Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Steve WGØAT posted this to the KX3 reflector this afternoon - as usual, Steve's videos are super cool!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

The Skeeters are multiplying!

As of tonight, we are up to 93 brave souls who have volunteered to be Skeeters for the inaugural NJQRP Skeeter Hunt this August 12th.

You don't have to have a Skeeter number to participate - but it's way more fun to have one!  Get yours by e-mailing yours truly at w2lj@arrl.net.

Two places to view the rules:




Still plenty of time to get a number, so don't be shy!  Was there something that you did during FOBB that you would like to try and improve upon for next year?  New antenna?  Different location?  Different key?  Use the Skeeter Hunt as a "proving ground" - we certainly don't mind!

The goal is to get up, get out and have some fun with that gear that you've built (although the use of commercial gear is certainly not discouraged). Come out and play!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Knock me over with a feather!

I had two nice DX QSOs tonight on 20 Meters and you could have knocked me over with a feather.  Both ops actually carried on somewhat "normal" QSOs with me!  Ivan EA2NN and Jean F6HFX (who was also QRP, BTW).

Now mind you, due mainly to QSB, these weren't long rag chews by any means; but we did exchange (besides RST), rig, antenna, weather information - that kind of thing. Wow! DX QSOs that were heckuva lot longer than "TU 599 QRZ?" !!!

Man, that takes me back to my Novice days when QSOs with DX stations were like any other.  In fact, I still have QSLs where in addition to the card, I got letters and photos!

I really, really miss that; and it was nice to get just a teeny taste of that again, tonight.

72 de Larry W2LJ

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CY9M in the log!

On 30 Meters tonight at 00:52 UTC.  Figured out that he was creeping up a few kHz after each station worked. Got in his path, and got in the log!

A good end to a pretty good day!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

FOBB 2012

Ol' Man Murphy seemed to be my constant companion today!  I foolishly thought I had everything under control.  I was given yet another lesson in humility today.

I got to the park right at about 12:45 - a lot later than intended.  Some home things came up, and I had to take care of them first. Really no biggie, but still, an unintended delay.

So I get to the park, and get out the wrist rocket.  Load the pouch with my 1 ounce fishing weight, pull  back and aim for a convenient branch. Instead of "BWWWWAAAANG", I got a loud "SNAP". One of the elastic bands broke.  OK, take a deep breath, examine the situation. Thanks to the Swiss Army Knife that I always carry, I was able to make some field repairs that would hold me over.  I finally got the wire up like I had it last year.  I hooked up the KX3 and could not get a decent match!  I have no idea why; but I figured I would worry about that later as I was already seriously into the first hour of the contest.

ALWAYS have a back up!  I ran over to the Jeep and pulled out the Buddistick.  W3FF's antenna literally saved my bacon this afternoon.  I got it set up and got going, one hour into the proceedings.

After that, the afternoon went well and was a success.  I'm never in these things to win - just to have fun and rack up some QSOs.  In all, I made thirty contacts. Twenty six were on 20 Meters and four were on 40 Meters.  I was a bit disappointed with the lack of activity on 40 Meters.  I thought there would be a lot more, especially as the afternoon wore on.  I kept checking 7.040 MHz as well as 7.030 MHz, but except for the four QSOs that I made, there was nothing to be heard.

Something to do before the Skeeter Hunt in two weeks.

Figure out why the wires wouldn't match.  AND, make new wires out of something more flexible and light.  I was using some wire that I had gotten from an SK's estate sale that would have been more appropriate for a permanent wire antenna.  I need to get something better for portable ops.

The little blue LiPO battery held up great!  No problems with it going low voltage on me.  By making sure the KX3's LCD backlight was off, I was able to stay at the full "QRP Gallon" of 5 Watts out for the entire time I operated.

The filtering in the KX3 made an easy job out of working stations that were right on top of each other.  In fact, at one point, John K4BAI came back to me informing me that we had already worked each other. John, if you're reading this, I was working someone else who was so close to you, it was ridiculous. Yet, the KX3 was able to single the other op out for me with no problem.

Even though there was some frustration, the day turned out well.  And, no more than a half hour after I got home, the skies got dark, the lightning and thunder started and we had real heavy downpours.  But by that time, I was already adding my QSOs to AC Log on this netbook.

