Topics

How about an ultra-portable "QCX mini" version? #qcx


Torbjorn Skauli
 

Hans, I don't think you will have time for this, but here is a suggestion: I sympathize with the thread discussing the larger size of the QCX+. Given the quality of the QCX, many will want the radio more than the building of it. How about a "QCX mini" where the majority of components are pre-installed SMD, on a smaller PCB than the original? The design could aim for minimum size to achieve an affordable true pocket size HF rig. The builder could add only the band-specific parts, and other parts that would be costly to pre-assemble, and an enclosure of his choice. Controls could be installed on a break-off part of the PCB for flexibility in enclosure design. This version could also be more accessible to beginners since it will have far fewer parts to install. Apart from the effort to redo the design (again), hopefully the economics could work out through simpler logistics, smaller board area, lower component cost, and an expanded market?

I say this based on my own experience with the original QCX, which I have fitted into a rater cramped minimum-size 3D-printed enclosure with battery and paddle (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3668177). This rig, and a wire dipole, actually fit in the pockets of my jacket. I have been able to use my QCX in odd time slots and spaces such as flight departure halls and family outings, and thereby actually get on the air in a busy life. The favourite location is on the top of the local ski jump, the destination of my exercise bike ride, with an "inverted vertical" wire antenna suspended from the tower in the picture (loaded by a pinecone in the end). From here, the QCX WSPR beacon has hit seven continents (and G0UPL) in half an hour.

I am sure many people will want to have these possibilities in pocket size, at the price point of the QCX, and with only a minimum of assembly to do. For my part, I would certainly want one, and would be happy to design an even smaller 3D-printable enclosure for it.

After the QSX is finished, perhaps, Hans?

Anyway, thanks for all the fun,

  Torbjorn, LA4ZCA


Hans Summers
 

Hello Torbjorn and all other people involved in the discussion on continuing the original QCX... 

Many thanks for all the feedback which is very valuable to me. 

I am confident that the QCX+ http://qrp-labs.com/qcxp offers significant advantages to most constructors and will be a very popular continuation of the QCX. It has the same circuit, firmware, operation and performance but is easier to build, modify and experiment, and has a beautiful enclosure option, plenty of space, and other options the Dev board kit and TCXO. 

However... yes, I can see that the larger size is a possible disadvantage for those wanting extremely portable operations. 

I had not planned to continue the original QCX kit production. So please give me a few weeks to contemplate this and find a solution that is practical to me and desirable to all you. 

Note that though we say QCX+ is "just a bigger PCB" for QCX... in fact there are a lot of details that changed. Connectors and hardware, primarily. Producing a QCX is not a simple matter only of making some PCBs. There are the other changed parts which need attention too! Manufacturing and procurement are expensive, risky and time-consuming... bear in mind that the reason the QCX kit price to you, costs less than the sum of its parts (if you buy them from Digikey, Mouser, RS, Farnell etc) is mostly because I am buying these parts in very large volume and the price drops considerably. It takes a lot of planning to get this all to work out avoid the risk of losing money on it. Until you actually tried producing a kit like these QRP Labs kits I don't think people can possibly understand all the issues involved :-D   Designing some hardware that works, and some firmware that works, and that they work together, is hard enough. But turning it into a production batch of kits at a nice price... well, that's a whole new ball game!

So I will find a solution... perhaps a smaller board (maybe SMD), perhaps a continuation of the original QCX, perhaps a way of enclosing QCX+ more compact... let me think on it... and I will let you know in due course. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 12:19 AM Torbjorn Skauli <tskauli@...> wrote:
Hans, I don't think you will have time for this, but here is a suggestion: I sympathize with the thread discussing the larger size of the QCX+. Given the quality of the QCX, many will want the radio more than the building of it. How about a "QCX mini" where the majority of components are pre-installed SMD, on a smaller PCB than the original? The design could aim for minimum size to achieve an affordable true pocket size HF rig. The builder could add only the band-specific parts, and other parts that would be costly to pre-assemble, and an enclosure of his choice. Controls could be installed on a break-off part of the PCB for flexibility in enclosure design. This version could also be more accessible to beginners since it will have far fewer parts to install. Apart from the effort to redo the design (again), hopefully the economics could work out through simpler logistics, smaller board area, lower component cost, and an expanded market?

