A new kit from the Four State QRP Group and David Cripe (NM0S)
Arising from Dave’s entry in QRP ARCI’s 72 Part Challenge Design Contest in 2010, the Cyclone 40 is an enhanced version of the original design. The transceiver designed for the design contest had 72 total parts, performed well, and won honorable mention. This improved version has less than 100 components and even better performance! The kit features all through hole parts and easy assembly. The receiver is a superhet design with very good sensitivity and selectivity, and tunes the entire 125 kHZ CW segment of the 40M Band – and does so at a comfortable tuning rate. A frequency readout is included so you know where you are at all times.
This is a complete kit, including the enclosure. A high quality board package includes the pc board, front and back panels, the sides, and top and bottom all of which make up the enclosure. The control and jack labels are silk screened in white letters and vividly contrast with the black solder mask, and the holes for the connectors and controls are pre-drilled. The ends are “dovetailed” together making a very rugged, easy to build, and attractive enclosure.
Features and Specifications
Enclosure: A very nice predrilled and silkscreened enclosure is included. It’s easy to assemble and looks great.
Ergonomics: Smooth solid tuning, a quiet receiver with QSK and well behaved AGC. Nicely laid out front and rear panels.
VFO: The VFO is a simple PTO design, is very stable, and also quite easy to build
AGC: Audio derived, fast and smooth.
Frequency Range: 7.000 – 7.125 typical.
Tuning Speed: 10kHz/knob turn typical.
Stability: 300 HZ the first 5 min after power up, less than 10 HZ/hour after that.
QSK: Fantastic QSK! Full Break in, excellent muting, really fast!
All Through Hole Parts There are NO SMT parts in this kit, and only three easy to wind toroids.
Dimensions: 4.4 x 3.6 x 1.9″
Power Connector: 2.5×5.5mm coaxial, center positive. Should be fused at 1A, fast blow at PS
Antenna connector: BNC
Configuration: Superheterodyne, 11 MHZ IF, 4 Crystal IF Filter.
Sensitivity: MDS (Minimum Discernable Signal) -125, Typical, below the normal 40M band noise level.
Selectivity: Four crystal, 500 HZ IF filter
IMD3: 90 dB typical, better than most commercial gear!
IP3: +10 dBm typical – another very good number
Frequency Readout: 3 or 4 digit CW, 1 kHz or 100 Hz resolution (user selectable), developed by Adrian Hill, KCØYOI.
Band Edge Marker: A band edge marker is heard at 7.001 MHZ
Headphone Jack: 1/8″ stereo, standard earbud/Walkman® headphone compatible
DC Current consumption: 30 ma typical at 13.6 VDC.
Configuration: Stable, Wide Range VFO (PTO design), Efficient Class E Final.
Spectral Purity: All harmonics and spurs less than 50dB below the carrier.
Output Power: approximately 4W into 50 ohms
DC Current consumption: 500ma typical at 13.6 VDC Will operate down to 9v DC.
Key Jack: 1/8″ stereo, grounded shell, switching the tip keys TX. Contacts accessible for an internal add-on keyer
Kits should be available at QRP ARCI’s Four Days in May conference at Dayton, and will be for sale on the Four State QRP Group’s web site approximately May 20th. The final price hasn’t been determined yet but should be less than $100 plus shipping.
Ten-Tec is discounting their 1380 and 1330 QRP kits for the holiday season. They’ve also extended their discount on the R4030 QRP tranceiver (details below).
The 1380 and 1330 QRP transceiver kits, which are regularly priced at $124.00, are $99.00 through Christmas. These are great QRP kits and many are used on the air daily and in QRP contests. It is great fun to work 80 meter QRP in the winter months, so order yours today. http://www.tentec.com/products/80-Meter-QRP-Transceiver-Kit.html
This year, at the Four Days in May (FDiM) Dayton QRP gathering, I had the pleasure of meeting Dennis Blanchard (K1YPP) and his wife, Jane, as Blanchard signed copies of his book, Three Hundred Zeroes: Lessons of the Heart on the Appalachian Trail. I had previously heard about Blanchard’s book, and it was great meeting the author in person. Both he and his wife were most friendly, and I instantly felt a connection–after all, he is a fellow QRPer!
