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Thread: Ensemble RX Kit Build

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    SanDiego, People's Republic of California FEMA District 9
    Posts
    40,193

    Default Ensemble RX Kit Build

    I was presented with an opportunity to build an software defined receiver from one of the generous hams here on the Zed. It is our hope to stimulate interest in kit building in the hobby. I have always enjoyed building kits, I built a number of Heathkits back in the day and this kit looks like an enjoyable build and (for me) a challenge considering there are some SM parts involved in the build. So join us for the journey over the next few days and at the end I should have a working receiver...
    http://www.wb5rvz.com/sdr/ensemblerx/


    First thing was to read the assembly manual through, making sure I understand each step and there is clarity of procedure. After that the tools needed for the build are set aside....

    The usual items are seen above pliers, soldering iron with a tip for the work at hand...
    my two magnifying loops one is a 10X which I use daily it has a dual lens one 2X one 5X then my dual loop that has 10X and 20X loops along with my monocular I use for most things at a distance beyond 18".. Solder Flux, etc...........

    Hopefully I am the only one who actually needs all this high powered magnifying stuff, in those three appliances there is tied up as much money as I paid for my IC-756 (two Killobucks). I have used dime store magnifying glasses but they are poorly ground, easily damaged and seldom come in a power that is usable for my daily use.

    So the next thing to do was take inventory of the parts, I did that last Friday afternoon and I sorted things into the Official AF6LJ anti-static parts storage containers.

    Yah okay the chip caps are not in a anti-static container....
    I took particular care not to loose the 3.3V regulator IC....
    I'll bet Pat is good at changing these, once he has them sorted out from the Pepper and the fly PooP.

    There is a cautionary note in the instructions not to install this part after the second cup of coffee. While my eyesight is crap my fine motor control is above average and I don't anticipate having too much trouble with this part....

    Murphy always manages to find a way into the best laid plans, I received calls from a couple of clients yesterday so this afternoon I will be off fixing computers.....
    Tomorrow I will begin the building process.....

    Stay tuned...........
    I can't wait to get started
    When it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.

  2. #2

    Default

    Thanks for this. I'm very interested in trying something like this.

    73

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Fairhope, AL
    Posts
    1,696

    Default

    You'll enjoy building that and using it Sue - I've built several of the softrock SDRs over the years. I think the first was 3 or 4 yrs ago. The 4.3MoBo is really neat. They've really came a LONG way with the SDR rigs based around the first softrock.

    Have fun. 73 de Ken H>

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    SanDiego, People's Republic of California FEMA District 9
    Posts
    40,193

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by K9FV View Post
    You'll enjoy building that and using it Sue - I've built several of the softrock SDRs over the years. I think the first was 3 or 4 yrs ago. The 4.3MoBo is really neat. They've really came a LONG way with the SDR rigs based around the first softrock.

    Have fun. 73 de Ken H>
    I am enjoying putting it together, albeit with a degree of eye strain....
    And for those who don't know, I am legally blind and on a good day my vision is 20/300. I don't anticipate anybody with more or less normal vision and reasonably good fine motor control having much trouble....
    When it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    SanDiego, People's Republic of California FEMA District 9
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    Default

    So today the build begins.
    I have finished both voltage regulators and tested the first one (+5V regulator)
    Here is the completed +5V regulator...
    http://www.wb5rvz.com/sdr/ensemblerx/01_ps.htm


    This is straight forward assembly.
    I have a couple of habits held over from my work in manufacturing, I try not to have parts like resistors and diodes mounted flush to the board. If they get bumped they can crack.

    The 5V regulator was checked for shorts and power applied. The regulator was 100% functional...
    Next the USB power supply was built. I decided that I would tackle the hard part first...

    This is the fine motor control part...
    Patience pays off along with staying away from the coffee and not getting all anxious over a part that is small. What I did was to tin the pads first and place a tine drop of flux on each one with a toothpick. That was the tool I forgot to show above... Along with the box of caps in the kit when I photographed the inventory of parts......

    After this I finished the rest of the USB power supply I'll post a picture tomorrow after I test it. For now it's time to rest my eyes and I will continue tomorrow.
    When it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Fairhope, AL
    Posts
    1,696

    Default

    Sue, have you ever seen any better built instructions than Rob provides on his webpage? They are GREAT!!!

    With your vision any electronics is a challenge - you do good with it. My eyesight is ok (about 2.75+ for close up) and I use a stereo microscope for some of those tiny parts. Keep the post active with photos.

    73 de Ken H>

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    SanDiego, People's Republic of California FEMA District 9
    Posts
    40,193

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by K9FV View Post
    Sue, have you ever seen any better built instructions than Rob provides on his webpage? They are GREAT!!!

    With your vision any electronics is a challenge - you do good with it. My eyesight is ok (about 2.75+ for close up) and I use a stereo microscope for some of those tiny parts. Keep the post active with photos.

    73 de Ken H>
    Those are great and after I post the test results and pictures (after clean up) of the USB power supply I will post some of the links he uses to bring the newcomers up to speed.
    They are great.
    If only Heath had color pictures and could publish their manuals on a Nook or a Kindle.
    When it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    SanDiego, People's Republic of California FEMA District 9
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    Default

    I good lesson to relearned today is to inspect your work carefully.
    I usually don't have a problem with that, except I overlooked an open connection on the 3.3V regulator IC this morning while testing. The ground lead wasn't making good contact and I had 4.5V coming out of my 3.3V regulator. fortunately after a little closer inspection I found the problem and fixed it.




    So there you have two working voltage regulators, next we move on to the local oscillator and control circuits. This will be a little more involved and we will actually be able to test the computer interface and have the first major parts of the receiver functional.
    And the parts get larger also.
    There are a number of videos linked in the assembly instructions and I will be linking them here and commenting on them as well.

    Stay tuned....
    When it's time, and it may be sooner than you think.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Southeast Wisconsin
    Posts
    970

    Default

    Looking good Sue!

  10. #10

    Default

    Nice close up photos Sue, but if you would include a six inch wide finger tip by those extremely small parts for reference to give any newbie an inkling to if they would even want to tackle SMT projects.
    I just built a 30m Rock mite last winter. It has 1 SMT, and that scared me a bit.
    Thanks for sharing
    Mike
    if you say "gullible" slowly, it sounds like oranges. [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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