Re: WSPR 2m

Hans Summers

Hello Glenn

Thank you for the feedback and suggestions. I think it is important to remember that the Ultimate QRSS/WSPR transmitter was the first standalone WSPR kit in the world and was designed to provide a very high functionality at very low cost. It really set the scene for what QRP Labs would become. It evolved into the Ultimate2 kit, then the Ultimate3 and Ultimate3S kit. For some years this kit line was the main product of QRP Labs. The 80 x 37mm PCB of the Ultimate3S was designed to mate with the standard inexpensive 1602 LCD module. The hardware and the firmware were engineered to be minimalist, to maximize the functionality available at lowest cost. There was (and is) nothing else like it at comparable performance per dollar. 

Over time the Ultimate product line expanded with options such as the 6-band relay kit, receiver module, and 5W PA. They were designed to fit the same 80 x 37mm PCB and be stackable together, in the enclosure which was designed to fit the Ultimate3/3S series. 

Everything has to be considered in the historical context of provision of this flexibility and value, which indeed does also entail some compromises in hardware and firmware. It is also important to consider any enhancement suggestions carefully, specifically how many people would use the enhancement; it is important not to spend enormous time on features which would only be used by one or by a small number of people, or which would have in the benefit of hindsight, made things easier for a small number of people. Furthermore, some enhancements which would make things easier would come at the cost of more expensive hardware. 

One by one: 
  1. Make it so we can solder on an SMA if we wish for the RF output, pads like for the synth would have been lovely.-A couple of small holes is a bit rubbish.
 An SMA would be nice, yes, but the perimeter of the Ultimate3S board is already full with other connectors; I do not easily see where an SMA connector could be sited. 
  1. Have the pinout from ultimate to GPS the same way around so we do not have to twist the cable. Use IDC cabling here.
I don't understand this. The Ultimate3S pinout is +5V, Gnd, RxD, 1pps on a 4-pin header at the board edge. The QLG2 and QLG2-SE boards have a matching 4-pin header which is identically located and is designed such that connection between the boards should be as easy as possible; even pin headers could be used to make the connection. Have I misunderstood something about your suggestion? 
  1. Have decent software defaults based upon the band to be used.
The firmware packs a lot of mode encoding capabilities into the 32K Flash of the ATmega328. Defaults would need to consider not just the band but also the mode being used. That wouldn't fit in the available Flash space, unless some existing modes or functionality was dropped. 
  1. Have some decent sized solder 5v and GND pads we can solder to.
A 16-pin header is supplied that could be used to install in various pads, and connect wires to the header, if desired. 
  1. Do not advertise the unit for 2m as its just not powerful enough - or do a 2m amp. Consider changing the bs170 to something better at higher frequencies.
The Ultimate3S provides, according to my measurement, +17dBm on 2m. This is explained in the documentation. There is no misrepresentation in the advertising. Much as I would love to provide a more extensive range of ktis including VHF amplifiers, power meters, SWR, etc etc., it all takes time. So meanwhile I provide the kits we have, with full disclosure of the capabilities and limitations. The Ultimate3S can be used alone on many HF bands. On VHF, or on LF, where more power may be desirable, the Ultimate3S system can be used as a driver for amplifiers for those bands. 
  1. The menu system is the worst I have seen ever and I have seen some REALLY bad ones. - change it - better defaults would help here.
Defaults, see above. If you have suggestions for how the menu system could be improved, please let me know. If it comes down to the limitations imposed by a user interface comprising only a 16x2 display and TWO buttons, this was a conscious choice in order to achieve the performance : price value as I mentioned before. A more convenient menu system can certainly be achieved with a larger screen and with more controls such as a rotary encoder and/or more buttons. But that comes at a COST. If you have any ideas about improving the menu system but keeping to the 16x2 display and the two button interface, and at the same time not increasing the likely demands on code space, I would be interested to hear them. 
  1. For the BS170 put in some resistors to stop massive current overload, I blew one up and had to un-solder it. :(. Or specify expected currents in the assembly notes.
A resistor in series would reduce the output power available. I think more people would mind about that, than mind about the possibility of blowing up a BS170. The instructions do 
  1. Have a settings web page.
There was a project a few years ago, by a member of our community here, who created a web page that was designed to set up the Ultimate3S settings and output a .eep file that could be loaded into the U3S chip. I am not sure what happened to that project. It isn't something I have the time to do personally, but if you or someone else wanted to revisit that, I think it could be a useful thing for Ultimate3S users. 

73 Hans G0UPL

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