As a result of this meeting, I recently decided to purchased a copy of Three Hundred Zeroes on my Kindle eBook reader. Though I’ve always been a fan of turning pages on a traditional book, the eReader does afford one instant gratification, as you can order it on-the-go and start reading immediately. And that’s exactly what I did…
The result? I’m very glad I took the time to read Blanchard’s Three Hundred Zeros. Though I don’t like to spend much time away from my young family at present, I’ve always thought it would be a wonderful challenge and adventure to through-hike the AT (Appalachian Trail); reading this book was a vicarious opportunity to do so. Indeed, my favorite trail, the BT–the Bartram Trail, which follows the path of early American naturalist and explorer William Bartram–which I hike when I can, and whose NC chapter I’ve served as a board member for nearly 10 years now, parallels the AT at different points. So the temptation to hike (and QRP, of course) continues.
Blanchard’s book gives me hope. Three Hundred Zeroes is a well-documented, informative, and–despite his truly serious heart condition–often humorous journal-style account of his successful thru-hike of this 2176 mile trail. His writing style is very informal and likeable, focusing on the many personal interactions that make the trail hiker’s experience unique, and interweaving his day-to-day accounts with trail lore and history.
In contrast with the arduous journey Bill Bryson describes his well-known (and hilarious) book, A Walk in the Woods, in Three Hundred Zeros Blanchard calmly and routinely deals with misadventures and hair-raising encounters with wildlife, rolling with the punches and somehow emerging unscathed. He describes the journey as “long stretches of boredom, punctuated by brief moments of excitement” in the lively and unpredictable form of bears, mice, snakes, and even other hikers, to some degree. Blanchard was obviously a great hiking companion, thus rarely hiked alone–no doubt, other hikers sought his company.
With QRP in mind, I had a few questions for Blanchard after reading his book. He has kindly taken the time to respond to QRPer‘s questions, as follows.
QRPer: I always thought that the AT would be a lonely place, but your book certainly changed my mind. Were there many stretches of trail where you were completely alone while trekking or camping at night?
Blanchard: There were times when I was alone for extended periods. However, “alone” is a relative term. Throughout the day I would encounter other hikers going in the other direction, or people that were slower or faster than I. In 180 days on the trail, I think I had three nights when I camped alone.
QRPer: What was your favorite stretch of trail?
Blanchard: That’s difficult to answer…The trail is so varied and weather can change one’s views of any section. For me, it was a coin toss between the New Hampshire White Mountains and the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. The remoteness of both areas was just so spectacular. Of course the high altitudes made for great antenna opportunities as well.
QRPer: Did you bring a radio to listen to local AM/FM or shortwave?
Blanchard: For most of the hike, I carried a Yaesu VX-1R 2/440 handi-talkie. I think I used it about three times on two-meters. In a few situations, such as up in the White Mountains, I used the VX-1R to tune in NOAA for weather news. It also has AM/FM and on a few very rare occasions, I tuned into local stations for news. Would I carry it again? I don’t know. It is wise to have something for emergencies, and the radio wasn’t too big or heavy, but it was extra weight.
QRPer:Specifically, what ham gear did you take with you? Do you have a photo?
Blanchard:As noted in the book, I did carry a home-brewed 80/40 meter CW rig for the first 600 miles. For the rest of the hike I carried Steve Weber’s ATS-3A. The radio was powered by six Energizer disposable lithiums, in a home-brewed battery pack. The pack could also charge my cell phone and power the 2-meter VX-1R radio. I used a 51 foot random wire for the antenna and some counterpoise wire, usually about 15 feet. Altogether, the gear weighed around two pounds.
