Category Archives: Kits

The Cricket: The Four State QRP Group’s latest transceiver kit

Here’s a hot tip for those of you who enjoy building transceiver kits:

The Four State QRP group has just released The Cricket: a simple 80 CW transceiver kit. The Cricket was designed by David Cripe (NM0S) who is behind a number of successful kits (including the Ozark Patrol and the Bayou Jumper).

The amazing part about this kit is that it’s super simple, has no toroids to wind and doesn’t even need to be aligned. It even includes a Morse key.

All this shipped for $32.68 in the US, $39.50 in Canada and $43.50 for international orders. A serious bargain, in my book.

Typically, Dave’s kits sell out the same day they are posted for sale. If you’re interested in The Cricket, don’t hesitate to order! (I just bought three, for example.)

Click here to order The Cricket.

Here’s The Cricket kit description via the Four State QRP Group website:

Kitted and Offered For Sale By The Four State QRP Group

The Cricket is a low cost entry level minimalist CW transceiver for the 80 meter band. Chosen as the build session kit for OzarkCon 2017, it bears a family resemblance to the well known but much lower performing Pixie. However it is very different and vastly improved over the Pixie. This is NOT a Pixie, it is far superior! It features low parts count, better components including MOSFETs for better sensitivity and switching, and a modern NJM2113D audio amp.

A TX/RX offset is also incuded so that you can work other stations that have zero beat you, or are using a crystal on the same frequncy. Full QSK and a sidetone complete the essential operating features. Dave’s famous etched spiral coils are included on the pc board, so there are NO TOROIDS to wind. Additionally a straight key is included on the pc board, just snap it off, mount it on the board, and the whole rig is then self contained. Also included is an electronic keyer adapter – you can use your favorite keyer with the Cricket! These are many features for such a low parts count and inexpensive transceiver.

ALL THROUGH HOLE parts make this kit very easy to assemble. It will make a fine, fully functional, and educational first rig for a new builder, the new ham, or seasoned veterans wishing to just have fun with a new rig at minimal expense and effort. Note that Novices and Technicians have 80M CW privileges from 3.525 to 3.600, same as everyone else – so they also can build and use the Cricket.

This simple rig is fun and functional, and made many contacts at OzarkCon after the build session. A proven design and a great choice for your next rig, it is perfect for a group build with nets and contacts after the build. This is an excellent club project.

USB Battery Pack Keep-Alive Load Kit

(Source: Southgate ARC)

USB power banks are a convenient way of powering low power USB devices in the field. Unfortunately, as they are designed for charging phones and tablets, many have an internal electronic cut out circuit that switches power off below a certain current draw. The exact current that they switch off at varies from pack to pack.

Although there are circuits on the internet that purport to solve this problem by applying a pulsed load, we found this did not work with all power banks. As a result we designed a neat variable electronic load to address this problem.

Available as a kit, using it is easy; just plug it into your power bank, plug your target device into it and adjust the current draw until the pack remains on.

http://www.sotabeams.co.uk/usb-battery-pack-keep-alive-load-kit/

This could be a handy tool for those of us who use USB battery packs for portable work. SotaBeams originally created this simple kit for the WSPRlite.

Stampfl products on eBay

This morning, I noticed that the Swiss radio and Morse key manufacturer, Stampfl, is selling some of their products on eBay.

In particular, they’ve listed the Junior 1 shortwave radio receiver kit (above) and the STM-11 Classic Morse Code straight key (below).

Stampfl was founded by Heinz Stampfl (HB9KOC)–I’ve been following his work the past few years, especially fascinated with his SDR designs which are (sadly) only experimental and have never been put into production.

I’m particularly fascinated with the MICRO SWRX:

And the EXPERIMENTAL SWRX:

I’ve written Heinz more than once encouraging him to put these on the market. Of course, it’s an easy request coming from a consumer who doesn’t have to front the production costs and inherent overhead!

Heinz, if you’re reading this, why not do a Kickstarter campaign for one of your fine SDR designs?!

The Junior 1 receiver kit

The Stampfl Junior 1 shortwave receiver kit looks like a lot of fun not only to operate, but also to build and I’m sorely tempted to purchase one!

Here’s a video of the Junior 1 in action:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to download the Junior 1 manual.

The Junior 1 is listed as an auction on eBay with a starting bid of $50 with $25 Economy Shipping to the US. The BuyItNow price is $70.

I think $95 US shipped is a fair price for what looks like a fascinating little receiver kit designed by an (obviously) talented engineer.

Click here to view on eBay.

Post readers: Have any of you built the Junior 1 or purchased any of Stampfl’s Morse Code keys? Please comment!

BITX40 Goes Digital

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Pete (WB9FLW), who notes that Ashhar Farhan (VU2ESE) has upgraded the BITX40 Transceiver with a Arduino Nano/Si5351 VFO:

http://www.hfsigs.com/

The BITX40 is an affordable, fully assembled QRP transceiver  we’ve mentioned on the SWLing Post before–click here to read more.

Thanks for the tip, Pete!

Real-time Flight Status And Radar For All US/Canada Flights

FlightAwareFor those who receive (and send) flight data from ADS-B capable devices such as the RTL-SDR dongles or have Apps for their tablets and phones, FlightAware announced on Wednesday this change to their service:

Hi from FlightAware,

After months of development, we released a large upgrade to our back-end flight tracking engine on Tuesday. Not only did the upgrade include dozens of bug fixes and flight tracking improvements, but we added a massive enhancement for US and Canadian flight tracking — the flight status and radar data is now live with no more five minute delay! Previously, the US/Canada data feed contained a five minute delay in addition to our ~30 second processing time, but now all data is less than a minute delayed from real time. In addition to the general improvement, this yields a lot of additional benefits:

  • More seamless transition between RADAR, ADS-B, and MLAT positions
  • Flights will no longer transition from “Arriving soon” to “Arrived 5 minutes ago”
  • Fewer estimated positions due to delayed RADAR data

Now that the radar data in the US and Canada is real-time, we’ll soon be enabling public MLAT data in the US, which is real-time just like our ADS-B data.

This is a major upgrade in data for folks in North America, and it will make using programs like PlanePlotter even more useful!

For those who might be interested in building their own dedicated ADS-B receiver, information may be found here. Of course FlightAware may be used as an online flight checking service just for tracking the progress of a given flight, which is in itself a lot of fun!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.