Sunday, December 17, 2017

The uBitx is inhaling RF at N6QW

Catch the Wave ~~~ The uBitx is Alive!

12/23/2017 ~ On the Air QSO with the uBitx!

The uBitx is a real winner --so get off your butt and order one! Listen to the on the air comments and also make the N6QW linear amplifier hack as you will need that during poor band conditions. The fact that you can run a linear amp without hiccups and burps is a testament to the design! Thank you Farhan.

The "Cool Juliano Blue" LCD has to be a factor in how good it sounds! I am also told that the blue display is a major factor in the fight against global warming. OOps forgot there is no global warming or so our leader tells us.
 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All.
 
 
 
PS. When you watch the video note that the guy with the FLEX6500 said you sound good and even compared what he spent and what the uBitx costs. The uBitx stands tall with the Big Dogs! Keep in mind my "hack' to add a linear amplifier control. Anymore out here on the left coast when operating on 40 Meters --QRP is something that starts around 200 Watts!
 
For this QSO I was running two amps -- one to get me to 100 watts and then the SB-200 that puts out in excess of 600 watts. N6QW (me) has a you tube video on the rebuild of the SB-200. The reason I can get more juice out of my SB-200 is the power supply! The supply has a Peter Dahl transformer and an upgraded filter bank. The voltage sag on key down is far better than with the stock heathkit supply. More volts and current = more watts. Keep you tune up short --using a pulsed method saves your tubes!
 
 

 

 12/22/2017 ~ A New Look for the uBitx!

So ok you have built your uBitx and there it is in all its glory with a display that makes me think of "seasick green". About five minutes worth of work and the moth turns into a butterfly. So OK C'mon admit it Cool Juliano Blue is Better!
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 

 

12/20/2017 ~ More Feedback on the uBitx!

The main feedback -- Get One! The price is amazing and the performance is excellent. I have made close to two dozen contacts and the signal reports have been excellent. Are there some things I would like to see "hacked" --yes and I specifically know that these are being worked. These "like to see" changes in no way take away from the amazing functionality; but represent personal preferences based on how I like things. Needless to say the open source nature of the software AND the intent of the designer for this to be an experimental platform that is to be modified speaks volumes about rig.
 
Pete's Christmas "Wish List" for the uBitx:
 
  1. Color TFT Display. Not only would this be cosmetically appealing but more importantly it offers more real estate (viewing area) for displaying parameters and providing status. Some adds -- A/B VFO frequencies, RIT On. SWR, Battery Voltage, S Meter. It is amazing how 32 positions were used for displaying data on the LCD -- the Color TFT would give an order of magnitude increase in the data displayed. I know of several projects already in work to do this.
  2. I suffer from FFS [Fat Finger Syndrome] and the variable rate tuning functionality while some would like, is totally incompatible with my FFS affliction. No matter how hard I try not to crank the dial -- I usually end up 100 KHz past where I want to QSY. It is difficult for me to relearn just lightly touching the dial to change frequency. Since you already have a menu selection to make large frequency excursions my personal desires would be to have a fixed tuning rate of 100 Hz and two additional selections of say 1 KHz and 10 Hz. The CW aficionado's would undoubtedly love the 10 Hz. You also need the 10 Hertz out here on the left coast when the guy with the 72 Inch LCD screen is mated to his FLEX6700 and he tells you are off frequency by 20 Hz --you will never be able to satisfy him with a 50 Hz move!  
Please note these items are personal desires and that my comments have nothing to do with how it receives or how it sounds one the other end. High Marks in these two areas.
 
Oh I posted some hack info on the Bitx Hack Page -- one was the control of an external linear amp so you can add some fire to the wire is primarily intended for SSB operation as you are connected to the PTT switch. In the CW mode the uBitx is placed into transmit by means other than tripping the PTT circuit. So don't be surprised if you make that mod --it will not turn on your big 1.5 KW amp in CW. 
 
Some 29 years ago in the December 89 / January 90 QST Wes Hayward W7ZOI had an amazing project -- a 20 Meter QRP SSB/CW transceiver. I actually have built two of these transceivers. One "shortcoming" if you could ever call a W7ZOI project as having a short coming -- to operate CW you had to manually do it by holding down the PTT switch and then key away. I fixed that problem by building in a keying circuit that when you hit the 1st dot, a reed relay closed the PTT. I did have to add some capacitance to hold in the PTT during key up -- but that was far better than having to hold in the PTT.
 
Since I don't operate CW (hardly ever) this was not seen as a problem for me with the uBitx. A possible fix so you could have 1.5 KW on CW --rig a foot switch to your big amp and do it like in the old days.
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 
 

12/19/2017~ NEW Hacks to the uBitx de N6QW

Add Safety Protection to your Finals -- There is no foldback current limiting with High SWR and thus an inline fuse is cheaper than a set of IRF510's
 
The 2nd hack is to switch on a linear amp using the uBitx PTT control. My uBitx now runs 600 Watts and that my friend is not QRP!
 
For details on implementing these hacks see http://www.hfsignals.com and click on the Bitx Hacks link.
 