QRPer:If you were to do the hike again, would you take the same equipment?
Blanchard: I’m not certain I would carry the VX-1R again. I didn’t use it much and it is extra weight. However, the NOAA weather, and 2-meter capability could prove extremely useful in an emergency.
QRPer:What was it like coming back off the trail once you completed it? Any especially notable things about how you perceived the world around you? Did it change you? Any culture shock?
Blanchard: The only real “culture shock” was riding in automobiles. Everything seemed to move so quickly. I much more enjoy walking and biking now. I would be happy if I never had to drive again.
QRPer: How many other hams did you meet on the AT who were either through-hiking the AT, or hiking sections?
Blanchard: Since we [hikers] don’t wear being a “ham” on our sleeve[s], I can’t really say how many hams I encountered. The few that I was aware of were mostly section hiking. One benefit of setting up my QRP station along the way was public visibility for ham radio. On a number of occasions I inspired my fellow hikers to look into ham radio when they returned home. I’ve even had a few readers of the book write me to tell me they went off and got a ham license based on inspiration from the book.
QRPer: If any other QRPers are inspired by your story, and are thinking about hiking the entire AT, how much money should they budget for such an adventure? Based on what I read, there are a number of budgetary considerations for shuttles, food, gear, and the like.
Blanchard: The answer to this question depends on how many “creature comforts” one wishes. Hiking as I did, with stops along the way about every 5-10 days, can cost about $1-$3 a mile. Those on a tight budget could do it for much less, and those that enjoy getting to hotels and eating in fancier places could spend more. Most of the shuttles were really not that expensive, at least those that cater specifically to hikers. The hostels are a real bargain, compared to standard hotels, but one may have to tolerate annoyances, such as snoring and people coming and going at unusual hours. If you’re a light sleeper, this could be an issue.
QRPer: On zero days [based on your descriptions] it seems like hikers simply stuff themselves with food. I’m really curious what you typically ate on the trail?
Blanchard:The short answer is: I ate everything. I’m not fussy, and don’t have any diet limitations. If someone is diabetic, or vegetarian, it is still possible to undertake such a hike, it just might require more preparation. My typical day was a few Pop Tarts first thing in the morning, or hot oatmeal on cold days, followed by an on-trail mid-morning snack, such as a Snickers Bars or trail mix.
Lunch was usually something that didn’t need cooking. Roll-up tortillas, or bagels with peanut butter won out most of the time. In the colder weather, bagels and cream cheese was a favorite. Gatorade powder mix, or hot chocolate in cold weather, was my favorite drink for lunch.
The evening meal was usually a pasta-based affair, or couscous. I really preferred the couscous; it is very light to carry, needs very little energy to cook, and is loaded with nutrients. I would usually stir in some dried vegetables with it, or dried meat. As a side I would carry a dried sausage, such as pepperoni, which could also serve as a snack for lunch. I usually carried some desert items as well, such as cookies or dried fruit. Of course energy bars would supplement all of this along the way. Many hikers preferred candy bars, but I tried to avoid them in the warmer weather since they melt.
Overall, even though the diet sounds bland, it wasn’t bad. Of course, whenever we hit a town, I would stuff on everything in sight. I actually did eat well, but couldn’t find enough calories to maintain my weight. I ended up losing 35 pounds at the end of the hike and looked like a refugee.
Well, Dennis–all I can say is that I hope you’ve gained back some of those lost pounds, continue to be in good heart-health, and are able to enjoy a little QRP on your forthcoming hikes. Thanks very much for taking the time to answer our questions; we wish you the very best!
Another very active table at the Dayton Hamvention and Four Days in May is that of Hendricks QRP Kits.
Doug Hendricks (pictured right) and his team produce some amazing, affordable QRP kits that fill many a niche in the shack. Below, I have photos of a small selection of their offerings at the Hamvention. Note that all of these kits are available on the Hendricks QRP Kits website.
