Builders Group Meetings

Building and Soldering – LARC Builders Group
3rd Saturday of Month
2:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Library – Large Conference Room
108 City Center Drive
Jefferson City, TN 37760

Monthly LARC Meeting Schedule
4th Thursday of Month
5:00 pm Builders Group, Room 2
5:00 pm VE Testing, Room 1
6:00 pm Social Gathering and/or extended Builders Group overrun Rm 2
6:00 pm Board Meeting Room 1
7:00 pm Main Program LARC Monthly Meeting Rm 2
7:00 pm Refreshments Rm 1



What is a Breadboard?

How to use a Breadboard?

Fritzing?  Kicad?  Eagle?

How about a Tutorial?

How to use a Breadboard – Sparkfun Site

How to use a LCD with an Arduino?

Arduino – Liquid Crystal – Tutorial



What is Solder?

What is Soldering?

What is needed to Solder?

How about a Tutorial?

“How to Solder: Through-Hole Soldering “ from Sparkfun Site

Soldering two wires together   – from Doc Green’s Woodturner Site

Repairing a broken Trace


Field Day is First Hands On Builders Group Meeting

Field Day and First Hands on Builders Group Meeting

June 24, 2017 – June 25, 2017

All are welcome, Come join us at Lakeway Amateur Radio Club at the Boys and Girls Club on Hyw 92, in Jefferson City, TN

Two Builders Group Sessions will be offered, so all will have a chance to attend. Times to be determined.  Also open time slots, so bring your projects. Also, a test bench will be available to check voltages, resistance, look at waveforms with an O’ Scope…plenty of fun.

Not to conflict with the Purpose of Field Day, this is an Educational Event held ‘AS PART’ of Field Day.  As the Radio Amateur is not only permitted to operate a Radio within the Proper License Class one holds…BUT, one is also ENCOURAGED to experiment within the ‘Spectrum’ that is allocated to Amateur Radio, and it is HUGE, and VAST, and not even imaginable in some ways….yet.

See what Amateur Radio is all about:

  • Watch or actually operate a Ham Radio
  • Build a two transistor Morse Code Radio that not only receives, but you can also transmit, if you have a license.
  • Assemble a MicroController and a LCD that can be combined with a Radio Project, make simple program Code changes to make your little ‘computer’ do what you want it to do.
  • Find out what it takes to become a Ham
  • Socialize
  • So much more….


Computer (Windows, OSX, Linux) with Internet access
Download Arduino IDE
Wire Jumpers (Dupont or standard solid 22 gauge AWG)
Misc: LED’s, Resistors, Switches, Sensors, unlimited circuit add ons.
Arduino (Uno R3 ATMega, Nano or ?)
Not necessary to buy genuine arduino, as clones perform the same function, and clones are the purpose of the Arduino platform. Explained, these devices are open source, which allows anyone to duplicate them and even change them and sell them, as long as they remain open source (no secrets).
USB cable, depends on which Arduino you get. Most devices are sold with correct cable. You probably have one in your junk box.
At first meeting, we will together as Hams, because We Can, work through installing the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) fancy words for where you program your Arduino. We will make our devices blink a LED, at whatever rate and for ever how long you desire, and then change it to something else. So we will learn to make simple code changes.
If you have a LCD screen, a breadboard, the required jumpers, and misc stuff, we can get your Arduino to scroll your Name, or something else across the screen.
LCD: in simplest form and least expensive, a 16 X 2 Display based on HD44780 or IC2, difference being a few dollars and the cheaper one uses more of your Arduinos pins, the cheaper ones are becoming harder to find, but are listed in most projects you will find. Not a problem, either can used in most projects.

Book: Arduino Projects for Amateur Radio by Dr. Jack Purdum and Dennis Kidder.

You may find this book helpful.  We will be using it.


Pixie 40 meter CW transceiver kit. Often listed as Pixie 2. Every vendor circuit board is a little different, NO PROBLEM. It is a 2 transistor circuit, add ons don’t matter. Also, mostly sold as a Extra Class Ham radio, being Rock Bound (crystal controlled with one frequency), BUT, again, NO PROBLEM, as crystals can be obtained for a few dollars for other portions of the 40 meter band, so everyone can play, and that is just more modifications or more building going on.
Get a Pixie kit.

