Category Archives: New Products

The New Xiegu X6200: First POTA activation in CW with a production unit!

If you’re following the new Xiegu X6200 closely, you might recall that I took a prototype version of the radio out two weeks ago for a POTA activation. Propagation was so challenging–as in, a complete radio blackout in North America due to an X-Class flare–it took about 90 minutes of calling CQ POTA to snag the ten needed for a valid park activation.

I had planned to post the activation video on YouTube, but learned shortly after the activation that this particular unit was a proper prototype instead of an early production run radio. This is a detail I misunderstood prior to the unit shipping.

I only shared the 2+ hour video to Patreon supporters, but not on my YouTube channel for this reason.

Production

This past weekend, I received a second Xiegu X6200: this time, a production run unit!

Again, this unit was supplied to me on loan by Xiegu via their distributor, Radioddity who (in the spirit of full disclosure) is also a QRPer.com sponsor and affiliate.

[Note: Also check out Steve’s channel if interested in the X6200. He’s been testing power output, OS accessibility, and other aspects on the bench.]

POTA Time!

Two days ago–Tuesday, June 11, 2024–I took the new X6200 out for a POTA activation on the Blue Ridge Parkway (US-3378).

I had a couple of hours that morning to fit in the activation, including a round trip from the QTH. The best site for a quick activation was the Folk Art Center picnic area.

Thanks to the early hour, there was no competition for picnic tables.

I decided to pair my PackTenna 9:1 End-Fed Random Wire with the X6200. This provided a chance to test the ATU with a readily matchable antenna (in the future, I’ll make it sweat a bit more by using a transformerless random wire antenna).

This production run X6200 has the same firmware (version 1.0) as the prototype, but the hardware has received noticeable updates. I spotted two changes–one cosmetic and one that had a positive impact on performance–almost immediately.

In the activation video below, you’ll see that I spent a few minutes doing an overview of the X6200.

One of the first things I did was set up the X6200 for CW Message memory operation. I demonstrated (after a bit of head-scratching) how to input the CW message using the X6200’s built-in on-screen keyboard. (If the CW Message Memories confuse you, check out the short primer in my previous post).

Gear:

Note: All Amazon, CW Morse, ABR, Chelegance, eBay, and Radioddity links are affiliate links that support QRPer.com at no cost to you.

On The Air

The last time I hopped on the air with the X6200, it was proper work making any contacts. It was a struggle and it wasn’t the X6200’s fault. It was our local star!

I decided to start on 40 meters since it was still mid-morning. After calling “QRL?” and hearing no reply, I pressed the second CW message memory button where I loaded “CQ POTA DE K4SWL” and the radio started transmitting. Continue reading The New Xiegu X6200: First POTA activation in CW with a production unit!

HamMap.io: Marcin’s Solution for Visualizing Boundaries in POTA/SOTA Activities

Many thanks to Marcin (SP5ORI) who writes:

When I started activating parks and summits last year, I searched for an app to visualize park boundaries, but none met my needs. While there are many applications for POTA and SOTA activators, none offered this specific feature…

Check this out: https://www.hammap.io

Countless times I heard, “It would be great to see park boundaries…” followed by, “This can’t be done” or “That’s impossible.” I took on the challenge, and this is the result.

I’ve recorded three videos to showcase the app, available on YouTube:

Introduction:

Going Deeper:

More Features:

What makes this app special?

    • See parks and summits on one map
    • View park boundaries (currently includes ~98% of Polish parks)
    • Voivodeship shapes for Poland
    • Country shapes
    • Spatial relations (N-fers)
    • Determine if a summit is in a park
    • Identify parks within another park
    • Find nearby summits
    • Flags
    • Powerful general search
    • Explore details at any point on the map
    • Activation spots

The app is still a work in progress, and we’ll be adding more areas soon.

What do you think?

Marcin SP5ORI

Ham-Map: OK1SIM creates an interactive park and summit map!

Many thanks to Michal (OK1SIM) who writes:

I needed a map, so I programmed it!

