Topics

Newbie, Settling on a new Bitx kit purchase. What would you recommend?


vince adams
 

Group
Would this be a good online store to purchase  https://amateurradiokits.in/store/easy-bitxqrp-tvrbitx20bitx40/
and what would you select/recommend just getting started with a Ubitx kit for a Newbie, such a New "General Lic Ham? I am very familiar with Kits. So not a problem ASSY this kit. But new to a "CW" kit per se. Which kit would you select for me?


Jerry Gaffke
 

Vince,

Most people in this forum have a uBitx, good for all bands from 80 through 10 meters:  
    https://www.hfsignals.com/

The kit you pointed to is a much older single band design.
I'd guess well under 1% of forum members have that kit.
It requires much more assembly than the uBitx.

These are primarily SSB transceivers.
They have their warts, but are cheap and fun to hack.

If you want a CW (morse code) transceiver, I'd suggest the QCX+ from QRP Labs:
    http://qrp-labs.com/
    https://groups.io/g/QRPLabs/messages?expanded=1
    
Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 01:01 PM, vince adams wrote:
Group
Would this be a good online store to purchase  https://amateurradiokits.in/store/easy-bitxqrp-tvrbitx20bitx40/
and what would you select/recommend just getting started with a Ubitx kit for a Newbie, such a New "General Lic Ham? I am very familiar with Kits. So not a problem ASSY this kit. But new to a "CW" kit per se. Which kit would you select for me?


vince adams
 

Jerry
Okay, what other accessories/items to order, would you suggest or recommend for this? Thinking in terms of a newbie to CW from this website QRP labs? In other words, should I order some other things/stuff along with my new order from QRP Labs?  Or just this Transceiver alone would be good enough? I will be using an off-center dipole for 80 - 10m that I will order soon or make one myself.
Also, what are the other abilities of this kit (QRP Labs) without reading further on the website? Should I get/order an uBitx or the QRP labs? You mention both. Jerry, I am brand new to CW and transceivers, ok.
-

73, Vince KD7TWW


From: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io> on behalf of Jerry Gaffke via groups.io <jgaffke@...>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2020 2:42 PM
To: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Newbie, Settling on a new Bitx kit purchase. What would you recommend?
 
Vince,

Most people in this forum have a uBitx, good for all bands from 80 through 10 meters:  
    https://www.hfsignals.com/

The kit you pointed to is a much older single band design.
I'd guess well under 1% of forum members have that kit.
It requires much more assembly than the uBitx.

These are primarily SSB transceivers.
They have their warts, but are cheap and fun to hack.

If you want a CW (morse code) transceiver, I'd suggest the QCX+ from QRP Labs:
    http://qrp-labs.com/
    https://groups.io/g/QRPLabs/messages?expanded=1
    
Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 01:01 PM, vince adams wrote:
Group
Would this be a good online store to purchase  https://amateurradiokits.in/store/easy-bitxqrp-tvrbitx20bitx40/
and what would you select/recommend just getting started with a Ubitx kit for a Newbie, such a New "General Lic Ham? I am very familiar with Kits. So not a problem ASSY this kit. But new to a "CW" kit per se. Which kit would you select for me?


Jerry Gaffke
 

What I said previously was wrong:
>  The kit you pointed to is a much older single band design.

Looks like the EasyBitx is a new kit, announced on July 1 of 2020:
    https://groups.io/g/BITX20/topic/75231219#80162

Sunil has been active in this group for a long time,and many have been buying
his various offerings.  I didn't realize he had a new transceiver out.
It is single band, has an Si5351 VFO similar to the Raduino from HFSignals.
As Evan mentioned, it may provide better control of mike gain.
With a bandpass filter between exciter and final amp, the transmitter output
could prove to be cleaner than the uBitx.
The SMA cables for the antenna and local oscillator could well resolve some
issues with receiver birdies.
It might be possible to use plug in bandpass and output lowpass filters
so the rig could be easily used on more than one band.
It is simpler than the uBitx, and uses more hackable parts.
There is no mention of CW in the manual, but I suspect this could be
adapted for CW use using the same procedure as Allard used on the Bitx40.

So worth considering, especially if you are keen to have 
the full kit-building experience.

Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 01:42 PM, Jerry Gaffke wrote:
Vince,

Most people in this forum have a uBitx, good for all bands from 80 through 10 meters:  
    https://www.hfsignals.com/

The kit you pointed to is a much older single band design.
I'd guess well under 1% of forum members have that kit.
It requires much more assembly than the uBitx.

These are primarily SSB transceivers.
They have their warts, but are cheap and fun to hack.

