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New file uploaded to HilltopperKit@4SQRP.groups.io

HilltopperKit@4SQRP.groups.io Notification <HilltopperKit+notification@...>
 

Hello,

This email message is a notification to let you know that a file has been uploaded to the Files area of the HilltopperKit@4SQRP.groups.io group.

File: Hilltopper manual_3_19.pdf

Uploaded By: Dave Benson

Description:
This is the current version of the Instruction Manual for the Hilltopper-20.

You can access this file at the URL:
https://4SQRP.groups.io/g/HilltopperKit/files/Hilltopper%20manual_3_19.pdf

Cheers,
The Groups.io Team

Test

Johnny AC0BQ
 

Testing 
Johnny AC0BQ 
--
Check out the 4SQRP website at 4sqrp.com

Thanks Guys!

Tommy Henderson
 

Beautiful work Dave.

Tommy WD5AGO

Problems, now that the radio is completed

Charles W. Powell
 

First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles

Re: Problems, now that the radio is completed

Charles W. Powell
 

I have solved problems 1 & 2.  The BFO now centers at exactly 600 Hz, and the frequency is close enough for government work.  Other questions remain, but the biggest problems are solved.

72,

Charles

On Apr 11, 2018, at 8:30 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:

First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles

Re: Problems, now that the radio is completed

Dave Benson
 

Charles-

1) Do you recall what frequency first came up when you first went into cal mode? The adjustment range is presently +/- 2.56 kHz.

2) The goal is 800 Hz. I assume you mean that the pitch is too high, which means the oscillator frequency is too high.  You should also be able to verify the frequency on another receiver - it should be at approximately 5185.9 kHz.  I'd suggest visually inspecting the capacitor values for that BFO circuit- let me know.

3) The gain control has an adjustment range in the low 30s (in dB). It's there to prevent front-end overload, and also mitigates item 4)

4) Audio screech: I had tried putting limiting diodes in the AF final. As they began conducting on large signals, they significantly detuned the bandpass function. Perhaps the most practical solution replaces the NE5532 with a (DIP) TLV2462. This raises the amp's internal current-limiting threshold from 34 mA (typ) to 80 mA. In simpler terms, that's about 8 dB more audio headroom.

5) I've been informed it's actually mode B, and confusion over that seems widespread.  It was mode A originally and a firmware revision changed that. This an 'action item' for me- I need to establish a way to choose either one on a one-time basis and retain it in EEPROM- along with the paddle reverse.

You can keep the rig permanently in Straight Key mode with a monaural plug- left in permanently. It should then 'pass through' the signal from an external keyer.
I don't envision offering it as a menu choice.

PA ruggedness:  I've built three Hilltoppers and at least that many predecessor designs using the 3xBS170 PA scheme. I haven't lost any PAs during boneheaded key-down mishaps. They seem to be pretty rugged. 

73- Dave, K1SWL
 

On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:30 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:
First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles


Re: Problems, now that the radio is completed

K0WDO Will Osborn
 

Would you mind sharing how you fixed #1 and 2?

Thanks!
Will
K0WDO 


On Apr 12, 2018, at 8:02 AM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:

I have solved problems 1 & 2.  The BFO now centers at exactly 600 Hz, and the frequency is close enough for government work.  Other questions remain, but the biggest problems are solved.

72,

Charles

On Apr 11, 2018, at 8:30 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:

First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles

Re: Problems, now that the radio is completed

Wayne Dillon <wayne.dillon@...>
 

Good morning Charles,
Be interested to know what the solution was.
Be blessed,
Wayne - NQ0RP

On Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 8:02 AM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:
I have solved problems 1 & 2.  The BFO now centers at exactly 600 Hz, and the frequency is close enough for government work.  Other questions remain, but the biggest problems are solved.

72,

Charles

On Apr 11, 2018, at 8:30 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:

First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles




--
 
QRP -  EFFICIENCY AND SKILL, NOT POWER. 
 
God Bless from Wayne Dillon - NQ0RP


Re: Problems, now that the radio is completed

Charles W. Powell
 

Answers below.  This also addresses some of the follow-up questions, so in the interests of not flooding the list, I think Will and Wayne can glean answers from my comments.