I say this based on my own experience with the original QCX, which I have fitted into a rater cramped minimum-size 3D-printed enclosure with battery and paddle (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3668177). This rig, and a wire dipole, actually fit in the pockets of my jacket. I have been able to use my QCX in odd time slots and spaces such as flight departure halls and family outings, and thereby actually get on the air in a busy life. The favourite location is on the top of the local ski jump, the destination of my exercise bike ride, with an "inverted vertical" wire antenna suspended from the tower in the picture (loaded by a pinecone in the end). From here, the QCX WSPR beacon has hit seven continents (and G0UPL) in half an hour.

I am sure many people will want to have these possibilities in pocket size, at the price point of the QCX, and with only a minimum of assembly to do. For my part, I would certainly want one, and would be happy to design an even smaller 3D-printable enclosure for it.

After the QSX is finished, perhaps, Hans?

Anyway, thanks for all the fun,

  Torbjorn, LA4ZCA


Torbjorn Skauli
 

Thanks for responding, Hans. I just wanted to add that my suggestion should not be read as disapproval.  I actually like the QCX+ for being easier to build, and thereby accessible to more people. And I am awed by your accomplishments in design, logistics and keeping the business running.

I can mention that I have been involved in bringing the joys of coding out to kids in Norway through clubs and schools, and I am preparing to promote ham radio through the same channels. The QCX will be a great tool in that work, consistent with its origins.

Thanks again for all the fun,

Torbjorn


Steven Dick
 

I recently ordered the QCX+, which fits my needs well. I also own the original QCX.  With regard to possibly continuing the QCX mini version, I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my thought process:

1. The SMD components are, in general, lower cost than their through hole parts
2. The SMD components might allow more options for resistor package sized for an even smaller footprint.  Small but not too small to minimize possible damage from builders. No smaller than 0603 packages.
3. Pre-assembly of the SMDs would vastly reduce build time and minimize the chance for builder errors by swapped parts, etc
4. Possibly a slightly different but still low cost processor with more memory to get out from the "fighting for every byte" problem. It could still use existing software but provide some breathing room.
5. I realize the assembly cost is substantial, but I think builders would be willing to pay extra for the added reduced size for portable use as well as the quick kit build time and fewer issues with debugging problems.

-Steve K1RF

------ Original Message ------
From: "Torbjorn Skauli" <tskauli@...>
Sent: 6/4/2020 5:36:52 AM
Subject: Re: [QRPLabs] How about an ultra-portable "QCX mini" version? #qcx

Thanks for responding, Hans. I just wanted to add that my suggestion should not be read as disapproval.  I actually like the QCX+ for being easier to build, and thereby accessible to more people. And I am awed by your accomplishments in design, logistics and keeping the business running.

I can mention that I have been involved in bringing the joys of coding out to kids in Norway through clubs and schools, and I am preparing to promote ham radio through the same channels. The QCX will be a great tool in that work, consistent with its origins.

Thanks again for all the fun,

Torbjorn

Virus-free. www.avast.com


Alan G4ZFQ
 

Steve
I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my thought process:
Here is my thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD, it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ


jjpurdum
 

Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:


very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ




Dave
 

I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum@...> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


K2DB Paul Mackanos
 

I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Hans Summers
 

Hi all

During my 10 years (May 2010 to date) QRP Labs' experience I have found that the probability of the kit packers making a mistake, and time taken to pack the components, are both inversely proportional to the size of the component.

Additionally, a large proportion of the time when a constructor is missing a component, it has rolled onto the floor, hiding in the carpet, rolled across the desk, hiding in some packaging, etc. The probability of this is ALSO inversely proportional to the size of the component. 

