Topics

QCX-SSB: SSB with your QCX transceiver


Gary Bernard
 

I have a 20 and a 40 QCX they. are great CW rigs. Easy to build and very versatile.
Gary W0CKI since 1954.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...>
To: QRPLabs@groups.io
Sent: Thu, Apr 30, 2020 2:31 pm
Subject: Re: [QRPLabs] QCX-SSB: SSB with your QCX transceiver

What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/


jjpurdum
 

Ryan:

The principal at QRP Labs is Hans Summers. He previewed the QSX at a YOTA meeting in 2018. The QCX (CW only) has been on the market for some time and, but the time you read this, there will be about 10,000 of them in the field. Three of those are mine, that's how much I like it. The reason the QSX isn't ready is because, despite constant hounding from hundreds of us, Hans says it isn't ready. His kits are like vintage wine...it's ready when it's ready.

Dollar for dollar you can't beat the QCX. It even has all of the necessary alignment equipment built into the software. The assembly manual puts Heathkit to shame and is the new standard for assembly manuals. You can download that from their web site and view it yourself.

If you build a 20M QCX and find you're not happy with it, post a for sale ad here and it will take you about 20 minutes to find a buyer. Your downside risk is as close to 0 as you can get.

Jack, W8TEE

On Thursday, April 30, 2020, 4:31:39 PM EDT, Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:


What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/


Ryan Flowers
 

Hey guys, I think I caused some confusion: I'm very, very sold on QRP Labs and well know about all the things about it. Check my blog: I'm big on QRP Labs :-) 

My question was regarding the QCX-SSB modifications specifically, and how that project is moving along. 

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
The BITX40 FAQ


Bill Cromwell
 

Hi Ryan,

there have been some recent posts here and it's not all clear to me. But my tak away is that transmitting SSB with a modified QCX is not ready for prime time. Some of the people seem to feel it is close. Now I have stuck my neck out somebody with *real* information will speak up :)

73,

Bill KU8H

On 4/30/20 5:27 PM, Ryan Flowers wrote:
Hey guys, I think I caused some confusion: I'm very, very sold on QRP Labs and well know about all the things about it. Check my blog: I'm big on QRP Labs :-)
My question was regarding the QCX-SSB modifications specifically, and how that project is moving along.
--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
--
bark less - wag more


Guido PE1NNZ
 

Hi Ryan,

Short answer:  

1. Yes, QCX-SSB is working very well and usable as a SSB transceiver;

2. Since the initial release in Jan. last year I got quite a huge response and this allowed me to improve the transmit audio quality and other bugs and issues, stations are reporting good audio and always surprised with the 5W power.

3. New usability improvements have been made and other (yet unreleased) experimental features have been added. Skip these experimental features if you want something that just works (implement only the SSB transmit mod, not the others if you want to be safe, but the others are waaay more fun :-))..

73, Guido


On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 10:31 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/


Ryan Flowers
 

Thank you Guido! 

This bodes well, thank you for your response! I'm curious about the experimental features you're referring to; Are you talking about the AM/FM/CW modes listed on the github page? Or something else altogether?

Lastly, I see that this will happily transmit or receive on any band, which is great. Is there any LPF switching built into the code? Or will that need to be added per user? 

Thanks so much. 73

On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 4:17 PM Guido PE1NNZ <threeme3@...> wrote:
Hi Ryan,

Short answer:  

1. Yes, QCX-SSB is working very well and usable as a SSB transceiver;

2. Since the initial release in Jan. last year I got quite a huge response and this allowed me to improve the transmit audio quality and other bugs and issues, stations are reporting good audio and always surprised with the 5W power.

3. New usability improvements have been made and other (yet unreleased) experimental features have been added. Skip these experimental features if you want something that just works (implement only the SSB transmit mod, not the others if you want to be safe, but the others are waaay more fun :-))..

