IC-208H ICOM Teardown – Salt Water + Explosion

ICOM IC-208H Background

Looking for something to play with I was the lucky bidder on a non-working IC-208H ICOM Dual Bander radio on Ebay.  It looked ok but was listed as non-working.  They also disclosed it would not power all.  All of these things were correct.  A more accurate description would have been “Used on the show Deadliest Catch but the boat sank to the bottom.  Recovered 2 months later”.

Maybe the source of the IC-208H?
Maybe the source of this radio?

I’m guessing it was installed on a boat and wouldn’t surprise me if said boat was at the bottom when this radio was removed.  The head unit was in great shape so not a complete loss.

Since there was severe damage from the apparent reverse hookup and water damage it wasn’t something I could or would repair.  I did end up with some spare parts, a good IC-208H head, new power cord, and a working Mic.

The mic connector was completely trashed with green tented heavy corrosion.  Inside both side of the board had been exposed to water and dirt. Even without the badly damaged PCB craters it was deemed a lost cause as soon as I opened the case.  Stay tuned for a teardown of the IC-208H head unit as this appears to be in great shape and I want to see if and how it ticks before parting with it.

ICOM IC-208H Teardown Video

Teardown video of a beaten down ICOM IC-208H.  I’d really like to know what this radio has seen.

Vermeer Flow Control Teardown – Fail

What in the heck is in these?

I’ve alway wondered what was inside these.  I’ll never find out because of the weatherproofing epoxy. The face LCD cover is milled and it hints of low volume production. These are used to control the flow of water to a horizontal direction drill (HDD). This Vermeer unit fits many different models of their drills.  This one was programmed for a 24×33 Vermeer.

Proof is in Vermeer Waterproofing

Hamtronics – REP 200 TX PL Mod.


The local club came to me to add TX PL Mod to the local VHF repeater. It’s a well aged Hamtronics REP 200 that had one tone board installed for RX.  They specifically requested that the TX board only transmit during reception of the RX PL tone. This is to allow you to setup a RX PL so that you only hear voice traffic.

I reviewed the new tone board and the REP-200 schematic and whipped up something that worked.  I mounted the new Tone Board close to the existing one.  I used a transistor on the new board to control the existing REP-200.  Before giving it back to put into service, a slight alignment was done and thorough testing, including burn in.  Its been on the mountain working now for at least 2 months with no issues.

AmScope SE400-Z Review-PCB inspection.

AmScope SE400-Z Background

I have several implements for PCB inspection including real time macro video, several usb type microscopes and the old trusty head mounted magnifier.  Many times the real time view of a microscope is the best option and most used one.

The AmScope SE400-Z is a stereo boom mounted scope with a flexible gooseneck LED light. There are several options available and I have the 10x and 20x wide-field eyepieces along with the 1x objective lower section.  Other options can be purchased later if you so desire.

The theory is this will be realtime while soldering unlike the usb scopes, put you close to the work being done and still provide stereo vision for soldering and inspection of PCBs.  This scope delivers exactly that and doesn’t take up a lot of room on the bench.  This scope is very economical and works great for PCB soldering and inspection.

UPDATE 08/06/2015

At bit more use and the more I like it.  It’s just a pleasure to use.  The LED light works well for changing the angle of light when needed.  The optics are really nice now that I’ve gotten used to the height.  Still highly recommended for PCB work.

AmScope SE400-Z Video Review

Acopian High Voltage Power Supply P010HP6 – Tear Down and HV in General

DANGER DISCLAIMER! High Voltage devices are dangerous. So first and foremost don’t mess with one if you don’t know what you are doing and even then it may not pan out. You’ve been warned.

I happened across a HV Supply and just couldn’t resist. It was indicated that he had no idea if the HV supply worked and I knew prior that the HV module in these supplies really are not serviceable according to manufacture (Good Advice). The Tek TDS Scope that was to be traded for this device I was in my way and this was a great way to get ride of it. I in no way shape or form ever planned on using it. So, I pulled the trigger and swapped the Tek Scope for the HV Supply with the justification it would be less room taken in the lab. Really I just wanted it. The packages traversed the US and it took about a week for the traded items to arrive. The HV Supply arrived well packed and I begin to ponder what my procedure was going to be to ensure my safety during testing, how to test, and what the plan for it working as expected or not.

#1 Safety This particular device is rated at 10KV. It’s perfectly capable of “reaching out” to “git” you. Rumor is it turns you to goo. I don’t plan on finding out.

#2 I needed to keep #1 in mind for any testing or risk getting instantly cremated into a pile of ash or goo on the lab floor (Not really, but death is a possibility so care will be taken).