If you want a CW (morse code) transceiver, I'd suggest the QCX+ from QRP Labs:
    http://qrp-labs.com/
    https://groups.io/g/QRPLabs/messages?expanded=1
    
Jerry, KE7ER


Jerry Gaffke
 

Vince,

If you are interested in CW (Morse Code), the QRP Labs QCX+ is a good choice.
If you intend to go backpacking, the new QCX-mini may be worth waiting for but 
the QCX+ will be easier to build and make modifications to.
That is a rig designed from the ground up to work well for morse code.

If you want to have a SSB voice rig, either the uBitx or EasyBitx could be a good choice for you.
Morse code use on these rigs is definitely an afterthought, the EasyBItx apparently does not
do morse code at all.

The only other thing you really need is a friendly nearby ham you can ask questions of
and perhaps have help sort out an antenna issue or the debug the transceiver
when it doesn't work right off. 

He can probably loan you a dummy load and SWR bridge.
If he can't, maybe get or scratch build one of these:   https://www.qrpkits.com/miniswr.html

You will need a DVM.
One of the really cheap ones from Harbor Freight is good enough, 
but a better one that can measure capacitance (maybe $10 on the web) would be useful.

You might also need to build a diode RF detector when debugging the transceiver kit.

A small portable shortwave radio can be a useful debug aid.

The miniswr indicator above is just an LED that gets dim when the antenna SWR is suitably low.
This $12 SWR meter kit is more advanced, you can actually measure forward and reflected power,
and it stays in line when you are transmitting normally.  Could use your DVM for the meter.
Perhaps use it with the 20 Watt dummy load from QRP-Labs:        
Price says $12 when you click "Create Quote":
    https://www.kitsandparts.com/bridge1.4.php

Jerry, KE7ER


On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 03:54 PM, vince adams wrote:
Jerry
Okay, what other accessories/items to order, would you suggest or recommend for this? Thinking in terms of a newbie to CW from this website QRP labs? In other words, should I order some other things/stuff along with my new order from QRP Labs?  Or just this Transceiver alone would be good enough? I will be using an off-center dipole for 80 - 10m that I will order soon or make one myself.
Also, what are the other abilities of this kit (QRP Labs) without reading further on the website? Should I get/order an uBitx or the QRP labs? You mention both. Jerry, I am brand new to CW and transceivers, ok.
-
 
73, Vince KD7TWW


Curt
 

Vince

I suggest pacing yourself as you plan your adventure. 

I have an off-center fed dipole I have used portable - it does require a matching network to use.  There are other antennas to consider, find a ham to help guide you as you work on an antenna.  yes many can be home constructed. 

If your plan is to learn CW - of course I suggest a QCX+.  okay it does feature a cw reader - it is cute - it does not really help you learn CW in my view.  just listen and learn is the way to go.  cool simple radios thrive in CW. 

I like my ubitx.  its a v4 - it has been an adventure.  some hams around the world have only means to afford a ubitx and they enjoy them.  I have an audio filter with my ubitx and it does CW just fine with this item.  But I would carefully see where it fits into your plan forward.  there are few inexpensive SSB transceivers around that are new. 

building stuff is cool - many options already - see my email.  unless you have prior building experience, I suggest starting with something simple before starting a QCX+ -- just one error means troubleshooting!  my first QCX had one error as I remember (a missed solder joint) - i found it using the test source inside and my finger (and some patience). 

patiently examine the landscape to figure out your path forward. 

73 curt


vince adams
 

To Curt:

Correct! that is what I am asking for. Purchasing the kit. IT arrives at my QTH. I assy it. It works or not. I take it out in the woods. Hook up my antenna, turn it on. Maybe it works maybe it does not Then what?

Am I getting up the creak to far or I should wait with more time to learn more about radios/transceivers?
Should I wait and learn more about it and save my money for a REAL transceiver? Is this going to waste my money if it DOES NOT work first time out in the woods? BTW I can't hang ANY antennas at my QTH. I don't own a single HF antenna... All this CW stuff is so new to me I am GREEN like St Patrick's day or a Pink Puppy. Yes, my plan is to learn CW. Someday? What I am looking for is to learn something new along the way. A learning experience is my goal. Not a shelf piece to be never used and in the woods with a Dipole Ant. Yes, I like to build stuff because I learn from it. NOT books, hands-on training.
Thank you

-

73, Vince KD7TWW


From: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io> on behalf of Curt via groups.io <wb8yyy@...>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2020 6:27 PM
To: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Newbie, Settling on a new Bitx kit purchase. What would you recommend?
 
Vince

I suggest pacing yourself as you plan your adventure. 

