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Author Topic: Has anyone used the W7RY QSK board?  (Read 25101 times)
AD9DX
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Posts: 1556




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« on: April 19, 2015, 03:45:00 PM »

Ok, now that the AL-1200 is safely home and in the shack, it's time to make it work best for my station... I operate mostly CW and would really like to use QSK with my K3.  I am not sure if I want to use the crazy expensive and supposedly unreliable MFJ board.  Can anyone give me some real world feedback on his board? 
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
KM1H
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2015, 04:24:16 PM »

Id start by going to his web site and reading the instructions a few times. It is not a kit and you have to find and purchase ALL the parts, and then build it and install and hope it works.

It is not something Id recommend to someone without many hours of building and debugging experience.

Ive heard the circuit works well but Im more than happy with the VOX CW Ive used since 1986 in my LK-500ZC; original tubes and vacuum relay and many many thousands of contest and DXing CW QSO's plus ragchewing.

Carl
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WA7PRC
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2015, 12:25:07 AM »

Ok, now that the AL-1200 is safely home and in the shack, it's time to make it work best for my station... I operate mostly CW and would really like to use QSK with my K3.  I am not sure if I want to use the crazy expensive and supposedly unreliable MFJ board.  Can anyone give me some real world feedback on his board?  
Hi Jon,

I bought Jim W7RY's PCB for my Heathkit SB-220. He sells it via ebay, username = radioamplifiers (link). While it's not a kit per se, when you make your purchase, he emails complete documentation and a link to the Bill Of Material on Mouser's website. He recommends a source for the output vacuum relay (Max Gain Systems) and he offers the input reed relay (also via ebay). I found another source for the vacuum relay, and bought the reed relay from Jim.

It's a straightforward circuit and super easy to assemble. It worked the first time for me. If you have ANY skill, it should go well for you too.

Using the relays Jim recommends, the worst-case switching speed (included in the documentation) is 1ms, which is plenty fast for QSK CW at up to about 30 wpm. However, the thing about that is, 2 million operations for the relays will go by fast if you operate full QSK. Using semi break-in (aka "VOX") CW, the relays should last a lot longer.

I don't know about his board for the AL-1200 et al but, the board for my SB-220 includes electronically regulated and switched bias. That is another nice feature.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
« Last Edit: April 20, 2015, 12:30:17 AM by WA7PRC » Logged
AD9DX
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Posts: 1556




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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2015, 01:33:15 AM »

The relays are only good for 2 million cycles? I never thought of that, can you provide any documentation on that?
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
G3RZP
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« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2015, 01:38:52 AM »

The relays in the attenuators in our test machines at work would usually manage about 2 million operations before failing. That was about 5 to 6 months.....
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AD9DX
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Posts: 1556




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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2015, 10:23:41 AM »

Ok, now that the AL-1200 is safely home and in the shack, it's time to make it work best for my station... I operate mostly CW and would really like to use QSK with my K3.  I am not sure if I want to use the crazy expensive and supposedly unreliable MFJ board.  Can anyone give me some real world feedback on his board?  
Hi Jon,

I bought Jim W7RY's PCB for my Heathkit SB-220. He sells it via ebay, username = radioamplifiers (link). While it's not a kit per se, when you make your purchase, he emails complete documentation and a link to the Bill Of Material on Mouser's website. He recommends a source for the output vacuum relay (Max Gain Systems) and he offers the input reed relay (also via ebay). I found another source for the vacuum relay, and bought the reed relay from Jim.

It's a straightforward circuit and super easy to assemble. It worked the first time for me. If you have ANY skill, it should go well for you too.

Using the relays Jim recommends, the worst-case switching speed (included in the documentation) is 1ms, which is plenty fast for QSK CW at up to about 30 wpm. However, the thing about that is, 2 million operations for the relays will go by fast if you operate full QSK. Using semi break-in (aka "VOX") CW, the relays should last a lot longer.

I don't know about his board for the AL-1200 et al but, the board for my SB-220 includes electronically regulated and switched bias. That is another nice feature.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC



Is the bias adjustable?  Also what was the total end cost for everything including relays and other parts? 

Are you keeping extra relays on hand in case of a failure? 
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EX, KC9TRM, KB9IRZ
N9XTF
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Posts: 282




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« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2015, 12:07:19 PM »


Is the bias adjustable?  Also what was the total end cost for everything including relays and other parts? 

