For someone, like me, who loves playing radio in the field (Parks On The Air and Summits On The Air) this looks like an ideal rig. It’s one of the only ham radio transceivers I’ve seen that is weatherized to some degree (how much, we don’t know yet).
I don’t see a speaker on the TX-500, so I’m guessing it might require a mic/speaker combo or an external speaker of some sort? I also don’t see a built-in ATU, but at $700, I certainly wouldn’t expect one.
With a power consumption of 110 milliamps at 13.8 VDC, this little transceiver should run for ages on a modest battery pack.
This is certainly a fascinating prototype QRP transceiver. If the Discovery TX-500 transceiver can be produced and marketed at $700 with all of the features mentioned so far, it should certainly fly off the shelves. They can certainly take my money!
Of course, I will plan to grab one of these for review. I’m also eager to see how this little SDR transceiver might perform on the broadcast bands.
We will post post TX-500 updates and details as they become available. Bookmark the tag Discovery TX-500 and stay tuned!
On Monday, I took the new Mission RGO One transceiver to the field and attempted a POTA (Parks On The Air) activation.
I just published a detailed post including a number of RGO One photos on my other radio blog, The SWLing Post.
In short? Although it’s early days, the RGO One is a promising rig and I’m very pleased with the ergonomics, functionality, and features. It’s very well suited for field operations weighing in at only five pounds and can comfortably operate up to 50 watts if you need a little extra power. I’m looking forward to activating a number of parks this year with the RGO One!
Our new K4 harnesses the latest in signal processing while retaining the best aspects of the K3S and P3. The resulting user interface makes the technology transparent, allowing you to focus on working the world.
160-6 meter, all-mode coverage & dual RX
The K4 includes dual receive over 100 kHz to 54 MHz. Since it utilizes direct sampling, there’s no need for crystal filters in the K4 or K4D (see Models, back page). For extreme-signal environments, we offer a dual superhet module (standard in the K4HD). An internal VHF/UHF module is also planned.
High-resolution mini-pan for each receiver
Our advanced fine-tuning aid, with its resampled bandwidth as narrow as +/- 1 kHz, is displayed separately from the main panadapter. You can turn it on by tapping either receiver’s S-meter or by tapping on a signal of interest.
Simple operation and setup
The K4 features a large, full-color touch display, combined with a rich set of real controls. Per-VFO transmit metering makes split mode completely foolproof. Band-stacking switches and per-receiver controls are both intuitive and versatile, adapting to operating context. Usage information on these and other features is just one tap away, thanks to our built-in help system.
Rich I/O complement
The rear panel includes all the RF, analog and digital I/O you’ll need to complete your station. All K-line accessories are supported, including amps, ATUs, and our K-Pod station controller. The HDMI video output supports an external display with its own user-specified format.
Full remote control from multiple devices
The K4 can be 100% remote controlled, via Ethernet, from a second K4 as well as a PC, notebook, or tablet. Panadapter data is included on all remote displays.
Modular hybrid architecture
The K4 adapts to your needs, with three models to choose from:
Basic K4 with wide-range dual receive
K4D with diversity receive
K4HD with a dual superhet module for exceptional dynamic range
You can upgrade or add options as desired, or as new technology becomes available. This extensibility applies to software as well. The K4’s powerful, fast-starting CPU provides unlimited expansion opportunities.
Fast signal processing
The RF signal chain in the K4 incorporates parallel hardware processing of data streams, including a dedicated DSP subsystem. This, combined with silent, PIN-diode T/R switching, ensures fast CW break-in. Data and speech-processing delays are also minimized. Standard DSP features include easy-to-adjust, per-mode RX/TX EQ; clean, punchy RF speech processing; full DVR capabilities; and several built-in data decode/encode modes. Direct-sampling technology results in an ultra-flat passband response for clean RX and TX audio. Since the signal chain is softwaredefined, the DSP can be field upgraded to add new algorithms and operating modes.
The KAT4 ATU has a nominally 10:1 matching range. It includes 3 antenna jacks, any one of which can be selected as an input for one or both receivers.
Internal VHF/UHF module (future option)
An expansion slot is reserved for a high-performance VHF/UHF module, with output of approximately 15 W. This module will support all modes.
A no-soldering kit version of the K4 is planned for later release. Builders will learn about advanced radio technology as they proceed. All modules are pre-aligned and tested.
