Fully-assembled Mountain Topper rigs soon available from LnR

MountainTopperMany thanks to Chris (K4RCH) for passing along this message from Steve (KD1JV) at LnR Precision:

I am pleased to announce that the 3 band Mountain Topper will be commercially available as a fully assembled product from LnR Precision. They should be available for purchuse around the end of January and will cost $250.00

Steve KD1JV

If you’d like a peek at The Mountain Topper manual, click here to download (PDF).

Steve (KD1JV) is well-known for his brilliant QRP transceivers–$250 is a true bargain. Check out AE5X’s blog for more info about the MTR.

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Sherwood Engineering ranks the Flex 6700

Flex_6700

Rob Sherwood has now tested and ranked the new FlexRadio Systems 6700 on his receiver test data page. Sherwood-RX-data

Hint: the 6700 tops the list when sorted by third-order dynamic range narrow spaced. Click here to view the results.

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October 10: Let’s talk shortwave…and astronomy

PARIdish

I’ve been invited to speak at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), a non-profit educational radio astronomy observatory (and former NASA tracking station as well as one-time NSA installation), in the mountains of western North Carolina.

I’ll be speaking about shortwave radio, of course–both its technical and cultural aspects–on October 10, 2014, at 7:00 pm EDT.  Afterwards, there will be a tour of the PARI campus, and an opportunity to stargaze with both amateur and professional astronomers.

Many thanks to my buddy, Ken Reitz, who shared this article about my presentation in the area’s local county newspaper; here’s my statement about the presentation:

“Shortwave radio is an international communications medium that has been in existence for nearly one hundred years,” said Witherspoon, “yet this vintage technology supports an ever-evolving multicultural landscape that, remarkably, remains relevant today. The Internet and mobile technologies have made the dissemination of information more readily accessible to many, yet shortwave radio remains viable and dynamic, and in many ways still outstrips the Internet.

“I plan to share some of shortwave radio’s diverse voices and investigate some of the technology used to receive them. So, if you are a shortwave enthusiast, or simply interested in learning more about shortwave, this program is for you and will be suitable for all ages.”

Read the full article here–and if you can make the journey, join us for shortwave and astrological fun. There is a small charge for the evening; all proceeds go towards PARI’s mission of providing public education in astronomy.

PARI is a stunning radio astronomy campus which will no doubt be accentuated by the mountains’ fall leaf colors on October 10. For PARI’s location, click here.

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NM0S’ Ozark Patrol regenerative receiver kit

k0awb_ozarkpatrol 3small

Just learned that David Cripe (NM0S) has a new kit for sale: the Ozark Patrol regenerative receiver kit.

The Ozark Patrol is a simple, straightforward kit, designed with beginners in mind. The kit is a through-hole design, which is to say, with no surface-mounted parts.  All of the component values and reference numbers are silk-screened on the board to indicate each part’s location, making for truly quick and fool-proof assembly.

What’s more, Dave is a talented kit designer; he’s the brains behind the kit for our successful ETOW HumanaLight (originally conceived by engineer Greg Majewski). He’s not only clever like that, he’s also a great pal.

In the past, when Dave has announced new radio kits for sale, he’s sold out within a few days. That’s why I ordered mine the moment I saw the announcement.

And, hey…not only does just $40 plus shipping ($46 in the US) get you a superb regen receiver kit, but proceeds also support the Four State QRP Group. Win-win, in my book.

Here are a few specifications and design features listed on the Four State QRP Group’s website:

  • Frequency Range: 3.5-15 MHz in two bands
  • Sensitivity: Yes!
  • Power Supply: 6 x AA batteries
  • Audio Output: A 2.6” speaker is included, as well as a jack for 1/8” stereo headphones

Want one, too? Click here to order your own Ozark Patrol kit…and enjoy tinkering as well as listening!

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New HRO store in Plano, Texas

HROLogoMany thanks to Dave (N9EWO) who writes:

Ham Radio Outlet has announced a new store location in Plano, TX planned to open in the first quarter of 2015.

see:   http://www.hamradio.com/news_announcements.cfm

Thanks, Dave!

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KX3 Companion App for Android

KX3-companion-001

Neil, comments on (my other blog) the SWLing Post:

“An app specifically made for the Elecraft KX3 is KX3Companion (www.kx3companion.com). There are free and paid versions on Google Play (does not work on Kindle Fire).

The same author has created KX3 KeyApp to give a virtual set of keys for KX3 users. It comes with two predefined templates (CW, and default) with KX3 macros setup for use.

Finally, he created QRSS Beacon – A fully featured QRSS (Slow CW) Beacon on Android. You can select a DIT duration from 1 to 60 seconds and choose one of the 3 supported modes: QRSS, FSK/CW and DFCW. This works on any radio, connect the audio out of your Android device to the audio in of your radio and an enable VOX.

Also, HamLog is available on iOS & Android (there’s even a MAC version).”

Many thanks for sharing this, Neil!  I will add the KX3 Companion apps to our comprehensive list of ham/shortwave radio apps.

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July & August QRP Field Operating Events

Over the next thirty days there are three QRP field operating events to take part in.

This coming Sunday, July 13,  is the second annual Scorch Your Butt Off event. This six-hour event is like the more familiar wintertime Freeze Your B___ Off event except for this event the score multiplier goes up the hotter the temperature recorded at the key or microphone. The rules for Scorch Your Butt Off can be found here:

http://www.qsl.net/sybo/Scorch_Your_Butt_Off/SYBO.html

Sunday, July 27, is the date of the Adventure Radio Society’s Flight of the Bumblebees, an event with a long and storied history. For this four-hour sprint, those who use human-power to get to their operating locations earn the right to a “bumblebee number”; each contact with a “bumblebee” counts as a score multiplier. The rules for Flight of the Bumblebees will be posted here Friday, July 11:

http://www.arsqrp.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 10, is the date of the 3rd annual New Jersey QRP Club Skeeter Hunt. Those who operate in the field can request a “skeeter number” and are worth more points than “non-skeeters”. This year there’s a score multiplier for using homebrew or kit-built equipment. The announcement and rules for the Skeeter Hunt can be found here:

http://w2lj.blogspot.com/p/njqrp-skeeter-hunt.html (announcement)
http://www.qsl.net/w2lj/ (rules)

So—three good reasons to take a QRP rig and field-antenna outdoors and have some fun!

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The new Splinter II kit from Breadboard Radio

SplinterIII’ve just learned that Bill (W4FSV) has cooked up a new QRPp receiver / transmitter kit at Breadboard Radio: the Splinter II.

In his blog, Bill mentions some of his first contacts on the Splinter II:

“I have never been to Dayton or the QRP event Four Days In May.  I hope to go someday, but you see my birthday is May 17th and it always conflicts.  My wife, kids and grandkids insist that I’m there at my party!  As thrilling as it must be to go to Dayton and FDIM, I had my own QRP adventure about a month earlier.  On April 16th I finished my own building session…the Splinter II prototype.  Later that evening I made the first two contacts with the Splinter II…KK4GFR, Jim in Clarkson, KY followed by KF2UZ, Jack in Hyde Park, NY.  Then on the 17th, I worked SV1ENG in Greece (see above).  On the 23rd I worked PA3BUD in the Netherlands.  Finally, on the 24th I had a QSO with SM6CWK in Sweden.

These contacts were especially nice since they were all new countries for my QRPp totals.

Yes, I really wanted to go to Dayton, but my Four Days In April were still pretty cool!”

Bill, I must say, you certainly would enjoy Four Days In May. We’ll sing Happy Birthday to you if you make it next year!

The Splinter II can be ordered online at BreadboardRadio.com.

Thanks for the update, Bill!

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The Ten-Tec Patriot: an open-source SSB/CW/Digital transceiver

507-Patriot-low-res

Today at the QRP ARCI conference, Four Days in May, Ten-Tec is showing off their latest open-source transceiver: the Model 507 Patriot.

507 Patriot 001

Building on the concepts behind the Model 506 Rebel, released last year, the Patriot is open-source and firmly targeted at the makers and experimenters amongst the amateur radio crowd. Like the Rebel, the Patriot is spartan by design, leaving it to the maker to develop the transceiver’s character via crowd-sourcing.

The Ten-Tec Patriot at my QTHUnlike the CW-only Rebel, the Patriot has SSB and digital modes in addition to CW.

Mic and line levels are adjustable by recessed pots on the right side of the Patriot

Mic and line levels are adjustable by recessed pots on the right side of the Patriot

The Patriot arrives as a fairly bare-bones 20/40 meter transceiver, but with all of the essential functions pre-loaded, including:

  • AF gain
  • RIT
  • Bandwidth selection
  • Tuning step selection
  • Band selection (20 or 40 meters)
  • Tuning knob/encoder
  • Mic Level
  • Line Level in/out
  • CW Speed

I’ve had the Patriot’s progenitor for about a week now, and have had it on the air a bit. But as this is a very early beta version, I can’t comment on much other than to say that audio reports have been quite good on SSB. I’ll dive into the digital modes after the Hamvention.

