Topics

QCX-SSB: SSB with your QCX transceiver


Gwen Patton
 

So would that be competing in the grueling Bypass Cap Luge event at the next Winter Field Day Olympics?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
73,
Gwen, NG3P


On Wed, May 20, 2020 at 12:39 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
AAAaaaand, just got my first contact by checking into the Noontime Net on 7283.50! Audio was reported as good. Gotta really shout into the mic to get 3-4 watts. Any suggestions on making that a little better?

Thanks all :) 
--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Ryan Flowers
 

AAAaaaand, just got my first contact by checking into the Noontime Net on 7283.50! Audio was reported as good. Gotta really shout into the mic to get 3-4 watts. Any suggestions on making that a little better?

Thanks all :) 
--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Ryan Flowers
 

Hi Manuel,

I'm glad you liked my capacitor toboggan! I showed a coworker your comment, and he made this:



Unfortunately, right after the next turn, the toboggan crashed into a solder drift: 



Don't worry- everyone was okay!

The Radio now puts out 3W, and I am a happy camper finally. Now I need to get this thing finished. If it ever will be, that is! 
--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

This is Art, man !
I see 4 guys on a slide.....
Well done ;)

73 Manuel; DL2MAN


Ryan Flowers
 

Spent a couple of minutes before work coming up with a solution. No 220nf capacitors were found last night, and so I  decided to simply make one. I used leftovers from the kit, two 10nf and two 100nf caps, and paralleled them on a small bit of perf board. Voilà, 220nf. I'll test it this afternoon. Off to work I go :)  




On Tue, May 19, 2020 at 8:45 PM Julian Opificius <n4jo@...> wrote:
Yeah, that's almost two and a half Megohms at 300Hz - won't get out much with that :-)


--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


 

Yeah, that's almost two and a half Megohms at 300Hz - won't get out much with that :-)


Ryan Flowers
 

My previous post got me thinking: It's in the microphone section. So I went to the schematic. R58 is now a 220nf capacitor. So I look at my capacitor. 221. Wait... 221... I think... oh my god. It's a 220pf capacitor. Should be code 224 not 221. Gah. GAH I say. Off to find a 224 cap around here somewhere...

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Ryan Flowers
 

Hello all, I do have some progress to report! After rooting around the code, I found the "Force SSB/SDR" line and uncommented it:
ssb_cap = 1; dsp_cap = 2;  // force SSB and SDR capability

Now I'm getting sideband rejection. But, I'm still getting only a little bit of SSB output. My 1.5W is working on JS8Call at least, but that's with the gain in JS8Call turned to the maximum. In contrast, CW puts out about 4.5W, so this is definitely an amplification issue. It's not amplifying the mic at all for whatever reason. I could definitely use help with that part, and understanding why it didn't go into SSB mode automatically.

Thanks for assistance!

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Kees T
 

Great job on the QCX+ Hans ! and 10,000 of the previous QCX units is outstanding. The extra space in the enclosure opens it up to much experimentation and maybe now there is room to add pluggable Band specific RF sections with top access and an internal battery.

Mine is on order.

73 kees K5BCQ


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hey Peter,

I´m far away from beeing competent in any way, when it comes to programming.... Maybe Guido can help here.
But intuitively I´d try to use USBTinyISP in Conjunction with Arduino IDE. My instruction should still work, exept for the Programmer, that needs to be selected and used as ISP....

73 Manuel; DL2MAN


vk3tkk
 

Hi Manuel.. thanks for the reply.. in regards to the last question, I have varied the constrast poti and it does change but no text.

In relation to your instructions, I have not. I do not have an Arduino Due, only the USBTinyISP programmer. If needed, I'll get the Due.
As I mentioned, I compiled the INO file to HEX then used AVERDUDES to download to the MCU.

Cheers Peter. 