Furthermore the chances of the constructor making mistakes ALSO increases as the component size decreases. Which all amounts to more support questions. 

In other words, the smaller the components, the harder it is to get it right. Mistakes cost me dearly, not for the component but for the horrendous shipping costs. By the time it got to SMD I would be shuddering badly... 

Hence any kits which I produce that have SMD components will always have them soldered to the PCB, pre-assembled in a PCB factory. It's the only sustainable practical way! I know SMD components are not difficult and please feel welcome to assemble SMD stuff. But not from me :-D    I will get the robots to do that difficult bit. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM K2DB Paul Mackanos <paul.mackanos@...> wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Dave
 

Sigh!   Of course you are right.

If you do make an SMD version, please know that I’ll be one of the first in line.  Great circuit and in totally SMD it will be a desirable piece of kit.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 09:33, Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:


Hi all

During my 10 years (May 2010 to date) QRP Labs' experience I have found that the probability of the kit packers making a mistake, and time taken to pack the components, are both inversely proportional to the size of the component.

Additionally, a large proportion of the time when a constructor is missing a component, it has rolled onto the floor, hiding in the carpet, rolled across the desk, hiding in some packaging, etc. The probability of this is ALSO inversely proportional to the size of the component. 

Furthermore the chances of the constructor making mistakes ALSO increases as the component size decreases. Which all amounts to more support questions. 

In other words, the smaller the components, the harder it is to get it right. Mistakes cost me dearly, not for the component but for the horrendous shipping costs. By the time it got to SMD I would be shuddering badly... 

Hence any kits which I produce that have SMD components will always have them soldered to the PCB, pre-assembled in a PCB factory. It's the only sustainable practical way! I know SMD components are not difficult and please feel welcome to assemble SMD stuff. But not from me :-D    I will get the robots to do that difficult bit. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM K2DB Paul Mackanos <paul.mackanos@...> wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Jim Mcilroy
 

Hi All

I would like to add my support for a QCX SMD model.

Last winter I stuck a toe into the SMD world using a head magnifier and a pair of Swiss tweezers. I used the mcHF PCBs as a trial run as that was all I could find as a radio application.

I tried both a fine tipped soldering iron and a hot gun. I found I could do just about everything except install a STM32 MCU (25 pin x 25 pin footprint), so an Si5351 is doable. Also managed to put an ATmega128-AU on another board for a separate project (16 pin x 16 pin footprint). That's probably my limit. Capacitors, resistors, etc, are no problem.

It's worth getting a pair of SMD test clips to measure components.

SMD is fun. I used a block of wood as an insulator. Doesn't conduct electricity and OK for hot gun work if you're careful.

73

Jim

G4EQX

PS - FWIW I got that mcHF going after asking nicely for a PCB with the MCU installed.

On 04/06/2020 14:16, K2DB Paul Mackanos wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


 

My perspective always has been the most efficient and cost effective way to package SMT parts in a kit are to have them presoldered to the PCB.  For the few that really must solder them on to get satisfaction there is even more satisfaction if they remove them and then reattach them so they can say I built it totally themselves. 

The cost to kit SMT in labour alone should exceed the cost for automated assembly. 

There is lots to do in a Hans kit after the SMT parts are installed. 
Dave
VE7HR 




On Jun 4, 2020, at 6:33 AM, Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:


Hi all

During my 10 years (May 2010 to date) QRP Labs' experience I have found that the probability of the kit packers making a mistake, and time taken to pack the components, are both inversely proportional to the size of the component.

Additionally, a large proportion of the time when a constructor is missing a component, it has rolled onto the floor, hiding in the carpet, rolled across the desk, hiding in some packaging, etc. The probability of this is ALSO inversely proportional to the size of the component. 

Furthermore the chances of the constructor making mistakes ALSO increases as the component size decreases. Which all amounts to more support questions. 

