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ANTENTOP- 01- 2004, # 005

A Simple SSB Transceiver


The Receiver


The receiver is minimal. By keeping the number of active devices low (3 devices between the antenna and the audio amplifier), very good fidelity is achieved. The circuit is kept at a low impedance and broadband everywhere except the front-end. This helps in stability.


The front-end uses a low-noise FET. We have used a BFW11 (because the local component shop ran out of BFW10). They have slightly different characteristics. Almost any FET can be used if it is biased properly. The FET should be biased for exactly half the pinch-off voltage. Wes Hayward (W7ZOI) has described the proper way to bias a FET Mixer for proper operation:


  Short gate and source and measure the current that flows through a 560 ohms resister connected to +12V through the drain. This gives the exact Idss.


  Place a 10K resistor between the source and the ground. Keeping the gate grounded and the drain still connected through the 560 ohms resister, measure the voltage between the source and the ground. This gives you the pinch-off voltage.


  The FET has to be biased such that the voltage on the source is exactly half the pinch-off voltage and there is half of Idss current flowing through the FET. Such a scheme assures you that the FET is driven between pinch-off and maximum drain by the VFO injected at the source. This gives the proper switching action for the mixer to operate as well as maximum gain. We measured the pinch-off voltage for BFW11s as 2.1 volts and Idss as 5mA. A standard 1K resistor at the source gives the proper bias.


It should be noted here that we first tried a double balanced diode ring mixer at the front-end. It has a number of spurious responses that literally made it impossible to use the receiver. We tried to properly terminate the diode ring mixer by inserting attenuators between the mixer and the Ladder filter’s pre-amp. It didn’t cure the problem. When we changed to the FET mixer, the noise figure improved, the receiver’s dynamic range, while unmeasured, was never found lacking in the last one month of extensive usage at VU2PEP.


The output of the IF amplifier is detected in a balanced detector using just two diodes. Here gain, we break a common myth. You will see most of the HF receivers employing a two diode balanced detector with the BFO fed to the center tap and the incoming signal applied through the primary winding of the detector transformer. This is wrong. The signal applied through the primary winding should strong enough to switch the diodes on and off


 (requiring about 0.6 across each diode, that is, 1.2 volts across the winding). This roughly translates to about 5 mW power. The diodes switch the low level signal coupled at the center-tap of the coil to the detector output. Therefore, in our design we have applied the local oscillator through the primary of the transformer and the incoming signal from the IF stage to the center tap.


There is a 100 ohms preset used to null the local oscillator from appearing at the output. This is of importance during transmit where the balanced detector also doubles up as the transmitting mixer.

An audio pre-amplifier follows the detector. The capacitor of 220 pf between the base and the collector ensures that the ‘hiss’ is kept down. The audio amplifier used is an LM380. Almost any audio amplifier can be used. We have tried everything from the PC’s ampli-speakers to a Sony amplifier to a TBA810 amplifier. We would recommend using a high fidelity, low cost amplifier like the TBA810 if you plan using a speaker. If most of your work is with headphones (to save your companion from the late night QRM), we recommend the LM386.


The Transmitter


The transmitter starts with the modulator using a 741. There is a three resistor network that biases the electret microphones. We use a Phillips ‘walkman’ style headphone with built-in microphone for our work. The electret microphone requires a bias that provides 5V as given by the circuit.


The balanced modulator also had two 22pf trimming capacitors for nulling the carrier. They were later found unnecessary (as long as both the diodes are purchased from the same roll) and removed. If you do find balance a bother, feel free to add a 22 pf trimmer to one side and a 10 pf fixed to the other side as indicated in the schematic.


The output of the balanced modulator is routed to the common IF amplifier through a buffer amplifier using a BF195. This serves to keep the carrier leak from the modulator out of the IF string during the reception mode.


The balanced detector of the receiver also doubles up as a mixer during transmit. It is important to balance out the VFO energy at the output by setting the 100 ohms trimmer properly. We noticed a 50mW residual out-of-band output from the transmitter when the VFO is unbalanced. The power chain is an interesting broad-band amplifier. You can use this in virtually any transmitter of up to 7 watts (and higher with more than 12 volts supply to the final stage). Three stages of broadband amplifiers feed an IRF510 PA. It is an interesting twist that the driver 2N3866 transistors cost more than the IRF510! The IRF510 should be biased for 80mA of standing current during transmit with the microphone disconnected (no modulation) and carrier nulled by the trimpot of the balanced modulator.

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