EMRFD Message Archive 2051

Message Date From Subject
2051 2008-09-11 20:37:51 Rick Simple Projects
A common discussion on this site is the value of building a simple direct conversion
receiver or crystal set as a beginners project before tackling a more complex receiver.

I was pondering that topic as I wandered among all the hundreds of recently constructed
and restored boats at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington last
weekend. My fellow wanderers fit into two broad categories: boat
designer/builder/restorers, and boat admirers. I had many pleasant conversations with
both types over the long weekend, though the folks actually working on a boat were
clearly having more fun.

I also observed that some of the most experienced and knowledgeble boat
designer/builders were working on the simplest, cleverest...and smallest boats. They
reminded me of my good friend Wes Hayward, who has spent half a century designing,
building and publishing everything from physics instruments to high performance
receivers, spectrum analyzers, GaAs RFICs, and even design software. Last winter he
designed, built, and experimented with an interesting crystal set.

So my enthusiastic recommendation is to build a direct conversion receiver or crystal
set...but not just as a beginner's project. Every time I build a simple radio, I learn
something new that I didn't even know I didn't know. When a radio or a boat is simple, it
is possible to understand the problems and creatively solve them. That is true whether
you are a beginner with just a little understanding, or an old salt with a half century of
design experience. It is the simplicity of the circuit that maximizes both learning and

One of the high points of my weekend at the Wooden Boat Festival was an early-morning
breakfast with a couple old salts discussing a boat built by "that hippie kid." They admired
the simplicity of the design and workmanship, and were amazed that he'd slept aboard. I
never did see the kid, but I found his boat--an ultralight kevlar over wood frame sailboat
designed to be towed behind a bicycle.

I try to alternate between ambitious projects that achieve something new, and simple
projects that elegantly solve a single problem with a few components. Wes yawns when I
describe my latest high-performance receiver project, but he got really excited about
something I did one evening with one transistor and a diode. If you want to impress an
old salt, keep it simple. Chances are he'll look at it for a few minutes and come up with
some old wisdom that never made it into any textbooks. ...Something you didn't even
know you didn't know.

Best Regards,

Rick kk7b
2052 2008-09-12 07:18:22 Richard Stasiak Re: Simple Projects

Just a note to thank you for taking the time to put together the post.

It was both interesting and inspirational. Lots of things to think


Rick ve3mm

On 11-Sep-08, at 11:37 PM, Rick wrote:

> A common discussion on this site is the value of building a simple
> direct conversion
> receiver or crystal set as a beginners project before tackling a
> more complex receiver.
> Best Regards,
> Rick

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
2053 2008-09-12 11:56:26 Nick Kennedy Re: Simple Projects
Yes, those super-simple circuits can be irresistible.

For those of you who don't frequent the QRP-L list, check out the work
of Mike Rainey ...


He's recently done a lot of interesting things that combine the very
simple with the archaic with super low power. Including things like a
tunnel diode transmitter (and receiver) and transmitters using old
"audio" germanium transistors. I even got inspired and made a QSO or
two at 50 mW with a two 2N404 transistor transmitter, the 2N404s
having been robbed from a Hammarlund HK-1B keyer.

73--Nick, WA5BDU