You saw it first here from N6QW.
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 
 

 
***********************************************************************************
 
 
N6QW is on Hiatus which means he can build Rigs without interruption! The uBitx is on the air as of 12/17 and contacts were made on 20 and 40 Meters. It works!!!!
 
73's
Pete N6QW
 
 
 

 
 

18 comments:

  1. Looks good as always. Do you make those enclosures from scratch? I like all the room inside to accommodate possibilities for the future.

    Mark
    KC4GIA

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark,

      I cheated this time. It is a Bud Chassis 8 X 12 X 2.5 --the 2.5 inches is the critical dimension as the height with the Raduino + Display plus the board on standoffs is taller than 2 inches. You could do it in a 7 X 9 X 2.5 chassis.

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    2. Thanks. Think I'll get one on the way.

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    3. Hi Mark,

      I now have had about a half dozen contacts and all good reports. There is astonishment that the rig can be had for about $109. Am working on a hack to have external linear amp switching --10 watts is OK but 600 is better. Life is too short for QRP --have already passed the 3/4 century mark so I make that statement with authority!

      73's
      Pete N6QW

      Delete
  2. Got my early Christmas present on Thursday. Checked around and I have a case I was making for another project out of PCB material that I can modify slightly and use for the uBITX. Did some work on the software to replace the LCD with a 1.8 " TFT display. Have the existing display mapped to the TFT. Now just have to follow their code and replace their updateDisplay function with one designed for the TFT. Have a picture of the basic display routing on my blog. Next have to design something to adapt a 2."4 or 2.8" TFT instead of the 1.8".
    Since you didn't design this one I don't think it will count for the record.
    DuWayne KV4QB

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    Replies
    1. Only soldered my fingers together once this time --so that may be a record in itself. You will enjoy putting the rig on the air --especially with your customizations. 73's Pete

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  3. Great video and pictures! Mine arrived today. I'm really impressed with how it was packed (in addition to the cost and speed of delivery from India to the US west coast). Haven't settled on a box but will wire it up and play in the meantime.

    Happy Holidays!

    -Jeff
    KF7RPI

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for your post. Check the Bitx hacks at hfsignals.com as I just uploaded details on how to add a linear amplifier control circuit -- you will probably want to add a linear amp and this tell you how to do it.

      73's
      Pete N6QW

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  4. Hi,

    @tuning:
    In the Code-File ubitx_20.ino is a void doTuning where the tuning steps and speed are handled.
    Something like this could work:
    if (s > 15)
    frequency += 10000;
    else if (s > 7)
    frequency += 1000;
    else if (s > 0)
    frequency += 100;
    else if (s > -7)
    frequency -= 100;
    else if (s > -15)
    frequency -= 1000;
    else
    frequency -= 10000;

    73's

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the response and the suggested lines of code. I actually have not looked at the uBitx code so am not exactly sure what is "s". If it is still variable rate tuning then it still is a problem for me and for others. Most of the Arduino sketches I have used have a radix where you initially have a start up value and then punching the encoder lets you select the step tuning rate. So what would be ideal is to have menu selections of the step tuning rate and 10 Hz should be one of the selections. In one project where I incorporated a key pad as a part of the projected -- two of the buttons selected the step tuning rate. I guess I will just have to stop complaining and just fix it -- but variable rate tuning is not my cup of tea.

      Thanks again for the post.

      73's
      Pete N6QW

      Delete
  5. FFS, ha! Reminds me of my friend Mark, KB8NGP, who claims to suffer from HTB: Head Too Big.

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  6. Yes, the blue looks much better.....great little rig...I might have to change my mind and get one. How else can you get on most of the HF bands for so little money???

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    Replies
    1. With the special pricing and the fact you get 98% of what you need to make it play makes it even better! It will tune all frequencies from 3 to 30 MHz --so a real bonus.

      73's
      Pete

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  7. Are you going to paint it Juliano blue too?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Dean,

      Probably not. It is built and it works so it is probably best left to keeping it as is and not break anything that is not broken.

      73's
      Pete

      Delete
  8. Hi Pete
    Nice to see your blog and your ubitx built, and other articles.
    I would like to know if you had any technical problem or not in connecting the LCD with wire, as some hams suggested it was better to mount the LCD on main ubitx board itself. Info is some what required as some of my assemblies will be with LCD on front panel wired to the ubitx board.
    Thanks.
    Sunil VU3SUA
    http://amateurradiokits.in
    https://ubitx.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Sunil,

    I had no problem remotely mounting the LCD! I used commercial 4 inch long jumper wires with a male on one end and a female on the other end. I actually could have done it with jumpers 2.75 inches long (a standard product). I no longer follow the reflector so am not aware of what problems others have had. BUT get a grip guys --these are digital signals and no RF involved so there should be less of an issue with having jumper wires into the board. Now that said -- look at my installation in these photos -- it is all neat and tidy and so that is a 1st place to start.

    Thanks for your post.

    73's
    Pete N6QW

    ReplyDelete

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