Tag Archives: QRP

BITX40: A Fully Assembled $45 SSB QRP transceiver


Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who writes:

Don’t know if you have seen this or not. VU2ESE of BITX20 Fame has just introduced the BITX40.

This is a fully assembled and tested SSB Transceiver for $45 including shipping from India!


Wow! I may have to purchase one of these and try it out.

I’m currently teaching a HamRadio 101 course to a group of 13 year olds. One of them recently asked how much it would cost to get a basic HF radio kit with SSB mode.  HF rigs–even basic ones–tend to be quite expensive if they include SSB.

Here are details from the BitX40 order page:

Work the world on 40 meters

When was the last time you used a radio you had built? The BITX40 board is single circuit board 40 meter SSB transceiver module. Inside an evening, you can be on-air with this SSB transceiver module, chatting with the local gang or chasing DX. Plug in the earphones, the included electret mic, tuning and volume controls and you are on air! Included are high quality connectors, all the needed sockets and jacks, tuning and volume controls, mounting hardware, etc.


The BITX40 is a very clean, crisp and quite receiver. The front-end has a triple tuned circuit that cuts out-of-band signals from getting inside, a diode ring mixer front-end with a very low phase noise, all analog oscillator makes this a crisp receiver that doesn’t overload easily. The all analog signal path to your ear makes provides outstanding signal clarity that is to be heard to be believed.

7 watts of SSB provides you with enough juice to have thousands of contacts on 40 meters, daily rag chew and occasional DX chasing. Any common 2 ampere 12 linear volts supply will provide enough juice for this transceiver. Or you could simply run it from a battery!


The BITX40 will inspire you to experiment. Modify it, mount it, tweak it, change it.

The PCB uses all analog large sized SMD components that are laid out on an easy to understand manner on a double sided board with broad tracks. This can be your main module around which you can start experimenting. There are jump-points from where you can add more modules like the DDS, more bands, better audio amplifier, etc. Imagination is your limit. You can separately increase the power amplifier’s supply voltage to 25 volts to be more than 20 watts of power : You will have to add a better heat sink. The mods are on the way!

The board can be installed inside any box that you like. Make your own station rigs, man-packs, trail radios or mount it in a cigar box and leave it on your bedside table. The tuning capacitor has been replaced by a varactor tuning so you can place the tuning knob anywhere as it only carries a DC voltage. Watch the instructions video.

Box Contents

We have tried to include connector/hardware you might possibly need to build a full radio. However, we also had to balance the shipping weight to keep the overall cost down. You will have to supply your own box, power supply and earphones/headphones/speaker.

  • 4-1/2 inches by 5 inches tested SSB transceiver module, covering any 150 KHz segment of the 7 MHz band
  • Small electret microphone
  • High quality BNC connector for the antenna
  • Two earphone style audio jacks for the mic and the earphones/speaker
  • A set of DC power socket and plug
  • Volume control with on/off switch
  • 100k linear pot for tuning
  • 4 Brass stand-offs with mounting nuts and bolts
  • Connectors with wires for all connections on the board

* Note : A speaker is not included in the kit as earphones/headphones/speakers are easily available locally. No cabinet is included to save on the postage cost. Almost any box maybe used.


The BITX boards are hand assembled by a collective of women. Each of the toroids is hand wound. This provides these women with livelihood. The assembled boards are then DC checked a final RF check is performed to check the receiver’s sensitivity as well as transmitter’s output before being shipped. Each board is individually numbered.

Click here to view the BITX40 ordering page. 

Recap of Great Smoky Mountains NPOTA activations


Last week, I attended the W4DXCC convention in Sevierville, Tennessee. The road trip afforded me several opportunities to make NPOTA activations through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

LowePro CS 60 Closed

I took my field kit which included the Elecraft KX2, QRP Ranger battery pack (not pictured), and EFT Trail-Friendly antenna.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


My first stop was the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC, where I had planned the “two-fer” activation of the Great Smoky Mountains (NP26) and the Blue Ridge Parkway (PK01).

First thing I did was ask the park ranger on duty how I could find the footpath to the point where the two parks overlap. Turns out, I had at least a one mile hike ahead of me.

PK01  and NP26


I love hiking, so that wasn’t a problem.


The only problem was I hadn’t accounted for the hike in my plans, so I knew I would be a little late for the scheduled activation time.

When I reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, I ventured down to the river where I found an excellent spot to set up my field kit.


Thankfully, within thirty minutes, I had logged 15 contacts. I quickly packed up and attempted to catch back up with my schedule.

Thankfully, the Elk were elsewhere today!

I was grateful the Elk were elsewhere Thursday!

Back at the ranger’s station, I learned that the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center is also another National Park entity: the Trail Of Tears (TR12). I had no time to deploy my station once more, but made a mental note to add it to activations on my return trip.

NP26 and TR01

Next, I hopped in my car and drove to the Newfound Gap parking area where the Appalachian Trail (TR01) crosses the Great Smoky Mountains Park (NP26).

The view there was/is amazing:


The area was packed with tourists, so I decided to hike up the Appalachian Trail (AT) to escape the bulk of the crowd.

img_20160922_150632201I hiked at least one mile up the narrow and steep AT before finding a suitable spot to set up my gear. It was a tight operating spot, but I managed to hang the antenna and position myself in a way that wouldn’t block foot traffic on the AT.


I logged 18 stations in the span of about 45 minutes.

I also took several breaks to answer questions about ham radio from hikers.  I was particularly happy that one family took sincere interest in what I was doing and their young kids were fascinated that I was making contacts across the globe where there was no cell phone coverage nor Internet.

I packed up at 20:30 UTC, hiked back to my car and  managed to arrive at the conference center in Sevierville in time for dinner with my friends.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My activations on the return trip, Sunday, included the same locations as Thursday.


TR01 and NP26

Instead of heading north on the Appalachian Trail, I decided to head south. I was running late to activate the site and knew if I headed north I’d have a long hike ahead of me. Once again, there were a lot of visitors at the site–many were there for a Sunday morning hike and were making their way (quite slowly) north. The southern route had no foot traffic at all, so I headed south.


I found a suitable site to set up radio, but only because the trail was so quiet I could sit in the middle of it. The entire time I operated, I only encountered one hiker who was absolutely amazed I was making contacts across the continent when he hadn’t had cell phone reception in days.

I logged 14 contacts in 45 minutes.

NP26 and PK01

Next, I headed back down the mountain to the Ocunaluftee Visitor Center to the same site where I set up before.


Unlike my Thursday activation, contacts trickled in very slowly. It took over one hour to log 11 contacts. Propagation was very strange: the only stations I worked on the 20 meter band–a total of four–were located in Idaho and Slovenia.


You can *almost* see my antenna hanging from its first location.

Once, I even re-deployed my antenna, thinking that may help. I managed to raise the entire 35′ length into an ideal tree on the bank of the river. It was completely vertical with no slope. That did, perhaps, help snag my final two contacts.



Despite the fact I was running late and I had struggled to make the minimum ten QSOs required for the NP26/PK01 activation, I decided to also attempt TR12 (Trail of Tears).

I hiked back to the Ocunaluftee Visitor’s Center and found a quiet spot, once again, near the river. I was happy with my operating location and the fact the antenna deployed with no problem.

Sadly, though, this activation was not meant to be. Even with multiple spots on the DX Cluster, I stopped operating after having only worked four stations in 45 minutes. If I hadn’t been on a schedule, perhaps I would have stayed another hour.

I didn’t let this bother me, though. I knew the TR12 activation would be a gamble and I was happy to have provided four NPOTA chasers with another NPOTA catch for the day!

All in all, I worked a total of 64 stations en route to and return from the W4DXCC conference. I call that a success, especially since I was able to enjoy some excellent hiking, scenery, weather and I even had a few opportunities to promote ham radio to the public. Of course, I feel like each time I do one of these activations, it also hones my emergency communication skills.


Speaking of the W4DXCC, the conference was amazing as always and I’m happy to have been a part of it. For the second year in a row, we hosted a “Ham Radio Bootcamp”–a day-long tutorial on all aspects of ham radio. Once again, it drew a large crowd.

Vlado (N3CZ) demonstrating the IC-7300 functions and features at the Ham Radio Bootcamp.

Vlado (N3CZ) demonstrating the IC-7300 functions and features at the Ham Radio Bootcamp.

Each year, the convention operates as KB4C in a dedicated radio room. This year, we had two IC-7300 transceivers on the air.

Each year, the convention operates as KB4C in a dedicated radio room. This year, we had two IC-7300 transceivers on the air simultaneously.


We had at least three antennas available including this excellent hex beam.

If you’re into DXing, contesting, or you’d simply like to make some new friends in the community, I would encourage you to put the W4DXCC conference in your calendar for 2017!

NPOTA Activations this morning!


If you’re around the radio this morning (Sunday, Sep 25), and you’d like to make some NPOTA contacts, note that I plan activate:

Look for me around 14,286 kHz and 7286 kHz +/- 6 kHz.

Once again, I’ll operate the lightweight Elecraft KX2/EFT Trail-Friendly combo–and that’s a good thing. To activate these sites, I’ll log at least 1 hour 15 minutes of hiking (the AT portion over steep terrain). Having a small radio package makes the experience much more enjoyable!

