Author Topic: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?  (Read 968 times)

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Offline Beamin

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Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« on: October 20, 2017, 01:56:59 AM »
Bitcoins are going crazy and I use that to fuel my electronic gadgets addiction. So I want to get into WSPR and some other HF bands and use my HAM license I got a while ago. I want to make some "gadgets" complete with cases. Any ideas? What I really like about the kits is you can put them in any enclosure you want but I have yet to find a good place to order them. The enclosure can make home made projects professional and really that's the fun part. I like to have lots of displays even if they don't really serve too much as a purpose it makes the projects look cooler. I am thinking of putting in little indicators from banggood like those 3.00$ volt meters they sell and I'm looking for a digital SWR meter or I can be analog style as long as it can be taken apart. I think one of those $30 oscilloscope kits might also look cool on the front to see a waveform or something like that.

Any good places that sell enclosures? The local "electronics store" doesn't really have shit and they charge 5-15$ for a plastic box. So they are useless.

Also do you have any project kits you want to show off? There is also a 50$ 40 meter SSB voice kit I have seen somewhere but can't remember what it's called. I think its run by an Arduino and put out <10 watts.

I see they have some sort of device that switches antenna with relays and that's kind of a must since I plan on using long wire antenna because you can make a lot of them in different lengths for cheap.
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2017, 06:00:36 AM »
There is also a 50$ 40 meter SSB voice kit I have seen somewhere but can't remember what it's called. I think its run by an Arduino and put out <10 watts.

That could be the Bitx. Info at http://www.hfsigs.com

The current model has a DDS VFO whereas older versions had a free-running oscillator.  It's a very versatile kit and you can make many modifications and additions.  Some are described on my website at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/projects/projbitx.htm  There's a big user community that shares these tips and more eg  https://groups.io/g/BITX20 

I have no personal experience but the new QCX CW & WSPR transceiver from QRP Labs seems to be popular and well reviewed. https://www.qrp-labs.com/qcx.html

As for long wire antennas an antenna coupler is essential especially if you want it to do multiple bands.  Examples at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/projects/projcoupler.htm



NEW!  Getting back into Amateur Radio: What's new and what you forgot.  Quick restart guide in a 120 page Kindle ebook.  $US $4.99 or equiv.  Just search 'Getting back into Amateur Radio' on Amazon.
 
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Offline Beamin

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2017, 09:59:10 AM »
So I'm going with the ultimate 3s kit but I don't really know what band. 40 meters? I can make the antenna any length. I have a balun(unun) which is magnate wire wrapped around a 1" ferrite ring for it, do you think this could handle less then 10 watts? I think I used it for 7 watts once but didn't get to check the SWR.

Do I need the receiver kit if I have an SDR? I can't seem to figure out how to get the WSPR software to work with out a sound card.

 Add kits:
QLG1 GPS receiver (+$23.00)
6-band Relay switch kit (+$16.00)
U3S enclosure kit, incl airmail shipping (+$38.50)
OCXO/Si5351A Synth (+$16.00)
BS170 experimenters pack, 10pcs (+$3.50)
50-ohm 20W Dummy Load kit (+$8.50)
Receiver kit (same BPF band) (+$25.00)
Polyphase network (+$11.00)
5W HF PA kit (+$20.00)
 
I like the relay switch for different antennas. I'm one of those people who when ordering I want to make sure I have everything to use the first time.
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2017, 07:10:04 PM »
So I'm going with the ultimate 3s kit but I don't really know what band. 40 meters?

40m is my favourite as it's good band for the best chance of getting contacts at various time of the day.  It's best for about 300 - 3000km. Distances more or less than that can be harder. 20m is better for 2000 - 20000km but can be volatile and not always open.  Most of my contacts are on 40m. A guide to bands is at http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/gateway/foundation.htm

As for the balun, 1" is fine for 10w. But you won't need one if building an end-fed wire antenna. Neither is it strictly necessary with a coax fed half wave dipole which is a dependable single band antenna (it's hard to make an antenna that's much better but easy to make one that's worse).
NEW!  Getting back into Amateur Radio: What's new and what you forgot.  Quick restart guide in a 120 page Kindle ebook.  $US $4.99 or equiv.  Just search 'Getting back into Amateur Radio' on Amazon.
 

Offline Beamin

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2017, 08:45:33 AM »
I bought:
Ultimate3S QRSS/WSPR (33.00) on 40 meters
QLG1 GPS receiver (+$23.00)
6-band Relay switch kit (+$16.00)
U3S enclosure kit, incl airmail shipping (+$38.50)
OCXO/Si5351A Synth (+$16.00)
BS170 experimenters pack, 10pcs (+$3.50)
50-ohm 20W Dummy Load kit (+$8.50)
Receiver kit (same BPF band) (+$25.00)
Polyphase network (+$11.00)
5W HF PA kit (+$20.00)


So I should have all the parts I need. The dummy load was probably a waste of money as I could have just used a small antenna but I guess I can use it for other things.
 

