Thursday 5 June 2014

Workbench Documentation ...Keeping Track

It seems the older I get, the more 'Post-it' notes I find myself writing. But, for the past decade at least, I have paid close attention to keeping written records of what gets done at the radio workbench. The logbook takes care of 'on-the-air' data, along with QSL information but I ashamedly admit to not having switched, and likely never will, to computer based log keeping.

Time and time again, I find myself referring back to previous work... measurements, part values or wave patterns noted during the construction or testing of various circuits. In fact, I have found that gathering and recording as much data as I can about a particular circuit being built or fleshed-out is an immensely enjoyable part of the homebrewing experience. My notes may not be beautiful but they certainly have saved the day on many occasions when looking back at earlier builds or even just to see where I left off the day before!

When homebrewing, I usually build a test-bed version, allowing me to change components easily and observe or measure the results. For older style tube-based transmitters that I have come to enjoy building, this is usually done on a wooden base while more modern circuits are scratch-built 'ugly' style or 'ugly Manhattan' style on PC board. Once everything has been optimised, the final and better-looking version is built.

Along the lines of keeping track, the same can be said for documenting inspirational project ideas. I maintain several large spiral notebooks in which I cut-and-paste interesting circuit ideas or procedures that I have either seen on the Web or photocopied from books or magazines.

Doug Demaw Article
I have found, from past experience, that not everything on the Web stays on the Web and often times, grabbing a copy before it disappears is often a good idea.

Ideas & Reference Notebooks
The final documentation task is putting together a dedicated 'Operating Manual' for all finished projects, complete with schematics, parts list and operational procedures. I'm not going to keep this stuff forever and hopefully whoever gets it next will at least know where to start before sparking up!

Project Manuals

Keeping track surely adds a little more work to the hobby of homebrewing but the time is well spent and for me, most enjoyable.


PE4BAS, Bas said...

Wow, making a operating manual for your homebrew equipment. Don't think many do that. It ads value to the projects. I ran into lots of homebrew stuff at for instance a radiorally. But most of the time you only can guess what it has been used for. 73, Bas

Steve McDonald said...

Same here Bas...I want someone to be able to use my stuff rather than strip it for parts! I must admit that having the 'manual' to look things over, such as tune-up procedures or dial settings has helped me out a few times as well :-)