Steve and Gang:

I made building the new Norcal Noreaster Kit my Sunday project, and had it assembled in about 3 hours. Went together beautifully... I think SMT is actually easier to build than thru-hole (except for those dang SOT-23s)

I ran into a few things that may help someone, and a few hangers-on that have me confused.

1. Over and over: The silkscreen on the PCB labeling the pushbuttons is WRONG; the drawing on the top page of the Rev 1 manual is also WRONG: with the pushbuttons on the bottom, they are from left to right (and correctly) FUNCTION (FN), TUNE-DOWN (TD), TUNE-UP (TU).

2. On page 4 of the manual: Q2 is a MMBT3904 (not 3804... searched for that for awhile ;-)

3. On the schematic: Q2 is a 2N3904 (not 2904)

4. On page 4 of the manual, under SOT-23 devices, the verbage under D1 says you will find *four* FTDLL4148 diodes, and install one, leaving 2. INSTEAD, you will find THREE diodes, install one, leaving 2.

5. There is a statement in the section on "troubleshooting", at the top of page 7, that states "If the output of the loop amplifier, U6, pin 1, is at the positive supply rail, it means that it is trying to reduce the VCO frequency." This is not true... if it is at the positive supply rail, it is trying to RAISE the VCO frequency, and if it is near zero volts, it is trying to REDUCE the VCO frequency. (This one had me going for a while... see below).

When I fired it up, my unit seemed to behave as described, except for the following: On the lower bands (0 and 1), I had VCO control voltage at TP1 but it was significantly high, and at higher frequencies on those low bands, it was "stuck" at 15+ volts. On the higher bands, no matter what the frequency, it was "stuck" at near 0 volts. I tried squeezing and spreading turns on L3 and L4, but it didn't make any difference on the higher bands. Then, I noticed that there is a disparity between the schematic and the manual regarding L3 and L4. In the schematic, L4 was the smaller of the 2 coils (i.e., had fewer turns), while in the manual, L4 was the larger of the two coils. Hmmmm, I wondered, could the manual have gotten these switched? I wound a new coil to match the spec on the schematic, 9 turns on a T37-6 core. Then I mounted the 9-turn coil at L4, and the 15 turn coil (former L4) at L3. Now, following the tune-up procedure, I was able to get the correct VCO voltages, and tune throughout the entire range from 5.2 to 17 MHz.

I did have another small tune-up problem, possibly component related. The instructions call to monitor TP2 (for frequency) and (while the receiver is set to 6.000 MHz) adjust the trimmer capacitor C11 to provide a frequency of 16.705 MHz. I could not adjust mine to that frequency - I had about 4 KHz of adjustment, which seemed reasonable to me. In fact I was about 707 KHz short (!!!) of the stated goal.

I'm not sure if this is related, but the parts list and the schematic prescribe a crystal at 10.24 MHz. Mine was marked 10.2C22, so I wonder if that could be the reason? I'm a little confused by the crystal frequency selection... if the first IF is 10.705 MHz, and the second is 0.455 MHz, wouldn't you need a 2nd LO of 10.25 MHz +/- the filter bandwidth? And would one expect a 10.24 MHz crystal to oscillate 7-10 KHz high? Trimming usually reduces the frequency, not raises it. A 10.2 MHz crystal would place us even further off frequency. Puzzling...

In spite of the above problems, the receiver DOES work, and is amazingly sensitive for 3 feet of antenna and a 9 volt battery. Cranking up the signal generator, the indicated frequency (on the Noreaster) seems to be about 9 KHz below the AM detected maximum response. Another way of saying this is that maximum signal occured 9 KHz above the Noreaster's SET frequency. Example: to receive WWV at 15 MHz, I needed to tune to 14.990 MHz; to receive CHU on 7.335 KHz, I had to tune the noreaster to 7.325 MHz. I could not adjust it upwards enough to "zero". This is not accounted for by the differnce in nominal crystal frequencies, at least not as far as I can figure. I'm not sure what's going on here, but something is definiely "off".

Hope these notes save some of you some time, and I hope one of you bright students can figure out whassa matter with me ;-)

I'd also be interested in hearing how the packaging is going...

monty N5FC