QDX: a feature-packed, high performance, five-band (80, 60, 40, 30, 20m) or six-band (high bands 20, 17, 15, 12, 11 and 10m) 5W Digi-modes transceiver kit, including embedded SDR, 24-bit 48 ksps USB sound card, CAT control, synthesized VFO with TCXO reference.
The "QDX" (QRP Labs Digital Xcvr): a feature-packed, high performance, five-band (80, 60, 40, 30 and 20m) or six high-HF band (20, 17, 15, 12, 11 and 10m) 5W Digi-modes transceiver kit, including embedded SDR receiver, 24-bit 48 ksps USB sound card, CAT control, synthesized VFO with TCXO reference. QDX transmits a SINGLE SIGNAL, it is not an SSB modulator with associated unwanted sideband and residual carrier, or intermodulation due to amplifier non-linearity. QDX outputs a pure single signal.
QDX is suitable only for single tone FSK modes, which covers the majority of digital modes in use today. This includes everything in WSJT-X, JS8Call, some fldigi modes e.g. RTTY, Olivia and more. QDX is not suitable for on/off keyed modes such as CW because it does not have click-reducing RF envelope shaping; furthermore it is not suitable for phase shift keyed modes such as PSK31 or modes involving multiple concurrent tones such as WinLink,
Many thanks to Ross VK1UN for his extensive and tireless assistance designing and testing filters for the high bands version of QDX (20, 17, 15, 12, 11 and 10m version).
The Optional enclosure is black anodized extruded aluminium, very sturdy and elegant. The enclosure size is 89 x 63 x 25mm without protrusions. The front and rear panels are drilled and cut to match the QDX PCB with laser-etched lettering. The enclosure includes four self-adhesive feet.
List of features:
- Five bands version 80, 60, 40, 30 and 20m or six high-bands version 20, 17, 15, 12, 11 and 10m
- 5W output at 9V supply (can be built for 4-5W at 12V supply) - note lower power at higher bands e,g. 10m, approx 3.5-4W
- Single signal transmission (zero unwanted sideband, zero residual carrier, zero intermodulation distortion)
- Solid-state band switching and transmit/receive switching under CAT control
- High performance embedded SDR SSB receiver with 60-70dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
- Built-in 24-bit 48ksps USB sound card
- Built-in USB Virtual COM Serial port for CAT control
- Si5351A Synthesized VFO with 25MHz TCXO as standard
- Easy to build single-board design, Professional quality double-sided, through-hole plated, silk-screen printed PCBs
- All SMD components factory assembled
- Connectors: 2.1mm power barrel connector, USB B (for audio and CAT control), BNC RF input/output
- Built-in test signal generator and testing tools
- Receive current 100mA, Transmit current 1.0-1.1A for 5W output with 9V supply (around 0.7A for 5W with 13V supply).
- I-Q output mode if you wish to use a PC SDR program for demodulation rather than the internal SDR
- QFU firmware update for lifetime free firmware udpates, easy installation on any PC without drivers, software or hardware e.g. programmer
- Optional aluminium extruded cut/drilled/laser-etched black anodized enclosure (88.6 x 63 x 25 mm)
QDX works well on 60m, as documented by John AE5X at https://ae5x.blogspot.com/2021/11/spectrum-analysis-qdx-on-60m.html. Outside the range 3.4-14.5MHz, QDX can be used as a receiver, with some loss of sensitivity. Firmware versions 1.06 onward can operate on any amateur band from 2200m to 4m, but hardware changes will be needed (correct filters etc).
NOTE: Due to the global semiconductor shortage, the price of many ICs has increased dramatically, and there have also been (less drastic) price increases in other parts of the production. Accordingly it has been necessary to pass on some of these costs to the price of the QDX, this is why it is now $69 when the original price was $60 for the first batch. The first batch was produced in Jan 2020, a whole world away.
Standard digi modes software like WSJT-X and JS8Call works fine with QDX, because QDX acts as a USB Sound card (for Audio) and a Virtual COM port (for CAT control).
