The QCX is another QRP Labs kit. This one was a trickier to build and took a lot longer.

QCX (all finished, but with the case opened up) running WSPR mode

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.