Modifying the FT-897 to get the best from it.

I have been using my ft-897 for a while now, the main rig has a fault and I have been far too busy to get it sorted and repaired. I found it was not quite right, I have been spoiled by using quality receivers over the last few years and I couldn't quite put my finger on what was missing. Some reading online and some tests quickly helped me identify what it was, the AGC was a little too fast and the audio amplifier adds a certain hiss and noise to a signal.

I found two fixes online, the first one was to add a capacitor in parallel to modify the AGC hang time adding it to C1503 - mod to be found on DG2IAQ modification sheet, a great source of information for any 897 owner. found here.
The other fix was to reduce white noise, the info can be found here.

By adding two capacitors to make up the 0.75uF and a resistor of 68 Ohm between pins 2 and 4 on the IC the TDA2003 th…

Time out for life adventures

Where have I been? I have had a busy old time pushing forward with a few projects and enjoying the pleasures of family life with my wonderful girls. I have taken a bit of time out to focus on some really important things to me. I am back though, I feel I have a bit of time to dedicate to my hobbies and sharing some of my projects with my readers. This last 18 months or so have seen my build my teaching profile and adding to my commercial photography clients, I have started on a Master program exploring educational research and developing my career that way. The good news is though that my hobby has been there to allow me to escape and relax when needed, I often find that the hobby of radio offers us an escape from normal everyday life in many ways. Sometimes the ability to go and sit and listen to some CW with the headphones on and hide away from family noise for an hour is always welcomed. I am enjoying my Begali key and trying to work some rare DX when time allows and I am l…

My home-brew mini paddle for QRP rigs

Here I am again with a little bit of spare time and a love of radio. Yesterday I was dreaming up solutions for a portable paddle morse key and thinking about how much it might cost me to buy a new one. My solution was to have a go at making my own. I followed one simple rule copy the basics of something that works, my palm mini paddle uses PCB material to make the arms for its paddle and I knew I had some stuff in the junk box that would allow me to experiment before shelling out any money on a new key. The result was what you see in the picture below and on the video linked to this blog post. I am really happy with the simplicity and ease of use for what is essentially made from scrap materials and costing me nothing more than my time and effort. I have made a few contacts on the key connected up to the FT-1000MP Mrk V and to the HB-1A you kits radio. I had no problems other than a few errors due to my lack of familiarity with a new key. My results show its always worth havin…

Laserbeam delights - Audio DSP filter for CW

Last Monday I had a bit of free time and I have been planning to help Keith G0RQQ put his new audio CW filter into a box for some time. It made sense to use the bench in the workshop here because everything is set up and read to go, Keith preferred that option to destroying the dining table at his place. He has a Laserbeam dual band filter module from Sotabeams and I have to say it is a great bit of kit for something so small. Well worth the money to add a new level to older or wider receivers.

In the classic QRP style Keith wanted to fit the board into an Altoids tin to be the ideal companion to his Frog sounds QRP single band 40m rig. Keith did add on the additional filter integration kit from Sotabeams for an additional £5.50.

VK3YE has done a great look at this and has a video demonstrating its use on home-brew kit. Have a look at the video to get a really good idea of how this works.

We really were blown away by th…

Some QRP fun, 40m QRM and the Virgin Media TIVO box

I have been enjoying my festive break from my work and spending a couple of weeks sorting out some projects and radio related experiments. I have fired up the little QRP rigs to work a handful of stations on CW. I never managed to work anything on the SW-20 rig with 2.5w into the butternut HF-9v antenna so moved onto the 40m band using the doublet antenna. It always seem more fun to me to work with the basic kit than with the big station and I seem to get a bigger kick out of working stations from the simple rigs, battery power and wire antennas.

I did work a few stations around Europe but it was at this stage I felt the need to seek out the noise on the 40m band. You can see below the SW-20 with my spare HyMound Key and world map on the bench in the shack.

I promised myself I would get to the bottom of some QRM that I was experiencing on 40m and causing issues to RX of weak signals on the 40m Band. I used my trusty little HB1B with a small telescopic antenna to check where the RFI wa…

Bringing new life to my station - SDRPlay & SDRuno

I have decided to explore the world of SDR and my first venture into this arena was with the rather sensibly priced SDRPlay RSP at £127.20 including VAT and delivery.
I have been really pleased so far with my experience and even more so that I have been able to sync the new RX up to my existing FT-1000mp Mark V setup to give me a band scope and additional RX using SDRuno software and the Ominirig connection server to share the CAT data with the radio. 

I have already been asked how I have setup the station so produced this graphic to help explain how I set it up. The PC is nothing amazing and is an old cast off from a family member as I usually am a Mac user and wanted a PC to run some basic software in the shack. 

I have made use of the RX antenna in and out from the FT-1000mp Mark V to split the RX and return it to the main radio and send half to the SDR. OK there are some losses but then they are marginal and can be turned on and off using the RX switch on the front of the Yaesu. It a…

RSGB field day changes 2017

I have been reading September's Radcom this morning and read that there are changes due to RSGB field day contests. I personally would like to see catagories for small stations and short term ops. Say 8 hours and QRP and battery efforts with additional points for the hard time these stations face. Perhaps similar to the catagories used in ARRL field day. 
I am appealing for QRP users who are RSGB members to support my thoughts and see if we can get a section more supportive of the types of operation we do. 
Here is a copy of the email I sent to Steve  White G3ZVW
Dear Steve, (

I have been reading about changes to field day contesting and would like to offer my input as a keen field day opp who has given up going out and about. 

I would like to suggest provision in both contests for small short term stations rather like the ARRL field day with a score multiplayer for QRP and battery power alone encouraging individuals such as myself to head out into the countryside…