1. Shipping update - almost back to normal!
2. QCX Troubleshooting guide
3. QCX gets great reviews in February CQ magazine and March K9YA telegraph
4. Canadian C3 expedition - final
5. Balloon flights update
6. The WA5DJJ Supergrabber!
7. New product: Lime SDR enclosure
8. Social media, Feedback, unsubscribing
The QCX CW transceiver kit was launched on 21st August 2017, so has just passed 6 months. Six BUSY months here at QRP Labs HQ! To date the number of QCX kits ordered is 3,794, of which over 95% have been shipped. This is a MASSIVE number of kits!
To help deal with the high demand, QRP Labs kits are now being shipped from three different locations. The additional stock of some items in US and Japan can in some cases mean your order is shipped sooner; this also reduces the load on the regular shipment office and lets them ship faster too.
As a result, waiting times have come down from around 8 weeks wait, in November/December, to below 2 weeks on average now. Within a few weeks, we hope to be back to zero wait time: all kits should be shipped within 3 business days of the order.
If you are waiting for a QCX shipment, you can find out which serial number the shipment office will ship next, on the QCX CW transceiver kit page http://qrp-labs.com/qcx. All updates about the QCX will be on this page.
Other QRP Labs shipments are also delayed. If you are concerned or have any particular requirements or questions please contact us. Hopefully this February newsletter is going to be the LAST time we have to discuss shipping delays!
Many QCX constructors report happily that their QCX kit works first time. But for others, inevitably things do not always go so smoothly. To help assist with troublshooting, I have written a detailed troubleshooting guide http://qrp-labs.com/qcx/qcxtrouble. It explains how to signal-trace through the receive and transmit signal chains to find faults. Even if your QCX works perfectly, signal tracing through the transceiver is a fascinating insight into how and why it all works, what the signals look like at each point, etc. You will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for your QCX.
From alignment problems to low power output, have a look at the trouble-shooting page and see if it can help you; and remember the QRP Labs discussion group is full of knowledgeable people who can also advise.
Below left: troubleshooting at HQ; below right: audio signals with 90-degree offset.
There's a nice review of the QCX in the US magazine "CQ" by Jack W8TEE. CQ Magazine is available in digital format and traditional print, see http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com.
The K9YA Telegraph's March issue has an article on the QCX by Philip K9PL, sub-titled "QRP Labs Moves the Goalposts". Philip concludes his 3-page article: "...the QCX behaves like a monoband, QRP slice out of a QRO high-end rig with deep, deep menus - very innovative and a joy to operate". The K9YA Telegraph is a free monthly Ham Radio eZine, see http://www.k9ya.org/ for details.
QRP Labs was proud to sponsor the Canadian C3 Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast expedition celebrating Canada's 150th birthday, by providing an Ultimate3S kit and accessories (QLG1 GPS receiver kit, relay switched filter board, 20/30/40m Low Pass Filter kits, and enclosure kit). The radio was installed on the C3 expedition ship Polar Prince by a team led by Barrie VE3BSB. Since completing its primary mission, the Polar Prince was granted permission to continue operating the Ultimate3S using the callsign VE0EXP, while the ship returned to Canada's East Coast via the Panama canal. The callsign change was undertaken by Michael VE7XMC. Read more on the RAC website: http://wp.rac.ca/update-on-canada-c3-and-rac150-awards/
Transmissions ceased when the ship was nearly home in the North Atlantic; I am not sure what the reason for this was. Below is a map showing the complete path of the whole C3 expedition and the journey home through the Panama canal. You can read more details and a zoomable map at the QRP Labs C3 page http://qrp-labs.com/c3
U3S-22 CIRCUMNAVIGATION by Jim N2NXZ! Finally, Jim N2NXZ achieved the holy grail of long distance High Altitude Ballooning, a complete circumnavigation of planet Earth! Congratulations to Jim on this spectacular accomplishment!
At time of writing, U3S is still flying, now over Russia, a little North-East of Moscow, on its second lap! The trip from mid North Atlantic to Russia wasn't well tracked, possibly because the wind forecast showed the jetstream carrying the balloon high up North where the solar angle would be too low to provide enough power to operate the transmitter.
More details of the U3S22 flight, including transmitter and launch photos, are at http://qrp-labs.com/flights/u3s22
U3S-21: Jim N2NXZ has been busy even before his amazingly successful U3S-22 flight! Flight U3S-21 was last heard from in mid Pacific ocean, after flying for more than 17 days. Not a round-the-world flight, but an impressive distance and duration. See http://qrp-labs.com/flights/u3s21 for more...
