The SG-Lab 23cm Transverter
So I finally bit the bullet and decided that it was time to extend my amateur radio boundaries beyond 433MHz. I read various reviews and product descriptions and decided on purchasing a SG Lab 1296MHz transverter. I sent an e-mail to Hristiyan, LZ5HP in Sofia Bulgaria who constructs these units enquiring about pricing. He promptly replied with a return e-mail and a PayPal invoice for 145€ (£132GBP). I paid up (cheaper than expected) and within two days had tracking details and confirmation that it was on its way. It actually arrived surprisingly quickly (about 1 week) using Bulgaria Post and then Royal Mail when it arrived on our shores.
The unit supplied is enclosed in a smart tin case and comes complete with an HB9CV “test” antenna printed on FR4 laminate. Both are shown in the picture above. There is also a DC plug (you need to supply the wire and solder this yourself) for the power. You will also need a BNC to SMA pigtail lead to connect to whatever you choose to use as an IF. I am making use of my mostly redundant FT-817 for this. The IF is from 144 -148MHz.
For a test antenna, the supplied HB9CV demonstrates a rather good match as can be seen from the above Smith Chart produced by my MiniVNA Tiny. With 3.2dBd gain it has quite promising performance as a suitable antenna for local ops too. The instructions are available online at http://sg-lab.com/amateur.html and these will be needed for setting up the unit. Nothing too complex though but you will need to remove the top cover and possibly use some long nose needle pliers. for setting jumpers.
The picture above shows the transverter with the top cover off for the purpose of setting up using the jumpers. Output power (up to 2W) can also be adjusted here using the trimmer visible on the left.
Most functions can be monitored using the LEDs at the side.
After purchasing this then discovered that the completed units are stocked in the UK by Kanga Products (www.kanga-products.co.uk) so I could have obtained it possibly faster and cheaper but we live and learn. I may look at the 13cm (2300MHz) transverter at a later date – also from SG Lab and I will look then to see if Kanga have it first.
Now I am going to build a DW6LP type Yagi Beam for 23cm so I can put the unit to full use.