Saturday, October 19, 2013

The K2 is packed up until we move

The K2 is packed and ready for the move
As time moves on things around the house are being packed up including my K2 build. We have a conditional offer on our house and once that all goes through (hopefully by Wednesday of this week) things will start to move very fast as we have a small window between selling and buying a new place. I do have some pic's of my toroids that I have wound up to this point and wanted to post them just for other kits builders to see. These are not all the toroids that are involved in the kit but the ones thus far that I have wound. The Bifilar is not below as that was in the last post with pics.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Things are on hold here at VE3WDM

Packing things up for a short time
Julie and I have decided to move from out large home since the kids are gone and we have more rooms than we know what to do with! We are now about 60 min's from Toronto where we both work and the commute is really starting to get to us. I have been doing it for about 15 years and Julie for 6, so it's time to move close to the city.........hey we said why not live right in the city!!!! So we have our home up for sale..........well not yet as I have to do some polishing up before it hits the market. We decided to move to a condo in Toronto right on lake Ontario looking out onto the lake and  into the downtown. We are very excited about this upcoming move as we both will be about 10-15 minutes from work. Because of the move the K2 project has to
Coming up Bifilar toroid winding
shut down for a few months as I get ready, pack and then move and set up again. I sure am going to miss this part of the hobby but it has to be done.I do have some pics of progress over the past month that I can blog about but it's the finding the time to get things written and posted that is the problem. So there will be posts now and then but just wanted to let the readership know the blog is not dormant and shut down......just a short hiatus that's all. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Looking into the crystal ball........kinda

It's crystal time
With posting about the toroid's I did get a little ahead of myself........I did say and I will post regarding Bi-filar toroid's but first I wanted to take a step back to the crystals. These were mounted and can's grounded well before you have to do the toroid thing! I wanted to take this post to look at the crystals both their mounting and the grounding of the cans. First off as I have said WAY to many times but I say it because it's important and can save you a POOP  load of time and that is to make sure you CAREFULLY  inventory your crystals. Problems can arise if you mount them in the wrong spot.....your alignment and testing can turn into a nightmare! Once these babies are in they are hard to remove and adding the extra heat to remove them can destroy them. So lets spend a moment on mounting them to the board. Here is what I do........
Installing the crystals
1. I check and double check to make sure I am mounting the proper crystal and mounting it in the proper place.
2. I tape the crystal in place by using some painters masking tape (very easy to remove) with a row of crystals I will run one long piece of tape across the top of the crystals and then to the board. Don't worry about a flush fit to the board at this moment that can be tweaked once the crystal is in place.
5 crystals that were taped
3. At SHORT INTERVALS solder the crystals in place. You don't want to heat the crystals up to hot as they can become damaged. are only soldering one leg of each crystal at this time.
4. Remove tape and reheat each leg single soldered leg while pushing down on the crystal to seat in firm and square on the board. Again applying heat at short intervals.
5. Solder all second legs of crystals and then trim flush with board.
Grounding the can of the crystal
Now comes the fun part and when you really have to take your time and check and double check things. I like to make the final build look as neat as possible and here is a step that takes some to to get it right. In the kit building process the manual has been asking you to keep the clipped leads and this is where they come in handy. You can take these clipped leads and use them to ground the cans of the crystals. Again care must be taken to not heat the crystals up to much as to damage them. I have a few trick up my sleeve to help the builder to avoid heat damage while grounding the can.

Here are the steps I do to ground the crystal can's
  1. I find a discarded lead in my container of "discarded leads" I take my time to shape the lead to fit neatly on the top of the crystal (some leads you are told to solder to the side as well). 
    Add flux to top
  2. I then add some flux to the top of the crystal to be grounded and then add some solder to the top of the crystal. The flux allows the solder to flow nicely and not much heat is needed to do this. 
  3. I then fit the preformed ground lead in place. I make sure the lead has an extra long tail as it goes through the board. This way I can hold it in place as I add a little solder to the soldering iron tip and then tac the ground lead to the top of the crystal. 
  4. Making sure the lead looks neat I then solder the lead at the circuit board.
    All done
  5. I now can go back to the top of the crystal and add more solder if needed. 
I find this way allows me to not heat the crystals up to much and possibly damaging them.  For side mounted ground leads I follow the same method and it seems to have worked very well for me.
Keep the spare leads

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A new YouTube video about prepping a toroid.

