Topics

QCX-mini update


Glenn ODonnell
 

Hans, you are a genius!

I own three QCX Classics (30, 20, and a recent 80 build). I love them all! I have been contemplating a QCX+ but the mini looks so cool, that my next unit will be a mini! One for 40m would complete my QRP family and I'll then retire my trusty old MFJ-9040. I can't wait to retire so I can play with them more!

Thank you for all you do! You are a fabulous asset to the ham radio community!

VY 73 de Glenn K3PP 
now ... about that QCX Pico ... hmmmm, intriguing if my old eyes were better ūüėä


N1EDC
 

This project is looking great - I will need at least one!

The QCX-SSB mod sounds like it would be a fun experiment, too, and I'm glad to see there will be space in the enclosure!

I'm also very pleased by the modifications for greater durability and reduced current consumption - This is looking like it may end up being the ne plus ultra for portable CW ops.

By chance would there be space for a tiny buck regulator to provide the 5V Arduino supply and replace the linear regulator?  I seem to recall someone here doing that mod to further reduce current draw.


Hans Summers
 


By chance would there be space for a tiny buck regulator to provide the 5V Arduino supply and replace the linear regulator?  I seem to recall someone here doing that mod to further reduce current draw.  

Not now. I do want to do something like this and have it on my ToDo list but I wild want to do extensive testing to make sure the excellent performance of QCX isn't degraded by RF noise. So it needs some R&D and right now isn't the time. So l'll just use an LM1117 for now. 

73 Hans G0UPL 


Alan de G1FXB
 

Nearly 2750 hits on the web page in the space of 24 hours.
If they result in similar sales, you have hit the sweet spot again.

The fabrication plant will be will be turning away Apple production this Xmas!


Alan

On 11/09/2020 17:23, Hans Summers wrote:
Hi all

I am excited to provide an update on the QCX-mini project http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html

Again to stress: QCX-mini has the same schematic (almost), firmware, operation and performance as QCX and QCX+. It is just a different physical manifestation. This is not a major R&D effort. It is a pleasant breather. The tasks are limited to mechanical re-engineering and some re-documentation later. So please don't all start yelling at me about what I ought to be spending my time and energy on instead. 

To summarize: I laid out a PCB. Two in fact (it's a sandwich). And got some made. I have ordered two sets of components and one set arrived yesterday; the other (the bulk of the R and C, SMD parts from Farnell UK) will arrive in about 1 week. I designed an enclosure and made technical drawings, and my usual enclosure factory has produced a prototype to my specification, which is in the post and will likely get here in about 2 weeks from now. 

So far everything fits together very well and at this stage I do not anticipate any major roadblocks. 

It's a really beautiful little radio! I am looking forward to hauling myself to a nearby mountain to try it out. 

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


Janez S58J
 

I am really impressed Hans. QCX-mini is another TRX on my must-have list.

Just one simple question: will it be possible to get the "mini" with SMD parts NOT pre-assembled? I am not asking this to get a lower price and I am willing to pay the full cost. I just wish to do it all by myself. To me it is a special feeling by soldering every single part and making the device alive. Plus I am very used to soldering SMD parts with great tools available (Hakko ...). I already made 5 different QRP transceivers, ranging from HF all the way to 13cm (2304/2320 MHz), each time by having only PBCs and the case and that is where I have most of the fun.

Looking forward to your reply.

Janez, S58J  

V V pet., 11. sep. 2020 ob 18:23 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:

Hi all

I am excited to provide an update on the QCX-mini project http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html

Again to stress: QCX-mini has the same schematic (almost), firmware, operation and performance as QCX and QCX+. It is just a different physical manifestation. This is not a major R&D effort. It is a pleasant breather. The tasks are limited to mechanical re-engineering and some re-documentation later. So please don't all start yelling at me about what I ought to be spending my time and energy on instead. 

