Ultimate3 LPF build


I decided to start with the low pass filters (LPFs) as they are relatively simple builds. Until I tipped the components out the packet I had no idea how minuscule these things actually were. The ferrite cores for the torroids are slightly bigger than the miniature Polo mints they did a few years ago. Having heard first hand how tricky winding transformers and the like could be this was rapidly becoming a task that wouldn’t feature highly on my bucket list.

I didn’t realise I’d bought 4 filter kits (10, 20, 30 & 40m flavours) by mistake but that was a bonus as my logic suggested if I made my first attempt on one for a wavelength I was unlikely to use, if I loused it up I could get a replacement at a later date, but would be on the money when I built the ones I needed. 

To effectively wind torroids you need hands the size of a seven year old, the finger dexterity of a concert pianist and the eyesight of a neurosurgeon. Having fingers that the Quality Controller at the Wall’s Sausage Factory would reject on the grounds of being “too porky” and eyes in need of a trip to SpecSavers meant this wasn’t going to be a cake walk. 

After much F’ing and Jeffing and wishing I’d got a jewellers tool kit with micro fine tweezers and ultra needle nosed pliers I admitted defeat, put what I had in my hands down, reached one foot to the left beneath the work bench and fished out my jewellers tool kit. The first torroid was completed in 5 minutes.

I was really happy with the finished product, beautifully spaced and so forth, until I tried to mount them on the PCB, when I discovered I’d wound them the wrong way round. Oh how I laughed as I unwound them (yes all three) and started again.

Above, How not to do it!

And the right way!

Learning points – 

1/ Start winding the torroids from the five o’clock position on the circumference, passing the wire into the core and work around in an anticlockwise direction. 

2/ Label them (the torroid cores before you start winding)! There’s only one turn of wire difference between them in places and it will make your life easier. 

3/ Hans’s construction notes give a good tip on boiling off the wire enamel with a blob of solder. It works a treat. Having tried scraping enamel off of wire with a pen knife and wet and dry paper as a kid when I made a crystal radio, the solder boiling technique wins hands down! To clean things up, removing the contaminated solder with a desoldering pump then re soldering the joint gave good peace of mind.

4/ The completed torroid isn’t that robust and soldering it to the PCB was tricky. It moved around without realising and I found that the windings had overlapped and were loose which isn’t what you want. I revisited it several times to ensure they were anchored as securely as possible while retaining the windings at the correct spacing.

5/ Label the completed filters. They’re like a little batch of clones and it’s easy to pick the wrong up in a hurry

Et voila! One 10m LPF


Having started work on the 20m filter today, things are much easier and you quickly get into a routine. To be honest, the more windings on the torroid, the easier as they are more substantial and don’t wiggle around as much.

One and a half down, two and a half to go!



Ultimate3 unboxing


Lots of packages of bits! All good stuff. The PCB’s are very nicely finished and well laid out so hopefully it won’t be a major headache to build

Wake-on-Lan hurdle overcome

For years I’ve been trying to get WOL working just for the fun of it, with no success at all.

The following site provides a methodology which I’ve got working perfectly.


The only snag is connecting to the network remotely. After much head scratching it appears that dynamic IP addresses assigned to mobile devices on 3G are being rejected by my router. As the device will have a different IP address each time Vodafone, EE, O2 allocate one it’s impossible to create an exception list (the hint is in the name ‘dynamic IP’).

The work around is connect via a VPN to the router then send the magic packet to wake the machine. Works perfectly! It’s slightly surreal pressing a button on a phone and watching a PC which is powered off stir into life.

Now this is working it makes the remote hidden PC/rig a much more feasible and environmentally friendly option. I’ve run low power servers for several years now as media devices. They need to be on all the time by their very nature, but for a machine that will only be switched on when required, plus one salted away in a not so easy to reach area of the house means WOL is the ideal solution.

Next trick is to get it working on whichever machine finds itself at the centre of the setup.

Ultimate3 QRSS Beacon PSU built



From breadboard to stripboard! The Ultimate3 case has a delivery time of over a month and I’ll just be kicking my heals. I’ve taken a gamble and built this in as small a form as is possible. The overall size is no bigger than the PCB for the beacon so logic dictates it’ll fit the case. I’ll trim the board down when I’ve got the case to work out the internal dimensions. Voltages are ok, so forwards and onwards!

Intel NUC issues

Hmm! After a lot of reading it appears the Intel NUC platform has got a few issues.

Apparently due to a known issue with the video drivers, if there’s no screen attached at boot up, it won’t. Not what you want when you want to run it in a headless environment. It appears that there’s internal tooing and frooing between the people who write drivers at Intel and the NUC side of the company over this but nothing’s dropped out of it that helps the end users.

The advice is to delete the intel video driver completely from the system within Windows then allow Windows to install the Microsoft version and that overcomes that issue. Only problem is the supported video resolutions aren’t as clear. Also at maximum resolution with the Intel drivers installed the video has lag issues. Apparently winding that down to something you can read without having to go the SpecSavers overcomes this.

Have a look at the reviews on Amazon.co.uk

Issue number two is that again the machine won’t boot with USB3 devices attached. I skimmed over something where someone said about disabling the boot from USB in the BIOS once you’d got the machine set up to prevent it looking at what’s plugged in. This shouldn’t be a problem for Ham radio devices as I doubt people are building USB 3 stuff yet.

Still it’s a bit of a problem that a high end and not overly cheap device isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The alternatives may well have similar issues as Gigabyte’s Brix is also Intel based and when you look inside the box it’s identical to the NUC.

Fujitsu do a business based mini PC which is no where near as small but may well be an alternative. It’s cheaper but it’s not as highly spec’d so at what point do you kick yourself and wish you’d have bought an i5 or i7?

As the machine is going to be the core of any system, where the objective is small, concealed and able to be remotely accessed this could be a real pain.

I’ve got a few Acer Aspire Revo 360’s which I’m using as media boxes and they seem pretty good at what they do but they’re not running Windows 7 with all the issues that brings. Also the foot print is much larger.

Bearing in mind I haven’t got the cash to consider buying anything at the moment, hopefully there may be a few driver updates by that time which will overcome all of this.

Also, who builds a machine with mini HDMI video out and doesn’t supply an £8 cable or adaptor with it so it can be used out of the box? Come on Intel!