NorCal Forty-9er

The little NorCal Forty-9er shown in the photograph was once one of the smallest kit transceivers for QRP operation. It was designed by Wayne Burdick N6KR and kitted by NorCal in 1996. The board kit sold for $25.00 postpaid. It operates on 40 meters CW with about 200 milliwatts of output power from the self contained 9 volt battery.

Many builders placed their 49'ers in Altoids candy mint tins which made a truly tiny, shirt pocket sized rig. To squeeze the PC board, battery and connectors into an Altoids tin, builders often needed to round off the board corners to make it all fit. I chose to use a slightly larger Whitman's Sampler candy tin found at the local grocery store. The end of the candy box has the BNC antenna connector, headphone and key jacks plus the on/off toggle switch.

The NorCal Forty-9er derives it's name from the fact that it operates on the 40 meter band from a 9 volt battery. It has a very basic direct conversion receiver using a NE602 mixer/oscillator chip and a crystal VXO at 7040 KHz. The transmitter uses the same VXO to drive a two transistor transmitter chain with a 2N3866 final. A small trimmer capacitor on the PC board permits small adjustments of operating frequency. There is no sidetone, nor is there much in the way of transmitter frequency offset. The circuit does employ electronic T/R QSK switching. The direct conversion receiver suffers from AM short-wave broadcast breakthrough during evening operation.

Despite it's small size and DC receiver limitations, it is capable of working several hundred miles when connected to a good 40 meter antenna. I've enjoyed a nice contact with Ade, WRSP up in South Dakota with mine, a distance of 428 miles. To operate, simply connect antenna, key and phones. Flip on the power and tune with the internal frequency trimmer control.

NorCal no longer offers this kit for sale, although used 49'ers are often available for sale from individuals on the QRP-L Internet E-Mail reflector. Many modifications have been posted to the reflector and are available on the Internet.

I modified this unit for more audio gain, improved receiver preselector peaking and for a bit more transmitter offset.

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Updated June 15, 2016