Category Archives: Announcements

CHA MPAS Lite: Chameleon designs a new QRP compact portable antenna system

Many thanks to, Don (W7SSB), who notes that Chameleon Antenna has just introduced the CHA MPAS Lite: a modular portable antennas system covering from 6M – 160 meters.

I know a number of participants in the Parks On The Air program who use the CHA MPAS antenna system–the MPAS Lite is the “little brother” of that antenna, according to Chameleon.

Although designed with the new Icom IC-705 and other QRP transceivers in mind, the CHA MPAS Lite can handle up to 100 watts in SSB or 50 watts in CW.

They plan to start shipping the antenna in early November 2020 and the price for the system is $340.00. That may sound like a lot of money for an antenna (it is, let’s face it!) but if you speak with pretty much anyone who owns a Chameleon antenna they’ll tell you it’s worth it. The quality is second to none. I’ve been testing their Emcomm III wire antenna recently and it must be one of the most robust portable wire antenna systems I’ve ever evaluated.

Also, all of their products are designed and manufactured in the USA.

Click here to check out the CHA MPAS Lite product page.

We recently added Chameleon Antenna to our list of sponsors here at QRPer.com. I’m very proud to include them because one of my personal missions is to promote mom-and-pop companies that push innovation here in our radio world! It’s humbling that they support us too.

QRP Labs new QCX+ QRP CW/WSPR transceiver kit

Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who writes:

Hi Thomas,

QRP Labs has just announced the QCX+ which as the name implies is an upgraded version of the very popular QCX line of transceivers

To date almost 10,000 kits have been sold, here’s a brief overview of the the differences and new features made to this popular Transceiver.

The QCX+ is the almost same circuit as the QCX, with two very minor changes. QCX+ runs the same firmware as QCX, and has identical operational and performance characteristics. QCX/QCX+ firmware will always be compatible with both the QCX and QCX+. The evolution of QCX to QCX+ provides several improved features in physical layout, as follows:

1) Physical layout of controls and connectors

2) Optional enclosure

3) Additional and changed connectors

4) More spacious PCB, more than double the board area, with less densely packed components, and more test/modification points

5) Improved heatsinking

6) Three minor circuit changes

7) No microswitch key

Price has gone up slightly to $55, still no other QRP Transceiver on the market today comes close to the features offered by the QCX+ at this price point.

More Info:

https://qrp-labs.com/qcxp.html

Thank you so much Pete! You’re an enabler! Since I’m not at Hamvention right now, those radio bucks are burning a hole in my pocket. The QCX+ looks like a fun transceiver to build! Thanks for the tip.

FCC is crystal clear: Remote ham radio licensing exams are absolutely permitted

Note: This post was first published on our sister site, the SWLing Post.

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, amateur radio VECs in the US have been experimenting with remote testing sessions–meaning, administering ham radio license exams via real-time teleconference apps like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet.

Amateur radio operators in support of remote testing have been contacting the FCC asking for formal approval of remote exams and the ARRL has also been exploring and experimenting with the process.

Today, the FCC posted a public notice, making it clear that FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests:

We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests.  The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.”

I’ve pasted the text from the body of the public notice below (click here to download the full PDF doc):


DA 20-467 Released: April 30, 2020

WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU CONFIRMS THAT AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE OPERATOR LICENSE EXAMINATIONS MAY BE HELD REMOTELY

The Amateur Radio Service provides opportunities for self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations for qualified persons of any age who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. To operate an Amateur Radio Service station, an operator must have an FCC license. The Commission issues three classes of operator licenses, each authorizing a different level of privilege. 1 The class for which each licensee is qualified is determined during an examination by the level of skill and knowledge in operating a station that the licensee demonstrates to volunteer examiners, who conduct this testing on behalf of FCC-certified volunteer examiner coordinators.

Many potential amateur radio test takers and volunteer examiners have contacted the Chairman and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to request that the Commission allow remote testing in light of current public health guidelines regarding social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests. 2 The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.3

We recognize that some volunteer examiner coordinators may not have the immediate capacity for widespread remote testing. We expect those volunteer examiner coordinators with limited remote testing capacity to work closely with those requesting such testing to prioritize any available remote testing slots.

– FCC –


Icom IC-705 demo and pricing

Many thanks to QRPer, Pete (WB9FLW), who shares the following sneak peek video of the new IC-705 transceiver from Amateur Logic TV with guest Ray Novak from Icom America:

Pete also notes that Ham Radio Outlet’s price has been announced a the 2020 Orlando Hamcation. According to two members of the group, the pre-order price at Hamcation is $1,175 US–the price will increase $100 after Hamcation.

Availability is still unknown: retailers and Icom have not committed to firm delivery date yet other than noting it will be sometime in 2020.

Thanks, again, Pete for the tip!

uBITX v6 QRP transceiver now available for $150/$199 US

Many thanks to QRPer, Pete (WB9FLW), who notes that Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE) has recently announced the availability of the uBITX v 6.0–as Pete notes, “just in time for the Holidays!

Pete shared the following message from Farhan:

Here is what [the uBITx v 6.0] looks like :

And of course, you can buy it on hfsignals.com. The shipping will happen from Tuesday onwards. We have a limited supply of the first 200 boards. The rest is for after Christmas.

The most important thing about this revision is that the Radio circuitry is almost unchanged. We have incorporated the connectors on the PCBs. So, this kit needs none of the confusing soldering. You snap in the TFT Raduino onto the main board, plug the power and antenna from the back, snap on headphones, plug in the mic (supplied with the kit) and off you go!

It is offered in two kits now : The basic kit (150 USD) is without the box (like old times) but with a microphone and two acrylic templates for the front and back panels.

The Full kit (199 USD) has the box with speaker, mounting hardware etc. Both are described on the website.

Now, about the TFT display:

For those who are using the 16×2 display and you would like to upgrade, you will have to do three things:

Add a heatsink to the 7805 of the raduino

Buy [here] and hook it up as per [this article].

Grab the new Arduino sketch from https://github.com/afarhan/ubitxv6

Background:

I have been hacking away at adding a TFT display for the Arduino for sometime. Finally, I managed to do this with a really inexpensive 2.8 inch TFT display that uses a controller called the ILI9341. The display update is slow but, clever guy that I am, the display very usable. it uses the same pins that earlier connected to the 16×2 LCD display. This display is available everywhere for a few dollars.

Many thanks, Pete, for sharing this announcement. The price was simply too attractive to me, so I just purchased the full kit for $199 US. (Thanks for being the good enabler you are, Pete!)

I’ll post an update when I receive the transceiver and assemble it. I do hope this is a workable little radio–it would be pretty amazing for newcomers to the hobby to be able to get on the HF bands for a mere $200 US. I also love the fact that this is all based on open-source, hackable technologies.

Dave Benson’s new Phaser Digital Mode Transceiver kit

Many thanks to QRPer, Pete (WB9FLW), who writes:

Just in time for Christmas, Dave Benson is back with a great new line of Monoband Digital Mode Transceivers! 40 & 80 Meters is available now 30 & 20 Meter Rigs to follow shortly.

Time for me to contact Santa Claus and update my Christmas Wish List 🙂

These are Single Signal Phasing Rigs not DSB.

Pete WB9FLW,

http://www.midnightdesignsolutions.com/phaser/

http://www.midnightdesignsolutions.com/phaser/Phaser-40%20Instructions%20(Rev%20A).pdf

WOW! Thanks for the tip, Pete! I think I might give Santa a hint! This looks like a fun kit!

The Discovery TX-500 QRP Transceiver

Please note: This is a cross-post from our other radio site, the SWLing Post.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Vlad, who shares some images and a video of a new QRP transceiver in development: the Discovery TX-500 by a company called lab599.

Specifications have not been published yet, but we have confirmed a few details from the manufacturer:

  • 10 watts PEP
  • HF plus 6 meters
  • Weight 570 grams (1.25 pounds)
  • Voltage 9 – 14 VDC
  • 105 milliamps at 13.8 VDC and with backlit display on
  • CAT control via USB and using Kenwood codes
  • I/Q outputs
  • Weatherized
  • Expected availability autumn 2019
  • Target retail price is $700 US
  • Product website is forthcoming

All of the following images came from the Discovery TX-500 gallery on Instagram:

Here are a few videos:

View this post on Instagram

Discovery TX-500, Lab599

A post shared by Laboratory599 (@discovery_tx_500) on

Click here to view on Instagram.

Click here to view on Instagram.

Click here to view on Instagram.

For someone, like me, who loves playing radio in the field (Parks On The Air and Summits On The Air) this looks like an ideal rig. It’s one of the only ham radio transceivers I’ve seen that is weatherized to some degree (how much, we don’t know yet).

I don’t see a speaker on the TX-500, so I’m guessing it might require a mic/speaker combo or an external speaker of some sort? I also don’t see a built-in ATU, but at $700, I certainly wouldn’t expect one.

With a power consumption of 110 milliamps at 13.8 VDC, this little transceiver should run for ages on a modest battery pack.

This is certainly a fascinating prototype QRP transceiver. If the Discovery TX-500 transceiver can be produced and marketed at $700 with all of the features mentioned so far, it should certainly fly off the shelves. They can certainly take my money!

Of course, I will plan to grab one of these for review. I’m also eager to see how this little SDR transceiver might perform on the broadcast bands.

We will post post TX-500 updates and details as they become available. Bookmark the tag Discovery TX-500 and stay tuned!


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Initial impressions of the Mission RGO One 50 watt transceiver

On Monday, I took the new Mission RGO One transceiver to the field and attempted a POTA (Parks On The Air) activation.

I just published a detailed post including a number of RGO One photos on my other radio blog, The SWLing Post.

In short? Although it’s early days, the RGO One is a promising rig and I’m very pleased with the ergonomics, functionality, and features. It’s very well suited for field operations weighing in at only five pounds and can comfortably operate up to 50 watts if you need a little extra power. I’m looking forward to activating a number of parks this year with the RGO One!

Click here to read about the Mission RGO One on the SWLing Post.

Elecraft introduces the K4 high-performance direct-sampling SDR

The following is a cross-post from my other website, The SWLing Post:

Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)

Today we learned about the latest addition to the Elecraft product line, the Elecraft K4.

This fills a niche in the Elecraft product line and is certain to directly compete with the likes of the Icom IC-7610 and a number of Flex Radio transceivers, among others.

Elecraft describes the K4 as having a “modular hybrid architecture”. Below, I’ve pulled the text and images from the Elecraft product brochure.

Wayne Burdick (N6KR) of Elecraft notes that tomorrow (Friday, May 17, 2019) the Elecraft site will (re)launch a K4 product page with pre-order/reservation page.

I plan to learn more about the K4 and report back during Hamvention this week. Stay tuned by bookmarking the tag Elecraft K4:

Elecraft K4 Product Information

(Source: Elecraft K4 Product Information Sheet via Lutz Electronics, Switzerland)

Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)

A direct-sampling SDR you’ll love to use

Our new K4 harnesses the latest in signal processing while retaining the best
aspects of the K3S and P3. The resulting user interface makes the technology
transparent, allowing you to focus on working the world.

160-6 meter, all-mode coverage & dual RX

The K4 includes dual receive over 100 kHz to 54 MHz. Since it utilizes direct
sampling, there’s no need for crystal filters in the K4 or K4D (see Models, back
page). For extreme-signal environments, we offer a dual superhet module
(standard in the K4HD). An internal VHF/UHF module is also planned.

High-resolution mini-pan for each receiver

Our advanced fine-tuning aid, with its resampled bandwidth as narrow as +/- 1
kHz, is displayed separately from the main panadapter. You can turn it on by
tapping either receiver’s S-meter or by tapping on a signal of interest.

Simple operation and setup

The K4 features a large, full-color touch display, combined with a rich set of real
controls. Per-VFO transmit metering makes split mode completely foolproof.
Band-stacking switches and per-receiver controls are both intuitive and versatile,
adapting to operating context. Usage information on these and other features
is just one tap away, thanks to our built-in help system.

Click to enlarge (Source: K4 Product Brochure)

Rich I/O complement

The rear panel includes all the RF, analog and digital I/O you’ll need to complete
your station. All K-line accessories are supported, including amps, ATUs, and our
K-Pod station controller. The HDMI video output supports an external display
with its own user-specified format.

Full remote control from multiple devices

The K4 can be 100% remote controlled, via Ethernet, from a second K4 as well as
a PC, notebook, or tablet. Panadapter data is included on all remote displays.

Modular hybrid architecture

The K4 adapts to your needs, with three models to choose from:

  • Basic K4 with wide-range dual receive
  • K4D with diversity receive
  • K4HD with a dual superhet module for exceptional dynamic range

You can upgrade or add options as desired, or as new technology becomes
available. This extensibility applies to software as well. The K4’s powerful, fast-starting CPU provides unlimited expansion opportunities.

