The QCX is another QRP Labs kit. This one was a trickier to build and took a lot longer.
Sorry for the mostly image dump, but the photos show the progression of building the kit. It took me about a week with a few days in there where I put in a good number of hours. I am not a fast solder-er or part-picker. But after this, I feel like I’m getting there. Partway through I took the plunge of getting a binocular microscope and that turned out to be an amazing help.
Winding toroids were the single most time-consuming part for me to work on. For the first toroid, it was 3 windings of 3 turns and then 1 winding of 30 turns (I got the 20m version). That winding process itself took me an hour or two. I was a little nervous about getting it right though, and so I counted and inspected very carefully while I went.
The kit worked perfectly the first time I powered it up. It includes some self-test equipment to help you calibrate the radio. This led me to wonder what I/Q was. And so I learned about I/Q measurement – well, not really, but now I know that there is something I should read up on.
I was able to hear plenty of CW stations right away just using a dipole that I put in my attic. I’ve since built a lighter antenna with stranded wire of a lighter gauge (something like 16). It’s a small change in materials, but the antenna is a lot more portable and easy to work with.