The devil is in the detail

hello everyone,

I haven’t been much active lately, here or on social media. This has been interpreted by some that i got fed up by the project somehow. It would seems there is a large commercial operation in the works, originating somewhere in Germany. Maybe waiting for me to pass the ball.

So, a fellow ham was nice enough to send me some pictures of the Chinese (not the German) clone and as it would look the same as the long time discontinued 0.4 revision of the mcHF, it is not exactly the same.

Deep analysis of the project would reveal that with such simplified design, the devil is in the detail and a small thing like misspelling the word ‘driver’ is nothing to be worried about, well, one should think what else has been rushed in.

One thing that is extremely important is off course are the sampling capacitors in the detector and exciter. There is a reason for using the best and most expensive ones. So getting a 2000 pcs reel that cost as much as one of the proper caps i list in my BOM is a big no-no.

While at it, why not modify at random the PA bias circuit as well. What could go wrong there ?

I guess it is getting boring now, so the best mod here is the Chinified BPFs:

So yeah, if you making an RF circuit, if all possible, use multi-layer inductors – good result guaranteed.

Anyway, why do i care about all this – well, apparently i suppose to give support for the clones as well. And usually i don’t do investigations when a colleague e-mails me for help. So yes, it is bit frustrating.

I hope this was informative enough, and i am still actively working on the project. The good news is that my wife (Lucy) has joined me and from now on i will have more time to dedicate on the actual development, instead of Admin tasks.

73!

25 thoughts on “The devil is in the detail

  1. Stefan

    I think one of the main reasons clones are popping up for the mchf is because: even if someone wants to buy the original, it is sold out 90% of the time 🙁

    @m0nka, is there anything you can do about that, e.g working with a fulfillment company that takes care of it for you?

    Reply
    1. m0nka Post author

      Hi Stefan,

      If you check the history on my blog, i had constant stock since 1 Feb 2017, when i released the rev 0.6:

      http://www.m0nka.co.uk/?p=5687

      The out of stock is normal when i move to new revision, it takes time to re-organize the project. Even for
      big companies like Apple and Samsung is a long process when they have new model handset. And i am just one
      guy.

      In theory i have no problem to sell untested stuff, but no one will be happy if i stop replying to e-mails
      for 3 months.

      73!

      Reply
  2. Janez, S58J

    I just wish to say that I have a great respect to your work. It takes time, dedication and love for the hobby. You and your supporters are bringing the ham radio to it’s core fundamentals: experimenting, building, improving, sharing the knowledge and friendship!

    For the just mentioned reasons I refuse to buy Chinese clone and I’ll be happy to wait longer in order to get the Complete kit (my eyes are not as they used to be, so I’ll need to go with with pre-soldered SMD components).

    Thank you again for your outstanding project.

    Reply
  3. Dvoid

    I appreciate all the negative feedback and criticism. First, you do not know my financial situation. Second, the SDR transceiver works just fine. Third, I had hoped a fellow ham might provide some constructive advice that fits reality. I won’t bother with this forum again, because I see what kind of “help” I will get here.

    Reply
  4. Darren D. Taylor

    M0NKA,

    I would like to take this chance to thank you for your work on this project. I realize how time consuming such an endeavor can be. Not to mention frustrating and (at times) under valued the work can seem. I, like you, (it seems) took a passion and hobby of mine (high-end audio and valve design) and merged it with my chosen career path. I started a business on the side and eventually transitioned to self-employment. Although I cannot relate with everything you deal with I can relate with the work, effort, time, money, frustration and (at times) anger associated with such a project as the mcHF. I can only imagine what it would be like to pour countless hours into something, release it to the public as open-source, offer PCB’s and even kits, only to have others ‘borrow’ your IP and offer it for sale online. I haven’t experienced that and I certainly wouldn’t want to experience it, either. I commend you for your continued work on your SDR transceiver and (from what I have read/heard) work on future projects.

    I had seen your project early in its design but hadn’t the time for radio, then. Now I do and I am more than happy to support you by buying the boards and parts directly. I much prefer kits and learning through research and building. From the reviews on your PCB’s, instructions and board layout, it seems you have put a great deal of time into the assembly process with functional sections laid out along with their function. That is a great touch and a nod back to vintage kits. I look forward to placing my order and receiving my PCB’s or, better still, a set of PCB’s and parts kit.

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you once again for offering the community such a nice SDR design. Better yet, you offer a very reasonable set of PCB’s and parts kit. As someone who has designed, manufactured and built many things, I have found sourcing all the components to be the most frustrating and time consuming aspect of the entire project! I am certain you are aware of this given you source the parts, kit the parts and handle the logistics. That isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap – in time or money.

