SCARS Newsletter March 30, 2018

In This Issue
Making An “Old” Radio New

Pixie Build, Part One
Several Days A Week… /
Online Ham Stuff

Dates To Remember
The Doctor Is In / 
This Week’s ARRL Letter
ARRL DX Bulletin / 
Amateur Radio Newsline / 
Ham Nation / 
Odds and Ends / 
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles  _…_._

In This Issue

This week’s Newsletter seems to have turned into a “Project Edition”.
I certainly didn’t plan it that way, it just happened.
To start, N5OP walks us through changing a Bazillion electrolytics (and other stuff) in his Kenwood TS-930S,
N5HZR has Part One (of three) of his tips on building the Pixie Kits that a whole bunch of you ordered,
and even George on Ham Nation gets into the act with tuning and testing of the MFJ Tuner Kit!

In non-build stuff, The Doctor talks about Filters, and more importantly, “why”.
The DX Newsletter is choc-a-bloc with DX,
there’s an added WebSDR link in the ever-growing Online Ham Stuff section,
a new “Event” in the Dates listing,
and then we’ll have a little fun with a video of a ritual that happens almost every day at the McMeeting. 

It’s not in “Dates”, but Green Country is the weekend of the April club meeting, and if you are inclined to go, the Friday evening session is really, really good. You can find EVERYTHING you need to know about that at this link:

ARRL HQ is closed today, so there’s no ARRL Letter, but to make up for it, China’s first “Space Station”, Tiangong-1, appears likely to do its uncontrolled re-entry in the wee hours Sunday morning, so we’ve got that going for us.

Have a great weekend – see you on the air!

Making An “Old” Radio New


Kim, N5OP, has a truly LOVED radio that he’s had for 3 and a half decades. And I use the term “Old” in the headline advisedly, because he has an AM transmitter that was passed down from his father. But I digress…

Kim has taken on the task of replacing all (as in every last one) of the electrolytic capacitors in his 35-year-old Kenwood TS-930S. Turns out there are a LOT of electrolytics in a 930S. Here’s the report:

Some of you may recall the relic I bring to FD every year for the CW station: a Kenwood TS-930S. In it’s day, this was not only Kenwood’s first all solid-state HR transceiver, it was their flagship radio and arguably among the very top amateur transceivers available. I bought mine in 1984, since I’d been gainfully employed for a little over a year by that time and had the money. It’s the first new (as in straight-from-the-factory new) radio I’d ever had. It has a built-in power supply and so is completely self-contained, though it has no internal keyer, which is why you always see it with an equally ancient KC-1 keyer.

I’m admittedly attached to it. I like the layout. It’s a joy to use, has good receive characteristics (the best in its day), a fairly clean transmitter even by today’s standards, astoundingly good QSK performance on CW, and perhaps represents the pinnacle of ham radio through-hole circuit board development. I also have a top-of-the-line radio: a TenTec Orion 2, which is a wonderful rig and admittedly my “daily driver.” But, the venerable ‘930 is so nice to use, I’ve never let go of it.

But… At almost 35 years old, it’s getting long in the tooth. While nothing lasts forever, some things last longer than others. A case in point is electrolytic capacitors: these deteriorate with age. Their capacitance changes and they become electrically “leaky,” allowing DC current to “leak” through them. Sooner or later, something’s gonna give.

I recently sent the rig to a TS-930S wizard named Clif Holland of AVViD fame, in Texas because mine had a problem with a PLL unlock I couldn’t diagnose (it has three PLLS and three VCOs in it). This guy has been working on Kenwood radios since the first TS520 hit the market and has seen more than I ever will. He very quickly identified the problem, but also found that one of the electrolytic capacitors was physically leaking electrolyte and so replaced it. While he didn’t recommend it, I decided that the time had come to replace every one of the electrolytic capacitors.

Think of this as preventative maintenance, just like replacing the timing belt in your car: sure, it’s running fine but if it breaks or fails, a lot of very expensive damage can result. Same thing with electrolytic capacitors. Had it not been for Gerry Creager’s (N5JXS) generous loan of his Weller desoldering station, this wouldn’t have been possible. But loan it to me he did, and I got started.

How long did it take? I wasn’t punching a clock, but I’d guess it took me 14—16 hours. But, I’m slow and I screwed up a couple of times. I have no idea how long it would take a qualified service tech, but I’d guess half the time. How many were there? I replaced 137 capacitors and two resistors across four different circuit boards and two tuning encoders. I had replaced the power supply capacitors (19 in all) and the old “digital board” has been replaced with an after-market PIEXX digital board that has 99 more memories, provides multi-speed tuning rates, and provides computer control over everything but mode (the original ‘930 didn’t support computer control because it wasn’t a thing way back then).

The most likely mistake I could make is getting a capacitor in backwards. If do that, the capacitor will pass lots of DC current, get hot, and fail by bursting and releasing Magick Smoke. All components contain Magick Smoke, which is what makes them work. I know this because I put one in backwards early on and, sure enough, the Magick Smoke escaped.

