Build a cardboard stand for the Elecraft KX3

KX3-Cardboard-Stand-2

Many thanks to Tomasz Pabich (SP7Q) for sharing his simple Instructables project for the Elecraft KX3: a cardboard stand.

Click here to view on Instructables.

KX3-Cardboard-Stand-1

I love how simple and affordable this project is! Thanks for sharing, Tomasz!

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HARA Arena to close, Dayton Hamvention to use new venue

[Originally posted on the SWLing Post]

Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)

Hara Arena (Source: Aesopposea via WikiMedia Commons)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor Eric (WD8RIF) for passing along the following news via WDTN and DARA (the Dayton Amateur Radio Association).

(Source: WDTN)

TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – The iconic venue brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for 60 years is closing their doors due to not being able to overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades.

“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” says Karen Wampler, Hara’s marketing director.
The loss will come in the form of $36 million in annual economic impact; youth, men’s and professional hockey programs; and the hundreds of events that called Hara home this past year.

“We had hoped to announce a new era at Hara, but are announcing the end of one, instead.” says Wampler. [Continue reading…]

(Source: Hamvention Press Release)

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) regrets to inform our many vendors, visitors and stakeholders that, unfortunately, HARA has announced the closing of their facility. We have begun execution of our contingency plan to move Hamvention® 2017 to a new home.

DARA and Hamvention® have enjoyed many successful years working together with HARA Arena and we wish the Wampler family the best.

DARA and Hamvention® have been working on a contingency plan in the event HARA would become unavailable. We have spent many hours over the last few years evaluating possible locations and have found one in the area we believe will be a great new home! Due to logistics and timing issues, we will make a formal announcement introducing our new partner. This information will be coming soon. We all believe this new venue will be a spectacular place to hold our beloved event. Please rest assured we will have the event on the same weekend and, since it will be in the region, the current accommodations and outside events already planned for Hamvention® 2017 should not be affected.

We look forward to your continued support as we move to a new future with The Dayton Hamvention®.
Ron Cramer
General Chairman
Dayton Hamvention 2017

Challenges for a new venue

Two years ago, I spoke with a DARA representative who told me about some of the contingency sites they had in mind should HARA Arena close its doors. Many of us attending the Hamvention had a strong feeling 2016 would be the last year at HARA Arena.

Though HARA was (and has been) in a poor state, the site is very large and has one very unique feature: it’s all on one level.

The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular and should hopefully be hosted on site.

The outdoor exhibits (flea market) portion of the Hamvention is very popular.

Most of the Dayton area contingency sites were on at least two levels with limited elevator facilities (a potential problem for the hundreds of attendees who use motorized carts).

I also learned that most of the Dayton area contingency sites had another problem: not enough space to have both the inside exhibits and the flea market hosted at the same venue. One contingency plan assumed the flea market might be relocated somewhere else nearby.

I hope the Site B will have the space for both the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Frankly, if these two portions of the Hamvention are separated, I suspect it will have a very negative impact on attendance numbers. Let’s hope this won’t be the case.

In terms of facilities, almost anything else will feel more modern and cleaner than HARA Arena. I just hope it can accommodate 20,000+ attendees as well.

When DARA announces the new site, I will post the information here.  Simply follow the tag: Hamvention.

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National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations today

IMG_20160519_105823050_HDR

En route to the 2016 Dayton Hamvention, I’m doing a few National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) activations with my my buddy, Eric (WD8RIF).

Eric is currently the number one activator in the state of Ohio.

NPOTA is a great excuse to get outdoors and play radio.

For me, it’s a great excuse to test the LNR Precision LD-11 and my new QRP Ranger portable power pack.

IMG_20160519_101759179

I am loving the new QRP Ranger power pack–it is the solution I decided on after publishing this post a few weeks ago. It’s a little pricey, but it’s built like a tank, very lightweight, includes a charge controller made specifically for the LiFePo cells, and made here in the USA. It also had a very readable LED display that my buddy Eric says is, “reminiscent of the displays on the Apollo 11 module.” He’s kind of right!

It’s so nice to have both a volmeter and ammeter on the front panel.

IMG_20160519_111039495

 

We just finished activating the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (I’m writing this post while Eric drives us to our next activation). I made 12 contacts running SSB at 8 watts. Eric made 16 contacts via CW at 5 watts.

We have planned two more activations this afternoon:

  • Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument at 16:30 UTC
  • Dayton Aviation Herital National Historical Park at 21:00 UTC

I’ll be calling CQ on 14.290 MHz and 7.290 MHz +/-.

Please hop on the air listen and/or answer my call if you’re a ham!

Of course, tomorrow through Sunday, you can find us at the Dayton Hamvention in booth SA0359 in the Silver Arena.