Hope you had a great time with FOBB today!  Looks like Jim W1PID did - here's his report:


72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Getting ready

The battery is charging and my Lowepro 150 with the KX3 station is ready and raring to go for FOBB tomorrow.

I sincerely hope the weather is better tomorrow, compared to today.  We've had heavy, gray, overcast skies all day.  It was threatening to rain all day and in fact, did. from about 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM or so.  No heavy downpours; but if I were outside operating, it would have been enough to force me indoors.

This afternoon, I was able to break the pileup and work 2012L, the Olympics Special Event station on 17 Meters.  I heard them again tonight on 30 Meters; but their signal was not as strong as on 17 Meters this afternoon.

So I decided to frustrate myself for a while and try to bust the pileup working CY9M on 30 Meters.  The pileup covered a 10 kHz patch of spectrum and after a while, I realized I wasn't going to cut it this night with 5 Watts.  I have worked St. Paul Island years ago; but never QRP.  They're there till Wednesday, so I have a few more times to give it a shot.  I have them for DXCC credit already, so if I don't get them in the log, I won't lose any sleep.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 27, 2012

A virtual pipeline

I tell ya!

I had a virtual pipeline into Northern Europe tonight on 20 Meters.  I worked Latvia, Denmark and a whole bunch of Ham friends from European Russia.  I was consistently getting 579 reports, and I will take those at face value.  Whenever I don't get that automatic "599", I figure any other report is probably pretty honest.

Hey, 5 Watts to the Butternut and I'm getting 579 from over across all that water that's separating us?  I'll take THAT any day of the week! If I wasn't so tired from work, I'd do the Happy Dance.

I've got a bunch of yard work planned for tomorrow, so that I can have Sunday free for Flight of the Bumblebees.  Fresh air, trees, sunshine, wire and a radio.  You can't beat that with a stick!

Since portable ops seems to be the thing that a lot of folks associate with QRP, I'm attempting to boil the essence of that down into a design for a T-shirt.   This is what I've come up with so far:

I've put this design on some stuff at Cafe Press.  I think I'll order myself up a few shirts so that I can wear them while I'm Skeeter hunting (too late for FOBB).  I'll have to see if I can't find a real graphic artist who can improve on the execution of my idea - but for now - not too shabby (at least I think so!)

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to get a Bee number

I still seem to be getting e-mails asking me if I would issue Bee numbers for Flight of the Bumblebees this coming Sunday.  Once again, I am NOT "The Beekeeper" this year; but this is how you go about getting one:

1) Visit http://bit.ly/LsxX2Y to check out the database of Bee numbers already issued.

2) Come up with a number you would like to use, with two alternates.

3) Send an e-mail to: ARSBumblebees@gmail.com

4) Include your Bee number choices as well as your first name, your callsign, and where you plan to be operating from.

5) Keep checking the database, because if you're like me, your callsign will just show up with your Bee number.  I didn't get an e-mail back from KI6SN with that information, I saw it on the database after it was issued.  (BTW, my Bee number is 17, in honor of Keith Hernandez, one of the best 1st Basemen to play the game of baseball).

Good luck and hope to hear you on the air on Sunday!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

The fires are over and WGØAT is back!

And from the looks of this video, Mt. Herman in Colorado is as beautiful as ever!

Another great video by Steve.  And what's really cool is that I recognize or know the folks behind a lot of the callsigns that Steve worked in this video.

Hope to hear and work you during FOBB this Sunday, Steve!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And you've got to have friends ......

as the old song goes. And thanks to Amateur Radio, I have a bunch!

Here's what some of them have been up to:

Bob W3BBO has put up his new Cushcraft R6000; and reports that it is working fine.

Jim W1PID had another great portable QRP outing (this one is complete with a video):


And my friend Brian KB9BVN reported on Facebook that his Indianapolis Colts tickets arrived.

Good things DO happen to good people!

By the way - don't forget that Flight of the Bumblebees is this coming Sunday. I am really stoked!  The forecast for Central NJ (so far) is for sunny weather with temps in the high 80s, with a chance of thunderstorms as the afternoon progresses.  Hope it's not like it was a couple years ago when boomers shortened my outing and I came home to find the neighbor's pine tree on fire from a lightning hit.

There's still time to get your very own Bee number. Don't be part of the last minute rush!