Soldering stations will be available at meetings (at least one) with experienced operator to aid with assistance if necessary. If you want to solder yours at home, thats great, too.
If you don’t know how or what to solder with, just wait until the first Builders group meeting. That will be covered and demonstrated.
If you have soldering equipment, and solder, then bring it. Desoldering gear, too, if you have it. Hand tools, only a few, and small please.


As this is WeCan
It is therefore….we will figure it out. This is a work in progress….

Why these Projects?

As discussed at the Lakeway Amateur Radio Club Monthly meeting in April, one of the ‘Tracks’ in the initial Builds of the Builders Group would be on a Radio Track. This Radio track would be one of increasing complexity.  But, even though it would start with the simplest project that could be found, be short in duration, the Track would ultimately end in a rich featured transceiver that could be understood in its operation, in its theory, and its construction could be tackled by most anyone alone, or anyone with help from others in the Group.

The initial Radio Project will be focused on the Pixie. This little transceiver is found through many sources: from parts lists that you source yourself, to easily assembled kits of through hole components and pre printed PCB’s that can be purchased online for less than the price of a cup of coffee at most places, through a fully assembled kit with a few extra features for less than the price of most fast food sandwich meals.

Pixie Kit
Pixie 40 Meters CW Transceiver Kit

Success ratio of completed kits should be high.  As no one should feel they are going alone on this one.  There are many successful Builds showcased on the internet and in print, and even if unsuccessful in first Build for whatever reason, the cost of a replacement kit is well worth the learning experience if it takes more than one attempt.

One of many Pixie Videos on the Internet.

Another reason the Pixie was chosen as the first Project, is the abundance of Modifications and enhancements that can be found with very little effort.  So, not only will the first Project be one of watching a pile of parts become a functioning Radio, but, also the opportunity to incorporate the enhancements of others to expand the whole experience, with hopefully the addition of something totally new by someone in the Group once the creative process takes over from the mere assembly of parts and following in the footsteps of others.

With the tremendous amount of man hours that have been devoted to Pixie Builds and Documentation, this little Project can be studied for its Radio Theory by following those who have ventured here before us.  Circuits from the Amateur Radio License Tests will come together under the soldering iron, and come alive under the Oscilloscope and DVM.  With only a handful of components and as many circuits that are doing Double Duty by design (we will know why this is by the end of the Project) those who are studying to advance in License Class with undoubtably advance in understanding of Radio Theory.

Pixie Kit on the Bench
Pixie Kit on the Bench

This has only been a ‘few’ of the reasons for choosing the Pixie.  Look for similar Posts for the next two Projects in the Radio Track: the Forty 9er, and the BitX40.  See you on the bench.

16 x 2 LCD Display: To I2C or Not?

I2C or HD44780?

Is that the Question?

After careful consideration…or more like some frustration…I have some recommendations based on my experience.

If just starting out with Arduinos and LCDs, then if possible use a display that is just a HD44780 labeled device.  You will be using a parallel device, meaning you will use more of the I/O pins, either 7 pins in 4 Bit Mode or 11 pins in 8 Bit Mode.  The preferable Mode is 4 Bit Mode for the simple reason that you will be left with more pins to work with.

HD44780 parallel example link…

Then, there will be cases where you need more open I/O pins.  In this case, you want to I2C.  What exactly is I2C, and how is it different, and what is different about how you put one in a circuit?

I2C is a serial wired LCD, that can also be a HD44780.  This is accomplished by a little backpack PCB that rides on the back on the LCD display.  This allows you to use only a total of 4 pins to control the display. There are a few extra steps involved, and if one is a Arduino novice, these can be frustrating. You will have to find the right ‘Library’, learn to use the ‘Arduino Library Manager’ and insure that your ‘Sketch’ has the correct ‘Device Address’ so that the Arduino can find the Display on the ‘Bus Route’.

I2C serial backpack example link…