#3 Do I dare dive into the non-serviceable regions of the supply? I likely will but once that teardown occurs the device won’t be placed back into service, again abiding by #1.

The supply itself is a Acopian P010HP6 Supply. It appears it is still sold and serviced by the manufacture. The face has analog meters for current and voltage and really nice vernier controls for both. A large ON/OFF switch is also supplied. At the rear there is a HV output connector which looks like a GES HS-10 connector. There are connections as well for remotely controlling the unit and prior to turn-up, I’ll use the Acopian guide to verify it is in local mode.

Before I had planned to do the actual teardown/test I started thinking about how I might use this and here were some of the ideas that came to me while driving back and forth to work.

1. Mouse Trap – As novel as this sounds, I remembered I have a cat who would be very angry and hold a grudge if I took this duty away from her.
2. Flame Thrower – HV can certainly be used to ignite fuel. Not very practical or safe.
3. Plasma Speaker – I remember seeing this on the inter web somewhere. Nah
4. Rail Gun – Nah

Although they all sound like lots of fun I haven’t come up with anything really practical yet for this supply if it works.  But I’m sure it will come in handy for something.

Here is a video of the teardown and end result.


Wouxun KG-UV2D & KG-UV3D Fix – Flash Repair

Wouxun Flash Issue Background

Wouxun’s seem to either wear the flash chip out or are made with a bad batch of parts. Eventually all of them I’ve owned prior and everyone I know throws it in the trash. Below is a video of how to do the repair and its an easy fix. Wouxun used a very low write count part but there are better options as a direct replacement. The replacement part is a 24C64 found just about everywhere for under $1.   Please repair these when possible and if you are unable or unwilling, hand it over to a new ham or send to an old one to be repaired.

I recommend using a hot air station but it is possible to carefully cut leads with cutters for parts replacement.  When using cutters be sure to not rip any traces from the board.  Go very slow and use a good tool.  An alternative method is to heat and lift one lead a time. Mouser and Digikey both have alternatives for this part by searching for the 24C64.  Right now links to these parts are as follows:

DigiKey Search Results

Mouser Search Results

Wouxun Repair Video

GPSTM Nortel Trimble hack.

Background of the GPSTM Conversion

I have several Symmetricom time references all of which are large.  I really needed something compact for my newest bench area. I fumbled upon a Nortel card (GPSTM). It is basically a Trimble Thunderbolt. It has a few minor differences, utilizing the same software for configuration. It has a 10mhz output (SMB Connectors). I used a Symmetricom Distribution Amp to sync all my equipment on the bench (Signal Gen, HP 8935 Spectrum Analyzer, HP Frequency Counter). The only modification required is a 48V(24-48VDC) DC power supply. It is very straightforward to get one of these up and running as a repurposed GPSDO. It is small, compact, and won’t break the bank. I completed this project for well under $200.  A photo of the DC connection is below and a video as well.


Power Supply Modification

Nortel GPSTM Hack DC connection.
Nortel GPSTM DC Connection point.

CAT4240 swap to CAT4237 TFTA

On the first combostar I constructed the CAT4240 was easy to find. Now its a very hard part to source. Luckily the CAT4237 is almost a direct replacement.

ComboStar HomeBrew Since 2012…. What is next?

I built my first combostar/picastar back in 2012.  I’ve made several modifications over the past three years including adding a STM32 based embedded board to do FreeDV.  Many of the parts were difficult to get and even more so now.  I learned so much from its construction and the wealth of information from the homebrew group that I’d really like to see an update or maybe something entirely new.  The DSP used is very old in the design, the TFT controller parts are dated some aren’t made anymore.  Here is the short list of reasons to update or come up with a new design for a homebrew HF rig.

  • There are better parts for the GUI out.  Integrated graphics STM32F4 would be a great upgrade.  Maybe multiple screens and small OLEDs have come way down in price for adding addtional controls at low cost and ease of use.
  • The DSP could be replaced with a STM32 series ARM keeping it all on the same platform.
  • There are already improvements to the H Mode Mixer and maybe a direct conversion would possible now with some of the low cost TI frontends and low power/cost FPGA.
  • Codec2 is widely availible and there is no reason not to include not only this digital mode but a hardware platform that may run future digital modes.
  • Modularization of the GUI, RF sections etc.  I really like the idea of mounting the radio somewhere and the GUI/MIC elsewhere.  I would also like to see VHF/UHF modules that utilize all the work done on digital modes/GUI keeping the idea of a remote/even distributed GUI Head.