YouKits HB1A – Adjusting the battery level indication

The HB1A is an awesome little rig with many hidden secrets.

Mine was reading a little higher than the actual battery voltage I was using. While it was open, as it often is nowadays, I noticed a trimpot (UR1 Bat) more or less in the middle at the back of the PCB

 

Adjusting this trimpot, I was able to get the correct battery voltage indication on the LCD display.

The next mission – Power output issues need to be resolved ….

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

YouKits HB1A – Replacing the LCD module

With my plans for minimalistic, CW only, RaDAR activities I managed to swop unused equipment for a YouKits HB1A 3 band (40m/30m/20m) QRP trail style radio but needed to give the LCD screen some attention. I considered this to be “bonding time” between myself and the rig. There is not much information on the Net so I decided to document the steps I took to do the replacement an operation that took a nerve racking four hours to do.

I needed to remove the back cover, the control knobs, the PCB retaining screws (2 of) , the nut and screw holding the power transistor in place for heat sinking and also the coax connector.

The module’s connector pins needed to be unsoldered (12 of them) but it was a mission and using a solder sucker didn’t help at all. This is generally a difficult operation as many of us will know.

I was hoping for a dry joint somewhere although the symptoms didn’t agree but I tried anyway as a first line repair without success.

I had to eventually use my Dremel drill with milling bit to cut the module away and use a sharp wire cutter to remove the left over PCB sections from the pins.

I had some coffee before continuing.

The pins needed to be cleaned before they could fit into the holes of the new LCD module. I also used a scribe to try and slightly increase the wire holes sizes on the LCD module thanks to a suggestion by my friend Daryl ZS6DLL. I soldered them lightly into place (Thinking of the next guy that may need to unsolder again one day!!!)

I was wary of applying power but things need to be done and I was relieved to see the new module worked!!!

Unfortunately, once all was reassembled the rig wasn’t putting out any power and not receiving any signals either. But, that’s for the next bonding phase. Fortunately this is a rig that can be repaired by yourself with a little patience and ingenuity, lots of patience!

I suspect (hoping) the problem lies in the vicinity of the BNC coax connector …. I’ll need to redo the PCB to connector connection using a short flylead.

SMD devices are so tiny but fortunately it wasn’t necessary to go to that level, not yet anyway.

UPDATE

The RX / TX problem was caused by a damaged L4 inductor that was damaged during the LCD replacement, a tiny scratch on the component.

If you zoom in on the picture you can see it. (Top left) I temporarily replaced it with a 1.1 uH inductor and the receiver was it’s awesome self again!

Hope someone finds this information helpful one day!

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

RaDAR – Redundant radio equipment

For years now my focus has been RaDAR.

APRS and high power 2m FM communications was also high on the agenda but sadly not many people are active using such modes in my little town. Mostly limited to built up areas like Gauteng and Pretoria.

We did have a high activity rate using packet radio once, our club even ran two packet radio BBS’s! (ZS0LTG and ZS0TFK).

I bought an Alinco mobile rig, the DR135 a few years back and installed the optional built in Packet TNC. This enables the rig for APRS / Packet radio use and can be used to talk to the ISS too, not only on voice but using the AX25 digital modes! The rig has also been configured (Link) for monitoring the AM aircraft band, receive only.

So this rig sits unused in my shack, it would be great if I could swop it for an HB1A QRP rig or some similar QRP gear. That’s more down my alley.

Here in South Africa we’re working on a CW proficiency badge system to promote the learning and use of CW as an adventure activity like RaDAR, SOTA and POTA

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

 

RaDAR – Snapshots in time

Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio is about to be acknowledged once again in an incredible way and I felt it good to browse down memory lane to the very beginnings of the acronym RaDAR. Most of the timestamps come from the South African Radio League’s website, the SARL Forum.

The origins of RaDAR are from another acronym, SiaS, short for “Shack in a Sack”. The call for a better name came from a man by the name of Hans ZS6AKV. It was discussed with Eddie ZS6BNE while having supper after a day’s work at the Cape Town RTA, “Radio Technology in Action”. On the 24th of August 2009 a hint was given that SiaS was to see a name change and a few hours later the acronym RaDAR was presented to the readers of the forum which was quite active at the time.

Plans went ahead to host the first RaDAR excercise for the following month on Heritage day the 24th of September 2009.

About ten months later notes were made of Elmar PD3EM and his team doing a RaDAR expedition promoting the ideas of RaDAR.

Around March 2011 the RaDAR logo was embroidered in orange on a high quality but tough T-Shirt with collar. A few were donated as prizes during later contests to those who excelled in the RaDAR contests which followed.

RaDAR presentations were done at the SARL’s AGM in May 2011 and also at the RTA in Cape Town. Shortly after, the following RTA took place in Port Elizabeth. RaDAR promotes many means of communications, voice, morse code, digital modes and satellite communications.

and finally before the final RTA in Johannesburg, the RTA in Durban on the 30th July 2011.