Ten-Tec Patriot

Of course, when I receive an actual production unit of the Patriot, I’ll give a more thorough overview.

In a nutshell?  I like this direction for Ten-Tec and am happy to see that they are growing a new line from the seed planted by the Rebel. By producing basic, open-source, and relatively affordable radios, Ten-Tec may actually be blazing a path to transceivers with benchmark performance and crowd-sourced firmware. I have no idea if Ten-Tec is contemplating this, but I’m sure many manufacturers are–it’s a great direction for any company.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for more on the Patriot!

Ten-Tec Patriot

Ten-Tec Patriot Back

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Looking forward to the 2014 Dayton Hamvention and FDIM

Each year, I attend the Dayton Hamvention and much of the QRP conference, Four Days in May.  This year, I’ll be working our Ears To Our World table again, along with other volunteers, at booth 411 in the Ball Arena (BA411). Please stop by and introduce yourself!

What I love about the Hamvention is that it is a one-stop-shop for innovations appearing in our radio world.

Here are a few of the companies I’ll be following at the Hamvention this year:

Ten-Tec

Ten-Tec-AlphaTen-Tec announced yesterday that it will merge with Alpha Amplifiers under the flag of RF Concepts. I plan to stop by Ten-Tec’s booth Friday and learn more about the merger. Personally, I believe the merger with Alpha Amplifiers is a good move. Both of these companies are known for great customer service and quality US-based design and manufacturing.

I know Ten-Tec is introducing a new open-source product to their line, the Patriot, because I’ve been beta testing one (check QRPer.com for details later this week).

Icom

Icom-ID-5100Icom will showcase their new ID-5100 D-star, dual band, mobile with built-in GPS. While I’m more of an HF guy, this radio does intrigue me. You see, for almost one year now, I’ve been very pleased with my Icom ID-51A, dual-band, D-Star handie talkie (HT).

I find D-Star to be a very flexible digital mode and I’m amazed with how many interesting mom-and-pop companies have produced products for the D-Star mode. I’m surprised neither Yaesu nor Kenwood has adopted the D-Star standard (it’s not proprietary to Icom–indeed, read about the CS7000 below).

The new ID-5100 is a mobile version of my ID-51a. What I love about this radio is that it can store repeater frequencies and dynamically load them based on your geographic location. Perhaps my largest gripe with mobile VHF/UHF rigs is their inability to adapt to the repeater “landscape” when you travel. The ID-5100 may change this and push other manufacturers in the same direction.

Connect Systems

CS700_WEBIn less than a year, Connect Systems has become a household name among ham radio enthusiasts who love VHF/UHF and digital modes.

This Connect Systems is developing an HT–the CS7000–which will be the first non-Icom radio to have the D-Star digital mode. Whatsmore, in addition to D-Star, the CS7000 will also pack DMR.

I don’t think Connect Systems will have a working prototype at the Hamvention (I could be wrong), but there is a possibility that they will be taking early orders.

Elad

FDM-DUO-openingI’ve been intrigued by the Elad line of Software Defined Recievers. This year, they will attend the Dayton Hamvention. I look forward to checking out the new FDM-DUO tabletop SDR. I plan to review some of the Elad product line in the near future.

Palstar

Last year, Palstar showcased a prototype QRP transceiver with touch screen interface. To my knowledge, this would be Palstar’s first transceiver (though they’re well known for antenna tuners and their shortwave radio receiver, the R30A).

Last year, I was told that the new Palstar transceiver would be available this year and would retail between $1,600 – 2,000 US (a rather steep price for a transceiver with 20 watts output). One of the transceiver’s designers assured me that the receiver would “be worth the price.”

Bonito

antennajet_front_hamradio2013I’ll stop by Bonito’s booth to check out their new AntennaJet ASM300.  I’m curious how it works and what the Hamvention price will be.

Though pricing is a little steep, I might bring one home as I often would like to share one antenna with two receivers simultaneously.

Elecraft

PX3The only new product I know of from Elecraft is the PX3 Panadapter for their Kx3 transceiver. Reviews of the larger P3 Panadapter for the Elecraft K3 are excellent, so I imagine this will be a great product. I hope to check out the PX3 at the Elecraft booth–I believe they’ll have a prototype on display.

SDRs

For the past three years, the market for software defined radios has been growing rapidly. I’ll be on the lookout for anything new–especially improvements on current 3rd generation SDRs.

Did I miss something?

Please comment if there’s something you’d like me to check out at the Hamvention–I’ll try to include it!

Again, if you’re attending the Hamvention, please stop by and introduce yourself at our booth: 411 in the Ball Arena (BA411).

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