Distorted audio v4 Main Board?

An initial report from Mike (callsign not known) of distorted audio on a v4 main circuit board was tracked down to the audio amplifier.  The v4 main board is the new board shipping from HF Signals from around the beginning of June 2018.

Mike solved his problem by bypassing the audio amp and using an output amp as indicated bottom left in the photo above.   You can see that he has also incorporated a mic amp board in his prototype.

We will be watching out (or rather listening out) with interest to see if others are experiencing the same distortion issues from the audio amplifier section.  Hopefully this is just a one-off!

Reference

Follow up

Mike has now fixed the problem with crossover distortion.  It was a biasing issue in the audio final.

Raj VU2ZAP suggested lifting up D15 or 16 and disconnecting one end from the board. Then, solder the center and one end of a 47 or 100 Ohm preset between the two diodes.   Make sure the preset is at minimum. Power up and slowly increase the preset till distortion goes away, while also checking that  Q72  and Q73 don’t get hot when the volume is low.

 It is possible that this problem may reappear on other new v4 rigs.

Redoing the biassing as suggested by Raj VU2ZAP solved the issue.  Mike  took a 500 ohm pot and paralleled that with a 125 ohm resistor.   He  says, “The mod doesn’t look so good (LOL) but it works. One of the transistors became warm if the voltage difference due to the pot became too large. I adjusted this while feeling the temp and listening to a CW carrier”.   The setting point was where he observed low/no distortion AND low temperature.

The photo below shows how Mike fixed the issue.

Reference

40 Replies to “Distorted audio v4 Main Board?”

  1. I’m surprised by the position of the authors and sellers of the transceiver.
    despite the obvious shortcomings main board of version 4, they did not recognize the problem, do not comment on the situation, do not offer compensation for inconvenience, do not do not remove the main board from the sale.
    those who bought main board v4 did not even receive an apology for the inconvenience.
    why is that?

    1. I am 100% with you Andy.

      I am still trying to hear the “sparklingly” clear audio, the “big station sound, and all the other “embellishments” . The only sparking I got was the loud bang I got when the audio ic blew up. It scared the hell out of my granddaughter. I am researching case law in regards to any action. I gave my unit to a colleague in the US Department of Commerce.
      I strongly advise constructors to adhere to the FCC regulations, especially in regards to the spurious and or harmonic outputs,
      I assure you that a litigation exercise with the Federal Government is a very expensive undertaking, besides being stressfull.
      Finally “caveat emptor” what can you expect from a low cost kit in which the parts were sourced from the cheapest supplier some are counterfeit and the quality control needs improvement.
      As for meeting FCC SPECIFICATIONS please show me the evidence, and not from some hobbyist, rather from the NTIA Labs.

      Good Luck friend!
      Will

      1. Well, Wilhelm R Holzl JD Esq (retired) I think you’ve missed the point. The ubitx is sold as a relatively low cost component that forms the basis of an hf tranceiver but it is stressed that it is intended that users experiment , modify and ‘mess about with it. It’s not an expensive finished product but a vehicle to encourage people to get stuck in often at component level. Any shortcoming are admitted on the suppliers website with suggestions as to how they might be tackled. As for rushing off to a lawyer as soon as a component fails (a problem which is highlighted on the suppliers website ) I just find that really depressing and sad.

  2. Mike initially fixed the problem by substituting an off-board audio amp. Then, ‘Mike has now fixed the problem with crossover distortion. It was a biasing issue in the audio final.’

    What was his final fix?

  3. My oscilloscope clearly shows crossover distortion as well. Also I was looking into ways to get 5-6 dB more audio gain when I measured both sides of R51. The high side was 11.7 and collector side was 1.94 V. I was thinking of changing the collector resistor from the 4.7 K to 10K but with 0.69 Volts on the base it implies about a beta of 400 on the 2N3904! Anyway that may require two resistor changes. Not sure yet if I need it however but that transistor is NOT biased half way.

  4. Crossover distortion occurs whenever the amplifier load is lower than about 200 ohms. At 8 ohms it sounds like a torn speaker cone, at 60 ohms (headphones in series) it is quite tolerable but noticeable. A 8 ohm-to-200 ohm transformer (5.6:1 turns ratio) solves the problem if you have an efficient speaker. A 100 ohm resistor in series with series-connected ‘phones is perfect. Since I will employ a switchable CW filter I will bypass the existing amp and use one with a lower current drain.

  5. Please ignore my comment above. Audio is fine. A wiring fault on my part. Audio is low as some comment above but I feed it through small amp and all is good enough.

  6. My V4 board sounds terrible, and the behavior described up to now does seem to match the problem I hear. I decided to check this out with spice until I can get back to the hardware.
    A spice model shows that the audio will show crossover distortion if the bias voltage is not high enough, such as if the two diodes are BAT54 schottky’s. If replaced with 1N4148, the amplifier models very well. I will test this on my radio, but this may just be a bill-of-material problem.
    Besides the distortion, it tends to stop the lowest level signals, being buried in the crossover, making the gain appear to be too low most of the time.
    Do we know what the diodes are soldered to the board?