Many of Hendrick’s kits are suitable for beginners. If you’re in doubt about your kit building skills, simply contact the folks at Hendricks and they’ll help guide you to the right kit.
The Four State QRP Group is pleased to announce a new kit, the QRPometer, a sensitive and accurate power/swr meter designed by David Cripe, NMØS. Complete specifications, assembly manual, and ordering information can be found here ttp://www.wa0itp.com/qrpom.html
PayPal is accepted.
The range of accurate power easurement extends down to a low 100 milliwatts. This kit was conceived to fill a need within the hobby for an inexpensive, highly accurate RF power and VSWR meter for QRP power levels. With it’s large digital display it makes a very useful addition to your shack.
The QRPometer uses simple analog signal-processing circuitry to provide a set of essential measurement features not previously available in a single unit. High quality, double sided,
printed circuit board construction is used, with solder mask and silk screened component reference designators.
All components are through-hole for easy assembly. NO toroids are required, and all controls and jacks are PCB mounted. The QRPometer can be constructed by beginners as well as experienced builders. Construction time is approximately 3 hours, depending on experience level. The only equipment required for calibration is a digital voltmeter, and a QRP transmitter..
All proceeds go to fund OzarkCon. As always, thank you for supporting the Four State QRP Group. http://www.4sqrp.com/
UPDATE: See comments–first run of these kits sold out within 27 hours! More to come later.
I’ve been meaning to write a post about my Elecraft KX1, because, of all of the rigs I own, it’s the most-often-used, thus the clear favorite in my stable. But: this morning, I read John Harper’s (AE5X) excellent assessment of the Elecraft KX1 vs. the Ten-Tec HB1B. He provides some significant numbers to consider when comparing these two lightweight CW-only QRP rigs, and makes a great case for elevating the newcomer HB1B over the KX1–at least, for some readers.
I’ve had my Elecraft KX1 for over three years, and, in all honesty, absolutely love it. But, let’s face it: if I didn’t have one, if I had never touched nor used one, I would be seriously tempted by the HB1B–for its price, for the fact that Ten-Tec sells it (I’m a long-time Sevierville radio fan), and for the fact that it’s not a kit. Oh, yeah: and because it works very well.
However, having used the KX1 for so long, I know that the HB1B (at least in its current state) could not replace my KX1. But before I explain why, I would like to make some strong points in favor of the HB1B.
The Ten-Tec HB1B
At least on paper, the HB1B has better filtering, a better display, and generally speaking, more bells and whistles than the KX1. Best of all, it comes fully assembled.
Why is this last point an advantage–? For a number of talented QRPers reading this, building the kit is the best part! I know, I get it…And to tell the truth, I want to be like you kit-builders out there! But I am only now getting into kit building, and building my confidence in kit-building. I’m sure there are many others out there like me. For these QRPers, please note: the KX1 is not a beginner’s kit. I did not build mine. When I bought my KX1, I purchased it from a KX1 beta tester and professional engineer. The soldering and overall build quality are top-shelf.
Moreover, no matter how great an Elecraft radio is, it’s only as good as the person who built it. If the builder does sloppy work, your rig’s longevity and performance may suffer. Since you’ll likely be taking the KX1 with you everywhere, and it’ll experience a fair amount of movement (aka, hard knocks), this is especially important.
If, like me, you’re not prepared to take on building a KX1, fear not!–you should simply purchase from someone who knows their stuff: Elecraft can suggest some builders (including the amazing Don Wilhelm, W3FPR) or you can simply purchased a used KX1 fully-assembled. Or, you can simply purchase the fully-assembled HB1B.
So, why do I not find the HB1B enticing?
Yes, the Ten-Tec HB1B comes ready to roll. Still, could it replace my KX1? I don’t think so. Two HB1B deal-breakers for me:
As AE5X mentions, there is no internal antenna tuner option.
