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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LRN Precision announces two new QRP transceivers: the LD-11 and MTR5B

LNR-MountainTopper-LD11-Announcement

LNR Precision announced two new QRP transceivers this weekend: the MTR5B and LD-11.

Below, you can find details I pulled from LNR’s press release and website for both units:

LNR-Precision-LD-11

The LD-11

The LD-11 is a new 11-band QRP transceiver based on the LNR’s LD-5 transceiver. The LD-11 covers from the 6 meter band down to the 160 meter band. A new feature on this model is a built-in panadapter. AM/FM/SSB and CW modes are all included.

Here is the description from LNR’s website:

The new LD-11 is Digital Direct Conversion, SDR type, build-in CPU (SM32a) DSP radio in which RF signals are directly converted to a digital data via differential and balanced A/D converters. This enables direct sampling with extremely low phase and floor noise.

The DSP is unique and features two independent channels. It also employs a unique differential algorithm within the software which is applied for IQ processing of the channels with phase suppression of the unwanted side-band channel.

The balanced ADC and DAC gives additional noise floor reduction and the receiver can handle interfering signals that are 100 dB stronger than the desired signal at a frequency separation of 10 kHz, and is about 130 dB stronger at 50 kHz separation. As the receiver and transmitter are using the same DSP channel, there is no gap between the receiver performance and the transmitter performance. Thus, there is a clean neighborhood on the bands. At the development stage, our intentions were motivated by the TX side-band noise of existing SDR manufacturers, so our aim was to fully equalize our transmitter to have noise performance that is compatible with the best modern receivers, or even better. After a arduous year of development , we think we achieved it!

This 11+ band radio is based on the LD-5, which has proven to be one of the most exciting QRP transceivers introduced in the last few years. Quite frankly, the performance rivals high end units offered by other manufactures at a much lower price point. Our motto is that we make QRP transceivers that you will want to take out in the field (without fear of breaking the bank).

LNR-Precision-LD-11-L-Side LNR-Precision-LD-11-R-Side

Note: I will review the LD-11 in the coming weeks and post images and notes here on QRPer.com.

MTR5B

The MTR5B

The new MTR5B 5-Band Mountain Topper is a fully-assembled 5-band CW transceiver KD1JV designs “Steve Weber” kit. The following are specifications/features from the LNR website:

40M, 30M, 20M, 17M, 15M
Size: 4.337″L x 3.153″W x 1.008″T
Weight: approx 6.4 OZ.

Features:

  • Switch selected 40/30/20/17/15 meter bands (no band modules to lose or change out)
  • Wide operating voltage range, 6 to 12 volts 15 ma Rx current at 12V supply
  • Efficient transmitter. Low current with 4W output
  • LCD display
  • Push button or Optional rotary tuning
  • 24 hour clock built in, with battery back up
  • Three 63 character programmable message memories
  • Message beacon mode with adjustable pause time

MTR5B-1

If you were lucky enough to grab a first production unit of either of these radios, I would love to post your overview/review! I’m looking forward to checking out the LD-11.

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W1SFR’s New Portable Torsion Bar Key

TBP3qtrLftFront(Source: W1SFR)

New Portable Torsion Bar Key Announced by W1SFR
Jan 12, 2016—Sudbury, VT

Many of you know W1SFR from the End Fed random wire antennas that have become very popular with QRP ops around the world. The antenna design is not new and has handed down by many hams over many years, but Steve has managed to create quite a following due to his attention to construction and only using the best of materials…all at a very reasonable price.

Now he has applied that same attention to detail and high value to his new “TBP” (Torsion Bar Portable) key. Torsion bar keys use a unique combination of construction and design to provide the CW op with a different experience…one that users are saying very good things about. All of his keys feature a contact system that allows the key lever to make a “softer” contact allowing the very slightest movement when the contact post hits the stainless contact. That not only makes the key feel less “mechanical”, but also makes it much more quiet…a feature these keys are known for.

“ I make each key by hand and top them off with my trademark exotic wood finger pieces with a signature Mother-Of-Pearl dot on each finger piece…no CNC plastic here. The torsion system allows very close contact spacing and effortless CW. The TBP represents a much smaller version of my larger keys, designed to be at home in the field or in the shack.”