I was almost finished installing the Signal Board (about 20 screws and 20 multi-pin connectors, plus eight or so coaxial signal cables with TMP connectors — think of it as a motherboard since it’s about that size and the heart of the radio) when I found an old capacitor that I…




Well, $#@*!

Sooooo… I took it all apart and replaced the last remaining capacitor. Yes, it was leaking electrolyte. I got all the connectors in the right places, plugged all the TMP coax connectors into the right receptacles, installed the zillion mounting/grounding screws, plugged in power and hit the switch.

After replacing 137 electrolytic capacitors, I’m happy to say that upon first power-up No Magick Smoke escaped and everything works! Success! I was pretty happy.

To be honest, I don’t know if it operates much better than it did before I replaced 137 electrolytic capacitors. That wasn’t really the point: my point was to keep it going, keep it as a reliable radio, and keep failing capacitors from destroying components that aren’t made anymore. I replaced the old power supply capacitors (21 of them) about two years ago and, because it has a PIEXX board in it, the old “digital board” is long gone (good riddance!).

I noted that about half the electrolytic capacitors I pulled out showed some signs of physical electrolyte leakage. So, I’m pretty sure that I won’t experience any problems with bad electrolytic capacitors for probably another 30 years. I’m going to install a crowbar circuit on the 28V power supply to protect the radio against any failure of the pass transistors. This will also preserve the driver transistors, which are made out of unobtainium. Once that’s done I’ll have about as close to a new TS-930S as anyone is likely to come across, only better because it has a PIEXX board in it and over-voltage protection in the power supply.

In addition, I can now check “Replace all electrolytic capacitors in a TS-930S” off of my bucket list.

Pixie Build, Part One

For those of you who have ordered the Pixie Kits, those are almost all in. Mark will have these for you at the April meeting, but here is Part One of Three to help you get ready to do your build…

How to Get Started Building Your Pixie Kit

The Heathkit projects of a day gone by had some great guidance on getting organized and staying that way. The first thing you should do is to create your workspace. One of those Heathkit tactics was to create a build box. This is an unused cardboard box that you can recycle for this purpose. A good box size for this project would be about 12″ x 12″ x 18″ long. Look at the photo below, and first trim off the top flaps, trim the front lip low and cut both sides at an angle. You can place the parts with leads into the tops of the cardboard edges to keep organized. Cutting the handhold in the back will let you move the build box when that need occurs.

Next, you’ll spend some time getting acquainted with parts from the kit. Start with the resistors. Using the color code below, and the parts list from the kit, place the resistors across the top of the box. Rank them from lowest to highest and you’ll be able to grab them quickly. Write the resistor values on the box, so you grab the correct one when you need them. Check off the parts as you load them into the top rail of the box.

The capacitors, inductors, diodes, and semiconductors all have numbers so you can verify them against the parts list in the operators manual. Make sure to check off the parts as you place them in the box edges.

For the larger pieces and parts, grab an egg carton or two from the fridge and place the rest of the parts in the egg cups. Check the parts off of the list as you work through each one. Close the egg carton when you’re not using it so you don’t dump these parts on the floor. In this kit we’ve added a crystal socket, you’ll have an Extra only 7.023 MHz crystal, and a 7.030 MHz crystal for the Technician / Generals to operate legally.

Next week, next “Part”.

Several Days A Week…

For those of you who attend the McMeeting Mondays through Saturdays at the McDonald’s on Lindsey Street, this is a ritual that has been seen numerous times, but even so, we just can’t look away. For those of you who have never been there, here is AE5IF’s 3-minute ritual that you’ve heard about in Song and Story.

Bill and His Biscuit
(click above, then click on the image to watch!)

Online Ham Stuff

New This Week:

Away from home and have a hankering to hear The Bands?
Go here:

Older Stuff Below…

Heathkit Virtual Museum
Ham Radio 2.0
Charts, Propagation, Antenna Patterns, LOTS of stuff:
Foothills ARS. Also, Lots of Stuff, but good Technical Presentations:
K7AGE’s Youtube channel. How-tos here by the score
ARRL’s “Identify noise source by sound” links (this is good!)
Dragnet Radio:

Share your favorite online Ham resource with others! Send me those links!

Dates To Remember

Some VERY important events are scheduled in the near future which you need to put in your planner:

April 5 – SCARS VE Testing –

April 14 – SCARS Monthly Meeting – Topic: Digital Mobile Radio DMR

April 21 – SCARS Spring Picnic – Usual Place, Usual Time (More Later)

The Doctor Is In

The Doctor’s Latest Podcast is titled

The Doctor sez:
Receiving every signal is not always a good thing — especially when you receive them all at once! The Doctor describes why proper filtering is important.

Listen to it here-> The Doctor Is In Podcast

The Doctor’s Homepage is here: The Doctor Is In

This Week’s ARRL Letter

ARRL HQ is closed today. You can find last week’s edition, and many more at the link below.
Read it all here: ARRL Letter

ARRL DX Bulletin

DX Bulletin 14 ARLD014
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT March 29, 2018
To all radio amateurs

ARLD014 DX news

This week’s bulletin was made possible with information provided by
The Daily DX, the OPDX Bulletin, 425 DX News, DXNL, Contest Corral
from QST and the ARRL Contest Calendar and WA7BNM web sites. Thanks
to all.