72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

ATS Sprint

There was a new QRP operating event taking place on the HF airwaves tonight - the ATS Sprint.  Meant mostly for operators of Steve KKD1JV's famous little trail radios, it was open to all QRPers, no matter the rig chosen to use.

I snagged six participants on 20 Meters including G4ISJ/P in England.  Band conditions weren't the best and I spent a goodly amount of time trying to track down Dale WC7S, who was a big promoter of the event.  I heard a few stations successfully work Dale; but I never heard him myself.

Most of the activity seemed to stay on 20 Meters. I switched over to 40 Meters and there was a lot of RTTY around 7.040 MHz, but no QRPers that I was able to hear.  I thought I heard Nick WA5BDU calling "CQ ATS" somewhere around 7.039 MHz. If that was Nick the QSB was bad and he was in and out.

I sure hope that the organizers feel that they had a decent enough turn out so that they will schedule this event again.  Even though I wasn't using a KD1JV rig to participate, it was a lot of fun. I hate seeing QRP Sprints go the way of the Dodo bird.  Some folks feel there are too many; but my philosophy is "The more, the merrier!".  These contests are usually very friendly and are never cut throat affairs.  I tend to think of them as on the air QRP community gatherings rather than out and out contests.(That may be because I never place highly!).  It's through these events that I've gotten to know and become friends with so many other QRPers over the years.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Field Day 2012 - ala' K6BBQ

My good friend Rem K6BBQ has completed his Field Day video.  As usual, it's a hoot to watch.

But Rem ..... 50 Watts?  100 Watts?  Seems to me that Buddistick is awful close for that kind of power, Bud!  Make sure you don't glow in the dark!

All teasing aside, it looks like Rem had a great time; and I wouldn't have minded being there to give him a helping hand as his logger, or perhaps his official burrito taste tester?

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

20 Meter Skunk

The 20 Meter QRP Fox hunt did not pan out tonight.

I heard Arn K0ZK fine for the first half hour; but could not break the pile up. Then his signal faded into oblivion, even with the K3's APF feature going full bore.

TJ W0EA was just the opposite.  He came up into hearing range in the last half hour; but I couldn't break the pileup there, either.

Sometimes you're lucky and sometimes you're not. Tonight was not a lucky night.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sad news - W5PG (SK)

Fellow blogger, Chuck W5PG passed away suddenly, yesterday.


In hist last post, Chuck talked about working up towards doing a Century (100 mile bike ride) later this summer.

Chuck was a good guy and will be missed. Prayers and condolences are with his family.

Larry W2LJ

Waxing nostalgic

43 years ago, this week, I was a 12 year old geek (of course) in love with the United State's Manned Spaceflight program.  Some of my earliest TV memories were of watching the Mercury launches of Alan Shepard and John Glenn.

43 years ago, this week, the epitome, the apex, the goal was reached.  On Wednesday, July 16th we watched as Apollo 11 was launched from Pad 39A from Cape Kennedy.

Three days later, on July 20th, we listened (breathlessly) and Neil Armstrong broadcast, "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed". As kids we were ready to go to bed as the EVA (moon walk) was scheduled for the next day. But Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin must have been on an adrenalin high, however, as they asked Houston for permission (and received it) to begin the moonwalk within hours of landing. Our parents suspended bed time rules and allowed my sister and I to stay up and watch all the history being made.

And watch,  we did! We watched the TV spellbound as ghostly images appeared on our screens. Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra were our guides as Neil Armstrong uttered those now famous words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".  I specifically remember the cameras cutting to Walter Cronkite as events unfolded. He understood the significance of the moment and was almost in tears.

Looking back on it, the accomplishment is even more amazing!  The Lunar Module landed on the moon with an on board computer that had less processing power than a scientific calculator or cell phone of today's vintage.  Those were the days when the sky was the limit, we had the national will to do great things and the horizon looked endless.  I miss the enthusiasm, the attitude and the ambition of those heady days.

To this day, when I find myself outdoors at night and the moon is out - I still look up there and think to myself, "Wow! We actually went there!".

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The things you find at Hamfests .....

Today was the Sussex County Amateur Radio Club Hamfest, up at the Sussex County fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ.