On Apr 12, 2018, at 7:54 AM, Dave Benson <davek1swl@...> wrote:

Charles-

1) Do you recall what frequency first came up when you first went into cal mode? The adjustment range is presently +/- 2.56 kHz. 

It was 14061.61, so within range.  I don’t know what I did to make it work; I simply “tried again” and I made sure I left the power on for about a minute after I was happy with the frequency.  When I powered up again, it was darn close to 14060.


2) The goal is 800 Hz. I assume you mean that the pitch is too high, which means the oscillator frequency is too high.  You should also be able to verify the frequency on another receiver - it should be at approximately 5185.9 kHz.  I'd suggest visually inspecting the capacitor values for that BFO circuit- let me know.


I was not able to get the BFO to match the sidetone frequency, but after I got the LO to the right transmit frequency, the BFO centered on a 600 Hz tone.  This suits me because I find an 800 Hz tone “shrill” and fatiguing.  So I will put up with the side tone being a high pitch.  Hams are generally pretty terrible about zero beating anyway.  I can always use RIT to make it comfortable but nonetheless, if they hit spot on it will be 600 Hz.  I’m good with that.  For some reason, the passband is fine at 600, way down at 700, then comes back up at 800 Hz according to my tests “by ear."

3) The gain control has an adjustment range in the low 30s (in dB). It's there to prevent front-end overload, and also mitigates item 4)

I should be able to determine how well it works when I take it to the field today.  Nice day here.  I’ll see what happens with a signal that isn’t 3” from the radio.

4) Audio screech: I had tried putting limiting diodes in the AF final. As they began conducting on large signals, they significantly detuned the bandpass function. Perhaps the most practical solution replaces the NE5532 with a (DIP) TLV2462. This raises the amp's internal current-limiting threshold from 34 mA (typ) to 80 mA. In simpler terms, that's about 8 dB more audio headroom. 

I took the power down to 1/2 watt on the KX2 I was using for testing.  It did not overload or oscillate with the lower power and the KX2 transmitting into a dummy load.  That tells me that the radio is quite sensitive.  When I get home I will run some tests to see exactly where it starts to “hear."

5) I've been informed it's actually mode B, and confusion over that seems widespread.  It was mode A originally and a firmware revision changed that. This an 'action item' for me- I need to establish a way to choose either one on a one-time basis and retain it in EEPROM- along with the paddle reverse.


Well, the unit I have most assuredly is Curtis mode A.  If there is a way to change it, PLEASE tell me.  I truly cannot send with mode A.  I’ve been using mode B for 35 years and old habits die hard.  If there is an update to the firmware that will allow mode B (or make it the default) I will be a happy camper.

You can keep the rig permanently in Straight Key mode with a monaural plug- left in permanently. It should then 'pass through' the signal from an external keyer.
I don't envision offering it as a menu choice.


I will have to make myself a short adapter for this.  I can force it to start in SK mode by holding the dash paddle, then changing out the key.

PA ruggedness:  I've built three Hilltoppers and at least that many predecessor designs using the 3xBS170 PA scheme. I haven't lost any PAs during boneheaded key-down mishaps. They seem to be pretty rugged. 


Good to know about the PA.  I also won’t worry if the SWR isn’t spot on.  I often use a 1/4 wave vertical, but the ground side is usually pretty random - a few wires on the ground, dangling from a picnic table.  Should be fine in that case.

I will report back after I get out this afternoon.

72,

Charles


73- Dave, K1SWL
 

On Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 9:30 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:
First, the radio sounds great and it seems to put out at least 5 watts, but there are a few problems I have encountered.

