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ANTENTOP- 01- 2004, # 005

A Simple SSB Transceiver


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by Ashhar Farhan




A dual-band transceiver with a crisp receiver and a clean SSB signal is described. It started its life as an investigation of the excellent S7C receiver described in EMRFD. This transceiver was specifically designed to use components that are easily available in TV and Radio spares shops. The receiver sports an above average dynamic range, very clean signal and noiseless performance. Although the components are easily available, and every detail about making it is covered here, this is not a weekend project. The design is elaborate and invites improvisation.


We decided to pursue the following rules in designing this transceiver:


Use what is easily available. Very often, we find designs that look good but they use exotic parts like TUF-1 mixers that are simply impossible to get hold of in India and other countries. Instead, we have tried using those spares that are universally available.


Keep impedances and gain low: Often, we try coaxing maximum gain out of a stage making it difficult to duplicate and stabilize. We chose to take only modest gain out of each stage, using extensive feedback to make the circuit stable. Most of the interconnections between modules are for 50 ohms termination. In fact, the rig was a number of discrete board connected using RCA audio cables and sockets before we hooked it all up together to work.


No PCB. We directly solder the components over a plain copper clad board (un-etched PCB). It is an excellent way to experiment, physically robust and has a quick and dirty appeal. You can usually solder up a whole circuit as you think it out in a few minutes. See the pictures.


Broadband. We wanted to be able to use broadband design where applicable. We have found that the television balun cores are an excellent and very cheap (about Rs. 2 per balun, that is 5 cents) way of making broadband transformers.


Modest cost. While we didnít want to use very expensive components. We didnít want to compromise the performance either. You will see that we have used 2N3866 exclusively. This was because we found that the BF195/BF194/2N2222 series transistors available in the market were consistently inferior in the HF range and performed below their stated specs. The 2N3866 is commonly

used in cable TV equipment and has a good HF performance: both as a low noise small signal transistor as well as driver up to 1 watt level. 2N3866 is expensive (about Rs.20 each, but well worth the expense). It is used in a number of critical places.


Measure what you have built. We used a 12 volt 1.5A power supply, a frequency counter, a test oscillator (to measure the crystals and coils) and a high impedance voltmeter with an RF probe to test and measure the design. All these test equipment were homemade. The transmitter design did require a PC-based oscilloscope. It helped us identify the spurs and harmonics using the in-built FFT functionality. But now that the design is complete, just an RF probe and a 14MHz receiver are enough to align the rig.


Quality over quantity. A better signal is preferred to a bigger signal. This is a 6 watt design that will work off a simple 12V, 1.5A supply (using a single 7812).


The ladder crystal filter


A good filter is central to the crispness of a receiver and the quality of the transmitter. There are two types of crystal filters possible, the lattice filter and the ladder filter. The lattice filter requires ordering crystals with 1.5 KHz frequency difference between them. This was ruled out, also procuring readymade filters from BEL India and other sources was ruled out as it is too expensive to do that. Instead, a ladder filter was chosen. The ladder filter offers results as good if not better than a lattice filter. However, the design is crucially dependent upon internal parameters of the crystals used. It is not possible to suggest any generic values for the capacitors to be used in the ladder filter. Rather, a method to measure each of the crystals and calculate the capacitor values has been worked out. We present this here. This design procedure will work only for 10 MHz crystals. 10Mhz is the chosen IF of our filter as the crystals are easily available and it sits comfortably between 7 and 14 MHz amateur bands. We have followed the Butterworth design methodology given in the new ARRL book ĎExperimental Methods in RF Designí.


The circuit centers around a four crystal ladder filter. Each lot of crystals from each manufacturer differs from the others. We will describe a way to experimentally calculate the values of the capacitors for the filter. You should probably buy 10 crystals and select 5 of them.

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