Author Topic: Please Help with Rig Testing Service  (Read 16749 times)

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Offline W1AC

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Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« on: March 23, 2007, 12:46:27 AM »
Fellow Hams,

I've been trading emails with W1RC, and Mike likes an idea I had: I'd like to run a Rig Testing Service to benefit Near Fest.

What I have in mind would be a table where sellers and buyers could bring rigs to have us do a basic "smoke test", power out test, and maybe even some receiver tests. I'm betting that sellers will pay a small fee to have a test tag on their rigs, and Near Fest could sure use the money.

Here's what we need:

  • People - We'll need enough qualified hams so that nobody's tied down for more than a couple of hours.
  • Equipment - Basic power meters and dummy loads of course, plus signal generators, voltmeters, etc.
  • A Location and power - I'll leave this for Mike.
  • Signs and Publicity handouts.
  • Preprinted inspection tags and maybe stamps.
  • We need to decide on what fee to charge. I suggest $10 per rig, with one free retest.

Of course, the thing we need most is YOUR HELP. Please post ideas here so that all may benefit, but if you have a question you'd rather keep private, write me - w1ac at arrl dot net.

Thanks!

73, Bill W1AC

Offline kd1na

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2007, 04:05:53 PM »
I Have a 'O'scope, DVM, dummy loads, Clip Leads, Coax Patch Cables, Power meter. Power Supply and a few years of electronic troubleshooting experiance and would be glad to help when my club's activities don't need me. If you cannot find a place the PRA tent would have some space to use and your covered in case of rain.

A suggestion, Have no charge just for a simple smoke test. Just charge if you have to actually have to perform troubleshooting.

73
Dave

Offline KC2IFR

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2007, 07:57:52 PM »
Dont forget.....for the folks that want a receiver tested we will need an antenna. Signal generators are fine but actually using it on the air will be great.

Offline W1AC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2007, 09:18:26 PM »
I Have a 'O'scope, DVM, dummy loads, Clip Leads, Coax Patch Cables, Power meter. Power Supply and a few years of electronic troubleshooting experiance and would be glad to help when my club's activities don't need me. If you cannot find a place the PRA tent would have some space to use and your covered in case of rain.

A suggestion, Have no charge just for a simple smoke test. Just charge if you have to actually have to perform troubleshooting.

73
Dave

Dave,

Boy, is my face red: I didn't even think of rain. Please reserve a space in the PRA tent, with many thanks in advance.

I have a 35 Amp 12V supply, a Simpson 260, a Cantenna, and Coax that I can bring. I also have some #12 Extension cords, a "buck 'n boost" transformer for long AC runs, and a tube tester.

We need signs, handouts, and inspection tags: if anyone knows a good source for these, let me know.

Come to think of it, we should have some crystals for the various bands: a lot of boatanchor transmitters are rockbound. We could probably use a 220 volt source, too, since many amps are wired for 220. I'll bring a spare speaker and some adapters, a Turner 454x wired for Drake, and a couple of soldering guns.

I appreciate your help!

73, Bill W1AC

Offline W1AC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2007, 09:26:22 PM »
Dont forget.....for the folks that want a receiver tested we will need an antenna. Signal generators are fine but actually using it on the air will be great.

OM,

That's a good idea: I'll check on whether we can put anything up.

Given that we'll be dealing with SSB, AM, and FM receivers, that brings up the question of what we'd be measuring with a signal generator: is there a generally accepted standard for receiver performance in each mode?

73, Bill W1AC

Offline kd1na

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2007, 06:24:38 AM »
 :-\
Bill,

After checking with the club president and thinking about this matter I realized that there might be certain liability issues, and will there be enough people to staff this service during the term of the hamfest.

Though I will offer my assistance in this idea I do have PRA responsibilities and I do want some time to enjoy the hamfest myself. 

I also think we should limit the repair to simple testing unless the customer desires to open the rig himself and assumes full responsibility. We then could offer assistance at our discretion, and would charge for this service. 

The most testing I have done when we were at Hosstraders was to see if the rig works with simple transmit, frequency checks, and receive tests. These tests normally didn't involve any opening of the rig.

Having a full operational repair facility may not what you want to offer as it could really open up a can of worms as the customer could blame us for the reason the piece of junk he bought didn't work. We will also have a good chance of not having the schematics or operational manuals and have to work "blind" on the equipment.

I would suggest that we set up an area for verification of rig operation (smoke test). and frequency checks (I have a counter). It would be manned by someone with electronics and amateur radio troubleshooting experience. The facility will have a power supply, Power meter, dummy loads, necessary cables, multimeters, and a rig to use as a test base (HF and VHF). I can furnish all the listed equipment.

73
Dave KD1NA

Offline W1AC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2007, 07:23:41 PM »
:-\
Bill,

After checking with the club president and thinking about this matter I realized that there might be certain liability issues, and will there be enough people to staff this service during the term of the hamfest.

Though I will offer my assistance in this idea I do have PRA responsibilities and I do want some time to enjoy the hamfest myself. 

I also think we should limit the repair to simple testing unless the customer desires to open the rig himself and assumes full responsibility. We then could offer assistance at our discretion, and would charge for this service. 

[snip]

73
Dave KD1NA


Dave,

I agree completely, and I apologize for giving the impression that I wanted to repair anything.

