The latest arrival is a Tektronix 492BP spectrum analyser. This guy runs from 10kHz to 21GHz and has a waveguide mixer (WM490K) which goes up to 26.5GHz. Apparently there are mixers available up to 325GHz.
The upside, well, this covers all the amateur bands. I mean, all of them, if I can get the mixers. But anyway it does everything I am likely to need for a very long time. The downside… space. it’s big. Mind you, so is the 5342A frequency counter. I need a bigger table. And I must say that describing this as portable is like describing a B40 receiver the same way. (well, ok, it’s half the weight of a B40)
I have written myself a mental note. First, do not use it until I get a decent DC block. Second, actually learn how to use it before I need to use it!
I’ve been looking for some time for an affordable (i.e. used) and useful ranged (i.e. not cheap!) spectrum analyser. Obviously I want DC to light but don’t need it and don’t want to sell the house for a bit of test gear. I have a TinySA which is good to 960MHz but I will need a higher frequency range as I fiddle more with microwaves.
The ultimate, e.g. a Rigol or Siglent LCD type device is just far too expensive. Nice to have yes but something one would need to be using all the time in order to justify it. Then I came across Satsagen – http://www.albfer.com/en/2020/02/21/satsagen-2/
Satsagen runs under Windows and by default uses an Adalm Pluto as its interface to the real world. The software even does the necessary to upgrade the Pluto to the ‘full’ range of 70MHz to 6GHz (you can do this easily by hand but it’s nice of the software to do it anyway). The software has three basic function too – spectrum analyser, spectrum analyser with tracking, and generator. So, one PC, one Pluto, Satsagen and you get a pretty decent 70MHz to 6GHz spectrum analyser, tracking generator and signal generator.
I have not yet delved into all the functionality and only carried out a couple of quick tests on a handheld and on my 70MHz transverter, plus a very quick test of a FPV transmitter (TS832) up at 5.6GHz.
It will work with other devices such as the HackRF and the RTL dongle but it seems so useful I purchased a Pluto just for it (yeah, ok, I can use it for other stuff too but hey)
So I now have a functional Creed 75 teleprinter. The person it came from had done a first rate job at cleaning it up and getting it to function. Thus far all I have done is put it in the workshop waiting for me to make some time and space to have a play. I also need to get my head around it as I have never had a 75 before.
And here it is. It is in good shape given how old it is and I hope eventually to be able to sneak this into the shack, aka the little bedroom. There is just no way the 444 would hide in there but there is almost a 75-sized hole.
The innards do look neat and care has been taken in getting it working.
More to the point though it prints just fine, a stage I have yet to reach with the 444.
The first order of play is to get some volts onto it via the TDMS and make sure it receives as well as sends. Ah, that means I need to fix the TDMS which has stopped working. This also means I need to rearrange all the valve collection as this is taking up half the workshop right now. Snowballing…
Yes I know it’s not really cold here in the UK, especially having spent a few winters in Montreal. But it’s damp… always damp. I had set up an electronics bench in the workshop but I was always conscious of the humidity. Recently it’s been hovering above 80% and so I have finally given up the idea and moved the test gear inside.
My original aim was to have the shack in the workshop but three things always stopped me: the fact that having a lot of relatively expensive gear in a wooden workshop in the garden is generally a bad idea; the humidity; and the fact that all my antennas are in the loft. So the radios stayed indoors, now joined by the test gear, which makes sense anyway. Plus there’s more light ‘up here’ with a large south-facing window.
Not the most startling of new toys but I’ve never had a PCB holder. All my construction until recently has been on Veroboard or just lash-ups of wires, until the QRP Labs board. That made me realise there was a gap on the bench.
So, this has joined my armoury. The board is a random “let’s fiddle with SMD” kit that comes with numerous bits and bobs. I’ve never had a go at SMD and yet I have two projects waiting to be built which are just that, so this board will hopefully get me up to speed. I figured it best to practice on something that doesn’t matter first. I have a headband magnifier, various fine tweezers and tiny soldering iron bits, so should be good to go. Let’s see how much of a mess I can make.