Topics

QCX-mini kit manufacturing update


Hans Summers
 

Hi all

All is progressing with the QCX-mini kit manufacturing, but perhaps a little more slowly than I'd like... but no major problems, just little things. 

We discovered we ran out of Si5351A chips in the warehouse and I had to order another 2500pcs reel from Digikey US, but they are asking lots of compliance questions for export (new rules?), before they'll ship the reel to the PCB assembly factory. 

The 5K gain potentiometer shown in the photos such as this one:
http://qrp-labs.com/images/qcxmini/update2/boards/20200924_112930.jpg
had a split ribbed shaft in the samples (not sure of the official name for this type of control shaft). But we need a round shaft with one flat face, like on the rotary encoder. Otherwise the gromet on the knob has to be fit into the split of the shaft, but then the white marking on the knob doesn't line up perfectly with how you expect it to be for minimum and maximum volume settings. Either that or I need a type of knob that suits the ribbed shafts rather than the type with a gromet screw. But then that might not match the rotary encoder shaft etc. If the gromet is tighened in the proper location then it squeezes the two halves of the split shaft together and the knob then ends up rotating in an off-center way. I don't like it. So... since no 5K pots of that style are available with 1/4-inch round-flat shaft, I decided to custom-manufacture a modified version of the 5K potentiometer which has the correct shaft type! 1000pcs custom manufacturing has a 10 day lead time and is already underway. 

The other thing requiring special manufacturing is the LCD module, the yellow/green type in the high quality module made by the QY company (as I have used in all QRP Labs kits for the last 7 years) is also not a commodity item and it needs to be manufactured to order, which is also a 10 day lead time. 

The enclosure manufacture is underway and so is the PCB manufacture. A lot of these things are all happening in parallel. 

Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to add a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off. Which is working fine now too. There's a menu item for the backlight (which is persisted in EEPROM through power cycling). You can also double-tap the rotary encoder shaft button to toggle the backlight, this state is not persisted in EEPROM. I think this is a reasonably convenient way to control the backlight. Though the firmware is the same as QCX/QCX+, these features will have no effect in a QCX/QCX+.

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


Julian Rolfe
 

Thanks for the update Hans. These progress reports really help explain how challenging manufacturing a ‘simple’ kit can be and hopefully folk are extremely appreciative of the considerable effort you are putting into what will be a fantastic addition to anyones radio ‘weaponary’.

Best and Thanks, 🙏
Jules - G4UET


Hans Summers
 

Thanks Jules

Yes, not easy! But this is not the first time I've made a kit :-)   So these things are all expected and known. What I neglected to mention, I also have to write the manual! 

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

On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 10:28 AM Julian Rolfe via groups.io <g4uet=yahoo.co.uk@groups.io> wrote:
Thanks for the update Hans. These progress reports really help explain how challenging manufacturing a ‘simple’ kit can be and hopefully folk are extremely appreciative of the considerable effort you are putting into what will be a fantastic addition to anyones radio ‘weaponary’.

Best and Thanks, 🙏
Jules - G4UET


Shane Justice
 

Hans,
Thanks for the update and status on your QCX Mini project! Isn't it amazing how decisions of other companies altering a time-honored configuration of a part probably made for 100 years or so can trip up a new design using the well worn methodology? How can that be "progress"?

Production manufacturing is always a challenge, as is obsolescence. That's another thing to keep up on. Back when I was having to watch out for such bugaboos, I subscribed to component manufacturers' alert services so I received notice when components were being marked EOL- End Of Life, so I could tell the supply folks to make lifetime buys to support the expected service lifetimes for products.

Just one more thing to do, among a chorus of one more things. Keep swinging, champ!

73,
Shane


On Oct 16, 2020 at 00:21, Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:

Hi all

All is progressing with the QCX-mini kit manufacturing, but perhaps a little more slowly than I'd like... but no major problems, just little things. 

We discovered we ran out of Si5351A chips in the warehouse and I had to order another 2500pcs reel from Digikey US, but they are asking lots of compliance questions for export (new rules?), before they'll ship the reel to the PCB assembly factory. 

The 5K gain potentiometer shown in the photos such as this one:
http://qrp-labs.com/images/qcxmini/update2/boards/20200924_112930.jpg
had a split ribbed shaft in the samples (not sure of the official name for this type of control shaft). But we need a round shaft with one flat face, like on the rotary encoder. Otherwise the gromet on the knob has to be fit into the split of the shaft, but then the white marking on the knob doesn't line up perfectly with how you expect it to be for minimum and maximum volume settings. Either that or I need a type of knob that suits the ribbed shafts rather than the type with a gromet screw. But then that might not match the rotary encoder shaft etc. If the gromet is tighened in the proper location then it squeezes the two halves of the split shaft together and the knob then ends up rotating in an off-center way. I don't like it. So... since no 5K pots of that style are available with 1/4-inch round-flat shaft, I decided to custom-manufacture a modified version of the 5K potentiometer which has the correct shaft type! 1000pcs custom manufacturing has a 10 day lead time and is already underway. 

