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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Announcements, Kits, Product Announcements | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Announcements, FDIM, Hamvention, News, Product Announcements, QRP Radios | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

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).

Posted in Announcements, Articles, Conferences, Events, FDIM, Hamvention, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adam’s Yaesu FT-817ND Go Kit

Adam (KJ6HOT) writes:

“Just wanted to pass on a link to a few videos I put
together in case you’d like to share them, especially the Yaesu
FT-817ND kit I put together.”

Adam has also posted some SOTA activation videos where he uses his go kit (click here to watch).  I’m amazed that Adam manages to fit so much in that small box. Certainly a handy kit for hiking to a SOTA activation!

Thanks for sharing, Adam! I’ll add this link to our Going Portable page. If you have a portable set-up you would like to share, please contact me.

Posted in Grab And Go, People, Portable, QRP, QRPers, SOTA, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ten-Tec and Alpha Amplifiers to merge

 

Ten-Tec-Alpha

(Source: Ten-Tec and Alpha Amplifiers Press Release)

Alpha Amplifiers and TEN-TEC Merge Under RF Concepts Banner

LONGMONT, Colo.- May 9, 2014 – Announcing today the merger of Longmont, Colorado -based RF Concepts LLC / Alpha Amplifiers and Sevierville, Tenn.-based TEN-TEC Inc., RF Concepts Chairman Michael Seedman, AA6DY, declared the union the perfect combination of amateur radio brands. The merger creates a multi-million-dollar company with products that span QRP transceivers to full-legal-limit amplifiers and establishes an organization with the size and scale to continue to innovate into the next decade and beyond.

RF Concepts/Alpha Amplifiers has been building amplifiers continuously since the early 1970s and has put more than 13,000 amplifiers in the hands of demanding amateur radio operators. Alpha Amplifiers are considered “the finest line of linear amplifiers in the world” by the ham community. TEN-TEC, founded in 1968, produces top-of-the-line receivers, transceivers, amplifiers and tuners and is known worldwide for the reliability and performance of its products.

“For more than 40 years, Alpha Amplifiers and TEN-TEC have shared a reputation in the amateur radio market for offering exceptionally well-engineered, American-made products backed by extraordinary customer service,” said Seedman. “Alpha Amplifiers is known for ‘key down performance,’ and TEN-TEC is known for pushing the boundaries of transceiver performance and capabilities.

“The merger of these brands under the RF Concepts banner makes perfect sense,” added Seedman, “not only in terms of creating a powerful product line, but also in terms of positioning our company for the future. This merger more than doubles the size of our business allowing us to invest more capital in innovative engineering and customer-driven product development.”

RF Concepts’ operations will now be shared between its Longmont Colorado facility and its Sevierville Tennessee facility. The company is currently seeking a new operations facility in the Sevierville area to more efficiently house factory operations, part of the engineering resources, and technical and customer support services. The Colorado facility will house engineering resources, technical and customer support services, and much of the front-office operations.

Both Jim Wharton, NO4A, who in January of this year took the reins of TEN-TEC upon the retirement of founder Jack Burchfield, K4JU and Ken Long, N0QO, who has been overseeing the operations at Alpha Amplifiers will be Presidents of their respective group, working together to build a strong, innovative company.

“Ken and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing our short- and long-term focus over the last few weeks and I feel our responsibilities are very clearly defined.”, said Wharton.

“Jim and I have a lot of work to do to make sure the merging of these two brands goes as smoothly as possible.” added Long.

The merger announcement comes just days before one of the signature amateur radio events in North America-the Dayton (Ohio) Hamvention-where more than 75,000 hams are expected to converge on the Hara Arena Complex to discover the latest innovations in amateur radio. Both Alpha Amplifiers and TEN-TEC will operate separate booths at this years show (May 16 – 18). Both booths will feature new products and special offers to commemorate the merger. At booths 209-210 in the North Hall, Alpha Amplifiers will be demonstrating the soon-to-be released DreamTuner 4040 Automatic Antenna Tuner, a graphically based, 4KW Autotuner. At booths 458-450 in the East Hall, TEN-TEC will unveil the Patriot, an open source, arduino-based SSB transceiver.

About RF Concepts/Alpha Amplifiers
RF Concepts/Alpha Amplifiers manufactures high-end linear amplifiers for ham radio enthusiasts. Based in Longmont, Colo., the company is known worldwide for its quality amplifiers. Alpha Amplifiers have been continuously manufactured in the United States since the early 1970s.

About TEN-TEC
TEN-TEC Inc. was founded in 1968 to provide beautifully engineered, well-crafted, well-supported and high-performing products to the amateur radio market. For 46 years the Sevierville, Tenn.-based company has passionately designed, crafted and tested premium products which have earned the company a solid reputation and loyal brand followers throughout the world.
###

Posted in Announcements, News | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The KX3 helper: a simple, effective non-slip pad

KX3-Helper-WithKX3

I recently purchased the KX3 helper from W1SFR and can report that I’ve been very pleased with this simple, affordable, non-slip tilt pad.

KX3-Helper

While I like the built-in tilt legs on the KX3, I prefer slightly more angle on my desktop.  The KX3 helper allows you to chose a number of positions and angles for the KX3.

KX3-Helper-Side

 

What I love most is the fact that it will not slip while you’re tuning or making adjustments to the KX3 (even if inserting Mic or Key plugs).

KX3-Helper-TopView

The little shelf on the back of the KX3 helper is the perfect place to hold your KX3 microphone when not in use.