In other words, the smaller the components, the harder it is to get it right. Mistakes cost me dearly, not for the component but for the horrendous shipping costs. By the time it got to SMD I would be shuddering badly... 

Hence any kits which I produce that have SMD components will always have them soldered to the PCB, pre-assembled in a PCB factory. It's the only sustainable practical way! I know SMD components are not difficult and please feel welcome to assemble SMD stuff. But not from me :-D    I will get the robots to do that difficult bit. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM K2DB Paul Mackanos <paul.mackanos@...> wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Jim Mcilroy
 

Well, Hans

How about a QCX PCB laid out for SMD.

Happy to buy components from you, or gather them from wherever.

Jim

On 04/06/2020 14:32, Hans Summers wrote:
Hi all

During my 10 years (May 2010 to date) QRP Labs' experience I have found that the probability of the kit packers making a mistake, and time taken to pack the components, are both inversely proportional to the size of the component.

Additionally, a large proportion of the time when a constructor is missing a component, it has rolled onto the floor, hiding in the carpet, rolled across the desk, hiding in some packaging, etc. The probability of this is ALSO inversely proportional to the size of the component. 

Furthermore the chances of the constructor making mistakes ALSO increases as the component size decreases. Which all amounts to more support questions. 

In other words, the smaller the components, the harder it is to get it right. Mistakes cost me dearly, not for the component but for the horrendous shipping costs. By the time it got to SMD I would be shuddering badly... 

Hence any kits which I produce that have SMD components will always have them soldered to the PCB, pre-assembled in a PCB factory. It's the only sustainable practical way! I know SMD components are not difficult and please feel welcome to assemble SMD stuff. But not from me :-D    I will get the robots to do that difficult bit. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM K2DB Paul Mackanos <paul.mackanos@...> wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Denis Collins
 

Design considerations for Han's next meeting with the heads of his Design and Marketing departments:

  • Pre-assembled SMD components with SMD components both sides of board to ensure smallest possible footprint.
  • Q6 and PA may be thru hole or SMD- design choice consideration given to ease of change-out following oops moment and the other consideration is heat dissipation.
  • Controls mounted on board as in existing QCX but consideration given to aesthetics and ergonomics. It got to look good and feel good! The controls are bulky and moving them off board demands an increase in case size over keeping them on board. The effort in dealing with the issues imposed by difference in control shaft height will be worth if for those seeking the smallest possible footprint.
  • The smallest case is one that is soldered directly to the pcb. So four pcb material sides soldered to main pcb with case top and bottom screwed to side pieces or to standoffs on main pcb.
  • QRP labs gasket kit for weather proofing or roll your own system.
  • PCB material case pre-drilled and stenciled.
  • Complete electrical and firmware compatibility with QCX+
  • Bare pcb board available for the those who want the SMD build challenge (Likely to incur higher build cost though)

Fun to think about such things but its only Hans that can decide if the effort is economically viable!


Evan Hand
 

One extra consideration from me:  Do not slow up the QSX rollout!

73
Evan
AC9TU


Hans Summers
 

Hi all

I will give it careful consideration for 2-3 weeks and report back.

73 Hans G0UPL 

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 16:45 Jim Mcilroy via groups.io <gts53=btinternet.com@groups.io> wrote:

Well, Hans

How about a QCX PCB laid out for SMD.

Happy to buy components from you, or gather them from wherever.

Jim

On 04/06/2020 14:32, Hans Summers wrote:
Hi all

During my 10 years (May 2010 to date) QRP Labs' experience I have found that the probability of the kit packers making a mistake, and time taken to pack the components, are both inversely proportional to the size of the component.

Additionally, a large proportion of the time when a constructor is missing a component, it has rolled onto the floor, hiding in the carpet, rolled across the desk, hiding in some packaging, etc. The probability of this is ALSO inversely proportional to the size of the component. 

Furthermore the chances of the constructor making mistakes ALSO increases as the component size decreases. Which all amounts to more support questions. 

