Thursday, December 28, 2017

uBITX - it's alive!


UPDATE: I'm still waiting on my case to show up (evidently on a slow boat) from Thailand. When it does, I'll make the previously mentioned video of the transceiver.
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Since ordering and beginning the slow-motion assembly of my uBITX - interrupted by Santa and work - I've had a lingering voice in my mind telling me that a 3-30 MHz $110 transceiver can't really make QSO's or even receive well.

For a while I wondered if it were even case-worthy given that even the cheapest plastic cases run $20 plus the labor involved in cutting and drilling. I'd rather not go through all that and then have the rig turn out to be a poor performer. I've been down that road before.

Inspired by Tim's (KA9EAK) success with a close relative of the uBITX, I hooked everything up "spaghetti-style" and fired this little riglet up. It comes up on 7150 kHz LSB and there were signals a'plenty at 10am my local time. Crystal clear and great audio! The tuning is stable, drift-free as far as I can tell and the 50 Hz steps during slow tuning seems just fine for tuning both SSB and CW.

Twisting the encoder knob faster speeds up the tuning with larger steps. I QSY'ed up to 20 meters, stopping along the way to listen to WWV at exactly 10 MHz before I even did the simple 2-step alignment. The WM-2 wattmeter shows about 9.2 watts on 20m with a good whistle, haven't checked it on other bands yet (edit: 9.8 watts on 40m). On 20m phone I heard N4V calling CQ and gave him a call. "AE5X, you're 59 in Maryland" came the reply.

After that I tuned around the 25- and 31-meter SW bands, then up to 27.185 (CB channel 19) just for the heck of it, good buddy.

I am looking forward to receiving the case in the mail that I recently ordered for this rig now that I've confirmed (at least to my own satisfaction) that is well deserving of the time and effort of a proper housing.
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10 comments:

  1. Great! My observation thus far is that these things are very nice. They are not Elecraft nice but they're also not Elecraft money. I see them as more of a radio platform than just a radio. "Riglet" is a great term. Hacks\mods are actually encouraged in a way that you would never see with other radios. They are a nice, inexpensive radio that provides a good level of functionality out of the box and they are also a base platform from which you can take the radio wherever you would like based upon your operating interests.

    Tracking indicates that the enclosure for my BITX40 should arrive today so hopefully I can make some progress on that before heading back to work on Tuesday.

    My guess is that a uBITX finds its way to my shack at some point in 2018.

    Have a Happy New Year John!

    73,

    Tim
    KA9EAK

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    1. Sounds good, Tim and HNY to you too. According to tracking (Thai post) my case will arrive between 10-23 January. That'll give me time to at least work on getting the mic and PTT switch combined and housed in some way.

      You know, the BITX40 came onto the scene without me even knowing about it until the uBITX was announced as an upcoming kit; otherwise, I probably would have bought one. I'm not sure yet how I'll use the uBITX but I've always enjoyed using the "least rig" possible in various contests: a Norcal 40 during CQWW, for example, so maybe I'll play around in a few phone contests with it. They make it easy to make plentiful contacts.

      I'm looking forward to seeing your finished BITX40 in its housing.

      73 - John

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  2. This is great news. I can hardly wait for mine to arrive. I am hoping that this will be a great take along rig when traveling. It sounds very encouraging so far. Keep us posted on your experiences with it. Thanks for the update 73 - Rich K3OE

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    1. Hi Rich - it probably would make a good portable rig as long as you can put up a decent antenna. With the right housing, you could install batteries and/or a tuner inside. Lots of possibilities.

      One (possibly) sacrilegious thought I'm having is to figure where to tap off for a 'Key Out' signal so that I could key my KPA-500 with the uBITX. That would be good for 150 watts or so...

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    2. With a little ham ingenuity I have not doubt you could do that. Yes portable operation does require a decent antenna but the results can be very satisfying. I have a small solar power system I carry in my van when I am on trips. I have an 80watt panel on top of the van and a deep cell battery and a charge controller inside to power everything. I find that eliminates 95% of RFI that is common when operating mobile/portable.

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  3. Do you know if the uBITX PCBs are the same dimensions as the BITX40? I literally finished my BITX40 the day the uBITX hit the market!! Can't decide whether to live with it or replace the boards with a uBITX (which would be much easier if they are the same size).

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    1. No, I don't but there are plenty of folks here that could answer that question:
      https://groups.io/g/BITX20/topics

      I think if I already had a BITX40 I'd wait and see what is next from Ashhar. I'd bet a paycheck that he's already planning a DeLuxe version of the uBITX based on feedback and mods that current builders are incorporating into their rigs.

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  4. The ubitx pcb is slightly larger then the bitx40 pcb.
    Good info on this blog by John. The project will soon blossom into building the ubitx with an open source ubitx board.
    Nice visiting this splendid blog.
    best of 73s
    DE Sunil VU3SUA
    https://amateurradiokits.in

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  5. Hi John,
    Thanks for your Blog. You helped me in my decission to order one.
    Thanks a lot.
    Martin // DL9MU

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  6. Tnx Martin, I hope it lives up to our expectations!
    73 - John

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