Other: RX/TX EQ, real-time clock,100% remote control including panadapter data, remote antenna switch control*, custom in-box software apps*
Models (K4 & K4D upgradeable by the user at any time)
K4: Basic K4 transceiver provides 160-6 m, all-mode coverage; 100 W output; five receive RF sources; and wideband dual watch, allowing the main and sub receivers to be set for the same or different bands.
K4D: Adds KDIV4 option, with a second set of band-pass filters and additional direct- sampling ADC module. This allows the two receivers to use different antennas – a requirement for diversity receive. Having two sets of band-pass filters also optimizes signal handling when the receivers are on different bands and/or antennas.
K4HD: Includes all of the above, plus our dual superhet module, the KHDR4. Ideal for competitive field day, contesting, and DXpedition stations. Each superhet receive section includes two crystal filters: one SSB/data bandwidth, one CW bandwidth. The superhet’s 8 MHz IF has excellent dynamic range, so additional crystal filters are not required.
The WSJT-X 2.0 software suite has been released, and developer Joe Taylor, K1JT, is urging FT8 and MSK144 users to upgrade to what will become the new standard
The ARRL says:
The FT8 and MSK144 protocols have been enhanced in a way that is not backward compatible with older versions of the program. That includes any version 1.9 releases.
“The new protocols become the worldwide standards starting on December 10, 2018, and all users should upgrade to WSJT-X 2.0 by January 1, 2019,” Taylor said on the WSJT-X home page. “After that date, only the new FT8 and MSK144 should be used on the air.”
RAC supports Canadian National Parks on the Air event
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to announce its support of the Canadian National Parks on the Air (CNPOTA) event which will be held next year from January 1 to December 31.
The CNPOTA Event Committee describes the event in this way:
“All Radio Amateurs worldwide will have an opportunity to operate portably from any of Canada’s 48 National Parks and 171 National Historic Sites (these are ‘activators’). Amateurs around the world will be able to chase these adventurous operators in an effort to confirm the most QSOs (these are ‘chasers’).
Activity for activators and chasers will be tracked on a dedicated website and real-time leader board and other statistics will be available throughout the year. Activators and chasers will be able to compete for and collect online awards and certificates created specifically for the event.
Come join the fun and plan to visit one of Canada’s beautiful Parks and Historic sites next year!”.
RAC will be assisting the organizers in promoting the event through articles in The Canadian Amateur magazine, the RAC website and in social media.
For more information about the event please visit the Canadian National Parks on the Air website at: https://cnpota.ca/
RAC MarCom Director
Radio Amateurs of Canada
Many thanks to buddy, David Day (N1DAY), who shares the following announcement from his website:
Announcing the 2019 Lightbulb QSO contest, March 9th 20:00 UTC through March 10th 20:00 UTC.
We’ve all heard the stories…..Joe Elmer was so good at antenna matching that he made a 100 mile 20M QSO on an ordinary 100 watt household lightbulb. So here is your chance to try it out. Go traditional and compete with just a lightbulb dummy load. Or, get creative and invent an antenna design that uses the lightbulb as a key component that makes your antenna work. Five categories of competition give you different paths to gaining bragging rights as TOP BULB in the 2019 Lightbulb QSO contest. Categories of competition are:
1. Household – an antenna constructed of any lightbulb available for purchase in normal home use applications.
2. Commercial/Industrial – an antenna constructed of any lightbulb available for purchase in commercial and/or industrial applications.
3. Homebrew – an antenna constructed of any home made light bulb that radiates visible light when power is applied.
4. Dummy Load – any lightbulb that normally serves as a dummy load (see miscellaneous rules). Please note that the administrators do not recommend this category of operation because it puts both the operator and RF sensitive equipment in close proximity to the load. However, several, lightbulb purists wanted the category so here it is for entry at your own risk.
5. Freestyle – ?anything goes. Get creative and string all of your Christmas lights together, what ever you want and as many lightbulbs as you want. Bring down the power grid if you must.. we just don’t care, but certainly want to reward extreme creativity.
The Objective of the Lightbulb QSO contest is to build and use an antenna constructed in a manner so that the lightbulb is a key component of the antenna and to promote understanding and practical application of antenna matching concepts that allow a lightbulb to be used as a radiator in two way radio communications.
Saturday, March 9th, 2019 20:00 UTC through Sunday, March 10th, 2019 20:00 UTC.
Bands of Operation:
160M, 80M, 40M, 20M, 15M, 10M, 6M
As you might notice, this isn’t the typical QSO Party.
I love the idea–it reminds me of a QSO party I did once which challenged you to use unconventional antennas (I logged a number of contacts using a pair of trampolines!).
I also appreciate the opportunity to build something new and participate in a contest that (obviously) doesn’t take itself too seriously. What fun!
David has spent several months building a variety of lightbulb antennas. Here are a few of his creations:
If a Lightbulb QSO Party sounds like fun to you, start planning your antenna now!
David passed along the following links for guidance:
Those of you who are fans of single lever paddles will be pleased to learn that LnR Precision has announced the latest key in their product line: the SKCC Sideswiper.
Here’s the description from the product page:
The SKCC Sideswiper is patterned after the Kungsimport key produced in Kunsbacka, Sweden in the 1980’s by Hakan Scard (professional operator at Gothenburg Radio, SAG) and Ben Jomkert. It is a classic very traditional Sideswiper produced for the Straight Key Century Club.
The light weight Oak fingerpiece allows for a close gap setting making it a very fast key with little chance of chattering. The heavy 2.8 pound base makes it a very stable device on your desk. No chasing this key around the desk or needing two hands to operate.
The SKCC Sideswiper base has a 4″x 3.25″ powdercoated cold rolled steel base with SKCC logo
The blade is highcarbon spring steel and features a Lightweight Oak Fingerpiece
Upper hardware is anodized aluminum with matte finish.
Weight is 2.8 lbs
I think this is a beautiful key–I love the simple design, heavy base and the fact they’re made by a quality key manufacturer.
The price will be $94.95 US.
Thanks for the tip, WD8RIF!
1. The ubitx is now available for sale, for $109 dollars (includes the shipping), but only until Christmas. *After Christmas, the price will increase to $129 dollars. for this initial batch, a few ham volunteers and I pitched in to sort the crystals, test the coils, tune-up and box these initial kits, we won’t be able to do that any more. we will have to hire more people (which is not a bad thing) and get them to do it.
2. The ubitx is on sale at hfsignals.com, not hfsigs.com. it is easier to remember. we will soon point hfsigs.com to the new website as well. The new site is in wordpress, that means that we can have volunteers writing and updating it rather than waiting for me to hand code the content in html and vi editor.
3. We need help with proof reading the web content.* If you find any typos, please mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org address (not the bitx20 list),
These apart, the early buyers must be aware that they are beta users of sorts, the firmware will sure get updated. i hope there won’t be any revisions of the PCB.
Just as an aside the original price of the Heathkit HW-8 was $139.95 (in 1970 dollars) and it became a QRP Classic. The uBITX may become one as well and like the HW-8 there will be (and already are) all sorts of mods/additions one will be able to do. The uBITX is 10 dollars cheaper (after 12/25) works 80-10 M, does SSB in addition to CW, and is a Superhet to boot!
Farhan your hit this one out of the Ballpark!
Very cool, Pete! I am very tempted to purchase the uBITX transceiver before Christmas and have it delivered via DHL service. The only thing holding me back is simply the amount of projects I have on my table at the moment! $109 is an incredibly low price for a full-fledged QRP transceiver!
I’m absolutely amazed that it is also has a general coverage receiver. Perhaps the uBITX could serve the SWL as well as the ham radio operator? I suppose we shall soon find out!
Get ready to kick off 2018 with a new year-long operating event!
Bart Jahnke, W9JJ
ARRL Contest Branch Manager
You may not know this, but your station is in a Maidenhead grid square. The entire world is divided into thousands of these 1° latitude × 2° longitude squares, each one with a unique designation. They’re all part of a geographic location system adopted in the 1980s at a meeting of the VHF Working Group in Maidenhead, England.
Unless you are a VHF enthusiast, this nugget of information may not mean much. But at 0000 UTC on January 1, 2018, the global Amateur Radio community will be very interested in grid squares.
Get in the Chase
The objective of the ARRL International Grid Chase is simple: Work stations in as many grid squares as possible and upload your log data to ARRL’s Logbook of The World. If you are not currently registered with Logbook of The World, this is a good reason to get started. Go to https://lotw.arrl.org/lotw-help/getting-started/. Registration and uploading are free.
Every new grid square contact confirmed through Logbook of The World counts toward your monthly total, so you have an incentive to start the chase as soon as you ring in the New Year.
Just turn on your radio and start calling “CQ Grid Chase,” or listen for others doing the same. Make the contact, enter it into your log, and you’re on to the next (see the sidebar, “Tips for the Chase“).
At the end of each month, your totals on the Grid Chase leader board will reset to zero. Fear not, though. The online scoring system will maintain your monthly totals for a grand total at the end of the year, when an annual summary will be released and awards given to top finishers in various categories.
The ARRL International Grid Chase is open to all amateurs, regardless of location or license class. Any operating mode is eligible as well as every band, except 60 meters. You’ll find the complete rules at www.arrl.org/aigc2018.
But What’s My Grid Square?
Determining your grid square is easy. David Levine, K2DSL, has a great online calculator at www.levinecentral.com/ham/grid_square.php. Just enter a postal address, zip code, or even a call sign, and David’s site will tell you the grid square for that location.
For example, enter “W1AW” and the site will return “FN31pr.” The letters “pr” designate the grid square field, but you won’t need that for the Chase. Just FN31 will do.
The ARRL online store (www.arrl.org/shop) also offers grid square maps of the US and Canada, as well as a grid square atlas of the entire world.
Plenty of Pileups
Figure 1 — Grid square FN51 is mostly salt water, except for a narrow strip of land along the “sole” of Cape Cod and a portion of southeastern Nantucket Island. This image is taken from the ARRL Amateur Radio Map of North America, available at www.arrl.org/shop.
Some grid squares have thousands of amateurs in residence, but others have only a few, or none. Those “rare” grid squares will be hot properties in 2018, and hams operating from those locations can expect serious pileups.
Of course, nothing prevents you from hopping into your car and driving to a grid square where you are the only amateur on the air. There are some grid squares in coastal areas, for example, where most of the territory is comprised of water. Look at Figure 1 and notice that grid square FN51 is mostly in the Atlantic Ocean, except for a relatively narrow strip along the “sole” of Cape Cod and a small portion of southeastern Nantucket Island.
If you’re taking to the road, some vehicular GPS systems will display grid square locations. You can also use apps for your smartphone or tablet, such as Ham Square (iPhone, iPad) or HamGPS (Android).
However you play it, the ARRL International Grid Chase is going to be big. By the time you read this, “opening day” will be less than 2 months away. Better sign up with Logbook of The World (if you haven’t already) and prepare your gear!
Any contact can count for your Chase score; it doesn’t have to involve an exchange of grid squares. As long as other operators participate with Logbook of The World, you’ll get the credit automatically when they upload their logs. This means that contest contacts will count, as will contacts with special-event stations, or any other on-air activity. As long as stations upload their logs to Logbook of The World, you’re good.
The new FT8 digital operating mode is ideal for the ARRL International Grid Chase. You can set up FT8 to call CQ and automatically respond, completing a contact in a little over a minute while you watch. When the contact is complete, simply click your mouse to trigger another CQ. You’ll find FT8 within the free WSJT-X software suite at https://physics.princeton.edu/pulsar/k1jt/wsjtx.html.
Watch for Logbook of The World users on your favorite online DX clusters. Most clusters have the ability to filter and display only stations that participate in Logbook of The World; other clusters can at least flag the stations with a symbol. This will save time when you are looking for contacts to increase your score. If you enjoy JT65, JT9, or the FT8 digital modes, check out the free JTAlert for Windows at http://hamapps.com. This software works with JT65-HF or WSJT-X applications to automatically flag Logbook users and will even alert you when a station is on the air in a needed grid square.
Upload often. Grid Chase totals are refreshed at the end of each month. With that in mind, it pays to send new data to Logbook of The World every couple of days, or even daily.
Satellite contacts count. Contacts made through earthbound repeaters do notcount for the Grid Chase, but repeaters in outer space are the exception. There are low-orbiting satellites that support CW, SSB, and even FM contacts. See the AMSAT-NA website at www.amsat.org.
Try “circling” grid squares. It’s easy to set up a portable or mobile operation at the intersections where corners of grid squares meet. For example, you could operate in one grid square and then drive west across the “border” into the next square. Make some contacts there and then drive north into the adjacent square. Bang out more contacts, and then head east into another grid square. This is a very common technique used by VHF “rover” operators. In a single day, you can operate from four different grid squares!
Take the Chase on vacation. Take a radio along when you travel and work new grid squares at your destinations. Even a handheld FM transceiver can be used to work a new square on a simplex frequency.
In the spirit of the Fred Fish Memorial Award, VUCC, DXCC, WAS and WAC, we bring you a world-wide event in which all Radio Amateurs can participate where the goal is to contact (each Month during 2018) as many maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible on all amateur bands.
Building on our successful 2016 National Parks On The Air (NPOTA) event (providing a year-long focus of fun activating or contacting US National Parks), and considering ARRL’s existing grid-square based award events (including our Fred Fish and VUCC Award programs where the objective is to contact stations in as many 4-digit maidenhead grid squares as possible), we introduce for 2018 the ARRL International Grid Chase to bring international grid-chasing on all amateur bands (HF, and VHF and above) to an all new level.
In a fashion similar to NPOTA, using Logbook of the World (LoTW – see http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world) as the QSOs data source, the 2018 ARRL International Grid Chase activities will be scored MONTHLY on the ARRL web site at http://www.arrl.org/aigc2018. Each month we will start fresh, recognizing participation through various tables and data selection options on the web page. Monthly pages will be added to track each calendar month’s activities. Once the year is completed, an annual summary will be released.
1. Objective: On a Monthly basis, on amateur frequencies from HF to Microwaves, to contact amateur stations in as many different 2 degrees by 1 degree maidenhead 4-digit grid squares as possible.
2. Dates/Event Period: The event runs from 0000 UTC January 1, 2018 through 2359 UTC December 31, 2018. At the beginning of each month during 2018, the monthly scores will be reset to zero to begin the new month of competition.
3. Bands: All FCC-authorized frequencies (excluding the 60 meter and 600 meter bands). Permitted bands: 160m, 80m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m, 6m, 2m, 1,25m, 70cm, 33cm, 23cm, and all higher FCC-authorized microwave bands.
4. Modes: Three mode categories will be recognized – CW, Phone and Digital (all voice modes count as Phone, all digital modes count as Digital).
5. Methods of contact: All methods of contact are permitted (excluding QSOs made through repeaters, digipeaters, Echolink, IRLP, or non-satellite cross-band QSOs which do not count in this event). Satellite and EME QSOs are permitted.
6. Station types: Fixed, Portable, Mobile/Rover and Maritime Mobile (MM) stations may participate (MM stations are not eligible for DXCC, WAS or WAC credit however).
7. Exchange: Call Sign and Maidenhead 4-digit grid-square locator (see www.arrl.org/grid-squares). Exchange of signal report is optional. When operating during a contest, the contest exchange takes precedence over the grid square exchange. QSOs made with a club or special event (eg, 1×1) call count only for the club, not for the operator. As with other similar award’s criteria, if a station is located on the intersection of 2, 3 or 4 grid squares, the over-the-air exchange need only include just one grid square (confirmation for the adjoining grid squares will be made by the station operating from the intersecting grids through the station location in TQSL https://lotw.arrl.org/lotw-help_devel_en/stnloc/?lang=en).
TQSL Station Locations will allow multiple adjacent grids (formatted as “grid,grid,” etc). MM stations would have DXCC Entity set to “none”. For information on LoTW TQSL, see http://www.arrl.org/quick-start-tqsl.
All QSOs within your DXCC entity qualify.
See also section 9 below for Awards with specific requirements.
9. Awards: As all contacts are being uploaded to LoTW, in addition to the overall monthly and annual recognitions of the ARRL International Grid Chase, participants may use their contacts toward other ARRL awards (see the list of ARRL awards at http://www.arrl.org/awards). These include ARRL’s grid-based awards of VHF-UHF Century Club (VUCC) and the Fred Fish Memorial Award (for contact with all 488 US 4-digit grid squares on 6 meters), as well as Worked All States (WAS) and WAS Triple Play, DX Century Club (DXCC), and Worked All Continents (WAC).
10. Recognitions: Achievement in collecting grid squares in the ARRL International Grid Chase will be recognized by categories of Band, Mode, and Continent (other leaders types will be developed as warranted) through our interactive web page monthly and at year end summary. Online certificates of achievement will be developed for Monthly and Annual recognition.
11. Resources: A variety of resources offer grid-square maps and mapping tools.