Endings and Beginnings

Yes, it has been a long time since this blog has been updated! As some of you may know, Etherkit is currently a one-man operation, and so my time in juggling all of the different aspects of the business is sometimes limited. When I focus on some aspects, then some others have been a bit neglected. I am not happy about my performance, which has left Etherkit stagnant over the last year. I haven’t had anything to post here, because unfortunately there has not been any significant news that I could tell you about.

I have been working on a few different projects in parallel behind-the-scenes that are intended to move Etherkit forward into a bigger and brighter future. The time has come to commit to one path, and I feel that I can make the first public announcements about the future of Etherkit.

First off, the life cycle of OpenBeacon and the CRX1 are winding down, and I plan to end-of-life both of these products once stock runs out. I do have a limited supply of OpenBeacons left for sale, and I’ve reduced the price to $29 to encourage those who haven’t tried one yet but may be interested to give it a go. I am currently out of stock on CRX1, but as I mentioned on my blog, I would be able to make a special kit run for groups who are looking for a project to work on together. I may also be able to sell some PCBs for each project if there is demand for it.

I do have some exciting and interesting new products in the development pipeline. Not all of them can be currently mentioned, but I can tell you about some highlights. First off, I am still working on long-awaited CC1 CW transceiver. A new prototype is being actively developed, this time including an OLED display, more capable microcontroller (with USB connectivity), and improved RF performance. Watch my personal blog for more timely updates on that projects. I’m also considering a refresh to the OpenBeacon which will add a Si5351 with TCXO reference oscillator (for much better frequency stability and accuracy), GPS connectivity for stand-alone timing accuracy, and operation across all of the HF bands plus 6 meters. I can’t guarantee that product is coming, but it’s definitely something I would like to explore in the near future. I’ve also got a handful of cheap and cheerful small test & measurement products that will be helpful to the RF homebuilder.

Finally, I know that Etherkit has been spotty in the communications department. I’m still working on a comprehensive response to this problem, but I want to assure you that I understand that this area needs improvement and I plan to commit resources to do so. Watch this blog for another update in this area in the near future.

I would like to thank each and every one of my customers! It has been a pleasure to provide you with a few fun little kits. Now I’d like to take Etherkit to the next level and get more serious and professional across the spectrum; including our product lines, pricing, and customer service and support. Please stick around as more changes are rolled out in the near future.

Jason Milldrum, NT7S
Proprietor

CRX1 Specifications Change

We wanted to let you know that we have slightly changed the advertised specifications for the CRX1 receiver. The original measurements were taken on a beta CRX1 receiver, which was slightly different from the production receivers. In order to provide the most accurate measurements possible, we did our measurements again, along with a few new ones. Most only changed a few dB, but it is significant to note that the minimum discernible signal now measures at approximately -133 dBm (as opposed to the old measurement of -123 dBm). We have now also added measurements for the input 3rd order intercept and opposite sideband rejection. You can see a recap of the new measurements below, or visit the documentation page.

Thomas LA3PNA kindly did some independent verification of the CRX1’s specifications, which are in line with the measurements made at Etherkit. You can see his report here.

Frequency Range: Approximately 7.030 to 7.034 MHz (at +13.7 VDC power supply)
IF Bandwidth: Approximately 400 Hz
Current Consumption: 25 mA (at +13.7 VDC power supply)
Power supply: +9 VDC to +14 VDC
Minimum Discernible Signal: -133 dBm
3rd Order IMD Dynamic Range (20 kHz spacing): 82 dB
Input 3rd Order Intercept: -5 dBm
Opposite Sideband Rejection: 49 dB
IF Rejection: 74 dB
Image Rejection: 67 dB
PCB dimensions: 70 mm x 100 mm
Antenna Connector: BNC
DC Power Connector: 2.1 mm barrel jack
Phone Jack: 3.5 mm stereo
Key Jack: 3.5 mm stereo
Reverse polarity protection
Muting, sidetone (user enabled), T/R switch, full QSK operation, external VFO port included

Announcing the CRX1 Receiver!

We are pleased to announce the release of Etherkit’s newest product, the CRX1 receiver! The CRX1 is a simple VXO-tuned superheterodyne receiver for the 40 meter band, with tuning centered around the popular QRP watering hole frequency of 7.030 MHz. It is entirely constructed from surface mount devices in the easy-to-build 0805 (US) size for passive components and SOT-23 class semiconductors. The PCB is large and single-sided, which provides for uncramped construction and makes the CRX1 an ideal warm-up kit for the CC1 QRP transceiver (coming soon). The CRX1 is not just meant to be a novelty to be tossed aside after construction. All of the support circuitry for muting, T/R, and sidetone is included, so it can be paired with virtually any transmitter which uses grounded keying. There is also a port for an external VFO to enable further user experimentation. All controls and connectors are included with this kit, so you just need to supply an enclosure and a few knobs to finish the job!

Specifications

Frequency Range: Approximately 7.030 to 7.034 MHz (at +13.7 VDC power supply)
IF Bandwidth: Approximately 400 Hz
Current Consumption: 25 mA (at +13.7 VDC power supply)
Power supply: +9 VDC to +14 VDC
Minimum Discernible Signal: -133 dBm
3rd Order IMD Dynamic Range (20 kHz spacing): 82 dB
Input 3rd Order Intercept: -5 dBm
Opposite Sideband Rejection: 49 dB
IF Rejection: 74 dB
Image Rejection: 67 dB
PCB dimensions: 70 mm x 100 mm
Antenna Connector: BNC
DC Power Connector: 2.1 mm barrel jack
Phone Jack: 3.5 mm stereo
Key Jack: 3.5 mm stereo
Reverse polarity protection
Muting, sidetone (user enabled), T/R switch, full QSK operation, external VFO port included

Available Bands

40 Meters – 7.030 to 7.034 MHz

Polyvaricon Variable Capacitors Now For Sale

We are pleased to announce that we now have a limited amount of polyvaricon capacitors available for sale in 4-packs in the Etherkit Store. These are dual-gang capacitors, with each section having a 5-270 pF capacitance per section. They also have four individual trimmer capacitor sections which you can add in as needed. Perfect for all kinds of RF experimentation fun!

February 2013 OpenBeacon Stock Update

We apologize for running out of stock on the 30 Meter and 40 Meter OpenBeacon kits. They are both now back in stock in limited quantities, with more on the way in the near future. Thank you for your patience!

22 Feb 2013 Update

Again, we apologize for being out of stock of the 30 and 40 Meter OpenBeacon kits. Our anticipated resupply order is late from our vendor, so we will not have those kits back in stock for a few more days. The current best estimate for restock is Tuesday, Feb 26. Thanks again for being patient!

Introducing EtherProg

We are pleased to announce the release of our newest product: EtherProg. EtherProg is an inexpensive Atmel AVR in-system programmer (ISP) that can be used to program a variety of Atmel AVR 8-bit microcontrollers, including most of the popular ATtiny and ATmega series ICs.

EtherProg can be used to update the firmware on OpenBeacon or any future Etherkit product with an 8-bit AVR microcontroller. No need to remove the microcontroller in order to update the firmware, simply plug the EtherProg programming cable onto an ISP header on your Etherkit (or other ISP-compatible) product. EtherProg is also a great way to develop your own stand-alone AVR applications.

EtherProg is $19.00, and we are currently offering free shipping on EtherProg to any US address.