In other words, the smaller the components, the harder it is to get it right. Mistakes cost me dearly, not for the component but for the horrendous shipping costs. By the time it got to SMD I would be shuddering badly... 

Hence any kits which I produce that have SMD components will always have them soldered to the PCB, pre-assembled in a PCB factory. It's the only sustainable practical way! I know SMD components are not difficult and please feel welcome to assemble SMD stuff. But not from me :-D    I will get the robots to do that difficult bit. 

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

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM K2DB Paul Mackanos <paul.mackanos@...> wrote:
I enjoy all of Hans kits, if he comes out with a SMD model, well there goes some more of my stimulus check 😎
Paul K2DB

On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 9:10 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
I could not agree more!  I admit happily that Hans has a difficult prospect of keeping everyone happy all the time, and perhaps it is unrealistic to hope for a completely bare board and a few baggies of SMD.

I have put on the fine pitched SSD chips and others, and once you lose your fear of lead shorting solder blobs (liquid flux and fine solder wick are your friend) the sheer challenge well met is a total source of pride.

Somewhere here I have a roll of 100n 50V SMD caps I would gladly contribute to the cause.

Dave


On Jun 4, 2020, at 08:28, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:


Alan:

Strongly agree. I'm 2 years younger than dirt and built my first Novice station in 1954 using 2 "valves" for the transmitter. Gradually, I worked up to transistors, then IC's, and finally trying SMD's. While I've probably "tiddlywinked" enough SMD parts onto the floor or in near-earth orbit to build multiple QRP rigs, the fear was far worse than the fact. I have ants in my house bigger than an Si5351, but can still solder one in place. A good magnifying headset is a must for me, and I find "bent" tweezers:

<1591273463820blob.jpg>

very useful for holding SMD's in place while soldering. To encourage others, I gave a presentation to my club on soldering SMD parts using a "practice kit" available online (eBay 192343157603) for about $2.

<1591273599731blob.jpg>
Once you've done a few SMD's, you actually enjoy using them.

Jack, W8TEE



On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 7:31:40 AM EDT, Alan G4ZFQ <alan4alan@...> wrote:


  Steve
> I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my
> thought process:

Here is my  thought:

SMD is not difficult although a beginner might have problems with the
Si5351 so I guess that would have to be fitted.
In case of problems during use it would be good if the owner had some
experience of assembly.
A fair few already will have built a QCX and be familiar with the circuitry.

Over 10 years ago I wanted a Softrock, the only way was to get into SMD,
it was a lot easier than I feared and now I use it for little projects
in favour of wired components.

73 Alan G4ZFQ



<1591273463820blob.jpg>
<1591273599731blob.jpg>


Ward Merdes
 

06/04/20

”Two years younger than dirt.”

My new go-to phrase for self-description.

Ward Merdes - KL7IXW
Fairbanks, Alaska


Arv Evans
 

Hans

I support Steve K1RF ideas for a mini-QCX or micro-QCX ( uQCX) version.
Make it so small and compact that mere mortals would probably not want to 
attempt modification.  That way it would fit with those who just want to operate 
the rig, but not want to do any modifications.  

The thought occurred to me that this uQCX might be usable as the core of a 
larger unit, but that it could still be used stand-alone by those who do not want 
to embark on possibly difficult technical projects.

If made sufficiently small, some numbers of it might be sold just as conversation 
pieces to set on the mantle as a demonstration of just how small and inexpensive 
a functional ham radio rig can be.  8-)

If a CAT interface were included then there might not be any need for an on-board 
display, and thus possibly further reduction in size.  Having only straight-key 
capability could further reduce the size (bug users could add that externally).  
If all filters were to be external it might allow for any band, or multiple, band use.  

