12 February 2014

The Big One Got Bigger: Ultimate3 with 6 Bands

In the last days, after my various experiments with different levels of power, the postman rang twice (again). In the little parcel was the Ultimate relay-switched LPF-Kit, some alternative LPFs and the new Chip. Of course I started soldering like crazy.

And here is what it looks like.

Some days ago I started using an old case for my Ultimate3, but found it way to big for the tiny rig. But now it is well filled. On the main board I still have my 30m LPF and on top you will find 80m, 40m, 20m, 17m and 10m. The pass through the equivalent LPF is done by software.

When you have decided which mode and which frequency you are going to use, you just tell the system the number and you are on the safe side. Soldering was no problem and the instruction were very clear. If I would have RTFM as I should have. When I switched on the rig, everything seemed to work normal.

The new version of the software made the appearance and my first tests with 200 mW in WSPR were a full success. But when I changed the frequency to 20m, still my favorite band, the output was nearly 0 W and I was not testing the 1mW output. So I reread the instructions and finally found out, that I had to remove two jumpers on the main board. My fault - I had to disassemble the kit, cut the two wires, put it all back together and reports were flowing in. Well done.

I have in the meantime also solved the problem with the GPS module. I used an 8-pole Din connector (for microphones) and a shielded cable. Then I positioned the module on a cartoon covered with aluminium foil. Now it takes just several minutes to catch up the satellites and deliver the time signal and other information to control frequency and other things. The stability of the signal was OK, but the drift on 20m was 3-4 Hertz compared to 1-2 Hertz on 30m. I will have to look into this problem. But first I have to test the other bands and modes.

This kit has evolved into a full blown TX. But that's only part of the story. It provides some many modes a normal ham has never heard of. So I will have a deep learning curve to understand and operate all these new modes, so that I get maximum results. A challenge which would not exist without this great little radio.

For the fun of it: Have a careful look: QRPers might find someone known in the community ;-)

Stay Tuned!