There are three types of USB devices in QDX: USB Audio, USB Virtual COM port, and USB mass storage (like a USB Flash memory stick) for firmware update. Drivers for all of these types of audio device are already present on your PC if you are using Mac, Linux, MS Windows 10 or MS Windows 11. If you are using older versions of Windows, then you need to install a driver for the Virtual COM port (audio and USB Flash drivers are already present even on older Windows), the details are in the QDX manual.
Here's a YouTube video about QDX: https://youtu.be/j6Vnh8eiEpg
Here's a build-video series by Ryan W7RLF https://www.youtube.com/
Here's a YouTube video about QDX PCB Rev 4: https://youtu.be/PSYGBGHH_00
Please MAKE SURE you use the correct documentation for your PCB Revision and your firmware version! Batch 1 (Rev 1) PCBs were sold in October 2021 and do not have a PCB Revision printed on them. Subsequent PCB revisions have a large "Rev 2" (etc) printed on the PCB silkscreen.
Latest documentation (PCB Rev 4 and Rev 5)
You need TWO manuals, one contains the Operating instructions, one contains the Assembly instructions, Theoretical design information, and performance measurements.
1. Make sure you download the correct manual version for your PCB revision (indicated clearly on the PCB silkscreen) and firmware version!
2. Always install the latest firmware revision (see below).
NOTE: 20-10m high band kits supplied before March 2023 use T37-10 toroids (shiny black); post Match 2023 the 20-10m kits use T37-17 toroids (yellow/blue).
Assembly manual for PCB Rev 5 (document version 1.18f published 04-Apr-2023)
Operating manual for firmware 1_08/1_08a/1_09 (document version 1_08 published 17-Jan-2023)
Hi-res schematic, PCB Rev 5 (.png file)
Old documentation (PCB Rev 1/2/3/3a/4)
The manual includes assembly instructions, operating instructions, design details, performance details
Assembly manual for PCB Rev 4 (document version 1.16 published 23-Dec-2022)
Assembly manual for PCB Rev 3a (document version 1.12 published 03-Aug-2022)
Assembly manual for PCB Rev 3 (document version 1.11b published 27-Jul-2022)
Assembly manual for PCB Rev 2 (document version 1.10 published 06-Jan-2022)
Operating manual for firmware version 1_06/1_07 (document version 1_06 published 12-Dec-2022)
Operating manual for firmware version 1_05 (document version 1_05a published 24-Oct-2022)
Operating manual for firmware version 1_04 (document version 1_04c published 27-Jul-2022)
Operating manual for firmware version 1_03 (document published 23-Dec-2021)
Manual for PCB Rev 1 (document version 1.06 published 10-Nov-2021, for Rev 1 PCB and firmware up to 1_02)
Hi-res schematic, PCB Rev 4 (.png file)
Hi-res schematic, PCB Rev 3 (.png file)
Hi-res schematic, PCB Rev 2 (.png file)
Hi-res schematic, PCB Rev 1 (.png file)
ARRL Review of QDX in March 2023 QST issue
Charles NK8O reviewed the QDX transceiver in the March 2023 issue of the ARRL monthly publication QST.
CLICK HERE to read the PDF (300K file)
Reproduced with the permission of the ARRL. Copyright ARRL.
Visit the ARRL website here.
QDX in its beautiful black-anodized extruded aluminium enclosure, CNC machined to suit the QDX and with durable laser-etched lettering:
These are screenshots of the built-in terminal applications, that may be used for testing, investigating, learning and configuration - but are not needed for operation of the transceiver.
Selected performance measurements - see manual for full details...
WSJT-X operating screenshots
FDIM 2022 seminar
Presented 19-May-2022 by Hans G0UPL at Fairborn Holiday Inn, Dayton.
Conference proceedings article (1.9M PDF)
Seminar slides (3.1M PDF)
YouTube video of the same talk presented to Norfolk Amateur Radio Club (UK) on 01-Jun-2022
Please refer to the manual for the firmware update procedure, which is very easy and does not require any special hardware, software, drivers etc. It requires only a PC and a USB cable. Click the file in the first column of the table below, to download the firmware file of interest. Note that firmware files are encrypted and can only be used on the QRP Labs QDX.
The downloads are a zip file; please unzip the file before copying the .QDX into the QDX.
