Arduino IDE Naming Issue Fix

Yvon NU6I  says: “What bugs me with the Arduino is the lack of proper naming convention. Whatever software I download from the web or github, once it is loaded in the IDE, be it Arduino or UCIDE it always shows as uBitx_20. Looking in the output window doesn’t show the project/file path. Easy to be confused.”

Ron Pfeiffer W2CTX replied with the solution: “In the Arduino IDE, just select  Sketch –> Show Sketch Folder“.  This assumes you gave the folder a sensible name …

Jack, W8TEE says “You can also set the default using File –> Preferences from the menu bar. I usually just create a directory for each project, placed in an appropriate subdirectory.”

One more annoyance solved!



Ian Lee KD8CEC has been busy releasing his Version 1.01 sketch for the uBITx.  However, he has also been busy with modding the wsjt-x Linux software to do some amazing things with the uBITx.

He has now announced the release of version 0.5 (Beta) of Wsjtx-Portable.

For those who are not familiar with wsjt-x, this software is a general purpose graphical user interface (complete with waterfall display) for digital HF modes.  The software is a great product, and is available in Windows, Linux, and MacOS flavours to cover every amateur operator’s PC set up.  What is more, if you have installed KD8CEC’s V1.01 uBITx sketch, this includes Hamlib CAT functionality so WSJT-X will work with your uBITx on all of those digital modes.

So what is WSTJX-Portable?   This is a modified version of WSJT-X that is designed to be used on a Raspberry Pi and a 3.5″ TFT touch screen.

Did you want a nice compact touch screen for your uBITx, but don’t want to hack your uBITx enclosure and push your Arduino Nano to the limits?  Then here is the answer! The uBITx is controlled by the Raspberry Pi via the 3.5″ touch screen.  You can dial up a frequency, set the step value, change band or mode, go to TX or RX, etc. right from the touch screen.   Quite a feat!

KD8CEC Software Version 1 release

Ian Lee Kd8CEC has released his official Version 1.0 release for uBITx transceivers, and almost immediately updated it with a bug fix (v1.01)!

You can download v1.01 from here, and find out all about the features in this first non-Beta release on Ian’s blog.    In summary, this official release will give you bug fixes, improved CW reliability, Split mode, improved RIT, IF shift, 20 programmable memories (10 with 5 character names), status display, default BFO settings and calibration that should work well without mucking around calibrating.  If that isn’t enough, how about CAT control of your uBITx from most PC software (using Hamlib), and a dedicated PC programming tool (uBITx Manager).

Ian has  also installed Mono and modified some of the programs to fit the Linux environment.   This has been tested on Linux (Raspberry Pi) and it worked correctly.  Ian’s blog has details and test videos can be found here:


EDITOR’S NOTE:  This website will shortly feature a comparison of the three initial software upgrades currently available to uBITx owners.   Ian’s is the only one that requires no hardware mods.

If you haven’t considered upgrading your software, then you should.  Two other upgrade paths exist,  and both have distinct features advantages over the stock software, but you will need to warm up the soldering iron with these other choices!   One features significant CW improvements (a must for hard core morse ops) and the other features a colour touch screen mod.   A detailed analysis of each option will come soon on


An Origami Case for the uBITX

Mitani Misaru JE4SMQ’s ubitx has been built in an ORIGAMI paper case (15 cm square) which cost just 100JPY(about US$1).

Mitani did not use an Encoder with a push switch but substituted a separate push switch for the encoder button switch.

Ver1.00R software has been installed and modified as follows:

1. The uBITx transmits on the Japanese Amateur bands only.   If you tune out of the band the PTT/CW Break In simply doesn’t work. This is required to meet Japanese regulations.

2. The BAND Select mode follows the Japanese Band Plan.

3. In CW mode the Mic PTT is used for keying. This is always in straight key mode. If a Paddle is connected the keyer can be used by adjusting the menu menu setting.


SSM2166 (Mic amplifier and compressor) as Audio AGC?

Henning Weddig DK5LV says he is in the process of using an op amp and SSM2166  on his “original” BITX40 as a way of achieving an audio AGC function.

This op amp has a  gain of 10 (20 dB) and an audio AGC system.   He purchased a pcb from ZL1CVD with the DIL chip via ebay years ago.  Unfortunately ZL1CVD does not sell this pcb any more…

The SSM2166 has a dynamic range of 60 dB, the opamp in front of it is intended to replace the first discrete amplifier after the demodulator and will amplifiy the audio into a range the SSM2166 can handle.  The SSM2166 has a provision for outputting an AGC voltage (an RMS output) and this may be able to be used for driving an S-meter.

Others are thinking along the same lines.  For example, Glenn VK3PE says:

“I’m thinking along the same lines. I built a Mic amp version using the SSM2167 and thought it might work also for the Receiver. It’s essentially the module seen on ebay but I’ve added a level pot on the output side.”

Meanwhile Alex PA1FOX comments:

“I am using the AGC from the original uBitx design, but found the time constant of 1uF and 100k to be far too low. This makes it a very fast AGC, not producing a nice sound with voices. I changed to 1.5 uF and 4M7 and now stronger stations are nice and clear (they ‘push’ the noise level down ) and the gain comes up nice and easy when the QRG is clear. I think I’ll keep it this way.”


Optical Rotary Encoders

José CT1KFN asked  about possibly changing out the mechanical rotary encoder for an optical encoder due to quality limitations of the supplied uBITX encoder.    As an example he referenced this one he found this one on ebay.

The responses were clear:   “Using one of these will present challenges for the Arduino Nano.  It can’t keep up with the number of pulses per revolution that an optical encoder like this will generate”.

However, Michael KM4OLT says:

“After I saw the post and responses I was wondering too…  I ran across this article that might help.  If nothing else it helps with managing fast digital writes.

Quadrature Encoder too Fast for Arduino (with Solution)



Top Band (160m) with uBITx

Bill Richardson NG1P has reported on his modified uBITx on 160m operation using a doublet antenna.

“Doing some testing with my uBitx on 160m with a 160m LPF attached to the output. I’m seeing about 15 Watts out but the current draw is running very high at just over 3 amps. So not usable on 160m at the finals will blow I’m sure. The bias stays normal so it’s something else?

“Doing the same test on my Bitx40 on 160m I see about 10 Watts out and the current is about 1.5 amps and very usable.”

John AD5YE responded with:

“I think that what you are seeing is the “normal” variation in the output of the MOSFETs. Some are better than others at RF.  Gordon’s suggestion to turn back the drive is probably the right answer.

“Alternatively, you could turn down the gate voltage a bit, but that would probably introduce compression distortion. Or you could increase the size of the heat-sink and see how it goes.

“Probably the wisest thing to do is both turn back the drive a bit and increase the heat-sink. Some, but not all, IRF510’s are capable of 20W or more on 80m. you might happen to have some good ones. The key lies in the harmonic generation and the heat-sinking. Note that what you are seeing MAY be from UHF oscillation included in the signal. Be very aware of that. Check your output very carefully. “

Bill reduced his drive to overcome the high current, and reports:

“I turned the output down to about 8 Watts and I have made 4 contacts on 160 with great reports. I will add a larger heat sink to be safe. “

So the uBITx works fine on 160m with an outboard LPF to remove unwanted harmonics from the transmitted signal.