PA5TJ HF mobile/portable

RACAL BCC39

 

The HF bands are perfect to combine radioamateurisme with outdoor activities as hiking, and tracking. With a relative small piece of equipment you reach the whole world. My love for ex-military equipment, and the withdraw of the CW exam for access to HF let to buying the RACAL BCC39 from Combat Radio. It's the last current fixed frequency model from Racal. The successor, Panther-H looks practical the same, but has also a frequency hopping. Nice for sneaky contacts but not so usefull for radioamateurisme. I like the military radios, because of there build quality, though casings and no nonsense approach. I was in doubt of buying a ICOM IC706. In fact the ICOM was cheaper, as a lot more power, bands and possibilitys, but wasn't available in green..... :)


The BCC39 was designed around 1984 through 1986 at the R&D labs, Stonefield Way, South Ruislip, Middx.
Production took place at Racal BCC, Southway, Exhibition Grounds,
Wembley, (at the back of the famous Wembley stadium) HA9 0HU, Middlesex.
This continued till Oct 1990 when production was transferred to Racal Radio in Western Road, Bracknell, Berks.
The Panther -H was a result of the 39 set.
With the evolution of Thales - due to Thomson buying Racal, the 39 set was discontinued.
The BCC39 is the manpack version. There is also a vehicle version the, VRQ319,. The actual transceiver is a small box, app. 25x20x10 cm. with a detachable controlhead. The BCC39 is a high power HF manpack oriented towards long range patrol operation using short burst transmissions (CW or data using FSK keying from an ancillary unit). The unwanted radiation from the receiver is kept at a very low level and when using the associated ATU, the BCC565, the tuning times are very short. Operation can take place using single frequency simplex and two frequency simplex (half duplex) The controls (exept on/off and simplex/half duplex selection) are on a removable unit wich may be extended using a special cable, for use by an operator on the move. The radio, the control panel and the connector are seperately sealed. The BCC operates in USB, LSB en CW mode.

 Mobile set-up on the behind seats in the car.


The BCC39 provides a high power (50W) transceiver in a very small size. Operation with its associated ATU, the BCC 565, (power out reduced to 25W) can be carried out wiht the ATU fixed to the tranceiver of seperated from it by up to 50m of coaxial cable.  No other cable is required as supply and signalling to and from the ATU are carried by the coaxial cabel as well as the HF signal. Both the transceiver and the ATU have meomy to store up to 10 channels, with frequency data for the tranceiver and relay setting for the ATU, This allow channel setting, without the need for radiate. The tune sequency is very short, typically less then 300ms. A search mode permits the operator to change frequency by incriment of 100Hz at a slow or fast rate. The LCD shows the mode, the frequency, high or lowpower setting and a small 5 bar meter for the received signal, or transmitted power. It is backlit with 2 red leds.

 Mobile set-up, with the control head detached


Technical discription

a detailed description from al the parts of the BCC39

Top view of the BCC39 without the side panels.  It is a sandwich contruction with no wiring.  All the connections are with connectors. The connectors are under the the blue and black covers.
Undersideview.  The only adjustment you can make here is the reference frequency for the PLL.  It is adjusted by the little white trimmer in de center of the picture.
Siedview.  In the right you see the 3.6V lithium battery for the CPU memory.
AF PCB mounted in the frontpanel assembly. The SMC connector on the left is for the antenna.The shielded compartment houses a LPF filter for the RF signal.to and from the antennasocket
The connection of one of the two Audio/headset connectors from the frontpanel to the AF PCB.  The connection is made with ptfe wires. The lines have a good interference suppression, as you can see on the PCB, all the SMD capacitors and small inductors.
The PLL board, with the two seperate PLL's for transmit and receive. In the middle is the reference oscillator. (5.6MHz).
Detail of one of the PLL ic's.  I hope they never fail, I don't think the BCC24 integrated circuits are available by radio shack....  You can also see the wire preventing the IC from falling out of his socket (when the BCC39 is in the back of the landy...)
IF board.  Note the strange assembly in the right upper conner.  The tranmit roofing filter in the right lower corner, and the IF filter in the left corner.
underside of the IF board, with the usual SMD components.
The strange assembly in detail.
The AGC driver module on the IF board.
The final amplifier in the rearpanel.  Left the driver stage, in de middle the 50Watt stage, and in the right the 100W PA stage.  The 100W is only available in the vehicle configuration.  The PA has no headsink, only a flat surface, wich has to be bolted to the big headsink, on the vehicle interface.
The driver, and 50W PA in detail. This 50W PA is cooled by a little headsink an the rear of the BCC39
The 100W PA in detail The PA has no headsink, only a flat surface, wich has to be bolted to the big headsink, on the vehicle interface. With this limitation, it is not possible to use it without the vechicle adaptor. The 100W PA is selected with the "BOOST" funktion on the vehicle interface. This selection gives a 12V on the middle contact between the power connections on the rear of the BCC39. This future is not visible in the available service documentation of the BCC39.
The transmit receive relays, and the SWR bridge in between.
The CPU board, Left the 1802 CPU, RAM and EPROM, on the right the ADC and DAC for measuring, forward power, reflected power, input voltage, received signal strength....etc.
Underside of the CPU board
The control head is a diecast aluminium enclosere.  Inside is a pcb sandwich with the lcd and buttons on one side, and the components on the other side. The unit is connected with 3 wires, a ground, plus 5 volt and a signal. The unit houses a very robust 1805 microprocessor, and some drivers.