On Tuesday, 19 May 2020, 04:39:41 pm AEST, <dl2man@...> wrote:


Hello Peter,

I'm not sure if your assumption is right, that bootloader is inside hex file.
A hex file is being generated by Arduino ide every time before/while sending  the scetch to atmega. So if it was the case, that bootloader was included, we could have left out the need for burning bootloader first.
Did you try my step by step instructions from the manual ?

And more obvious, but still need to ask:
Have you adjusted the display poti ?

73 Manuel DL2MAN


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hello Peter,

I'm not sure if your assumption is right, that bootloader is inside hex file.
A hex file is being generated by Arduino ide every time before/while sending  the scetch to atmega. So if it was the case, that bootloader was included, we could have left out the need for burning bootloader first.
Did you try my step by step instructions from the manual ?

And more obvious, but still need to ask:
Have you adjusted the display poti ?

73 Manuel DL2MAN


vk3tkk
 

Hi all,

Further update - I loaded the sketch and compiled it as a hex file, which is a bootloader included.
Using AVERDUDESS, I was able to write the hex file to the chip using a USBTinyISP (see attached) but with power up, I have no characters on the screen.

Any suggestions at all?

73 Peter.


Ryan Flowers
 

Guido, thank you for the compliment and guidance. The case is from my original BITX40 build:  https://miscdotgeek.com/bitx40-case-build-w7rlf/ I put a lot of work into it back then, and learned a lot. It's actually time to order another one, I made a fundamental mistake on this one, and so the case doesn't hold together correctly. Anyhow, on with the main subject:

I measured voltage on pins 23 and 24 (audio 1 and 2) and found that ti's a whopping 2.5 volts. So, I started by looking at the voltage dividers. First the one that takes 5V to 2.5V with R2 and R1, then through 6/8's 1K resistor into pin of the Tayloe detector IC. That was fine. The problem is that 2.5v is maintained all the way through past C40 and C39. I checked those voltage dividers, and they too are correct. 

I did a ton of other troubleshooting, but really what it boils down to is that the voltage dividers at R49-52 are being fed 5v from AVCC on pin 20 of IC2 instead of the prescribed 1.1v. 

I also checked the 82k resistors, and those are fine. I just need to figure out why the AVCC is 5v instead of 1.1. I think this is related to my "!!Vavcc=5.21V" error. Suggestions? and, Thanks!

On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 4:32 AM Guido PE1NNZ <threeme3@...> wrote:
Ryan, very good progress on your QCX-SSB and happy to read you got the transmit section working. Your temporary enclosure looks pretty nice actually! 
Not seeing RX side-band rejection can be caused by component differences around and/or behind IC5 stage, e.g. please check if both opamps have both the 82K resistors. Also check on IC2 on pin 23 and 24 the voltage, they should be both similar at around 0.55V.

Peter VK3TKK, regarding the display showing only block, means that the MCU does not start-up properly. If you have successfully programmed the flash, then it is probably the fuse settings that are causing the issue: you can set them with AVRDUDE to E=0xFD H=0xDE L=0xFF, or use the Arduino IDE to Burn the bootloader. Make sure that you have the the ISP programming-cable disconnected when starting the QCX.

Mike KC2TAU, many thanks for reaching-out to help creating an Assembly Manual for the QCX+. As 23 people have written to me personally with the question if such a QCX-SSB Assembly Manual would become available, I am sure that your effort will be appreciated!
 
Not sure I will have access to a QCX+ anytime soon: right now, I am quite struggling with the fact that while the QCX+ looks appealing in the new enclosure, it is with 680g (1.5lbs) and 100USD (55+25+20) including shipping, no longer the cheap 49USD, portable, hackable and accessible QCX rig that I loved so much.. the transceiver that you just throw in your backpack and up you go. Maybe it is just me...

Christiaan, I have taken notice of you feature request for a slower smeter update frequency,. It is on my list and probably will release it together with the other R1.02d features.

