[amsat-bb] Re: Soft66 board, etc.- other options, and the STS-130 Launch

Steven Bienvenu sbienv at comcast.net
Thu Feb 11 08:40:01 PST 2010

I must agree with Johnathan that surface mount is not tough at all with reasonable components...and to recommend considering the SoftRock
SDR boards for an IF receiver/display.  I've no experience or info concerning the Soft66 boards.

I'd had essentially no experience with surface mount before I ordered a SoftRock kit for 10.7 IF (was $12 then, now maybe 15 or so).  
So I bought a surface mount practice kit for 7 bucks, which came with a number of different kinds of surface mount components one might need
to solder to a board, as well as a small working flasher circuit.  Turns out, with some bent tweezers, flux in a tube, small solder and small soldering iron
tip (mine was already small enough)-all fairly cheap on the net, it was absolutely no sweat, even fun, and maybe actually easier than through-hole stuff.  I used magnifier lenses that fit on my bifocals, and an old, cheap magnifier lens/light combo at times, and had a great time.  It's easier, in that one need never strip wire, trim leads, or turn the board over to solder the other side-nice.  Then I tried the SoftRock board, and had zero problems.  A cheap plastic 30x handheld microscope is good for checking
questionable joints and connections.  I wish someone had told me all this years ago...

I turned 60 years old last week, and I shake like everyone else; rest your hand or hands on something and go to it.  I'd recommend getting one of these practice
boards, then decide (available from sources like Ramsey kits, etc.).

The SoftRock worked well, was easy to build, and now provides me with a 96 kHz panadapter display with my old R7000 receiver, and various free software.  I use mine
to monitor the 10 meter beacon band, and it has provided a great deal of interesting insight into 10 meter propagation, since one can "see" essentially
the entire domestic beacon band at once.  With a better soundcard, it will provide a 192 KHz display; transponder downlinks await...

This is not a project however small, for first-time builders, but excellent instructions are available on the net for it, the board is only 2 1/2 inches by
1 inch or less in size, and only some of the parts are surface mount.  The fellow who sells these kits offers them intermittently, and the IF board is actually
just a few parts different item from his 40 meter receiver board.

I'd be interested in hearing about the SDR66.

'Just my experience.  The other experience was watching the Shuttle launch from the Nasa Causeway on Monday morning...it was absolutely awesome,
exceeded my expectations, and was well-worth traveling from Louisiana with my family to witness.  The amount of light produced by the boosters was just incredible,
and seemed to illuminate the entire sky, clouds and earth.  The SDO launched this morning...delayed by the shuttle delay, then winds....almost got to see two launches,
but I'll never complain!


Steve   W5ZA        Shreveport, La.

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list