As many experienced radio amateurs will tell you, ours is a hobby with a rich history of sharing knowledge and helping each other accomplish tasks which would otherwise be beyond our individual abilities. I do my very best to help my fellow radio hobbyists within the scope of my abilities, which in most cases means helping to teach the basic principles of amateur radio (electrical theory and practical) and the odd time helping with software code for radio-centric projects.
Recently, I was contacted by a fellow radio amateur named Ted (WA2RPI) who had seen my post about the new test gear that I finally purchased. We exchanged emails about the benefits and some of the practical applications of the Rigol DSA815-TG spectrum analyzer in particular. Our email exchanges resulted in me asking lots of questions relating to the spectrum analyzer and showing my inexperience with such equipment. With Ted’s patient replies, it became immediately clear that he is in a class of his own in terms of his depth of knowledge in the field of RF engineering and that I could learn a lot from this man.
I expressed my desire to measure VSWR with the DSA815-TG and that I was eying a MiniCircuits directional coupler – more or less the same model that Ted was investigating himself. I received a reply from Ted mentioning that the more affordable ZFDC-20-4 would perform as well, or in some cases better than the unit I had initially selected and that he was investigating the real-world performance of the unit. After some more email exchanges, Ted offered to help get me up and running with the Spectrum Analyzer – measuring some useful parameters such as return loss and IMD.
After some more emails back and forth, Ted must have caught on to the fact that I needed more than just a directional coupler and very kindly offered up some additional components which would assist in my using the new test gear that I recently acquired. We arranged to have some precision terminators shipped to Ted after which time he would end up sending me an absolute treasure box full of stuff!!
When I opened the box that Ted shipped to me, I was absolutely floored. I knew the box was heavy and I thought that perhaps the directional coupler and a few other components he tossed in must have some heft – I was not at all expecting the myriad of useful items I was receiving.
I am now the proud owner of what could only be described as an RF-geek’s dream kit full of: ultra-high quality cables (BNC-BNC, N-BNC, angled BNC, etc), lab-grade adapters of virtually every conceivable configuration (BNC, N, PL259, banana jack, terminal post), specialty gear such as DC-blocks, 10dB attenuator, 40dB sampling “t”, 5.6k series resistors, signal divider/combiner, 50Ω pass-thru and a 300W termination.
In addition to all the test gear stuff, Ted included some cool rulers which have RF related information (dBm to mV to μW, etc), a handy multimeter to check continuity / etc, a flashlight for then I undoubtedly drop something really small and have to search for it, some aluminum enclosures of various sizes (extremely handy for home-brewing RF gear) and some really neat warning labels.
I have been exceptionally fortunate in being the recipient of so much great stuff – I hope to get a lot of great use from the stuff which Ted has so kindly donated to me. We are working to schedule a live conversation where I hope to learn a lot of new techniques for measuring various parameters of concern in RF engineering / amateur radio.
It is my hope that some day I will be in a position to help someone as much as Ted has already helped me. I feel that the amateur radio community is so rich with people who are willing to go out of their way to help, I feel strongly compelled to do the same whenever possible.
Until that time, Ted, my sincerest thanks for all that you have done for me thus far – I am truly grateful for your overwhelming generosity and I know that I will get lots of use from all of the stuff you have so kindly given away.