New Ham Radio build

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by sdr, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    I've been following the ubitx transceiver kit development for a while now. Decided it's time to assemble one. Looks like the latest version has more of the kinks worked out of it. It's still a bare bones radio but adding mods and tweaking it is part of the attraction for me.

    For people not familiar with the radio here's the description from µBITX – HF SIGNALS

    The µBITX is a general coverage HF SSB/CW transceiver kit with features you NEED for operating ease, convenience and versatility. It works from 3 MHz to 30 MHz, with up to 10 watts on SSB and CW with a very sensitive receiver. It features digital tuning, dual VFOs, RIT, CW Keyer and more.

    Personally I think the general coverage ssb receiver aspect is worth the price alone. Having it transmit is an added bonus. Never understood the desire for some operators to use QRP ( low power ). I guess its the challenge. I find it difficult enough with 100 watts. The ubitx will defiantly help to hone my antenna building skills.

    Anyway here's some of the build pics...

    Here's what arrived in about 10 days from India for $149. I've done enough research on the unit before I purchased it to understand what I was getting into.

    First thing was to build a case. People get very creative in choosing a case for it. Plastic boxes, old wood radio cases. Even ammo cans. I still haven't decided what will be the final home for it so I figured i'd just build something out of metal for now. Metal is the recommend material.

    Was having a hard time finding a usable metal case the right size or even the metal sheets I could use to make one. Finally found an old file cabinet for free.

    Cut it up.

    Bent with a homemade jig.

    Cut down a few of the cabinet drawer guides to use as brackets and screwed it together.

    The next weekend, before I cut the holes on the front panel, I decided to make a faceplate. Figured I didn't stand a chance of cutting the holes nice enough to look good.

    The plastic is from a cheap 5 piece tub surround I had lying around.


    Not very pretty.

    Used contact paper and tape as a template for the faceplate.

    Mounting the board and display took some time. I had to add some longer screws to the standoffs to set the board higher to allow clearance for the front sockets.

    I didn't want to drill a bunch of holes for the internal speaker so I decided to cut up an old cb case. The cb was a dead AM only radio.

    Installed the rest of the components and wired it up. Used the template to cut the plastic faceplate. I didn't cut the wires as short as possible or twist them like the instructions said. I am planning to mount it in a different case some day and didn't want to cut them. When I powered it up using an AC adapter I immediately understood the reasoning behind the twisted short wire thing. Hum was bad enough I switched to a 12v battery.

    Microphone was next. This was a challenge.
    Went great until I realised my mistake. Do you see it?
    This is it. I decided to assemble it using all the included parts that came with the kit. It will give me an idea of the basic stock configuration so when I start adding/changing stuff around I'll have something to go from.
    As soon as I change this design around a bit I'll print this out on some plastic self adhesive stock.

    So... After playing around on it for a while I have to say the receiver is very sensitive. I compared it to my other radios and it does a great job. The tuning dial takes some getting used to. The faster you turn the faster it steps up or down exponentially. Easy to go to far fast. LIke I said i wired it up according to the instructions so it tunes up when you turn left and down going right. Not sure why they would do that. Probably will be my first mod/fix. Pressing the tuning knob brings up the menu. When I first fired it up the audio was very distorted. The calibration on the menu fixed that. I use a pair of amplified computer speakers for the audio. Without AGC I wouldn't dare use headphones. That's a priority mod.

    I haven't transmitted yet. Probably won't until I can figure out how to hook it up to a spectrum display. I need to see if the harmonics/spurs are fixed in this build version.

    Probably the greatest fun so far, aside from building it, has been the amount of learning I've done. Being a licensed ham radio operator doesn't necessarily mean you know anything about how transceivers work.

    Lately I've been researching homemade antenna designs. Looks like a random wire and a multiband dipole are the 2 I'll build.

    I didn't want to use a factory built tuner so I did some checking on how to make a tuner. I was surprised on how simple they can be. Also didn't realise how many different designs there are.

    So much to learn.

    If your just getting started in amateur radio and want a good first radio i suggest buying a factory made one. I really enjoy my little ubitx though. Great to learn on.

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    snake6264 and 3M-TA3 like this.
  2. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @sdr I think that turn out pretty darn good! Well done! I will definitely be interested in seeing what you do on the antenna side as I am been scratching my head about that for a few days playing around with ideas and looking on the internet. Let us all know. Congrats! Nicely done!
    3M-TA3 likes this.
  3. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    ^^^ Ditto!
  4. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Did the folks that make the uBITX come out with a new BPF filter kit?

    Last I saw the RF Output didn't come close to meeting US spectral purity standards...
  5. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    Thanks guys. I will defiantly keep you updated.

    I haven't seen a filter kit by ubitx. I have found several other kits online. Hopefully soon ill order the board. Looks pretty easy to assemble a multiband filter kit. I've never wound toroids before. Doesn't look to bad.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
    hitchcock4 likes this.
  6. sdr

    sdr Monkey++


    Here's the link to the WA2EBY amp/filter kit I would like to build. Everything I've read shows it to be a good solid setup.
    hitchcock4 likes this.
  7. THAT IS ONE NICE LOOKING BUILD. Why don't you work up an article and submit it to CQ, and QST? Being intellectually challenged, I don't know what the error with the mike was, would you explain the mistake. Please keep us up to date on your progress. KD1OWA
  8. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    I also saw a post for a fix that replaces the relays on the board with higher quality ones. Not sure how the relays would interfere with purity. I was hoping they have been upgraded on the version 4.3 board. Main reason I need to see the spectrum.
  9. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    Very frustrating. I wired up the wrong jack. It needed a 3.5 stereo jack instead. Wasn't to bad to redo.

    Writing an article would be interesting. Doubt ill do it. Took me a couple hours just to create this post. One finger typing, slow tablet, issues with inserting photos ect. Much happier spending time at the work bench.
    hitchcock4 likes this.
  10. Is there a high school or J. C. nearby? Maybe you could hire a student to help with writing, and typing. Maybe you could find a third grader, they know more about computers than I do.
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Your writing EASILY meets the requirements of CQ' editorial standards. Betcha they'll pay for the article as well,. Certainly worth phone call.
  12. whynot

    whynot Monkey+++

    I've been keeping an eye on this since they were announced last year. The price is certainly right and enough people are playing with them that the big bugs should be worked out by now. I'm thinking of sending off for one for my birthday so keep posting updates.

    Looks like it would make a nice backup radio for SOTA if I ever broke my 817. Do you see any problem with mounting it with the controls on top and in a small harbor freight dry box? I'm thinking a layer of the metallic AC duct tape to line the inside of the plastic box.

  13. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    Lol. Funny you should mention that. I stopped by harbor freight 2 weeks ago to look at cases. I like those water resistant ones. I'm thinking the same thing.

    No i don't see a problem with mounting all the controls on top. Its pretty much how I have it setup now. Mine has all the stuff on the front panel. Easy to set it on its back.
  14. whynot

    whynot Monkey+++

    I operate portable about 99% of the time so being able to sit on a rock and look down at the controls would be nice. Plus I think there is enough room in the lid to get coax and a few antenna's.

  15. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    Agree. I like the idea of having a portable radio that I could easily take in the camper or use it up at the bol.
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