Do you like those CEC Buttons on this build?

Breadboard uBITx

Jon Titus  KZ1G  shows off his breadboard construction  technique, which he uses while his rig is under development.  The board is mounted on a piece of plywood and usea 1/8-inch clear plastic as front and rear panels for controls and connectors. This “breadboard” technique has been used by Jon for other projects, because it lets him rearrange control locations, ensure clearances between components, jacks, heatsinks, etc.  In this way he doesn’t ruin a nice front panel when later adding an extra pushbutton or switch, etc.

After learning about the W0EB and N5IB RadI2Cino (Rad I2C ino) project he needed more room for the replacement board and a larger LCD. A section of plywood was glued on the front (see photo) and the front panel  was then able to be moved forward by about 4 cm.   Jon quickly added an extra pushbutton, and drilled holes to mount the LCD.

However, when do you make the call to put the whole thing in a proper metal case Jon?


uBITx in an aluminium briefcase

Aarne Haas WY7ATH has just finished a µBitX build in an old ‘toy’ briefcase.  It makes for a good enclosure – along the lines of µBITx builds in P cases. There is a small manually switched fan inside blowing on the final heatsinks when operating digital modes.  Nice one!

uBITx panels for EF01 Excellway case

Bought the Banggood case?   Want some 3D printed drop in front and back panels so you don’t need to cut out the hole for the display and controls?

Gary AG5TX says:

“I bet some find it hard to stomach buying $27 plastic panels for a $10 plastic case when debating a few bucks differences in micro-controllers.
That said, my building brother, I too get anxious on cutting holes.  We don’t know what tools you have, and given the question, assume not a mill or a drill press.

“What I would do is cover the front side of the plastic panel with blue 3M painters tape. Scribe the centerline for the holes directly on the ‘inside the box’ portion of the plastic where it won’t be seen. I use center drills to start the holes (they are cheap), if you don’t have center drills, use a small drill bit.  Once the initial undersized holes are cut, flip the piece over and drill from the ‘outside the box’ side so if you get a chip out it won’t be seen. Best to start small and step up to one drill bit less than size. When drilling, secure the plastic panel over a scrap piece of softwood, and make this a “pine board project.”  With thin plastic and drilling with hand tools, I find that the final drill bit size is best done by hand. I have an old pcb hand nibbler tool ($10?)  for cutting somewhat square holes with patience.    Just slightly undercut the rectangle for the LCD with the nibbler, remove the tape and finish out with a bastard file and sand paper.  If all goes wrong, you can still try 2 more cases or spend the $27.  Also search this forum for good ideas on printing a full face ‘label’ which might cover up the sins of a nonperfect cut. Stain grade or paint grade? My wood working Grandfather taught me very early in life that a coat of paint covers a multitude of sins. Nothing ventured, nothing learned. Maybe someone else has some tips.”

Michael VE3WMB comments:

“I have now used three of the Excelway EF01 cases for rigs with 16 X 2 displays with good success.   The ABS enclosure panels are quite easy to work with.

“Just to add a couple of comments to Gary’s suggestions. I have found that drilling corner holes and using a coping saw to cut out the “window” for the display works quite well. As Gary suggests you want to make it undersized by a couple of millimetres.   With patience and a nibbler or even an exacto knife and a file you can make a decent looking opening. In all three cases I made
the “window” just large enough to friction fit the display without resorting to using screws to hold it in place and this works fine.

“One other point; I suggest that you mark the position of where you are going to drill holes and then make a small divot (a nail and hammer works fine for this) so that the drill doesn’t wander. Also starting with a small sized drill bit first helps. For larger holes (i.e. for BNC etc) I swear by a stepped drill bit to get the hole  to the proper size.

“The key to getting a good result is to plan and carefully mark everything in advance on the back of the panels and then take your time. Remember if an opening is too small you can enlarge it, if it is too big there is not a lot you can do so, measure twice and cut once.”

MVS Sarma says, “For cutting rectangular windows in plastic, I resort to a lamination cutter sold in India at just fraction of a $. I keep the tool drawing across the 4 lines of the rectangle (the lcd mounting window in this case on the µBITx).  After a while you can push out the small window from the plastic.