I hope to hear you on the air or, perhaps, you’ll hear me. I expect there will be a lot of NPOTA activators in the field today.  Should be a lot of fun!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Four NPOTA activations planned today


Around noon (EDT) today, I’ll start my short journey to the W4DXCC conference in Sevierville, TN.

En route, I’ll pass through three National Parks: the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a beautiful drive and the weather appears to be near-ideal–clear skies.

ARRL-NPOTAThis also affords me the opportunity to activate two “two-fers” for the National Parks On The Air  (NPOTA):

  • Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains Park (PK01 & NP26)
  • Appalachian Trail and Great Smoky Mountains Park (NP26 & TR01)

I’ll only get credit for three activations, but chasers will have a better opportunity to snag two park entities in one QSO.

I plan to activate the PK01 & NP26 two-fer starting around 17:00 UTC, then the NP26 & TR01 two-fer starting around 19:15 UTC. Look for me on 14,286 and 7,286 +/- 6 kHz.

SWLs: please comment if you happen to hear me at your location!

On the way back from the conference, Sunday morning, I plan to activate the same sites once again (weather permitting).

NPOTA: Photos from weekend “two-fer” activation


As seen from the Overmountain Victory Trail: The Revolutionary War encampment at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals.

As I mentioned in a previous post, what I love about the National Parks On The Air program is that it combines two of my favorite things: national parks and ham radio. My family visits national parks regularly, so it’s easy for me to pack a small radio, do a quick NPOTA activation all while incorporating non-radio activities that the family loves.


On Saturday, I activated both the Blue Ridge Parkway (PK01) and Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (TR10)–a “two-fer” activation.

Normally, I would set up my station somewhere close to the Museum of North Carolina Minerals which is situated at the junction of these two National Park entities. Saturday, however, was a special event at the museum: a Revolutionary War Encampment.

Blue Ridge Natural Heritage describes the annual event:

The Museum is located at Gillespie Gap, an important stop for Revolutionary War fighters on their way to the Battle of Kings Mountain. Each September the Museum hosts an encampment of re-enactors who assume the role of the Overmountain Men, primarily Scots-Irish settlers from Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina who came “over the mountains” and ultimately defeated the left wing of Cornwallis’ army at Kings Mountain, South Carolina. Many historians mark this victory as the turning point in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War.

npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-encampment2 npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-encampment

My family loves living history events.

Radio time!

The Park Ranger kindly gave me permission to do the NPOTA activation, but not at the museum itself.  She was trying to keep the site set in the Revolutionary War period–a ham radio operator using a portable transceiver doesn’t exactly fit that description. Instead, around 15:30 UTC, I hiked up the Overmountain Victory Trail in search of an operation site near the Blue Ridge Parkway road.


The trailhead was a little rough and overgrown. I didn’t have to trail-blaze, but I did have to wade through a lot of weeds with my gear and my canine companion, Hazel, on leash. It’s times like this I truly appreciate such a compact, lightweight, and packable station.


Can you find the trail in this photo?

Once we entered the woods, though, the trail improved. I found a fantastic spot to operate between the museum and the parkway.


Hazel the dog is a welcome companion does a wonderful job keeping my site free of black bears. She’s patient, too. I typically tie her leash to a small stake or tree next to me and she promptly takes a nap. Here she is admiring my new REI Camping Stool:



You can see part of the EFT Trail-Friendly antenna hanging in this photo.

Setup was quick. I managed to raise the EFT Trail-Friendly antenna in record time. I connected the antenna to the Elecraft KX2 and was on the air, calling CQ on 20 meters in a matter of minutes. npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-elecraft-kx2-clipboardIn the space of 15-20 minutes, I only managed to work a few stations on the 20 meter band even though I had been spotted several times on the DX Cluster.npota-tr10-pk01-qrp-elecraft-kx2-logs

I moved to the 40 meter band and logged contacts quickly, however.


My full station and my ferocious guard dog, Hazel.

Hazel, as I mentioned, is a great companion that’s sweet to everyone she meets. She’s happy to hang with me even if I’m just sitting there operating radio for an hour. She’s quiet and doesn’t bark unless she notices a true disturbance.

Still, Hazel does get bored. After I had logged about 20 stations, I heard her gnawing on something. I turned around and discovered that she found the reel of fishing line I use to hang my antennas.



Note to self: next time pack Hazel a bone.

She didn’t even look apologetic or guilty! Oh well…fishing line is pretty cheap to replace and I’m sure she assumed it was a chew toy I had placed there for her.

All in all, it was a very successful activation. In less than one hour, I put 22 stations in the log. The weather was perfect and the whole family had a blast.


A photo I took prior to watching a reenactment of the Battle of King’s Mountain.

What a wonderful day to play radio, take in our national parks and re-live some of our history!