    Darren

    Reply
    1. m0nka Post author

      Hi Darren,

      Thanks for your nice words and support! To be honest i am not that bothered as it is not the first time it happens to me. My first project was commercial, with all the protections in place. It still got hacked and when the cloners make they first million, you kinda stop caring about it.

      It is just the way the world works, you create something desirable and people would want to steal it. There is no surprise of Chinese companies stealing IP, my only disappointment is hams in the civilized world supporting it, ham radio being gentleman’s hobby and all that.

      Anyway, life goes on, there will always be new and cool things to develop. As long as we are alive and kicking off course.

      73!

      Reply
  5. Jim Smith

    What’s the status of the MyDEL RS-918 as advertised by ML&S in Nov edition of Radcom. Even has mcHF on the front panel.

    Reply
  6. K9OO

    Love it! I am waiting for the kits to be available again. I don’t trust myself with too much soldering, but would love to support the project. Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  7. Marco

    Hi all,
    I’m a soon-to-become ham so I decided to buy the components kit and I’m sure I’ll have fun and learn much on smd soldering in the next months.
    Maybe because I’m a new ham, I’m fresh of some ham concepts which can turn out beneficial for the discussion.
    The Mchf project is explicitly targeted for the ham who wants to experiment, learn, build and improve his own equipment. This is perfectly in the spirit of the Amateur’s code (http://www.arrl.org/amateur-code). The ham is balanced, and ham activity is a hobby. The ham is progressive, loyal and friendly.
    Therefore, if we are true hams, IMHO (no offense intended to anyone) we are not rushing to have a Mchf off a shelf, hurrying for having it today. It’s against our code. Similarly, saying something like “I’ll be forced to buy a clone” is not a good example of a ham spirit and it’s a pity that it takes a newbie to point that out.
    You may not like it but this is a project for who wants to build and experiment. The project and the kit is so valuable that is also happens to be a very appetizing product, but this does not automatically mean that Chris has to build a million rigs pre-calibrated. It’s his decision I think.

    73!
    Marco

    Reply
  8. Steve R

    SM inductors usually have low Q. And if they use anything but C0G capacitors for the TX match and LPF/BPF, the dielectric loss tangent will cause component heating or failure.

    Reply
    1. m0nka Post author

      Hi Steve,

      If you have been to one of the components markets in Shenzhen, you will know the quality of the parts there, mostly factory rejects,
      QC failed, or just lower quality components with painted over more expensive parts text. Everything on the boards looks like parts sourced from the local market.

      I have to go through hell every time when ordering assembly on a mcHF batch – have to split non critical parts for the factory supply, then all critical stuff – semiconductors, inductors, caps in the RF part (specially high voltage one) for the exciter and detector, etc. to order from 5-6 different suppliers locally, so i am sure those components have passed some minimum quality control at least.

      It is just the nature of the project – a weird mix of digital, analog and RF circuits. It requires attention to detail.

      73!

      Reply
  9. Andrea

    Hi Chris,

    Will full assembled+cased+calibrated part of the project for no skilled people?

    I can find someone available to do the complete job for me, but he costs much more than professional assembly line and the total cost is over budget.

    I feel a big demand for it, today my only option is china clone.

    Thanks for any reply

    Reply
    1. m0nka Post author

      Hi Andrea,

      The point of the whole project is to serve hams who love electronics and like to play with technology, also
      like to have open source radio where they can change whatever they want/have full freedom.

      If you need a radio just to use as appliance maybe the KX3 or the FDM-DUO is best.

      73

      Reply
      1. Charles

        yup well with or with out you looks like the project is moving forward. I am sure the bean counters over there in china will get the RATIO of parts you can skimp and parts you cant. China is here to stay and in it for the long run. Testing will prove actual real world results, if what they are selling is total crap then i am sure they will be dealing with rma’s

        Reply
  10. Nicklas Hellberg

    Hi!
    Trying to order MCHF COMPONENTS KIT v 0.6 , but when i get to paypal it say its not availabel?

    Regards
    Nicklas

    Reply
    1. m0nka Post author

      Hi Niclas,

      Sorry, the paypal quantity and the blog Order page are not linked. In this day and age i have to deal with low tech solutions for the Ordering ;(

      73

      Reply
  11. Stephen Dinkel

    Very interesting update on the clones. I’ve been anxiously waiting for the complete kit to be available. No way I’d buy a product “ripped” off from you!

    Reply

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