If you’ve been reading QRPer for long, you’ll note that I’ve become quite a fan of the uber-compact Elecraft AX1 antenna.
Not only has the AX1 never let me down, but it can even outperform my other antennas in terms of snagging contacts during an activation. Yes, it can even work some DX as well.
Normally, I pair the AX1 antenna with my Elecraft KX2 (above) or KX3 (below).
I’ve even paired the AX1 directly to my Icom IC-705 using a homebrew simple capacity hat (thanks again for that idea LY2H!)
The AX1 needs a little help from an antenna tuner (ATU) to get a match across the 40, 20, and 17 meter bands. Of course, I could always mount the AX1 on a tripod and attach an in-line ATU, but I love the simplicity and speed of setup when paired directly to a transceiver that sports an internal ATU. To be clear, the Icom IC-705 has no internal ATU, but I was able to get away with using a capacity hat to match impedance on 20 meters.
The new Xiegu X6100 (above) has an internal ATU–a good one at that! As soon as I took delivery of this loaner unit from Radioddity, I plotted hooking it up to my AX1 to see how it might shake out in the field!
The X6100 lacks only one thing that the KX2, KX3, and IC-705 have: a good, accessible grounding point on the chassis. The AX1 needs a counterpoise to operate efficiently.
That’s really not a problem, though–easy fix. I recently stopped by an auto parts store and picked up an assortment of clamps. I found the two that best fit the shield of the AX1’s BNC connector. I then made a short cable with those clamps which allows me to clamp to the BNC shield to my AX1 counterpoise wires. A simple and very cheap solution!
With all of the parts in place, on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, I made my way to the Blue Ridge parkway to attempt an activation with this X6100 AX1 combo!
Blue Ridge Parkway (K-3378)
Since much of the Blue Ridge Parkway is shut down this time of year, I’ve been going to the Folk Art Center for quick POTA activations.
It’s starting to feel a bit like my outdoor home office!
- Xiegu X6100
- Elecraft AX1 packed in a Maxpedition Fatty Pouch
- CW Morse “Pocket Paddle”
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Rite In The Rain Weatherproof Cover/Pouch (affiliate link)
- Rite In The Rain Notepad (not used during the activation, ironically)
- Jovitec 2.0 mm Mechanical Pencil (affiliate link)
- Muji A6 Notepad (affiliate link)
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
- Fingerless gloves (affiliate link)
I didn’t bring my portable shovel to scrape off the frozen clumps of snow, so I just worked around it on the table and bench.
First, I deployed both my 40 meter and 20 meter AX1 counterpoises. Next, I set the X6100 in a snow free spot on the table, and then started my activation video (see below).
Attaching the AX1 to the X6100 was very easy. The only issue–one that will be easy to fix for future activations–is the BNC on the X6100 sits higher than those on the KX2 and KX3. This meant that the AX1 Bipod legs were positioned much closer together to touch the table surface and provide stability. This made the center of gravity more narrow over the support base the Bipod legs provided.
In future activations with the X6100/AX1, I can attach extensions to make the legs a bit longer and the base wider.
Since it wasn’t a windy day, I was able to make it work as-is. Although I worried the AX1 my topple, it never did.
On The Air
Almost immediately after I started calling CQ, the sun started warming up the snow in the tree branches above and little drips of water started falling.
Just perfect! Ha ha!
Actually, I have both a mylar “space blanket” and emergency sleeping bag in my SOTA pack, so I simply pulled out the sleeping bag and used it to protect most of the front of the radio.
Throughout the activation, water dripped on me, but I managed to protect the X6100 which was the important bit (especially since it wasn’t actually my radio!).
I didn’t call CQ for long before I started logging stations.
On 40 meters, I logged 8 contacts in 9 minutes.
I then moved up to the 20 meter band where I worked an additional 11 contacts in 10 minutes.
Normally, I would have stoped there, but I wanted to see if the X6100 could load the AX1 antenna on 17 meters as well. I switched the AX1 to 17 meters, pressed the ATU button and got a quick match.
I wasn’t sure if it was even realistic to expect a 17M contact, so I was very pleased when I heard Dennis (KI5LKS) calling from Texas and put him in the logs!
Here’s my real-time, real-life, no-edit activation video. As always, there are no pop-up ads to interrupt your slumber as my video plays in the background: 🙂
An effective combo!
The only improvement I need to make is to add some extensions on the AX1 Bipod legs to increase the base of support. That should be quite easy, in fact.
I’m very pleased the X6100 could so easily match the AX1. I’m *almost* tempted to buy a second AX1 to keep in my future X6100 field kit (did I mention I purchased an X6100? I think so.).
But two AX1 antennas for one radio op? That’s crazy talk.
Or is it?
(See how I easily I talk myself into these things? Someone send for help!)
I’d like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support. I’m honored and most grateful!
I hope you have an opportunity to play radio in the near future.