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PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:18 pm 
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Ham radio on the cheap - and a learning experience....

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The rig as new

Image
Top cover removed from a new rig


A lot of folks say would would like to get in ham radio - for any number of reasons. A large number also say the cost to get started is too much.

Horse-feathers

This will track my effort to get a known non-working HW-7 QRP rig up and running. The radio cost me $55 and the owner split shipping with me (to Alaska).

Former owner said the PA transistors were shot and he tried to replace them to no effect. I was willing to take the risk of buying pretty much site unseen, a 1970s Vintage Heathkit.

Pros -
Good to excellent documentation. The rig came with the original manual. If not, more than one site has manuals to download at no cost. All parts locations on the circuit board are marked, doesn't get any easier than this!

Simple design and made to run from 12 VDC DC. No conversions needed. An odd plus for me is this is made to run as:
A crystal controlled transmitter with VFO controlled receiver and
as a conventional VFO controlled transceiver ...

Non-digital, all through hole parts and sold as a kit, so very easy to work on.

Old enough that any problems will both be well understood and documented, and as such, easy to reproduce fixes as needed.

Cons-
It's an old radio and many have been modified to death by folks who should never be allowed to own a soldering iron. In this case, the rig I acquired is pristine - the board is in very good condition and the original kit builder did a good job soldering.

(NOTE - Always check the bottom of the circuit board(s) prior to purchase - there are some horror stores out there.)

Analog VFO and direct conversion RX. Nothing I can't work around.

First step. Clean the rig inside and out.
Photos of my rig to follow.....

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Last edited by TacAir on Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 12:24 am 
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Well, I'm even happier that before.

The manual that came with the rig is a bit dogeared, but complete and not water stained, etc.

The cabinet top and bottom came off and cleaned up nicely with soap and water. The rig - it seems- was never owned by a smoker. Very good news
As an aside, never even consider purchasing a used rig from a smoker. I did that once and the tar is still oozing out of the rig after a single dose of alcohol. This, several years on...

Going over the circuit traces shows no damage, it would seem the repair attempted by the prior owner is the only soldering done since the kit was built. No tin whiskers were seen, but I will go over the board with alcohol and a stuff brush to clean off any hidden and remove the tiny bit of flux still on the board.

I applied power and was pleased when no magic smoke appeared.

I put an antenna analyzer near the ant input and was able to hear a signal on 40/20 and 15 Meters. Even better. I put a portable digital rig next to the HW-7 and listened for the VFO - it's a direct conversion rx, so the VFO out = desired freq to listen to. This rig needs an alignment, not unexpected.

ETA - The receiver is very 'microphonic' - which is to say, when tuned to my active frequency, via the pre-selector control, touching or tapping the case will produce a ringing in the headphones. This a long known problem with both the HW-7 and HW-7 - and many other direct conversion rigs for that matter. I have a set of mods that should take care of this....

Bottom line - I have a working receiver and a good VFO that will need some TLC.

Items I need to buy so far
Power plug and connector - $4.00 and available on-line.. Just as cheap to replace both sides of the power plug assy
.
BNC panel connector to replace the phono plug that's OEM for the antenna. $4 to $5 & I can buy locally

2 x NPN power transistors @ 2.94 ea available on-line. Might be had locally...

Up to now, only about $15 in parts are assumed to be needed to bring this fully back to life as originally designed. I already have a 4 States audio filter (Hi-Per-Mite) that will go in before I'm done.

Next up -
I've downloaded the Heath Service Bulletins and need to see what, if any updates have been done. I've also pulled all known popular mods and will check for those as well.

********

So far, pretty happy with what I have to work with. Back in the day, I got back from an overseas tour and bought an HW-8 and put it together. Much better radio. If you compare the 1976 price and ajust for inflation the HW-7 sold for $69.95 in 1972.

In today's dollarettes... it would set you back $398.79 (using the CPI calculator). I paid $229 for a 6 band HF rig with a receiver and transmitter far more stable and cleaner that the HW-7, but, as they say, it wasn't too bad for it's day. Digital technology has made a massive impact everywhere, this is just one more example.

********* Sizes, weights and specs (The good, the bad and the ugly)
Specifications:
General
Frequency Coverage
40 meters, 7.0 to 7.2 MHz
20 meters, 14.0 to 14.2 MHz
15 meters, 21.0 to 21.3 MHz
Frequency Stability - less than 100 Hz drift after 10 minutes warmup
Power Requirements - 13 volts DC, nominal. 35 mA receive mode and 450 mA transmit mode
(NOTE - this is less power draw than my MFJ-9200 with the display backlight off, impresseive)
Final amplifier, two MPSU05 silicon transistors

Dimensions 9-¼" wide x 8-½" deep x 4-¼" high, including knobs and feet
Weight 4 lbs. 8 oz.