Arv K7HKL
_._


On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:52 AM Steven Dick <sbdick@...> wrote:
I recently ordered the QCX+, which fits my needs well. I also own the original QCX.  With regard to possibly continuing the QCX mini version, I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my thought process:

1. The SMD components are, in general, lower cost than their through hole parts
2. The SMD components might allow more options for resistor package sized for an even smaller footprint.  Small but not too small to minimize possible damage from builders. No smaller than 0603 packages.
3. Pre-assembly of the SMDs would vastly reduce build time and minimize the chance for builder errors by swapped parts, etc
4. Possibly a slightly different but still low cost processor with more memory to get out from the "fighting for every byte" problem. It could still use existing software but provide some breathing room.
5. I realize the assembly cost is substantial, but I think builders would be willing to pay extra for the added reduced size for portable use as well as the quick kit build time and fewer issues with debugging problems.

-Steve K1RF

------ Original Message ------
From: "Torbjorn Skauli" <tskauli@...>
Sent: 6/4/2020 5:36:52 AM
Subject: Re: [QRPLabs] How about an ultra-portable "QCX mini" version? #qcx

Thanks for responding, Hans. I just wanted to add that my suggestion should not be read as disapproval.  I actually like the QCX+ for being easier to build, and thereby accessible to more people. And I am awed by your accomplishments in design, logistics and keeping the business running.

I can mention that I have been involved in bringing the joys of coding out to kids in Norway through clubs and schools, and I am preparing to promote ham radio through the same channels. The QCX will be a great tool in that work, consistent with its origins.

Thanks again for all the fun,

Torbjorn

Virus-free. www.avast.com


jjpurdum
 

Arv:

Okay, now that we're this far, let's think about the software. I vote for the Teensy 4.0. It's about the same size as the Nano, has 41 I/O pins, 2Mb of flash, 1 Mb of SRAM, is clocked at 600MHz at a cost of $20. A lot of the "I-wish-it-could-do-this" stuff goes away since even a bad coder could add something to the base software. Indeed, the whole reason I'm messing around with the QCX CAT interface is so I can get rid of the PC/laptop/tablet and have a small self-contained unit.

Jack, W8TEE

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 1:00:13 PM EDT, Arv Evans <arvid.evans@...> wrote:


Hans

I support Steve K1RF ideas for a mini-QCX or micro-QCX ( uQCX) version.
Make it so small and compact that mere mortals would probably not want to 
attempt modification.  That way it would fit with those who just want to operate 
the rig, but not want to do any modifications.  

The thought occurred to me that this uQCX might be usable as the core of a 
larger unit, but that it could still be used stand-alone by those who do not want 
to embark on possibly difficult technical projects.

If made sufficiently small, some numbers of it might be sold just as conversation 
pieces to set on the mantle as a demonstration of just how small and inexpensive 
a functional ham radio rig can be.  8-)

If a CAT interface were included then there might not be any need for an on-board 
display, and thus possibly further reduction in size.  Having only straight-key 
capability could further reduce the size (bug users could add that externally).  
If all filters were to be external it might allow for any band, or multiple, band use.  

Arv K7HKL
_._


On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:52 AM Steven Dick <sbdick@...> wrote:
I recently ordered the QCX+, which fits my needs well. I also own the original QCX.  With regard to possibly continuing the QCX mini version, I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my thought process:

1. The SMD components are, in general, lower cost than their through hole parts
2. The SMD components might allow more options for resistor package sized for an even smaller footprint.  Small but not too small to minimize possible damage from builders. No smaller than 0603 packages.
3. Pre-assembly of the SMDs would vastly reduce build time and minimize the chance for builder errors by swapped parts, etc
4. Possibly a slightly different but still low cost processor with more memory to get out from the "fighting for every byte" problem. It could still use existing software but provide some breathing room.
5. I realize the assembly cost is substantial, but I think builders would be willing to pay extra for the added reduced size for portable use as well as the quick kit build time and fewer issues with debugging problems.