73, Guido


On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 10:31 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/


--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Matthew Halsey <rftb_cowboy@...>
 

I’m also a little confused but I confess that I haven’t been following this thread closely.
Are you talking about a mod to a QCX or a new product (QSX?)
If a mod, do you retain  the CW function as well?

Matt

On Apr 30, 2020, at 7:25 PM, Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:

Thank you Guido! 

This bodes well, thank you for your response! I'm curious about the experimental features you're referring to; Are you talking about the AM/FM/CW modes listed on the github page? Or something else altogether?

Lastly, I see that this will happily transmit or receive on any band, which is great. Is there any LPF switching built into the code? Or will that need to be added per user? 

Thanks so much. 73

On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 4:17 PM Guido PE1NNZ <threeme3@...> wrote:
Hi Ryan,

Short answer:  

1. Yes, QCX-SSB is working very well and usable as a SSB transceiver;

2. Since the initial release in Jan. last year I got quite a huge response and this allowed me to improve the transmit audio quality and other bugs and issues, stations are reporting good audio and always surprised with the 5W power.

3. New usability improvements have been made and other (yet unreleased) experimental features have been added. Skip these experimental features if you want something that just works (implement only the SSB transmit mod, not the others if you want to be safe, but the others are waaay more fun :-))..

73, Guido


On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 10:31 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

-- 
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/





-- 
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Ryan Flowers
 

No worries Matt. I appear to have resurrected a half dead thread. This is specifically referring to modifying the hardware and firmware of a Q*C*X (not qsx) to enable SSB functionality as explained here:


After a review of the thread, I was unsure if it was a project that was mature enough for me to warrant buying another QCX specifically to do this mod. It is, I will, and I'll write about it on my site when the time comes :) 
 
Ryan Flowers



On Fri, May 1, 2020 at 5:55 AM Matthew Halsey via groups.io <rftb_cowboy=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I’m also a little confused but I confess that I haven’t been following this thread closely.
Are you talking about a mod to a QCX or a new product (QSX?)
If a mod, do you retain  the CW function as well?

Matt

On Apr 30, 2020, at 7:25 PM, Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:

Thank you Guido! 

This bodes well, thank you for your response! I'm curious about the experimental features you're referring to; Are you talking about the AM/FM/CW modes listed on the github page? Or something else altogether?

Lastly, I see that this will happily transmit or receive on any band, which is great. Is there any LPF switching built into the code? Or will that need to be added per user? 

Thanks so much. 73

On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 4:17 PM Guido PE1NNZ <threeme3@...> wrote:
Hi Ryan,

Short answer:  

1. Yes, QCX-SSB is working very well and usable as a SSB transceiver;

2. Since the initial release in Jan. last year I got quite a huge response and this allowed me to improve the transmit audio quality and other bugs and issues, stations are reporting good audio and always surprised with the 5W power.

3. New usability improvements have been made and other (yet unreleased) experimental features have been added. Skip these experimental features if you want something that just works (implement only the SSB transmit mod, not the others if you want to be safe, but the others are waaay more fun :-))..

73, Guido


On Thu, Apr 30, 2020 at 10:31 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
What's the current status of this project? Is this far enough along that you'd recommend this to somebody who wanted it as a primary SSB single band rig like the BITX40 was, before it was discontinued?

I'm thinking about ordering a 20M QCX just to give this a try, but if it's still too experimental to expect usable results from, I will probably pass. Thanks :)

-- 
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
https://miscdotgeek.com/





-- 
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Guido PE1NNZ
 

Hi Matt,

Sorry to hear you got confused. Yes, some keep mixing the terms QCX and QSX accidentally, and some abbreviate QCX SSB Xcvr as QSX which is understandable but the real QSX is not yet released yet AFAIK.

QCX-SSB mod started a year go as an experimental modification to make a power-efficient digital (class-E) SSB transceiver from your QCX.
The project has developed a bit further now, and yes there is simple straight-key CW mode added now and other experimental features.
If you are really into CW, IMHO there is nothing better than Hans' original QCX firmware., at least I enjoy it a lot in using.

