Monday, August 13, 2018

New 10W 40m QSX40 from QRP-Labs

I very much enjoyed building the QCX CW transceiver and there have been rumours that QRP-Labs was working on a sideband version. It seems the rumours are true and the kit is being built at a "Youngsters on the air" meeting in South Africa at the moment.

It seems that it's a 10W output kit for 40m (and presumably other bands too) but nothing formally announced or available for sale at this time.

There's a few comments in the QRP-Labs forum, a tweet, and some clues in the Facebook page of YOTA. I'm very much looking forward to learning more about this kit.

Great that they're testing the build process on a group before launching it. I can wait and would rather build a debugged kit with accurate manual rather than rushing in too soon.

Just spotted this interview with Hans:

There's a lot of information in the video, I've taken notes to make it easier to take in. The new rig features:

  • 10W SSB, AM & FM
  • USB CAT control and Audio
  • USB host for keyboard to use with no-PC PSK31, RTTY & CW (decodes to the display)
  • Iambic CW keyer
  • 40m initially and later 10 band
  • Real time clock (with provision for battery backup)
Hans has worked on this for over 6 months.

Designed a 40m 10W SSB transceiver kit. It will also do AM and FM.

It's an all software defined radio, with no PC necessary. Internally it uses a powerful 32 bit ARM processor. The user interface is quite minimal, just two rotary encoders and four buttons. It’s designed to be used with a standard iPhone/Samsung headphone with mic. There’s an RJ45 mic socket on the back for a Yaesu/Kenwood standard mic.

There’s two USB sockets, one A and one B. You can plug in a USB keyboard which you’ll be able to use with PSK31, RTTY and CW. Decoding will be displayed on screen standalone - again no PC needed for those modes.

If you plug a computer into the USB B socket the rig will appear as a 24 bit sound card so you can use it with a PC for digital modes such as FT8.

Like last year’s QCX, it has built in test and alignment hardware and software.

It’s a high performance radio using a 24 bit A/D converter chip for high dynamic range and a 24 bit D/A on the output of the SDR. The large heatsink is designed to handle continuous digital modes without overheating.

In the next couple of months a plug-in filter board will be designed which will let the rig cover 10 bands from 160m to 10m. (This will include the 60m band).

There will also be an optional extruded aluminium enclosure.

The exact price hasn’t been decided but it’s hoped that the 40m single band version will be about US$75 and the whole thing including the 10 band filter board and enclosure will be about US$150.

There's a thread discussing this enthusiastically on Reddit.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Windows 10 - still not finished

While my iOS phone is undoubtedly the computing device used most often in my day, when I want to do some serious computing work I use macOS and Linux. There is some software that still only runs on Windows so I have a Windows 10 computer. Windows can be annoying but it's superficially looking much nicer these days, but from time to time cracks appear.

I use "natural scrolling" where the direction of the trackpad or mouse wheel moves the content as if you were scrolling on a touch screen. On Windows 10 I have a Logitech wheel mouse and I wanted to make it work the same as every other mouse here.

First I go to the Mouse settings which looks like this:

Nowhere in there is scroll direction so I click "Additional mouse options" and I'm thrown back into a Windows 95 settings user interface:

Wow! they haven't got around to updating the settings to the new look. This must make it hard for touch screen users. I looked all around here and there is still no way to switch the direction of the scroll wheel.

I found the answer here. Unbelievably, one must get the HID device path, open the registry editor and set 1 as the value of the "FlipFlopWheel" property (after navigating five levels deep in the hierarchy).

A lot of older Windows software runs well under Wine on Linux. That may be the ultimate answer.

LTSpice seems to run just fine on Linux under Wine.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Another van trip north

I've just returned from a few nights away in northern NSW. On this occasion the driving was shared with another ABC alumni, Peter Cave.

We're not sure if the van is driving better or if it's just that we've got better with the worn gears, but it seems smoother. It's still using a bit of oil and coolant for some reason but is otherwise reliable.

Along the way we dropped in at the Williamtown Fighter World which I can recommend as an excellent display of military planes near the base. From time to time jets fly over and it can be quite a display.

Here's Peter with a type of fighter that once took a shot at him:

There are two large sheds full of planes, trainers, and even some missiles.

And who could resist the attractive observation deck so beautifully promoted in the flyer:

While exiting through the gift shop, I bought this excellent key ring tag for the van:

After Williamtown, we dropped in on another ABC alumni, the venerable Tim Bowden, who was in fine form.

Tim is an experienced camper who has advised me on various aspects of the van. He was more than happy to try it out.

The stay at Dorrigo was again relaxing and entertaining. It's a place that has very high rainfall but at the moment even it looks a bit dry. I'm sure the federal minister for climate change is working on the big dry and planning for our carbon reduction as a top priority of government...