Welcome to the June 2019 QSX Update. We’ve spent some time collecting information about the QSX and thought you’d like to read it all in one place.
At the Four Days In May conference (FDIM), Hans Summers did a presentation about the QSX, and it’s been collected in audio. Both the audio and a slideshow from the presentation (as well as Hans’ own account of FDIM) can be found on QRP Labs’ website:
We listened to the audio and followed along on the slide show to get the most out of it. It’s a great presentation and quite funny in spots as well! Definitely check it out if you have time. But if not, don’t worry, we saved some of the best parts for this post.
Stunning QSX Features
Hans talked about some features of the QSX that he hasn’t really talked about before. Here are some of the highlights that we enjoyed:
- Binaural listening: With the Q and I channels separated into Left and Right audio, you’ll be able to experience different textures of audio you may not have heard before.
- A second receiver! Receive two frequencies simultaneously, one in the left ear and one in the right. The maximum spread will be about 12khz, so one could listen to a QSO in one ear while tuning around looking for another in the other ear. This might be great for contesting, or looking for QRP contacts.
- Reverse Polarity Protection: The QSX can be powered incorrectly and survive.
- CW Reader with USB Keyboard input: Read the CW on screen and type out a response using a standard USB keyboard. This functionality exists in many products, but this QSX has it built in with no extra hardware needed.
There’s also discussion of how the QSX differs from the QCX and some of the challenges that have been overcome to get this far.
QSX vs uBITX?
Hans didn’t cover this at FDIM, but its come up several times and could really be its own blog post. Because the QSX‘s expected price point is expected to be within range of the uBITX, this has led to people making direct comparisons. Which one is better? Which one is more hackable? Which one should I get? Should I wait for the QSX to come out or just get a uBITX?
Is there a clear answer? That’s subjective. Lets talk about some of the differences between the uBITX and the upcoming QSX.
They are both radios, and they aim at similar price points. They’re both QRP. And that’s where the similarities end. Really, they couldn’t be more different radios! The QSX is designed to have features that only exist in radios costing 10-20x as much. But this does not mean that one would not prefer to get a uBITX, or even both! Each radio fills a different role.
The uBITX is an open source radio. The software is freely available and can be modified by anybody who wants to. It’s truly a hackers radio. Ashhar Farhan has made it his goal to make radios understandable by anybody and produces the BITX40 and uBITX so that people can have a functional radio and learn from them.
Also, the BITX40 and uBITX come pre-assembled. One only has to finish the project and put it in a case. The BITX40 was my own indoctrination into all of this, and so the consider the BITX radios to be a huge success.
The uBITX also has some drawbacks, such as lower power output at higher frequencies and earlier versions did not meet FCC standards without modification. Support for the product is 100% community based.
The QSX will also be hackable because Hans is creating a scripting language that can be used to extend its functionality, but it is not open source. It’s also a full kit, meaning that there is a significant amount of soldering of components involved, just like any of his other kits. I consider this a plus, as I love that aspect of the hobby. Some others might not.
The QSX also has functionality that the uBITX can never have because the QSX is Direct Conversion/SDR based and the uBITX is a more traditional superhet radio. From the built in test equipment to the single-USB radio to computer interface, the QSX is by far the more capable radio. Whether it makes it the perfect radio for you is up to each ham. They both have their merits.
Worth the wait!
A person who waits for the QSX will be richly rewarded with a fantastic product, so hang in there folks. Hans is spending giant amounts of time on this. He is aware that the initial sale will likely be in the thousands, and he wants to produce a product that is as close to flawless as possible.
Imagine how upset people would be if he produced an all-band radio that was riddled with quality problems, poor power output, and spectral purity plagues? People would be quite upset. Again, it’ll be worth the wait.
For more reading, check out the FDIM page at the beginning of this post, in particular the Conference Proceedings Article he posted, for some deep dives into what’s going into the QSX.
As usual, let us know what you think in the comments below. 73!