I went along with two good friends, Tim AB2ZK (who graciously volunteered to drive) and Marv K2VHW.  Both are fellow South Plainfield Hams and fellow CERT Team members.  At the outset, I thought we were in for trouble, as it was very overcast and gloomy as Tim drove up to the house.  I even made sure to bring my CERT poncho along - better to be safe than sorry. Good fortune would be ours, though, as by the time we got up to Augusta the sun was breaking through the clouds.

I met many good friends up there, and was especially happy to hook up with Charles W2SH, who lives all of about 18 miles from me in Millington, NJ.  Chas, as he goes by, is a fellow Fox hunter, who represents NJ very well in the QRP Fox hunts.  If you don't find my call in the Fox's log for any particular night, the chances are good that Charles will be in the log.  He is the veteran of many hunts and does extremely well, as one of the baying hounds.  I will have to put the bug in his ear some time about considering to volunteer as a Fox. I think he would do an outstanding job!

I was also very pleasantly surprised to be tapped on the shoulder by Robert, N2SU who is a regular reader of this blog, as well as John K3WWP's diary.  Robert is an all CW guy and has over 300 countries worked with a barefoot rig and simple wire antennas.  Not a small feat by any means; but all the more impressive considering he's not going the HI QRO/beam/tower route.  Thanks for the tap on the shoulder, Robert, it was so nice to meet you!

My purchases were limited to some ARRL mini log books for the portable ops bag, two sets of tweezers (one set straight tips, one set curved tips), two BNC to SMA adapters, and some solderless "O" ring connectors.

The SCARC Hamfest is one of the bigger ones in New Jersey and I am always glad when I can make it, as it usually conflicts with our Lake George vacation.  I received a flyer for next year's event and am glad to say that I will be able to make next year, too!

It strange what you can find at a Hamfest, though.  It's not all radios, keys, computer parts, and junk.  There are actually some very interesting finds at these electronic flea markets:

The kitchen sink, literally.

Gumball machines

A nylon chair, which is not a strange thing, but click and look at the sign!

Sporting equipment - golf, anyone?

A slot machine (working)

And - an eye chart!

Just goes to show, you never know what you will find!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bands are in recovery mode

Or so it would seem.

I didn't revisit the mountain top today, just stayed near the cabin and slapped the Buddistick atop the Jeep.  I garnered a QSO with Sam K9GHD on 20 Meters this afternoon.  There was a lot of QSB, but we were still able to manage a QSO.

Sam was using his IC-746 at 5 Watts to a dipole and he was a good 549.  We chatted for a bit and then I went QRT to enjoy the lake for our last day here at Lake George.

This week went buy way too fast. I love it up here and am going to miss it until we come back up here next summer.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Band conditions may have been in the toilet; but at least the scenery was good!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Bad band conditions

My trip to the top of Mount Prospect was a semi-bust.  Band conditions were not to be. Steve NU7T sent me this on the Polar Bear e-mail reflector:

Sorry Larry Bear,

ALERT: X-Ray Flux exceeded M5
Threshold Reached: 2012 Jul 12 1626 UTC
NOAA Scale: R2 - Moderate
Potential Impacts: Area of impact centered on sub-solar point on the sunlit side of Earth. Extent of blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication dependent upon current X-ray Flux intensity. For real-time information on affected area and expected duration ( 1800 z ).Grrrrrr
15m - 6dB attenuation Grrrrrr
20m - 3 dB attenuation Grrr
40m - 17 dB attentuation Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Steve, NU7T PB #300

And Steve was 10000000% correct - the entire time I was at the summit, I heard one, watery and warbly signal on 20 Meters.  All my CQing went for naught.  I was heard on the Reverse Beacon Network, however (by at least one skimmer):

WZ7I W2LJ14061.0CQ [LoTW]7 dB20 wpm1629z 12 Jul

Oh well, Maybe things will pick up for tomorrow.  In any event, I'll post some of the photos I took, later tonight.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prospect Mountain Summit

Is the plan for tomorrow.  It doesn't qualify as a SOTA Summit, but as per the brochure, the views are supposed to be breathtaking

There's supposedly a picnic area at the summit, so maybe I can toss the EFHW up a tree and make some contacts.

I'll take my phone alone and will hopefully will be able to spot myself on QRPSPOTS.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the trail

Did a little exploratory hike on the trail today, sans radio, just to see what the trail looked like.

