hamelectronicsmagazine.com  by de: VE3AB
Re-written with new
photos 20 may
2013..article needs
tweaking its a bit out of
order but the data is fine!
73 Earl VE3AB
My FT301and  (new) Digital Display..from AADE Electronics
I have built the kit and now its working fine. Lots of pictures and
hints to help builders with this one. (15 Dec 2011)/May 2013.
This is a kit of parts that you have to assemble yourself. Or..I think ..the AADE people
will assemble it for a fee. Anyways..I built it up when I received it last
spring..2011..but I set the project aside when the spring weather came along.
NOW..DECEMBER 15th 2011..no snow on the ground yet..but winter is definitely here.
So I am back on the bench and starting to sit down with the soldering iron to
complete some kits and I do other things as well in early retirement years.
There are a number of different displays you can get with this kit. IMPORTANT
reads: The DFD2FT391 measures the premix local oscillator on the HFO input
and the BFO on the BFO input. The VFO input is not used and is disabled by
leaving the 74HC7046 out of the socket. --
Its no big deal if you put the chip in
the socket..no harm will be done. I accidentally installed the chip at first but
then later..removed it.
Im not going to display any more pictures of the circuit board being populated with parts and soldered. That was the easy part. The hard part is the
physical layout of the front panel bezel and mounting of the display. -- I'm still finishing this off. -- The hooking up of the cables from the 2 circuit
boards to the display is another task that needs some patience and thought. -- I didnt rush this job. I puttered at it and now the display is working.

The pictures that follow combined with the instruction sheets that are on the AADE web site should give you all the information you need to decide if
you want to tackle this job.

You need a few parts of your own to connect the display to the radio. For the FT301 display ..you will need a couple of .01 uf capacitors and a couple
of 10 kilohm trimmer pots (non wire wound). NOTE: the schematic showing these parts shows the capacitors as .1 uf. They are .01 uf capacitors.
The third leg of each potentiometer is shown going to ground. I left mine float above ground. MY DISPLAY IS WORKING FINE SO FAR..ON RECEIVE ON
THE BENCH. IF in doubt..the AADE people will certainly give you clarifications.
---->> IF YOU NEED A FEW OF THESE PARTS.. I can send along a couple of 10 k pots and a few capacitors for a couple of bucks in an envelope. (I SELL
PARTS IN SMALL WEE QUANTITIES to homebrewers and experimenters and tinkerers like myself. (Helps pay for my hobby and shop supplies).
This is the 10 kilohm bourns pot and the .01 disc ceramic soldered in place. NOTE:
this isnt the best method of assembly! Right now..this would be called "FLYING
LEAD CONSTRUCTION". What I am going to do (soon) is to use double sided
mounting tape to secure the blue trimmer to the nearby metal shield for the AF
circuit board. An RG174 coax cable has to be hooked up to one of the terminals of
the blue trimmer. As I mentioned earlier...The third terminal of the trimmer seems
to be connected to ground with an upside down ground symbol used on the
schematic diagram (under INSTALLATION) in the instructions. I left mine floating
non connected. I'm even thinking of (eventually) removing these potentiometers
and putting in a fixed resistor..(after the display has been found to be stable and
10 kilohm pot at the back of radio (AF circuit board)
Towards the other side of the radio from the AF board is the RF board. Here
too, a 10 kilohm trimmer pot is attached to the circuit board to "tap in" to the
I basically followed the instruction sheets when adjusting these two
potentiometers. I got the display stabilized. When it is not stabilized the display
will be in a type of runaway mode and the frequency will often be totally wrong.

It took me a bit of time..BUT..I finally got the right readout of frequency. I was
doing this on 40 meters. I then adjusted the other pot to get the right mode..ie
LSB..when the rig was on LSB via the front panel control. I then dialed up and
down the band and found the readout was quite accurate. I then switched bands
and did the same thing. All was working surprisingly well and accurate.
I had adusted the multiturn frequency adjustment trimmer right on the AADE
display..Just to see if the frequency would shift and by how much. Didnt seem to
make a great deal of difference with just turning it back and forth a few turns.

I haven't even bothered to adjust it again or attempt to ..because the display is
reading quite accurately and I'm happy with that.

ON one setting: 10 meters on switch position for the 28.5 to 29 mhz selection, If I
transmit into dummy load at more than about 30 watts..the display will run off
frequency but will return to normal on receive.

I could go and try and correct this minor problem..BUT..for now..Im just going to
leave well enough alone.

Perhaps a bit of rf is getting into the display at this frequency or the level could
be tweaked just a little bit to take care of this minor problem..BUT..on 10
meters..I mostly run QRP CW anyways. Mostly during contests and operating
Left pictured..the rg 174 coax is run away from the boards and fastened down
with these tie wraps.

When soldering this fine coax cable..I use a pair of clamps when soldering the
braid..so as to sink the heat away. If you dont do this..the ground braid can
melt into the center conductor and cause a short circuit. I also use small
diameter heat shrink tubing to make the cable a rugged cable that will stand
up over time.
Populating the circuit board with the parts and soldering them down is the easy part
of the project. The hardest part is working with the dremel tool to remove black
plastic of the FT301 front panel and bezel. The instructions also call for removing
some metal work from the FT301 front sub panel. I havent got that far yet. I will read
the instructions over again (carefully) and then ..if I have to do metal work..I will use
my nibbling tool to chew out the required clearances. In order to avoid having those
little metal nibbled pieces kicking around in the radio chasis..I will lay out some
pieces of clear packing tape to capture any pieces that fall away from the tool and a
good vacuum afterwards.
Here is the display..working as it should. I think there may be a back light to
light up the display. I will be reading the instructions and I will hook this up
pretty soon.