The new portable key follows W1SFR’s TBKII, a single lever key and the TBSK, a torsion bar straight key.

You can see all of the keys at W1SFR.com.

Note: Steve also tells me that he lowered his prices for the Christmas season and has decided to extend them for the month of January. Click here to check out his product line.

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Upcoming QRP Field Event:
“Freeze Your B___ Off”, Saturday, February 6

The Arizona ScQRPions (link) annual winter QRP sprint, “Freeze Your B___ Off“, happens on Saturday, February 6 this year. FYBO is an event in which QRPers are encouraged to take their stations afield in the winter, and the colder it is “at the key”, the larger a score multiplier a participant gets.  Complete rules for FYBO can  be found here:

http://www.azscqrpions.org/FYBO2016_Rules.htm

My logbook tells me I first participated in FYBO in 1997 and that I had a blast, and I’ve participated in FYBO almost every year since then.

With this year’s strong El Niño and weird weather there’s no telling at this point whether a particular location will be unseasonably warm or bitterly cold, wet or dry, sunny or snowy but whatever the weather you find on February 6, take your station outdoors and have some wintertime radio fun!

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Ten-Tec has a new owner with a long-term vision

TenTecLogoMany thanks to several readers who sent a link to this discussion by software engineer, John Henry (KI4JPL) on the Ten-Tec email discussion group:

I wanted to bring people up to date on what is happening right now.

I had a discussion with the new owner last night, and I wanted to relay some information.

He is now officially the new owner of TEN-TEC.

He is planning the rigs and amplifiers and other accessory products to engineer and to manufacture for the coming year to cover the purchase and expenses for the year, working on the details of the various plans for service, sales, and marketing, etc.

Don’t underestimate the amount of time and planning and effort that this business strategy planning maintaining overhead etc stuff takes.

Learning lessons from the past to help the future of the company be more viable.

What will you see? and when?

Planning on having the OMNI-VII back in production in 1st quarter 2016, hoping to ship in 2nd quarter 2016.

Dayton, He will be there, going to try to get the same TEN-TEC booth/booths as possible. Showcasing the existing products, and possibly something new based on the existing products, time will tell.

He did say that he will either bring back the Orion II or have an Orion III. Time frame is tbd. could be as early as end of 2016 or Dayton 2017????

There might be improvements/changes to certain rigs, e.g. maybe there will be an OMNI-VII+ maybe an OMNI-VIII in a year???

The Eagle will go back into production some time after the 1st OMNI-VII run.

Prices will return to the original pre liquidation sale prices when the new website is up so that each will be at a point that will make enough profit to make the company viable. Other features will get added where possible.

TEN-TEC was actually shipping a $200 bill with every one of a specific model that it sold this last year.

There were so many ways that TEN-TEC has been hemorrhaging over the last couple of years, and even back a bit further, that changes will have to be made. Some the public won’t like, but then the alternative is that TEN-TEC would close forever.

Also remember, it was made public that the two owners of RKR were looking for a new owner, and how many stood up to say “I’ll buy it/fund it/save it”. This gentleman did and will do what he has to do to keep the brands alive.

There are plans to bring back some VERY good products, items that have been big sellers for TEN-TEC just a few years ago, and were profitable and have been requested for quite some time.

Also, there are still commercial orders coming in that will be there for maybe another year or two using the same RX331/RX340 platforms that will help him maintain a cash flow that will help realize amateur market production runs. There might be a need in the future to try to raise some more capital if certain plans come to fruition with commercial and fema customers, if those work out, may need to raise some cash to buy the parts, so there might be a gofundme funding campaign set up, where amateur customers can help donate to purchase the parts, and then part of or all of or x times the amount of the donation is taken off of their next order of a TEN-TEC product > a certain dollar amount. No, don’t look for exchanging your $100 donation to cover 1/2 of a Rebel, that won’t happen, Talking a major product, e.g. an OMNI-VII, or a high powered amp….. To do this first class, we need a 200K capital infusion for a new factory building and some new equipment to replace that was liquidated if anyone cares to step
up and accelerate our success. 400K would give us the facility, equipment and capitol to put everything back in production to a stocking basis and allow us to complete the Orion III. If 400 people will give us 1K each, we will commit to the Orion III of your dreams in 18-24 months and give you 2K off the target price of 5K as well as engrave your name and call on a plaque on the new building that says you helped build it and save TEN TEC.

