Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Chinese "Super Rockmite" Clone

Recently, I was perusing my Twitter feed, which I have to admit I haven't been keeping up with.  Recently, my Twitter friend Matt, W2MDW posted a link to an eBay page showing the "Super Rockmite Clone" radios.

These radios are available in either kit form OR fully assembled...but that's not what makes them unique.  I have written before about the Chinese versions of Dave Benson's (now Rex Harper's) "Rockmite", known in the PRC as the "Octopus".  The Octopus is LOOSELY based upon the Rockmite...and the Super RM clone is even more of a departure.

I bought one of these radios for portable operation with an Opek HVT-600 antenna while at the YL's house.

The BEST part of this radio is the WHOPPING amount of power that it emits.  The CRK-10 was a stout little performer with its 3 Watts....but the Super RM Clone is an EIGHT WATT RADIO (@12V DC).  

YES....8 Watts.

There are some interesting upgrades with this particular radio, as well.  There is a DB9 port on it for what the website calls "PC Keying", but the software is difficult to find, as is the cable required to make it happen.  After quite a bit of navigating around ENDLESS Chinese websites, I was able to find the software, schematics, and instruction manuals for the rig.  


The Super RM is far from perfect, mind you.  The audio is anything but pleasant to listen to IF you are using regular (a.k.a. CHEAP earbuds....or "walkman" style headphones).  It is SO LOUD and SO HARSH as to not be comfortable for very long.  And, without a little tweaking of the sidetone pitch (via button 1 and 2 on the top of the circuit board), your keying sounds will drive you CRAZY.

The solution was fairly simple for me, since it had worked with the MINT CONDITION Heathkit HW-7 that my ex-wife bought for me last year:  1945 vintage Telephonics Corporation TH37 headphones and an OLD MFJ-CWF2 filter.


The old heapdhones in conjunction with the filter (when needed) really take the harshness out of the audio.  Your mileage may vary, but it is an ABSOLUTE improvement for me.

There ARE a few significant downsides to this radio in the "assembled" state:  ALL of these radios are coming from China with crystals for 7.023 MHz.  Extra Class license holders are the only ones allowed to use this frequency.  ALSO...the Super RM Clone uses THREE of the these crystals.  Two are for the filter, and the third is for the oscillator.  But, affordable crystals can be had by contacting Rex Harper via QRPme.com.  

I QSY'd mine to 7.030...the QRP "watering hole" for 40m CW.

And there is no case with the radio.  However, the matching aluminum box can be obtained by a quick trip to eBay.  

All in all, I paid $40 for the assembled kit, and another $15 for the matching aluminum box.  And when you purchase from the MANY eBay sellers, shipping from China is USUALLY free...another perk.  Arrival to the US is typically 7-15 days....mine came in 11.

More of these rigs can be seen on China's domestic shopping website, Taobao.


Make sure you are using a GOOD web browser, such as Google Chrome, so you can have the page translated into "Chinglish".

As I make changes and improvements to the radio, I will be posting them here.





51 comments:

  1. Thank you SO MUCH Dave. Your insight and experimenting has helped me tremendously.
    I could not find the software but did manage to find the schematic. What is the info about the interface cable? Did you have to do anything besides changing the crystals? The unit is unusable to me until I change the crystals.
    Thanks again.
    Mike
    K0COY@qsl.net

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  2. Mike:

    The conversion was DEAD SIMPLE: Radio Shack de-soldering braid to unseat the 7.023 crystals, and then just pop the new 7.030 crystals onto the PCB and lightly solder. Nothing to it.

    I can't wait for to use the keyer next!

    John KB2HSH

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  3. Will order the 3 crystals, tried software, showed RockMite51, flash OK, Auto, then nothing. Can not seem to enter and send anything but I'm sure I'm not doing things right. If I press SW5 sends dah dah dit and display shows an underline character for 3 lines. Ideas?