Now almost six years later, RaDAR has seen many highlights and changes to finally become an internationally accepted method of practicing amateur radio through movements which makes it a unique activity.

Watch this space.

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

RaDAR – The challenge is what it’s all about

Much has been mentioned about team work during the RaDAR challenge which brought about new ways of thinking in taking on the challenge of RaDAR. It must be noted here, that the challenge is not to compete against anyone else or any other team but it helps to share notes at the end of a RaDAR ops for self improvement and also to acknowledge the hardships many go through during such challenges.

My good friend Julian OH8STN wrote (edited), “The team aspect is certainly an interesting new perspective. Still there are some of us around who are doing RaDAR ops alone, and sometimes in much harsher environments. If this is going to be a team effort, perhaps a team category could be considered, to insure things remain balanced and fair.

Individual RaDAR operators in the field, regardless of their operating environment are always at a disadvantage compared to teams. What’s behind my opinion is the broad range of ease/difficulty, from operator to operator, during a RaDAR challenge. Teams may make it even more simple for an event which by its very nature, should actually be a challenge”.

Julian gave his feedback on the April RaDAR challenge via his Blog. “The entire idea of a RaDAR Challenge (from my perspective), is getting outside with your gear, trying to get your comms on in the most difficult operating environment for an amateur radio operator. That’s QRP (or QRO) Portable, far removed from the comforts of your ham shack. Everything that can fail, will fail in a RaDAR Challenge. So we spend most of the time preparing for a RaDAR Challenge, just to be successful, when it comes around. Incidentally, the same skills required for field communications preparedness, are right here in the RaDAR Challenge”.

Julian further commented, “WX Conditions were not bad at all. The temps hovered between -2c and 0 for the entire day. When there was plus temps, I had freezing rain. When the temperature dipped, I had snow. Snow would have been my preference since the wet gloves contributed to minor frostbite on my finger tips upon arrival back home. From my perspective, there is little difference between 0C and -20C. The thing which kills you is the humidity. Still it could have been worse. Some operators will ask why I didn’t start a fire. Great question, by the time I get a fire going, it could easily be time to tear everything down and head off again. RaDAR Challenge ops require you to move after 5 contacts. Had my PSK and JT65 ops worked as planned, I would not have been there any more than 20 minutes. So in this case, I needed to rely on my clothing to keep myself dry and warm while I did what I needed to do. You see, the RaDAR Challenge doesn’t just test your radio gear, it also tests you, your clothing, your skills to troubleshoot, your planning and coordination skills, … It really is a beast if you want it to be. It is also disaster comms 101”.

Julian says it like it is. The RaDAR challenge is there for exactly that, a challenge yet few go to the trouble of actually challenging themselves alone or even as a team effort for that matter. It’s all OK sitting in a comfortable shack but why not prepare yourself for the worst for is it not there where we may one day be needed?

The next challenge will be winter here in ZS. The extreme conditions that Julian OH8STN experienced is by far more difficult than what our winters are.  Be RaDAR active …..

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

 

RaDAR – Is it a team sport

I know how challenging RaDAR can really be. It was designed to take you out of the comfort zone. With every challenge we all learn new things and that is good. The results of the April challenge have made me think a little differently on how we take on the challenge.

Certainly Sid ZS5AYC and his team showed that a team effort can reap benefits and I’m anxious to see how they will handle the on foot category in June. Sid and Adele are SOTA activators too so they know how difficult it is to get to a SOTA destination. Moving after every 5 QSO’s on foot will be a new challenge for them and I have no doubt that they will do well.

I’ve always taken on the RaDAR challenge alone but as we know if you want to include satellite comms and digital modes the load get heavier. Having a team, even a team of novices or interested people could make this load lighter. It will be an exciting opportunity for newcomers to amateur radio that they feel they too have a purpose.

I’m not sure how Sid arranges his operations but I can guess if one operates the radio, another does the logging and maybe a third and fourth person do the antenna deployments and adjustments.

This has got me thinking in a new direction. I’ve always promoted the idea that RaDAR is an ideal training / testing tool for new hams maybe it is time that it be recognised as such.

My next challenge will be a team effort too, on foot of course!!!

73 de Eddie ZS6BNE

RaDAR – Greg N4KGL on foot RaDAR

There is no doubt that on foot RaDAR is the most difficult of all the categories even though fairness in distances to be travelled are built into the equation to make things more or less equal.

Greg devised a way of carrying his equipment while on the move. It’s extremely difficult to carry a suitable station around using only a backpack.

Greg went the extra mile to attempt inter continental RaDAR to RaDAR communications but conditions are just not suitable at the moment. Greg however could work some DX from the beach!

Greg’s logbook tells a story, of determination and success, no matter the odds.