Offline whalphen

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2017, 07:01:18 AM »
I hope you enjoy your Ultimate3S as much as I do.  It's a great little transmitter.  Mine outputs about 250mW in Michigan and I get picked up from Australia to Russia to South America.  I'm using a homebrew fan dipole that covers most bands from 40 meters to 6 meters.  I'm now working on my own design for a 20 meter WSPR transmitter to launch on a high altitude balloon.
 

Offline Beamin

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2017, 03:42:34 PM »
I hope you enjoy your Ultimate3S as much as I do.  It's a great little transmitter.  Mine outputs about 250mW in Michigan and I get picked up from Australia to Russia to South America.  I'm using a homebrew fan dipole that covers most bands from 40 meters to 6 meters.  I'm now working on my own design for a 20 meter WSPR transmitter to launch on a high altitude balloon.
I was thinking about doing that but use hydrogen rather then helium as its costly and well run out soon.
 

Offline Long_Wave

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2017, 01:37:23 PM »
I bought:
Ultimate3S QRSS/WSPR (33.00) on 40 meters
QLG1 GPS receiver (+$23.00)
6-band Relay switch kit (+$16.00)
U3S enclosure kit, incl airmail shipping (+$38.50)
OCXO/Si5351A Synth (+$16.00)
BS170 experimenters pack, 10pcs (+$3.50)
50-ohm 20W Dummy Load kit (+$8.50)
Receiver kit (same BPF band) (+$25.00)
Polyphase network (+$11.00)
5W HF PA kit (+$20.00)

So I should have all the parts I need.


You didn't buy an assortment of LPFs for the relay setup?

I think you somewhat overbought, but without the LPFs you can't use the relay rig.  You probably know that by now.

Quote
The dummy load was probably a waste of money as I could have just used a small antenna but I guess I can use it for other things.

The dummy load will get you in a lot of trouble if you use the peak-voltage biasing instructions.  You'll simply blow the BS170 in about five seconds at 40m unless it's heatsinked, which it isn't.  I have no idea what Hans was thinking when he included that info, and he's too busy to correct the docs.  Use the idle current biasing method.  Easy, foolproof.  I built an electronically exact copy (only 40W) of the dummy load for under $2.  It's interesting and useful, but it's just suicide for U3S voltage-biasing.

I'm a U3S survivor.

It took me about three months to get a perfectly, flawlessly built U3S to work, thanks to the "help" I got on their support forum.  This largely consists of windbag "experts" competitively trying to come up with more abstruse and complex solutions for problems other than the ones about which you're actually asking, while of course ritzing you if you don't have $20K in test equipment...and then it turns out that they are actually wrong and have just worn you out and created more actual problems with their peacock displays of imaginary wisdom.

In short, it's about like every other hobby forum on the Internet:  A tiny minority of competent and helpful people who actually pay attention and  bunch of jerks you have to sort through.

My punchline was being pressured into buying a new oscilloscope to cope with a totally nonexistent problem of their invention.  I've never used it to this day.  Not once. >:(

The GPS kit works, but generates an awful half-second audio SKRONK! In your receiver (at least at 40m) that's in time with the yellow LED.  Lots of gripes about this but no solution nor explanation.  Some claim theirs don't do this.  If yours does, you're not alone.  Keep it in another room away from your receiver and it's not bad.

I also built the 5W PA kit but haven't had the courage to put it in circuit.  It's a v1.0 product, which means "early beta" in real life, as the recent QCX kit buyers are finding out.  I've seen hardly any posts about it and those were complaining about strange CW waveforms.  No solutions by the time I left the group.

Actual build problems with the U3S almost always trace back to bad connections due to the enameled magnet wire.  Manually scrape all these ends clean and tin them before installation and you'll bypass about 90% of the build problems not attributable to dumb mistakes.

Programming these things is pretty much murder.  Eventually you'll get there or give up.  The forum can actually help with that, as it's about knowledge rather than one-upping your diagnostic gear.  The good news is those painfully stiff switches will start to soften up after about 2000 cycles. 

I have two of these things, one running at the moment on 40m with a truly crummy excuse for an antenna.  It works, but the only mode with any users to speak of anymore is WSPR, which isn't much of a mode compared to FT8, which isn't supported.  It's unclear if it's technically possible to include FT8 in a firmware update.  As it stands with JT65 vanishing by the second, the U3S is mostly a fine example of a boat-anchor digital mode museum.  ???

Good luck with your project! 
« Last Edit: November 16, 2017, 03:07:24 PM by Long_Wave »
 

Offline Beamin

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Re: Going shopping at QRP labs. What should I buy?
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2017, 10:17:19 PM »
I bought:
Ultimate3S QRSS/WSPR (33.00) on 40 meters
QLG1 GPS receiver (+$23.00)
6-band Relay switch kit (+$16.00)
U3S enclosure kit, incl airmail shipping (+$38.50)
OCXO/Si5351A Synth (+$16.00)
BS170 experimenters pack, 10pcs (+$3.50)
50-ohm 20W Dummy Load kit (+$8.50)
Receiver kit (same BPF band) (+$25.00)
Polyphase network (+$11.00)
5W HF PA kit (+$20.00)

So I should have all the parts I need.