 BCC589B Vehicle adaptor for the BCC39  VRQ319 configuration

Here the BCC 589B vehicle adaptor on the home-made mountingplate. The BCC39 is mounted above the vehicle adaptor. The vehicle adaptor is the interface between the BCC39 and the vehicle powersupply, 12 or 24V, the audio harnass and the tuner. You can select the mode of operation. It gives the radio also a squelchfunction. Al connections are on the front side. The radio must clamped on the back headsink, and also screwed for best heat transfer to the headsink. For continues duty, especialy with digital modes in tropical regions,  there is an extra heatsink on top of the rearheadsink. 
Inside the BCC589. There is a main board with solid state components, and a second board with only SMD on it. The exact funtion of the components is not known by me. I don't have a schematic or service manual. I guess half of the parts are for the audio puposes, and the order half is for the power supply of the BCC39. On the right is a big transformer. Probably to make the 24V from 12V, by 12V operation. By the difference in output power with 12 or 24V supply, I guess the 12 to 24 transverter is only used for the control circuits in the BCC39, and not for the PA.
Detailed picture of the main board. A lot of wires, and note the littel board with the motorola en plessey IC's in the left.
Sideview with the big transformercore
Frontview with the controls, and jacks
Enclosure, made of a solid block aluminium, completely milled out.
 

Racal manpack tuner BCC 565

 

The Tuner BCC565 is also a diecast enclosure, but with a polymere lid. Inside is the same 1805 processor, some drivers and  coils and capacitors switchable with relays. The radio communicates by the antennacable, witch is also the power supply. The BCC565 ATU was designed specifically for the BCC39 transceiver. There was an issue with power handling as the ATU coils could not dissipate all the heat produced by the RF and it was felt that by using ceramic forms or bigger gauge wire, the heat could be dissipated. However this mean also that the case need to be bigger or ventilation provided. In the end it was decided to limit the output power when used as a manpack. The settings are all analog so that the discriminator will sense the RF input at all frequencies from 1.6-29.999MHz and tune the caps and coils accordingly in a binary switched sequence. The tuning is effected by switching  some 26 or 27 reed relays so that the antenna current is maximised. Racal modelled the impedance of the human body as a resistor about 15-20 ohms to ground at HF.
Underside view of the tuner. Here you can see the bipolar reed relays, The left ones switches the coils on the other side of the board, the right ones switches the capacitors visiable between the relays. The contstruction of the board is a little strange. In fact it is made of two printed circuits board who are screwed/soldered together. The opposite board has drilled holes for the solderpads on the other board.  Kind  of multilayer.....
Here is the lithium battery. The battery feeds the memory of the processor. So it remembers the tuning positions for some frequencys.

I bought a second tuner on ebay, for permanent mounting in the wing of the landrover. When it tried to test it, it was dead.  The  HF blocking coil from the inputconnector on the processorboard was an open circuit (L1). Apperently there has been a short circuit somewhere on the supply-line inside the tuner. After removing the PCB, I discovered a leaking capacitor . Here on the picture under the battery. It has also ruined some pcb-tracks under it. I replaced both capacitors.

 

Replacing, the coil (L) and the capacitors from the relayboard, turning the power on, still dead......

 

I measured still a short circuit in the 5V circuit from the logicboard, A moment I supected the 1802 cpu, I difficult and probably expensive part, but then I saw a little 5V6 Zenerdiode (Z), after removing it, the short circuit was going, after replacing it, the tuner was working!!!

   

Mounting table

I have no idea how the original mounting table looks like, If you have more info, or even pictures, please mail me!

I have made an replacement mountingtable for the BCC and also for the AR5000. I have made a aluminium frame, with vibration dampers under it. The BCC39 vehicleadaptor has two holes in the heatsink.  I made two studs with conical pins, who glides in to the holes and fixes the vehicle adaptor at the rear . I made two clamps on the front, like I have seen on other (US-made) transceivers.  For addional stability I've put two slides on top of the table, who presses agains the two ribs on the underside of the BCC vehicle adaptor.

   

 


 

Practical use

(Not much, I'm more into building things......)

First time testing on july 17th, The lighthouseweekend. I have heard many stations, from Europe and USA on the mobile whip antenna. On that time I was not allowed to transmit, You must be able to make morsecode for a HF licence.....Here I'm sitting on a small harbor "block van kuffelen" 52 24,980N  5 13,733 E

in the futere, some experiences and pictures using the BCC.


Links:

WANTED !

Any information, knowlegde, manuals, pictures, of the BCC39, Do you once used one? please let me know, there is very little known about this transceiver. Are there armys who use or used them?

tjalf@xs4all.nl   pa5tj@amsat.org


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