In Case Anyone Cares

Here is the “Project X” proto:

Project X Prototype

It’s kinda big with thru-hole components, but the current plan is to use SMT in production. Does that sound like a good idea, or does the mere mention of surface mount turn you off?


Due to “popular demand”, I’ve decided to release a bit of information on this rig. This isn’t a guarantee of final specifications, but the end product should be pretty close to this.

The rig above is a 40 meter CW superhet. Cascode JFET circuitry is used extensively throughout the radio. I’m aiming for this to be a trail-friendly radio. I don’t have any hard specs yet, but here are some general observations:

  • RX current draw is now around 30 mA, but I’d like to squeeze it down further if I can
  • TX is Class E, so TX current draw should be pretty good as well
  • Nominal TX output power is 2 W
  • MDS should be around -130 dBm (500 Hz BW)
  • VFO tuning range approximately 40-50 kHz
  • VFO stability is very good (~2 MHz VFO frequency)
  • ATmega88 microcontroller for built-in keyer, mute, frequency counter, battery status, etc.
  • Other planned bands are 80 m, 30 m, and 20 m. Would like to tweak design for upper bands as well for a future date

Hopefully that will whet your appetite a bit. Let me know in the comments any features that you would find useful that would be appropriate for a radio of this class.

15 thoughts on “In Case Anyone Cares

  1. SMT’s do not turn me off at all. I enjoy the challenge of soldering small things. So when are you going to give it up Jason and tell us what this is?

  2. I can tell you the basics right now. I’ve been hesitant to say much because I didn’t want to commit to much until I had a working prototype. Now that the prototype is pretty much done except for the microcontroller stuff, I feel like I can say a bit more. I’ll edit the post above to put in the information that everyone is looking for.

  3. Not sure what the Project X is…but put me down for one when you start selling them!

    Your son is getting big and mature looking! Glad you keep flickr updated!!!

    I just starting reading your fet biasing article…nice job and really interesting. Now I also know why that put all those diodes in there….LOL

    72….Mikey, WB8ICN

  4. @wb8icn
    Absolutely! My eyes are still pretty good for close-in work, but I hate dealing in anything smaller than 0805. I had to do some resistor replacement work at Tek with 0402s and that sucked. They were even using some 01005s occasionally, which compares with a fine grain of pepper!

  5. @NT7S

    4 pole crystal filter? Nice. That low current consumption should please the hikers and backpackers too. I have a few questions but instead of bombarding you with them, will be patient and let things unfold in due time. Best of luck with it!

  6. OK, I CARE. In case anyone cares?

    LOOKS GOOD! Where does the line form. I’m ready,…. if I can find the time.

    73 Chris

  7. Hey stranger! Long time, no see! How you been? No line yet, but you’ll see the news here once things get closer. I still haven’t even come up with a business name yet or legally formed the business. I’m going to have to do that soon!

    Maybe we’ll have to resurrect the Saturday tech chat?

    73, Jason

  8. […] Over on The Amp Hour, I’ve been known to call ham radio operators, “The Rock Stars of Analog“. This is meant for the ones that are out there making their circuits using the dead bug method or otherwise. Jason Milldrum from has confirmed this belief with a picture in his latest posting about his RF kit making business: […]

  9. I like the idea of smd’s but I could be in the minority. I think a lot of hams don’t realize how simple they are to deal with once they get the hang of it. Having said that, I remember building Dan Tayloe’s Firefly which used 805 parts and finding it a little difficult. I think others also might of had a problems with the same thing as they (QRPkits) changed to a through hole version. I built two NC2030’s which used 1206 size parts (lots :)) and really enjoyed building them.


  10. Thanks very much for the feedback, Tom. Although I personally lean towards 0805, I am strongly considering going with 1206, just because most people won’t have access to a microscope. They are more expensive than 0805 components, but it should be worth it, considering the relative ease of construction. I think you are right that a lot of hams don’t realize that SMT is very simple. Once you get the hang of it (especially with 1206), I think construction goes quite a bit quicker than with through-hole parts.

    The great thing is that I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about using SMT. It looks like enough people are comfortable with the technology that I can safely try a first kit run with surface mount technology.


  11. Hi Jason, I’ve been silently following your blog since missing out on the Willamette, hoping to catch your next project. Knew your marriage would change your lifestyle somewhat, but glad to see you are still cooking projects.

    I worked AA7EE, Dave, on 20 meters this morning and he was telling me that he is gonna build one of your CC-40 kits as soon as he can. Well, I don’t want to miss this one! Please put me on the NOTIFY list when this is available.

    (The link to my website is a shared blog by several hams who all like radio projects in one fashion or another.)

    Bill – W7WEL

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