With QCX-SSB I am trying to make the cheapest, most simple and universal micro-controller based transceiver that you can think of (were performance may be a bit scarified, but not too much!).

You can read more about it here: https://github.com/threeme3/QCX-SSB

That is it.

@Ryan, I am currently working with Manual DL2MAN who is also building a QCX-SSB right now, and has ordered a LPF-kit with relay-board from QRPLabs as well; we are working on this to get this support by the firmware as well.

73, Guido 


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hi All,

As I am primary a CW guy, I asked myself basically the same: Is it worth modifying it. So I wrote Guido, and he pursuaded me to try to build a QCX SSB from a new Kit (for all features).

I liked the idea of less parts, I liked the idea of Multband Allmode.... I liked AGC and NB (DSP Features) So why not give it a try ?

Since guido´s documentation is based on Rev 4 of the PCB, my main Issue was to reinstall some removed parts (from Rev4 / Rev5) in some elegant way.
I did it, and today after programming the AT Mega, I did my first tests.

His Mod is called "QCX SSB", so no wonder, but SSB does actually work pretty well. I´m really impressed how good it works.

On the CW Side: It works (just finished first 1st QSO which happend to be QRP/QRP) but there is room for improvement. 
Since all the Signal Processing is Digital, it seems a bit coarse here and there.
While usual QSB means, a signal fades from weak to strong, there was a point while qso today, you could hear it gets weaker..... and then Signal was gone. Simply gone. Not loud to silent to loud. Simply gone..... Just to reappear after seconds..... That was strange, and you gotta get used to the digital behavior.
Still, I like the Idea and will keep working on it, and maybe help Guido improving it, if he wants to, and circumstances allow.

I mean: Guido implemented some kind of AGC in the QCX. And that´s the only thing I really miss in the Original QCX.
So I think his QCX SSB Mod has great Potential as All Mode/ Multi Band TRX. And Chappeau for doing Digital SSB....
"They all said it can´t be done. Then someone came who didn´t know that, and simply did it"
Thanks Guido, for letting us take Part !

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN


Ryan Flowers
 

Thanks for that Manuel. Do you have any tips for building it on a Rev 5 board? Just ordered another QCX this morning :)


On Fri, May 1, 2020, 1:37 PM <DL2MAN@...> wrote:
Hi All,

As I am primary a CW guy, I asked myself basically the same: Is it worth modifying it. So I wrote Guido, and he pursuaded me to try to build a QCX SSB from a new Kit (for all features).

I liked the idea of less parts, I liked the idea of Multband Allmode.... I liked AGC and NB (DSP Features) So why not give it a try ?

Since guido´s documentation is based on Rev 4 of the PCB, my main Issue was to reinstall some removed parts (from Rev4 / Rev5) in some elegant way.
I did it, and today after programming the AT Mega, I did my first tests.

His Mod is called "QCX SSB", so no wonder, but SSB does actually work pretty well. I´m really impressed how good it works.

On the CW Side: It works (just finished first 1st QSO which happend to be QRP/QRP) but there is room for improvement. 
Since all the Signal Processing is Digital, it seems a bit coarse here and there.
While usual QSB means, a signal fades from weak to strong, there was a point while qso today, you could hear it gets weaker..... and then Signal was gone. Simply gone. Not loud to silent to loud. Simply gone..... Just to reappear after seconds..... That was strange, and you gotta get used to the digital behavior.
Still, I like the Idea and will keep working on it, and maybe help Guido improving it, if he wants to, and circumstances allow.

I mean: Guido implemented some kind of AGC in the QCX. And that´s the only thing I really miss in the Original QCX.
So I think his QCX SSB Mod has great Potential as All Mode/ Multi Band TRX. And Chappeau for doing Digital SSB....
"They all said it can´t be done. Then someone came who didn´t know that, and simply did it"
Thanks Guido, for letting us take Part !