The other thing requiring special manufacturing is the LCD module, the yellow/green type in the high quality module made by the QY company (as I have used in all QRP Labs kits for the last 7 years) is also not a commodity item and it needs to be manufactured to order, which is also a 10 day lead time. 

The enclosure manufacture is underway and so is the PCB manufacture. A lot of these things are all happening in parallel. 

Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to add a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off. Which is working fine now too. There's a menu item for the backlight (which is persisted in EEPROM through power cycling). You can also double-tap the rotary encoder shaft button to toggle the backlight, this state is not persisted in EEPROM. I think this is a reasonably convenient way to control the backlight. Though the firmware is the same as QCX/QCX+, these features will have no effect in a QCX/QCX+.

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


Marek SP9TKW
 

Hans,

Thanks for the update, it's really apreciated.

Personally, I can't wait when it will be available for order. 

---------------------------------
73 de Marek SP9TKW


Dave
 

Thanks for the update Hans.

 I know all the kit builders watching for availability, like me, really appreciate more than they can say how conscientiously you pay attention to the fine details so their kit build goes smoothly and they end up with an excellent little rig they can take pride in.

A bit like waiting for dinner to cook.  The smell drives you crazy but you have to wait until it’s properly done.

Dave


On Oct 16, 2020, at 03:21, Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:


Hi all

All is progressing with the QCX-mini kit manufacturing, but perhaps a little more slowly than I'd like... but no major problems, just little things. 

We discovered we ran out of Si5351A chips in the warehouse and I had to order another 2500pcs reel from Digikey US, but they are asking lots of compliance questions for export (new rules?), before they'll ship the reel to the PCB assembly factory. 

The 5K gain potentiometer shown in the photos such as this one:
http://qrp-labs.com/images/qcxmini/update2/boards/20200924_112930.jpg
had a split ribbed shaft in the samples (not sure of the official name for this type of control shaft). But we need a round shaft with one flat face, like on the rotary encoder. Otherwise the gromet on the knob has to be fit into the split of the shaft, but then the white marking on the knob doesn't line up perfectly with how you expect it to be for minimum and maximum volume settings. Either that or I need a type of knob that suits the ribbed shafts rather than the type with a gromet screw. But then that might not match the rotary encoder shaft etc. If the gromet is tighened in the proper location then it squeezes the two halves of the split shaft together and the knob then ends up rotating in an off-center way. I don't like it. So... since no 5K pots of that style are available with 1/4-inch round-flat shaft, I decided to custom-manufacture a modified version of the 5K potentiometer which has the correct shaft type! 1000pcs custom manufacturing has a 10 day lead time and is already underway. 

The other thing requiring special manufacturing is the LCD module, the yellow/green type in the high quality module made by the QY company (as I have used in all QRP Labs kits for the last 7 years) is also not a commodity item and it needs to be manufactured to order, which is also a 10 day lead time. 

The enclosure manufacture is underway and so is the PCB manufacture. A lot of these things are all happening in parallel. 

Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to add a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off. Which is working fine now too. There's a menu item for the backlight (which is persisted in EEPROM through power cycling). You can also double-tap the rotary encoder shaft button to toggle the backlight, this state is not persisted in EEPROM. I think this is a reasonably convenient way to control the backlight. Though the firmware is the same as QCX/QCX+, these features will have no effect in a QCX/QCX+.

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


Jim Manley
 

Hi Dave,

Great.  Now, I'm not only salivating at the prospect of the mini kit shipping Real Soon Now, but you've got me drooling even more over some imagined food that's generating phantom olfactory stimulation!  That darned neighbor, Pavlov, is ringing his bell for the umpteenth time in the middle of all of this, too ... 

Hmmm ... I do have that oven handy here at the workbench for baking surface-mount assemblies ... 

73_Morse_Animated_GIF.gif

Jim  KJ7JHE


On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 7:50 AM Dave <VE3GSO@...> wrote:
Thanks for the update Hans.

 I know all the kit builders watching for availability, like me, really appreciate more than they can say how conscientiously you pay attention to the fine details so their kit build goes smoothly and they end up with an excellent little rig they can take pride in.

A bit like waiting for dinner to cook.  The smell drives you crazy but you have to wait until it’s properly done.

Dave


namerati@...
 

On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 10:20:58AM +0300, Hans Summers wrote:
Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to add
a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off. Which is
working fine now too. There's a menu item for the backlight (which is
persisted in EEPROM through power cycling). You can also double-tap the
rotary encoder shaft button to toggle the backlight, this state is not
persisted in EEPROM. I think this is a reasonably convenient way to control
the backlight. Though the firmware is the same as QCX/QCX+, these features
will have no effect in a QCX/QCX+.
That's great! I could have sworn you posted the power draw with/without backlight somewhere, do you have it handy?


Michael N6MST
 

On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 11:23 AM, <namerati@...> wrote:
That's great! I could have sworn you posted the power draw with/without backlight somewhere, do you have it handy?
Check the table at the bottom of this page: QCX-mini update 3


Mont Pierce KM6WT
 

Hans wrote:
> Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to
> add a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off.

How about having it go off and on automatically?

Have it go off after an idle period of time, and go back on anytime the rotary dial is touched.

