Higher current Axicom relays

Jim W0EB has finally received his >500 mW Axicom relays, after they got misrouted in the mail.

H plugged these into his V4 test bed built up on an aluminium open chassis. Sockets are mica filled 2mm thick with silver plated flat contacts. This leaves the relays 2mm above the PC board.

With the >500mW coils (i.e. with coils that have fewer turns on them) the hope was that this would lessen  the extent of inductive coupling between the switched portion of the circuit and the relay coils.  Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case.  Jim got almost exactly the same results as with the 400 mW relays mounted the same way.

40 meters is still just barely in spec with the 3rd harmonic being -43.8 dBC. The others are also in spec but not much better with 3rd harmonic varying from -46 dBC on 10 meters, -44.5 dBC on 12 & 15 meters , -44.7 dBC on 20 meters and -57.3 dBC on 80 meters.  60 meters wasn’t tested.

Raj VU2ZAP notes that it makes quite a difference between socketed an unsocketed replacements.  It is best not to use sockets for the relays, in order to get the relays as close as possible to the PCB.

Before and after shots of relay replacement as observed by Raj follow:

Before replacement
After replacement

Raj and Jim both note that there is variation between boards in terms of improvement in performance.  The reasons for this are not known.

The conclusions are:

  • relays help, and ubitx.net recommends them, but replacing relays with AXICOM relays may not always be sufficient to reduce “blow by” on some bands or modes
  • there is no point in spending more on Axicom relays with a higher coil current
  • the best option would be to replace the filter section altogether, and there are a number of ways of doing this.

New 5″ display for the Biteensio processor board

Jim W0EB latest µBITX has been  built with a 5″ RA8875 type Colour TFT display running on the BITeensio Card.

The system shown can be controlled by touching the screen, with an external USB Keyboard or an external USB mouse.  This almost completely eliminates the need for front panel controls and helps make a very clean looking µBITX build while keeping full functionality.

In using a 5″ or larger display, Jim and Ron have run into several problems . The 5″ display draws almost half an amp from the 3.3V rail and the even larger 7″ displays draw even more current. Using the 5″ display requires the BITeensio card to be modified to provide a high current, on-board 3.3 volt regulator as the Teensy 3.6’s on-board regulator would be severely strained trying to power this display.

In doing this we build the new 3.3V 1.5amp  regulator by isolating and using the pads for the 5 volt I2C bus on the card.  We do lose 5 volt I2C capability by doing this but the 3.3V I2C bus is still available so 3.3V I2C peripherals can still be used.

Another disadvantage of the larger display, other than its higher cost and higher current requirement, is that a fan is needed to cool the regulator’s heat sink. This makes retrofitting the bigger displays very difficult to say the least.

The Triumvirate Skonk Works has no plans at this stage to support any colour displays larger than the 5″ one.  Even this display is only for experienced experimenters, because of the mods that need to be done on the BITeensio card.

We’re also recommending that using the 5″ display be considered ONLY with a new BITeensio build rather than modifying a previously constructed one as there is much less chance of messing it up this way.

The modification instruction manual, with pictures is located in the “Documentation” directory of their website under the “Files” section. Like the previous 2.8″ Colour version and our older 4 Line I2C LCD display version, this version is capable of utilising an optional external USB keyboard for rig and CW control. Mouse control is only available with the Color TFT versions.

Rig control now allows use of a mouse for almost everything.   Purchasing an inexpensive, wireless keyboard/mouse combination will allow simultaneous keyboard and mouse operation. Using the keyboard or mouse for control, you won’t have to even touch the screen unless you want to. This will reduce wear and tear on the touch panel.

All documentation for modifying the BITeensio card and the just released firmware for the 5″ display version (ubitx_5_0_T_V1_00R.zip) is available on the TSW website in the files directory.

The 5″ display we use is the “ER-TFTM050-3 from Buy Display dot com.  If you decide to order one you need to get it with the 4 wire SPI interface, Resistive Touch Screen, 3.3V power option (5 V won’t work) and the ER3304-1 font chip. The SD card option is not  necessary  as all SD card  operation is contained  on the Teensy 3.6 itself.

