Scotty’s Skunkworks

Average Radios by a Below Average Guy

I’m Scott, amateur radio operator KA9P. A few years ago, the homebrew radio bug bit bad.

I started, like many, with a small direct conversion receiver, and went on from there.

Along the way I’ve had tons of fun using homemade equipment on the air, and scouring junkpiles and magazines for the next project. UNFORTUNATELY, THERE IS NO 12 STEP PROGRAM FOR THIS.

The picture at the top of the page is a shot of Day 15 progress in my attempt to build the Junior Miser’s Dream receiver as described in the 1967 ARRL Handbook. When I first started out in radio, I lusted for one of these receivers, but hadn’t a clue how to go about building one. Now, 51 years later, locked down by the 2020 pandemic, I’ve decided to give it a go, using whatever I can find in the garage, or if absolutely necessary, summon from eBay.

And I wanted to learn to blog. Trying to build a Junior Miser’s Dream while blogging about it seemed a good way to pass the time in lockdown. This blog chronicles the JMD build, and retrospectively, other homebrew radios projects, just for fun. I love to hear from like-minded folks, and even/especially those who know better and would like to share good ideas. You can reach me at ka9p@aol.com.

Yeah, AOL, because my address is my callsign, so I keep it.

So the JMD project started innocently enough.

I’d operated a 60’s homebrew transmitter during most of the 2020 Novice Rig Round Up, and as always had a great time.

But something was missing. I wanted to pair my homebrew transmitter with a homebrew receiver that could have been built by a Novice class radio operator about the time I was first licensed. I collected articles describing six possible projects, and began to study. When I rediscovered the Junior Miser’s Dream, I made it my goal.

The receiver has some great features for its relatively simple five tube design. Often missing from simple receivers of this era were Automatic Gain Control (AGC) and a product detector, two key ingredients for robust single sideband detection. The Junior Miser’s Dream incorporates both. And while I could only find one mention of an operating JMD on the internet, the report was positive.

Sadly, many parts for this receiver are unobtanium – special coils, a pricey 7360 mixer tube, an iconic but hard-to-find dial drive, and a pair of closely matched 3300 kHz crystals, common five decades ago but a challenge to find these days – so a build would require flexibility and luck. And probably provide more learning about vacuum tube technology than I might want.

But at this point, it’s build it or don’t have it. As they say in the commercial, we’re not going anywhere for a while, and it beats watching the news.

You can follow the incremental progress (if you can call it that) under the BLOG header at the top of this page. You can skip to Day 330 for summary of this torturous journey.

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