QCX-mini al fresco /G/NP-008

Some may know that I once built a RockMite using a portable soldering iron on the summit of Whernside. Just for fun, I thought I’d attempt another summit build, this time I decided to try a more complex transceiver kit.

I bought a QCX-mini 20 kit last year in the hope that I would build it on a summit during the summer. The summer slipped away and I never got around to building my kit.

Today presented an opportunity to attempt my QCX mini 20 summit build. I wanted the chance to earn points for my efforts, so that meant travelling a little bit further afield to get to a summit I haven’t done this year. I also wanted an easy summit as I’d be taking quite a lot of stuff. I chose Great Whernside G/NP-008.

The drive took about 1hr 15 minutes from home and the walk was pleasant, the weather mild but not hot.

I used my little blue tent as a base, it served as a place to store my stuff and as a shelter. I was ready to start building by 0910utc. The first job was the RX band pass filter / phase splitter toroid winding (infamous ‘T1’). I suppose I could have wound the toroids in advance, but I thought that it would feel like cheating. I admit that T1 took longer than I thought it would, it’s not so easy when you’re lying on the ground! I had to do a re-wind because a winding got crossed and I hadn’t noticed.

The rest of the build went fine, although I did keep having to push myself to keep going, the urge to take a break was strong!

The physical building was complete by 1230utc. And I was relieved to be greeted by the splash screen and band selection screen upon the application of power!

Next job was TX alignment, the low pass filter needs tweaking to get good power output. I used a sharpened wooden lolly stick the adjust the turns on the toroids whilst checking the power output on my QRP power meter. I was able to get about 5 watts output whilst powering the rig with a 3S lipo.

I then went through the RX alignment process using the onboard alignment tools.
I didn’t get a photo but I’d taken along my QRPlabs QLG1 GPS module and I left it blinking away whilst I ate some lunch and put up my dipole antenna. (It was nice to move about a bit, I was beginning to feel the effects of being on the ground for so long.)

I used the GPS calibration routine to calibrate the QCX oscillators after a warm up period - such a simple idea but saves a whole lot of fuss!

Thankfully the QCX receiver seemed to be hearing signals from the antenna, so after packing away my stuff, including the tent, I was ready to try a CQ call at about 1340utc. First to find me was Daniel, HB9IIO/P, on HB/VD-039. Nice to open with an S2S!

I wasn’t overly impressed with the conditions on 20m, but I managed 8 QSOs in total before I gave up.

Despite the low tally of QSOs, it was still a successful mission. :slight_smile:

73, Colin


That ought to reassure anyone thinking that winding the toroids is too difficult but the 80m one might be a different matter.
Well done, Colin.
BTW, inspite of my total lack of CW I have built two QCX mini and really enjoyed it (in the relative warmth and comfort of my shack).

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Wow that must have been fun! I’m sure not many have built a transceiver and done an activation on a summit.

Thanks Colin for your interesting report with photos… Well done on your activation. :+1:

Cheers: Geoff vk3sq

Nicely done Colin…and the buttons line up with the holes :slight_smile:

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By the time it came to assembling the case, I didn’t care if the buttons lined up or not! (They didn’t!)




Big congrats Colin !
You keep amazing us with each story :wink:

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That has to be the ultimate Sota activity. Perhaps you could make your key on the summit and use a bike dynamo for power as well!!
Seriously though very well done.
My extended family had a weeks holiday in High Bentham last month. It gave me the opportunity to activate my last LD, Arnside Knott on CW.
For a new mode of transport we travelled to Arnside by train.



It’s the Le Mans version of SOTA and only you could build such a kit and have it work first off. Awesome. My 40m qcx mini still awaits me.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2DA


Wrestling the case and PCB’s seem to be the hardest bit. I had to open mine up the other day and it was a touch stressful as it didn’t look like it was going to fit.

Good suggestion from David @G0EVV
You could have taken an ice cream to the summit, enjoyed it, and then have built my 'Gelatelli Straight Key", see:

It’s not a “Begali” ; but it works very well, see a short demo video here;

Only problem … how to keep the ice cream frozen until you reach the summit ? :wink:

73, Luc ON7 Dairy Queen


I intend to fit an AGC board to mine and also update the firmware. I built an ATMEGA328 programming device with an Arduino Uno, it makes it super simple to update the QCX firmware, all I need to do is take the chip out of the QCX and drop it into the ZIF socket. I know it’s simple to use the QCX ICSP header too, but with my way I don’t have to connect any wires except for the USB cable from the PC to the programming device.

The ATMEGA328 programmer has saved me lots of time so far, I’ve probably built and updated 10 QCXs. The programmer is also useful for Arduino stuff too, like burning bootloaders.

73, Colin


I built a key on Ingleborough during my Mountain Goat activation! :slight_smile:

I think my summit build series is now at an end, I done a simple transceiver, an antenna, a morse key and a complex transceiver, oh, and an SMD transmitter. I think it’s time to do something different.

73 Colin


Congratulation on your achivement Collin.

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EXCELLENT work Colin. I shall have to live vicariously through you. I built 3 QCX-mini’s here at home. There is no way I could have sat on the ground that long. My Back would have been screaming profanities. Hope to work you S2S some day.
Tim - K5DEZ

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