Are you keeping extra relays on hand in case of a failure? 

John,

The bias is adjustable via the number of diodes you install on the board.

Gigavac is selling their GH1 vacuum relays for $77.00.  You have to email them with your amateur call sign and I think they have a limit of three per year or something; this is an amateur only price.  Jim, W7RY, suggests MaxGain systems for the vac relay.  I have had good luck with them in the past but I would try a new relay of current production if I were going to do it.  Jim is also out of the reed relay, so you would have to source that part for yourself.

I have not purchased or used the W7RY QSK board but have researched it a little.  I would guess the rest of the parts to fill the board would be $20 or so.  I would guess that you are looking around $200 for the completed parts list.

Doug - N9XTF
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N4OGW
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Posts: 462




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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2015, 12:30:20 PM »

Ok, now that the AL-1200 is safely home and in the shack, it's time to make it work best for my station... I operate mostly CW and would really like to use QSK with my K3.  I am not sure if I want to use the crazy expensive and supposedly unreliable MFJ board.  Can anyone give me some real world feedback on his board? 

Re the Ameritron board- I have two of them (internal board QSK-5PC) in a AL-1500 and a Heath SB-1000. So far I haven't had any problems with them in 10 years of use. The main disadvantages I see are that you have to limit the power in higher SWR situations to protect the PIN diodes (see manual for ratings); also in the case of a fault (bad filter cap, HV short, etc), it can get tricky troubleshooting the amp with the board installed. The way they are installed in the Ameritrons also makes it a pain to access the rest of the power supply components.

Tor
N4OGW
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KB2AS
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Posts: 1




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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2015, 03:53:00 AM »

I've installed four so far, three TL-922A and one SB-220, fairly easy installation with detailed instructions provided in documentation. All parts except relays are available from Mouser.

Karl
KB2AS
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AH6RR
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Posts: 846




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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2015, 11:24:07 AM »


Is the bias adjustable?  Also what was the total end cost for everything including relays and other parts? 

Are you keeping extra relays on hand in case of a failure? 

John,

The bias is adjustable via the number of diodes you install on the board.

Gigavac is selling their GH1 vacuum relays for $77.00.  You have to email them with your amateur call sign and I think they have a limit of three per year or something; this is an amateur only price.  Jim, W7RY, suggests MaxGain systems for the vac relay.  I have had good luck with them in the past but I would try a new relay of current production if I were going to do it.  Jim is also out of the reed relay, so you would have to source that part for yourself.

I have not purchased or used the W7RY QSK board but have researched it a little.  I would guess the rest of the parts to fill the board would be $20 or so.  I would guess that you are looking around $200 for the completed parts list.

Doug - N9XTF

I just recently installed one in my SB-220 using 2 Kilovac HC-1 relays since Jim did not have any reed relays and that works just fine. The bias is set via a 10 turn resistor for the SB-220. After installing the board and relays I found that the band switch went out on 20M So I am fixing that when I get back home otherwise it works just fine. I have been in Honolulu and Maui training other facilities managers on emergency prep and communications (might be a couple of new hams out of this) for the past 3 weeks and get home tonight. Lou my wife said there was a big box waiting for me Thanks coffee to follow.
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W9GB
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Posts: 3379




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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2015, 01:52:38 PM »

Quote from: AD9DX
I operate mostly CW and would really like to use QSK with my K3.  
I am not sure if I want to use the crazy expensive and supposedly unreliable MFJ board.  
Can anyone give me some suggestions.
The June 2015 issue of QST magazine has a QSK solution by noted builder Jim Garland, W8ZR.
http://w8zr.net/QSK/qsk_QST.pdf

MAX-GAIN Systems is one source for surplus SPDT Vacuum Relays
http://www.mgs4u.com/RF-Microwave/vacuum-relays-SPDT.htm

Jim's web site has the details about this QSK board.
http://w8zr.net/QSK/index.htm
====
(Updated 9 May 2015)

This webpage provides complete information about my QSK project,
"Add Full Break-In Keying to your Linear Amplifier," that appears in June 2015 QST.
This page includes all the information from the original article, plus other details and background information. I've arranged for Harbach Electronics to sell bare circuit boards, as well as full component kits. This QSK circuit is easy to build and can readily be retrofitted into most existing linear amplifiers. It also is just the ticket for incorporating QSK into a homebrew amplifier.

