Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Good for 10 more years

My license expires in March of this year. It's hard to believe that I've had W2LJ for 10 whole years now! My son Joey wasn't even born yet - sunspots were much better - I did DXCC Millennium back in 2000!

I went to the ARRL website and clicked on the links for license renewal a few days ago. I was already registered on the FCC's ULS system; but it's been so long since I'd transacted any business that I couldn't remember my password. What didn't help was that I never set up a "Secret Question" with the FCC to use as proof that I was trying to access my own file. So over the weekend, I had to put in an electronic request to set the question up; and today I was able to change my password, and renew my license as well.

Back in 2000, I had to send the FCC a check with a remittance form as W2LJ is a vanity call (L and J being my first two initials). Today I was able to go and enter my credit card info and got it all done in one fell swoop. Viola! About a month ago, I got a letter from the W5YI group, with an offer to renew my license for me for some ridiculous fee. What a waste of money that would have been. It is so easy to do yourself!

I was also able to put in more time on the PFR3A while listening for the 80 Meter Foxes. I am almost done with the Group 1 Assembly. I managed to work one of the Foxes, W8RU too! A good night, all in all.

As you can see (click on the photo to make it larger, then hit the "Back" arrow to come back to the blog) in addition to the resistors, there are now capacitors, diodes, IC sockets, the LED display, push button switches and the 78L05 voltage regulator soldered in.

One error that I have noticed in the instructions - the 78L05 is referred to as U9 on the manual page. On the circuit board silk screen and on the accompanying circuit board layout, it is U5 - not U9. That might lead to confusion; but a simple double check of the circuit board and layout made it clear.

One thing I would advise prospective builders is to NOT install R53 until after installing the LED display. Here's my reason. The LED display only goes in one way; but here's the rub - the instructions tell you to leave some space between the LED display and the circuit board so that the LED's pins stick out only 1/32 of an inch from the back of the circuit board. It would be easy enough to stick in a small sliver of PC board material in there to act as a spacer if R53 wasn't in the way. Without the spacer, you have to solder one pin - set the distance and try to keep everything level. I managed all right; but the PC board material spacer trick would have made it much simpler.

Tomorrow night I have a meeting to attend. Hopefully after that is done, I can come home to solder in a few more components and then perform the Group 1 Smoke Test. I'd continue on tonight; but my eyes are getting a bit bleary.

73 de Larry W2LJ

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