Way back in 1987 or so I was studying for the Radio Amateur exam. I put a
wanted ad up on the board at Hamrads in Buitenchracht Street, looking for a
mainly because my elmer Jacques ZS1PL had one and I figured it was a pretty cool rig.
Got a call from Robin Kenward, he had an Argonaut 505, which I ended up buying* -- including the Model 250 power supply and the Model 405 linear amplifier. I only recently acquired the MFJ-16010 ST antenna tuner, it's off eBay.
My excuse is that I was young -- when you're young you want to hot-rod your car, your radios, your toys, your guns... as you get older you realise that stock is very often more than adequate. So some of these mods are good, some of them should have been filed under "leave well enough alone".
The frequency counter is based on a design from 73 Magazine and uses the 74C926 four-digit counter / LED driver chip. This is a fairly basic design, and doesn't make provision for USB / LSB / CW offset, so it's off by ... a bit. These days of course one would use a PIC. I kept all the bits (somewhere...) and I might revert to the stock configuration sometime. I'd count this as a "bad mod".
* For R450, which was more then (3 Feb 1988) than it is now. I also got a CTE CT1800 (a copy of the Icom IC-2E) handheld from him, which I used for many years.
I replaced the 40823 RF transistor with a BF981. Lower noise, you know? The BF891 has Idss = 4-25mA, as opposed to the 5-35mA for the 40823. I measured Id for my specific transistor and replaced R5 (270 ohm) with an 820 ohm resistor to drop Id from 5.4mA to about 2.1mA. In hindsight this was kind of stupid, the BF981 has its optimal noise figure at Id=10mA. This is however moot. Even at its worst, the BF981 noise figure is adequate for HF, even without the masses of QRM we have these days with plasma TVs and Compact Fluorescent Lights.
For the mixer I measured the voltage over R4, which was 2.6V for Id = 2.6mA. With a BF981 fitted, a 560 ohm resistor gave the same drain current.
Firstly, let's inspect the original schematic. Vg1 = 1.1V because of the R1/R2 resistive divider. Rs
is 270 ohm. We know that Vgs(off) = -4V max and Idss = 5 to 35mA (manufacturing tolerances) for the 40823.
See Siliconix AN102 "Biasing for Device Variations", specifically
Figure 6. You will see that the load line presented by the 270 ohm resistor crosses the Y axis at Id
= 4mA. This means that the transistor will be correctly biased for any Idss a specific 40823 might
have (basically, choose Vg1/Rs < Idss(min)).
The BF981 has Vgs(off) of less than -2.5V (i.e. between 0 and -2.5V) and Idss = 4 - 25mA (curve from datasheet). In practice, the 270 ohm Rs will work just fine.
Av (gain) = gfs Rd. gfs is the Transconductance, a.k.a. Transfer Admittance yfs. For the 40823 gfs = 12mS and for the BF981 yfs = 14mS so the gain is comparable.
2015-08-22: Went back to 270 ohm, and now using a BF964N I got from eBay (I bought 50 x BF981s which seem to be duds). Id = 5.2mA measured.
When I recently exhumed my Argonaut, the audio was dead. I ended up measuring the voltages around the audio amplifier, and nothing made sense. The biasing was way off, which lead me to suspect Q3 but that wasn't it.
I have absolutely no recollection of what I did here. I found this plot in my Argonaut black book. It's my handwriting, and it looks like a Matlab (which I used extensively at the time) plot. The date is right at the end of the seven years I spent at the University of Stellenbosch, and I don't think I was ever again as bright as I was then, so there might actually be value here.
Reverse-engineered schematic of my PSU.
I can't remember but I assume this is a copy of Jacques ZS1PL's documentation of his PSU.
Again, some signs of a DPO
In 2015/2016/2017 I got hold of three more Argonaut 505s.
This one is mostly all there but suffers from Dreaded Previous Owneritis.
I got this one from Vidi la Grange ZS1EL, then he wanted it back, then he fixed the dial and put it on the air, then he got tired of it, then I got it back again :-)
Also from Vidi. Unfortunately the previous owner applied the power barse-ackwards causing some venting of magic smoke.
It is in very nice nick, however :-/
I think the previous previous owner used this as a mobile rig (there are mounting holes in the side plates) and that's why everything is secured with this brown stuff.
Also, tuning must have been funny to need these clearance dents for the front end tuning coil adjusters.
A gift from Vince Harrison ZS6BTY. In very nice nick.
hits since 2013-11-12.
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