While planning one of the WWFF activities, I sighed that there was no map that suited me. So I started to program the map myself, even though I’m not a programmer, it’s not my job, I have some basics of PHP and MySQL and I’ve already done some web applications. I found out first where to download fresh reference data, I created daily synchronization into my own database so that I don’t have to worry about adding, deleting or changing. Over reference data, I then created an application using Leaflet and excellent Czech tourist mapmaps mapy.cz that shows WWFF, POTA, SOTA and GMA references. It’s all in development, I can think of other features. I’ve newly put it on the domain ham-map.com and I’m going to make the OpenSource code available on GitHub.

I place the greatest emphasis on usability on both a classic computer and a mobile phone. There are certainly many similar map applications with references, mine is just another one and it’s mine.

In the near future I’ll make available downloading data in .GPX format to an offline map application and the ability to view never-activated WWFF areas.

https://ham-map.com/

73 de Michal OK1SIM

Thank you for sharing your resource with us, Michael! I like how detailed the map layer is as well. Well done!

Xiegu X6200 Trial by Flare: Answering your questions and sharing my field notes

Update as of May 31, 2024: I’ve just learned that the prototype unit I used for this activation has been superseded by a production model Xiegu X6200. While many of my initial impressions remain valid, some of the bugs and quirks I noted have likely been addressed in the production model.

When I published this post, I was under the impression that this loaner unit was representative of the final production run. In light of this new information, I’ve removed the mention of some specific bugs until I have the opportunity to evaluate the production run unit.

I’ll be receiving a production model loaner in the coming weeks, and I’ll update this post and share a video demonstrating the updated radio. Stay tuned!

After publishing my post yesterday morning, I ran a few errands in town, then headed to Lake Powhatan in Pisgah National Forest to perform a POTA activation with the new Xiegu X6200.

In short, my buddy Vince summed it all up in a text he sent, stating that I sure picked an interesting time to get on the air. I received this image from Vince–while calling CQ POTA for the 100th time–showing the results of our X-Class Flare:

It was a radio blackout.

In the end, I did log eleven stations: 1 on 30 meters, and 10 on 20 meters, all with CW.

 

Eventually, I did plug in an external battery and run the X6200 at its full 8 watts of power in SSB mode, but there were no takers on 20 meters. The bands were so dead, I even received reports from some of you that the FT8 portions of the band had little to no activity.

That dead!

I did manage to hunt some other park activators successfully–we activators had to work together to get through this one!

Video: Change of plans

I had originally planned to create a video of the activation, write a detailed field report, and answer some of the questions you left in the comments section of my previous post. I was actually able to make a video, but it’s incredibly long. Because of that, I’m only going to upload it to Vimeo for QRPer.com Patreon supporters to view. I simply don’t want to deal with the inevitable drive-by comments on YouTube from people expecting quick-hit thoughts about the X6200 in a nearly two-hour video.

No worries, though, I will make another video witht he X6200 in the next few days and publish that one on YouTube.

In the meantime, I’ve also taken some thorough notes that I’ll be sharing here.

X6200: Initial Impressions and Notes

Disclaimer: It’s important to keep in mind that this is a prototype loaner unit, and the firmware is still in its early stages (Version 1.0). Because of this, the following observations and notes should be taken with a grain of salt.

Many issues will likely be addressed in firmware updates that Xiegu will be releasing in the coming days and weeks.

The date of publication for this article is May 30, 2024. Considering

I will eventually be posting a comprehensive review of the X6200, but only after I’ve spent a significant amount of time (weeks, not just hours) with the radio. This initial write-up is just to share my first impressions.

Moving on…

Since there simply wasn’t enough band activity and the X-class flare created more band noise than normal, I wasn’t able to properly evaluate the X6200’s filtering (thus how it might handle a pileup, crowded band conditions, etc.). I also couldn’t get a good read on the radio’s noise floor and overall audio characteristics.

I did, however, spend nearly two full hours with the X6200 going full bore sending CQs, so I had quite a bit of hands-on time, and I feel the X6200 got a proper burn-in period.

First, I’ll share the observations I made (both pros and cons), then I’ll try to answer your questions. Continue reading Xiegu X6200 Trial by Flare: Answering your questions and sharing my field notes

Xiegu X6200 First Activation: What do you want to know?

Yesterday, I popped by the post office and picked up a parcel containing a prototype of the Xiegu X6200 (thank you for the loaner, Radioddity).