There is no way (at least, on this version) to attach paddles directly to the rig.
Portability + Simplicity = QRP Fun
Why are these features so important? Well, my KX1 has an ATU, four bands, and an attachable paddle. One of my favorite things to do with my KX1 is, while traveling, to pull it out of its Pelican case, toss a 28′ wire into a tree, and lay a ground wire. As I stand there, I can hold the KX1, tune the antenna (easily 40M and up, with the internal ATU) and work stations my favorite way: while standing up. I can also (if I like) sit for a moment, then jump up again, walk a bit, and generally move freely–just not possible with sit-on-a-table units.
Additionally, everything I need fits inside a Pelican 1060 case. The Kx1 itself is an all-in-one unit–nothing external to attach, unless I want to. Oh, and I can also operate the KX1 with gloves on in below-zero conditions.
Why would I want to operate standing up? Fact is, where I go, I’m only operating for thirty minutes or so, and in places where there’s no convenient spot to settle down or get too comfortable. In many cases, I’m operating on a whim–when I can grab a few minutes in a busy itinerary, or on a hike or day trip. With the Kx1, this is remarkably easy to do. I can have my KX1 on the air in four minutes or less, in most cases–and that includes the time to hang a wire–! Packing up is also quick. This kind of operation feels as free as flying a kite. Spontaneity at its best.
Part of that functional synergy comes from the fact that there are no additional components to hook up (i.e., no external tuner, external paddles). With the HB1B, I would be forced to either build a set-up, so that I could stand and hold the transceiver, tuner and paddles, or I’d have to…sit down.
Wayne’s inspiration for the KX1
Thinking back to a Dayton Hamvention several years ago, I seemed to remember that Wayne Burdick, N6KR (co-founder of Elecraft) was inspired by just this sort of off-the-cuff operation. To confirm this, I asked Wayne, just this morning, if I was on track with that. He offered this very thorough (and insightful) response:
I had been designing portable QRP gear for my own use for many years, including the “Safari 4″ (documented in three issues of QEX magazine in 1990). The Safari-4 was 3x5x7”, but it was fully self-contained, including an attached keyer paddle, internal 1-Ahr gel cell and manual antenna tuner, wattmeter, SWR bridge, and 4-band coverage. But it was too large for backpacking. Later, I designed some far smaller rigs with very good performance for NorCal and Wilderness Radio, including the SST, NC40A, and Sierra.
Then I started Elecraft with Eric, WA6HHQ. After we had success with the K2 and K1, I pitched the idea of a smaller version of the Safari-4 to Eric.
There were two inspirations for this. Back in the 70s, W7ZOI (Wes) created his “Mountaineer”, which was a crystal-controlled 40-m QRP rig that was very simple to use, very small, and self-contained, in that battery and paddles were built in. But it had no VFO, no ATU, a single band, and no frills. Taking what we’d learned in the K2 and K1 designs, I figured we could pack a great radio into this same size using updated technology. It had to cover at least 40 and 20 meters, and the idea was to use latching relays to minimize current drain and simplify band switching. We also used a DDS chip for the VFO–not quite as pure as crystal control, but just as stable, and totally adequate for a portable radio.
The other inspiration was my idea for an attached, but easily removable and mechanically reversible, keyer paddle. This became the KXPD1. I literally woke up at 5 AM with this idea. I realized immediately that this was the enabling technology for a hand-held radio, and I got busy with the design.
Having spent time camping and hiking with other rigs, I also knew that the ATU had to be built in. This allows the use of ad-hoc, wire-in-a-tree antennas, which is the secret to quick setup. It was a challenge creating an ATU that’s just 1 x 5″, but it worked. We spent weeks refining the rig and the ATU to work with typical field antennas, adjusting the component values to cover 40 and 20 meters. When we added the 30-m module, we found that it handled this well, too.
