Videos featuring the QCX Transceiver kit

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who shares the following videos and notes:

Hans Summer G0UPL has released an excellent YouTube Video describing the QCX Transceiver Kit, its Design, and Operating Features:

Click here to view on YouTube.

[And] Roberto IZ7VHF has a much more detailed video of The QCX Transceiver.

Click here to view on YouTube.

Looks like people are catching QCX Fever! What an amazing Radio!

I agree, Pete! It’s simply amazing how self-contained this transceiver is. I like the fact that the kit is through-hole and that the board appears to be high quality. I will soon have one on order. This will be a fun winter project!  Thanks for sharing, Pete!

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QRP Labs’s $49 QCX 5W single-band transceiver kit

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who notes:

“QRP Labs has just come out with the full feature CW Transceiver Kit for $49.00!”

(Source: QRP Labs)

The “QCX” is a 5W, single-band, high performance CW transceiver kit with WSPR beacon, and built-in alignment/test equipment. It is available for 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 or 17m bands. See below for the long list of features! This is a kit of parts that you assemble yourself. There are NO surface mount components to solder (two SMD ICs are already factory pre-soldered). We do not currently have any enclosure available for this kit, it may be something we investigate in the future.

Features

  • Easy to build, single-board design, 10 x 8cm, all controls are board-mounted
  • Professional quality double-sided, through-hole plated, silk-screen printed PCB
  • Choice of single band, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 or 17m
  • Approximately 3-5W CW output (depending on supply voltage)
  • 7-16V recommended supply voltage
  • Class E power amplifier, transistors run cool… even with no heatsinks
  • 7-element Low Pass Filter ensures regulatory compliance
  • CW envelope shaping to remove key clicks
  • High performance receiver with at least 50dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
  • 200Hz CW filter with no ringing
  • Si5351A Synthesized VFO with rotary encoder tuning
  • 16 x 2 blue backlight LCD screen
  • Iambic keyer or straight key option included in the firmware
  • Simple Digital Signal Processing assisted CW decoder, displayed real-time on-screen
  • On-screen S-meter
  • Full or semi QSK operation using fast solid-state transmit/receive switching
  • Frequency presets, VFO A/B Split operation, RIT, configurable CW Offset
  • Configurable sidetone frequency and volume
  • Connectors: Power, 3.5mm keyer jack, 3.5mm stereo earphone jack, BNC RF output
  • Onboard microswitch can be used as a simple straight Morse key
  • Built-in test signal generator and alignment tools to complete simple set-up adjustments
  • Built-in test equipment: voltmeter, RF power meter, frequency counter, signal generator
  • Beacon mode, supporting automatic CW or WSPR operation
  • GPS interface for reference frequency calibration and time-keeping (for WSPR beacon)

Pete adds:

Check the manual out, it’s 138 pages! Even a rank beginner can successfully build this rig.

https://qrp-labs.com/images/qcx/assembly_LT.pdf

Thank you for the tip, Pete! That’s an amazing amount of transceiver for the price. You’re right, I believe even a new kit builder could build this transceiver.

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Elecraft discontinues the K1 and KX1

My Elecraft KX1

After rumors surfaced about the demise of the Elecraft “K1” line, Wayne Burdick (N6KR) made the following announcement on the Elecraft email reflector, specifically mentioning the original K1:

We should have made a formal announcement here. Yes, we discontinued it because certain parts are hard to come by now, making it no longer cost effective for us to manufacture.

It was a great product for us, and I used mine for years, taking it on many trips. I thought of it as a “Sierra on Steroids” at the time (referring to an earlier design I did for the NorCal QRP Club). But we’ve moved on to more versatile field radios, including the KX2 and KX3.

73,
Wayne
N6KR

I’ve owned both the K1 and KX1 and they performed amazingly well. I suppose that’s why I also invested in both the KX3 and KX2 transceivers. I suppose all good things must come to an end.

I still own a K2/100 and I certainly hope Elecraft continues to support this fine transceiver. It’s unique in that it’s about the only American-made transceiver kit on the market that’s easily serviceable by a non-technician.  It’s also a rock-solid performer and, frankly, has a cult following of its own.

Vive le K2!

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QRP Activities at Shelby Hamfest

Many thanks to Bill (W4SFV) who shares the following announcement:

QRP advocate Bill Minikiewicz, of Breadboard Radio, will present a talk on QRP at this years Shelby Hamfest. Although the presentation will focus on the why and how of QRP operation designed to get hams excited about low power operating there will also be time for discussion about your experiences as QRPer’s.

Hopefully, this will turn into an annual QRP get together for the Southeast QRP gang. Several Breadboard Radio Kits will be given away, so be sure to attend. Also look for W4FSV operating QRP pedestrian in the Tail Gate area!

The Shelby Hamfest will be September 1, 2 and 3, 2017 at the Cleveland County Fairground, Shelby, NC. Bill’s talk is at 12 noon. Check out www.shelbyhamfest.com.

Excellent, Bill! Though I’m hosting a table in the flea market at Shelby this year, I will certainly plan to attend your QRP session!

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micro-BITX: a homebrew general coverage SSB/CW QRP transceiver

Image Source: uBITX)

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who shares the following:

Farhan VU2ESE Does It Again!

http://www.phonestack.com/farhan/ubitx/ubitx.html

A compact 10 watts, easy to build, general coverage SSB/CW transceiver for HF bands

Homebrewers have traditionally avoided making multiband transceivers as they can get extremely complex and difficult to make. There have been some remarkable successes in the past, the CDG2000 (designed by Colin Horrabin G3SBI, Dave Roberts G8KBB and George Fare G3OGQ)is one such design. The SDR route as followed by several designs offer some simplification at the cost of bringing digital signal processing and a PC into the signal path.

On the other hand, many of the homebrewers do need a general coverage transceiver on the bench as well as as a base transceiver for bands beyond the HF. I ended up buying an FT-817ND that has been a reliable old warhorse for years. Two years ago, I attempted a high performance, multi-band architecture with the Minima transceiver. The KISS mixer of the Minima, though a very respectable receiver front-end, had serious leakage of the local oscillator that led that design to be abandoned as a full transceiver. Over months, I have realized that the need for a general coverage HF transceiver was wide-spread among the homebrewers. Most of us end up buying one.

While achieving a competition grade performance from a multiband homebrew is a complex task as evidenced by the works like that of HBR2000 by VE7CA, it is not at all difficult to achieve a more modest design goal with far lesser complexity. The uBITX shoots to fulfill such a need. It is a compact, single board design that covers the entire HF range with a few minor trade-offs. This rig has been in regular use on forty and twenty meters for a few months at VU2ESE. It satisfies for regular work, a few trips to the field as well.

A key challenge for multiband transceivers has been to realize a local oscillator system with such wide range. Silicon Labs has now produced a series of well performing oscillators that solve this challenge trivially : You connect the oscillator chip over a pair of I2C lines and it is done. The Si5351a is one such a part that provides 3 programmable oscillator outputs in a small 10 pin TSSOP package. We will exploit this chip to build the multiband transceiver.

Having exclusively used homebrew transceivers all the time, I get very confused whenever I need to use a commercial radio. There are too many switches, modes and knobs to twirl around. The uBITX use an Arduino to simplify the front panel while retaining all the functionality in a simple menu system that works with the tuning knob and a single ‘function’ button. The rig supports two VFOs, RIT, calibration, CW semi break-in, meter indicator, etc. In future, more software can be added to implement keyer, SWR display, etc.

Click here to read the full description of this project and download diagrams/schematics!

This is brilliant!  Thank you for sharing, Pete!

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Ham takes SOTA activation to new level

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Amateur takes unusual route to SOTA

Colin Evans, M1BUU, from near Haworth, West Yorkshire attained SOTA Mountain Goat on Saturday 28th January on the summit of Whernside, G/NP-004.

Colin took rather an unusual approach to his activation of Yorkshire’s highest mountain, by constructing his equipment whilst on the summit.

Colin had taken a QRPme 20m RockMite kit, a home made key kit, a home made vertical antenna kit and a gas powered soldering iron along with him. Sheltering from the wind, rain and snow in a small tent, Colin successfully constructed the RockMite, key and antenna in just under 4 hours.

The first QSO for Colin with his 250mW RockMite was with N1EU near Albany, New York, over 3000 miles away, the three subsequent QSO’s were with European stations, satisfying the SOTA rule requirement of four QSO’s to claim the activation points.

SOTA Mountain Goat is awarded for gaining 1000 SOTA Activator points. For more information, visit www.sota.org.uk

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BITX40 Goes Digital

bitx40v3_main-1

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who notes that Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE) has upgraded the BITX40 Transceiver with a Arduino Nano/Si5351 VFO:

http://www.hfsigs.com/

Thanks for the tip, Pete!

 

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Kickstarter: HobbyPCB 5 Watt SDR starting at $239

Many thanks to Jim Veatch (WA2EUJ) who shares the following:

HobbyPCB is offering their RS-HFIQ 5W SDR on Kickstarter starting at $239. Check it out here:

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BITX40: A Fully Assembled $45 SSB QRP transceiver

bitx40v3_main

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who writes:

Don’t know if you have seen this or not. VU2ESE of BITX20 Fame has just introduced the BITX40.

This is a fully assembled and tested SSB Transceiver for $45 including shipping from India!

http://www.hfsigs.com/

Wow! I may have to purchase one of these and try it out.

I’m currently teaching a HamRadio 101 course to a group of 13 year olds. One of them recently asked how much it would cost to get a basic HF radio kit with SSB mode.  HF rigs–even basic ones–tend to be quite expensive if they include SSB.

Here are details from the BitX40 order page:

BITX40
Work the world on 40 meters

When was the last time you used a radio you had built? The BITX40 board is single circuit board 40 meter SSB transceiver module. Inside an evening, you can be on-air with this SSB transceiver module, chatting with the local gang or chasing DX. Plug in the earphones, the included electret mic, tuning and volume controls and you are on air! Included are high quality connectors, all the needed sockets and jacks, tuning and volume controls, mounting hardware, etc.

Technicals

The BITX40 is a very clean, crisp and quite receiver. The front-end has a triple tuned circuit that cuts out-of-band signals from getting inside, a diode ring mixer front-end with a very low phase noise, all analog oscillator makes this a crisp receiver that doesn’t overload easily. The all analog signal path to your ear makes provides outstanding signal clarity that is to be heard to be believed.

7 watts of SSB provides you with enough juice to have thousands of contacts on 40 meters, daily rag chew and occasional DX chasing. Any common 2 ampere 12 linear volts supply will provide enough juice for this transceiver. Or you could simply run it from a battery!

Hackable

The BITX40 will inspire you to experiment. Modify it, mount it, tweak it, change it.

The PCB uses all analog large sized SMD components that are laid out on an easy to understand manner on a double sided board with broad tracks. This can be your main module around which you can start experimenting. There are jump-points from where you can add more modules like the DDS, more bands, better audio amplifier, etc. Imagination is your limit. You can separately increase the power amplifier’s supply voltage to 25 volts to be more than 20 watts of power : You will have to add a better heat sink. The mods are on the way!

The board can be installed inside any box that you like. Make your own station rigs, man-packs, trail radios or mount it in a cigar box and leave it on your bedside table. The tuning capacitor has been replaced by a varactor tuning so you can place the tuning knob anywhere as it only carries a DC voltage. Watch the instructions video.

Box Contents

We have tried to include connector/hardware you might possibly need to build a full radio. However, we also had to balance the shipping weight to keep the overall cost down. You will have to supply your own box, power supply and earphones/headphones/speaker.

  • 4-1/2 inches by 5 inches tested SSB transceiver module, covering any 150 KHz segment of the 7 MHz band
  • Small electret microphone
  • High quality BNC connector for the antenna
  • Two earphone style audio jacks for the mic and the earphones/speaker
  • A set of DC power socket and plug
  • Volume control with on/off switch
  • 100k linear pot for tuning
  • 4 Brass stand-offs with mounting nuts and bolts
  • Connectors with wires for all connections on the board

* Note : A speaker is not included in the kit as earphones/headphones/speakers are easily available locally. No cabinet is included to save on the postage cost. Almost any box maybe used.

Manufacture

The BITX boards are hand assembled by a collective of women. Each of the toroids is hand wound. This provides these women with livelihood. The assembled boards are then DC checked a final RF check is performed to check the receiver’s sensitivity as well as transmitter’s output before being shipped. Each board is individually numbered.

Click here to view the BITX40 ordering page. 

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The new CommRadio CTX-10 QRP general coverage transceiver

commradioctx-10

[Originally poublished on the SWLing Post.]

Many thanks to Fred Osterman and Dave Zantow for sharing information about the new CommRadio CTX-10 transciever.  Here is the description from Universal Radio’s catalog:

AeroStream Communications near Golden, Colorado entered the hobby radio market in 2013 with their revolutionary CommRadio CR-1 and follow up CR-1a SDR receivers. The success of these innovative radios left many asking for a transceiver of similar size and capability.

The answer is the just announced CTX-10.

The CommRadio CTX-10 blends high performance, internal SDR technology, high efficiency circuit design, compact size and simple operation. This multi-mission QRP radio is ideal for field use and emergency operations. Transmitter covers 160-10 meter amateur bands with output power adjustable from 1 to 10 watts. The new design uses ruggedized land mobile power amps in push-pull. Every aspect of the radio design is optimized for low power consumption.

The efficient and sharp OLED display is readable in low or high lighting conditions. The radio has three built-in #18650 3.7V 2600 mAh Li-ion batteries providing 28.8 watt-hours of operation. A built-in intelligent charger provides seamless power management.

The general coverage receiver section uses multiple preselectors for optimized reception from 200 kHz to 30 MHz. An integrated CW reader and antenna tuner enhances portability. The premium tuning knob optical encoder is rated at a million revolutions.

Entire enclosure is aluminum with metal knobs and front panel. External connections are through-hole mounted for durability. Includes USB cable, DC power cord and manual. DC power requirements: receive 1.5 W, transmit 20 W. This quality device is robustly built in Colorado, U.S.A.

I’m really looking forward to reviewing the CTX-10. If the CR-1 and CR-1a are indicators, this could be a very well-built unit with a top-notch receiver!

Follow the tag CTX-10 for updates.

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