KX3-Helper-FullView

At $13.45 US shipped, I believe the KX3 helper is a true bargain. Check out all of Steve’s radio accessories by clicking here.

Posted in News, QRP, QRP Radios, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once in while…

… one hears behavior on the air that reminds one that courtesy can still, occasionally, be heard on the HF bands.

I’ve made it a goal this year to earn a Worked All States (WAS) certificate working only the ARRL Centennial Celebration W1AW/portable stations using CW and QRP power levels. I’ve managed to work W1AW/portable stations in 27 states so far–I started a few weeks late and missed the first few states but will pick them up in the second half of the year–but I’ve heard some atrocious pile-up behavior while doing so.

This evening, while trying to work W1AW/1 (NH) or W1AW/2 (NJ)–I can’t remember which because I  eventually worked each on several bands before turning the rig off for the night–I neglected to put my KX3 back into split-mode after changing bands, so on my first call to the W1AW/portable station I was transmitting on his frequency, not up as I was supposed to be. Before I could even realize my mistake, I heard someone send a simple “IF UP”–the last two letters of my callsign and “UP”–just once, on the W1AW/portable station’s frequency. Not the “UP UP UP” we  hear far too frequently these days or even “UP UP UP LID“. Just one transmission of “IF UP” to tell me, WD8RIF, that I had made an error. One short, polite, courteous transmission.

I have no idea who this polite ham was. If I did, I would send him an email thanking him for his short, polite message to me.  Maybe he’ll stumble upon this posting on QRPer.com and learn how much I appreciated his simple transmission to me.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2014 TEN-TEC hamfest cancelled due to pending move

TenTecLogoMany thanks to Mike (K8RAT) for sharing the following press release from Ten-Tec:

Dear Ten-Tec customers and friends,

Hamfest at Ten-Tec has been cancelled this year due to our plans to relocate in early fall.

After enjoying 46 years in our headquarters on Dolly Parton Parkway, we are actively seeking a new location in Sevierville that will offer more modern and energy-efficient facilities, a new showroom, and a much-needed upgrade in working environment for staff.

Our current facility and property are already under contract, and, as a result, they will not be available for our annual Hamfest open house and flea market. And, chances are, in September we’ll be neck-high in boxes and crates preparing for our move.

So, in lieu of our weekend Hamfest, we’re planning to celebrate the entire month of September with a moving sale, offering not-to-be-beat discounts and incomparable specials on Tentec.com.

Stay tuned for more details about the moving sale. And, in the meantime,  come see what’s new at Ten-Tec at Booths 548-550 at Dayton Hamvention, May 16-18.

Jim Wharton, NO4A

President

This is very sad to me as the Ten-Tec hamfest is one of my favorites of the year. I suppose the moving sale could make for a small consolation prize, though.

Posted in Announcements, News | Tagged | 1 Comment

Vibroplex to distribute SSB-Electronic products in US & Canada

buglogo_betsyI’ve just received word that Vibroplex is partnering with the European manufacturer SSB-Electronic to offer products like the Zeus ZS-1 SDR and Ecoflex cable to customers in the USA and Canada.

Vibroplex has stated that they are “offering introductory pricing for all SSB-Electronic products from now through the Dayton Hamvention will be posted [on the Vibroplex website] in the near future.  The complete SSB-Electronic product line will be available for shipment approximately April 21st.”

Read full details about this in the Vibroplex press release below:

VIBROPLEX LLC TO DISTRIBUTE SSB-ELECTRONIC PRODUCTS IN UNITED STATES AND CANADA

The Zeus ZS-1 SDR transceiver

The Zeus ZS-1 SDR transceiver

Top-of-the-line Ecoflex™ coaxial cable, the Zeus ZS-1 SDR transceiver and a revamped line of VHF preamps and accessory equipment are now available for delivery.

KNOXVILLE, TN. April 8, 2014 – SSB-Electronic GmbH and Vibroplex LLC are pleased to announce an exclusive agreement for Vibroplex to distribute the SSB-Electronic product line in the United States and Canada.

Already #1 for coaxial cable sales in the European Amateur Radio market, SSB’s EcoFlex™ cable features the lowest loss characteristics of any commercially available non-hardline cable and for price vs. loss characteristics tops many available small hardlines. EcoFlex™ is available in 6 different versions to meet any RF need through 6-8 GHz dependent on cable version. Need maximum signal delivered from the amp to the antenna? This will meet your needs.

SSB is well-known for their range of VHF high performance products including both standard and auto-switchable receive preamps, sequencers and switches. A completely revamped product line has been released for 2014.

The new Zeus ZS-1 SDR transceiver features outstanding specifications and an easy-to-use graphical user interface. This exciting new product will have a feature presentation at the upcoming Dayton Hamvention™.

Visit the distribution webpage at www.vibroplex.com for complete information.

About Vibroplex LLC:

Vibroplex is the oldest continuously operating business in Amateur Radio, in their 109th year. In addition to manufacturing a line of Morse Code keys for the hobby, they also currently distribute products for German radio companies Spiderbeam GmbH and Folding Antennas on an exclusive basis in the United States and Canada.

Contact:

VIBROPLEX LLC
Scott E. Robbins
2906-A2B Tazewell Pike
Knoxville, TN 37918 USA
(865) 309-5073
www.vibroplex.com
www.spiderbeam.us

Posted in Announcements, News, Software Defined Radio | Tagged , , | Leave a comment