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN


--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hello Ryan,

Yes, I will share my Soultion for the Rev 5 Issues, but I would like Guido to look over it first.
I already sent it to him, and maybe he will even update his Github Page with this information.
Since this radio behaves different then others, I´d like to be sure, not to have messed up, before publishing.

Manuel; DL2MAN


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hi All,

I did some further Tests with QCX SSB, and it seems to work as CW TRX.

My earlier findings of digital behavior was because of my own settings.

In my case, I am limited to a certain set of parameters for the QCX SSB to work reasonably as CW TRX:
- Soldering in 470 Ohm Resitor in AF Line, using passive Headphones
- Volume Set between 13-15, depending on Signal
- NR OFF
- AGC ON (If On, you need to raise Volume to 16 to hear at all)
- CW Filter between 500 and 100Hz. For 50Hz you need to raise Volume to 16, otherwise SIgnal doesn´t come through.
- The tighter the CW FIlter Setting, the more digital is the behavior of the RX, so it happens, that weak signals fall below audio threshold and disappear.
- But there´s an Opposite Effect: If signals are to loud, Audio seems to drive into saturation, and SIgnal sounds like Square Wave, in extrem cases there is even no more tone, but only clicking sounds left.
- CW Decoder OFF ! Using CW Decoder does some Nasty Tone change. Like 100Hz on Top of SIne Wave.

Guido thought about the CW Ops, and you can even Plug in External Key. I soldered SPecial Cable, now I use external Keyer with Paddle.
However, I managed to do some more QSO´s with it, and I´m getting used to it. If not to say, I´m starting to enjoy it ;)

Since I made LPF Filters plugable externally, I will built some more LPF´s (right now I made only 40m LPF), and Play around with QSY.
This is the first step towards Multiband QCX SSB... Looking forward what´s next !

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Add on:
Since there is no way to edit previous post, I have to reply to my own post:

- AGC ON (If OFF, you need to raise Volume to 16 to hear at all)
now it´s right.

Another interesting Oberservation:
Since there´s so much less OP Amps, RX Current with R48 changed to 1K2 and D3 replaced by Wire Bridge is now only 55mA !


This is perfect for portable battery powerd operation. That´s half of my equally modded Original QCX´s.

And this leads me to another idea:
Using a relais board to switch Low Passes would require additional Current for the Relais and at least n Amount of Output-Lines while n is the Number of Low Pass FIlters. 
at least if we use the Relais Board of QRP Labs (that requires a Low Signal for each relais to switch)
What if we used a Multi Postion Knob to switch LPF´s Mechanically ?
Instead of the QCX SSB telling the Board what to do, we could use external switch to tell QCX-SSB to QSY by simple Voltage Devider into Single DA Input.

This way, RX Current would stay as low as it is, and the rotary double click funktion could be used differently.

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN


Ryan Flowers
 

I was thinking along the same lines of the rotary switch as I was contemplating this mod! I love the 55ma power consumption, that's just incredible. It would be awesome to optimize for that.

I suppose the worst case scenario is that your have to pick your LPF manually, and then time the band. It wouldn't be a big deal really. 

Looking forward to the published v5 mods. 73!

On Sat, May 2, 2020, 5:35 AM <DL2MAN@...> wrote:
Add on:
Since there is no way to edit previous post, I have to reply to my own post:

- AGC ON (If OFF, you need to raise Volume to 16 to hear at all)
now it´s right.

Another interesting Oberservation:
Since there´s so much less OP Amps, RX Current with R48 changed to 1K2 and D3 replaced by Wire Bridge is now only 55mA !


This is perfect for portable battery powerd operation. That´s half of my equally modded Original QCX´s.