Ordering information for the BITeensio kits is also available on the website and kits are in stock.


W0EB TSW release forthcoming for 5″ touch screen

W0EB’s uBITX is built with a 5″ RA8875 type Color TFT display connected to a BITeensio Card.  This gives an “uncluttered” display.

This version of the BITeensio TSW firmware is almost ready for release.  It is just awaiting completion of the accompanying instruction manuals  and the arrival of a small  adapter board for connection to the display.  The adapter boards will be supplied in the BITeensio kits upon request.

This display, like the previous 2.8″ Colour touch panel display and the 4 Line I2C display (2004) are capable of utilising an optional external USB Keyboard for rig control and CW. The W2CTX RCP (Remote Control Program) works with this as well.

For information and updates see the TSW website.

Biteensio with LCD touch screen coming

Jim W0EB is working on a 2.8″ touch panel for the triumverate’s BITeensio.  That will make four different alternative touch screen options for constructors:  VU2SPF Mega2560 attached 2,4″ LCD (first up way back in January),  KD8CEC Nextion screen (in a range of sizes from 2.4″ to 7″) , BiTeensio 2.8″, and the long awaited JackAl (in 5″ and 7″ sizes).

(Yet another) Raduino replacement board

Jim W0EB has produced (yet another) drop-in Raduino clone, available in kit form, for anyone needing a replacement for a damaged Raduino that they are otherwise unable to repair or if they are just wanting to have a spare on hand.

It’s being offered as a bare board, a complete kit of parts INCLUDING the NANO which will be pre-programmed with Ashhar Farhan’s latest factory software from Github (Currently v4.3) or, for a slightly higher price, the kit version is being offered with the Si5351 already soldered in place and continuity checked to insure the connections are good and there are no shorts between the pins.

The new card has some extra bypassing capacitors.  The 4.7K CW pull up resistor can be directly mounted on the board (or if you are replacing an existing Raduino installation and have already wired it to your key jack you can leave it off the board).

The 7805 regulator has been mounted flat on the rear of the board with a heat sink and input dropping resistor so that it runs much cooler.

The clone is just over a centimeter wider than the original, but the display mounting holes have been kept to the exact same pattern.  A standard 16 X 2 parallel display will mount properly.  The display is not supplied with the kit to keep the cost lower as most users already have one or more on hand anyway.

The pre-programmed NANO  will be supplied with the pins loose and not installed so the user can mount it either on the front (not recommended) or on the back of the card to keep it out of the way of the display in the manner of the current factory supplied Raduino cards.

Any software that currently runs on an original Raduino will run on this card including the KD8CEC versions.  (That includes CEC’s Nextion enabled versions as well).

The construction manual, pictures of the board and ordering/availability information can be found on Jim’s website.


Sudden loss of power


Jim Sheldon, W0EB, while prepping a V3 uBITX, he had already built up to give to a friend, all of a sudden observed the RF Power output went to ZERO.

He thought for sure that he’d somehow blown one or both of the IRF510’s, but  nothing is always as it seems.

He checked voltage to the drains of the IRF510’s — ZERO (yes it was hooked up and turned on). Tracing the voltage back, he had nothing on the supply ends of L8 OR L9.  He checked continuity between those same points of L8 and L9 and had good connections there.

He found that he had +12V on the PA Power pin of P1 but nothing on the supply end of L8 which gets connected by a short trace to a very small VIA through the board and a short trace to L8 on the underside.  Looking at the underside, the trace was not burned but it turns out that tiny little VIA was open — possibly from poor plating through the hole.

He put a piece of 30 gauge wire wrap wire through the via and soldered it on both sides. This brought the +12v back to the supply side of L8, L9 and subsequently the drains of the IRF-510’s . After putting it all back together again he now had full power restored.

A few people have observed similar problems with loss of power. This might be the cause in these cases as well, and is definitely worth checking.  There will be no visible indication of anything bad between the PA Power pin on P1 and the rest of the PA circuit.


Biteensio production boards have arrived and available now

Jim  W0EB has announced that the Biteensio production boards have arrived and been checked out.  See www.w0eb.com for details on how you can order one of these.   Remember that Vince K8ZW was the winner of the competition to name these boards.