Fast signal processing

The RF signal chain in the K4 incorporates parallel hardware processing of data
streams, including a dedicated DSP subsystem. This, combined with silent,
PIN-diode T/R switching, ensures fast CW break-in. Data and speech-processing
delays are also minimized.
Standard DSP features include easy-to-adjust, per-mode RX/TX EQ; clean,
punchy RF speech processing; full DVR capabilities; and several built-in data
decode/encode modes. Direct-sampling technology results in an ultra-flat
passband response for clean RX and TX audio. Since the signal chain is softwaredefined, the DSP can be field upgraded to add new algorithms and operating
modes.

KAT4 ATU

The KAT4 ATU has a nominally 10:1 matching range. It includes 3 antenna jacks,
any one of which can be selected as an input for one or both receivers.

Internal VHF/UHF module (future option)

An expansion slot is reserved for a high-performance VHF/UHF module, with
output of approximately 15 W. This module will support all modes.

Kit version

A no-soldering kit version of the K4 is planned for later release. Builders will learn
about advanced radio technology as they proceed. All modules are pre-aligned
and tested.

K4 Key Specs and Features

  • Size: 4.5”Hx13.5”W,10”D
  • Weight: Approx.10lbs
  • SupplyVoltage: 12-15VDC
  • Current: ~2ARX,~18-23ATX
  • FrequencyRange: 100kHz-54MHz(VHF/UHFrangetobe determined*)
  • Stablility: +/-0.25ppm(TCXO) Modes: CW, SSB, AM, FM, Data
  • LCD: 7”color;touch&mousecontrol Text modes: CW, PSK31/63, RTTY KAT4ATU:
  • 10:1+range;3ant.jacks RXantennasources: Upto5
  • A-to-D Converter(s): 16 bits
  • I/O: USB-Ax3,USB-B(twovirtualcomports+audio),RS232(DE9), Ethernet, HDMI. front/rear mic, front/rear phones, LINE in/out, speakers,PTTin,KEYout,paddle,key, ACC,12Vout.
  • CWQSK: Silent,PIN-diodeswitched
  • Other: RX/TX EQ, real-time clock,100% remote control including panadapter data, remote antenna switch control*, custom in-box software apps*

Models (K4 & K4D upgradeable by the user at any time)

  • K4: Basic K4 transceiver provides 160-6 m, all-mode coverage; 100 W output; five receive RF sources; and wideband dual watch, allowing the main and sub receivers to be set for the same or different bands.
  • K4D: Adds KDIV4 option, with a second set of band-pass filters and additional direct- sampling ADC module. This allows the two receivers to use different antennas – a requirement for diversity receive. Having two sets of band-pass filters also optimizes signal handling when the receivers are on different bands and/or antennas.
  • K4HD: Includes all of the above, plus our dual superhet module, the KHDR4. Ideal for competitive field day, contesting, and DXpedition stations. Each superhet receive section includes two crystal filters: one SSB/data bandwidth, one CW bandwidth. The superhet’s 8 MHz IF has excellent dynamic range, so additional crystal filters are not required.

Now available: WSJT-X 2.0 full release

(Source: Southgate ARC via Mike K8RAT)

WSJT-X 2.0 full release now available

The WSJT-X 2.0 software suite has been released, and developer Joe Taylor, K1JT, is urging FT8 and MSK144 users to upgrade to what will become the new standard

The ARRL says:

The FT8 and MSK144 protocols have been enhanced in a way that is not backward compatible with older versions of the program. That includes any version 1.9 releases.

“The new protocols become the worldwide standards starting on December 10, 2018, and all users should upgrade to WSJT-X 2.0 by January 1, 2019,” Taylor said on the WSJT-X home page. “After that date, only the new FT8 and MSK144 should be used on the air.”

Quick Start Guide for WSJT
https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/Quick_Start_WSJT-X_2.0.pdf

FT8 Operating Guide by ZL2IFB
http://www.g4ifb.com/FT8_Hinson_tips_for_HF_DXers.pdf

Source ARRL
http://www.arrl.org/news/wsjt-x-2-0-full-release-now-available-ft8-enthusiasts-urged-to-upgrade-now