I have an off-center fed dipole I have used portable - it does require a matching network to use.  There are other antennas to consider, find a ham to help guide you as you work on an antenna.  yes many can be home constructed. 

If your plan is to learn CW - of course I suggest a QCX+.  okay it does feature a cw reader - it is cute - it does not really help you learn CW in my view.  just listen and learn is the way to go.  cool simple radios thrive in CW. 

I like my ubitx.  its a v4 - it has been an adventure.  some hams around the world have only means to afford a ubitx and they enjoy them.  I have an audio filter with my ubitx and it does CW just fine with this item.  But I would carefully see where it fits into your plan forward.  there are few inexpensive SSB transceivers around that are new. 

building stuff is cool - many options already - see my email.  unless you have prior building experience, I suggest starting with something simple before starting a QCX+ -- just one error means troubleshooting!  my first QCX had one error as I remember (a missed solder joint) - i found it using the test source inside and my finger (and some patience). 

patiently examine the landscape to figure out your path forward. 

73 curt


vince adams
 

To Jerry:

Okay. Those do answer my questions further. I am sure I will have more questions when it arrives here at my QTH and after being built. I am sure it's NOT going to work out of the box!  Hihi.
Jerry, Case closed well done, that does it. So, I will look hard into an EasyBitx or a uBitx and study the website for my needs. I own a LOT of electronic tools. So not a problem there. I even have an OWON Digital Oscilloscope and at least 2 local Extra class Hams I could ask. Also, I was wondering? If you live in the country are you a Country Ham??

7, 3

(If you want to have an SSB voice rig, either the uBitx or EasyBitx could be a good choice for you.
Morse code use on these rigs is definitely an afterthought, the EasyBItx apparently does not
do morse code at all. The only other thing you really need is a friendly nearby ham you can ask questions of
and perhaps have help sort out an antenna issue or the debug the transceiver
when it doesn't work right off)

-

73, Vince KD7TWW


From: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io> on behalf of Jerry Gaffke via groups.io <jgaffke@...>
Sent: Monday, September 21, 2020 5:53 PM
To: BITX20@groups.io <BITX20@groups.io>
Subject: Re: [BITX20] Newbie, Settling on a new Bitx kit purchase. What would you recommend?
 
Vince,

If you are interested in CW (Morse Code), the QRP Labs QCX+ is a good choice.
If you intend to go backpacking, the new QCX-mini may be worth waiting for but 
the QCX+ will be easier to build and make modifications to.
That is a rig designed from the ground up to work well for morse code.

If you want to have a SSB voice rig, either the uBitx or EasyBitx could be a good choice for you.
Morse code use on these rigs is definitely an afterthought, the EasyBItx apparently does not
do morse code at all.

The only other thing you really need is a friendly nearby ham you can ask questions of
and perhaps have help sort out an antenna issue or the debug the transceiver
when it doesn't work right off. 

He can probably loan you a dummy load and SWR bridge.
If he can't, maybe get or scratch build one of these:   https://www.qrpkits.com/miniswr.html

You will need a DVM.
One of the really cheap ones from Harbor Freight is good enough, 
but a better one that can measure capacitance (maybe $10 on the web) would be useful.

You might also need to build a diode RF detector when debugging the transceiver kit.

A small portable shortwave radio can be a useful debug aid.

The miniswr indicator above is just an LED that gets dim when the antenna SWR is suitably low.
This $12 SWR meter kit is more advanced, you can actually measure forward and reflected power,
and it stays in line when you are transmitting normally.  Could use your DVM for the meter.
Perhaps use it with the 20 Watt dummy load from QRP-Labs:        
Price says $12 when you click "Create Quote":
    https://www.kitsandparts.com/bridge1.4.php

Jerry, KE7ER

On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 03:54 PM, vince adams wrote:
Jerry
Okay, what other accessories/items to order, would you suggest or recommend for this? Thinking in terms of a newbie to CW from this website QRP labs? In other words, should I order some other things/stuff along with my new order from QRP Labs?  Or just this Transceiver alone would be good enough? I will be using an off-center dipole for 80 - 10m that I will order soon or make one myself.
Also, what are the other abilities of this kit (QRP Labs) without reading further on the website? Should I get/order an uBitx or the QRP labs? You mention both. Jerry, I am brand new to CW and transceivers, ok.
-
 
73, Vince KD7TWW


Jerry Gaffke
 

Vince,

Regarding antennas where you can't have an antenna:

A dipole is usually recommended to new operators, as they can work well
(at the frequency they are designed for) with a minimum of fuss and no tuner.