Transmitter
DC Power Input
40 meters -- 3 watts
20 meters -- 2.5 watts
15 meters -- 2 watts
Frequency Control
40 meter crystal or built-in VFO on 40 meters
20 meter crystal or built-in VFO on 20 meters
15 meter crystal or built-in VFO on 15 meters

Output Impedence - 50 ohms unbalanced (works well with a resonant dipole antenna)
Spurious and Harmonic Levels - at least 25dB down. This doesn't come close to current FCC requirements of -50dB (below carrier). This rig is grandfathered under current Rules, but I will be adding a filter to improve the output.

Receiver
Sensitivity- less than 1 microvolt provides readable signal. My -9200 has a MDS of .2 uV, much better..
Selectivity - 2 kHz at 6dB down. Yes, I'm adding a CW filter that's 200 hz wide.
Type of Reception CW or SSB
Audio Output Impedance 1000 ohms nominal.

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2016 10:50 pm 
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I ordered, received the replacement PA transistors.

Image

The links lead to a datasheet, for each device. If you open the link, you'll see an image of each device.

Here is where the problems with older radios start. The original device is a Motorola MPS-U05, long out of production. WHen found, the cost $18 or more each. No thanks!
(http://html.alldatasheet.com/html-pdf/6 ... PSU05.html)

The replacement is a MJE-2955T, which is in a TO220 case. This is a higher power rated device - and they cost $0.60 - yup, under a buck. I can work with that.
(http://www.onsemi.com/pub_link/Collater ... 955T-D.PDF)

So what?

Well, the original device leads are like this !!! = EBC The replacement pinout is BCE. (Base, Collector, Emitter)
On the drawing- for Q8 and Q9-
E
.....B
C

Looking at the foil board image, you can see where the change in the pinout will require a bit a fancy footwork.
I hope to be able to bend the leads around. The person I bought this from didn't understand the parts are not direct replacement. Installed as a direct replacement - the new device lasted a few seconds. His loss, my gain. (No pun)

I'll post some images of the final solution. I actually get a kick out of doing stuff like this...

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PostPosted: Sat May 07, 2016 6:43 am 
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Enjoying this adventure. Nice catch on the lead configuration. I had one of these back in the 70s and it was a lot of fun.

I wholly agree that we get a lot of new radio these days for our buck but it is fun to play with the old stuff.

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 7:20 pm 
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So, now all parts are in, and we pop off the bottom, removing the two PA transistors for testing. And that's where we start to run into issues. It would seem the guy I bought the rig from wasn't the first to mess with it.
No big. I get the transistors out to test them and discover the reason the transmitter doesn't work.

Oh, no, both PA transistors are just fine. I'll replace them both anyway because the new devices are rated for 10 watts dissipation, and 60 VDC, across the EB/BC junction for breakdown – which is another way of saying, transmitting into an SWR of 3:1 or higher likely won't damage these babies – at least not right away.

The transmitter doesn't work because -- a chunk of the foil trace is missing. The photo below shows the board with PA transistors pulled for testing and the "X-ray"-drawing of the board. As they say on the CTW – one doesn't look like the other....

Zoom in and you see the foil connecting the emitter of Q8 to R-32, which goes to ground, is missing. R-32, thanks to a crap kit build, sits up off the board some distance, I may be able to pull it, reform the leads, and use the 'excess' lead to make up for the missing foil. If not, I'll plunk down another dime for a brand-new R-32 and then have a ton of lead length to play with.

Image
Board & X-ray drawing

I could just glue R-32 to the bottom of the board, and hook the transistor lead to it that way. It would also look like....poo. So, I'll fix it the 'right way'. If I go to sell this, then the proper repair is an asset, and not something the next ham will roll his eyes over.


Here's a close-up. Look at the space between the jaws of the pliers. See a couple of holes? Yes. See the foil connecting them – no, you don't. Again, no big, just some time is all it will take.

Image
missing foil, eh?

The new transistors as I noted last time aren't the in same (EBC) configuration. If you look at the photos below – you see that a bit of bending and an L shaped piece of wire from the "Base" hole in the circuit board to the device will make it work. This is a low power rig, you can get away with stuff like this with just a bit of care. The Emitter and Collector leads fit into the board just fine on my test fit.
I used both a solder sucker & solder wick and a low-wattage iron to avoid further damage to the board. You see the damage and splatter from earlier work.

