20141021_132447

My worst FAIL or how to destroy a $500 radio

     A year or two have passed so I figured I’m finally ready to share one of the worst FAILs of my young EE life.

     It all started with a dream… A dream to tap into the Intermediate Frequency line inside my beloved FT-817. If it worked, I would have been able to use the FT-817 as a HF upconverter for a RTL SDR dongle. In conjunction with my tablet, I would have had a super cool portable “panadapter” setup with my FT-817. A waterfall display on the tablet would show me every signal inside the FT-817’s receive bandwidth at the same time!

     For this to work, I needed to install a buffer amp and filter between the IF line in the FT-817 and an SMA connector I install in the radio case. The RTL SDR will reside just outside the FT-817. I bought the amp and filter kit from w1ghz and was all ready to go. 1st things 1st… drill a hole in the FT-817 case to install the SMA connector.

     Stupidly, I didn’t remove the main PCB inside the FT-817 as I drilled through the back side of it’s aluminum case. In a split second the drill bit propelled through the case completeing the hole and taking out several SMD components as it screeched across the FT-817 main PCB! All in all, the drill completely took out the CXA1611 FM/AM radio chip and it’s traces on the PCB.

     Over the following year, I attempted two seperate repairs of the chip and traces. Unfortunately, the radio has never functioned like it once did, and I hardly use it anymore due to this accident.

     Lessons learned: think before you drill holes in expensive radios!