U3S-20: Jim N2NXZ launched U3S-20 in early January and it reached Czech Republic. See http://qrp-labs.com/flights/u3s20 for full details.
U3B-13: David VE3KCL launched the 13th QRP Labs U3B test flight on 27-Feb-2018 but the flight lasted only 12 hours, travelling 725km then landing in Connecticut, US. The balloon burst before the balloon reached its anticipated altitude. See http://qrp-labs.com/flights/u3b13
BB02: Bob ZL1RS launched his second flight on 17-Dec-2017. BB02 flew for almost 9 days, crossing the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and last seen south of Madagascar. See http://qrp-labs.com/flights/bb02 for details. A great flight, and nice night-time path interpolation by Bob.
BB03 and BB03: Bob ZL1RS also launched his BB03 and BB04 balloons, which flew for 2 days and 3 days respectively, out into the South Pacific Ocean. Read more at http://qrp-labs.com/flights/bb03 and http://qrp-labs.com/flights/bb04
A "grabber" is the term used for a receiver connected to an audio spectrum analysis program on a computer, with several minutes' of a few hundred Hz of spectrum displayed. The image is regularly updated on a web page. It is used for viewing QRSS signals, these types of transmissions were used pre-WSPR. The QRP Labs Ultimate3S QRSS/WSPR transmitter is one example of a transmitter capable of sending QRSS type transmissions, although the majority of operators use their U3S as a WSPR transmitter.
Dave's dream for several years, is to operate an all-band grabber. Not just a single band e.g. 30m, as most grabbers out there - and not a compromised poor-performance wideband SDR - rather a high quality, high performance system for all LF and HF Bands. The QCX transceiver priced $49 allows him to achieve his cost goal of sub-$100 per band, when paired with an inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer for decoding. The QCX is a very high performance receiver.
"There is still more to come but I now have 7 bands on the website (160M, 80M, 60M 40M, 30M , 20M, 17M ) and the blank spots will be filled in as the QCX transceivers come in from Hans’s kit factory. The Lower shelf blanks are for 15M, 12M and 10M which will be modified 17M QCX transceivers. The upper shelf Blanks will be filled with modified 30M QCX receivers with up converters in front of them for 2200M and 630M. The silver box on the right hand side second shelf is my 10MHz Crystal frequency standard that will be used for the up converter’s Local Oscillator and the 27MHz frequency stabilized generator that will be fed to all of the receivers when it is finished and installed. Then there will be NO MORE frequency drifting. Also in the works is modifying the receiver input by removing the low pass filters and replacing them with Hans’s Bandpass filters. Now that the Grabber is modularized for each band, they can be worked on individually making upgrading much easier. This also allows me to try out ideas to improve a certain band without disrupting the whole grabber system. I expect in the coming months that you will see the empty spaces filled with experiments that I am trying to see if I can squeeze some more signal out of these fantastic little radios."
Its' a fascinating and unusual use for the QCX transceiver! I always like to see a reminder of non-WSPR modes too. There is a lot to learn about propagation and unusual ionospheric effects, from QRSS (and other) transmissions. So fire up your Ultimate3S on non-WSPR modes and explore, at the same time giving some signals to Dave to help him enhance his system!
QRP Labs has now manufactured an enclosure kit for the popular Lime SDR. This kit is designed by Luftek, and sold by QRP Labs with his permission and cooperation. The kit is priced $65 which includes airmail shipping. It includes custom-manufactured black anodized extruded aluminium shell with fan cut-out, printed/drilled/cut front and rear panels, fan, heatsinks, LEDs, and all other mounting hardware required to assemble the Lime SDR in the enclosure, as pictured below. Not pictured: the kit also includes 12pcs of U.FLto SMA coaxial pigtails, for mounting in the front/rear panels and connecting to the U.FL connectors on the Lime PCB! Ordering page: http://shop.qrp-labs.com/enclosures/limesdr
Social media: QRP Labs has the following presence on social media. If you use these social media then please join or follow QRP Labs! Announcements such as new products, balloon launches, etc., will be made first in these media!
1) QRP Labs groups.io discussion group https://groups.io/g/QRPLabs for discussion and support on all QRP Labs products
2) QRP Labs Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/QRPlabs/
3) QRP Labs is @qrplabs on Twitter https://twitter.com/qrplabs
4) QRP Labs on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/QRPLabs
Feedback: As always, please do write with any comments, ideas, criticism, feedback of any kind!