  1. After trying to match the frequency with the Cal jumper in place, the radio is again off frequency after I power cycle it. (about 1.2 KHz high - I can live with that.)
  2. The BFO is about 400 Hz too high (or 600 if the goal is a BFO frequency of 800 Hz.)  My KX2 is set at 600 Hz which appears to be around the peak of the passband on the Hilltopper.  If I try to adjust further, the BFO frequency merely starts to climb higher, and farther away from the desired frequency.  The trimmer cap I think was all the way down tight.  Which way does the trimmer go?  Increase or decrease capacitance?
  3. The gain control doesn't seem to do much.  That may have to do with proximity to the transmitter, but it seems it should do something.
  4. If you overload the front end of the receiver, it throws it into wild oscillation in the ear buds. OUCH!
  5. I am useless with iambic mode A. I simply can't use it after 35 years of iambic mode B and self-completing characters. Is there a way to permanently set the radio for straight key use? (Maybe short the outer ring to ground?)  Because of my other radios I do not have the ring connected (Elecrafts don't like it, except the K2.)
At a minimum, I must get the BFO frequency in the right place to try it in the field.

One more thing - how tolerant is the final to bone headed accidental keying without a load?  Haven't blown anything yet, but not wanting to do so either!

Oh great gurus of the Hilltopper, where should I go first?

72,

Charles




Wish list

Charles W. Powell
 

I must say that the radio did very well today in the field.  I still don't know how sensitive it really is, but I have an Elecraft signal generator at home that I can try some attenuation levels.  I briefly listed on my KX2 and an S5 signal on it was QSA 5 QRK 5 on the Mountaintopper. Unfortunately 20 meters wasn't great overall.  There is less noise perceived on the Mountaintopper but that may be gain related.  I had the gain wide open for most of my QSOs today but that's not a big surprise (unless I should have a lot of background noise.)

As some of you may have read online, first QSO was PJ5/AI5P, then OR, Cuba, and AZ.  Not bad considering the band conditions.  I was definitely heard.

Observations:
  1. With my earbuds, the sidetone is very loud.  Is there any way to make it quieter or adjustable?  I haven't tried it with other phones as yet.
  2. Sidetone pitch - quite high for me.  Any way to adjust that?
  3. As previously mentioned, the keyer is iambic mode A.  Mode B doesn't bother "single paddle" type keying, but for those of us who use autocomplete, OUCH!

Would I throw this in a backpack to operate portable?  You bet I would.  Nice job, development team!  Compared to something like the MFJ Cub? The Cub is more expensive and lightyears behind in its technology.  And again for the kitting team and technical/manual writers, this radio had the best instructions and grouping of components and instruction set I have ever seen.

72,

Charles - NK8O

Hilltopper 20 availability?

John Daly
 

Anyone have insider information on when 4SQRP will offer this kit for sale? I recall the anticipated cost to be $80. Any info would be ideal. 73 w4usf Lutz, FL

Re: Hilltopper 20 availability?

gary Lyons <gary.w0gx@...>
 

John,

We are putting the finishing touches on the Hilltopper kit page. We hope to have it on line within the next few days. I'll post an update here when it's ready to go.

73,
Gary/w0gx

Re: Hilltopper 20 availability?

John Daly
 

Thanks for the update, Gary.

73/73 John W4USF

The Hilltopper is now available

gary Lyons <gary.w0gx@...>
 

The Hilltopper is now on the 4SQRP kits page. Please be patient with your order since I am starting up both if the new kits announced at OzarkCon 2018. It might take me a day or two to catch up to the initial order swarm. 😊

72,
Gary/w0gx

Re: Wish list, and other stuff

Tommy Henderson
 

I am measuring about -118 dBm +/-2 here on Rx which is about right for an NE602 input device.  I do like the audio gain turned up.  I am also measuring output power at about 3.5W which is close enough.  I have not tried to tweak the coils, but believe it should not make too much difference.  Nice 3dB bandwidth on AF, as good as the DSWII.
Should be a winner in the field this summer, easy to operate controls on top.


Tommy WD5AGO

Re: Wish list, and other stuff

Dave Benson
 

Tommy-

Thanks for the measurement!  I'm no longer set up to measure MDS- I don't have a capable set of attenuators any more.

-118 dBm sounds about right.  The receiver input is losing 6-7 dB because the pick-off point for the W7EL T-R switch is at the PA drains- a 10-ohm impedance. Without adding complexity, the receiver input could have been taken right at the antenna. More gain- but image rejection would suffer badly. The design uses high-side injection and the lowpass filter rolloff for an image rejection of ~70 dB.

