Mounting a rod antenna to a homemade handheld QRP transceiver

When I started to recognize that going outside with a small handheld QRP SSB transceiver for the 20 meter band is more than just a test to find out doesn’t work at all, I conceived a more rugged mounting for the partable rod antenna. Due to the fact that this antenna (which now is about 220 centimeters long) exerts significant leverage to the BNC connector and thus to the cabinet of my transceiver. After 3 or 4 periods of outdoor usage I found that it had cut the front panel with the BNC socket from the transceiver’s inner cabinet frame. F…! (F…-word censored!)

The objective of a practical solution was to keep away excessive leverage force from the transceiver. The most practical way to solve this problem was to construct a simple mounting frame that could bear the force without leading it to the radio:

Antenna mounting frame for portable rod-antenna (C) by Peter Rachow- DK7IH
Antenna mounting frame for portable rod-antenna (C) by Peter Rachow- DK7IH

The holder is made of 0.8 mm Aluminium in u-shaped form where the radio fits in. The rig’s cabinet screws hinder the TRX from falling outside, a Velcro® strip fixes the radio inside the frame. On the backside of the frame I’ve attached a piece of aluminium pipe where the base of the antenna fits in. That’s all:

QRP SSB handheld tranceiver in mounting frame for portable rod-antenna (C) Peter Rachow - DK7IH
QRP SSB handheld tranceiver in mounting frame for portable rod-antenna (C) Peter Rachow – DK7IH

Easy and practical. That’s the way it’s got to be!

Annotation: I once again revised the antenna. The matching circuit was abolished. I now simply use a larger coil of about 55 turns of 1 mm diameter enameled wire on an 8.5 mm diameter PVC rod. Works great. Standing wave ratio is 1.1 to 1! 😉

73 de Peter (DK7IH)

(C) 2015 by Peter Rachow

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A compact handheld QRP SSB transceiver for 14 MHz

by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)    => Zur deutschen Version dieses Artikels


Notice: Read about the software for this DDS-controlled transceiver here:

https://radiotransmitter.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/update-software-for-dds-controlled-qrp-ssb-handheld-transceiver-ad9835-atmega328p/


I have really been satisfied with my last QRP SSB rig. It performs very fine. But I wanted a transceiver still a little bit smaller. And it should be easier to set up the rig if you are outside to make quick QSOs. This and the fact that I came across a larger bunch of 9.832 MHz crystals which I thought could be an ideal basis for a ladder filter made me plan an even more compact rig for 20 m compared to the last one. Particularly for portable operation on holiday or when I am outdoor with my bicycle or hiking, I wanted a self-containing transceiver with on-board battery. So here it is…

A compact handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)
A compact handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)

Features:

  • Monoband SSB-Transceiver for 20 Meters/14 MHz.
  • Output: 4 to 5 Watts PEP
  • Frequency generation: DDS with AD9835 and ATMega8, LCD 2×8 Characters.
  • Transmitter: SSB Modulator for USB or LSB: NE602/SA612, 4-Pole-Ladder-Filter, TX-Mixer, NE602/SA612, Power amplifer: 3 stages, push-pull-final with 2 x 2SC2078.
  • Receiver: Singe conversion superhet, RF preamp with Dual-Gate MOSFET, RX-Mixer with NE602/SA612, 4-Pole-Ladder-Filter, Passive product detector, AF preamp, AF final amp with LM386. (See improved AGC circuit here!)
  • Built-in battery pack, also connectable to external power supply, 10-LED-bargraph-display for S and RF strength readout.

The size is about that of those older CB handhelds from the late 70s. It is abt. 18 cm long, 7 cm wide and 4.5 cm high. But don’ ask me for weight. 😉

The transceiver has, as mentioned before, a power output of 4 to 5 watts rf pep which I found sufficient for making contacts worldwide. Transmit power mainly depends  on the respective power supply you use. The radio can be run either on an integrated 12 V dc rechargeable battery (1Ah, composed of 10 AAA cells) or by connecting an external dc power supply of up to 14 volts. A three-position switch allows the user to select either internal or external power supply or completely switch the rig off.

Thus the little radio is very versatile for all kinds of portable operation. The antenna is connected via a standard bnc connector. I also designed a rod antenna that you can use if there is no possibility to erect a larger aerial. I have to admit that having a qso with the small handheld antenna ist a pretty ambitious. 😉 But in recent “The King of Spain”-Contest I could work with the rod antenna from a high place over a dozen stations.

With my delta loop the rig is absolutely amazing. During the recent weeks I worked (among others) the following prefixes:

SM, EA, F, 9A, 4X, LZ, I, SV9, J79, J49, JW9, S56, CY0, P40, G, YO, OH, W1, UA9, TA, PA, S57, GU, EK3, OX

And this all was done, except from the contact to P40FN, with 4 to 5 watts pep. Only for the QSO to Aruba I had to use the 60 watt linear amplifier. The pile-up was too hard. 😉

Basic design ideas:

To make the rig not too bulky I used a “sandwich construction” in an aluminium frame. The radio mainly consists of three layers:

  • The RF and AF unit (mainboard)
  • The battery-, AGC/Meter- and switching unit
  • The display and push-button unit

The RF unit:

RF unit of a compact handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)
RF unit of a compact handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)

On board here you can find the DDS-VFO, the whole receiver and transmitter circuits (including power amp), SSB modulator and demodulator.

The battery and AGC/Meter and switching unit:

AGC/Meter/Battery unit of a handheld compact SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)
AGC/Meter/Battery unit of a handheld compact SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHz (20 meter band) by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)

This board is equipped with a set of 10 rechargeable batteries (1.2 volts each), the relay for transmit/receive switching and the LED-S/RF-meter circuit (LM3915) plus the AGC device. Above this section there is another layer which keeps the 2×8 line LCD, the up/down control switches for tuning (there is no rotator tuning knob), a button for setting the tuning frequency step, selecting the VFO (4 VFOs and 2 split VFOs are software defined) etc. It is  integrated in an extra housing mounted on top of the cabinet an connected via some cables. The controls are simple push-buttons. With one of these the microcontroller can be set into sleepmode to reduce the radio’s noise down to a minimum. The 1 inch loudspeaker is also mounted in here.

The circuitry itself is standard QRP design with the “usual suspects”. See the schematic to learn more:

Revised schematic of QRP SSB handheld transceiver for 14 MHz/20Meter by DK7IH (Peter Rachow)
Revised schematic of QRP SSB handheld transceiver for 14 MHz/20Meter by DK7IH (Peter Rachow)

The front panel looks like this:

Front panel of small handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHZ by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)
Front panel of small handheld SSB QRP transceiver for 14 MHZ by Peter Rachow (DK7IH)

Details are to be discussed in my next posting on this blog. Thanks for watching! 73 de Peter (DK7IH)

(C) 2015 Peter Rachow