-Steve K1RF

------ Original Message ------
From: "Torbjorn Skauli" <tskauli@...>
Sent: 6/4/2020 5:36:52 AM
Subject: Re: [QRPLabs] How about an ultra-portable "QCX mini" version? #qcx

Thanks for responding, Hans. I just wanted to add that my suggestion should not be read as disapproval.  I actually like the QCX+ for being easier to build, and thereby accessible to more people. And I am awed by your accomplishments in design, logistics and keeping the business running.

I can mention that I have been involved in bringing the joys of coding out to kids in Norway through clubs and schools, and I am preparing to promote ham radio through the same channels. The QCX will be a great tool in that work, consistent with its origins.

Thanks again for all the fun,

Torbjorn

Virus-free. www.avast.com


jjpurdum
 

I forgot to add that it's easy to program a T4 in the Arduino IDE.

Jack, W8TEE

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 1:14:17 PM EDT, jjpurdum via groups.io <jjpurdum@...> wrote:


Arv:

Okay, now that we're this far, let's think about the software. I vote for the Teensy 4.0. It's about the same size as the Nano, has 41 I/O pins, 2Mb of flash, 1 Mb of SRAM, is clocked at 600MHz at a cost of $20. A lot of the "I-wish-it-could-do-this" stuff goes away since even a bad coder could add something to the base software. Indeed, the whole reason I'm messing around with the QCX CAT interface is so I can get rid of the PC/laptop/tablet and have a small self-contained unit.

Jack, W8TEE

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, 1:00:13 PM EDT, Arv Evans <arvid.evans@...> wrote:


Hans

I support Steve K1RF ideas for a mini-QCX or micro-QCX ( uQCX) version.
Make it so small and compact that mere mortals would probably not want to 
attempt modification.  That way it would fit with those who just want to operate 
the rig, but not want to do any modifications.  

The thought occurred to me that this uQCX might be usable as the core of a 
larger unit, but that it could still be used stand-alone by those who do not want 
to embark on possibly difficult technical projects.

If made sufficiently small, some numbers of it might be sold just as conversation 
pieces to set on the mantle as a demonstration of just how small and inexpensive 
a functional ham radio rig can be.  8-)

If a CAT interface were included then there might not be any need for an on-board 
display, and thus possibly further reduction in size.  Having only straight-key 
capability could further reduce the size (bug users could add that externally).  
If all filters were to be external it might allow for any band, or multiple, band use.  

Arv K7HKL
_._


On Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 4:52 AM Steven Dick <sbdick@...> wrote:
I recently ordered the QCX+, which fits my needs well. I also own the original QCX.  With regard to possibly continuing the QCX mini version, I vote for an SMD version with the chips pre-assembled.  Here is my thought process:

1. The SMD components are, in general, lower cost than their through hole parts
2. The SMD components might allow more options for resistor package sized for an even smaller footprint.  Small but not too small to minimize possible damage from builders. No smaller than 0603 packages.
3. Pre-assembly of the SMDs would vastly reduce build time and minimize the chance for builder errors by swapped parts, etc
4. Possibly a slightly different but still low cost processor with more memory to get out from the "fighting for every byte" problem. It could still use existing software but provide some breathing room.
5. I realize the assembly cost is substantial, but I think builders would be willing to pay extra for the added reduced size for portable use as well as the quick kit build time and fewer issues with debugging problems.

-Steve K1RF

------ Original Message ------
From: "Torbjorn Skauli" <tskauli@...>
Sent: 6/4/2020 5:36:52 AM
Subject: Re: [QRPLabs] How about an ultra-portable "QCX mini" version? #qcx

Thanks for responding, Hans. I just wanted to add that my suggestion should not be read as disapproval.  I actually like the QCX+ for being easier to build, and thereby accessible to more people. And I am awed by your accomplishments in design, logistics and keeping the business running.

I can mention that I have been involved in bringing the joys of coding out to kids in Norway through clubs and schools, and I am preparing to promote ham radio through the same channels. The QCX will be a great tool in that work, consistent with its origins.

Thanks again for all the fun,

Torbjorn

Virus-free. www.avast.com