M1 Series Modular Transceiver

M1 Description:

Update November 2023. Modules to construct the M1 Transceiver first became available in 2015.  Due to the complexity and the cost to now build a complete M1 Transceiver, this needs to be compared to the value of a high performance Hermes Lite2 or IC-7300 SDR which I consider to be better value for money.  If you are only considering building a cut down version for a couple bands, then it is possibly still worth considering.  The M1 should only be attempted by constuctors that have plenty of spare time, and the skill and test equipment required.  For anyone that is considering building the complete Transceiver, then I would suggest that you only buy a few Kits at a time and not purchase the complete set of modules and hardware, as Kitting a complete Transceiver is very time consuming and takes many days.

Printed Circuit boards and Schematic Diagrams are not available separately as most Kits use a large number of components that are not easily obtainable in small quantities, and have been specifically selected for the optimum performance. Many constructors may think that they can save money using components from other sources, but the full Kit prices are much lower than if you were able to purchase PC boards and try to source the components from various other suppliers. Buying components from unknown sources only adds to the probability that a Kit may not work, or its functionality be affected. For the Highest Performance and Quality, Mini-Kits Only uses first grade high quality components directly from the manufacturer, or large suppliers in the US.

The M1 Series HF Transceiver is a modular design using a number of module boards with 50 ohm RF connections, and a common 16 Pin IDC connector for logic control allowing easy plug and play, and experimentation of the modules. The design is a conventional analogue design using a single conversion 9MHz I/F, very similar to Transceivers that were manufactured in the late 1970's. Many of these Transceivers used narrow pre-selection filters, and quality crystal filters that are only used these days in higher priced Ham Transceivers.

The M1 design brings together the best analogue design techniques that have been used over many years, which have been re-engineered using modern components to improve the performance. Conventional leaded components have mainly been used to make construction easier, and SMD components have only been used where required to either improve performance, or if there was no alternative.

The M1 Receiver produces high quality low distortion audio which does not cause fatigue like lower cost modern transceivers that use DSP filtering. The receiver and transmit audio has that very nice Kenwood sound that is typical of Transceivers that use quality crystal filters. The Transmitter produces a very clean RF output due to extensive filtering and the use of Mitsubishi MosFETs in the PA, and many reports from other stations have commented on the excellent punchy audio that is very easy to listen to.

The M1 Transceiver block diagram shows how the various modules are connected together to construct the receiver, and only a Local Oscillator from 9 to 39MHz is required to feed into the Mixer for tuning the receiver. The functions of the M1 receiver can be easily controlled using analogue switches and simple logic, without the requirement of a micro controller. A dedicated M1 DDS Controller is now available to suit the M1, and can be used with either the AD9850/51 or AD9951/54 DDS chips for stable frequency and easy logic control of the M1 module functions.

Many of the modules shown in the M1 Transceiver block have a dual function, and also also used in the transmitter, these include the EME201, 202, 203, 205 and 207 Modules. There could be a number of other modules that maybe available later including, an optional receiver protection module that could also incorporate a SWR circuit, and there are plans to still complete the RF speech processor module.

For more information on each module, please refer to the Modules specific web page links at the top of this page.

What Components Are Required:

The M1 Transceiver was not designed to be sold as a complete Kit, so we have produced an Excel Spread Sheet that can now be downloaded to help calculate what you might require including the costs to construct your own version of the M1 Transceiver. Due to limited hardware manufacturing in Australia, there are no plans to supply a complete enclosure or front panel assembly. The cost to produce anything like this in Australia is just not viable.

The Basic Module Kits include the IDC header connectors but do not include the 16 way 1.27mm ribbon cable, RF connectors, cable, or hardware. It is recommended that SMA connectors are used on the modules to make easy interconnection between the various boards, however RG316 or similar cable cable be directly soldered between the boards to keep costs lower. If you want to construct a simple analogue design without the M1 logic and micro controller, then you can use simple logic control using switches, and a 9 to 39MHz VFO oscillator for tuning.