Most of my KX1 operation involves not even sitting down. I literally stop on the trail at a scenic overlook, pull the daypack around and extract the rig, toss a wire into one or two trees, and I’m on the air. I love this kind of operation. I’ve gone so far as to operate while sitting in a tree (an “inverted vertical”–a dangling wire–works amazingly well). Having to futz with add-ons can be fun, too, but it discourages “instant” operation. I like to quote Ade Weiss, W0RSP, from his book The Joy of QRP: “If there is a place, and you can get to it, you must operate from there.”
You can’t overlook performance and features, either. The KX1 is stable in all operating environments and draws only about 35 mA. It includes a variable-passband crystal filter that can be widened out to copy AM and SSB signals, and can even do cross-mode (transmitting in CW while receiving LSB or USB). It has a full set of frequency memories and CW message buffers. For blind hams (or when you’re too tired to keep your eyes open), the KX1 has a 100% Morse-audio-feedback system. I tested this firmware with my eyes closed, and the result was very well-received by the blind amateur community.
Thanks for the history, and your inspiration, Wayne. Love it!
When you hold and operate the KX1, this legacy is all too apparent. Thoroughly thought through–down to a built-in LED lamp for logging–and, without a doubt, the original inspiration for several radios that followed: the HB1B, the MFJ 92XX series, and the Hendricks PFR3.
My guess is that the next generation of HB1B will have some of these clever features.
In the meantime, if you’re in the market for an inexpensive, CW-only, very portable QRP rig, and you’ve no plans to embark upon impromptu operation, the HB1B could be your rig. Based on my experience with Ten-Tec, if they sell it, they’ll give you excellent customer service. That is the beauty of these two choices, both Elecraft and Ten-Tec are excellent companies to do business with.
I only think I’d give up my KX1 for…the new KX3, and I’m not even convinced I’d do that, yet. The KX1 has become my little travel buddy. Time will tell, though. Check back here–if I’m wooed by another QRP radio, I may eat my words.
By the way, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the inspiration to finally write down my thoughts on the KX1 came from John Harper (AE5X) who has an excellent QRP blog that you should certainly add to your favorites! And thanks, again, to Wayne, both for his response, and for his original ideas that continue to make QRP so liberating.
Hendricks QRP Kits has just added a new 41dB step RF attenuator kit to their product line. Read Doug Hendricks announcement, via QRP-L, below:
We have added another test equipment kit to the lineup at Hendricks QRP Kits. Ken LoCasale has used the step attenuator circuit in the ARRL Handbook as the basis of a 41dB step attenuator. The kit comes in a custom case, and is complete with all parts needed to finish, including a commercial quality double sided, solder masked and silk screened pc board. The attenuator uses a pi net work of 2W resistors, and will handle 5 W. Attenuators are great to use to work low power, and are the easiest way to make very low power contacts. Check out the manual at www.qrpkits.com. Kits are in stock and ready to ship. The price is $50 plus shipping and handling. Thanks, Doug
Wow–a Black Friday event I can certainly get my head around!
From Doug Hendricks via QRP-L:
Friday is known as “Black Friday” because most of the stores have big sales to attract the shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving. I thought about this and decided to do a QRP version. Here is the announcement.
Hendricks QRP Kits will have a Black Friday Sale from 12:01 AM Thursday to Midnight Friday (0801 GMT to 0800 GMT). During this sale, if your order shipped to a US address is $50 or more, you will get free shipping. And, if your order shipped to a DX address is $150 or more, your shipping will be free. All kits are included, nothing is held back. I have all kits in stock and ready to ship. Kits will ship starting Monday, Nov. 28th. When you place your order via paypal, I will refund your postage. If you order via US mail, the order needs to be postmarked Friday, Nov. 25th. Please do not include shipping and handling if you are ordering via mail. I have never had a Black Friday sale, but thought it might be fun to do. This is your opportunity to “Save the Shipping” on your Christmas orders. 72, Doug