    Mike k0coy

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    2. Where can I get the English version of the software I can only find the Chinese

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  4. After Field Day this weekend (where I will be using my Super RM with the "N2U Field Day Group"), I will go over the schematic to see which pins are going where. It may be something as simple as your TX and TXG pins are wrong. I haven't spent too much time with the PC control aspect of it, other than FINDING it online. THAT was tough enough!! (hihi)

    I have been doing simple RS-232 connections almost the entire time that I've been a PBX Technician. It is how we integrated the older PBXs to their mating voice mail systems. You need 3 pins to communicate in duplex: transmit, receive, and ground. Since we are only trying to make the RM TRANSMIT, we only need to worry about 2 pins. And I'd be willing to be that they're 3/5/7. Maybe the Chinese hams did it differently. After this weekend, I'll find out.

    John KB2HSH

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  5. The pins used are 2, 3 and 5. The interface is thru a Max232 chip, interfaced to the cpu, using 2, 3 and ground. The software you found and me using does not indicate the actual parameters (bits, baud, etc.) It should be easy to use Putty or some other comm program for the interface. But it will take time to determine the actual protocol used. Entering data into any of the boxes on the screen and pressing either of the send buttons does nothing. I know the functions of the push buttons on the board by listening to the feedback, higher or lower tones, faster or slower sending and changing the freq slightly. I don't want to try writing data to the flash and screwing that up. So...I'll continue to play with the software and see where it will take me. Thanks for your insight John. If I have further info, I'll sure share it.
    Mike k0coy

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  6. Very cool! If you find out something before I do, please post it here!

    JM

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  7. Has anyone figured out the software?

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  8. The software is still a mystery. If I plug a str8 key in, it will show that but entering anything into any of the other boxes does nothing. I bought an audio amp since the audio is so low on my two units that I can't hear without it. When/If someone figures the software, it will be a pleasure to operate.

    Mike - K0COY

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  9. I do have it working, but not sure of all the functions.
    The key functions work. Manual, dot,and dash. The tone and speed work, with the dot and dash, and the on board flash call sign.
    I can write to the on-board flash and save and open config files.
    I am not sure what the hardware write and read functions do, the send button does not seem to do anything, other than put ffff on the top screen.

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  10. First- thank you to all who are working on this. I just got mine.
    The link above has some chinese .pdf files, the schematic and a .jpg,
    but no software. Can someone please point me to a link?
    Cable? I'm grateful for the above posts, but many lack enough detail to act upon.
    Thanks!

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  11. First- thank you to all who are working on this. I just got mine.
    The link above has some chinese .pdf files, the schematic and a .jpg,
    but no software. Can someone please point me to a link?
    Cable? I'm grateful for the above posts, but many lack enough detail to act upon.
    Thanks!

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  12. Welcome to our group David. I use a USB to 232 cable for my laptop. I believe one can write to the flash with a CQ, call sign and QRZ, something like an automated CQ machine. I haven't tried that yet. Not sure what ABB00 means by writing to flash and opening config files. Anything else new???

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  13. Thanks for this web site! With your downloaded instructions I was able to finish up an Octopus last night. Seems to Rx and Tx fine except for one small issue..... I have a nasty 11KHz squeal on the audio (>1Vp-p). With the SA612, Micro, MAX232, and Osc Xtal removed it's still there so must be in the op amp circuit anywhere.
    This seems to be a knock-off unit. The schematic matches up but the references do not match the V2/V3 instructions (R15/220K = R35 on my board).
    Anyone else have this annoyance? Once I fix this it will be QSO time!
    John kc9on

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    1. Hi Johnc I seem to remember a possibilty of oscillation in the audio circuit the fix is to add a 100pF from the audio preset wiper to ground.
      On my board there is provision for this with two holes to use.
      I hope that Helps you sort it out.
      As for programming the keyer with callsign Im not having any joy at all. I do get some data coming from the device in the top window but not readable, so I may have baudrate issues?

      Cheers Mark GØNMY

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  14. Thanks SO much. This appeared at a meeting as a Super Rock Mite. It appears identical in every way to yours in the photo except someone tied down the crystals structurally (unless it's some kind of extra grounding or shielding to the crystals' outer capsules). Hopefully I can get my similar headphones working, too (English sub ones). Sigh regarding frequency. Maybe I can learn sooner than later, time allowing, to really tweak and align radios with this and larger radios. I've spent all my time on antenna systems too much and need to get into the radios more. Thanks!

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  15. I think this site may offer some insight on the software, port, and much more.

    http://mrdys.51.net/qrp/super.htm

    Neil -- W2NDG
    http://radiokitguide.com

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  16. Hi,

    I have found on Internet that you have build a Super RM Rockmite Chinese kit.
    I have catch mine on EBAY seller.

    I have the receive 1/4W resistor for all values.
    When I look the schematic, R2 and R3 are 22Ω 1W.
    But I have just receive 1/4W resistor…
    I have receiev just two sample of 51Ω 1W resistor for make dumy load.

    When I read the instructions, I find:

    L1, L2 is a high-frequency filter inductor, 0.51 mm enameled wire around 16 laps on the magnetic iron core T37-2 (red), about 25cm, inductance in 1uH. Less than 1000pF capacitor for high frequency ceramic capacitance greater than 1uF electrolytic capacitors, all resistors 1/4W 5% fixed resistor.
    Resistor R21 selected value range is 200 ~ 4.7K, the selected value is smaller, the side tone will be greater, but the smaller the value chosen must also receive volume attenuation, silent selected for 1K.



    When I look the photos find on Internet, all the people who have build the kit have two 1W resistor mounting.

    Can you give me the good version of resistor to use?


    Thanks and best regards.

    73, David F4EPU

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  18. Hey there! The Google Drive link isn't working -- do you happen to have a new one, or could you point me in the direction of the info? Thanks!

    73,
    Rex KK6VSI

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  19. Automatic call
    Short press the SW button immediately let go, then the machine automatically call "CQ CQ CQ DE a wailing cry cry PSE K" again.

    All this and 8 watts out. That is my kind of QRP !! 72.5 de AF4K, Bry

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  20. I have a Rockmite_3. Do you have instructions for programming your call sign? The Chinese translation is difficult to follow.
    Steve, WA8Y

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  21. You type your call sign in the F1 box
    click Write

    Your call sign and the speed and tone settings will be saved.

    The information can be read and saved by using the read command in the hardware box and the save command under the file box.

    I expect all the functions are not working in my version, the program appears like it should do more.

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  22. The soft ware is @
    http://pan.baidu.com/s/1ntBjqZ3

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  23. I have just bought one of these, I just hope the software comes with the kit.
    yet another kit to build :D

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  24. For software: the mrdys links are dead. The baidu download always times out after about 1% (using various workarounds). Would anyone be willing to host the software file somewhere so that myself and others could access it please?
    '73
    VA7ARi

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    1. OK - after some significant effort I got hold of these files. Hosting the link in case anyone needs:
      https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-z_BuZa-kqvTFZsc25ObDhHWnc/view?usp=sharing

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    3. I was also sent these files, however the program is still in Chinese it is not the English version.
      Cheers Mark

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    4. Apek, thanks for hosting the software, couldn't find it anywhere!
      Cheers, Simon 2E0DPN

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  26. If the program language is Chinese, it is not installed correctly.
    Use the Installer to install a language pack to use.
    I had the same problem, but by experimenting survived.

    Rauli OH3Xi

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  27. finished one of these a couple weeks ago it transmits an recieves but the keyer does not work i get only one dit on a left paddle touch or hold an nothing with the right. checked the paddle wiring an the socket. i orderd a second kit to try a different keyer chip, switched it today same prob no joy.. any ideas would be great. thanks nick

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  28. From what I understand the Keyer chip detects the type of key that is inserted. Plug your paddles in and then Power up the radio.
    It should detect your paddles.
    the Dits are on the Tip the Dah's on the middle ring and then the ground or common.
    Mine has just arrived so I havent had chance to build it yet.
    Cheers Mark

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  29. Thanks! Just ordered kit. $14 delivered! Not expecting until Mar because of Fire Monkey New Year celebration. Need something for SOTA that I make a couple of copes if and won't cry over if it tumbles down a cliff. This looks like it might do the trick. Seriously, Some of the HI peaks are rope assist if the rain catches, you end up head to toe mud. Will report back when/if working 73, ah7i/w4

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  30. Thanks! Just ordered kit. $14 delivered! Not expecting until Mar because of Fire Monkey New Year celebration. Need something for SOTA that I make a couple of copes if and won't cry over if it tumbles down a cliff. This looks like it might do the trick. Seriously, Some of the HI peaks are rope assist if the rain catches, you end up head to toe mud. Will report back when/if working 73, ah7i/w4

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  31. 11 days from order to arrival in Atlanta GA. Not bad considering new year holiday and president's day holiday in the mix. Now to find some time to assemble it. PCB looks nice. t has no mounting holes so I'll be figuring out how to enclose before mounting parts. Also looking for software/firmware for the STC chip.

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  32. Had a little time this PM and did a parts check. All there!

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  33. Thanks a ton guys for finding the correct links for the software, etc. I didn't think that my original link was still corrupt. I have to make changes in the text.

    73 de KB2HSH

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  34. Great stuff, thanks for all your efforts I was able to get the software working. There is only one problem. If you enter data in the F1 field and press write it programs the switch on the transceiver. However it transmits a B the same as a D. dash dot dot instead of dash dot dot dot.
    How to fix?
    PA5FDX

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  35. Hi DE VU2TAH - TAHIR, I brought this kit but no details how to wind T1, T2 & L1, L2. Can any one help me? My mail ID - vu3tah@gmail.com. thanks in advance. 73

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  36. http://mrdys.51.net/qrp/super.htm

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  37. My version reached max. 2 Watts HF output. After some modifications it now has 5W at 12 Volts. Reception not optimal, some interferences and distortions. After fixing this only strong signals come through.
    Its only 15 Bucks, ...

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  38. Good morning, my unit gives only 2W with 13.8V supply. What modifications I could apply to increase the power?

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  39. I have my Rock Mite going. It puts out 3.watts -- I am sure the inductors need tweaking.

    My L meter reads about 3 uH for L1 and L2. They were wound as per the instructions and I suspect need some windings removed.

    Does anyone have RF levels for the various stages of the transmitter portion? That would help to figure out if T1 and T2 need to be tweaked as well.

    Documentation on this kit is extremely poor and a lot of time was wasted using incorrect documentation.




    73 Bernie

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  40. KC9ON discovered bad toroids for L1 and L2. Once these were replaced power out went up from 2 watts to a tad over 5,watts. I used T37-6 cores with 18.2 turns as I had no T37-2 cores. The fix to cure the awful CW side tone is also on KC9ON's site. -- cut one trace and tack a 100 ohm resistor.

    73, Bernie

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  41. Rock Mite Software woks but is pretty crude. The only useful feature is the ability to load a CW string which can be sent hitting Switch 1. Switch 2 and switch 3 increase and decrease the CW speed respectively. Default COM port speed is 9600 bps, 8 bits no parity.

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  42. For those new to the Super RM Rockmite Octopus, I have created an English step-by-step guide to building one of these kits. Additionally there are o-scope patterns and a transistor voltage listing to aid in troubleshooting. Enjoy! http://kc9on.com/ham-radio/qrp-radios/chinese-qrp-kits-2/chinese-super-rm-rockmite-aka-octopus/

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  43. Has anyone considered using a DDS VFO on one of these, as per the QST March Article modifying the 49'er To use a DDS VFO?

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