Pairing my new Xiegu X6100 with a 31 foot speaker wire antenna (and avoiding RX overload)

Regular readers of QRPer.com might question the wording in my title since I’ve already posted several field reports and even a full review of the Xiegu X6100. So why would this X6100 be considered a “new” radio–?

Since I go over this in more detail in the activation video (linked and embedded below), I’ll give you the nutshell version here:

My activations with the X6100 early this year (2022) were all performed using a loaner unit sent to me by Radioddity. I kept that unit for a few weeks, shipped it on, and purchased one of my own.

In February, when I received the X6100 I purchased, I immediately noticed a small mechanical issue with the encoder.

This is the X6100 open. You can see the back of the encoder to the right of the ribbon cable.

I tried fixing it (with instructions received from Xiegu) but in the end had to return the transceiver for replacement.

The X6100 unit in this field report is my replacement–technically, the third X6100 I’ve had in my hands, and this was my first activation using it.

Many of you have asked why I haven’t taken the X6100 to the field more often this year and this is why. I basically didn’t have a functioning unit for most of February, March, and April. Radioddity was quite responsive to my issues with the X6100, but frankly I had a lot going on during that time frame so it took longer than normal to troubleshoot, modify, test, and send back the faulty unit.

Fortunately, the replacement X6100 has no encoder issues other than the brake is very tight. I’m not willing to break the warranty seal on this unit to adjust it, so I’ll just live with a much-tighter-than-I’d-like encoder.

[Update: Bob (W0BNC) points out that the tight brake is due to friction caused by a felt pad under the X6100 encoder knob. The remedy is to pull off the rubber ring around the encoder knob, loosen the set screw, lift the knob slightly off the body, and retighten. I’ll do this when I’m back with the X6100 after summer travels. Thanks, Bob!]

X6100 field kit test

This activation was also the perfect opportunity to test all of the components of a dedicated field kit I’m building around the X6100.

The kit consists of:

  • The Xiegu X6100 QRP transceiver,
  • a BNC binding post adapter,
  • paddles,
  • the X6100 battery charger,
  • a 31′ speaker wire antenna
  • 25 meters of 2mm throw line,
  • a weaver 8oz weight, and a
  • logging pad and pencil.

Everything, save the antenna, fits in my Red Oxx Hound EDC pack.

Eventually, I’ll replace the speaker wire with some thinner Wireman stuff and it should all fit in the Hound pack, albeit snuggly!

I’ve decided that the X6100 will live at my parents’ home in the NC foothills, so I’ll always have a field radio kit available while staying there overnight.

Lake Norman State Park (K-2740)

On May 9, 2002, an opportunity opened up in the afternoon to finally take my new X6100 to the field!

The weather couldn’t have been better: it was sunny, warm (but not too hot), and the relative humidity was low.

Honestly, it was perfect POTA weather!

Gear:

On the air

The brilliant thing about a speaker wire antenna like this one is that it’s so simple to deploy.

Just throw a line in a tree, pull the radiator up, lay the counterpoise on the ground in a straight line, and plug the BNC binding post adapter into the X6100. There’s not even a feed line to deal with.

I started my activation by hopping on the 20 meter band. It seemed like I was calling “CQ POTA” for quite a while before I worked two stations, so I decided to QSY to the 17 meter band.

Turns out, 17 meters was a no-go.

Ugh…overloading again

Herein lies my biggest gripe about the X6100: overloading.

On the 17 meter band the receiver overloaded and caused splatter in the audio up and down the band. This served as a reminder that (unfortunately) an external BCI filter is a necessity in any X6100 field kit. I need to build one.

I assume the overloading was due to a local AM broadcaster–one that has never affected any of my other transceivers–but I didn’t hang around to investigate. Instead, I QSYed to the 30 meter band.

Thirty meters turned out to be a much more productive band than 20 meters and overloading wasn’t a factor.

On 30 meters, I worked thirteen stations in 15 minutes.

I decided to then QSY to the 40 meter band and it, too, was in much better shape than 20 meters. I worked 6 stations in 6 minutes!

Having run out of time, called QRT after a total of 34 minutes on the air.

QSO Map

Here’s how well the speaker wire performed paired with the X6100 pushing 5 watts of power on 20, 30, and 40 meters:

Activation Video

Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, there are no edits during the activation and no ads. I have embedded chapters so you can skip through the video if you wish:

Click here to view on YouTube.

BTW: Folks ask why I don’t monetize my YouTube channel.

It’s because I don’t really consider myself a “YouTuber” and I don’t want ads interrupting the activation. Lots of subscribers use these videos for CW practice and if I were in their shoes, I would get frustrated with ads randomly popping in during the middle of copy. I want these videos to closely represent what it’s actually like in the field (where there are surprisingly no ads!).

Some of my favorite ham radio channels do monetize and I’ve no problem with that at all. I just prefer not doing it myself.

Thank you

Thank you for joining me on this lakeside afternoon activation!

Of course, I’d also 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.

If you’ve been out there activating or chasing during the past couple of months (May/June 2022) and found conditions to be rough, that’s because they are. It’s no reflection on you as an operator, it’s simply that propagation has been unstable and QSB very prominent. There are still excellent openings for DX although the windows can be short.

Since this field report on May 9, 2022, I’ve found it takes much longer to complete an activation.

As with fishing, bird-watching, or astronomy: simply take your time, keep your expectations in check, and enjoy the fresh air.

