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.
QRPer Readers: Please note that the following is a cross-post from my other radio blog, the SWLing Post. For more information about the uBITX V6 and a short post about assembling it, check out this post.
Yesterday, a weather front moved through the area that dropped temperatures from an unseasonably high of 50F to 25F in the space of a couple of hours. Fronts like this always equate to high winds here at our altitude. This time, it packed a little snow as well.
Last night, around 22:00 local, our power went out due to a fallen tree further down the road.
Here at SWLing Post HQ, we don’t panic about power outages. As I’ve mentioned before, our refrigerator, freezer and some of our home lighting is solar-powered and off-grid–we also rely on passive solar heating and a good wood stove to keep us warm and cozy.
Without fail, I always use power outages as an excuse to play radio on battery power.
This morning, the uBITX V6 transceiver was already hooked up to a LiFePo battery on my desktop, so I simply turned it on and started tuning around the 40 meter band, where I had recently logged a few POTA contacts. Problem was, the band was absolutely dead, save a couple weak stations. After thinking about it a few seconds (keep in mind this was pre-coffee) I put on my boots and coat, walked outside and confirmed my suspicions: the antenna feedline had become detached from my external ATU box.
The winds were strong enough last night, that the ladder line pulled itself out of the banana connector jacks on the side of the ATU box. This happens quite often during periods of high winds and is a bit annoying. Of course, I could secure the feedline in such a way that it would easily survive high winds without disconnecting, but frankly this is an intentional design choice. You see, when a black bear walks into my feedline, it easily disconnects before the bear gets tangled, up, frustrated and yanks my antenna out of the tree!
Trust me on this: bears and antennas don’t mix. I speak from experience.
After re-connecting the antenna, I fired up my portable alcohol stove (the one you might have seen in this post), boiled water, and made a fresh cup of coffee to take back to the shack.
I turned on the uBITX once again and found that the 40 meter band was chock-full of strong signals.
It’s time to go chase a few more parks today and plot my next POTA activation.
Frankly, I’m in no hurry for the power to be restored. It’s a wonderful excuse to play radio.
Readers: Anyone else enjoy radio time when the grid goes down? Please comment!
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:
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.
QRPGuys has just introduced a new Multiband DSB Digital Transceiver for FT8.
At $40 it introduces a new price point for such Rigs as it includes band modules for 40/30/20 Meters! For those wanting to experiment with different Bands extra bare boards are available for sale.
The rig as it comes is crystal controlled for FT8 but fear not the main board includes connections for an external VFO. As an example one could use one of the very popular Si5351 VFO Kits and be able to QSY to operate the different modes available to the Amateur Community today.
Let the fun begin 🙂
Thanks so much for the tip, Pete! What a great little project!
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!
Thomas, Adam of CR Kits is now taking orders for his FT8 Transceiver Kit and the price is very reasonable.
From Adam at CR Kits:
FT8 transceiver kit
Folks, I start to take email order now. The introductory price is 39 USD for kit including shipping to worldwide. As in the introductory period, you will get audio cable options for free. The earliest possible shipment date is now improved to May 13.
You can directly PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know 40m or 20m (80m not ready yet). I will ship based on the sequence of receiving your payment. I may delay shipment for one week or two due to workload.
This is the spec so far:
Summary: Crystal controlled single frequency DSB transceiver for 20m (14.074MHz), 40m (7.074MHz) or 80m (3.573MHz), other frequencies could be added per requestPower supply: 10-14V DC regulated power supply or battery pack, 12V is recommended, center positive, reverse polarity protection availableCurrent consumption in RX: about 15mA at 12VCurrent consumption in TX: about 300mA at 12VRF output: about 1W for 40m band at 12V, and a bit less for 20m bandSpurious suppression: no worse than -50dBcAntenna connector: BNC connector, 50 ohmAudio in connector: 3.5mm mono, at least 600mV to activate VOX, connects to headphone connector at PC sound card, no dedicated PTT connector is requiredAudio out connector: 3.5mm mono, connects to microphone connector at PC sound cardAmber LED: TX statusGreen LED: RX statusFrequency accuracy: -600 Hz ~ + 200 HzFrequency stability: Okay for FT8 mode per test. If the optional heater resistor R20* is added, after warm up, long term frequency stability in 10 min will be improved at the cost of acceptable short term frequency stability sacrifice in 30 sec. Thanks, Adam
This is a simple and experimental modification that transforms a QCX into a (Class-E driven) SSB transceiver. It can be used to make QRP SSB contacts, or (in combination with a PC) used for the digital modes such as FT8. It can be fully-continuous tuned through bands 160m-10m in the LSB/USB-modes with a 2400Hz bandwidth has up to 5W PEP SSB output and features a software-based full Break-In VOX for fast RX/TX switching in voice and digital operations.
