Equipment

Here is a Saturday morning update report regarding my rf switch project.
Back to the good old drawing board, I guess.
Switch are switching ok, and loses are acceptable, this is fine.
However, it is picking up ambient noise. I suspect its being a shielding problem and an isolation problem between RF parts and DC parts of the relays.
To give you an idea of the rx degradation with this thing is in line compared to the narda 023.
Pointing the 144 array to a relatively cold spot, the wsjt noise floor rises about 4dB, and this is simply not acceptable. This thing is useless for weak signal work until these problems are rectified.
I have now installed a narda 023 again.
Hoping to do some EME contacts again this weekend. See you on the moon.

Morning report: Saturday 25.03.2017, still messing around with my quest for low cost high power rf-switch. I have cut and soldered a lot-lot-lot-lot-lot of coaxes since last post and….. Well, now it is looking really good, I have exchanged all the small diameter coaxes with larger ones, and there are now no heat loss I can feel with my fingers!
Operator is a bit too eager going on with the testing here, not checking all connection beforehand, resulting in the SSPA safety system trigging several times before it get going. (shame on me)
Here are a some pix & unabridged videos:

Been quite busy experimenting with this rf-switch the last couple of days.

There has arrived a lot on and off-list comments regarding rf-switches and I have not had the time to answer all, but thanks.

I am now up in what I call revision 4 switch.

What’s new:
Revised schematics for better RX/bypass-port isolation.
New 10 amps relays.
Have done a lot of λ/4 coax tuning.
TX loss is slightly better.
RX loss is slightly worse.
RX isolation is much better.

What needs to be done:
Switch works but the 75 ohm rg-179 stubs are getting way to hot when passing the Kw level.
Need to find something better.

Revised schematics for better RX/bypass-port isolation.

I have got some questions about the home brew rf-switch or relay in my previous post.
To clarify, I got this idea from Leif, sm5bsz web site.
He has done this with PIN-diodes. I don’t have suitable diodes on stock here so I substituted those with small relays. Problem is that lo-Z current at the relays are way to large, and I got to do something with that. Upgrading to larger relays would only make the Q higher and move the problem over to the coax subs I guess. I think. What is needed, is to lower the Q, maybe by adding a small resistor at the relays, say for example 0.1 ohm. (at the point of writing this, I must emphasize, I have not done the math yet.) But I have a feeling it my work. We will see………  🙂 

UPDATE: I have now done the math, and installing a series resistor at the lo-Z point will not lower the rf-current. It will only increase insertion loss. RF-current is about 4,2 amps, and my small signal relays are rated 2 amps @ 30VDC, Guess I got to find some larger ones.

Simplified schematic

This is a drawing of the voltage & current sensing board. If you look further down on my site, this is the board on top of the rf-deck with red wires going through blue hall-effects elements. There is some more stuff on this board, and this is the VDD FET switches, but these are not in detail in the drawing.

Last night, during light burn-in tests, the amplifier suddenly dropped gain.
No alarms, no nothing, but one of the MOSFETS was drawing a lot less current compared to the other, it was also operating in class C. It turns out that for some reason the gate2 on the failing MOSFET has broken down. DAMN!!!!!!!!

Digging in to the RF-deck

 

Failed MOSFET

 

Gate2 to source breakdown. 70 ohm  dc-path between source and gate2 do not make any sense.

Have been working on my 144 MHz SSPA project since 04:00z this morning.
Now the time is 22:30z and I am tired. Continue tomorrow morning.
Here are some pictures of project status.

Starting point this moring

 

PT-100 Temperature sensor

 

Left/Front

 

Rear/Left

 

Rear/Left

 

Inside

 

More inside

 

73 All

Temporary Yaesu Elevation Rotor Fix

Earlier I fried my elevation motor, and I was in need of a quick fix.
The plan is to eventually rewind the original 24VAC motor but this will take some time and materials I do not have for the time being.

The quick, non-destructive solution was to get a $7 worth 24VDC motor, and put that in to service.
All I had to do, besides the rectifier system, was to drill two new holes in the motor bracket and move the cogwheel over to the DC motor shaft.

The ZHENGKE ZGA25RP DC 24V 500RPM Micro Gear Box Motor have an unload speed at about 500 rpm, so the elevation is moving at about 1/5 of the original speed. However, this is more than sufficient when tracking the moon. The stall torque is also sufficient due to the low gearing.

I am considering to get a larger, faster and more powerful DC motor, but then I will have to ether do a non-reversal cogwheel modification or get hold of an another cogwheel that will fit.

 

Left: Original 24VAC motor.
Right: very small 24VDC motor fixed to the original bracket .

 

DC motor, rectifiers and relay in place.

 

 

schematics