Firmware version history:
|1_09||10-Feb-2023||- Bug fix: fix initialization of Band Configuration screen for some single-band bands (non-production yet)
- Bug fix: reading band selection jumper wires did not work properly in some cases
- Bug fix: Transmit screen no longer prevents transmission if the default freq is out of any configured bands.
|1_08a||18-Jan-2023||- Fix year on menu title, now says 2023 (not 2022)|
|1_08||17-Jan-2023||- Change band jumpers now only resets band config, not entire configuration
- Add mono-band default configurations based on jumper wires fitted
- CAT MD; correctly returns 2 for USB, 1 for LSB (was 3 = CW)
- CAT IF; correctly returns the mode in the result string (was always 3)
- Fix bug with 80m frequency error
|1_07||23-Dec-2022||- Enable default configuration set-up for high-band 20, 17, 15, 12, 11 and 10m band version
- Big fix: Transmitter Test utility was broken in 1_06
|1_06||12-Dec-2022||- Resolved bugs and accuracy issues to greatly improve transmit tone setting accuracy
- Add "Night mode" to configuration screen - makes panel LED very dim
- New "TX shift threshold" parameter in Configuration screen, determines when TX freq updated (mHz)
- Now successful TX is a 1Hz pulsating indication; 2 blinks is wider spaced for easy counting
- When bias mA is 5mA, disable SMPS completely
- Change default 80m Frequency min to 3200000
- Firmware support for 2200m
- Changed length of band name in the Band Config screen to 4 digits (to allow 2200m)
- Correctly implement split mode (in split, RX on VFO A and TX on VFO B)
- Changed minimum TX freq from 300kHz to 75kHz (to allow 2200m)
- Qn CAT commands return string length is now longer to fit larger numbers
- Implement fix to SP; command; now correctly returns SP1; if Split is set.
- Added TP CAT command to return STM32 ADC temp sensor value (128-sample average)
- More aggressive timeout for lack of audio to stop TX (to work with HF pager app)
|1_05||30-Sep-2022||- RF Sweep locks band settings and PLL divider, at the center frequency divider
- Default Cyan colour for grid on AF sweep, RF sweep and Input analysis screens
- Pressing . on AF or RF sweep changes the grid colour, like Input screen
- Colour of the grid in each screen is persisted for the operating session
- RF Sweep, addeed R to refresh current band (re-sweep)
- Fix gain bug in RF and AF sweeps (should be fixed at 5000. not use the BandConfig value)
- Proper log10 conversion to dB for sweeps etc
- New Image sweep screen, sweeps and measures superhet image 24kHz down the band
- Fix CAT AG command (audio gain)
- Add CAT VN command (firmware version); read-only, VN; returns VN1_05_003;
- VGA and VT220 terminal option by soldering wires to microcontroller pins
- Added three new serial ports 1/2/3
- AUX PTT - positive and negative PTT outputs independently controlled on TX and RX per band
- Config screen now has "PTT Port as Serial 3" as enable/disable
- Config and BandConfig screens don't stop radio operation now
- TX disabled during Input Analysis screen
- Press M in Input Analysis screen shows sub-window with CAT comms; and scroll only when signal present
- Change TX limits from 1-30MHz to 0.3-60MHz
- Version supports 160m and 630m (delay method of 90-degree quadrature generation)
- Added "PIN fwd bias (mA)" to Band Config screen
- Finalized SMPS control loop for Rev 4 PCB PIN diode forward bias buck converter
- Update year to 2022 on firmware version in terminal
|1_04||20-Jul-2022||- Resolution to the Rev3 PCB "popping" issue (RF discontinuities during TX).
- Audio streamed to the PC during Transmit is now set to zero (silence).
- 50 millisecond transmit timeout on cessation of audio from PC (protects QDX e.g. if PC crashes).
- No CAT command TX timeout (configurable enable and timeout duration).
- Removed unnecessary 48ksps clock domain sync PC vs QDX.
- Enables PTT output connector, with grounded and +5V outputs individually controllable by band.
- 12kHz IF offset is removed when you enable IQ Mode.
- Transmit is disabled when you are in IQ mode.