Where do I fit in?

No, I’m not the owner, but I am going to do whatever I can in the evenings to ensure that TEN-TEC is a success. I want to see it be a success, and maintain what can be maintained of the people, and improve it’s image/products/etc back to where they were years ago. The owner is quite insistent that I remain intimately involved with TEN-TEC even if it is on a part time basis. It is my choice of how much or little I spend on TEN-TEC
and the door is assuredly left open for me to come and go as I please. He wants me to be the VP of Engineering, but, well, time will tell how all of this plays out.

I am also working on digital modes for HRD, so, my evenings are quite interesting.

In the future, who knows?

Where do you fit in?

Be patient, this is a total reboot of a company, ripping away the excess that bleeds it dry (e.g. high rent, using an MRP system that costs $$$$ monthly when something is already in place to take care of it, changing to a cost effective internet/phone system, so many “luxuries” will be removed and put in their place the necessities to get business going profitably), and building the business and products with the key employees to make it strong again. You build the employees, the employees build the company. But it will take time.

The products are there, the technology is also there for the future (some things that were in the works that no one in the public knows about) that the new owner has a plan to finish soon.

Actually, TEN-TEC does need to take the time it will take to make it a success. Otherwise if he runs headlong into this as was done in the past, he will fail. If people buy rigs and amps and tuners and other accessories elsewhere in the meantime, well, that is their decision. The market continually has new and continued customers. existing customers periodically look for something new, enough of a continual market that should sustain itself for years.

The new products coming out that are planned include continuances of good known technology, and of course some are a step ahead of what is in the market today, and you will see those in 1-2-3 years.

I will not divulge nor answer speculation on anything further than what I have stated above as to what products, when, etc. I can also tell you is that the owner has emphatically stated to me that this the last time Ten Tec will change hands for the next 15-20 years or so as he is my age and plans for us both to operate it until we are in our 70s or physically unable to continue, so Ten Tech could not be in the hands of anyone more SERIOUSLY long term goal oriented. He has wanted Ten Tech for a long time for the excellent DSP AGC technology built in to our transceivers so I think it is safe to say that there will be future generations of the Omni, and Orion style units as finances permit. But again in order for this to happen it is critical that YOU support TEN TEC by purchasing existing TEN TEC products. Look for the Omni 7+ next year.

So, whereas he still wants to remain anonymous until his formal announcement in the first quarter, I myself am convinced that this will work, enough so to help him wherever I can, and so are the key core employees at TEN-TEC. If anything, our message at this time is please be patient with the negativity. There are other things happening behind the scenes which can not yet be publically discussed before they are finished.

If this sounds like cheerleading, well, then so be it, I care about TEN-TEC, the people, the legacy, and will do what I can to make it a success, and, if this fails, well, we will give it a valiant effort.

Please understand that I have other commitments from now until Monday next week that I may not be able to respond/answer questions until then. But do realize, that I have disclosed about as much as I can for now.
This statement came from a draft I created, and the new owner gave me inputs on, which items he felt like disclosing now, etc. So, there may be some he/I/our’s mixed up, but I hope the message from him is clear. TEN-TEC is something he is passionate about, and is committed to making it a success. Yes, there are trials and tribulations, but, he is convinced he can do it, and I will do whatever I can to assist, and so will various core TEN-TEC individuals.

73, KI4JPL

John Henry

This is a most interesting development. As many of you know, I’ve always loved Ten-Tec equipment–I consider their receivers to be some of the best on the market. It’s been a tough few years for them and I certainly hope the new owner can inject some energy and innovation behind the brand. I will post updates as they become available.

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Mountain Topper Radio review by G0POT

MountainTopperRadio-MTR-Via-LNR-Precision

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Michael Sansom G0POT has released a video review of the LNR Precision version of the MTR, Mountain Topper Radio, a three band, CW only, QRP trail friendly transceiver

Watch Michael’s Mountain Topper Radio review below:

G0POT https://twitter.com/DrOrthogonal

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