It is Dec 17 2011 and I am taking my time..not rushing by any means. When I
get in the mood..I work at the FT301. I am now..also..working on an extender
card or cards for servicing..I am also going to put in a fresh set of
capacitors...(electrolytic)..recapping the rig. An some people are sending me
boards to repair from time to time..so I keep this rig open and ready for
service work. --- I also have spare boards to fix and test from previous
repairs and donations from other hams.

I have been corresponding with a lady at ICM (crystals). I am trying to get an
order in for spare crystals..but there seems to be some sort of hang up.
I may try some other sources/suppliers/manufacturers to see if I can get
crystals for the FT301 (and maybe other older rigs). My supply of used
crystals is rather depleted right now.
This is the Customs Slip for this product. I thought I would display
it..for Canadian Hams who order from USA.

There is quite a bit of similarity in this form to the CANADIAN POST

NOTE: the slip check mark is for COMMERCIAL SAMPLE.

When I send an (small) order out of transistors or used parts or
whatever..I always check off "SAMPLE" and I  always write

IF you are interested in writing me for a few parts for this project..or
any other low power project (I dont have high power parts or
transistors ect) you can write me ve3ab@personainternet.com
and I can sell you them at a most reasonable price. I have lots of
spare parts (overstock) in my parts bins.
73 earl ve3ab
The metal work and plastic work on the Front Panel and sub panel and
bezel..is the tough part of this job!  
These 3 pictures show me trying to place the new AADE display on the front
chassis. I was sizing things up. I cut back the hole in the front chassis as per the
instructions that came with the display.

For me this was not difficult. The nibbling tool did a good job and I was very
careful to keep track of each and every little nibble. I did not want loose
particles of metal getting into the nearby potentiometers and switches.

Often..when I do this kind of work..I lay down some packaging tape in such a way
as it will catch the nibbles and little shards of material. Something like fly paper
to catch flies. (
The black line  in the picture shows the area to be nibbled out
with the nibbling tool)..IMPORTANT..I used packing tape folded into sticky loops
and caught all the little pieces and slivers of metal from the tool. Worked for me.
For good appearance..try and do a better job than I did on the front bezel. I used
a dremel tool and a variac to slow it down. Take your time! I goofed and broke
going to try again this winter..2012. 73 earl ve3ab

Below pictured..all the cables come through the front panel hole. I used plastic
tie wraps to fasten all the wires and RG174 coax lines down to whatever stable
tie points were available.

The red plastic tape at the right side of the AADE board is a bit of an epoxy
dam..which served to hold the epoxy I used to "pot" the rg174 cables (2 of them)
to where they soldered to the AADE board. This was to add strength to the
soldered joints and ensure long life so the wires wouldnt break off.
The rig now with the new display. Mine is not a backlit display.

The window with the CLAR FIXED and VFO is left out for now.

I plan to dress this front panel up in the near future. I bad
problems with the front bezel. I cracked it when clamping it so I
had to glue it.

It works anyways. Works quite well actually. Far better frequency
display than the original one.

I actually don't use the FT301 all that much now. I find my FT757GX
is far better performance. ON CW the 757 has pretty good break
in CW with built in keyer and I like the receiver in the FT757 and
the filtering.

The FT301 is a back up rig now. If my 757 has problems and has to
be repaired I can take my time with the repair because the 301 is

Future enhancements to the FT301 planned: a receiver
PREAMP..much like the FT757GX..you can switch it on or off.
Perhaps I will add a front panel separate RF gain control for the
RF amplifier to allow selective gain with the low noise preamp so
as to allow me to dig for weak signals (above the noise level).
I like CW QRP contests..weak signal work.

For the RF preamp I would add a low pass filter single stage to
knock down local RF. Frequency of about 30 mhz and higher
would be attenuated.

I'm thinking of building my own front panel bezel out of black
colored metal (perhaps using an old CB cabinet). This is because
I botched the job on the plastic bezel. I do have spare bezels and
chassis parts around here.. but I think I might try rolling my own.
These blemishes really show up worse when a flash on a digital
camera high lights them.

Perhaps if you try this display from AADE you will have taken more
time to read the instructions more carefully and be more careful
when laying out the job.
Here are some more pictures. The hard part is not building the kit..that is
easy! The hard part is the mechanical work. A good nibbling tool is
important. When nibbling away the front metal..another hard part for some
people is to actually find where to tap in for the signals.

I took some better and less blurred pictures to help one fellow out here..
(May 2013) ..so I thought Id post them here.

THIS ARTICLE IS A LITTLE JUMBLED and needs to be re-organized..but you
can see the circuit boards and where I tapped in.
Nov 12 2012. A fellow in USA wrote me that he has finished his FT301 AADE
display. Since he did such a bang up job on his..I have decided to post his
final version picture (with his permission).

He wrote to tell me that he used a dremel tool to carefully cut away portions
of the black plastic front panel. It looks real nice.
73 earl ve3ab ..link back to my home page if you need it..
PAGE 2 of this article (added 30th May 2013) as a result of an email
from a fellow ham ..who bought an FT301 with display problems..

TO READ THIS ARTICLE about more FT301 display problems
and how to go about trouble shooting and undoing mods ect...