But for quick portable use out in the woods or as a stealth antenna, an end fed
is easier to set up.  No need to have coax coming down from the middle
of the antenna, the antenna can come down right to the rig.
An end fed can be either an integer multiple of a half wave in length with
a matchbox, or it can be a "random" length with an antenna tuner.
Best to choose that "random" length 
You do need at least one tall support.  A good solution is an extendable fiberglass
pole of at least 30' in length, perhaps the Jacktite brand.  Or the support could be
nesting 10 foot sections of EMT conduit from Home Depot (perhaps a final
PVC conduit section to keep the antenna away from the metal pole) or a tree branch
that you can heave some nylon string over with a slingshot (could wrap the nylon
around the trunk for the next outing, but don't make a snare for the birds!).

The bad news is that all end fed antennas will need some sort of tuner
or matchbox to bring them down to 50 ohms for your transceiver.

If you want to just spend some money and git-er-done for use on multiple bands,
I'd recommend the EFHW-4010 from myantennas.com. 
Includes the needed matchbox, no tuner required for use on most ham bands.

Here's a cheaper solution:  https://www.qrpkits.com/sota.html
though this one will require some manual tunining, I believe a 66 foot wire should
work on both 40 and 20 meters. Includes a tuner, dummy load,
and the cheesy SWR indicator using an LED.

If you build an end fed with 24 gauge magnet wire, it could be hanging out a window
or off a balcony into a nearby tree, nobody would likely notice it.
Avoid having your wire go anywhere near a power line, they should never touch if either one
happens to come down in a windstorm.

Or you could have some sort of fiberglass pole hanging off a balcony rail or out a window
as an antenna, put it out at night when you want to get on the air.  These will require 
a ground plane.  A balcony rail or run of magnet wire against the building might suffice.
Something like a Buddistick might work, though longer is generally better.
Here's a cheaper multiband vertical, could be pretty much invisible: 
    https://qrpguys.com/qrpguys-tri-band-portable-vertical-antenna

Mag loops look enticing, but that is not something I would recommend as a first antenna.
They can be difficult to build right, are finicky to use, and not very efficient as radiators.

Jerry, KE7ER



On Mon, Sep 21, 2020 at 08:54 PM, vince adams wrote:
I can't hang ANY antennas at my QTH.


Jerry Gaffke
 

Didn't quite finish a sentence there.
#   Best to choose that "random" length 

If a somebody says they have an antenna design that works well
with a "random length" of wire, you'd best choose that random length carefully.


If the end fed wants around 66 feet for 40 meters or 33 feet for 20 meters,
then it is resonant as a half wave antenna. 
A matching network is needed to bring the 3000 ohm impedance seen at 
the end of the antenna down to the 50 ohms that your transceiver wants.
Since the antenna is resonant, it doesn't need much of a ground plane or counterpoise,
a 5 foot length of coax to your transmitter from the matchbox should be sufficient.
And of course, you touching the transmitter will add a few more feet.

Some end fed antennas have other lengths, here's an example:
    http://www.earchi.org/proj_homebrew.html
That one should be used with an antenna tuner and SWR meter.
It will also need a pretty good counterpoise, since the wire is not resonant.
(In the past they did not really specify an optimal wire length, their 
description has gotten smarter.)

There isn't much difference between "end-fed" and "vertical".
A vertical is a special case of end-fed, verticals tend
to be shorter than horizontal wires since it's hard to go 66 feet high for
a 40 meter antenna.
 
I'm tempted to try out the qrpguys tri-band vertical, simple and cheap.
It's a resonant quarter wave vertical on 20 meters, with 17 feet of wire.
Ideally it would be used with a good set of radials and with an antenna tuner
to bring it up from 35 ohms to 50 ohms:
      http://g0kya.blogspot.com/2016/11/quarter-wave-verticals-for-hf.html
For 30 and 40 meters, they add inductance to the base to make the 17' wire resonant.
Might be ideal for something one could just stick out the window late at night,
or up an extendable fiberglass rod when portable.
Easy enough to hack up some appropriate inductors if you want to roll your own.

Jerry, KE7ER 



On Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 12:34 PM, Jerry Gaffke wrote:
Best to choose that "random" length 


Curt
 

Vince

If you want to build something, radiate a signal to see where it goes we have this mode called wspr. You transmit for a few hours, then look on the internet to see where you are heard. Qrplabs makes a little box called U3S. Maybe on 20 or 17 meters connect it to a dozen feet of wire stretched out in your apartment. Just an idea.

Assemble a ubitx you can listen around the bands.

Okay check out your nearby ham club for activities.

73 curt