This is what a laminate cutter looks like.


Labelling the front panel (updated)

Making nice labels for the front panel of the µBITx may not be all that intuitive.  Many of us use a label writer (e.g. Brother or Dymo device).  The best options (depending on your front panel colour) may be to use “black on transparent” or “white on transparent” tapes.

Vic WA4THR was looking for a way to easily label the front panel of his  BitX40 and was pointed to the use of an Avery product. It is a transparent plastic with an adhesive backing and you can print using either an inkjet or a laser printer. You then just cut the strips where you designed the label, peel the backing, and place on the panel. Really easy, and the results are pretty good. One sheet can produce a ton of labels, too. The product is Avery 4397.

John WA2FZW uses the same product, but makes one big decal for the entire panel. That way you don’t see the edges of the individual labels. There is a full description of the process used in the documentation for his Magnetic Loop antenna controller.

Dave G4UF has another method that he uses. You don’t have to be as careful with the LCD cutting 🙂

And then Dan, W2DLC told us that he printed his out on with an inkjet printer on regular photo paper and then put some clear tape over it to preserve it with a pretty amazing result:

AA9GG adheres his printout to the case using a sheet of 3M adhesive. Basically, it’s a large sheet of double sided tape.

Daniel W2DLC uses “Loktite” spray adhesive.


Another nice build: N8GGI’s uBITx

This is a rather nice µBITx build from Dennis N8GGI.

Dennis says, “Finished wiring up the UBITX today and downloaded the KD8CEC firmware. I took my time with the case. Old retired industrial designers still like to design (and build).

“I added a keyer circuit which has a speed pot…I don’t like to run through menus to match someone’s speed. I also added a Hi-per-Mite audio filter which really makes it a nice CW rig.

“First 40 meter CW contact was New Hampshire from my QTH on Lake Erie in north central Ohio.  Second 20 Meter CW QSO was from Portugal getting a 559 report using a tri-bander at 60 feet. I tried 20 meter SSB and worked the gulf coast of Florida with a 5×6 report. It’s a great little radio! Now I still have to tackle the TX pop and try to tame down the sidetone volume issue. I hope the 1,500 watt linear doesn’t get lonesome from lack of use.”

And what lies beneath the paint!   The “see-through” version!  Dennis says, “Kinda looks like the old ‘visible V-8’ from the ’70s.”

Additional PCBs for Sunil’s Case

Sunil VU3SUA  is providing extra PCBs with his uBitx case.

See to purchase the case and PCBs.

1. Encoder PCB
This pcb will save you from the clutter of wiring up the encoder.

2. USB.D9. PCB
Use this board if you wish to. if you do not want to use this board then cut a small plexi glass sheet and close the open area.

3.Power Connector PCB
The DC Power supply connections are easy to install with a board to assist. The On/Off switch, Fuse, IN4007 diode and power connector are mounted on a small board again removing wiring clutter.

Care has to be taken in mounting the On/Off switch, as excessive use of soldering heat or bending of the pins on the switch may damage it.

Sunil says that he will be making further improvements in the µBITx products to make it easier to wire in kit components into the case.


An FT8 black beauty

Bill KC5SB has been using his “black beauty” µBITx on the FT8 digital mode and has already worked a station in Brazil with no problems.  Bill has installed a fan because he spends a lot of time on digital modes. The display has been replaced with one with a blue background (goes better with black) and the unlabelled switch on the back is for the fan – high, off, low.

The case can be purchased here.  It has, of course, been painted.


A 5v bus for the uBITx

Nigel G4ZAL has  just finished his µBITx build and modded it a little in readiness for adding additional boards/hacks.

He cut the track feeding the TDA2822 and fed it with 5v from a little Radio Control UBEC.  At the same time, he removed the 5v regulator on the Raduino and fed that from the UBEC as well.   You can see from the photos that he has added a little ‘bus’ for picking off further 5v supplies as required.

His installation looks pretty snappy in the well used Banggood case



And the µBITx is already hard at work on 40m using the FT8 digital mode: