If go to Ebay or any of the numerous importing websites, you’ll find kits under the name “ATU-100 by N7DDC” such as the screenshot shown to the right or here on Amazon. That’s great, but it’s a bit overkill for us QRP guys, especially if we’re running portable! We need something battery powered, low current draw, and small. And with BNC connectors. Well, David, N7DDC thought so too! He’s released the ATU-10. It features latching relays, is powered by Li-Ion batteries, and fits in the palm of your hand:
With the ATU-10’s latching relays, the tuner does its job by setting the correct relay positions and then turns off. It stops using batteries. It’s conceivable that the batteries could last a very long time on a single charge. Additionally, it can be charged over USB-C, and so any power bank can keep it going. The same connector also facilitates firmware updates. You can learn more about the tuner at the official announcement:
The official Github repository is here:
One doesn’t need to think too hard to consider a nice little QRP CW rig that it will pair nicely with.
A uSDX Killer?
David’s also let an interesting detail loose from the Groups.io thread linked above:
Next design – the QRP 5W SDR transceiver in the same case as this tuner and it will be technically perfect device, unlike uSDX.N7DDC
Whoa, shots fired! Some have accused my own review of the uSDX as being less than charitable, and it’s the subject of hot debate in various circles. But it’s got people thinking, and if we can see a micro SDR such as this, it’ll be a great innovation that I for one will be eager to see.
As for now, we’re not aware of the ATU-10 being sold in kit form yet. As with many other industries, ham radio is having a parts shortage too. David does intend to sell kits. And since the design is Open Source, you can be sure The Usual Suspects will be selling imported versions of it soon.
“HAM” or “ham”?
On another note, does anyone have any information as to why so many people capitalize “ham” when referring to “HAM radio”? It’s not an acronym and dates back to the term “ham fisted” as far as I can tell. I’d love to hear your input in the comments below.