  7. Following up on my previous observations with spice modeling, I did not find the MMBD4148 diodes in the right package to fit the PCB, but I did find other silicon diodes with similar forward voltage that would fit into the footprint. The results in the audio were very good to my ears. I might still have a tinny speaker, but the sound was much improved and lower level signals were now copyable.
    The forward voltage on the original diodes in-circuit was 5.9V each (schottky-like), the new drop is 6.8V (silicon-like). I think this confirms that the problem is the diodes placed on the board are the wrong type but proper diodes will fix it. I hope someone else can try this out to confirm it works generally for V4 boards.

    1. Bob – I originally liked this soluton. But on closer examination, you are off by an order of magnitude. typical Si Vf = .7 V not 7 V. Schottky is like .2 – .4V.

  8. My new uBitx with V.4 board also has the low and distorted audio problem. Since this is a clear design (or bill of materials) flaw I feel it is up to the supplier of the uBitx to come up with a definitive solution and not us as clients.
    I wonder if and when we will see an elegant solution to this problem?

  9. I also have very low and distorted audio on my brand new ubitx v4. Tried 4 ohm 8 ohm speakets and a couple of headphone same on all. The audio is unreadable. Pretty depressing for something that has been getting such good press. Though ubitx is sold as an experimenters kit, mods and hacks would be expected to enhance basic OEM functionality, not allow for it. One should not expect to be required to self engineer and execute a fix for a prob that prevents basic operation especially when it is caused by an obvious design or component defect. HF should be engineering a fix and offering support for those to whom they have sold these defective v4 boards.

  10. Hello
    In case of usage of an output amp – would be possible please for someone to do a photo of the place on V4 board were i can bypass the audio amp and hot to wire it ?
    And similar thing I need to this „…Redoing the biassing as suggested by Raj VU2ZAP solved the issue. Mike took a 500 ohm pot and paralleled that with a 125 ohm resistor…”
    I’m sorry but English is not my mother language and .. a better photo or schematic would be helpful.
    Many thanks

  11. I have had the v4 board for two days. Audio is so low! I am ordering a TMA2822M board. Currently using a computer external/usb style speaker set. Can hear a few things. Just adding my comments on v4 problem.

  12. My brand new uBITX also has thin, distorted audio, and was also 1.5kHz off frequency.

    I thought these were supposed to be set up at the factory? Why should the customers have to do your Quality Control?

    Not good enough. I’m VERY disappointed. 🙁

      1. This wasn’t the BFO – it was the main “Calibrate” that was so far off. According to the website, this shouldn’t have needed adjusting.

        And it still doesn’t alter the main fact – why are these “tested” boards being shipped out with a defective audio output? This should have been checked before the board was allowed to be sold. I shouldn’t have to modify or repair a brand new transceiver!

        1. Ok on the calibration being off … normally the µBITx just requires repositioning of the carrier frequency … I presume Ashhar Farhan VU2ESE wants people to learn something about how these things work, because they all seem to have the carrier insertion frequency slightly off frequency on arrival (700Hz typically) resulting in very thin audio.

          ubitx.net is an information site only, and not in any way associated with the manufacturer.

          Mike ZL1AXG ubitx.net

          1. I am Indian. My ubitx v4 is also very low Audio. I ordered one LM386 & PAM 8302 assembles board for external audio .
            The manufacturer says , it is tested before shipping. It seems not tested.
            THIS IS INDIAN STYLE

  13. Hi
    Just built a v4 board and have the same low and distorted audio
    Very disappointed
    Tried an audio amp and got a louder signal but the audio quality is Woolley
    I like others don’t mind using the board for the basis of a rig but did not expect such poor audio
    Will these boards get replaced?

    1. Steve

      You would have to ask the supplier. Ubitx.net is not associated with the manufacturer. However, did you do the fix for the distorted audio which is on this site?

      Mike

  14. Micro Bitx v4 audio problems
    Today I received a replacement v4 micro Bitx pcb and astonished after all the blogs on the web regarding the poor audio from this board that the replacement is no better
    I purchased the board in order the build a radio but not intending to correct a deseign fault
    After using a Bitx 40 with great success I have to say that 2 boards out of 2 with this fault is not acceptable
    So disappointed after reading all the earlier good reports
    Good audio on any radio is the key to success
    This product I feel is completely let down by this fault not being rectified but still on sale…..
    Steve
    G4 NVF

  15. I havent got my v4 uBitx up yet but…… does anyone truely expect a 109 to 125 dollar radio put togther by local Indian women to match what you get from a +500 dollar factory radio? At least it doesnt have the clone TDA chip that blew up in everyone elses v3….

    Either try the fixes listed, find another transistor based audio amp design on the internet, or use external audio. I thought Ham Radio was more about learning and tweaking than expecting perfection from a kit.

    It boils down to money, you spend the money for a ‘benz or you spend alot less for a Kia, but you still only get what you pay for.

    Sorry if this upsets some, but hey its been out over a year, which is plenty of time to read reviews, so you cant say you didnt know the hicups and bugs before you hit the paypal button.

    I for one will apply mods, switch out transistors and shoot for 1 or 2 watts audio, if i dont try any addon AGC or filter boards.