The picture below shows the modules that are currently available to construct the complete M1 Transceiver that covers all the HF Amateur Radio bands, ( Excluding the 30M Band ) from the BC Band to 30MHz. The modular design allows the constructor to only purchase filters for bands that are required to save on costs. A number of the modules shown have a dual function and are also used in the transmitter, and the addition of a SSB/CW modulator, RF power amplifier and low pass filter is all that is required to transmit on a single band.

  • Prototype Receiver and TX Driver Stages
    Prototype M1 Receiver and TX Driver Stages
  • M1 TX Modulator, 16Watt PA and Low Pass Filters
    Prototype M1 TX Modulator, 16Watt PA and Low Pass Filters
M1 DDS Logic and Controller:

A complete M1 DDS Controller solution is now available, and will allow full control of the M1 modules functions and power switching requirements. The HF-DDS software has been modified to suit the M1 Transceiver functions, and can be used with either the AD9850/51 or AD9954 DDS chips. The M1 DDS controller directly interfaces with the Mini-Kits AD9851 or AD9951/54 DDS Kits, but for the best performance the AD9951-54 is recommended as it produces very low birdies that generally cannot be heard when tuning across quiet bands. The DDS VFO frequency range required by the M1 Transceiver which has a 9MHz IF, is 9 to 39MHz to cover a 0 to 30MHz frequency range. The AD9851 or AD9951/54 DDS board all cover the required frequency range, but due to the AD9851 being only a 10 bit A-D, the low level birdies generated by the DDS can be very weakly heard on the higher HF bands when atmospheric noise is low. So it is suggested that for higher performance applications that the AD9951/54 14 bit DDS boards be used, as the strongest birdies from the 14 bit chips are more than 60db down. For use on the lower frequency bands under 10MHz, the AD9851 board has been proven to work very well and birdies are mostly under the noise floor. The AD9850/51 however does still produce a couple strong birdies on spot frequencies that could be annoying if they are on your favorite frequency.

  • M1 PIC Controller Kit
    Prototype M1 PIC Controller Kit
Mounting Into An Enclosure:

1/ \ I understand that there are many constructors that are waiting to see how the complete hardware all comes together and to see a final product. An Excel calculator can now be downloaded to guide constructors on what might be required including the costs.

It is important to layout the modules logically with regards to the distances required between the modules and other hardware like the S-meter and potentiometers etc that might require clearance inside the enclosure. You also need to take into account with keeping any high gain RF stages away from lower level RF stages and also keeping the micro-controller and DDS away from the receiver. As the pictures shop below, the mounting of the boards into the enclosure has finally started. Most of the receiver circuitry has been mounted onto the top of an aluminium chassis giving plenty of clearance around the modules for cable wiring.

  • M1 16 Watt PA Mounting V1
    Mounting of the EME210 16W PA to the Enclosure
  • EME210 16 Watt PA Mounting V2
    Mounting of the EME210 16W PA to the Enclosure
  • M1 Preselect Filters V1
    Mounting of the EME207 Preselector filters
  • M1 Preselect Filters V2
    Mounting of the EME207 Preselector Filters
  • EME201/202 Mixer and RF Amplifier V1
    Mounting of the EME201 Amplifier and EME202 Mixer
  • EME201/202 Mixer and RF Amplifier V2
    Mounting of the EME201 Amplifier and EME202 Mixer
  • EME205 BFO Demodulator
    Mounting of the EME205 9MHz BFO Demodulator
  • EME205 LM386 Audio Amplifier
    Mounting of the EME201 Amplifier and EME202 Mixer
  • EME204 9MHz AGC Amplifier
    Mounting of the EME204 9MHz AGC Amplifier
  • EME203 9MHz Crystal Filters
    Mounting of the EME203 9MHz Crystal Filters
  • EME209 TX Low Pass Filters V1
    Mounting of the EME209 Low Pass Filters
  • EME209 Low Pass Filters V2
    Mounting of the EME209 Low Pass Filters
  • EME208 9MHz TX Modulator
    Mounting of the EME209 Low Pass Filters
  • M1 Logic Circuitry Wiring
    Mounting of the Micro controller Logic and wiring
  • M1 Chassis Top View
    Completed Chassis Top View
  • M1 Chassis Bottom View
    Completed Chassis Bottom View
Front Panel Assembly:

It was decided to try using a thick laminate to create a front panel which can easily be updated at low cost if something needs to be changed. A full size prototype front panel can be downloaded here in PDF format or in Autosketch format, and below is the prototype panel using 300 x 2 micron laminate on thick paper. The results so far are very pleasing, and allows easy changes to the front panel which are low cost compared to screen printing. The paper was cut out for the LCD display which makes a very nice clear laminate window.

  • M1 Panel Laminated
    M1 Prototype Front Panel
  • M1 Front Panel Close Up
    M1 Front Panel Close Up
  • M1 Panel Laminated
    This picture shows how the transparent window for the S meter looks. The window was cut out of the paper using a sharp scalpel before the paper was laminated. Most holes were punched out using metal hole punches after laminating, and before the laminated sheet was glued to the aluminium panel. Dabs of Bostic Multibond glue was used to stick the laminated sheet.
  • M1 Panel LCD Window
    The 3 LED indicators for ATT, PRE and NB were made by punching out the paper before laminating to create bezel windows. The LCD window is made the same as the S-Meter window. The LCD display is fitted using countersunk screws and spacers before the laminated panel is glued to the aluminium panel.
  • M1 Panel Keypad Cutout
    The picture shows how the keypad fits through the aluminium front panel and the laminated sheet. The laminated sheets uses black surrounds to hide any imperfections with cutting of the aluminium. The large holes are simply cut out using a very sharp scalpel using the aluminium hole as the template.
  • M1 Front Panel Completed
    There is quite a lot of work to get to this stage, so any mistakes along the way would mean starting all over again. The whole process of cutting out the paper etc before laminating to get the s-meter and LCD windows, and then punching out holes for the controls etc has to be made in the correct order.
  • M1 S Meter Modification
    The MU45 meter has been carefully dismantled and the meter scale removed to make a suitable S-Meter scale.
  • M1 S Meter Template
    The S-Meter scale is from the M0MTJ website. It took some time to scale it using Publisher before it was printed using semi gloss vinal on a color laser printer. Click the picture if you want to download a high resolution picture.
  • M1 S Meter Modification
    A 3mm diameter 12vdc axial globe was added to light the meter. Wires were attached before using clear heat shrink to hold them in place. A small hole was drilled in the back of the meter housing to pass the wires.
  • M1 Completed S Meter
    The completed S-Meter ready to be mounted. It was decided to remove the lower FM discriminator scale as it is not required on the M1 Transceiver.
  • M1 Prototype Bench Testing
    When assembling the front panel, the laminate was found to be very rugged and can easily handle some abuse.
  • M1 Completed Front Panel
    There was quite a lot of work required to wire up the front panel hardware, but it is a very enjoyable experience seeing it all come together.
Changes and Updates:

1/ There are a number of changes to some modules that can be found on the module specific web pages to fix mostly minor problems that have been found. There will always be some changes and improvements found over time which is even common with the major manufacturer brands.

2/ There have been changes to the Transceiver Block Diagram to fix mistakes with the RF connections for the Crystal Filter Module, and also additions of the new modules available.

Accidental Faults:

There are many things that can happen when testing boards or when trying to get complex Kits like the M1 working. It can be as simple as slipping with the multimeter or dropping a screw onto a PC board. Listed below are some known failures that I caused myself when playing around with the M1

1/ Oops I shorted out the 16 way ribbon cable that connects to the crystal filter modules. This caused the +12vdc to pin 15 of a number of modules to be not present, including the audio amplifier so there was no sound from the speaker. The fault was tracked down to a burned track on one of the EME186 IDC adaptor boards that I used. The track was open circuit so acted like a fuse and is between pins 16 of each female header. This is probably a good safeguard so make sure that you use some thin wire when repairing tracks.