I had to turn back early as a thunderstorm came on quickly, and I didn't want to be out in that.  I did come across some beaver and a red fox.  I think they were quite startled by me  Tomorrow is planned, so I might try again on Thursday.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Just like fishing

This QRP thing is just like fishing. Yesterday, it was like I had magic bait. Every time I cast my call out upon the waters, I had a hit.  Every time I called a station, I had a hit.

Today was the antithesis of yesterday.  No one answered my CQs and also wasn't able to raise anyone that I called.  Reverse Beacon Network said I was getting out just fine .... no strikes, though.  The difference between yesterday on today?  Nothing except that yesterday was Sunday and today is Monday.

As much as we would like it to be, this Amateur Radio thing is not an exact science.  I think tomorrow I will head out somewhere nature like and will try the EFHW.  I had good luck with that "fishing pole" last year.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

KX3 - SOTA Style

Posted by Todd., W7TAO on the KX3 e-mail reflector.  Todd, like Steve WG0AT is also quite the portable ops devotee. He also has pack goats that he brings along on his adventures; but not this time.

The sheer beauty of this SOTA site is magnificent.  I think you will agree

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Now THAT was fun!

I participated in the QRP-ARCI Summer Homebrew Sprint for only a very little this afternoon.  But thankfully, quality is not defined by quantity, so the QSOs, while few in number were great in fun.

I began by operating on 20 Meters.  The Buddistick was set up with two 11 inch arms, the coil and the super long whip atop the Jeep on the magmount.  With my coil tapped in the normal 20 Meter spot that I am accustomed to, the Autek analyser displayed an SWR of 1.4:1.  I hit the ATU button anyway, for a very short "Brrrrp" and got a 1:1 match.

While on 20 Meters, as I was calling "CQ QRP" for a bit, and much to my surprise I was answered by Fred G4HOM out of Birmingham, England.  He was much louder than the stateside stations that I was working; so I immediately thought "tower and beam". Nope!  Fred was using his K2 at 10 Watts to a simple wire - propagation, being what it was, favored a QSO between Lake George and Birmingham.  Signal reports were good both ways.

Shortly thereafter, I switched to 40 Meters by undoing the tap from the coil to take advantage of the entire Buddistick coil, and I added two more 11 inch arms.  After a bit of a scare that I won't go into here (due to my own stupidity), the KX3 had matched the Buddistick to 1.4:1 on 40 Meters. I had several QSOs down around 7.030 MHz, including one with my very good friend Bob, W3BBO.  This was our first QSO while I have been at Lake George.  He had a good 579 signal and gave me a good report as well.

The Buddistick on the magmount, using the vehicle as a ground plane is great combination.  Thanks to W3BBO for getting me to try that.  It works so well that I may just forego using the EFHW wires unless I am on the hiking trail later this week.

Oh, I don't remember if I mentioned this; but I decided to leave the Lead Acid battery home.  I am going strictly with the Lithium Ion this week.  It held up very well this afternoon.  I never dropped from 5 Watts output throughout the couple of hours of operating time this afternoon, including a few prolonged "CQ QRP" sessions.  I think "The Little Blue Guy" will be quite adequate for my needs.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

QRP-ARCI Homebrew Sprint tonight

Well, this afternoon and tonight. It starts at 4:00 PM Eastern and lasts until 8:00 PM. And this will be the first big test of the KX3 in the portable environment.

We are up here at the Lake (George); and what a difference location makes. When we got here, I called my friend who is staying at our house and is dog sitting for us. He told me that back in South Plainfield, it was 102F (39C). Up here at the lake, it was a beautiful 78F (26C).

So the plan for today will be to operate from right near the cabin. I think I will go with the Buddistick attached to the magmount using the Jeep as the ground plane. That arrangement has worked well in the past. I will probably stick to 20 and 40 Meters; but may also give 15 Meters a try. According to the latest solar-terrestrial chart, 15 Meters should be in good condition today.

I brought the Autek antenna analyzer along to help quicken the process of setting up the Buddisitck. Thinking about it, I probably could have left it home. Using the Buddistick on the magmount is actually quite easy to set up. All I really have to do is set up the "standard" configuration, set the tap on the coil for loudest receive noise and let the KX3's auto tuner handle the rest. The analyzer comes in real handy when setting the BStick up in the field and for dealing with finding the best length for the counterpoise wire.

So hopefully, i will hear some of you on the bands later today. Please give a listen for ol' W2LJ.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Wish lists

I freely admit that I am more of an operatin' kind of guy and not a techno-wizzy type Ham.  I got my KX3, put it together, marvel at its abilities and am on the air with it, a lot. And excuse my language, but I am enjoying the hell out of it.

I look at the KX3 e-mail reflector and I'm seeing all these "wish list" posts, with guys wanting this and that added to the next firmware edition.  I shake my head, cause obviously these guys are all light years ahead of me as Amateur Radio operators.  I'm pretty content with the radio as it is.  About the only thing that I would like to see changed, if I could, is how the power level changes.  When I twist the power level knob, I see the output power change in 0.2V steps.  In other words we go from 5.0V to 4.8V, completely skipping 4.9V.  I guess I would like to see that curve smooth out to be a tad more linear.

But that's it.  No requests for the sun, moon and stars.  Heck, half the things these guys are asking for, I can't even figure out!  As advanced as this radio is, I remain a humble dial twiddler.  I actually managed to hook the radio up to my netbook and got rig control software to do its thing.

I remained unimpressed.

Perhaps, if I was a contester or big gun DXer, I would appreciate that kind of thing more.  Me, I'm just a ham and egger.  I appreciate the radio, it's features and the genius behind it - courtesy of Eric, Wayne and the KX3 development team.  And no doubt, I'll keep downloading future versions of firmware and will keep the radio as up to date as possible.  But the more esoteric stuff, I will leave to those light years ahead of me. I'll be content to go along for the ride.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fox hunt fun.


Both 20 Meter foxes worked within the first 10 minutes of the hunt.  That doesn't occur very often, but when it does it's gratifying.  The K3 (and the KX3) really makes it easy with those dual VFO knobs.  Hit split, listen on VFO A, dial up the transmit frequency with the VFO B knob and got to town.  No more hitting the A/B button and trying to deal with tuning two separate VFOs with one knob.  Probably a minor thing when you consider it, but oh so convenient!

The Maxpedition padded pouch arrived today and it is perfect!  Fits the KX3 just fine and will protect it from anything else that's in the knapsack.  Not that there's really that much in there, but I still worry about something jouncing around and doing damage.  I had the K1 in a "Tupperware" container all those years and it stayed looking mint.  I am sure this padded pouch will do the same for the KX3.

Antenna wire
Small SLA battery (and small gel cel charger - going to charge off the grid this year)
Lithium Ion battery
Autek antenna analyzer (to make setting up the Buddistick easier).
Pad and misc supplies
Wrist rocket

Still, that's enough to carry along when we go to Lake George later this summer - and for the Flight of the Bumblebees and the Skeeter Hunt as well.

The SLA battery is being taken as a back up only.  If the Lithium Ion performs admirably and gives me a decent amount of radio time between charges, the SLA will stay home in the future.  That would certainly lighten things up.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Can't stay away

A new rig is a thing of beauty. Whether it be Elecraft, Kenwood, Yaesu, Icom or kit built or homebrewed, once you get it on the air, it's definitely fun! And before the novelty wears off, quite addictive.

After watching some TV with Cara and Joey, I headed down to the shack for about another 1/2 hour of operating time before heading off to the sack.  Most of that time was spent becoming familiar with knobs, functions and controls; but I also did manage to work OZ1HDF and RK3ER on 30 Meters.

Even though I now have microphones for the K3 and KX3, I doubt that I will be spending much of any time with any mode other than CW.  Sending and receiving Morse is still what Amateur Radio is all about for me.

July 15th is the Sussex Hamfest up in Sussex County, NJ - which is the extreme Northwest corner of the state. The Sussex Hamfest is one of the best in the state; and normally I can't go as we're usually in Lake George that weekend.  This year I can go and am planning on it.  Some things I will need - 1/4" to mini jack stereo adapter so that I can use my earbuds on the K3.

With the K2, I had a single, amplified speaker.  I think I will have to get a set of amplified stereo speakers so that I can take advantage of the stereo sound the K3 can provide.  An inexpensive set of computer speakers should do the trick and those can usually be found quite easily (and cheaply!) at hamfests.

Off to bed now, tomorrow is a work day, and unfortunately,  I am anticipating tomorrow and Friday to be as bad as yesterday was.

