Company of Oak Park MI made marine band radios and other products for boats, including the Sea-Deep DM-1 depth indicator, the Sea-Fume SF-1 vapor detector, and the BC-1 Duo-Charger for 6 and 12 volt batteries.   Thus it's not surprising that the marine radio-telephone would be given a "sea" name:   the Sea...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/05/2021 
   The Sonar Radio Corp.  of Brooklyn NY is a well-known manufacturer of Ham, CB, and Marine Band radios over a period of several decades, and it's products were always well engineered and of good quality.    But despite several attempts, it's ham radio products never really managed to excite hams enough to plunk down their hard-earned cash.   The SRT series of t...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  11/01/2021 
    In 1958, the Multi Elmac Company was riding high on the ham radio waves.   The company had seen an opportunity to provide feature rich but affordable transmitters and receivers to hams itching to "go mobile", which was all the craze.   Instead of sticking a converter in front of the car radio like many competitors did, Elmac produced full-blown receivers that tu...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  09/28/2021 
  

Mystery Transmitter

where's the copper subchassis from?
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 I didn't set out to buy this homebrew CW transmitter, it was included in an auction lot that I wanted so I had to take it to get the desired item.   But even though I always like to see good quality homebrew gear, this one is just a mystery.Most of the transmitter, including 6CL6 oscillator and buffer stages and a 6146 PA are built on a sub-chassis that is clearly part of a com...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/15/2021 
  

The Vector VR-50

last gasp from Swan/Atlas founder Herb Johnson
Category: Vintage Ham Radio
 Most hams are aware that Herb Johnson W6QKI founded Swan in Benson Arizona to make single-band SSB transceivers and then moved his operation to Oceanside CA where Swan thrived throughout the 1960s.   Swan merged with Cubic Corporation in 1967, and Johnson managed Swan as its subsidiary until 1973. Johnson founded Atlas Radio in 1974, with the assistance of Southcom International fo...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  07/12/2021 
   The Harvey-Wells Company was formed through a partnership between Clifford Harvey W1RF, and John Wells W1ZD in 1939.   Cliff Harvey had earlier founded Harvey Radio Labs in 1933, and prior to that, he was associated with the Hendricks and Harvey Company, another partnership. Producing police radios, transceivers, transmitters, and crystals. Their most popular product was the TBS-50 trans...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/18/2021 
    I became aware of a few hams playing with a thing designed to receive digital TV in Europe on your laptop - a little plug-in dongle that used an RTL-2832 IC and sold for $20 or so.    Some clever fellows had determined that it could be put into "radio mode" in which it would generate an IQ stream over USB, and by writing to control registers in the tuner IC, it could...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/13/2021 
    A while back I acquired a six channel HF transceiver made by the Radio Industries division of Hallicrafters, probably in the 1960s, called an SBT-20.    It is capable of 20 watts SSB or 5 watts AM (or CW with an optional board) in the range of 2-12 MHz and thus was probably aimed at commercial and light-duty military applications.   The radio could by ordered with fu...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  06/07/2021 
    I'm always thinking about interesting combinations of equipment to try out on the air.   One day while rearranging the shack I was getting ready to connect my Globe Scout Deluxe back up with a Collins 51S-1 receiver when the LED (the energy-efficient version of the old light bulb) came on.When I first started playing with DVB-T dongles back in 2012 I wanted an upconverter so I ...  READ MORE
- Robert Nickels (ranickels),  05/29/2021 

VIEW News Item

Announcing the W9DYV Radio Society

honoring SSB pioneer Wes Schum W9DYV
VIEW News Item

Hamfests Return!

A quick look at the Wauseon OH swap on June 6, 2020
VIEW News Item

Making A Transistor Radio

in memory of Rev. George Dobbs G3RJV (SK)
VIEW News Item

Wes Schum, Amateur Radio's Unsung Hero

new book released, available on Amazon
VIEW News Item

Soviet Spy Radio found in forest

(oh yeah, I put that there...I'll take it now thanks!)
VIEW News Item

Take the Boatanchor Survey!

Let authors and organizers know what you're interested in
VIEW News Item

W9RAN's "VERSA-TR" (as featured in Dec. 2018 QST)

A Versatile T/R solution for SDRs and vintage radios

(There are currently no Blogs.)