Hope to see you there!

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The Elecraft KX2 : a “Fit-In-Your-Pocket size” transceiver

On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.

On my way this morning to FDIM and the 2016 Dayton Hamvention.

Since I own the Elecraft KX3, Elecraft K2 and the Elecraft KX1, I’m excited to see that Elecraft has announced a new addition to their product line: the Elecraft KX2. Elecraft will feature the KX2 at Four Days In May (FDIM) and the Dayton Hamvention.

I am attending vendor’s night at FDIM and the full Dayton Hamvention. I will post photos of the KX2 here–follow updates by bookmarking the tag KX2.

Full details from the Elecraft press release, via Southgate ARC, below:

Elecraft-Logo

(Source: Southgate ARC)

New KX2 radio to be announced this Thursday at the Dayton Hamvention 2016

Hello to all,

We are please to announce a new radio to complement the KX3 and the KX-Line.  Here are the details.

What:  Elecraft announces the KX2, Ultra-portable radio
When:  Thursday, May 16th, 1300Z
Where:  Four Days In May QRP event, part of the Dayton Hamfest activities

Elecraft is excited to announce a new radio targeting the Ultra-portable market with a Fit-In-Your-Pocket size.  Please see the attached brochure for details.

Pricing
– KX2:  $749.00

– Options and accessories:  Please see the table below for pricing.  Also see the FAQ for details.

Ordering/Availability

Distributors are encouraged to order both the KX2 and accessories now.  The KX2 is already in production and early ordering will ensure your position for deliveries.

Note that the KX2 will be available in full, factory-built form only.  There will be 2 internally-installed options available immediately.  See the FAQ for more details.

Marketing Collateral Available

You will find a new section in the Elecraft Egnyte repository that contains:

– The attached brochure in editable form for you to translate and convert to local printing formats.
– A KX2 Date Sheet
– A KX2 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in editable form
– Hi Resolution images for use with your marketing and web site content

Special Note on the new KX2 Battery and Charger system

– Elecraft will be stocking the KXBT2 (Li-ion Battery) and the KXBC2 (Li-ion Charger) for your to order.
– We have also arranged for you to purchase both items directly from our supplier, Tenergy (www.tenergy.com)
– Please see the attached document, KX2 Battery info v1.0, with the details.

Along with many of the Elecraft team, I’ll be in Dayton to launch the KX2 but will be able to answer questions as needed.

Again, we are excited to offer you increased business opportunities with the KX2 launch!

Cheers,

David

KX2-Table

KX2-Table-2

KX2-Table-3

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European hams announce NEW RADIO – a dual-band, multi-mode radio to support DMR, D-STAR and C4FM

[The following post was originally published on the SWLing Post by contributor, Robert Gulley AK3Q.]
NEW RADIO, DMR, D-STAR, C4FM, System Fusion, mobile, radio, ham radio, amateur radio, VA3XPR, dual-band, multi-mode, FM, chassis

An announcement has been made by Kurt, OE1KBC and reported by concerning a multi-mode radio combining various digital modes. The radio/computer is called simply NEW RADIO and is a joint initiative of the ÖVSV, DARC and IARU R1. As stated in Don’s article:

the “NEW RADIO” that will operate on the 2m & 70cm bands and support the most common ham digital modes, including DMR, D-STAR and C4FM (System Fusion), plus analog FM. As reported in the article, the NEW RADIO has been created by hams for the ham radio community will feature a colour touch screen display, 50W of power output, a 1.8 GHz processor, a Linux operating system, plus dual AMBE+ vocoders, allowing for full-duplex, cross-band operation. Also, one of the biggest features of the NEW RADIO is that it will include a built-in LTE wireless modem and SIM card allowing it to be Internet connected while on the go. Apparently, with it being Internet connected, the NEW RADIO will be able to automatically download frequencies, offsets, contacts and other configuration information on the go, allowing for instant updates for users. (The full article may be found here.)

I certainly hope this radio really is “ready for Prime Time” soon as it might very well fill a big need by allowing use of multiple systems without the need to carry around a radio for each digital mode. I suspect many hams have hesitated to jump on the digital bandwagon simply because of not knowing which standard would have dominance. Nobody wants to relieve the VHS/Beta experience! (Yes, I am dating myself here!)

If anyone gets a look at this radio at Dayton I hope you will share with us your impressions!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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Stop by our booth at the Dayton Hamvention next week!

Hamvention-2016

For the sixth year in a row at the Dayton Hamvention, fellow volunteers and I will be representing the charity Ears To Our World (ETOW).

I always enjoy meeting SWLing Post and QRPer.com readers who stop by our booth to introduce themselves.