The SSB transmit-stage is implemented completely in a digital and software-based manner: at the heart the ATMEGA328P is sampling the input-audio and reconstructing a SSB-signal by controlling the SI5351 PLL phase (through tiny frequency changes over 800kbit/s I2C) and controlling the PA Power (through PWM on the key-shaping circuit). In this way a highly power-efficient class-E driven SSB-signal can be realized; a PWM driven class-E design keeps the SSB transceiver simple, tiny, cool, power-efficient and low-cost (ie. no need for power-inefficient and complex linear amplifier with bulky heat-sink as often is seen in SSB transceivers).
An Open Source Arduino sketch is used as the basis for the firmware, the hardware modification bypasses the QCX CW filter and adds a microphone input in-place of the DVM-circuit; the mod is easy to apply and consist of four wire and four component changes and after applying the transceiver remains compatible with the original QCX (CW) firmware.
This experiment is created to try out what can be done with minimal hardware; a simple ATMEGA processor, a QCX and a software-based SSB processing approach. It would be nice to add more features to the sketch, and try out if the QCX design can be further simplified e.g. by implementing parts of the receiver stage in software. Feel free to experiment with this sketch, let me know your thoughts or contribute here: https://github.com/threeme3/QCX-SSB There is a forum discussion on the topic here: QRPLabs Forum
Adam BD6CR of CR Kits is getting close to releasing the FT8 DSB Transceiver. Below is some preliminary information:
D4D: A simple QRP transceiver for FT8
Adam Rong, BD6CR
D4D stands for DSB transceiver for Digital modes. It is a Double Sided Band transceiver kit designed for digital modes, especially for FT8. If have chance to try FT8, you will be amazed by the strong decoding capability offered by the communication protocol, digital signal processing and software. I still remember clearly a YouTube video by W6LG who communicated with bulbs. I started to think how much the transceiver could be simplified if you have a moderate antenna like a full sized dipole or EFHW.
A DSB transceiver is much simpler than a usual SSB transceiver, however it was never used for FT8 as far as I know. I did some experiments on my Choc perf board. I started with a direct conversion receiver for FT8 and it worked okay. Then I made a DSB transmitter and the transmitted signal can be decoded. By referring to the designs of AA7EE, VK3YE and ZL2BMI, I combined them using only one NE602 and a PTT switch and it gave me success to make a few FT8 QSO’s.
Personally I really enjoyed it because a manual PTT switch will save power consumption and circuit complexity, but you will need to well sync with computer, although it was not really a problem for me. Per request from a few hams, I found a VOX control circuit and modify the hold time to be compatible with FT8, and I put them together and made a few improvements on the signal purity and frequency stability, and it became our D4D. Do we have to worry about the unwanted Lower Side Band? Maybe, but for a transmitter of 1-watt, it is not really a big problem. Is it just a toy for a transmitter of 1-watt and only half of the power will be effective? Not really, as I can easily make a few QSO’s as far as 1500 miles range for 40-meter band.
Here is the brief specifications I have measured (subject to change without notice):
Summary: Crystal controlled single frequency DSB transceiver for 20m (14.074MHz), 40m (7.074MHz) or 80m (3.573MHz), other frequencies could be added per request Power supply: 10-14V DC regulated power supply or battery pack, 12V is recommended, center positive, reverse polarity protection available Current consumption in RX: 15mA Current consumption in TX: about 260mA(?) at 12V, and about 300mA at 13.8V RF output: about 1W for 20m band at 12V, a bit more for lower bands like 40m and 80m Spurious suppression: no worse than -50dBc Antenna connector: BNC connector, 50 ohm Audio in connector: 3.5mm mono, at least 600mV to activate VOX, connects to headphone connector at PC sound card, no dedicated PTT connector is required Audio out connector: 3.5mm mono, connects to microphone connector at PC sound card Amber LED: TX status Green LED: RX status Frequency stability: Okay for FT8 mode per test. If the optional heater resistor R20* is added, after warm up of about 3 min, long term frequency stability in 10 min will be improved at the cost of acceptable short term frequency stability sacrifice in 30 sec.
Let us briefly go through the circuit: The input audio will activate the VOX circuit of D2 (1N4148), Q5 (2N3906), Q6 (2N3904), Q7 (2N3904) and Relay. The relay is a DPDT type and controls both antenna and power supply. The LPF consists of L2, L3 and surrounding capacitors, and it is switched to either transmitter output or receiver input. The power supply is polarity protected by D1 (1N5817) and switched to either receiver circuit or transmitter circuit. The receiver circuit is only for audio amplifier consists of Q1 (2N3904) and optional heater resistor R20*, while the transmitter circuit is for RX muter Q8 (2N3904), TX driver Q3 (2N3904) and TX final Q4 (BD139). X1 is a filter in the receiver front end to help eliminate strong broadcast interference, and X2 is the crystal for the built-in oscillator in U1 (NE602). U2 (78L05) is the 5V regulator for U1, and Q2 (2N3904) is a buffer amplifier in the TX chain.
Thanks for sharing this, Pete! What a simple transceiver concept!