Would also be nice if user could define the idle time timeout, in increments of seconds, and/or minutes.  Maybe 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 min, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min, etc.  Or setting could be linear, just 1-x minutes idle time.


Just a thought

73,
km6wt




Mont Pierce KM6WT
 

Your work is first class Hans...   Can't wait to put my order in for the QCX-mini !!!  :)  :)

Hans wrote:
> If the gromet is tighened in the proper location then it squeezes the two halves
> of the split shaft together and the knob then ends up rotating in an off-center way.

What if you put a spacer in the slit so that tightening the grommet would not be able to squeeze the two halves together?  ( sounds kind of hokey... never mind ).

73
km6wt


Mike Besemer - WM4B
 

Or, he could leave it the way he has it designed now and you can just click the encoder button to turn it out.  Then he can get back to working on the QSX.

Mike
WM4B

On Oct 16, 2020 3:43 PM, Mont Pierce KM6WT <de.km6wt@...> wrote:
Hans wrote:
> Meanwhile I have been working on an enhancement to the QCX firmware, to
> add a way to switch the QCX-mini LCD module backlight on and off.

How about having it go off and on automatically?

Have it go off after an idle period of time, and go back on anytime the rotary dial is touched.

Would also be nice if user could define the idle time timeout, in increments of seconds, and/or minutes.  Maybe 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 min, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min, etc.  Or setting could be linear, just 1-x minutes idle time.


Just a thought

73,
km6wt




Leon
 

Oh my word Hans - I'm salivating!

There is a very active CW group in South Africa at the moment and many of the Ops are using QCX and QCX+ kits. They run an almost daily scorecard on 7022 and with band conditions improving they are chomping at the bit!  We are already collecting numbers to place a pre-order when you are ready.

--
73s de ZR6LN Leon Uys from Johannesburg 0825735580


Jean-Marc Meessen (ON4KJM)
 

The bets are open to predict how long it will take for the first batch of QCX-mini to be sold out :-)
 
73 de ON4KJM


Dave
 

My money is on the first 24 hours!

Dave


On Oct 17, 2020, at 05:21, Jean-Marc Meessen (ON4KJM) <on4kjm@...> wrote:

The bets are open to predict how long it will take for the first batch of QCX-mini to be sold out :-)
 
73 de ON4KJM


Mont Pierce KM6WT
 

Hans,

If you're starting a list of reservations for new QCX-mini, put me down for one.

tnx
km6wt


Steve W6WU
 

Ditto,
Steve W6WU


On Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 2:16 PM Mont Pierce KM6WT <de.km6wt@...> wrote:
Hans,

If you're starting a list of reservations for new QCX-mini, put me down for one.

tnx
km6wt


Dave
 

Guys and Gals!  Hans will announce it here and on the QRP-Labs page when it is ready. Then it will be a “free for all” of ordering. Hans has been about as clear as anyone can be that he does not succumb to the Pre-Order Trap.  No amount of whimpering is likely to change his disciplined mind.

Sorry to be such a downer so close to Christmas!

Dave


On Oct 17, 2020, at 15:04, Steve W6WU <w6wu.ars@...> wrote:


Ditto,
Steve W6WU

On Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 2:16 PM Mont Pierce KM6WT <de.km6wt@...> wrote:
Hans,

If you're starting a list of reservations for new QCX-mini, put me down for one.

tnx
km6wt


Shane Justice
 

All,

Hans made the statement some weeks back that he was pushing to have it avaible to order for Christmas (IF I remember correctly)- Let's let him concentrate on getting the production wrinkles ironed out- he has said that several items required custom batch orders and have 10 day leads.

Think about this: if he has parts for 2500-2700 mini-qcx's inbound, he and his small staff have a HUGE kitting job ahead of them. We shouldn't be destracting him with chatter about getting in line for an order. Let the man concentrate on his business. He will have a forum to announce his new kit when they are ready, and you can order then. Otherwise, if you take Hans time to answer your request to be put in line, you are taking from his time to get Mini-qcx ready for sale, as well as finishing the QSX., And who knows what's next.

Let the man do his work.

Regards,
Shane


On Oct 17, 2020 at 13:41, Dave <ve3gso@...> wrote:

Guys and Gals!  Hans will announce it here and on the QRP-Labs page when it is ready. Then it will be a “free for all” of ordering. Hans has been about as clear as anyone can be that he does not succumb to the Pre-Order Trap.  No amount of whimpering is likely to change his disciplined mind.

Sorry to be such a downer so close to Christmas!

Dave


On Oct 17, 2020, at 15:04, Steve W6WU <w6wu.ars@...> wrote:


Ditto,
Steve W6WU

On Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 2:16 PM Mont Pierce KM6WT <de.km6wt@...> wrote:
Hans,

If you're starting a list of reservations for new QCX-mini, put me down for one.

tnx
km6wt


namerati@...
 

On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 11:28:23AM -0700, Michael N6MST wrote:
Check the table at the bottom of this page: QCX-mini update 3 ( https://www.qrp-labs.com/qcxmini/qcxminidev3 )
Thanks!