73- Dave, K1SWL

On Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 7:53 AM, <wd5ago@...> wrote:
I am measuring about -118 dBm +/-2 here on Rx which is about right for an NE602 input device.  I do like the audio gain turned up.  I am also measuring output power at about 3.5W which is close enough.  I have not tried to tweak the coils, but believe it should not make too much difference.  Nice 3dB bandwidth on AF, as good as the DSWII.
Should be a winner in the field this summer, easy to operate controls on top.


Tommy WD5AGO


tesst

WA0ITP
 

test
-- 
72 WAØITP
I love this radio stuff.
Back to the bench, Winter is too valuable to waste.
www.wa0itp.com
www.4sqrp.com

Gain control

Charles W. Powell
 

I notice that the gain on the Hilltopper is mostly useful in the top 25% of the control.  Is there a way to balance this out a little?  What would happen if a parallel resistor were placed across the fixed pot points, say, 5000 ohms added to make the overall resistance 2500 ohms, or 10K to make a total of 3333 ohms, and a bit less of a change with moving the wiper of the pot?  I'm not an EE so I don't know if this would screw up the input to U1.  Am I on the wrong track?

72,

Charles - NK8O

Re: Gain control

Dave Benson
 

Charles-

The gain control arrangement is a direct copy borrowed from my older SW+ series. It has fairly limited adjustment range (about 30 dB). Of most interest to me, the gain picks back up at the full counterclockwise position. I suspect it's probably a stray capacitance effect, but I haven't had a chance to investigate it.

Mode A / Mode B selection :  now working.   EEPROM storage/retrieval of that selection needs work and then it's good.

//BTW-  Excellent job on your picnic-table portable adventures. You're doing well despite terrible band conditions!

Dave-   K1SWL

On Wed, May 9, 2018 at 10:47 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:
I notice that the gain on the Hilltopper is mostly useful in the top 25% of the control.  Is there a way to balance this out a little?  What would happen if a parallel resistor were placed across the fixed pot points, say, 5000 ohms added to make the overall resistance 2500 ohms, or 10K to make a total of 3333 ohms, and a bit less of a change with moving the wiper of the pot?  I'm not an EE so I don't know if this would screw up the input to U1.  Am I on the wrong track?

72,

Charles - NK8O


Re: Gain control

Charles W. Powell
 

Thanks Dave.

I actually noticed the counterclockwise effect on the gain.  It seems like the sensitivity is reduced a bit because I am hearing very little noise at all, but I still hear readable signals.  It’s a remarkable phenomenon.  If placing another resistor in parallel won’t hurt U1, I may tack one in on the bottom of the board to see if it slows the rate of change ever so slightly.  It shouldn’t make any difference at the fully clockwise setting.

Excellent news about Mode A/B  for keying, although I have had a lot of fun having it necessary to use the straight key!  Keeps my fist in shape.

The QSOs have taken patience, but the fact is that they are still there to be found.  I am amazed that some of the weaker stations can even hear me.  Of course, it also helps to be in a setting where the noise floor is minimal.

72,

Charles - NK8O



On May 10, 2018, at 5:25 AM, Dave Benson <davek1swl@...> wrote:

Charles-

The gain control arrangement is a direct copy borrowed from my older SW+ series. It has fairly limited adjustment range (about 30 dB). Of most interest to me, the gain picks back up at the full counterclockwise position. I suspect it's probably a stray capacitance effect, but I haven't had a chance to investigate it.

Mode A / Mode B selection :  now working.   EEPROM storage/retrieval of that selection needs work and then it's good.

//BTW-  Excellent job on your picnic-table portable adventures. You're doing well despite terrible band conditions!

Dave-   K1SWL

On Wed, May 9, 2018 at 10:47 PM, Charles W. Powell via Groups.Io <doctorcwp@...> wrote:
I notice that the gain on the Hilltopper is mostly useful in the top 25% of the control.  Is there a way to balance this out a little?  What would happen if a parallel resistor were placed across the fixed pot points, say, 5000 ohms added to make the overall resistance 2500 ohms, or 10K to make a total of 3333 ohms, and a bit less of a change with moving the wiper of the pot?  I'm not an EE so I don't know if this would screw up the input to U1.  Am I on the wrong track?

72,

Charles - NK8O