And this leads me to another idea:
Using a relais board to switch Low Passes would require additional Current for the Relais and at least n Amount of Output-Lines while n is the Number of Low Pass FIlters. 
at least if we use the Relais Board of QRP Labs (that requires a Low Signal for each relais to switch)
What if we used a Multi Postion Knob to switch LPF´s Mechanically ?
Instead of the QCX SSB telling the Board what to do, we could use external switch to tell QCX-SSB to QSY by simple Voltage Devider into Single DA Input.

This way, RX Current would stay as low as it is, and the rotary double click funktion could be used differently.

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN


--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

Hello All !

Back with some news. Guido an me had a longer chat today.
My Rev 5 Mod is good to go. And Guido has published it already on his Github Page.
Right now I´m working on a Documentation for those, who -like me- do not want to sacrifice their perfectly working QCX´s, but buy a new Kit from Hans and bulit it from Zero.
It´s actually a great thing to do it this way, because there are over 70 Parts left of my QCX Kit ;) And the beloved Transformer is also gone :)
For this upcoming Documentation I have friendly permission from Hans, G0UPL, for using his Layout Pictures from his manual. Thank you again, Hans !

Guido did some more Work on the Firmware, which I tested today, and much of the negative behavior, I described below, is gone. 
This firmware is already available in the GitHub Master Branch.

There is still room for improvement, but
a) there is still lots of work in progress
b) it´s already a great pleasure to work with it.

AGC and NB do now work better. Priorization on what´s next is totally up to Guido.

I also magaged to do SSB QSO Today, and -again- I was really surprised, what you get out of roughly 70 Parts !
RX was 100% fine, and for my TX SIgnal, I also got a good report.
Great Job Guido, please keep on working on it !


73 Manuel; DL2MAN


Ryan Flowers
 

This is really music to my ears. My QCX is on its way, and I've got LPF's for 40,30,20, and 17- and I think 15 too. This will be a very fun project. I can hardly wait to get started :) 

If I can be of any assistance with documentation, please let me know. Technical writing is definitely up my alley. 

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


George Korper
 

I have a fresh start QCX on the fixture. Any idea when some documentation will be ready?
Sounds like fun and no sense installing and removing!

On Mon, May 4, 2020 at 2:03 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
This is really music to my ears. My QCX is on its way, and I've got LPF's for 40,30,20, and 17- and I think 15 too. This will be a very fun project. I can hardly wait to get started :) 

If I can be of any assistance with documentation, please let me know. Technical writing is definitely up my alley. 

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


George Korper
 

The real question for me is...will someone download and provide firmware. 
The project has shifted to and area where I have zero expertise!
Or what is the link to an easy how to on downloading to a laptop with Windows 10?

On Mon, May 4, 2020 at 2:45 PM George Korper via groups.io <georgekorper=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
I have a fresh start QCX on the fixture. Any idea when some documentation will be ready?
Sounds like fun and no sense installing and removing!

On Mon, May 4, 2020 at 2:03 PM Ryan Flowers <geocrasher@...> wrote:
This is really music to my ears. My QCX is on its way, and I've got LPF's for 40,30,20, and 17- and I think 15 too. This will be a very fun project. I can hardly wait to get started :) 

If I can be of any assistance with documentation, please let me know. Technical writing is definitely up my alley. 

--
Ryan Flowers - W7RLF
MiscDotGeek - QRP and More


Manuel; DL2MAN
 

I am working on the documentation right now. First Version should be ready end of this week, but it will keep changing with the changes of the Project.
We decided to provide it only on the GitHub Page of the Project, so that no different Versions float around.
https://github.com/threeme3/QCX-SSB
Firmware is Open Source. Installation requires a Windows 10 Laptop with free Software "Arduino IDE", Some Wire Bridges and an Arduino Uno with USB Cable. (from Amazon or ebay for less then 15 Bucks)
Guido suggested to also document programming it, since I´m not a programmer, and things that are very clear to him, are not clear to you and me.
So stay tuned..... Documentation will come soon.

73 de Manuel; DL2MAN