Kenneth, Many thanks for the report on your very nice adventure with the QCX-SSB. Yes, many people are amazed and impressed with quality and the capabilities of the radio. Enjoy and let us know if you have further thoughts on what you would like to add!




--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


@KC2TAU
 

Hello Guido,

Thank you for your response. As I had mentioned in my previous message, from what I have been able to derive so far, the component numbering system (i.e R21, C23, etc) are the same on the QCX and QCX+. Also, according to the description page for the QCX+, save for a three component value changes, the circuits are identical and so future revisions that you make to your QCX-SSB firmware should work just fine on the QCX+ given how they are essentially the same radio in pure electrical terms. Hans has made some very good updates in the names of accessibility, modding ability as well as I/O capability.

Given how people have contacted you personally regarding the QCX+ and your QCX-SSB modification it certainly seems like the interest for it is there. I sincerely hope that you continue development on the QCX-SSB as the functionality that you have included really set it apart from other offerings.

I plan on purchasing a QCX+ kit with the intent of modifying it to the QCX-SSB standard. I would be happy to help you test compatibility between the QCX and QCX+ as I would have a QCX+ and would be uploading the QCX-SSB firmware to it and would be happy to communicate any bugs, if there are any, in the firmware modification process.

- Mike


Dave
 

Now I want the QCX+ more than ever!

Dave


On May 18, 2020, at 08:25, Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:


Hello Guido
 
Not sure I will have access to a QCX+ anytime soon: right now, I am quite struggling with the fact that while the QCX+ looks appealing in the new enclosure, it is with 680g (1.5lbs) and 100USD (55+25+20) including shipping, no longer the cheap 49USD, portable, hackable and accessible QCX rig that I loved so much.. the transceiver that you just throw in your backpack and up you go. Maybe it is just me...

Sorry OM, with all due respect, you are completely mathematically incorrect, to the extent of being melodramatic and misleading. You are not comparing like with like, at all! 

Whilst it is not possible to please all the people all the time, and to be sure, overall QCX+ is larger than QCX which is a disadvantage in some use cases, overall the feedback on QCX+ has been exceedingly positive so far. 

To take aspects of the comparison (QCX vs QCX+) one by one: 

Price

QCX: $49
QCX+: $55 (an increase of $6 - still very cheap!)

Weight (QCX only)

Assembled QCX 138 grams
Assembled QCX+ 177 grams (an increase of 39 grams)

Of course, when you add an enclosure, the weight goes up. This applies equally whether you have a QCX or a QCX+. What enclosure you use, is up to you. The offered QCX+ enclosure weight is 380 grams net. The usual BaMaTech aluminium enclosure weighs 150 grams net (comparison is enclosures and accessories only, excluding the QCX which will be put inside). For lowest weight one would choose perhaps a 3D-printed enclosure. 

Shipping cost of QCX only:

The shipment cost of a QCX and a QCX+ is the same via FedEx ($11.99). 

Via post office registered airmail: 
QCX shipment: $6.96
QCX+ shipment: $7.56 (increase of $0.60). 

Size:

QCX PCB: 10 x 8cm
QCX+ PCB: 10 x 13cm (an increase of 5cm). 

Note that the vertical front panel arrangement of QCX+ is NOT mandatory. There is nothing to stop anyone mounting display and controls off board, just the same as with QCX. Or, keep them mounted on the front PCB of the QCX+, but with ribbon cable between the boards, and mount them in an enclosure with the QCX+ "front panel" in the top, just like the QCX style. 

Portability:

QCX+ is therefore indeed 5cm larger than QCX, and 39 grams heavier. However bear in mind other factors too, for example in the official QCX+ enclosure there is room inside for batteries.

Furthermore the official QCX+ enclosure is extremely robust and durable. The top and bottom sides of the enclosure are 2.5mm thick aluminium, the side walls are 4mm thick, and front/rear panels 1.5mm. The black anodized surface is resistant to scratches, much more so than raw aluminium enclosures. 

