Free Ham Radio book Crystal Sets to SideBand

Frank W Harris, K0IYE has put together the book he had wished had been around when he came to Amateur Radio.

Comprising of 16 Chapters plus forward, this is the book that takes a practical approach to all things Ham Radio and Electronics related from Crystal Sets to SSB aka Sidebands.

Not only covering a short history of Radio and its place and effect on history, it touches on the great men who have made outstanding contributions to radio technology. No technology in itself can have a profound effect on the way we live our lives without the guiding hand of big finance, or the ruthless enterprise of big business. Within this context is placed the Ham Radio operator.

From this historical perspective we embark on a practical path through basic electronics, early radio right through to circuits that you can build, understand and be shown where their technical merit excels, or is still short of the mark, yet is still  ‘state of the art’. These circuits are designed to compete at least from an operational stand point against today’s synthesized black box offerings from the far east.

A truly great work published under copyright to the author but made available to the wider Ham Radio community for free. It deserves a place on your computer. Only available as a PDF.

By chapter for download:

Table of Contents:

Foreword by the author

Chapter 1


Exploring the shortwave bands
Growing up in the Morse code era
The joy of building it yourself
A brief history of radio communication
Henry, Maxwell, Hertz, Tesla and Marconi.
Fessenden, Edison, Flemming, DeForest and Armstrong
The sinking of the RMS Republic and the birth of ham radio
Ham radio in the last 80 years
Becoming a radio amateur


Chapter 2


What qualifies as homebuilding?
When homebrewing is not appropriate
Barriers to modern homebuilding –
Time, frequency stability and lead inductance
Basic electrical knowledge
Magnets & static electricity
Voltage, current, resistance, energy and power
(Illustrated with drawings of water & mechanical analogies)
Conductors, Insulators and semiconductors
Capacitors, inductors, transformers & alternators
Home power distribution, transformers at low and high frequencies


Chapter 3


R and D as recreation
How to build radios (or anything else) in your basement
Persistence, read books, keep a notebook, & work in small increments
Minimum tools needed
The ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook
Soldering irons and small tools
Drills & thread taps
Wood carving gouges for making PC boards
>50 MHz Oscilloscope
Frequency counter
Quality multimeter
Lab power supply
Lab notebook
Collection of electronic junk
Parts catalogs
Capacitance meter
Test leads and socket boards
Nice-to-have tools
RF & audio generators, spice software & spectrum analyzer


Chapter 4


The nature of radio waves
Mechanical and LC electrical oscillators
Antenna and transmission line theory
Crystal set components
LC tuner
PN junction diode detectors
P-type and N-type semiconductors
Detection of AM signals
Homebuilding the parts for a crystal set
The Jamestown diode
The Caribou headphone
Recreating Hertz’s radio equipment
Transmitting and receiving as simply as possible
The 1880 ten-meter communicator
Proving that radio waves exist and aren’t just capacitive or magnetic coupling
Demonstrating standing waves to measure frequency
Building homebrew transistors
Bipolar transistors, PNP and NPN
Demonstrating voltage gain
The Boulder Rock Radio

Chapter 5


How to earn a license
The rules of the homebuilding game – Whatever makes you happy!
Picking an HF band
Getting acquainted with the HF ham bands, 160 – 10 meters
Instant high quality HF communications
VHF/ UHF handheld transceivers
Building an antenna
Dipoles, regular and folded
Multi-band dipoles
80 meters when you don’t have room for a dipole
The curtain rod vertical
A multi-band vertical antenna
Lightning protection


Chapter 6


A single-band, crystal-controlled, QRP module
The transmitter mainframe
HF construction methods
Making your own PC boards
“Dead Bug” and “Gouged Board” construction
Superglue “Island Boards”
Coax jumpers
Shielded boxes
The complete QRP crystal-controlled transmitter
Transistor amplifiers and oscillators
How an amplifier becomes an oscillator
Class A and Class C amplifiers
Stabilizing the operating point, bypass caps and emitter resistors
Quartz crystals – the key to frequency stability
The 40 meter QRP circuit
Oscillator and buffer
Inductors, RF transformers and impedance matching
Tapped toroid inductors
How to wind them (and mistakes you might make)
The final amplifier stages for the QRP
Tuned versus broadband – Use both for best results
Bifilar wound, broadband transformers
How to wind them (and how you might screw up)
Ferrite bead RF chokes, expensive RF power transistors, heat sinks & output connectors
Conquering inductors
Calculating resonance
Calibrating trimmer capacitors
Calculating turns on powdered iron and ferrite toroids
Chebyshev output low pass filters
Keying your QRP
MOSFET power transistors
A “spot switch” for the QRP


Chapter 7


A simple, direct-conversion receiver
A great first project for a new ham
Excellent sensitivity and good stability
Poor selectivity
Adding 700 Hz audio filtering
High pass and low pass filters
Cascaded bandpass filters increase selectivity
Operational amplifiers
Building with integrated circuits
AM broadcast filter
Getting rid of the image


Chapter 8


Line powered power supplies
Power supply safety features
Isolation, 3-conductor cords, fuses, switches, ratings
Supply performance and regulation
Rectification, ripple, chokes, capacitors, & bleeders
Zeners, linear regulators, switching regulators
A QRP regulated power supply
A battery power supply for the radio shack
Solar cell charging, low drop-out regulators
Battery powered shack lighting


Chapter 9


A straight key
An electronic bug
Building dummy loads
“T” type antenna coupler
A low pass filter
How to stay legal with a homebrew transmitter
Antenna and power relays
Homebrew QSL cards