    Oh, spell check is broke and i have no relation to this site or the radio maker.

    1. The answer is simple: I pay money. and I want to get the product without obvious problems that could be easily solved at the design, testing and production stage.
      the problem is not only bad sound, low quality components, spurs for transmission.
      The problem is a bad attitude to the buyer.
      Good customer attitude is the basis of business.
      I will never buy products from Farhan.
      and do not advise anyone.

      1. Andy
        uBITx.net is not affiliated with HFSignals.com and the manufacturer. I think it would be fair to say that there are 1000’s of satisfied uBITx customers despite the fact that it is not quite perfect! There are relatively straight forward fixes available now for the spurious emissions and the issue of distorted sound, and I don’t believe that there is a comparable low cost 80m-10m SSB/CW txcvr available at this price point, even including additional components needed to undertake the fixes.

        1. Mike, what do you think, why on page hfsignals.com there is nowhere anywhere there is about problems with uBitx v.4?
          it says only “You still, here? Go and operate!”. and something about helping indian women.
          but it is not written anywhere that it is impossible to work on this transceiver without corrections and alterations!
          why is that?
          for me, $ 129 is not big money. I have 4 more transceivers, this FT-2000, TS-590S, FT-891, QCX from QRP-labs. I have experience (I made my first home made radio in 1982), I have instruments set up a transceiver. but for many radio amateurs, $ 129 is substantial money, they have no other transceivers, no instruments to tune and no health to upgrade uBitx. they bought it (and continue to buy it) believing the information on the site that the transceiver only needs to be assembled and configured. what are they to blame?
          hfsignals deceives buyers! This is the main thing I wanted to say!
          Mike, I am personally grateful to you and your site for help in mastering the uBitx and the opportunity to express your opinion.

  16. Mike, what do you think, why on page hfsignals.com there is nowhere anywhere there is about problems with uBitx v.4?
    it says only “You still, here? Go and operate!”. and something about helping indian women.
    but it is not written anywhere that it is impossible to work on this transceiver without corrections and alterations!
    why is that?
    for me, $ 129 is not big money. I have 4 more transceivers, this FT-2000, TS-590S, FT-891, QCX from QRP-labs. I have experience (I made my first home made radio in 1982), I have instruments set up a transceiver. but for many radio amateurs, $ 129 is substantial money, they have no other transceivers, no instruments to tune and no health to upgrade uBitx. they bought it (and continue to buy it) believing the information on the site that the transceiver only needs to be assembled and configured. what are they to blame?
    hfsignals deceives buyers! This is the main thing I wanted to say!
    Mike, I am personally grateful to you and your site for help in mastering the uBitx and the opportunity to express your opinion.

  17. Knowing the problems and fixes with the v4 board, will there be a v5 board? I am unable to do the surface mount modifications but would like to have a uBitx transceiver I could operate legally.

  18. All these “fixes” are very discouraging. Mostly because one fix may work for a particular board but may not work for the next.
    The manufacturer should shut down all production and work on version 6 until all works as described and legal emissions. The power out should be pretty equal on all bands. The builder should only have to wire it up (4 hrs or so). Not having to spend dozens of hours modding just to still get a poor performing radio. (Think plug and play)

  19. I bought the uBITx as a second radio for emergencies. I was disappointed in its operation too BUT… I’m a ham. We make things work. If my efforts to get a good workable radio that many can afford works, I say great! My education about radio is increasing geometrically as I work thru the problems.
    Get on the train folks, the ride is a little bumpy but it’s fun and the destination is worth the solder smoke.

  20. The low volume on V4 boards is primarily because Q72 and Q73 do not have enough gain. With an 8 ohm load, sine waves look like a parabola because gain goes down as current goes up. The original transistors are only rated at 200mA. In an ideal world 200mA peak times .7 to get RMS and then I**2 *R and you will only see 156mW into an 8 ohm load. It is possible to rework the circuit by changing Q72,Q73 to ZXTN19020DFFTA and ZXTP19020DFFTA respectively and making some biasing changes. I did this in my rig and I get 1.4 watts into 8 ohms. It does require a tiny heat sink though. I have a marked up schematic if anyone is interested.
    —list of changes—
    Change Q72,Q73 to ZXTN19020DFFTA and ZXTP19020DFFTA respectively
    Change R76,R77 to 1 ohm
    Change R74 to 100 ohms
    Change C73 to 220 uF
    Change R73 to 22K
    Change R72 to 100K
    Change R71 to 10 ohms
    Change C71 to 1000uF
    Change C74 to 470 uF
    Add a small diode in series with R75, anode to R71.
    Connect a 22uf (bootstrap) capacitor and a series 22 ohm resistor from the diode cathode (junction with R75) and the plus lead of C74
    The bootstrap circuit adjusts the bias on the output stage to keep it centered, but has the side effect of boosting the high frequencies. Add a series RC
    feedback (220K and 220pF) from the output to the base of Q71 to tame this boost.

    1. Darryl
      KC9PVO,

      Could you send me your marked up schematic of changes on the v4 audio chain?

      I am good in QRZ.

      Regards,

      Darryl (spelled the same way)
      K0GV

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