Magnetic loop progress

Finally found some time to re-orientate the two transformers. I decided to remove the eight bypass 10nF capacitors to give my soldering iron more wriggle room to remove the transformers. The solder on the transformer pads needed some encouragement – in the form of more molten solder – to loosen up. This allowed me to use solder wick to take away most of what was holding them in place. The corners of the transformer are pretty fragile and would not tolerate much heat. Wasn’t too hard to lift them. Much more complicated was cleaning up the holes where the eight capacitors had been. I managed to destroy one of the pads. Decided to stop destroying the PCB and to re-install the bypass capacitors on the other side of the board.

I was actually able to use most of the capacitors I had removed and checked every connection a couple of times at least, especially a couple of the tiny pads for the caps that are near the larger choke pads.

Soldered the transformers back in properly this time, again checking every step over and over again.

After re-orienting the common mode chokes...
After re-orienting the common mode chokes…
...and replacing the caps on bottom of the PCB to avoid damaging fragile pads.
…and replacing the caps on bottom of the PCB to avoid damaging fragile pads.

Taking a few deep breaths now and having a break before reassembling the whole device and connecting it to the radio and the loop for the moment of truth and to find out if the A4975 stepper driver ICs can come back to life after having both their two outputs accidentally connected together! Normally they are connected across one of the stepper motor windings.


Well, because there is still no response from the stepper motor, the answer, unfortunately, is no, they probably need replacement. At least this time they’re not red hot. I have a pair of A4975 chips due to arrive sometime on Monday. Essentially $4.90 a pop, no shipping charge.

And reading the datasheet on the A4975 I see on page 10 mention of the thermal protection circuitry that shuts off the output transistors when the junction temperature reaches +165 degrees C. “This is intended only to protect the device from failures due to excessive junction temperatures and should not imply that output short circuits are permitted.” And I reckon the tiny choke winding is close enough to a short circuit.

At least we are still at three out of four. Looking forward to being able to control the stepper to tune the vacuum variable capacitor and calibrating the controller, and perhaps opening myself up to a new level of complications. At least the well-commented code should be a smart guide.

In the meantime – getting way ahead of myself now – I’m thinking about drilling two holes in the loop to take the stepper wiring, possibly via a length of CAT 5 cable. People seem to think the twisted pairs work well with stepper windings. Not sure what type of connector to use in VVC part and lower down alongside the feed loop SO-237.

I also need to get a couple of plastic pipe ends to fit the PVC tube cover Henrik gave me to weatherproof the stepper and the tuning capacitor.

Then I need to think about a rotator and maybe a tripod roof mounting. And a way of remotely controlling the rotator. Anthony K3NG most probably.

At least it looks like it might be ready to take away to Tooraweenah for a field test in March!!!