Jim also has some breakout boards for the 1/8″ jacks that will allow them to be easily mounted and wired up without having to guess which terminal does what.  These may save a lot of grief.

Key features of this board include:

  1. uses the PJRC Teensy 3.6 as the MPU rather than the Arduino NANO
  2. plugs into the 16 pin female header on the uBITX main board just like the Raduino and the RadI2Cino
  3. the main tuning encoder, function switch and push-to-talk wiring will still be compatible with both the Raduino and the RadI2Cino.
  4. All of the extra, available I/O pins are brought out to DuPont pin headers (some on the front and some on the back of the board)  

See the board installed on the µBITx main board below:


Prices are $12 (USD) for the bare boards to domestic US customers and $16 (USD) to international customers.

Kits which will include all parts except a Teensy 3.6 MPU, will be US$35 to US customers and US$45 to international customers. This price includes shipping (both domestic and international).

PayPal will be the preferred payment method and the ONLY payment method for international customers.

Download a copy of the BITeensio Board Construction Manual. Up to date versions will always be available in the “Documentation” directory under the W0EB/W2CTX uBITX Files link on this page.

For other details see the W0EB website.

Note that the Biteensio is not compatible with the manufacturer’s firmware supplied with your µBITx or the CEC firmware from Ian KD8CEC. The Biteensio board uses a different keying system and a different processor (Teensy 3.5 or 3.6), so you will need to use the W0EB/W2CTX firmware supplied especially for the Biteensio.


W0EB build

Jim Sheldon W0EB says, “Finally I have this one where it will get it’s top cover put on and the radio goes into the ‘go box’.

“With the addition of one of our RadI2Cino cards, an I2C 4 line by 20 character display, a Teensy 3.6 adapted to plug in place of the NANO, this one is on the air in what will be it’s final configuration except for software updates when we release them. (External USB connector in place so the cover need not be removed for remote control or Teensy 3.6 programming. One nice thing about using the Teensy is the built-in Real Time Clock! UTC time displayed on the screen and with a backup coin cell battery, the clock stays active even when no +12V is applied to the radio.Also, I added Don, ND6T’s neat little AGC mod and boy does that work nicely.”

Here are a few pix of Jim’s radio as it now stands.

The panel showing the real time clock & voltage monitor on the screen — that V308b is a beta version of software and even though it was compiled on 04/01, it isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke.     This radio has a Teensy 3.6 processor, not the NANO.  RadI2Cino is available for sale in kit form, but the Teensy adapter is still prototype (and may never be offered) and without the Teensy you won’t see all the info on that display.

V is on/off for the input voltage (+12 rail) monitor, R is either N or R and indicates paddle interface normal (Tip=dot) or reverse (Tip=dash) and B indicates Iambic Keyer, mode B (A or B is selectable. T800 = CW side tone frequency – adjustable from 400Hz to 1KHz and S25 = built in Iambic keyer speed adjustable from 5 to 50 WPM. FUN=Function (same as encoder switch) the other one is the A/B VFO select and a hold gives you “Split”.

And inside … The filter on standoffs is a broadcast band interference filter. Jim has a 500 watt AM station less than a mile from the house and also KFDI’s AM station (10KW) 3.5 miles from the house. This filter is very necessary to keep them out or no ham signals could be heard.

And a close up of the interface to the 2004 display:


Version 4.00R latest W0EB/W2CTX I2C firmware release

Jim W0EB and Ron W2CTX have released Version 4.00R.   This is the I2C release firmware for modified hardware on the display.  The W0EB/W2CTX firmware also requires a minor CW keying control mod.

This is a FOUR line display version designed to work with a 4 line by 20 character LCD display that has an I2C “backpack” or, one with the I2C interface built in. As long as you know the I2C address for your display and can properly set that in the .ino source file, it should compile and run on an I2C modified Raduino card as well as on our RadI2Cino card which can be purchased by contacting W0EB (email address on QRZ). Jim Sheldon, W0EB

You can access this file at the URL: