QRP Labs QCX – Why Building a CW Transceiver?

I always wanted to be able to decipher Morse code. Even before I had my basic license, I had already started learning the Morse alphabet. And you can take that literally. I never got much further than “starting”.

According to my excercise book, I started for the first time in October 2015. I kept it up for two weeks then. In May 2016 I made one excercise, in March 2017 two. I restared in December 2017, again for two weeks. Then again, did one excercise in November 2018. I can assure you, you won’t learn it that way.

Probably I was too busy discovering the many other aspects of the hobby. SSB, PSK, RTTY, FT8, building magnetic loops and Automatic Magnetic Loop Controllers. It wasn’t until I got a little tired of all that, and noticed couldn’t use half of the spectrum I was given, that I made the click: I was going to learn CW. This time for real!

Since October 2019 I have been doing a 10-minute exercise every day. For this I use the app of IZ2UUF. In total I only missed about 5 days. And that is all you really need to learn CW: practice and dedication.

Maybe you also need something else to stay motivated, such as rewarding yourself with a transceiver that you can put together yourself and with which you can further practice your learned CW? A QCX perhaps?
There you have it, the reason why I bought and built the QCX.

Automatic Magnetic Loop Tuner – Smaller Enclosure Finished

When our first batch of automatic magnetic loop tuners was finished, I started looking for another enclosure. One that was sturdier, better looking and cheaper. I ended up looking on AliExpress and found this aluminium box. After some measuring, drilling and filing I test fitted the components.

I quickly understood this enclosure would be a very tight fit. Using the bulkier rotary encoder together with the larger tin box for the SWR bridge was not possible. In parallel, we started working on our second batch of automatic magnetic loop tuners, and I needed the buttons and screen bezel to finish another tuner. Having no spare screen bezel any more and in need of extra internal space, I ditched the screen bezel idea and let the LCD come out of the enclosure. It wasn’t even looking that bad.

Automatic Magnetic Loop Controller

Yet, the little extra space I gained on the inside of the enclosure was still not enough to fit the SWR bridge in it’s RF shielded tin box. I had to go and find a smaller box, which I did on a local ham fair.

SWR Bridge
SWR Bridge in small enclosure

The SO-239 connectors were also replaced by SMA connectors. These are also a lot easier to mount as you only need to drill one round hole.

SWR Bridge

When I made the A4988/DRV8825 version of the automatic magnetic loop tuner PCB, I made it exactly 100mm wide. This way it fits nicely in the PCB slot in the aluminium box. When the PCB is positioned completely to the left against the tin box of the SWR bridge, there is plenty of room for the rotary encoder on the right. The rotary encoder is positioned between the power button and the fuse and serial connector.

Automatic Magnetic Loop Tuner

When the box is closed and the power is switched on it looks very nice 😉

Automatic Magnetic Loop Tuner

The knob on the rotary encoder is a full aluminium knob which you can find here on AliExpress.

Sharpened My Axe

Some years ago I saved this el-cheapo made in China axe from the dump. It wasn’t dull, it was blunt. My Scoutsleaders wanted to throw it away, as it was cheaper to buy a new one, than to resharpen an re-handle it.

For years it was lying in my garage, and only a few weeks ago I decided to give it a new life. I bought a new handle and took my file to grind a new edge. After several hours of filing, sanding with wet&dry and sharpening on Japanese waterstones, I ended up with this.

Bijl - Axe

Bijl - Axe

Although it’s far from perfect (I could have removed much more material from the cheaks) it’s razorsharp.

Bushcrafter by Driftwoodwalker

I ordered a Bushcrafter knife from Lance Ockenden aka Driftwoodwalker.

Had to wait almost four months, but it was worth it. Check it out!


The handle is made from curly birch lined with black liner and fixed with some nice mosaic pins. The lanyard hole measures 8mm.


The knife is very well balanced and feels very comfortable in both the forhand- and the chest lever-grip. Needless to say these are my two most used knife grips.


Ofcourse the knife got a scandi-grind. Ideal for cutting and carving wood, but also very easy to sharpen on japanese waterstones.


The firesteel is attached to the sheath and the handle of the firesteel is made from the remainder of the handle material.


The knife fits very secure in the wet molded leather sheath. The firesteel however could use some extra safety lanyard. The lanyard is made with some paracord and a lanyardknot.


Spoon carving… Is there a better way to baptize a bushcraft knife?



Geocaching Bag

What’s in your geocaching bag? I’ll show you what’s in mine!

First of all: the bag. It’s a Maxpedition Lunada.

I had an argument with a guy the other day because I called it “my murse”. A man purse. I should have called it my tactical gearslinger. Whatever, it’s a bag that’s used to carry items that will not fit your pockets anymore. Or that still would fit your pockets, but you want to keep things organised and ready to go. Before you leave on your geocaching trip, you don’t want to grab all bits of pieces together, but just grab your bag.

On the front shoulder strap I attached my Fenix LD20 pocket torch and my Garmin Etrex H.

Because the velcro of the Fenix LD20’s holster isn’t that strong I secured it with some para-cord to the D ring on the Lunada’s shoulder strap.

Just an image to show both items 🙂

I the small front top pocket I keep some sugar, and a bar of cereals. Some spare batteries, both for the GPSr and the LD20 and several pens.

In the front lower pocket I carry my notebook, a multi-tool, some hand sanitizer, a Fire-steel, tweezers and a compass.

In the main pocket, in the back compartment I keep my first-aid kit and two (2) pack’s of tissues. It can be used for blowing my nose, but it’s basically there for doing number two in the woods.

The zip pocket is stuffed with some alcohol swaps to clean my hands after some geocache digging. I always forget to take a stick our use gloves to pry in the dirt. And when I do think about it, my hands are mostly already dirty, so I continue. If you want to eat your lunch afterwards, it’s thus a good idea to have something in you bag to clean your hands.

Underneath I have several zip-lock bags. Both to replace torn ones in geocaches, but also to collect things in the wood (pine cones, blue- and blackberries, birch bark etc…).

Those are the things that are always sitting ready in my geocaching bag.

In the main compartment I carry, depending on the length of the trip, food (lunch, biscuits, fruit), beverages (500ml / 16 oz.nalgene bottle) and a rain coat.

Staff Meeting (Seattle Office – Rm 1180)

Panic! There is a meeting showing up in my HTC’s Today screen, but I was not expecting it. It seems to be a staff meeting. Room 1180 it says, but there is no room 1180 in this building and I’m not in Seattle at all!

But what’s that meeting room doing in my calendar? I didn’t put it in there. Let’s google:Staff Meeting (Seattle Office – Rm 1180).


Some people say you should do a hard reset, but according to me this makes no sense. The first thing I did when I got the phone was updating the firmware with a new official ROM. This meeting must be present in that ROM and a hard reset won’t make it disappear. Apparently there is also another phantom meeting, but I haven’t seen that one yet.

I think I’m not going to do anything about it. After a day I disappears by itself. I can live with that.

Hello world!

Hello world! Welcome to Golb in Flemish Business English. Most of the things here were already posted on http://www.golb.be, but in Dutch. As some of the things I’m writing might interest more people than only the Dutch speaking community I decided to create an English blog as well.

I’m used to speak an write English, but most of the time with people who are not native speakers. That’s why I used the term “Flemish Business English”. It might not sound like English, but if you would like to do just a little effort you should be able to understand what I’m trying to tell you.

In most cases my Flemish Business English is easier to understand than the Dutch to English translation of Google Translate, so why shouldn’t I give it a try?