This Weekend on the Radio at KB6NU

This was a low-key weekend on the radio here at KB6NU.

It started out with an ARROW board of directors meeting at 9 am, Saturday morning. I called the meeting to discuss the slate of officers for 2006. To be honest, I was kind of worried that we’d have to really do some finagling to get guys to take positions. I’m planning to step down as president, and there’s a good possibility that our current technical coordinator will be moving.

I was heartened, however, that two guys previously not on the board volunteered to serve, and with a bit of shuffling of the other board members, it looks like we’ll have a full slate of officers, and a good slate at that. I do have to find one more sucker, errrrr I mean volunteer, but I have a good list of possibilities to fill that position.

Sweepstakes a Bust
Even before I got started, I was ambivalent about working the CW Sweepstakes this weekend, but I turned on the rig for a bit anyway. I should have left it off. After making 20 contacts, I just lost interest and pulled the plug. Oh well, tonight is a Spartan Sprint, and that should actually be more fun anyway.

Small, Small, Small
Since it didn’t look like I was going to do much operating this weekend, I had to find something else to do. So, I thought I’d build something.

A couple of months ago, I bought an Icom CI-V interface kit from Mark K5LXP, who moderates the IC-746PRO mailing list. It’s a very nice kit–the whole thing fits inside a DB-9 connector shell. The catch is that all the components are surface mount devices.

Boy are these components small! The only way to work with them is to use a tweezers and a magnifying glass. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a pair of tweezers at a hamfest, and last week I bought a magnifying task lamp at Brookstone. Both were good deals–I paid $3 for the tweezers and only $50 for the lamp. Some of the other lamps I was looking at were going for $100 and up. (I’d give a link to the Brookstone website, but I couldn’t find the lamp on the website, which I thought a bit odd.)

Anyway, working with these parts is a real challenge. The first challenge is to read the markings on the components. The 10 kohm resistors were clearly marked “103,” but the markings on the diodes was nearly unreadable. After some e-mail consulting with K5LXP, I think I have it figure out, though.

Then, the trick is to hold the component in place while you melt a bit of solder on the lead and pad. I have the two 10k resistors soldered in place, but the solder has flowed onto the pads where the other components are to go. I think this is going to make it difficult to hold the component flat while I solder it down. We’ll see.

I would like to get this working as I think it will be very cool to have the rig interface to the computer. For one thing, the N3FJP logging software will then be able to read the frequency and mode directly from the radio. I’ll also be able to set the frequency and mode from the computer.

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  1. [...] I wish I’d have used this method to make the SMD CI-V interface. While I got the thing to work, the parts moved around while I was soldering them. I think this method would have been easier and produced a nicer looking board. [...]

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