Note: New Booth Location

We’ve been moved to a new table this year: SA0359 in the Silver Arena. Indeed, we may have two tables set up: one with Ears To Our World information and another with soldering irons to build HumanaLight kits.

DaytonMap-ETOW-SWLingPost-e1463141626601

Here’s the full map for reference (PDF).

If you’re not familiar with Ears To Our World and our mission to empower children and teachers in the third word through radio and other technologies, check out our website.

HumanaLights!

HumanaLight-Front

Note that this year we will also give away our HumanaLight kits to those who donate $15 or more to ETOW (while supplies last). 

Look forward to meeting you in Dayton!

-Thomas (K4SWL)

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73 Radio Row: A retailer with QRP goodies

73RR Logo - B

(Source: 73 Radio Row press release)

A new website designed for radio amateurs, SWL’ers, CB’ers and all communications hobbyists has launched on the Internet recreating the atmosphere of the famed Radio Row in New York City.

According to its founder, Richard Fisher, KI6SN, “’73 Radio Row’ takes its cue from an era when New York’s legendary radio district bustled with communications fanatics shopping for surplus and used gear along Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan.” 73 Radio Row’s Web address is: http://www.73RadioRow.com

The site features used radio receivers, transmitters and transceivers, as well as unbuilt kits, new/old stock antennas, Morse instruments and station accessories of all kinds.

“We are crazy about radio, the same as everyone else,” Fisher said. “RETRO is NOWtro.” For complete details, visit: http://www.73RadioRow.com or write to: 73RadioRow@gmail.com. Call (951) 395-1923.

I discovered 73 Radio Row right after it launched–I ordered a portable ER TiCK Deluxe Keyer for the very affordable price of $26 US shipped.

IMG_20160507_073723040-001

The keyer was dispatched immediately and I received it within a couple of days.

I just noticed, this morning, that Richard has listed an American Morse Equipment Precision Straight Key for $35.

KK1+-+A

I know Richard Fisher (KI6SN) quite well and can certainly vouch for his integrity. In fact, he’s even giving a portion of 73 Radio Row proceeds to Ears To Our World–what a nice guy!

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The new LNR Precision LD-11 transceiver is essentially general coverage

[FYI: This is a re-post from my blog, the SWLing Post]

LNR-Precision-LD-11

A couple weeks ago, LNR Precision sent me their new LD-11 Digital Direct Conversion QRP transceiver on loan for review.

The LD-11 is basically a small, tabletop SDR transceiver. It’s like a miniature, simplified version of the Icom IC-7100 I’ve also been evaluating.

The LD-11 is an all-mode and all-band transceiver–meaning, it includes SSB, CW, CW-R, Digi, AM and FM modes on all amateur radio bands (160 – 10 meters).

Though the LD-11 isn’t advertised as having a general coverage receiver, it will indeed tune the entire HF band.

You do this by entering the LD-11’s administration mode. LNR describes this in the LD-11 product manual, but suggests you contact them for help the first time you do this. In the admin panel, you’ll find functions that allow you to set the band edges on each amateur radio band.

For a preliminary test of broadcast reception, I moved the lower band edge of the 30 meter ham radio band to 8.2 MHz.

LNR-Precision-LD-11-front panel

After saving the settings and re-starting the LD-11 in normal operation mode, I could then tune the entire 31 meter broadcast band on the LD-11.

Hypothetically, you could either widen each amateur radio band to include adjacent broadcast bands, or you could simply set one of the ham bands to include the entire HF spectrum. To make it easier to navigate and tune through the bands, I’m choosing the former method over the latter.

Since the LD-11 has a proper AM mode, broadcasts sound great–especially via headphones!

Proper AM filters for broadcast reception!

Better yet?  The AM filter width can be widened to an impressive 9.6 kHz! Woo hoo!

LNR-LD-11-Shortwave-AM

The LD-11 has four filter slots: F1, F2, F3 and F4.

The F1-F3 slots can be set to a fixed user-defined widths (common widths are default).

F4 can be altered to any available filter width without having to enter the admin mode of the transceiver. Simply press the “F” (blue function button) and the FILTER button simultaneously and use the encoder/tuning knob to specify the filter width in .1 kHz steps. Pressing the F and FILTER button simultaneously again, will save your filter width for the F4 position.

I’ve been using the F4 filter position for widths between about 8.2 and 9.6 kHz in AM.

It’s still early days with the LD-11, but I’m enjoying this little transceiver immensely. It reminds me of one of my favorite QRP transceivers of yesteryear: the Index Labs QRP Plus (though the LD-11 is much smaller, more versatile and has a much better front end than the QRP Plus!).

