Ultimate QRSS kit

The kit building is carrying on at my garage before the cold weather comes and means that it’ll be less than appealing to go in there. This time it is a seemingly simple kit from Hans Summers, G0UPL called the Ultimate QRSS kit. Ultimate because presumably the kit does more than QRSS, however the kit is essentially a QRP (~150mW) beacon transmitter for QRSS and other modes, the attraction for me is that it also generates the tones for WSPR and as well as offering the QRP transmitter it also has the ability to generate just the audio for use with another transceiver. I was drawn to it because it offers the opportunity for a little bit of experimentation. Although things haven’t quite gone as smoothly as I’d hoped for.

The list of features for such a price is quite impressive. This is taken directly from Hans Summers’ website (http://www.hanssummers.com/qrsskitmm.html). Which is well worth a visit if not for this kit.

The kit supports the following modes:

– QRSS mode (plain on/off keyed slow CW)

– FSK/CW mode (frequency shift keyed slow CW)

– DFCW mode (dual frequency CW)

– WSPR mode (Weak Signal Propagation Reporter)

– Slow-Hellschreiber (frequency shifted slow-Hell)

– Full-speed Hellshreiber

– Half-speed ("DX") Hellshreiber

– CW (plain CW)

– Customisable FSK patterns

Other features:

– 24-character LCD + two-button user interface

– User-programmable (callsign, message, speed, FSK, mode, etc.), settings stored in EEPROM

– GPS interface, for locking the frequency in slow-speed modes

– On-chip generation of WSPR encoded message (no PC required)

– WSPR maidenhead locator can be generated from GPS-derived latitude/longitude

– Selectable “frame” size, for stacked QRSS reception

– Plain CW callsign identifier at selectable interval

– Produces 150mW RF output, or AF output for driving an SSB transceiver

– Higher output power by additional PA transistor and/or higher PA supply voltage

My 30m version has been sat on the shelf whilst the good weather (ahem!) was continuing. This came to head over the weekend when I warmed up the soldering iron and started piecing it all together. The kit took a few hours to build and I would image that a skilled builder would have it all together much quicker than I could with the excellent instructions.

A box of bits

Unfortunately on powering up things haven’t exactly gone according to plan. It only seems to power when it fancies it and certainly doesn’t generate the tones as you might expect although I am receiving a carrier roughly in the right area. The other small issue is that the LED doesn’t appear to do anything visual, this may be a design feature but seems a little bit odd to me.

The (semi) finished kit

All these faults are almost certainly a result of my work, not the kit although it didn’t help having to scratch off the solder mask from the coil connections. I think the fault finding will take longer than the building in this instance but with a bit of luck it will involve some learning and there is no harm in that.

Still where’s the fun in it working first time?

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

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