A couple of days ago I decided to take another look at the Spectrum Communications Off-Air Frequency Standard (OAFS). It had been suggested that its failure to work might be the result of a solder bridge or similar error. I had a good look at the board using a high power magnifier and found a pair of pads that were suspiciously linked to ground. A moment’s work with the desoldering braid and sure enough there was a solder bridge exactly the width of a PCB track.
Having found a fault I was optimistic that the board would work. The setup adjustments were completed OK. But instead of hearing BBC Radio 4 in the speaker as the instruction sheet suggested I received a loud heterodyne with some speech faintly in the background, like listening to an AM signal in SSB mode with the BFO a couple of kHz off-tune.
I was looking at the Spectrum Communications advert in Practical Wireless to check how the ferrite rod was mounted and noticed that the description said “Background heterodyne whistle at 2kHz confirms lock condition.” That is exactly what I was getting. Odd that the instructions didn’t mention it though. Nevertheless I gave a cheer and went ahead with installing the board in its box.
My happiness was short-lived when I put my frequency counter on the output. It was 10MHz sure enough, but it was not phase locked to anything. I was only receiving the output of the uncontrolled 10MHz crystal oscillator which could be tuned a few tens of Hz either side of 10.000MHz. No adjustment I could make would cause lock to occur.
Comments made to my original post about this suggested that I might have problems with the OAFS as I am not in a good location to receive a strong signal from BBC Radio 4. I’m unhappy with the amount of time I’ve wasted on this. I think it would be best to write it off and forget about it. I’d rather not be bugged by it or have it taking up scarce space in the G4ILO shack. If anyone would like to have it and see if they can make it work then it’s yours for the cost of the postage.