Monday, July 30, 2012

KX3 as SDR radio

Yesterday I've plugged the KX3 to the SDR console (by Simon Brown of HRD fame) and had a play.
  Let's say I was impressed.

The video is showing a dogpile on CY9M St. Paul island on 30 m. 

(I made sure I've worked them first using the K3... and believe it or not..... I got them on a first call... gotta be lucky sometimes).

The SDR console is very good program and I guess I'll be using it more as time goes.  However first I have to learn how to use it....  It is very complex and powerful.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thrash and Treasure at Dural

It is very interesting how many hams one meets at T&T Dural.

Chris VK2YY

 Horst VK2HL
 Carmel VK2CAR   Jim VK2LC   Roger VK2GJB
 John VK2BAR with his "treasure"
 Roger again with Peter VK2TPM
Roger (yet again) with Horst

Yes it was fun to meet "lotsa" friends.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Got home after "little" ski holiday.

Yesterday late I've returned from the snow... one week off to try some skiing.  Just checking if I still can do it... yes I can... but my knees "definitely" did not like my fun... (thanks Voltaren).

Today I got on 20 m and worked many stations in short time LP EU on CW... Gosh.. it was fun... I did not know what I was missing being in the snow...

What do I like more???? Ski or radio???

Thursday, July 19, 2012

SDR with KX3

Just downloaded the latest version of Simon Brown's SDR console.
Had a big problems with KX3 and this software before, which was my fault for not using the latest version.
It now works very well:

So after all SDR console and KX3 will be friends.

Thanks Simon and thanks Elecraft

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The amazing KX3

Today... bands are back to normal...

I've decided to play with the KX3.  Now that I have an amplifier and can play a "big boy". 
The first amazing surprise was using the "dual watch - dual receiver" function on the KX3... it is as good as the two receiver K3... AMAZING.

I was running about 100 W and got 599 from RA1AIF/MM QRP who was incidentaly here 559.

I haste to add that I was using HexBeam SP to EU... I can hardly expect the same result with wire antenna in the bush.


"Funny" propagation today

Today is Wednesday 18th July 2012 and about a day after the big flare passed the earth.

Yesterday and day before the DX was nonexistent.  Today in the afternoon I've heard few US stations with good strength.  Normally about this time the propagation to US is gone.

After that I ventured to 18.080 and called CQ... got two answers but no way I could copy them.

Then I had QSYed to 30 m and worked KH7Y 599 both ways.  Fred was also earlier on 20 getting QSOs from stations I could not hear.

The whole afternoon was devoid of EU stations who would normally be in great numbers during their early morning.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

IARU CW contest on the weekend

This weekend I had the chance to "steal" few hours to run this very interesting contest.

The second full weekend of July, beginning 1200 UTC Saturday and ending 1200 UTC Sunday (July 14-15, 2012). Both Single and Multi operator stations may operate the entire 24-hour period. 

Heidi is leaving overseas on Tuesday and I wanted to be a "good boy" and spent as much time with her as possible.  However I snatched few hours of operating and it was fun.  I had very good "run" on 20 m:

IARU - 2012-07-14 1200Z to 2012-07-15 1200Z - 205 QSOs
VK2PN Runs >10 QSOs:

2012-07-15 0343 - 0551Z,   14021 kHz, 178 Qs, 84.0/hr VK2PN

The conditions were pretty good despite the predicted flare hitting the earth during the contest period.  There were reports that some parts of the globe were marginal.
Here I'm quoting Steve VK3TDX: "the flare really slammed the hammer on propagation with K indexes as high as 8 in some locations"

My statistics:
Band     QSOs     Pts   ITU   HQ
     7        6           14      2      4
    14      198      904     15    19
 Total     204      918    17     23
Score: 36,720

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hungarian Army morse key - collectable

Yesterday postman delivered eBay purchased (as often happens) Hungarian Army Morse key.  As they call it: old/new stock.  Most likely never used nice toy just for the display cabinet.

The very interesting feature is the "hammer lacquer" finish.  Not typical on today equipment

Inside the mechanism is very conventional and heavy duty. The quality "shows".

This side shot is showing the simple and serviceable mechanism.  The range of adjustment is very good.  From "foot pressure" to "feather touch".

I have owned the Czech Army key for a few years now.  Also purchased on eBay for at the time was very economical price.  I remember training on this key in the army more than forty five years ago.  I still think it is one of the best hand keys I've ever used.  The key is excessively over engineered and of sturdily built .

The classic Bakelite box and very unusual arm and hinge/rocker.  Very comfortable finger piece.

The mechanism inside is complicated and atypical of most hand keys.  Normal adjustments for travel and pressure.  Spring looks big, but the way it is positioned makes the movement effortless.

By moving the arm up you switch from transmit to receive.

I don't even remember how long ago I've used a straight key in a QSO.  My technique must be terrible (that reminds me to do some practise).  I find that with paddle I can send much better quality CW than I could ever send  with the "pump".  Still it is nice to own several straight keys.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The folding antenna by DL1ELU

I had some spare time to finish assembly of my new toy (mind you - the last two weeks I had at least two new toys).  Christian DL1ELU sold me his design of folding HexBeam antenna.  I liked the simplicity of the design and the ease of use.  I love my Traffie HexBeam on my roof which works very well and I also love my SpiderBeam for portable operations.  The spiderbeam is superb antenna, but takes lots of time and effort to erect and dismantle.
The design of Christian's Hex "should" make it all easy.

 Unpacked from the cardboard.
 All assembled on a garden table
 Putting some RF in
Ready to travel.

KX3 Paddle modification

I quite like the supplied / attached paddle of the KX3, however being spoiled by my "collection" of high quality paddles (notice the Begali on the left which is judged as the top of all paddles).


 I thought that the KXPD3 was "just little hard to push".  It was very easy to take apart and I snipped just one turn of the spring.

The idea was that I'll keep snipping one turn at a time.

One turn did the "trick".
I just needed slight adjustment of the gaps and the paddle feels much better.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

KX3 Arrived

After long wait (since Christmas 2011) the kit arrived on Tuesday 3rd of July 2012.  The postie dropped the box at about 1 o'clock.

I've started the assembly pretty quick after unpacking and finished at four o'clock.  Interrupted for about half hour by kitchen duties. There were not any issues with missing components (BTW Elecraft included an envelope with spare screws and washers - very good idea - thanks Elecraft).  The manual is well written and easy to follow (the same experience when I was assembling the K3)

Radio worked on a first try.  Later I had to do some calibrations.  The tricky bit was the I/Q "nulling the opposite sideband signal".  I had about three goes before I got the required result.

The first CW QSO was with KH2L from Guam and I got 579 from 10 W using HexBeam.

On saturday I had SSB QSO with Peter VK2TPM and we videoed the contact and Peter edited it and put it on his blog

I'm quite excited about the radio performance.  It is definitely quieter then my K3, hears as well, the variable roofing filter works well.  It will be great portable radio.  All I need suitable amplifier to bring the power little "up".

The results of the Commonwealth contest were published.

  As I member of the team Australia 2, I was quite pleased with the result.