To summarize: I laid out a PCB. Two in fact (it's a sandwich). And got some made. I have ordered two sets of components and one set arrived yesterday; the other (the bulk of the R and C, SMD parts from Farnell UK) will arrive in about 1 week. I designed an enclosure and made technical drawings, and my usual enclosure factory has produced a prototype to my specification, which is in the post and will likely get here in about 2 weeks from now. 

So far everything fits together very well and at this stage I do not anticipate any major roadblocks. 

It's a really beautiful little radio! I am looking forward to hauling myself to a nearby mountain to try it out. 

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


Hans Summers
 

Hello Janez

I have no plans to offer the QCX-mini both with and without the SMD parts pre-soldered. To do would increase the complexity and cost of production, which does not seem worthwhile for what I believe would be a rather small minority. 

Furthermore it seems to me highly likely that a significant proportion of constructors, not including you Janez, would over-estimate their capability to deal with 0603 SMD components and this would inevitably lead to a larger support burden on me. I have enough support headache as it is, already nearly buried, so increasing would be a very abnoxious option for me. Before you suggest a disclaimer that the un-assembled version is strictly for expert SMD solderers and is unsupported (and sparsely documented, unless I am to spend a lot of time writing and maintaining a second manual version): in my limited experience there are also a large proportion of people for whom any form of warning, particularly if written in bold red font potentially larger size than normal, magically renders itself as completely invisible to their eyes. This is an as yet unresolved mystery but has been consistently observed on multiple occasions.

Then there's my other observation, that regardless of the size of stick used to beat kit packers, the probability of packing error (missing or wrong components) is strictly inversely proportional to the size of the components being packed. 

All in all offering such a kit version, having unassembled SMD, appears to me terribly unfeasible. 

The hard-core sadistic fanatic (not suggesting necessarily that this includes you Janez OM) could always use hot air to remove all SMD components from the assembled boards, then have fun identifying all the tiny grains and cleaning everything up and then re-soldering them to his heart's content...

73 Hans G0UPL 


On Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 22:21 Janez S58J <janez.s58j@...> wrote:
I am really impressed Hans. QCX-mini is another TRX on my must-have list.

Just one simple question: will it be possible to get the "mini" with SMD parts NOT pre-assembled? I am not asking this to get a lower price and I am willing to pay the full cost. I just wish to do it all by myself. To me it is a special feeling by soldering every single part and making the device alive. Plus I am very used to soldering SMD parts with great tools available (Hakko ...). I already made 5 different QRP transceivers, ranging from HF all the way to 13cm (2304/2320 MHz), each time by having only PBCs and the case and that is where I have most of the fun.

Looking forward to your reply.

Janez, S58J  

V V pet., 11. sep. 2020 ob 18:23 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:
Hi all

I am excited to provide an update on the QCX-mini project http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html

Again to stress: QCX-mini has the same schematic (almost), firmware, operation and performance as QCX and QCX+. It is just a different physical manifestation. This is not a major R&D effort. It is a pleasant breather. The tasks are limited to mechanical re-engineering and some re-documentation later. So please don't all start yelling at me about what I ought to be spending my time and energy on instead. 

To summarize: I laid out a PCB. Two in fact (it's a sandwich). And got some made. I have ordered two sets of components and one set arrived yesterday; the other (the bulk of the R and C, SMD parts from Farnell UK) will arrive in about 1 week. I designed an enclosure and made technical drawings, and my usual enclosure factory has produced a prototype to my specification, which is in the post and will likely get here in about 2 weeks from now. 

So far everything fits together very well and at this stage I do not anticipate any major roadblocks. 

It's a really beautiful little radio! I am looking forward to hauling myself to a nearby mountain to try it out. 

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


namerati@...
 

On Sat, Sep 12, 2020 at 06:30:29AM -0700, Glenn ODonnell wrote:
now ... about that QCX Pico ... hmmmm, intriguing if my old eyes were better ūüėä
Naturally Hans would include a special mode which "displays" all the pertinent data by encoding it as CW and playing it to the user... no LCD screen necessary!

