New Knob

I procured a tuning knob for my uBitX from the Elecraft KX3 but buying the knob and rubber band from them. I have put it on the uBitx, and the tuning in fantastic. Really a good tuning knob.

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Moved the uBITX into a new case.

This weekend, I decided to move my uBitX to a new case, and incorporate a Nextion Screen and use KD8CEC’s updated FW for the radio. While here at the QTH, I do not have the proper tools, it did come out ok. Here is a photo of the minimal front. Tuning, Volume, and Display. On the back, There is Power, Power Switch , IF tap for SDR hookup (pan adapter), mic, key, and speaker/headphone hook up, Raduino USB extension, (bulkhead mounted). And the RF out. The only thing left is to get a new tuning knob (accomplished, will incorporate later this week!). (Also, pardon for the messy work bench.)

 

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FT8, my new favorite mode

The weekend before Christmas, I built an audio isolation box (Jeff’s home made RigBlaster, if you will). It allowed me to hook the mic and headphone jacks to the uBitX, to my MacBook Pro.

What was cool,  using WSJT-X on MacOS (Yes, there is a native WSJT-X version, none of that Windows stuff 😉 ), I made a number of contacts over the weekend. Was pretty good, because I was pushing only 4W on 30 Meters (10.136 Mhz), and into a make shift loaded vertical tuned to 30M. Very impressed with the results, let alone that uBitX was flawless through this whole thing.

 

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The QCX-30 Case

I ordered the recently announced QCX case for my QCX-30 rig by QRP-Labs. It is a very nice, simple, but well engineered case. Putting it together was a snap.

Here are some photos of it.

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uBITx Audio Amp woes

So, I got a new power supply at the Seaside Hamfest on the first week of June. I plugged my uBitX into it and a pop happened. Seems the audio amp chip popped its top. After asking a question on the uBitX FB group, Daniel King recommended a NJM2073D to replace it. Ordered about 5 of them, because you never know. Replaced it, this afternoon, and audio is back and they handle the 14 VDC the power supply was putting out. Apparently, there is a know issue with some of the stock audio amps in the uBITX and they seem to pop with more that 13 volts.

uBITX finished

Last night I finished putting the uBITX together and testing it out. I did a 30 Meter CW contact (straight key) and listened up and down the bands. Nice little radio.

Here it is in completed form. The case was printed by Dave Schmidt, who has done these case for a number of BIT40X and uBITX folk.

 

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Now, what to do with the uBITX?

The uBITX comes with a 2 line display and an Arduino CPU. (not shown). I am designing a 5″ display, Cortex-A8 (minimum) CPU with the Si5351A Synthesizer chip, and will be writing the FW for it. Also, will be designing a circuit to tap off the IF and provide a band scope/waterfall on the 5″ display. In addition, will be designing an audio circuit so that the radio can be plugged into a computer to run digital modes. (Maybe include a decoder in the FW?). Maybe just put a bluetooth module and write a control protocol, and build an iOS app/macOS App to run the radio. Now, this sounds ambitious, and it is, but I really want to build the radio they way I want to. I will probably add a remote facility to control it via a network, or better the web (OpenWebRX?). I am hoping to be similar to the display in the second picture. If it turns out well, it could become a side business.  The display will look somewhat like this:

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The uBitx is on the way

I got notified the other day that my uBitx is shipping from India. I cannot wait to try this radio. Meanwhile, I have been working on a better display system. I plan on re-doing the Raduino in my own way. New main display board using a 2.8” display, and maybe a more powerful Arduino, or even switching to a different CPU (cortex-m0?). I am working out the circuit as we speak (as well as working on stuff I do for work, so the new front panel console will be done in my own time). I have even considered putting in a 4”-5” LCD and adding a landscape to the receiver. Anyways, now a days it is great to be a home brewer and the toolset to make your own stuff, while expensive, is powerful.