Sunday, April 10, 2016

Repairing an old Alinco DR-610 Dual Bander...

I've got an old Alinco DR-610 that had developed a bunch of odd problems. This radio has a special meaning to me, it came from my long time friend Jay KQ4MS, who has now passed on. Jay and I had many good times via radio for over 20 years with field days, repeater work, DXing, hamfests, mountain topping, contesting, tower work, and more...but that's a story for another time.  When the radio started misbehaving, I decided I would do whatever it took to keep it running.

I first noticed it being difficult when I would press the VHF or UHF volume controls to switch between bands. Lately, it would blast the volume wide open or loose control of the squelch settings. This past week, it would totally freak out when I would touch the mic connector. It was finally time to crack it open.

I pulled the rig from my truck, and removed the face/head unit. It's made to be separated so it can be used with an optional relocation under the seat or elsewhere in the vehicle, with the head somewhere accessible. As soon as I opened up the head unit, the volume / squelch / band change board literally fell out. That sub-board plugs into a TINY 8-pin molex style connector, and it had sheared the pads right off of the PC board. There was nothing to re-install the connector to, so I had to improvise a bit.

This stuff is tiny, and kinda rough on my eyes. You can see this in the photos, when you compare my fingertip side to the parts. I used a set of 3.0 reader glasses & a jeweler's head loupe (called an "opti-visor"). I salvaged a bit of small, flexible wire from a ribbon cable. The OEM mount for the vol/sq assembly was held in place with a screw that also holds the rear cover in place. I the screw had gotten loose, allowing the sub-board to wiggle around a bit, eventually destroying the pc board attachment points for the socket and breaking the traces. I used a bit of epoxy to mount the assembly back onto the main board to make it somewhat more rigid, located suitable attachment points on both the vol/sq board and the main board, and hard wired the boards together. It's not pretty, but it works and is very solid.

Once completed, I bundled the new wiring together, re-assembled and re-installed the head to the main radio unit, reset the processor, and began reprogramming the radio. I was relieved to have this rig back in operation, and ready to get back on the air.

From what I see online, most folks toss rigs of this age in the trash, as they're no longer supported by the factory and shop rates make it cost prohibitive for repairs. I get a kick out of reviving old rigs like this, and keeps ham radio a cheap hobby in my shack :-)