In truth, it arrived on Friday via DHL, but the post office was closed over Memorial Day weekend, and frankly, I would have been too busy to take a deep dive with it.

I’ve got the battery charged and plan to hit the field with the X6200 today—perhaps a local POTA activation.

As I explore the X6200, I’m curious if you have any questions you’d like me to answer in the process. I don’t know anything about delivery times or any of the retail-side stuff, but I could possibly answer your questions about the radio itself.

Labeled “Prototype”

Keep in mind that the unit I received is labeled as a prototype. I assume this is a pre-production model, thus with early firmware and likely a bit rough around the edges. We’ll find out in due time. Likely by the time the X6200 starts shipping to those who pre-ordered it, some issues will have been sorted out in firmware updates (assuming there are issues).

Today, I plan to test the X6200 in CW and possibly SSB. I’ll probably run CW from the internal battery, which will yield four watts output. For SSB, I’ll try hooking it up to an external battery for eight watts of total output power.

Solar conditions will likely be rough, but I look forward to hearing what the audio is like and how the receiver performs. Also curious if the keyer will have good timing/spacing.

X6200 Questions?

Leave me a comment if you’d like me to check out something on the X6200. If I fit in a POTA activation, it will likely be near noon today (EDT). I may not be able to address all questions, but I’ll do the best I can.

Mike compares the new Explorer POTA20 with the venerable SOTAbeams Carbon 6 Mast

Last week, I ran into my good friend Mike (KE8PTX) at Hamvention, and he was bursting with excitement over a new product he’d just purchased: the Explorer POTA20 Carbon Fiber Mast at GigaParts.

Mike is a massive fan of the SOTAbeams Carbon 6 telescoping pole and has been through two of them over the years he’s been doing field radio work. He told me that the new Explorer POTA20 is even better than the Carbon 6.

I don’t think Mike knows it yet, but after his recommendation, I ordered an Explorer mast—it’s backordered, so it’ll be a month or two before it ships.

Mike took this photo of his mast from a POTA activation this morning. You can see the mast left of the dead tree.

Mike is also a brilliant designer and has made a 3D-printed tent stake holder that fits on the end of both of these poles. He told me that these 20′ carbon fiber masts are so lightweight that there’s no need for guying the pole, even in fairly windy conditions. His simple tent spike is all that’s needed to hold a carbon fiber mast in place.

Videos

In the following video, Mike compares the Carbon 6 with the new Explorer mast and speaks to the utility of using a tent spike to secure the mast:

Thank you, Mike, for sharing this video and the tip about the new Explorer mast!

Again, it’s currently backordered at the time of posting, but you can place an order at GigaParts. The price is $79.95 plus shipping.

Post-Hamvention Activation with Friends

The 2024 Dayton Hamvention is in the books!

This morning, I’m still at our hotel in Dayton, Ohio, but about to pack up and head out. Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC), and I are heading for a day at the Armstrong Aerospace Museum, then, hopefully, a POTA activation on the way back to Athens, Ohio, where I’ll spend the night.

Tuesday morning, I’ll be up early and hit the road for North Carolina. Really looking forward to seeing my wife, daughters, and Hazel.

I thought I’d share a very brief POTA activation I enjoyed yesterday with friends.

Pater State Wildlife Area (US-9492)

Yesterday morning (May 19, 2024), Eric, Miles and I met up with Kyle (AA0Z), Brian (K3ES), Joshua (N5FY), and Charlie (NJ7V) at our hotel.

Eric, Miles, Brian, and I had planned to activate a park in nearby Indiana that afternoon, as Brian and I had never activated in that state. Joshua, Charlie, and Kyle were planning to join us on an activation in southwest Ohio en route. Unfortunately, Joshua was driving back to his home in Georgia, and Kyle was dropping off Charlie at the airport on his way home, so they couldn’t join us in Indiana.

Eric’s first POTA activation with his Elecraft KH1!

We arrived on-site a little after 10:00 AM local. Eric immediately set up his Elecraft KH1 in desktop mode using his new Tufteln KH1 Right-Angle adapter.

Brian set up under a tree with his Elecraft KX2 and a Tufteln random wire antenna.