By the way, it's 11:30 PM and it's still 84F (29C) - ugh!  In a few of the QSOs that I had today, the ops on the other end told me that it was well over 100F (38C) at their locations, so I guess I should be grateful it wasn't that bad here!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Done and on the air!

It was hot here again today with highs in the mid 90's - I believe the high for the day was 95F (35C); so I stayed inside where it was cool.

That gave me the chance to play radio and get the K3 completed.  Between spurts of kit building, I managed to work my good friend Bob W3BBO on 40 Meters this afternoon.  We had a nice 30 minute rag chew and he was using the 44' EDZ that he recently put up at his new house.  It worked well.  He started out at 559, but when the QSB kicked out, he was a solid 599 from Erie, PA to South Plainfield, NJ.  We had some QRM come in towards the end of our QSO; but the KX3's silky smooth filtering knocked the interference right out.

I managed to get the front panel mounted and got to the stage of doing the smoke test.  No smoke!

Another hour or so and I was able to finish everything, do the calibrations and get the radio set in its place on the shack table.

The first QSO was Neal N4HAF on 40 Meters.  We had a nice little rag chew going and it was an enjoyable QSO. I worked John K4BAI on 20 Meters and started gabbing with him - only to realize that he was partaking of the MIQRP 4th of July Sprint. Doh!  I quickly apologized to John and let him get on with this business of making more QSOs.  I also worked AC8W in the same contest on 40 Meters and then switched back to 20 Meters for a short chat with Mike N0ZH, who will be Skeeter #55 in the Hunt in August, by the way.  It was good to hear Mike, it had been a while since we has last QSOed.

Anyway, after becoming acquainted with the KX3, it was nice to see the K3 is just about the same with a few minor differences.  It will still take a while before I feel "at home" behind it like I do with the K2; but that will come.  Some of the things that are a surprise are 1/4" sockets for phones and paddles.  I am so used to the smaller miniature jacks that are used on the K1, K2 and KX3.  But it was nice to be able to hook both antennas up without having to use PL259 to BNC adapters.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Happy 4th of July !!!

236 years ago, a group of men from the 13 British Colonies of America gathered in Philadelphia.  It was an unusually hot and humid summer. These men were considered to be the "creme de la creme" of their colonies.  Some were lawyers, some were farmers, some were tradesmen such as cobblers, millers and carpenters.  One was even a minister. They were all held in esteem for their honesty and integrity.

They all had a vision and a dream.

They desired to break away from their Mother country, who they felt had grown to come unresponsive to their needs and wants.  Over time, the monarchy in England had become oppressive, contemptuous, and was on the verge of becoming tyrannical.

These men, 56 of them in all, signed a document known as The Declaration of Independence. It was a document that would become known as the finest expression of the American mind. It was a road map for the concept of "American Exceptional-ism". By that term, it is not meant that the United States, as the new nation was to be called, was or is better than any other nation on the face of the Earth. What is meant by the term of "American Exceptional-ism" is the new form of government that was to eventually be embodied in the Constitution of the United States. You see, the Declaration and the Constitution are entwined. The seeds planted in the Declaration blossomed into the Constitution.

In those documents was the "exceptional" idea that men (and by that, we mean all people) were endowed by their Creator with certain "unalienable rights" including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that because of these rights, endowed by God, the power of the government was to rest entirely in the hands of the governed. This was a radical new idea! The people would never be threatened again by a despotic power who could give or take away rights as the result of a whim.

This IS a grand and noble vision that has withstood the test of time for 236 years. It is up to US, the descendants (in fact and in spirit) of those original Americans to keep the dream and vision alive and to never let it perish.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

What a day!

'Twas one of those days at work where I felt like I was beaten with a pool cue, run over by a bus and then dragged in by the cat.

No kit building tonight as I am in recovery mode.  Tomorrow is a much needed day off. If the weather cooperates (scattered thunderstorms predicted all day), I will try to get some yard work done.

If it doesn't cooperate, well then, I guess I'll just have to spend time down the basement, working towards the finish line of the K3 build! Oh dear, how will I ever deal with that! The horror of not being able to do yard work in 90F+ weather is just too horrible to imagine!

The other day, I purchased on Amazon a 6X9 padded case for the KX3.