LNR Precision sold out all of their first run LD-11 units within moments of having announced availability. I’m willing to bet they’ll bring a few LD-11s to the upcoming Dayton Hamvention, though.

Check inventory status and view LD-11 details on LNR Precision’s website. 

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Steve’s new “Station Base” for the torsion bar key

tbp2_threeqrtleftweb

Many thanks to Steve (W1SFR) who writes:

Hi Tom,

Here’s a pic of the new “Station Base” for the portable torsion bar key. The rubber feet unscrew and can then be attached to the key base. It’s really solid on the desk but the whole thing only weighs about 12oz.

http://kx3helper.com/single-lever-portable-tb-key/#jp-carousel-596

72/73,
Steve—W1SFR

That’s one handsome little key there, Steve. I like the base addition. Thanks for sharing!

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Heard VK0EK on the radio

[QRPers: Please note that the following is a re-post from my shortwave radio blog, the SWLing Post.]

Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)

Heard Island (Image: VK0EK)

Regular SWLing Post readers know that I’m a ham radio operator (call sign K4SWL). Being a shortwave radio enthusiast, of course, I spend most of my time on the air in the HF portion of the amateur radio spectrum. Contacting distant stations and connecting with other ham radio operators around our little planet gives me immense joy.

Most of you also probably know that I’m a fan of all things Antarctic, so it should come as no surprise that I really wanted to work VK0EK: the Heard Island DXpedition.

Thing is, my life has been so hectic lately, I’ve barely been home during the Heard Island DXpedition (March 29th – April 11th). And the days I have been home, VK0EK’s signals have been incredibly weak.

In short: timing and propagation were all working against me.  And VK0EK was soon to pack up and come back home. I was becoming desperate…and beginning to lose hope that I’d make any contact with this unique and rare entity in the isolated stretch of ocean between Madagascar and Antartica.

"Antennas with a clearing" on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)

“Antennas with a clearing” on Heard Island (Photo by Bill, AE0EE)

My hope was waning.  Then, Tusday evening, I gave a presentation about shortwave radio at the Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Club. On the hour-long drive home, I stopped by my good friend Vlado’s (N3CZ) to confess my troubles to the radio doc.

Now it just happens that Vlado has a much better antenna set-up to work DX than I do, and what’s more, (close your ears, fellow QRPers) he has an amplifier.

Most importantly, though, Vlado is a keen DXer.  He’s got 330 countries under his belt, and ever up for a challenge, routinely pushes himself to accomplish more with less. In January, with members of the local club, he entered a QRP challenge; he had 100 countries worked by the following month, all in his spare time. And a few years ago, Vlado actually built a radio of his own design and worked 100 countries within two months (you can read about that here).

So, of course, he was game to help me make a contact…even if it was a long shot.  A very long shot.

Juan de Nova

When I arrived at Vlado’s QTH around 21:00 local, VK0EK was impossibly weak, so we focused our efforts on 30 meters and FT4JA: the Juan de Nova Island DXpedition (another all-time new one for me).

A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)

A portion of the FT4JA antenna farm. (Image: FT4JA)

After more than an hour of calling, FT4JA finally heard my call and (woo hoo!) I was confirmed in their log.

But what about Heard Island?

penguin-chow-line4_6-1600px

After working FT4JA, we moved down to 40 meters where VK0EK was slightly louder than before. Well, maybe it’s not impossible, I thought hopefully. Just next to it.

Between QSB (fading) and tuner-uppers, my ears were bleeding trying to hear Heard’s minuscule CW signal–so faint, so distant were they.

After only about ten minutes of steady calling, Vlado made a sign to get my attention, and we strained to listen, very carefully.

VK0EK came back very faintly with just one letter incorrect in my call–it was enough that I didn’t catch it at first. But Vlado heard it, and after sending the call back a couple of times, then the report, VK0EK confirmed my call with a signal report, and I reciprocated.

Vlad and I leapt to our feet, yelling, “WOO HOO!” (and hopefully didn’t wake up any of Vlad’s neighbors).

Heard Island is actually running an online log that is updated live. We immediately looked there to confirm I was in their log, and was greeted with this great circle map and a line from Heard Island to my call sign in the States. Vlado made this screen capture as a momento:

k4swl VK0EK 40m cw 0231 april4 2016

Here’s to good friends and mentors

In one incredible evening, I snagged two all-time new ones–and I owe it all to my good buddy, Vlado. Most importantly, I’ve been learning so much from him as he patiently coaches me through some weak DX with serious pileups. Plus it’s just always fun hanging around Vlado, the best broken radio doctor I know, to whom “challenge” is…well, a piece of cake.

Thanks Vlado, for your enthusiasm and patience–I’m lucky to have a friend like you!

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