No pesky knobs or buttons either, just "key" in your commands ;)


Lex PH2LB
 

On Sat, Sep 12, 2020 at 11:29 PM, Hans Summers wrote:
The hard-core sadistic fanatic (not suggesting necessarily that this includes you Janez OM) could always use hot air to remove all SMD components from the assembled boards, then have fun identifying all the tiny grains and cleaning everything up and then re-soldering them to his heart's content...

LOL 

I wouldn't mind soldering 0603 components (have the equipment for that) but I fully understand Hans reason not to sell a "have a fine masochistic SMD Hamradio kit building experience" version of the QCX mini and from a employer point of few, the cutting of the SMD part strips from the reels and writing the values on them (not all 0603 components have values) would be a punishment for Hans's co-workers. 


Bill Cromwell
 

Hi,

Would that require a fine tip Sharpie Marker or can we get by using the standard size Sharpie?

73,

Bill KU8H

bark less - wag more

On 9/13/20 4:53 AM, Lex PH2LB wrote:
---snip------

from a employer point of few, the cutting of the SMD part strips from the reels and writing the values on them (not all 0603 components have values) would be a punishment for Hans's co-workers.


Tech Guy
 

Sounds wonderful Hans. Thank you for your efforts again
John N4HNO 


R. Tyson
 

Now then... I think I know what is going on here.

Hans teaches junior ops. to hold a soldering iron as soon as possible. There is a problem with them always wanting to put things in their mouth to start with. They will quickly desist though.

Junior ops. grow and suddenly the QCX is being produced in a larger form. Little fingers are not so little any more.

Along comes a new junior op. Allow a few weeks for the training around the soldering iron and all of a sudden.....    A new, miniature version of the QCX is announced.

Coincidence........      ?

Reg      G4NFR


Janez S58J
 

Hi Hans

With your final sentences you made me smile, or should I be offended because of the inserted ambiguity? Rest assured, I am not that hard core to desolder and solder again, I am just having fun doing the projects starting from the "PCB and the case only level". Yes, with your explanation I understand that my proposal leads to unnecessary higher risks for errors .

Nevertheless I am still interested in the "mini" and thank you for blending love for CW via the renewed need for radio construction skills. QCX brings the best from the both mentioned worlds.

Kind regards 

Janez, S58J


V V sob., 12. sep. 2020 ob 23:30 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:

Hello Janez

I have no plans to offer the QCX-mini both with and without the SMD parts pre-soldered. To do would increase the complexity and cost of production, which does not seem worthwhile for what I believe would be a rather small minority. 

Furthermore it seems to me highly likely that a significant proportion of constructors, not including you Janez, would over-estimate their capability to deal with 0603 SMD components and this would inevitably lead to a larger support burden on me. I have enough support headache as it is, already nearly buried, so increasing would be a very abnoxious option for me. Before you suggest a disclaimer that the un-assembled version is strictly for expert SMD solderers and is unsupported (and sparsely documented, unless I am to spend a lot of time writing and maintaining a second manual version): in my limited experience there are also a large proportion of people for whom any form of warning, particularly if written in bold red font potentially larger size than normal, magically renders itself as completely invisible to their eyes. This is an as yet unresolved mystery but has been consistently observed on multiple occasions.

Then there's my other observation, that regardless of the size of stick used to beat kit packers, the probability of packing error (missing or wrong components) is strictly inversely proportional to the size of the components being packed. 

All in all offering such a kit version, having unassembled SMD, appears to me terribly unfeasible. 

The hard-core sadistic fanatic (not suggesting necessarily that this includes you Janez OM) could always use hot air to remove all SMD components from the assembled boards, then have fun identifying all the tiny grains and cleaning everything up and then re-soldering them to his heart's content...

73 Hans G0UPL 


On Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 22:21 Janez S58J <janez.s58j@...> wrote:
I am really impressed Hans. QCX-mini is another TRX on my must-have list.

Just one simple question: will it be possible to get the "mini" with SMD parts NOT pre-assembled? I am not asking this to get a lower price and I am willing to pay the full cost. I just wish to do it all by myself. To me it is a special feeling by soldering every single part and making the device alive. Plus I am very used to soldering SMD parts with great tools available (Hakko ...). I already made 5 different QRP transceivers, ranging from HF all the way to 13cm (2304/2320 MHz), each time by having only PBCs and the case and that is where I have most of the fun.

Looking forward to your reply.

Janez, S58J  

V V pet., 11. sep. 2020 ob 18:23 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:
Hi all

I am excited to provide an update on the QCX-mini project http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html

Again to stress: QCX-mini has the same schematic (almost), firmware, operation and performance as QCX and QCX+. It is just a different physical manifestation. This is not a major R&D effort. It is a pleasant breather. The tasks are limited to mechanical re-engineering and some re-documentation later. So please don't all start yelling at me about what I ought to be spending my time and energy on instead. 

To summarize: I laid out a PCB. Two in fact (it's a sandwich). And got some made. I have ordered two sets of components and one set arrived yesterday; the other (the bulk of the R and C, SMD parts from Farnell UK) will arrive in about 1 week. I designed an enclosure and made technical drawings, and my usual enclosure factory has produced a prototype to my specification, which is in the post and will likely get here in about 2 weeks from now. 

So far everything fits together very well and at this stage I do not anticipate any major roadblocks. 

It's a really beautiful little radio! I am looking forward to hauling myself to a nearby mountain to try it out. 

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


Hans Summers
 

Thanks Janez... and definitely no offense intended :-) 
73 Hans G0UPL
http://qrp-labs.com

On Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 9:54 PM Janez S58J <janez.s58j@...> wrote:
Hi Hans

With your final sentences you made me smile, or should I be offended because of the inserted ambiguity? Rest assured, I am not that hard core to desolder and solder again, I am just having fun doing the projects starting from the "PCB and the case only level". Yes, with your explanation I understand that my proposal leads to unnecessary higher risks for errors .

Nevertheless I am still interested in the "mini" and thank you for blending love for CW via the renewed need for radio construction skills. QCX brings the best from the both mentioned worlds.

Kind regards 

Janez, S58J


V V sob., 12. sep. 2020 ob 23:30 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:
Hello Janez

I have no plans to offer the QCX-mini both with and without the SMD parts pre-soldered. To do would increase the complexity and cost of production, which does not seem worthwhile for what I believe would be a rather small minority. 

Furthermore it seems to me highly likely that a significant proportion of constructors, not including you Janez, would over-estimate their capability to deal with 0603 SMD components and this would inevitably lead to a larger support burden on me. I have enough support headache as it is, already nearly buried, so increasing would be a very abnoxious option for me. Before you suggest a disclaimer that the un-assembled version is strictly for expert SMD solderers and is unsupported (and sparsely documented, unless I am to spend a lot of time writing and maintaining a second manual version): in my limited experience there are also a large proportion of people for whom any form of warning, particularly if written in bold red font potentially larger size than normal, magically renders itself as completely invisible to their eyes. This is an as yet unresolved mystery but has been consistently observed on multiple occasions.

Then there's my other observation, that regardless of the size of stick used to beat kit packers, the probability of packing error (missing or wrong components) is strictly inversely proportional to the size of the components being packed. 

All in all offering such a kit version, having unassembled SMD, appears to me terribly unfeasible. 

The hard-core sadistic fanatic (not suggesting necessarily that this includes you Janez OM) could always use hot air to remove all SMD components from the assembled boards, then have fun identifying all the tiny grains and cleaning everything up and then re-soldering them to his heart's content...

73 Hans G0UPL 


On Sat, Sep 12, 2020, 22:21 Janez S58J <janez.s58j@...> wrote:
I am really impressed Hans. QCX-mini is another TRX on my must-have list.

Just one simple question: will it be possible to get the "mini" with SMD parts NOT pre-assembled? I am not asking this to get a lower price and I am willing to pay the full cost. I just wish to do it all by myself. To me it is a special feeling by soldering every single part and making the device alive. Plus I am very used to soldering SMD parts with great tools available (Hakko ...). I already made 5 different QRP transceivers, ranging from HF all the way to 13cm (2304/2320 MHz), each time by having only PBCs and the case and that is where I have most of the fun.