It ended up being about $10 dollars less than buying directly from the manufacturer.  The idea is to have a padded case to protect the KX3 when I use my CQ knapsack for hiking, rather than the Lowepro 150.  The CQ knapsack is less padded than the Lowepro, but will provide a little more room for accessories and antennas.

When we go up to Lake George later this summer, in addition to taking the EFHWs, I will also take the Buddistick and the magmount.  That combo has proven to be super in the past; but for that, I will need to take my Autek analyzer along, as that makes setting up the Buddisick easier.  No painter's pole like last year.  If I set up near the cabin, it will be the Buddistick - on the hiking trail it will be the EFHW tossed up a tree.  Obviously, I will be bringing my homebrewed wrist rocket with me, also.

Vacation can't come soon enough!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Front panel work

Tonight I spent getting the front panel assembly done.  I haven't attached it to the main chassis yet.  I stopped after completing the panel itself as I'm a bit tired.

Two things that caused beads of sweat to pop out on my forehead.

1) The four screws that hold down the LCD cover bezel.  The first step, before even thinking of securing the bezel is a step that Elecraft calls, "removing the paint from the screw threads in the holes".  I think that's Elecraft just being nice and faking us out.  I don't think there were any threads to get gunked up with paint, to begin with.  You're cutting these threads by inserting these screws!

Elecraft recommends wetting the screw's threads with "a drop of water" (oil can leave marks that can be difficult to clean up).  I didn't feel like getting up to get a cup of water, so I did the next best thing.  I stuck the screws in my mouth.  Not the most sanitary, I suppose, but oddly effective.  Only one screw hole gave me trouble where I was worried about rounding off the screw; but firm pressure while very slowly torquing the screw did the trick in the end.

2) Mounting the mated Front Panel circuit and DSP circuit to the front chassis panel.  In the manual, Elecraft states that it's a tight fit for the phones socket through the hole in the front panel.  Wow! I'll say!  I finally got it through with some firm pressure but when the socket hit the back of the front panel, I got a loud "snap" from metal hitting metal.  For a second I thought I broke the circuit board, but a careful inspection revealed that all was well.

Other than those two panic moments, all went well.  Tomorrow, I will continue mounting the front panel to the chassis, and I may even get to the point where I get to do an initial power up.

Six man hours into this, so far.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Getting going

I started the afternoon by working K2I, the 13 Colonies Special Event station for New Jersey, who turned out to be located in Greenbrook, New Jersey - all of about two towns over. Go figure!

The I turned the radio off and concentrated on the K3 build.  Not known for my prowess in being able to walk and chew gum at the same time, I figured it was better if I avoided any HF distractions.

The KX3 and K3 builds are amazingly similar in some ways.  The manuals are well thought out as always - this has become an Elecraft "standard".  The build starts off by attaching 2D fasteners to the main or RF Circuit Board.  The chassis and housing are literally built up around this all important circuit.

From there, things get added, like the filters.  I have the standard 2.7Khz 5 pole filter and the 8 pole 400 Hz roofing filter.

These just go onto their edge connectors and then are secured by a screw and lock washer.  For the various modes and bands, there's space for up to five filters. I only have the two installed.

Next came the low power Power Amplifier board.  This occupies the big hole you see in the upper center of the first photo.

As far as this K3 goes, that's it.  This will be a QRP version, so whatever I get out of this circuit is what I will be sending out to the world.

The next step is to start adding sides, and now this is beginning to look more like what you'd expect a radio to look like.

Installing the Auto Tuner came next.  That in itself was easy. it just plugs into the main RF Circuit and is secured by hardware.

The hard part was getting the SO239 connectors plugged in.  As you can see in the close up below, there are wires that get plugged into two brass sockets on the auto tuner board.  The one wire slid into the socket on the left as smooth as butter.  The one on the right was way more picky. I had to make sure the alignment of pin with socket was perfect.  Then, and only then, did it go in - and even that took some effort.

Adding the rear panel came next.

If you notice, on the right side, there are two holes.  The top is for the I/O circuitry, which got added next.  The bottom right hole had a blanking panel installed, as that's the space for an option that I did not purchase.

It is looking more and more like a real radio.  And at this point, this is where I chose to stop for the night. I have put in about four hours worth of work so far.  Tomorrow night, if I am not exhausted after work, I will begin work on the front panel.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!