Extreme Ham Radio hardware mods?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KE7RUX, May 4, 2018.

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  1. KE7RUX

    KE7RUX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been curious to see if any of you have seen, heard of, or preformed any extreme modifications of ham radio hardware. For example: Putting a ham radio into a computer, combining two ham radios, combining a radio with an amplifier, putting ham made hardware in a manufactured radio's case, etc. These are things I've heard of but have never actually seen. (I would appreciate proof...and your blueprints. ;))
    Curiously yours, KE7RUX.
  2. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    A couple of rules to remember about "mods":

    - If nobody does it that way, there's probably a very good reason.

    - Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    - Bad ideas are plentiful. Good ideas, not so much.

    - Extreme ideas often have extreme costs.

    Let's look at some of those ideas....

    "Putting a ham radio into a computer" involves some serious issues.

    1) the possibility of the RF from the ham rig getting into the computer circuitry and causing havoc.

    2) the possibility of the digital signals of the computer being picked up by the ham rig receiver as noise.

    3) the need for a power supply able to power the radio, and space inside the computer.

    4) the fact that the computer becomes more of a dedicated system.

    5) the fact that computers tend to have much shorter useful lifetimes than ham rigs. (What's a 10 year old computer in good condition worth? What's a 10 year old ham rig in good condition worth?)

    This isn't to say it can't be done, just that there are some serious challenges to be met. And....what's the point? Most rigs made in the past 20 years or more can be easily interfaced to a computer with just a cable and some software.

    "Combining two ham radios"

    This is easily done by mounting them in a rack of some sort.

    "Combining a radio with an amplifier"

    This can be done by making a rack; however, the size and weight become rather unwieldy.

    In the 1960s there were some HF transceivers made with final amplifiers that had much more than the typical 100 watts output. Perhaps the most notable was the Hallicrafters SR-2000, which provided old legal-limit power level in a single box.

    The SR-2000 never achieved much popularity because it cost as much or more than a 100 watt rig and an amplifier, plus you lost the flexibility of being able to run without the amplifier.

    "putting ham made hardware in a manufactured radio's case"

    Some have done this, usually because a chassis was available.

    The real question is....why?


    One mod that has achieved some popularity is to replace the analog VFOs in older rigs (particularly 1960s tube-type transceivers) with DDS synthesizers. The result is a rig with rock-steady stability, digital readout of frequency, RIT, memories, etc. Often an older rig with VFO problems can be brought back to life this way.\


    Before you destroy a good radio trying to mod it....build a few.
    Last edited: May 4, 2018
  3. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want some real info , stay away from the idea that only new hams can have new " ideas - extreme mods " ?
    Then saying you want proof & blue prints - is almost insulting .
    The real info concept may happen when you pickup more knowledge / experience , and then more specific questions to what it is your looking for .
    Just trying to help , relating to others - using terms like extreme and proof are off-putting , at least that is my 1st response to reading your post .
    Ham radio was all about building , and in the beginning , from scratch - no kits , lookup Heathkit [ and others ] .
    As far as picking some context out of your question - look at SDR = Software Defined Radio , at least on the low-end , able to play with cheap around $20 , then add accessories , up to $100 or so .
    Then take a look at the high-end , http://www.flexradio.com/
    One of the BEST - adjectives to stay away from [ in order to protect yourself from bs sales ] terms like best , magic , super etc.
    Hoping my reply does not put you off , not my intention , but the accumulation of new hams implying no keeping up with , or being on the for-front of tech. , like I said can be off-putting to some of those with answers .
    As for a lot of the computer / digital side of things , I can not help much , I prefer modes that allow me to get a feel for the operator on the other end of the Q-so , so for me voice , but CW is close [ in a sense ] to digital , but still allows for the feel of a person on the other end .
    I think that there is such a wide band-width of things in ham radio , that most can find a rabbit-hole of interest / Matrix , take the red or blue pill ;)
    K3UJ, WN1MB and N2EY like this.
  4. KY5U

    KY5U Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    @N2EY message above is excellent advice. I saw the message earlier, read the your comment I have quoted, and decided to pass. Now that you have good advice, I'll add my bad advice: This isn't CB radio, Skippy. I take it that post was a "look at me" offering to show you're a real ham. You should quit while you're ahead. 10-4 good buddy?
  5. KC1DQH

    KC1DQH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thinking outside the box should be encouraged. That said, combining a radio and the computer is probably best done with a USB cable. You have less chance of creating a large, expensive paperweight!
    N2NH, KE7RUX and W5TTP like this.
  6. K3EY

    K3EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  7. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    All of my mods are top secret.

    But I will sell you some of my blueprints if the price is right.
  8. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't think it qualifies as a "mod" but I am reminded of "Suit-Sat". Someone (in space obviously) programmed an HT to repeat a beacon message and stuck into an old space suit, tossed it overboard. Transmited for a day or two until the battery died.

    I also think I remember some university group using the "guts" from a ham HT in a sounding rocket project. But I'm not sure and can't find the reference via google now.
    KE7RUX likes this.
  9. AD5MB

    AD5MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I added transverter connections to an HTX-100. separate low level RF output and RF inputs, so the transverter can be left in place while the 10M antenna is connected. I never owned a transverter, so I don't know how well they work.
  10. W3ATV

    W3ATV XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Not mine- but pretty extreme....

    KP4SX likes this.

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