Download Expanded QST Writeup, High Resolution Schematics, Parts Lists: You should start by downloading the expanded QST article (at his web site), which includes background information, a brief tutorial on QSK design and additional construction information that QST print limitations do not allow.
Download high resolution schematic diagrams, and complete parts lists (in Excel Spreadsheet form) at his Project Page.

Order Printed Circuit Boards and Parts Lists: I've arranged for Harbach Electronics to make bare printed circuit boards and also complete parts kits available for builders.
NOTE: HARBACH is closed, until after Dayton Hamvention.  Kits will be sold at Dayton!!
http://harbachelectronics.com

NOTE that the supplied circuit board is Revision B0, which has several layout improvements over the circuit board in the article. If you find any discrepancies between the QST article and this website, then use the information from this website, which is always the most current available.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2015, 02:10:40 PM by W9GB » Logged
WA7PRC
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Posts: 2331


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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2015, 01:06:20 AM »

The relays are only good for 2 million cycles? I never thought of that, can you provide any documentation on that?
IIRC, it was in the datasheets for the relays.

Is the bias adjustable?  Also what was the total end cost for everything including relays and other parts? 
Are you keeping extra relays on hand in case of a failure? 
For the SB-220 and some others, the operating bias is adjustable.

I spent a little over $100, which included a used vacuum relay. A new vacuum relay will bring the one-time total cost up a bit more. I don't intend to use full QSK so, I'm not concerned too much about relay life.

The bias is adjustable via the number of diodes you install on the board.
No. The W7RY board doesn't use stacked rectifiers to regulate operating bias. It uses a current regulator circuit. Further, the T/R control circuit switches bias between operating and cutoff w/o using relay contacts. The only relay contacts are the reed relay (RF input) and vacuum relay (RF output).

vy 73 es gl,
Bryan WA7PRC
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PE1HZG
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Posts: 69




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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2015, 02:58:23 PM »

Unfortunately Jim does not publish the schematic of his board. Which is a shame, because there's nothing to hide, the design is sound.

Fortunately the very design is published in recent ARRL handbooks if you're interested.

Apart from the QSK thing, which I didn't care much about personally, one of the big advantages is that the bias of the tubes is adjustable, it's a 10-turn pot.

In my case, using a SB220 in Europe means the line voltage is a tad low - we have 230V here, and the SB220 is intended for either 120 or 240V. For various reasons the line voltage is actually closer to 225V, which means that over here the HV is a tad low (not a big problem) and the filament voltage is close to the lower edge of the spec (more awkward). As a result, I had difficulty getting enough bias current flowing and with the Harbach board I had to jumper a few diodes, awkward because the safety cover needs to come off for adjustments.

Much easier with the W7RY board - just turn the pot up a few turns, done!

Do note that the W7RY board also replaces the 'soft key' board but obviously not the filter capacitor or softstart board.

FWIW, I tried both the Harbach and the W7RY solutions and recommend them all. What you prefer is part of personal preference; in my case, it was a case of experimenting.

Geert Jan
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WA7PRC
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2015, 06:11:19 PM »

Apart from the QSK thing, which I didn't care much about personally, one of the big advantages is that the bias of the tubes is adjustable, it's a 10-turn pot.

Do note that the W7RY board also replaces the 'soft key' board but obviously not the filter capacitor or softstart board.

FWIW, I tried both the Harbach and the W7RY solutions and recommend them all. What you prefer is part of personal preference; in my case, it was a case of experimenting.
Prior to purchasing W7RY's board, I used Tony W4ZT's (SK) bias board. I used my own relay driver circuit that I devised (before Alan Harbach started his company). I also sourced replacement HV PS electrolytic capacitors.

The advantage of the FAST relays W7RY specifies is that hot-switching (and the damage that can occur) will not happen. This is good if you ever use QSK or semi break-in.

Most (but not all) of the Harbach stuff is OK. It just costs more.

vy 73,
Bryan WA7PRC
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W9GB
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2015, 06:51:50 PM »

Jim, W8ZR has provided project schematics and Builder Notes
for his projects over the past 15 years.
The wiring schematic diagram and parts list is on the W8ZR web page.

QSK schematic
http://w8zr.net/QSK/QSK%20Schematic%20B0.pdf

Parts List (Distributor cross referenced)
http://w8zr.net/QSK/QSK%20Controller%20Parts%20List_B0.xls
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 06:59:02 PM by W9GB » Logged
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