Chapter 10


Drift is a big deal today
Low frequency VFOs drift less than high frequency VFOs
JFET transistors
The oscillator circuit
The buffer, final amplifier and output filter
The 50 secrets of avoiding drift
JFETs, single-side PC boards, cast metal box, multiple NPO caps, small variable caps, precision voltage regulation and more
Vernier tuning
Varactor tuning elements – advantages and disadvantages
A precision power supply
A voltage doubler power supply for battery use
Square wave generator with a multivibrator
Squaring up the square wave
Charge pump, diode/ capacitor voltage doubler
Schottky diodes for efficiency
Temperature compensation methods
Positive coefficient capacitive trimmer compensation
How to adjust the compensator
Thermistor/ varactor temperature compensation


Chapter 11

Building a VFO for the higher bands (PMOs)

Old approaches that no longer work
Frequency multiplication
High frequency oscillators
PreMix Oscillator method of frequency translation
A VFO-controlled QRP module
Crystal oscillators are stable, aren’t they?
Crystal oscillator circuits
Butler oscillators and big crystals
Mixers, bipolar transistor and dual-gate MOSFET
Optimum drive requirements
Direction of tuning, drift error cancellation
Multistage filters and filter/amplifiers
The QRP final amplifier stages


Chapter 12


The basic features of a modern linear power amplifier
It looked easier in the Handbook
Linear “noise mode” operation
A tuned 50 watt class B amplifier
Ferrite balun transformers
An untuned, sort-of-linear, class B, amplifier
Keying the 50 watt transmitter
A linear Class AB amplifier, this time for sure
Single Sideband (SSB) needs a linear
Biasing without thermal runaway
Clamp diodes prevent runaway
Mechanical construction


Chapter 13


Building a receiver – an unusual adventure
What’s a reasonable goal?
An “adequate performance” HF communication receiver
Does it have to be so complicated?
Planning your receiver
Direct conversion versus superhetrodyne
Why not single conversion?
Start with a single-band, single-conversion superhetrodyne
How do modern digital receivers do it?
Receiver construction – build with shielded modules connected by thin coax.
The 80 meter preselector
Reception on 80 meter and 160 meters is aided by a tuned transmatch
The Variable Frequency Oscillator
Mixer magic
Mixers will give you lots of static – and howls and squeals
A practical homebrew mixer made from discrete parts – it’s harder than it looks
Dual gate MOSFET mixers
Not all MOSFETS work equally well
Crystal ladder filters – essential for CW
All 9.000 MHz crystals aren’t equal
Using the BFO oscillator to match crystals
Switch in filters with a rotary switch
The IF amplifier
The cascode amplifier strip – variable gain with constant Q
Automatic Gain Control (AGC) – not a luxury
The product detector
Nearly anything works at least a little
The AF amplifier – a vital part of the signal dynamic range
Protecting your ears from strong signals
How Hi-Fi should it be?
Driving a speaker
HF converters for the other ham bands
Crystal oscillators
Receiver power supplies
Use a linear regulator, not a switching regulator


Chapter 14


How old can radio technology be and still be used on the air today?
Why bother with vacuum tubes?
Glowing filaments, colored plasmas & Jules Verne glass envelopes
Power supplies for tubes
High voltage power supply safety
The old-tech QRP transmitter
Vacuum tube amplifiers
The three roles of the triode filament
RF sinewave oscillator
Quartz crystals
Triode and pentode oscillators
Old-tech voltage regulation – big, crude, expensive, but beautiful
The travails of triode tubes
The oscillator and buffer
The final amplifier – triodes chirp
The transmitter power supply
An inadequate supply from a 1935 radio
A good power supply made from cheap, modern, boring parts
How to check out junk power transformers
A complex but adequate supply made from ancient parts
It works! No one suspects it’s old and it’s a success on today’s 40 meter band
An old-tech receiver
A super regenerative receiver made from ancient tubes
The power supply
Super-regen on the modern hambands
Lots of fun, but not up to modern QRM & QRPs – back to the drawing board!


Chapter 15


It can’t be that hard! Want to bet?
The sideband generator – how it works
The 9 MHz oscillator / amplifier
The audio amplifier
The balanced modulator
Building your own crystal ladder filter
Decoupling the power supply leads
Getting rid of RF feedback – RF filtering for all inputs
Tuning and testing
Using the generator for AM modulation and CW
Moving the 9 MHz SSB signal to a hamband
Move the SSB only once!
No wonder most ham rigs are tranceivers
Moving the 9 MHz signal to the difficult HF hambands
Move the VFO first, then mix it with the SSB 9 MHz.
Pick your oscillator and VFO frequencies carefully
Hearing your own VFO in the receiver
The hardest band – 17 meters
Covering the widest band – 10 meters
A linear sideband QRP, VFO-tuned module
All stages must be linear and low distortion
All gain stages should be broadband to prevent oscillation
Sometimes high pass filter output is needed & not the usual low pass
Checking out the generator
Driving a 50 watt linear amplifier

Chapter 16


Defining amplitude modulation
Modulating vacuum tube final amplifiers
Plate, screen & cathode modulation
A “collector modulator”
Converting a MOSFET keyer into a modulator
Generating AM with an SSB balanced modulator
Compensating for non-linearity
Compression by accident
You probably don’t need to build a compressor

Ham TV – The old way.

Fun with an ancient flying spot scanner TV camera.

One comment to “Free Ham Radio book Crystal Sets to SideBand”
  1. WOW…What a super source of information.
    Have only quickly browsed the contents but have put it on a memory stick to read on my commute to work each day…Our Appreciation to Frank K0IYE for his excellent contribution to the Amateur Radio Hobby.
    Have been licensed since 1960 and Frank has touched on many areas that I was involved.

    73 de Norm VE3CZI
    “It is not the class of license that the Amateur holds but the class of the Amateur that holds the license”

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