You didn't buy an assortment of LPFs for the relay setup?

I think you somewhat overbought, but without the LPFs you can't use the relay rig.  You probably know that by now.

Quote
The dummy load was probably a waste of money as I could have just used a small antenna but I guess I can use it for other things.

The dummy load will get you in a lot of trouble if you use the peak-voltage biasing instructions.  You'll simply blow the BS170 in about five seconds at 40m unless it's heatsinked, which it isn't.  I have no idea what Hans was thinking when he included that info, and he's too busy to correct the docs.  Use the idle current biasing method.  Easy, foolproof.  I built an electronically exact copy (only 40W) of the dummy load for under $2.  It's interesting and useful, but it's just suicide for U3S voltage-biasing.

I'm a U3S survivor.

It took me about three months to get a perfectly, flawlessly built U3S to work, thanks to the "help" I got on their support forum.  This largely consists of windbag "experts" competitively trying to come up with more abstruse and complex solutions for problems other than the ones about which you're actually asking, while of course ritzing you if you don't have $20K in test equipment...and then it turns out that they are actually wrong and have just worn you out and created more actual problems with their peacock displays of imaginary wisdom.

In short, it's about like every other hobby forum on the Internet:  A tiny minority of competent and helpful people who actually pay attention and  bunch of jerks you have to sort through.

My punchline was being pressured into buying a new oscilloscope to cope with a totally nonexistent problem of their invention.  I've never used it to this day.  Not once. >:(

The GPS kit works, but generates an awful half-second audio SKRONK! In your receiver (at least at 40m) that's in time with the yellow LED.  Lots of gripes about this but no solution nor explanation.  Some claim theirs don't do this.  If yours does, you're not alone.  Keep it in another room away from your receiver and it's not bad.

I also built the 5W PA kit but haven't had the courage to put it in circuit.  It's a v1.0 product, which means "early beta" in real life, as the recent QCX kit buyers are finding out.  I've seen hardly any posts about it and those were complaining about strange CW waveforms.  No solutions by the time I left the group.

Actual build problems with the U3S almost always trace back to bad connections due to the enameled magnet wire.  Manually scrape all these ends clean and tin them before installation and you'll bypass about 90% of the build problems not attributable to dumb mistakes.

Programming these things is pretty much murder.  Eventually you'll get there or give up.  The forum can actually help with that, as it's about knowledge rather than one-upping your diagnostic gear.  The good news is those painfully stiff switches will start to soften up after about 2000 cycles. 

I have two of these things, one running at the moment on 40m with a truly crummy excuse for an antenna.  It works, but the only mode with any users to speak of anymore is WSPR, which isn't much of a mode compared to FT8, which isn't supported.  It's unclear if it's technically possible to include FT8 in a firmware update.  As it stands with JT65 vanishing by the second, the U3S is mostly a fine example of a boat-anchor digital mode museum.  ???

Good luck with your project!

Well that's encouraging and discouraging but good to know. I have only built the GPS module so far. After soldering the battery on I realized that two long leads to one of the caps was shorted and the yellow LED flashed so I don't know if that hurt it. I even soldered the battery last to prevent this but that one lead got by me.

From the youtube videos it seemed like there are a lot of these in the US that mine can talk to so I hope the format's not going away.

The low pass filters don't come with the kit? I bought everything because I hate buying things, building them, then when I'm ready to go I find I need one more part that's going to take 2 weeks to get here.

Will a CB SWR meter help me in building the antenna for it?

As far as forums go that's exactly what happens: You will ask a simple question and the people will answer in the most complicated way possible not helping. Or they seem to over look the most basic of trouble shooting steps trying to show off their technical knowledge when in reality they look dumb for not checking what is obvious to an experienced user. Many times on Arduino forums people try to tell me the code is bad when there is a simple hardware issue (two wires crossed which is totally obvious from pictures I posted), then they will go into subtopics arguing back and fourth about who's code will work when in reality none of it will work because the hardware is wrong. I often wonder how these people get by in real life when they can't see the practicality of being practical and keeping things simple. These are the people who invented the complex mechanism that flips the entire cassette tape around (techmoan did a video on a 80's Sony? tape player that was so complex and expensive) to get auto reverse when they could have just rotated the head with two moving parts.

I was trying to figure out the value of the torroids on the main board. I measured the value that is consistant with the number of turns on that torroid but don't know what value the creator of the kit wanted. He has two pages of instructions on winding that one torroid. I went with the simple 1 conductor 25 turn option as it said that works best with the 5watt PA; but now I'm afraid to use it.   

Hope you post again this forum is better then all the other tech forums as there's not a whole lot of BS smarter then you going on. For the record: I don't care whos right, I just want my project to work, if you need me to tell you that you are smarter then me I can do that, lets just get it working!!!
 


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