Sunday, April 30, 2006

FT-227R Memorizer (Thats Memorise with a Zed)

Back in the early 70's I lived two doors down from a local radio ham. G6HG, Jim Bassett (AKA Bertie) was licensed before the war and his exploits on the 4M band would play havoc with our TV (Old black and white 405 line system on 50Mhz).

I used to visit him on Saturdays and we would chat about everything from Ham radio to his wartime work (Taking down CW and feeding it to Bletchley). Articles about this always focus on the hero's like Turing etc. But behind them was an army of ex-hams carefully taking down hour after hour of encrypted CW. He did get feedback, usually to say that the other two working on the frequency disagreed on a group so could he be more careful...

Can you imagine how good his CW was?

You can't imagine how pleased he was at the end of the war when they returned all of his equipment (Confiscated on grounds of national security!).

Anyway, Jim had a motley collection of equipment (Heathkits, an HRO etc) but also a newly purchased FT-227 RB memorizer and an IC-202.

When I was first licensed I never owned an FT-227 but after a few years they started showing up 2nd hand so I got my paws on one.
Of course I kept it for a while and then traded it for the next gadget. One of these recently turned up faulty on eBay so I put in a bid and once again became the proud owner of an FT227-R memorizer!

The first thing that surprised me was the weight of the unit. I think the FT-817 weighs about half as much! Its got a cast frame and was built to last (Chimps permitting).

This box had no audio, and a missing power cable (Why it was cheap!). Someone had soldered some skinny wires directly to the two-pin power socket (Nasty!). No biggie I thought; a trip to Maplins sorted out the power connector.

I powered it up, no audio. I removed the base of the unit where someone had connected the speaker wires in reverse (One side of the speaker is connected to the chassis). Reversing the speaker wires was the worlds speediest fix of audio.

Tada! It sprang to life, but came up on 146 Mhz >:o I checked the power out on the Thruline; 8watts, that’s good. Then suddenly 0watts WTF?

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The unit came with documentation, but I also downloaded it in Handy pdf format from Fox Tango.

I got the voltmeter out and had a look inside. 1st thing I noticed was the PLL unit was not fixed (Some chimp had obviously been inside this unit). I tracked the faulty output down to a blown transistor in the PA control circuit. A quick replacement and off we go again.

When I turned the unit on its back the loose PLL board had dropped down and shorted the transistor. So I found some spare screws and fixed it back in place.

Lesson 1 - If you go inside something, please make sure you put everything back where it came from! I think this chimp must have closed the unit and wondered what the spare screws were for?

Let put it another way, if a surgeon was working on you and you woke up with a kidney missing you might be slightly annoyed. Yeah you have two but there is a reason for that!

Anyway, I modified the unit to come up on 145 Mhz -

I Replaced the crappy SO239 with an N-Type and tuned the unit up.

The last problem I had with it was over-deviation. I guess it was set up for 25Khz channel spacing of the 70's. That was just an easy adjustment to VR202 on the main board.

It works fine, 10 watts is good for local chitchat. It will need a tone squelch board if I want to work through some of the local repeaters. Obviously obtaining an original tone squelch board would be like finding hens teeth.

One of the basic features of the FT-227 is that it can memorise 1 channel, wow be still my beating heart! The 10Khz steps and +5K button are a bit annoying but it gets me the whole of the 2m band on a budget - £30 + £1.49 and 32p for the power plug and blown transistor.

This is a really well built transceiver! I don't think you will find commercial rigs built as well as this.

So if you see one of these up for sale and you know some basic electronics grab yourself a bargain & see you on 2M FM!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's Been a Long Time

I recently returned to amateur radio after nearly a 10 year break. A lot has changed, and as far as I can see, mostly for the best.

Meet the twins, and my trusty (or should that be rusty) FT-227.

I found the FT-227 on eBay; it had no audio and the tx was faulty. These transceivers were top of their class when I was first licensed in '79 so I thought it worth a punt. £30 later it was mine; I will go through the '227 story later.

I picked up the IC-202 from Martin's emporium in the early 90's and never let it go. Okay it only does SSB and CW and puts out 3watts PEP but don't be fooled. These are great fun to operate and like the '227 easy to fix. I couldn't leave the 202 on its own, and I wanted something for 6 Meters so the IC-502 seemed ideal.

This 502 is a recent addition. I found this ancient model in Hong Kong. Again 3 watts PEP but it produces a fairly clean output and it drives a PA.
It still has the protective plastic over the front, unbelievable? Its so un-touched that I'm now agonising whether to open it up and do the band spread mod?

So that’s the VHF kit. 20 years ago it would have seemed a bit lightweight, but in those days I only ran VHF/UHF so I had nothing better to spend my pennies on.

When I get round to it I will cover the rest of the shack, HF equipment, RTTY and of course the aerials.

73 Rex (G8UBJ)