Hackable and accessible:

I'm not sure why you view QCX+ as not hackable and accessible! One of my specific GOALS of the QCX+ project was to make the radio MORE hackable and accessible! The larger space means it is easier to access all areas of the circuit. In QCX many parts of the circuit (microcontroller, TX driver, TX PA, LPF) are hidden under the LCD module. This is not the situation in QCX+. I have also included a large number of header pin pads, for easy debugging and modifications. And later today will be announcing a developers kit, a very low cost extension PCB that you can plug on top and use to make more modifications as you wish. 

Example of a common configuration:

Most people are ordering QCX+ and Enclosure together. This is a combination which costs $99.27 delivered via FedEx. 

Now consider the previous situation. 
QCX: $49
QCX shipping: $11.99
BaMaTech enclosure: $34.66 (32 euro)
BaMaTech enclosure shipping: $8.12 (7.50 euro)
-----------
TOTAL: $103.77

QCX+ is therefore CHEAPER in this common scenario, by $4.50. 

Overall

QCX+ is not a major departure from QCX. The circuit is the same. The firmware is the same. The operation is the same. QCX+ just provides some mechanical improvements, including addressing the density of the PCB which was a cause of concern for many constructors. The size and weight and particularly the price increases, are all slight. It is DESIGNED for easier hacking and modifying. 

73 Hans G0UPL
http://qrp-labs.com


Hans Summers
 

Hello Guido
 
Not sure I will have access to a QCX+ anytime soon: right now, I am quite struggling with the fact that while the QCX+ looks appealing in the new enclosure, it is with 680g (1.5lbs) and 100USD (55+25+20) including shipping, no longer the cheap 49USD, portable, hackable and accessible QCX rig that I loved so much.. the transceiver that you just throw in your backpack and up you go. Maybe it is just me...

Sorry OM, with all due respect, you are completely mathematically incorrect, to the extent of being melodramatic and misleading. You are not comparing like with like, at all! 

Whilst it is not possible to please all the people all the time, and to be sure, overall QCX+ is larger than QCX which is a disadvantage in some use cases, overall the feedback on QCX+ has been exceedingly positive so far. 

To take aspects of the comparison (QCX vs QCX+) one by one: 

Price

QCX: $49
QCX+: $55 (an increase of $6 - still very cheap!)

Weight (QCX only)

Assembled QCX 138 grams
Assembled QCX+ 177 grams (an increase of 39 grams)

Of course, when you add an enclosure, the weight goes up. This applies equally whether you have a QCX or a QCX+. What enclosure you use, is up to you. The offered QCX+ enclosure weight is 380 grams net. The usual BaMaTech aluminium enclosure weighs 150 grams net (comparison is enclosures and accessories only, excluding the QCX which will be put inside). For lowest weight one would choose perhaps a 3D-printed enclosure. 

Shipping cost of QCX only:

The shipment cost of a QCX and a QCX+ is the same via FedEx ($11.99). 

Via post office registered airmail: 
QCX shipment: $6.96
QCX+ shipment: $7.56 (increase of $0.60). 

Size:

QCX PCB: 10 x 8cm
QCX+ PCB: 10 x 13cm (an increase of 5cm). 

Note that the vertical front panel arrangement of QCX+ is NOT mandatory. There is nothing to stop anyone mounting display and controls off board, just the same as with QCX. Or, keep them mounted on the front PCB of the QCX+, but with ribbon cable between the boards, and mount them in an enclosure with the QCX+ "front panel" in the top, just like the QCX style. 

Portability:

QCX+ is therefore indeed 5cm larger than QCX, and 39 grams heavier. However bear in mind other factors too, for example in the official QCX+ enclosure there is room inside for batteries.

Furthermore the official QCX+ enclosure is extremely robust and durable. The top and bottom sides of the enclosure are 2.5mm thick aluminium, the side walls are 4mm thick, and front/rear panels 1.5mm. The black anodized surface is resistant to scratches, much more so than raw aluminium enclosures. 