Looking forward to your reply.

Janez, S58J  

V V pet., 11. sep. 2020 ob 18:23 je oseba Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> napisala:
Hi all

I am excited to provide an update on the QCX-mini project http://qrp-labs.com/qcxmini.html

Again to stress: QCX-mini has the same schematic (almost), firmware, operation and performance as QCX and QCX+. It is just a different physical manifestation. This is not a major R&D effort. It is a pleasant breather. The tasks are limited to mechanical re-engineering and some re-documentation later. So please don't all start yelling at me about what I ought to be spending my time and energy on instead. 

To summarize: I laid out a PCB. Two in fact (it's a sandwich). And got some made. I have ordered two sets of components and one set arrived yesterday; the other (the bulk of the R and C, SMD parts from Farnell UK) will arrive in about 1 week. I designed an enclosure and made technical drawings, and my usual enclosure factory has produced a prototype to my specification, which is in the post and will likely get here in about 2 weeks from now. 

So far everything fits together very well and at this stage I do not anticipate any major roadblocks. 

It's a really beautiful little radio! I am looking forward to hauling myself to a nearby mountain to try it out. 

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


Torbjorn Skauli
 

Woohoo this looks great! (I would happily preorder to get serial number one:-)

I shall have to start thinking about how to integrate battery, speaker and paddle into a pocket-friendly unit. Perhaps with a 3D printed replacement for the bottom part of the enclosure? What might fit in the space of DC, Paddle, PTT and CAT jacks if I do not use them? 

In fact, I have a suggestion: It seems that the headphone jack has the usual built-in switches to disconnect a speaker. It would be good if the switched speaker connection could be brought out to one or two solder pads, to facilitate the addition of a speaker amplifier. Also, the BNC may make it difficult to integrate the paddle on the right, but there are several workarounds for that.

Good luck with the prototyping!

Torbjorn, LA4ZCA


Hans Summers
 

Hello Torbjorn
 
I shall have to start thinking about how to integrate battery, speaker and paddle into a pocket-friendly unit. Perhaps with a 3D printed replacement for the bottom part of the enclosure? What might fit in the space of DC, Paddle, PTT and CAT jacks if I do not use them? 

In fact, I have a suggestion: It seems that the headphone jack has the usual built-in switches to disconnect a speaker. It would be good if the switched speaker connection could be brought out to one or two solder pads, to facilitate the addition of a speaker amplifier.

That's no problem... I checked the board and there was a little bit of space there, I have added a pad connected to one of the switched connections. Check the attached silkscreen image, just at the bottom right corner of the earphone connector! 
 
Also, the BNC may make it difficult to integrate the paddle on the right, but there are several workarounds for that.

Note that I am heavily constrained by where I can locate the connectors. The 3.5mm jack sockets have a low profile. But the BNC and Power connectors have 11mm height and just about fit in the sandwich, the spacers between the boards are 11mm; they can only  fit in the lower portion of the board, since the clearance under the LCD module is only 7mm at most - and less where the metal tabs come down. It was all a difficult exercise in 3D packing!

73 Hans G0UPL


Torbjorn Skauli
 

It is certainly impressive how you have squeezed things together here. I could not figure out why there is a notch in the controls PCB above the screw tab on the top PCB, instead of just stacking both under a screw, but I am sure there is a reason.
 
A possible future upgrade could be a "QCX Go" with batteries: By extending the cabinet to the left, there could be room for a battery holder for 3x18650 Li-ion cells (but not 4x?) plus charging circuit/BMS. There might be room also for a speaker amplifier and speaker, possibly also an optional GPS (with a marking on the enclosure for the area to cut out for the antenna). The DC, paddle and audio jacks could be on the left side as in the current design, with an on/off switch in addition, and perhaps a charge status LED. The DC jack could be used to supply higher voltages to get the full power when desired, in addition to charging. Mechanically, this could be achieved by butting a new PCB against the current top PCB. There would be a need for interconnect to the bottom PCB, ideally by some kind of header. The header could be on a carrier board that mounts in place of the left side jacks on the bottom PCB.
 