Last week I received an email from Patrick ON4CDJ he was asking me to break down the solder blob method I use to strip off the coating on the magnet wire. So instead of writing a  long post with pictures I decided to put a video together. So here it is and do email me if you have questions or something you would like to see added.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When I first started kit building some years ago it was the dreaded toroid winding that I never looked forward too. After winding and rewinding over time it has not become a dark task, it has taken some time to get the hang of it but I can say that I  no longer get uptight about the process. I have learned some tricks and some never ever skip steps when it comes to toroids. 
I am in the process of building my second K2 rig from Elecraft and there are lots of toroids to be wound. Now having said that if you want you can order per-wound toroids from the toroid guy. If you do order toroids that are per-wound I would encourage you to try to wind your own as well. What I have found is it's only practice that is needed to get the hang of the winding thing. In the past I have built many Elecraft kits were toroids have been involved, I have learned as I said some tricks, some must do stuff and things to stay away from when it comes to this art. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Something is going on............

Now and then I check out the statistics of this blog, in the past the visits per day have been in around 20 to 30. My other blog on the other hand has in and around 400-500 visits per day.  But 20-30 visits per day is not bad I think for a brand specific blog. Not everyone is building things and an Elecraft k2 to even narrow it down more. I am very happy with this blog to just put it out there to help out fellow builders and those who are building an Elecraft K2. To my surprise today I was checking the visit to this blog and between yesterday and today it has spiked to 80!!! Not sure what is going on there but I hope it keeps up.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The build continues..........

The three components
The summer sure has put a dent in my K2 build, if you had asked me months ago I would had thought I would fly through the build over the summer. We have had some very hot days here (in the 40's C with the humid-ex) I work outdoors and those temps just do it out of me Im not as young as I used to be. After dinner and some house chores I was done for the evening and as I repeately said  in my blog "if your tired stay away from the build mistakes will be made" Things have been very slow going with the K2 build BUT it was time to get down to some custom component bending and placement again. This involves some component placement on the back of the RF board. One has to be very careful when identifying the spot on the PC board where the parts are to be soldered. I have
Here is the spot...notice trace humps to right
found that once the board is turned over many spots seems to look the same. I had to look for some very defining identifiers to make sure I was in the correct spot. For the spot I was looking for there was two trace humps to the right that made this area stand out and helped me identify component placement. This part of the build involved 3 components and their leads had to be contorted in and around solder pads. The first component I dealt with was the disc capacitor, it's large and really no lead bending is needed. This component seems to only need it's leads cut short and soldered. CAUTION.....check and double check you have the correct spot for these parts. With my first K2 build I was very very careful I checked and double checked parts....I did this part of the build and posted it on my other blog, it was pointed out to me by a reader that one of the parts was in the wrong spot!!!! With a  second look it became very clear I was out to the left with my part placement.
There is a smaller capacitor that has to have it's leads straightened out and some contorting added for proper placement. Take your time with the lead bending and make sure the bare leads do not come close or into contact with other solder pads on the board. I tried to keep the leads as short as possible so the component could not be moved about. This would stop inadvertent movement and accidental shorting. The last component and what I found to be the most challenging was the inductor. It's a large inductor that has to fit into a tiny spot. I had to try and re-try to get the inductor in just the right spot. The leads ended up having some very sharp bends so care must be taking to not pull on the leads or to much bending as the leads will snap off. I had to make use of my magnifying x 2 magnification lens  to make sure the leads were well away from solder pads on the board. One lead ended up being very short so care had to be taken when soldering as to not damage the inductor.
The completed result