So i have been busy laying out some boards for my receiver project. Bandpass and Lowpass filter boards, DDS and AF Amp board and a shield board for stacking these things together with other bits of circuits. Got them sent off the the fabricobblers in China and will have them back in a few days and will start to assembling them
3 Band Filter Board
DDS VFO and Audio Amp board with TX and RX switching.
A shield board that stacks under the DDS board.
So i was looking for a way to make a negative voltage. Did a bunch of google and came up with a number of different ways. One that was kind of catchy was to use a 555 timer as an arsetable vibrator with a couple of caps and diodes to invert a signal voltage.
So in the above schematic, everything on the right of the 555 timer just sets up the chip to make a square wave which is then fed into C3. C3 and D1 invert the signal and D2 and C4 act as a filter.
So i built this on the breadboard as it gets very little love in this house. The cap on the right is the input and the output is taken from the junction of D2 and C2.
Using my signal generator rather than a 555 timer, I fed an 8v 50khz signal into the circuit. Yes my RedPotato scope has loss from the input protection diodes on its input and i am not using any compensation. So the yellow trace in the scope output is the input signal and the 2nd probe was used to measure the output voltage, 8v in -7v out, which is about right accounting for all the diode losses on the scope input and in the circuit under test. All in all i learned something out of this, which i am happy about and now actually understand what its doing and how it works.
Ok, so i could not get the variable gain to work as desired the last time I updated this. Now it worked, I was getting Oh i dont know -3db of gain attenuation, but that was not anywhere close to where I wanted to be, IE to have 0 to -20db attenuation. So I have given up the ghost on that idea and put it back in the sometime when i know more basket.
Ok, so I still need to be able to vary the gain of the RF Preamp, well, rather than vary the gain, lets attenuate the crap out of it. So after a lot of googling about trying to find solutions, i came across a circuit that is a variable attenuator. It should attenuate things by a minimum of -3 to -20db, so that’s in the ball park, its just a handful of resistors, caps and diodes, and by varying a supply voltage with a pot, you can change how much signal passes through the circuit.
Its simple enough, that even I can do it. About the only thing it requires are PIN Diodes, which if you are a popcorn kind of guy like me you wont have, but i have plenty of signal diodes, so off to LT Spice to build and evaluate a the circuit to see if it will do the job I require and then, if it works ok, build a prototype on the breadboard to make sure its going to work for reals.
UPDATE: Well I am thinking that LT Spice might not be the best tool for this job, by their nature diodes are non linear and a pin diode is linear and it is a non trivial matter to do linear artistry in LT Spice. The outputs i am seeing are quite wrong the higher the attenuation becomes as can be seen by the following image, however, when i ramp up the voltage, the output trace does track in input trace perfectly, so i think i might need to just breadboard this one and see for reals what is going on.
Will update again after I have breadboarded the circuit.