I am just dreaming aloud here, but it seems that QRP labs is a good place to do that :-)
 
Torbjorn
 


Hans Summers
 


Hello Torbjorn

I could not figure out why there is a notch in the controls PCB above the screw tab on the top PCB, instead of just stacking both under a screw, but I am sure there is a reason.

The controls PCB is at a height of 1.6mm above the top PCB (which holds the LCD and slides into the enclosure extrusion rails). This is necessary in order to get the controls at the correct protrusion from the front panel. 

Additionally the controls PCB can't be fixed to the "top" PCB until AFTER the top PCB has been slid into the enclosure top part. Because of course no sliding would be possible due to the controls' shafts which fit through holes (not slots) in the front panel. So first the top PCB is slid in. The controls PCB is bolted to the bottom PCB. The controls PCB fits through the milled cut-out in the top PCB and then the bottom PCB is bolted to the top by four pillars (11mm spacers). 

You will love it when you see it! 

Love the upgrade ideas... for ***future***... right now, we'll walk before we run, and anyway there isn't supposed to be a major R&D on this "small" project, being primarily a mechanical engineering task at the moment :-)

73 Hans G0UPL 


namerati@...
 

On Fri, Sep 18, 2020 at 01:46:34PM -0700, Torbjorn Skauli wrote:
Woohoo this looks great! (I would happily preorder to get serial number one:-)

I shall have to start thinking about how to integrate battery, speaker and paddle into a pocket-friendly unit. Perhaps with a 3D printed replacement for the bottom part of the enclosure?
One thing that has occurred to me: my current "SOTA kit" has a weight of some 350g, and a good deal of that is the radio's aluminum enclosure.

I wonder how much weight would be saved by switching to a plastic enclosure?

Do they even make plastic versions of the extruded aluminum enclosure, or would we need to 3D print a custom one?


Hans Summers
 

FYI

One thing that has occurred to me: my current "SOTA kit" has a weight of
some 350g, and a good deal of that is the radio's aluminum enclosure.

My preliminary estimate for the weight of QCX-mini is a little under 200g including enclosure. 

I think the enclosure makes up roughly 1/3 of the weight. Will let you know more towards the end of next week, when it should all be here in my hands. 

QCX-mini will also be available without enclosure for people who want to 3D print. 

73 Hans G0UPL 


Arv Evans
 

Hans

Right-angle Dupont female connectors are low profile, inexpensive 
and can be "keyed" to a particular mating plug by blocking one or 
more of the socket openings.


Arv
_._


On Sat, Sep 19, 2020 at 12:24 AM Hans Summers <hans.summers@...> wrote:
Hello Torbjorn
 
I shall have to start thinking about how to integrate battery, speaker and paddle into a pocket-friendly unit. Perhaps with a 3D printed replacement for the bottom part of the enclosure? What might fit in the space of DC, Paddle, PTT and CAT jacks if I do not use them? 

In fact, I have a suggestion: It seems that the headphone jack has the usual built-in switches to disconnect a speaker. It would be good if the switched speaker connection could be brought out to one or two solder pads, to facilitate the addition of a speaker amplifier.

That's no problem... I checked the board and there was a little bit of space there, I have added a pad connected to one of the switched connections. Check the attached silkscreen image, just at the bottom right corner of the earphone connector! 
 
Also, the BNC may make it difficult to integrate the paddle on the right, but there are several workarounds for that.

Note that I am heavily constrained by where I can locate the connectors. The 3.5mm jack sockets have a low profile. But the BNC and Power connectors have 11mm height and just about fit in the sandwich, the spacers between the boards are 11mm; they can only  fit in the lower portion of the board, since the clearance under the LCD module is only 7mm at most - and less where the metal tabs come down. It was all a difficult exercise in 3D packing!

73 Hans G0UPL