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Reviews Categories | QRP Radios (5 watts or less) | QRPme Rockmite ][ Transceiver Help


Reviews Summary for QRPme Rockmite ][ Transceiver
QRPme Rockmite ][ Transceiver Reviews: 4 Average rating: 4.0/5 MSRP: $40
Description: Crystal-based Single Band QRPp Transceiver
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.qrpme.com/
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You can write your own review of the QRPme Rockmite ][ Transceiver.

PINEAPPLEFRENZY Rating: 5/5 Sep 14, 2016 21:33 Send this review to a friend
Great Kit -- Small Snag  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I gave this kit a 5 because despite a couple of problems, I believe this kit represents one of the best values in direct conversion QRP kits around.

I ordered a 20M Rockmite ][.

I consider myself a novice kit builder. This was my first transceiver build.


When I received the kit, the parts were nicely bagged and organized. The builder's guide and builder's help documents on Rex's site were concise, and quite sufficient. The kit contained everything necessary to mount the radio in an enclosure, except knobs for the volume and speed pots, the latter which I omitted from final build.

I took my time and finished assembling the board in two evenings. Installing the radio into the enclosure took more time.

During the initial test, the radio clearly had a fault. The sidetone was nearly inaudible.

After furnishing me with some very helpful troubleshooting advice, Rex discovered that the keyer chip he shipped with the kit contained the wrong software. He shipped me another chip free of charge, and I was on the air.

The receiver is excellent. Through my untuned end fed antenna, I heard plenty of stations. I tamed the sidetone by placing a 33uF electrolytic capacitor between the audio output and ground. This improved receiver selectivity as well, and reduced the high frequency hiss common with these types of transceivers.

I'm waiting for an antenna tuner before I decide how well this radio performs. But based on others' testimonials, I expect good things.

If I could suggest one improvement, it would be to include a firmer, more consistent push button switch with the kit. Otherwise, parts quality is excellent.

This is a great kit, and well worth the $50(CAD) I paid for it.
 
WB2JIX Rating: 3/5 Jan 12, 2015 15:07 Send this review to a friend
Needs Decent Documentation  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'll do a better review later on as I use this more. I wish that I didn't have to chase all over the internet to pull together enough documentation to assemble it correctly the first time, program the keyer chip properly and know ahead of time, which included components to leave out to use the latest ones. I've talked to several hams that have built these and every one said "I had to do some un-soldering since the instructions weren't clear". Yup; that's true! Rex has been the best to deal with and answers questions quickly, so go ahead and give one a try.
 
VE3MPQ Rating: 4/5 Oct 26, 2014 13:14 Send this review to a friend
it looks like a nice little QRP rig for a kit there seems to be  Time owned: 3 to 6 months
I got a Rockmite 20 from Rex Harper back in the early summer ,I haven't yet attempted to assemble it because I can't seem to find an assembly manual that is easy to follow Rex doesn't seem to have a easy to follow manual I'm curious whether the manual written by NE1RD would be ok since it seems to be for the earlier Rockmite kit any help would be greatly appreciated
72 Gary Trudel VE3MPQ
 
VE6TL Rating: 4/5 Feb 8, 2014 12:51 Send this review to a friend
Good product but needs better QC and instructions  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I recently received the 20m version of this kit as a Christmas present. It arrived mid-January as Rex, W1REX, who now sells this kit was "swamped" with orders. This is Version 2 of the original Rockmite created by Small Wonder Labs, which received many great reviews on eHam and elsewhere. Besides being about a month late, the kit arrived with two incorrect capacitors, an extra resistor and mounting bracket, and missing two zener diodes. There was also a QRPme update informing about the backlog of orders and the wrong capacitors. I followed the instructions and emailed Rex. He quickly replied and said he would send out the needed parts and apologized for the confusion. That was over 2 weeks ago, and nothing received yet. (To be fair, the Canadian postal service is anything but speedy.) So I went to the local electronics store and bought the missing parts for a few dollars.

The "Builder's Guide" referred to another document, "The Builder's Help" document and I managed to figure out what most pieces were. I did have quite a few question, however, and emailed Rex several times. He always replied promptly and his answers were quite helpful. Yet, it wasn't until I talked to a buddy at our weekly ham radio coffee that he informed me that he had built the original Rockmite and that there was a really good manual written by B. Scott Andersen (NE1RD) that took you through it step by step. (See: http://www.hcra.org/files/Rockmite-build-manual-a.pdf). Most of the questions I had posed to Rex were answered in this manual. It reminded me of the way Heathkit manuals worked, with check boxes, pictures, when to solder, etc. My recommendation to Rex would be to imitate this manual for the Rockmite ][. And for those who wish to build this unit, make sure you download this manual too. Otherwise, you are essentially left with a bunch of parts and a few hints of how to build the kit. Andersen's manual was especially useful in laying out and connecting the jacks and case for final assembly. As for stuffing the circuit board, I only had one real issue and that was due to drilled holes covering up the numbers on the labels of C1 and C2. I therefore put in all the other capacitors first and they had to be the two left over. They are also shown properly in Andersen's manual for the original Rockmite.

So how does it work? I've never really done much QRP before and this really is QRPp - 300mW. My expectations were minimal, to say the least. The first thing I noticed was that the receiver was pretty broad - I'm guessing around 3 KHz. This is probably a good thing as you don't want to miss someone calling you back. The pushbutton also worked so that you could vary the offset frequency slightly to work two different stations. The audio quality of the receive stations was actually quite good and easy to listen to. Note that I removed the 1 M fixed resistor and replaced it with a 1M ohm pot (from my junk box) for audio volume control. I highly recommend this, but wish that they'd tell you that before installing the resistor, instead of at the end. Anyway, I'd give the receiver an A as it was quite sensitive and had good audio quality.

As for the transmitter, I started out with a problem with the key jack. But anxious to get on the air, I plugged in an external keyer and started calling CQ. Later, I figured out that I had accidentally shorted one of the keyer pins to ground and when I removed this short it worked great! With the external keyer plugged in I noticed a severe "popping" sound with every dit and dah. With the internal keyer, this problem disappeared and the CW sounded smooth. The really annoying thing is that the sidetone oscillator is loud (no volume control) and raspy, as it uses a square wave. This is mentioned in the manual with the suggestion of adding a smoothing filter (R-C circuit) by experimenting a bit. I haven't tried this yet. So at this point, I have to take the earphones out to send and put them back on to receive.

So how did I do? Well, the first thing I noticed was that on 14.050 MHz, I was competing with W1AW code practice! After waiting for them to finish, I called CQ for about 10 minutes and was finally rewarded by a station in Oregon giving me a 579. Said the signal sounded good and clean. After our QSO, I moved the triband beam (at 40') in various directions and called CQ for half an hour without success. My friend in Oregon came back on to tell me that I was still "loud" at his place. A few hours later (in the afternoon), I decided to change to the 14.060 MHz crystal set (as W1AW was doing another code practice session) and this time used the Reverse Beacon Network to see who was hearing me. I was shocked (and happy) to see that I was being received in Japan, Alaska, California, Utah (25 dB SNR), Quebec, and on the east coast (the big gun contest stations). Not bad for 300mW. Then I managed to work Maine - about 2,000 miles from here and got a 539 report. He was running 5W, which seemed like big power to me now!

My overall impression of this rig is that it is well designed, relatively easy to build (took me about 4 evenings), and works as advertised. Once Rex gets things better organized I'm sure the issues of missing/surplus parts will get sorted out. But until a better manual is written, I wouldn't exactly recommend this as somebody's first kit to build.
 


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