After returning from Canada this summer, I had a number of projects on the table including three radios to evaluate and a number of DIY projects on our investment house. The home projects took priority, so for the month of August, I did very little in terms of POTA activating.
In September, there was one radio in particular I was very eager to take to the field (besides the Penntek TR-45L). That was my Elecraft KX1, “Ruby.”
Before leaving for Canada, Ruby went into surgery once again under the care of my good friend “Dr.” Vlado (N3CZ).
I couldn’t figure out why she kept dropping power output to nil after being on the air for 20-25 minutes. I knew Vlado would sort out the issue.
Vlado discovered the source was a cold solder joint that was failing when the radio would become warm from operating. He fixed this and checked a number of other spots on the board.
He then tested the KX1 on a dummy load for and hour and she performed flawlessly after the surgery.
He fixed Ruby in early June and then we went to Canada for two months. I never put Ruby on the air in Canada.
After our return to the States, I was eager to take Ruby out to the field again and that’s exactly what I did on Sunday, September 11, 2022.
Lake James State Park (K-2739)
Lake James State Park–along with South Mountains State Park–are the easiest parks for me to hit during my nearly weekly travels on Interstate 40. I feel so fortunate that both are superb POTA sites with loads of spots to operate.
I arrived in the late afternoon and to my surprise there was hardly anyone at the park (I think it was a little too close to evening mealtime for families).
I set up my station at a table close to the parking area just to keep things simple. I was looking forward to enjoying at least 30 minutes on the air and seeing just how well Ruby might hold up.
I decided to use the Tufteln End-Fed Random Wire antenna knowing it would be a quick to deploy and frequency agile.
I tried to use the KX1 ATU to tune the random wire, but I wasn’t pleased with the SWR. Frankly, it was doable (1.9:1 on 20 meters), but I wanted something much closer to 1:1 since I was already only pushing 2.5-3 watts output.
Keep in mind, the KX1’s internal ATU is not in the same league as the ones in the Elecraft KX2, KX3, or T1–the KX1 ATU has a much smaller matching range.
Also, I suspect Ruby’s ATU wasn’t built for optimal performance by the original builder. I do plan to re-work her ATU as best I can at some point in the future.
I pulled out the Elecraft T1, put the KX1 ATU in bypass mode, and hooked it up to the antenna. The T1 had no problem at all finding 1:1 matches across 40, 30, and 20 meters, of course.
- Elecraft KX1 Field Kit
- Pelican 1060 Weatherproof Case (affiliate link)
- Sony SRS-XB12 portable wireless speaker (no longer produced–eBay search)
- Elecraft T1 ATU
- Tufteln Elecraft T1 case
- TufteIn EFRW QRP Antenna Long Wire
- CW Morse CNC Machined Aluminum Paddle
- Spec-Ops Brand T.H.E. Pack EDC
- Camera: OSMO Action Camera with Joby tripod (affiliate links)
On The Air
Within 13 minutes, I worked the ten stations needed to validate this activation. I worked an additional four stations in 6 minutes on 20 meters, then QSYed to the 30 meter band.
30 meters was hopping! I worked station after station–15 stations in fourteen minutes. I was very pleased.
I would liked to have continued the activation, but I needed to grab dinner and move on to my next destination.
Here are my (somewhat legible) logs:
Here’s what this 3 watts or less activation looked like when plotted out on a QSO Map:
Here’s my real-time, real-life video of the entire activation. As with all of my videos, I don’t edit out any parts of the on-air activation time.
In addition, I have monetization turned off on YouTube, although that doesn’t stop YouTube from inserting ads before and after my videos.
Good check up
As I’ve said before, I have a small obsession with the KX1 and really do want to have one in full working order at all times. I suspect tweaking and repairing Ruby will be a pretty constant thing, though, as more cold solder joints and other issues potentially appear. I do plan to completely re-work all of the solder points that I can this winter.
I hope you enjoyed the field report and my activation video as much as I enjoyed creating them.
While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.
Thank you so very much!
Cheers & 72,