Hackable and accessible:

I'm not sure why you view QCX+ as not hackable and accessible! One of my specific GOALS of the QCX+ project was to make the radio MORE hackable and accessible! The larger space means it is easier to access all areas of the circuit. In QCX many parts of the circuit (microcontroller, TX driver, TX PA, LPF) are hidden under the LCD module. This is not the situation in QCX+. I have also included a large number of header pin pads, for easy debugging and modifications. And later today will be announcing a developers kit, a very low cost extension PCB that you can plug on top and use to make more modifications as you wish. 

Example of a common configuration:

Most people are ordering QCX+ and Enclosure together. This is a combination which costs $99.27 delivered via FedEx. 

Now consider the previous situation. 
QCX: $49
QCX shipping: $11.99
BaMaTech enclosure: $34.66 (32 euro)
BaMaTech enclosure shipping: $8.12 (7.50 euro)
-----------
TOTAL: $103.77

QCX+ is therefore CHEAPER in this common scenario, by $4.50. 

Overall

QCX+ is not a major departure from QCX. The circuit is the same. The firmware is the same. The operation is the same. QCX+ just provides some mechanical improvements, including addressing the density of the PCB which was a cause of concern for many constructors. The size and weight and particularly the price increases, are all slight. It is DESIGNED for easier hacking and modifying. 

73 Hans G0UPL
http://qrp-labs.com


Guido PE1NNZ
 

Ryan, very good progress on your QCX-SSB and happy to read you got the transmit section working. Your temporary enclosure looks pretty nice actually! 
Not seeing RX side-band rejection can be caused by component differences around and/or behind IC5 stage, e.g. please check if both opamps have both the 82K resistors. Also check on IC2 on pin 23 and 24 the voltage, they should be both similar at around 0.55V.

Peter VK3TKK, regarding the display showing only block, means that the MCU does not start-up properly. If you have successfully programmed the flash, then it is probably the fuse settings that are causing the issue: you can set them with AVRDUDE to E=0xFD H=0xDE L=0xFF, or use the Arduino IDE to Burn the bootloader. Make sure that you have the the ISP programming-cable disconnected when starting the QCX.

Mike KC2TAU, many thanks for reaching-out to help creating an Assembly Manual for the QCX+. As 23 people have written to me personally with the question if such a QCX-SSB Assembly Manual would become available, I am sure that your effort will be appreciated!
 
Not sure I will have access to a QCX+ anytime soon: right now, I am quite struggling with the fact that while the QCX+ looks appealing in the new enclosure, it is with 680g (1.5lbs) and 100USD (55+25+20) including shipping, no longer the cheap 49USD, portable, hackable and accessible QCX rig that I loved so much.. the transceiver that you just throw in your backpack and up you go. Maybe it is just me...

Christiaan, I have taken notice of you feature request for a slower smeter update frequency,. It is on my list and probably will release it together with the other R1.02d features.

Kenneth, Many thanks for the report on your very nice adventure with the QCX-SSB. Yes, many people are amazed and impressed with quality and the capabilities of the radio. Enjoy and let us know if you have further thoughts on what you would like to add!




Manuel; DL2MAN
 

The bootloader is simply an Arduino thing. That's just because program was written in Arduino ide.
Imagine the bootloader as some kind of language, so the atmega understands what the code says....
Afaik Hans does something else.


Dean Smith
 

I think, i maybe wrong...but trying to program the ssb chip requires the ATMEGA 328 to have a bootloader installed first.
The norrmal QCX firmware has no Bootloader installed, it doesn't need it., you may find this an uphill struggle with USBasp!.
Just burning the hex file for ssb onto the qcx chip will just give you a blank screen. It needs the bootloader written first.
Somebody stop and correct me if this is wrong, your going to need an Arduino board and the appropriate software.
The benefits to this way also , is that you can tailor the firmware to your own tastes!
Let us all know how you get on :)