Monday, February 18, 2019

ARRL DX CW 2019

"Elementary, my good man!"
Prior to going to bed last night I turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom to low speed. Despite its being very quiet, I could decode CW contained within the soft swooshing sound. QRZ? TU 5NN and other bits of CW were quite clear to me. Such is the effect of 9 hours of almost non-stop CW operation in this year's ARRL DX Contest.

I'm really not much of a contester but this was the best time I've ever had in a contest and the hours went by like minutes. Two reasons for that: excellent low-band conditions and a new antenna configuration.

And I had not planned to participate at all. Friday night, when the contest began, was dinner with the little lady followed later by an episode of Sherlock Holmes - the old series, with Jeremy Brett - the only actor portraying that character worth watching. Saturday morning was a motorcycle ride. The contest was not even a remote consideration.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Varying viscosity of solder pastes?

I'm not sure if I have 5W-20 or 10W-40 equivalent but my attempt at building the Slop Bucket II last night ended in frustration.

The first component to be installed on the kit is Q2, a tiny SMD transistor - and the first step in its installation is to apply solder paste to the three pads.

This was as far as I got.

The Kester paste I'm using - or rather attempting to use - is so thick that it won't adhere to the board. Instead, it remains attached to the end of the syringe and pulls away with it when I lift the syringe.

All of the YouTube videos I've watched on how to install SMD parts with solder paste show the paste to be much less viscous than what I have and it is that thinner consistency that is needed for kits such as this since I am unable to leave solder on the board with this thick stuff.

I may look around for something thinner but I'm leaning toward selling this kit rather than spending more money. If I do, the 110x110x40mm case will come with it.
EDIT: I've put on my man pants and am building this thing.
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Friday, February 8, 2019

Slop Bucket II received

Steve KD1JV's latest design arrived today, the embossing tool came yesterday and the solder paste is due tomorrow (two days later now and still hasn't arrived). The only missing ingredient is Time and I can't order any of that.

Fortunately, Monday is looking pretty clear at the moment and I'm looking forward to getting a good start on this QRP SSB/CW kit for 20/40 meters.

I'm still debating whether or not to use a small hotplate to preheat the circuit board prior to using the embossing tool to melt the solder. Most of the YouTube videos I've been watching do not show a hotplate being used but many builders of Steve's prior kits do use one to minimize the time it takes to melt the solder paste.

Friday, February 1, 2019

QRPLabs clock built; U3S rebuilt

A lovely pair
As a geographical bachelor for the past week, I've had time to tinker and melt a bit of solder.

My 6-band Ultimate 3S has been a solid performer but I never was happy with my level of construction - the interior was an entanglement of wiring, using whatever I had on hand at the time for the interconnections.

Yesterday, I stripped it down to brass tacks and re-did the whole shebang, using ribbon cables for the interior wiring.

I also added the updated firmware, going from V10 to V12. This adds a few capabilities to the U3S that don't apply to my use of it at the moment but may if/when I build the 10W amp kit designed for this kit.