Fixing and testing FUNcube Dongles

The new batch from the manufacturer took quite a bit of effort to make work. Here’s a taster of the kitchen lab where the work is done.

Starts with an overview of the equipment, at 4:25 I show how to replace a QFN chip, at 11:27 shows part of the checking out procedure.


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10 Responses to Fixing and testing FUNcube Dongles

  1. Mark N8MH says:

    Positively amazing, Howard. I cannot imagine the number of hours of work and worry that you’ve invested in this! Thanks for letting us “look over your shoulder” on various aspects of construction and testing. Today I used my FCD to copy ISS packets from a simple discone with about 50′ of 9913 coax (no preamp). Was quite happy to see it do that! Thanks again.

  2. Alex OZ9AEC says:

    Very well equipped kitchen 🙂

  3. Augusto says:

    Hi Howard,
    I wish that all those junk ICs will not be paid from you! I find it terrific that those components have so an high rate of failure! What are the causes of this? May you give us more light on this matter? I hope that you’ll soon be able to find another manufacturer, a bit better than this, so to save you all those hours testing and repairing every FCD you deliver.
    Anyway I thank you for the care and efforts you put on this project. Many many thanks and my congrats, dear Howard.
    I hope to be able to be among the winners in the next race; anyway, I hope the next – and a bit more relaxed one – will follow soon.
    I also wrote HB9DRV remembering the next batch, in the hope he will also get one and thus support the FCD in his consolle .
    My best regards, or , as usual, 73
    Augusto HB9TZA / I2JJR

    • admin says:

      For this second batch. the assembler convinced me to use their own procurement process. Never again! There was _no_ cost benefit, in fact it was slightly more expensive than I can purchase the parts for. It appeared that it might save some time with delivery and customs etc thus reducing lead time, although I now don’t think it’s worth the risk.

      Regarding the voltage regulators, I suspect the devices were aggregated over-stock with questionable heritage. The markings look very kosher, but the batch and date codes were all over the place.

      I have no clue about the half dozen PACDN004 USB ESD diodes as to how they are failed.

      Almost all the tuner chips are secondary failures from the failure mode of the regulators when I was trying to identify the fault.


      • Augusto says:

        Thanks Howard for the answer.
        The time saved on letting him do has been lost with overcosts in fixing and testing by your side – not his side . So you’re very right: never again!
        Poor parts also mean some probable warranty issue . Better to be sure of the quality, then save some cent and pay more later.

        Keep the good job as you’re doing it, Howard! Maybe i’ll not be able to be online for this evening race “;^(
        Anyway I will always try the next time.
        My best regards, Howard!
        Augusto hb9tza / i2jjr

  4. Mike says:


    What air temperature do you use for removing the chip?


    • admin says:

      Hi Mike

      320 celsius. I may try a little less, but this seems to work fine. The hot air gun was 80 quid new on ebay. Superb value, can’t do without it.


  5. PE0SAT says:


    My compliments for the quality you are trying to accomplish and the time you spent doing this.


  6. Terry, G0TMX says:

    …and there’s me worrying about ‘dry joints’ when soldering a BNC plug!
    Looks like I bagged a Dongle in the latest batch.. love the ‘behind the scenes’ videos.
    73 de Terry.

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks for the demo film on removing and fitting a SMD chip Howard, the SMD solder station is great, used mine this week to repair a stero headset and heatshrink the plug for grandsons iPod headgear. Loved also the telecoms Marconi 2955 set, it might have cost you £500 on ebay back then but today they want £2950 for the same set, ouch! I think your whole FUNcube dongle project is very impressive Howard and has given amateur radio a new lease on communication plus bring the cost down so we can help teach school children and university students without them having to spend literally thousands of pounds on a receiver and TNC. Well done Howard.