Image '
New transistors and new bend with OEM device to right.

Now the "What can you learn from this post?" I used a VoM to test the transistors, so can you!. Like this (you only need one meter BTW)
Image

(http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/textbook/semiconductors/chpt-4/meter-check-transistor-bjt/)

So, then I'm done, I'll have 4 spare PA transistors, two old-school, two new/higher power. This could have been fixed with a bit of time, and maybe a $0.10 resistor. In other words, on the cheap!

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Last edited by TacAir on Sun May 22, 2016 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 9:26 pm 
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How long before you call CQ? I'll be in North America soon, I could try and send a signal your way...

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 12:28 am 
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Be a while yet - I have to re-drill the heat sinks, and replace the missing foil. Then align the thing and I have about 10 mods or so to put in, one at a time to see the effect each one has.

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 9:16 am 
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Thanks for bringing us along. A buddy and I used to drool over the HeathKit catalog as kids but I had no money for stuff like that. Hind sight is 20/20 but I could retire early if I had a bunch of un-assembled kits squirreled away somewhere...

And BTW the Harbor Freight multi-meters that are sometimes free with a coupon and otherwise $6 (keep one in every vehicle) have a transistor test function, though I've never used it.

Eric


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 11:08 am 
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That was a nice piece of detective work discovering the missing foil trace!
Also a great catch on the transistor lead variation...
My compliments


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 9:13 pm 
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K8KIZ wrote:
That was a nice piece of detective work discovering the missing foil trace!
Also a great catch on the transistor lead variation...
My compliments


You are too kind. I spent 22+ years repairing/modding high end comm equipment for the military at the component level. An HW-7 is pretty simple stuff - and because it is simple, it makes a decent first rig if a person want to start learning to work on radio gear.

I've posted this thread in an effort to get folks interested in tinkering with the hardware side of comms (not that software hacking is easy) and maybe get those folks on the air with 'vintage' equipment. With most kits, if you build it, you can fix it.

The newer digital stuff is great, but if the MCU craps out, you now own a brick. With the older stuff, there is at least a chance to effect a repair with new devices.... Another reason to swap out the PAs, to show it can be done with a little thought.

Thank you for the kind words.

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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 1:28 pm 
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Image
(high def photos here)

I think I mentioned that before you part with any cash for a purchase of a used radio / kit assembled by someone else - you should really try and get photos of top and bottom of the rig.

Now, this doesn't protect you if the person is really out to scam you - they could send pics of another rig, for example.

But if you see anything like this - run away.

Burned traces, extra wires, lots of hot glue! This radio was once a You Kits EK-1A two band radio - not a bad rig from all reports. This one was "modified". - that word should warn you off most stuff sold on line unless you have dealt with the person before. The next scariest word is "repaired".

Click the hi def link and zoom around on the images - you can really see all the missing parts, places where what had to have been a soldering gun melted parts, burned board spots and so on.

In my case the damage is minor and no big deal to fix. To be fair to the guy who sold me this rig, it is very easy to lift the traces on old Heath boards. I got lucky and only the one trace is gone. For a radio that's 40+ years old, it really is minor.

In the example posted above : P

Just thought I'd post this to show how bad it can get...

Have fun!

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:40 pm 
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In looking closely at the inside as part of the repair, I discovered the diode (D1) used to detect RF for the panel mounted power meter is gone. I'll add an In914, a low cost part.

Image

I replaced the old RCA connector with a new BNC, a standard connector for my antennas.

Image

Image

Here are the PA transistors, I still need to trim the base lead, but I'm waiting to do that just before I button everything up. I re-drilled the heat sinks to sit lower on the device - increasing the contact area.

Image

Image

The white stick points to the repair where I used one lead of a resistor to replace the missing board trace. Now I'll start working the transmit chain to check continuity – this to find any open parts, like coils, chokes or the RF switching.

Image

Where do I sit now?
The receiver works, which means I have a good audio section, the VFO and the doubler/tripler chains all work – they have to for the RX to hear a signal. The transmitter is a MOPA type, so the VFO injection signal is used to start the transmitter chain. So, everything thru Q 4 is good.

I get sidetone which verifies a good audio section and the T/R relay functions, so the key line and associated circuits are good.

Q5 is the oscillator (for the panel mounted crystal socket) and the driver transistor. That directly feeds Q6 and Q7, the PA transistors. So, somewhere between Q4 and the antenna, I have to find the fault.

I'm first going to confirm a good path thru the relay. Electromechanical parts are prone to failure and this is an open frame relay, so cleaning the contacts is the minimum fist pass 'fix item'. I'll then go back and check for continuity in coils and the switched parts. If that doesn't show anything, I'll need to check Q5.