- Gain is now in dB.
- Gain is now configurable per band.
- New "Band Configuration" screen where you can configure the list of supported bands.
|1_03||23-Dec-2021||- Frimware for PCB Rev 2. Backwardly compatible with PCB Rev 1
- Changes OpenDrain RX, TX and LPF switching signals to Push-Pull (pull-up resistors removed in Rev 2)
- Allows transmit on 160m, and receive acts as direct conv., poor performance through the 80m filters.
|1_02||25-Nov-2021||- New "transmitter test" terminal application, lets you test PTT and Transmit
- New items in "Configuration" terminal application, let you disable transmit by band
- 'Log end' timestamp written at end of log, to indicate current elapsed time since power-up
- Bug fix: prevent log file overflow
- Bug fix: White noise intermittent on power-up is fixed
|1_01e||25-Nov-2021||- Bug fix: Now AF and RF sweep terminal applications work|
|1_01d||24-Nov-2021||- Log entries now have a timestamp, HH:MM:SS since power-up.
- Error entries now appear in red, ordinary logging in white.
- Startup log entry "START" appears in yellow.
- Bug fix: Occasional CAT communications dropping should not happen anymore.
|1_01c||12-Nov-2021||- Status LED flashes more info during TX to aid audio debugging on PC:
3 flashes means all OK, TXing power;
2 flashes means transmit mode, but audio level (volume) is too low;
1 flash means transmit mode, but there is no audio at all
|1_01b||08-Nov-2021||- Apply validation to config ref clock to make sure 25MHz +/- 1kHz.|
|1_01a||05-Nov-2021||- Bug fix: RX did not work after changing bands, until you changed freq again, or TX then RX again|
|1_01||27-Oct-2021||- IQ Mode, if enabled, transfers raw I & Q data to the PC for SDR programs.
- Japanese band limits mode, if enabled, prevents transmission outside Japanese band limits.
- Prevent QDX trying to transmit outside the range 3.4 MHz to 14.5 MHz, to avoid damage.
- CAT command MD can be used now to set mode LSB or USB
- CAT commands Q0, Q1 to QB allow get/set of all parameters on the Configuration screen
|1_00_003||11-Oct-2021||- Initial firmware release for QDX.|
QDX on RTTY using fldigi software, tips from Peter G3SPL
The following notes are provided by Peter G3SPL in this forum post https://groups.io/g/QRPLabs/message/79386.
Well, I have had my first QSO today with the QDX running RTTY. Yippee! I used the fldigi software (on Windows 10 laptop) which took quite a bit of effort to set up; certainly compared to WSJT-X.
The first thing was to change the QDX configuration using my terminal emulator to only require one sample of tone before setting the output frequency (the default being 480). This is to allow the QDX to keep up with the tone frequency potentially changing every 22mS.
With the fldigi configuration, under the soundcard, devices option, choose the QDX as both capture and playback device. I checked "port audio" - not sure what that does but it works!
Under "Audio device shared by Audio Alerts and Rx Monitor", choose Speaker/Headphones and check the "Enable" box.
Next, under the rig control option, select Hamlib and check the "Use Hamlib" box at the top.
The rig should be Kenwood TS440S, device is COM3 (i.e. whatever you use with your terminal emulator to get to the QDX menu) and check the box "PTT via Hamlib command". Other items can remain at their default values. Finally, press the "Initialize" button to make it all work.
Then you need to go into your Windows sound settings and put all the volume controls for the QDX to maximum.
Finally, choose the "Save config" option from the top of screen menu (otherwise you'll have to do all this next time you boot up fldigi!)
Expect to spend an hour or two browsing the help files to see how to operate the various buttons and options. One thing which I found difficult to find was how to turn on the Rx Monitor to hear what's going on on receive. This is done from the "View" menu: choose the top option "Rx Audio Dialog". On my setup, the received audio was very quiet for some reason. Maybe I will discover how to adjust it to a reasonable volume in due course.
By the way, I spent an hour or two wondering why the QDX wasn't going into transmit, to find that I had not checked the "Use Hamlib" box for rig control. Quite exasperating, but with perseverance I got there: it does work, so I am happy!