Offering to repair a rig (as you point out) means insurance, parts, time, etc., etc. The idea is to offer a basic "On The Air" test, or give a "Needs Work" report: nothing fancy, no rigs open, strictly pay and plug and test and gone.

We don't have to have very extensive testing, either - I think what most buyers want is reassurance that whatever problems a rig shows can be corrected, and a basic test will tell them all they need to know to make a good buying decision.

Long story short: we're on the same wavelength. I'll work on getting more volunteers, so that nobody is obligated for more than 1~2 hours: if it comes to that, I'll take the slack.

73, Bill W1AC

Offline W1RC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2007, 01:57:22 AM »
I think this is a wonderful idea.  However if this is a project of the PRA then the proceeds should go to the Club.  The staff and management of NEAR-Fest thanks you for your kind offer to share the proceeds of this endeavor.  Hopefully we'll have two days of glorious weather and we'll reach our goal of bringing in enough revenue in excess of our expenses to pay for the grounds for October.

73,

MrMIke, W1RC

Offline kd1na

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2007, 07:12:09 PM »
 :)
Mr. Mike.

This is not a service of the PRA. It is a service for amateur radio. The PRA would be very happy to donate space under our tent to provide a weather free invronment to work.  We will have our own tables for the club's activities but the rig checkout is a hamfest service.  The only thing we ask is to be placed in an area that is somewhat level with power near by.  Any proceeds earned from this endover should go to the success of NEAR-Fest.

73
Dave KD1NA

Todd, KA1KAQ

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2007, 03:25:32 PM »
Sounds like a wonderful idea, and I agree: keep it simple. Power, a dummy load, meters, and maybe a simple dipole slung nearby should be perfectly adequate. Hook up, try out, move along. I think a buck a rig would be more in line, though. Maybe add a 'tested, o.k.' sticker in the event that the buyer backs out after the rig is tested.

It could certainly help overall sales if folks knew they could test the rig before commiting.

Offline n1bok

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2007, 11:22:11 PM »
I have a HG 2760 and IFR 1200 A, these will test anything from QRP ANY MODE to APCO 25 ASTRO. ( to include DES/AES encryption.) how do you want to handle this.
Would be available to help you out.
Due to the cost of the equipment I cannot loan it out.
N1BOK@ARRL.NET
WILL BE AT LEWISTON IF YOU WANT TO DISCUSS THIS.

Offline W1AC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2007, 11:25:21 PM »
snip]I think a buck a rig would be more in line, though. Maybe add a 'tested, o.k.' sticker in the event that the buyer backs out after the rig is tested.

It could certainly help overall sales if folks knew they could test the rig before commiting.


Mike is going to decide on the fee: since having an uninvolved third party give a "seal of approval" to a rig can mean hundreds of dollars in value, and the proceeds are going to benefit Near-fest, I'll vote for a $10 charge.

73, Bill W1AC

Offline kd1na

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2007, 01:49:43 AM »
I will bring dummy loads, an Antenna analyzor, Digital Volt meter. Freq Counter, Power supply, power meter Cables and connectors. I will have ham sticks for 20 through 80 meters and a mag mount on my car for an HF antenna. I plan to have this equipment available for use by any appointed person assigned to be at the repair table.  let's keep it simple. 

Don't need any incryption or decription device. If you got a very expencive piece of test gear that only you want to use then it may be in your best interest to leave it at home. we need a power supply with adjustable voltages for testing handytalkies that have a dead battery.

I plan to have an HF rig there but it is not for public operation. The club will have VHF rigs available.

If anyone else wants to help out with test equipment please let us know.

Being in electronics and ham radio for over 45 years taught me 2 things. 1, no one knows everything about electronics or ham radio, and 2, To properly use test equipment and test rigs without blowing anything up.

The people that volunteer as repair technicians should be professional enough that they don't harm either the test equipment or the customer's rig.


73
Dave KD1NA

Todd, KA1KAQ

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2007, 03:38:38 PM »
Mike is going to decide on the fee: since having an uninvolved third party give a "seal of approval" to a rig can mean hundreds of dollars in value, and the proceeds are going to benefit Near-fest, I'll vote for a $10 charge.

Certainly. Giving a "seal of approval" can also mean that the item is exactly as the seller represented it and add no financial value, simply peace of mind. My only thoughts are how likely someone will be to pay $10 to test a rig they may not even buy, and that NEAR-Fest isn't a fundraising event, merely attempting to be self-sustaining. We want to encourage folks to use the service, not discourage them with a high price.

Perhaps using the 'donation' approach would work well and negate the need for a posted fee. I'll suggest this to Mike when we talk later, if he doesn't see it here first. I'm sure we'll figure out a reasonable solution. The main thing is having this helpful service available for buyers.

Offline W1AC

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Re: Please Help with Rig Testing Service
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2007, 04:29:02 PM »
[snip]
The people that volunteer as repair technicians should be professional enough that they don't harm either the test equipment or the customer's rig.


73
Dave KD1NA

Dave,

Damn, that's something else I should have thought of: should we require the customer to tune the rig? I'm certainly qualified to not harm the test equipment, but if someone claims we ruined their 30-year-old sweep tubes, I wouldn't know how to deal with that.

73, Bill