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SoftRock RXTXv6.2 - 80 meters

SO! Ya wanna build a SoftRock kit?
Here are a few things I learned while building this unit.

  • Number of windings on the toroidal will not always match up with the values listed. (IE: 1.9uH with 22 turns, well I actually ended up with almost dbl the uH value based on my lab test instrument with these 22 turns... so be warned if you actually check it).
  • Computer power and stereo inputs... or rather the lack of them.  I initially tested this unit with a low-end laptop (P3) running Rocky and using an RF signal source as it is daytime currently so that means the  80m band sucks.
  • My initial test showed basic function on the Rocky software screen 'IE nice big spike that moved around based on frequency input'. so cool it’s pretty much working properly we can go forward. However, I greatly under estimated the CPU power that would really be needed to use this SDR software as the initial results had also showed sluggish screen updates and lots of noise from the soundcard trying to process all the data. Well OK I have a newer monster HP laptop that should more then handle this software... after all I am just initial testing here.  Oh but wait! The audio input on this fancy HP media center laptop is MONO... WTF!  You pay serious money for a media laptop and you get a mono input (insert lots of cussing here).
  • Ok so let's keep move along... looking at the schematic I think it should work just fine with the mono input just isolate and tie the "MONO" input together with the stereo from the SoftRock PCB and go from there.  Well nope it really and I mean really wants to have a true 100% stereo input and output to run these units.  So my bad! And I'm not sure my financial advisor is not going to be happy about me going to Fry's to pickup an external USB soundcard.  Sheesh!



1. Open and package and here is what you get.   Keep in mind this package is the SoftRock Version 6.2 - 80 meter transceiver.




2. Lets get all those resistors on.




3. Start adding the capacitors.



3a. and some more caps these are SMD (Surface Mount Device) types that go on the backside of the PCB.



3b. and the last of the caps (yellow ones are ceramic types)




4. Ok now for some of the GP type transistors and the frequency crystals




5. Lets start winding some coils. It really does not matter what you wind first just have them all installed on the PCB before you mount any of the static sensitive items like FET's and IC's (parts in the pink anti-static package).



5a. last of the coils and the FET's and remaining power transistor/heatsink are mounted.




6. Now for all the SMD IC's on the bottom of the board.




7. Pretty much completed at this point just needs the Audio cables, Power, PTT and antenna coax line.




8. Here the cables have been added for my initial testing.





Basically here are my faults;
* More research should have been performed and I might have found out about the fact these units need stereo inputs on the computer side.
* Heavy CPU requirments. I don't care what some people say maybe they are looking at a much narrower bandwidth and only using it for CW. I plan to use this for every digital mode known and have later plans to make it into a fulltime beacon when finished beating the crud out of it on camping trips.

** BTW, I found this much later on someones website and just for my son, no this is not ironic.  (The only solid requirement is that you must have a stereo 'line-in' connector to the sound card in the computer which most laptops today do not have)

All that soundcard stereo input aside I must admit this kit was very FUN, Fast and pretty easy to assemble from start to finish I’d say in about 5 maybe 6 hours total with a good 30% of that time being winding coils you should have this radio up and running.  If you have not built one of these kits you should it is always nice to build something from a kit sometimes and the new SDR stuff looks fun too… wave of the future I hear.  A btw needs to be added here, the last production run of the version 6.2 boards are completed and all future versions will have a programmable crystal to allow full band coverage from these kits compaired to the narrow crystal versions shown here this also means a price change.

 


How to buy the HARDWARE

Here is the place to by the SDR Hardware "SoftRock Kits"
Prices are going to change due to the new design that now uses an SI570 programmable crystal. However, the 80m board I used here was only $30 and dual band radios are around $35 and that should kind of give you an idea of price for these TX/RX units. However, if all you want is a receive only look at the SoftRock Lites they are $12 each and use the USB port of your computer.

Payment is VIA a couple options, Paypal is preferred I think and shipping was like 3 days and I had it so Tony does a great job on this.

http://www.softrockradio.org/SoftRock

Yahoo group and documentation can be found at;

http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/softrock40

How to obtain the SOFTWARE (Currently both are Freeware)

Basic Interface and good for testing and initial setup
Rocky SDR Decoder Software
http://www.dxatlas.com/


Awesome Interface and what I will use for day to day operation when my soundcard issue is resolved
M0KGK SDR Decoder Software "KGKSDR"
http://www.m0kgk.co.uk/sdr/index.php




Have questions? Comments?  Please let me know



Disclaimer:
This information and the circuits are provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this text, the authors/maintainers/contributors assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

I disclaim everything. The contents of the articles might be totally inaccurate, inappropriate, or misguided. There is no guarantee as to the suitability of said circuits and information for any purpose whatsoever other than as a self-training aid. I.E. If it blows your equipments, trashes your hard disc, wipes your backup, burns your building down or just plain don't work, IT ISN'T MY FAULT. In the event of judicial ruling to the contrary, any liability shall be limited to the sum charged on you by us for the aforementioned document or nothing, whichever is the lower.

I will not be held responsible for any damages or costs which might occur as a result of my advice or designs. All of my designs are allowed to be used for commercial purposes without my written authorization.

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Use of any and all Chemicals is simple “Read the damn Label” and don’t be a Hero or an Idiot.

Use, Recycle, Reuse and Dispose of everything properly.

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