MALAWI, 7Q. Members of the EIDX Group are QRV as 7Q7EI from the
shores of Lake Malawi until April 2. Activity is on 160 to 10
meters using CW, SSB and RTTY with four stations active. QSL via

GHANA, 9G. Richard, 9G5AR is now licensed and QRV from Accra. He
is generally active on 20 meters using SSB during his weekdays and
weekends. QSL via N4GNR.

CAPE VERDE, D4. Mike, CT1IUA plans to be QRV as D41A from Santa
Maria, Sal Island, IOTA AF-086, from April 1 to 9. Activity will be
holiday style on 40 to 10 meters using mainly CW with some SSB. QSL
to home call.

NORTHERN IRELAND, GI. Special event station GB106TBC will be QRV
from April 2 to 9 to commemorate the sinking of the RMS Titanic on
April 15, 1912. QSL direct to MI0MOD.

THAILAND, HS. Members of the Digital Thailand DX Association are
QRV as HS8JCV/p from Lipe Island, IOTA AS-126, until April 2.
Activity is on the HF bands. QSL via HS8JCV.

ARGENTINA, LU. Special event station AZ36H is QRV until April 2 to
recognize the 36th anniversary of the Falkland Islands War. QSL via
operators’ instructions.

BULGARIA, LZ. Members of the Bulgarian Radio Club Blagovestnik are
QRV as LZ362ME during April to honor the memory of Bulgarian Saints.
QSL via bureau.

NETHERLANDS, PA. Special event station PF2018SLO is QRV from Sloten
during April during the context of the 11th Cities Marathon.
Activity is on the HF bands. QSL via PA0MBD.

EUROPEAN RUSSIA, UA. Special event stations UE12APR, R12APR, R108M
and UE57G will be QRV from April 1 to 15 to mark Cosmonauts Day to
commemorate the first flights in space. QSL via operators’

CANADA, VE. Special call VD1BOOM is QRV on Saturdays and Sundays
during April to mark the 40th anniversary of a mysterious explosion
called the Bell Island Boom that happened April 2, 1978 on Bell
Island, IOTA NA-198, one of Newfoundland’s coastal islands.
Activity is on 20 meters. QSL direct to VO1IDX.

TURKS AND CAICOS, VP5. Bernie, KD5QHV plans to be QRV as VP5/KD5QHV
until April 2. Activity is on 40, 20, 17 and 15 meters using CW and
SSB. QSL to home call.

LAOS, XW. Champ, E21EIC is QRV as XW1IC until March 31. Activity
is on 40 to 6 meters. QSL to home call.

KOSOVO, Z6. Gab, HB9TSW is QRV as Z68GB until April 19. Activity
is on 80 to 17 meters using CW. QSL to home call.

GIBRALTAR, ZB. Special Event Station ZB2RAF will be QRV from April
1 to July 29 to honor the first Centenary of the Royal Air Force.
QSL via G8FC.

NEW ZEALAND, ZL. Special event station ZM50GW will be QRV during
April to commemorate the loss 50 years ago of the ferry TEV Wahine.
QSL via bureau.

THIS WEEKEND ON THE RADIO. The Russian World Wide MultiMode
Contest, QRP 80-Meter CW Fox Hunt, NCCC RTTY Sprint, NCCC CW Sprint,
Feld Hell Sprint, UK/EI DX CW Contest and the RSGB 80-Meter RoLo SSB
contest are all on tap for this weekend.

The IQRP Quarterly Marathon and RSGB 80-Meter Club CW Championship
are scheduled for April 2.

The ARS Spartan CW Sprint is scheduled for April 3.

The UKEICC 80-Meter SSB Contest, Phone Fray and CWops Mini-CWT CW
Test are scheduled for April 4.

The ARRL International Grid Chase runs during all of 2018.

Please see March 2018 QST, page 85, April QST, page 84, and the ARRL
and WA7BNM Contest Web Sites for details.

Always Latest version at the top here:  ARRL DX Bulletin

Amateur Radio Newsline




NOTE: The “SCRIPT” and “AUDIO” above are hotlinks. 

Live links, Script, and Audio here: Amateur Radio Newsline – Latest News

Ham Nation


Episode 344’s highlights:

“Updates on the Pineboard Project,
fixing and maintaining your Anderson distribution box,
taking the appeal of code further in the UK,
testing and calibrating your MFJ tuner kit,
and more!

The last half-dozen or so episodes are linked right here: Ham Nation

Go watch!

 Odds and Ends

Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles

Link below lists all the ARRL-related hamfests within a 250-mile drive of Norman for about the next 5 months. Lots of good ones close to Norman.

As always, News, Links, Repeater Info, Hamfests, Licensing, General Help & more linked from the sidebar at the SCARS Homepage – W5NOR.ORG !!!

73 de Gary, WB5ULK …_._

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s