The contacts will all eventually come in…it might simply take a bit more patience.

Have a brilliant week everyone and I hope you all get a bit of radio therapy!

Cheers & 72/73,

Thomas (K4SWL)

17 thoughts on “Pairing my new Xiegu X6100 with a 31 foot speaker wire antenna (and avoiding RX overload)”

  1. Thomas, the tight encoder is an easy fix. Pull the rubber ring off the VFO knob, and you’ll find the set screw. Loosen it, pull the knob slightly off the body, and retighten.

    Bob, W0BNC

    1. Wow. You know, I never thought to try that! I was simply going by Xiegu’s suggestions, thus assumed it wasn’t a friction thing (as with the KX3 encoder, for example), but an adjustment to the encoder as I had to perform with the faulty X6100.

      When I’m back in the states, I’ll give this a go. Thanks!

      1. I have two of these, love em’ both. But both of their encoders were way too snug for my liking too. There is a thick felt pad on the bottom of the encoder that is just a little too snug to the body. Safe travels!

        1. Thank you, Bob. I just updated the field report with this info. Perhaps it can help others. I’ll adjust this when I’m back home after summer travels. TU OM.

          Cheers,
          Thomas

  2. The x6100 is a fun radio with a beautiful screen BUT…
    I find it terrible to use in daylight – even in shade. It operates great in the field but if you have to change any operating parameters such as CW speed I find it impossible to read the small RED lettering. I have sent this same comment to Xiegu hoping they would change the color to WHITE which is very readable in daylight. Just wonder how you work around this? Operate only in deep shade or never change parameters?

    1. I can’t remember where, but I either read a post or watched a video showing how to hack the code to have the red lettering display in white. It’s pretty involved as I recall–and I assume you’d have to re-do it with each future firmware upgrade?–so I decided to simply live with it. I’m with you, though: very difficult to read. They should simply change it for everyone.

    2. Seen a number of comments on the RED on the display. Is hard to see in day light. Saw someone rewrite the firmware to make the RED a WHITE, was much better. I would like to see Xiegu do the same, it could be in a firmware update.

  3. Interesting, thank you for sharing. I thought about this radio to have as a spare, but still above my budget at this time. I surely have to try the speaker wire!

    Thanks for all your posts.

    73
    wb8yxf

  4. Hi Thomas, I tried the 31foot radiator and 17foot counterpoise in the garden. I had mixed results with my KX2 in sloper configuration with a 6m pole, the KX2 struggled to find a good match on 20 and 40m. Maybe I need to get more height like you have straight up into the trees. I tried various lengths like reducing the length and I settled on 2x25feet as per the Elecraft manual. This seems to find a good match on 40/30/20/10. Only struggling on 17/15m. Just curious does the x6100 have a more capable tuner than the KX2 and what bands can you get a good match with? all? I know I could probably add a 9:1 but curious if you get the opportunity to comment. 73 Steve MW0SAW.

  5. A couple things. I have been admiring from afar, but just not biting… on the X6100 for awhile now. I just cannot justify the expense given the other equipment I own, even though my chronic FOMO is definitely triggered by this fascinating little rig. The fact it runs Linux… not sure how long I can hold out.

    I really like the high-quality and honest pix here that show just how (tragically) reflective the X6100 screen can be, especially outside in daylight. Has anyone experimented with any sort of polaroid or other type of screen protectors that may also cut down on this glare effect?

    In addition, I think it is important to note that hacks in the firmware, fun for those adept in software, are not otherwise for the faint-of-heart. Once done they need to be redone every time you accept a future Xeigu update, as any manufacturers update is likely to revert your code changes.

    1. Yeah…it’s such a mixed bag of a radio. The whole reason I purchased one was because of the Linux base and the thought that some interesting software might be developed by others. That said, I sort of regret it at times. I don’t enjoy using it as much as I’d like to.

      Thanks for confirming. I assumed if I hacked the code to make the letters white it would have to be re-coded with each flashed OS upgrade. That simply isn’t worth the effort.

  6. Excellent post as ever

    can I ask

    for a preference between the

    31 feet + 17 feet counterpoise Antenna
    and the

    25.8 feet + 25.8 feet counterpoise Antenna

    do they perform similarly ?

    1. They do, but I find the 28.5′ antenna is slightly easier to match and is shorter (of course) if you use a 17′ counterpoise. Either will work though and it’s super easy to trim the 31′ antenna to 28.5′.

  7. Great video, more about the operation this time than the park, hi.

    One comment on the tuner, it does more than make the rig happy, it will result in getting more power into the radiator, basic antenna theory. What the radiator does with this power is another issue.

    As you found the Chinese seem to not be able to design their operating parameters in rigs like the Japanese do. Like getting to the sending memories. Hit APP MODEM and they come up for sending. Storing is simpler except a lot of work moving thru the keyboard with the tuning knob. But as you said if dont use the radio often end up doing a learning session each time one takes it out.

    I received a X6100 from Radioddity in January, used it for 3 months and then it died. Had serious heat issue. Radioddity is great on service. They sent me return shipping label and a new X6100. Both rigs got very hot after 2 hours of rcv only. Wonder if you have experienced the same issue???

    X6100, IMHO, is a great radio for QRP, I would recommend it. But it is not a IC705 (my favorite QRP rig), or KX2/3, but they cost much more.

    73, ron, n9ee

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