After that – I'll need an RF probe to continue. These are both cheap and easy to make with a diode, resistor and small capacitor.

I'll add updates as I sort thru the circuits…..

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:44 pm 
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Last night wen thru a full continuity check. T/R relay contacts are good to the BNC and working backwards from there, I checked all the switches, ohm checked all the coils and chokes.

All the switches are good. This exercise did force me to sit and really stare at the schematic and 'X-ray view of the rig, The driver transistor is also the oscillator for the panel mounted crystal. All of the LPF coils looked good, so now I'm leaning toward the Driver being bad. I'll pull the Base lead and run a simple VoM check. If the driver transistor is blown, the cause, this will have turned out to be an easy fix after all... I may still have a bad capacitor, but those I normally check last,.

Have fun

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Last edited by TacAir on Sat Jul 02, 2016 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 8:42 pm 
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Making progress then?

I'll be back in Canada soon, a few weeks; going to take the radio out on some canoe trips again - perhaps you can beam a signal my way if you get this old thing fixed? You have been my antenna Elmer...:)

I bought a portable amplifier though; I have yet to use it; it is in Canada while I am not yet. Will pump out 50 watts; still not big power, but more than 5 and in an emergency in the back country that extra power may make a big difference when 5 just won't cut through or bounce along too far...

MT

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2016 1:40 am 
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modustollens wrote:
Making progress then?

I'll be back in Canada soon, a few weeks; going to take the radio out on some canoe trips again - perhaps you can beam a signal my way if you get this old thing fixed? You have been my antenna Elmer...:)

I bought a portable amplifier though; I have yet to use it; it is in Canada while I am not yet. Will pump out 50 watts; still not big power, but more than 5 and in an emergency in the back country that extra power may make a big difference when 5 just won't cut through or bounce along too far...

MT

Yes, I now know what is not broken - and will test this weekend a couple of things - I now suspect the driver transistor (a 2N3393) so just about any small NPN should play as a replacement. I'd hoped to fix it for under $10 and I'm just about there.

A part of the problem is one you should feel - even tho I live in the largest city in the State - there is only one parts store and they are pricey, even by Alaska standards. Most mail order place demand a high minimum order - so, I'm looking at my junk pile to see if I can dig something out.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2016 2:55 am 
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Yea - here in Kazakhstan, where mailing things in is a multi-month gamble, no real specialty shops for such things, and what is available is of such low quality that it is useless: tape that does not stick, lead solder that won't melt, and the fuses I buy for my old truck, well, the plastic housing melts and bubbles into a black, charred mess, while the metal fusible link refuses too melt at all.

But, that problem is ending for me! My contract ends in 8 days and I am leaving forever!

I have always wanted to head up your way. There is a an advanced WEMT course on early September in Whitehorse that I am tempted to sign up for to augment my EMT certification; maybe I'll be up there sooner than later.

My new, small 50 watt amp is waiting to be put to the test when I get back. Going to load up the canoe with a few weeks of supplies and go on a canoe DXpedition! Something akin to SOTA but geared toward small, back-country lakes...

The amp I bought is here: http://www.ebay.com/itm/111962133121

Maybe it is not so good, but there were lots of fair to good reviews and my friend bought it a month prior to me and he said it works fine. Plus it is small and light enough to take out in the field.

After I get some time with it I'll make a post here about its performance.

At least that radio with your skills is a good combo; if my HF radio broke I would not be able to fix it myself, so, if the SHTF then the SHTR(adio), I'd be SOL.

MT

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:10 pm 
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Have you had any chance to make more progress with the HW-7?

This thread is fascinating :)

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sheddi wrote:
Have you had any chance to make more progress with the HW-7?

This thread is fascinating :)


Sadly, I took a vacation Outside and purchased a used VW Eurovan camper - both have sucked up all my free time to date. I do have all the parts on hand, I'll likely get them installed this weekend. It's been raining for the last week....

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:03 pm 
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Fast note - replaced the driver - Q5 and the rig is aces. I tried usng an FT-243 xtal for 40 Meters - no beuno. I guess the rock is too old or 'soft' to reliably light up.

Total cost of actual repair and a couple of upgrade parts (for setting keying to be comparable with my new keyer) was under $10. Total cost of a working radio - 72 US Dollars... 3 bands and surprisingly hot front end. The hard voltage regulator for the VFO is a must (a pair of 5 vdc Zeners is just the ticket)

sorry of the so late update. Now to start looking for carcasses from HB-1A, HB-1B and other MFJ-9200 that have stopped kicking....

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