Dave Richards AA7EE

October 30, 2010

New Kit Company To Debut Trail-Friendly Radio

Most people reading this post will be familiar with Jason NT7S, or at least have heard of him.  He’s an amateur who lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his wife Jennifer, their golden labrador Baxter and newest addition to the family, their 3 month-old son Noah.  Jason recently did something that I consider very admirable – he gave up full-time employment in order to be able to spend more time at home with his family.  Jason is planning to launch a new open-source amateur radio kit company and as part of that has been working on “Project X”, which it has just been revealed is a CW transceiver with a superhet receiver. The current draw will be 30mA or maybe even a little less, a fact that will make it very appealing to hiking and camping folk. Much use is made of cascode JFET circuitry.  The radio includes a built-in keyer, frequency counter and battery check status indicator too. It has a 4 pole crystal filter with an approximate bandwidth of 500Hz (nice) and will be available intially for 40M with plans for other bands as well.

I could tell you a little more, but I’ll send you over to Jason’s site for the lowdown.  Two things to bear in mind before you go look:

1) The picture is not what your finished radio will look like.  This is his prototype that you’re looking at.  The final kit will be smaller, make use of SMT’s and will have a PCB.

2) These are early days.  It’s not going to be available next week, so now might well be a good time for you to give Jason feedback on something you might want in a kit like this (hope Jason doesn’t mind me saying this.)

For my part, there are two things that are quite important requirements that not all single band kits provide. Here are my two desires –

1) A smooth and fairly slow tuning rate and

2) a really nice sounding sidetone (rough square wave type side-tones really kill my enjoyment of sending CW)

That’s it.  Boring I know, but those 2 features make a big difference to my enjoyment of a radio. What would you like to see in a trail-friendly TX/RX? (Jason’s going to KILL me for asking this!)

Oh, and the very best of luck with the new business Jason.  We might be in a recession, but the best ideas will always do well – even in a tough business environment like this. When you get things off to a good start, think of how they can grow even more when the economy improves. So everyone please wish NT7S the very best in his new endeavours and if you’re going to be in the market for a cool new CW transceiver kit in the near future, you know where to look!

Here’s the link to Jason’s post.

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2 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the great plug for my new company! First off, I’m very pleased that you asked people to give me feedback on features that they would like to see. One thing that will be vital for my success is to listen to what my customers want.

    Next let me address your two questions:
    1) Tuning is a varactor-tuned VFO. It is very stable for a voltage-tuned VFO, but the tuning rate is moderately non-linear. In my prototype, I use a turns counting 10-turn pot, and the tuning rate is excellent. I’m debating whether to offer different options (1-turn or 10-turn pot), or to just let the user purchase their own pot. Of course, a 10-turn pot greatly increases the cost of the kit, so it probably won’t be a default choice.

    2) I tried to configure the microcontroller to output a PWM-generated sine wave. It can be done, but the AVR must be clocked >10 MHz, which kills current consumption. So for now it’s back to a square wave with a couple of poles of RC filtering. It’s not quite a sinewave, but I think that the tone is decent enough for everyday use. Definitely not an unfiltered, harsh square wave. There’s no excuse for that.

    Let me know if you have any other questions that I can answer.

    73,
    Jason NT7S

    Comment by Jason NT7S — November 2, 2010 @ 7:55 am | Reply

  2. Jason –

    A lot of people manage fine with quite coarse tuning rates but I happen to like the really slow rates you can get on commercial rigs, like the 2KHz/turn I get on my FT-817. A 10-turn pot with a band coverage of 50KHz would give about 5KHz/turn, which is very do-able. Having said that, I was very skeptical about the tuning rate of 90KHz/turn that my Tut80 gives me, but in practice it’s a lot easier to use than I would have predicted. The upside is that you can scan a whole band segment very quickly. The sidetone sounds fine too, by the way. Thanks for the explanation – I know it must be a bit of a pain when you’re dealing with the tone that a microcontroller puts out.

    It sounds exciting Jason. I’ll be watching your blog with interest. I think quite a few others will be too!

    Comment by aa7ee — November 2, 2010 @ 12:11 pm | Reply


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