The amazing Brian (K3ES)

I grabbed my Elecraft KH1 and we coordinated frequencies. Brian took 30 meters, Eric took 40 meters, and I took 17 meters (thinking either Joshua or Eric might move to 20 meters).

This was another instance where having a fully handheld, pedestrian mobile station truly offered a level of activation freedom.

The bands were in rough shape, but I kept my KH1 in hand and walked around the entire site with the CW Message memory sending out my “CQ POTA DE K4SWL.”

Over the course of 13 minutes, I worked five stations. All the while, I was holding the KH1, chatting with my friends, and petting a sweet local dog that instantly made friends with us.

This pup was a hoot!

This activation also gave me an excuse to try out the new Tufteln KH1 Antenna Angle Adapter which makes it a breeze to keep the antenna nearly vertical while holding the KH1 at a more comfortable angle. Thanks, Joshua!

Eventually, I moved to 20 meters and we all started working each other to help with our QSO count and to simply get each other in the logs. I logged two more stations, plus Charlie, Brian, and Joshua to make my 10.

Kyle (AA0Z) and his brilliant Toyota Tacoma POTA machine.

The idea was to hop off the air quickly so that Kyle and Charlie could use Kyle’s KX3 station to activate the park as well.

L to R: Kyle, Joshua and Charlie

Conditions deteriorated further, so we did rely on a few P2Ps with each other to help Charlie and Kyle finish and hit the road.

Charlie calling CQ POTA

Here’s my QSO Map, but keep in mind that several of the pins are incorrect as Charlie, Kyle, Brian, and Joshua were all on-site:

All in all, we had an amazing time and it was a nice, relaxed way to wind down after an incredibly active 2024 Hamvention and FDIM conference.

Joshua working us P2P with his KH1 and the the most compromised–yet completely effective–antenna of all: a dummy load!

I will report more on Hamvention and share a few photos later this week.

For now, I need to wrap up this post and hit the road! There’s an aviation museum and POTA in my future today!

Heartfelt Thank You

I will add this one extra note: I’m simply overwhelmed with the kind comments and conversations I had with so many of you who took the time to catch up with me these past few days. Thank you so much!

Cheers & 72,
Thomas (K4SWL)

Xiegu X6100 v X6200 Feature/Specs Comparison Chart

Many thanks to Don (W7SSB) who shares the following spreadsheet that highlights the key similarities and differences between the Xiegu X6100 and the new Xiegu X6200.

Click here to view the comparison spreadsheet.

Did you know there’s a new MTR-3B in the works–?

A reader reached out to me this morning asking about the Mountain Topper MTR-3B. It reminded me of a teaser LnR Precision posted earlier this month in an MTR-4B update on their website. Here’s what they said:

Update: 4/1/23: We do not have MTR4 V2.3 available for purchase now but will be releasing more for purchase on May 1, 2024.

Apologies on the delay but we needed more time to get parts that are in short supply and fabricate. This will be the only and last offering of the MTR4b V2.3 radios as we are shifting focus on a redesigned and re-engineered version of the popular MTR3B!

It is our hope to have these out in Fall of 2024 if possible, but no guarantees.

I’m very excited about this news! I own two MTR-3Bs and absolutely love this model. When I checked in with LnR a couple of years ago, they said they had no plans to produce the MTR-3B again. They must have noticed the strong customer demand.

I assume the new model might incorporate some of the upgrades found on the MTR-4B, like an SWR and Power Output meter and a more accessible sidetone control. We’ll have to wait and see!

LnR is a small “mom-and-pop” company, so we’ll need to be patient as they introduce the new MTR-3B. I’m sure they’ll struggle to keep up with demand. I, for one, am eager to see this super-compact transceiver back on the market.

N2HTT’s Tilt Cradle for the Penntek TR-45L

Many thanks to Mike (N2HTT) who recently reached out:

Hi Tom,

I recently treated myself to a Penntek TR-45L, and I think it’s the perfect field CW rig, except for one thing: the viewing angle sitting on a table is too vertical.

I made myself a tilt cradle that holds the rig at a 15 degree angle. It is form fitted to the rig, allows good clearance to all the controls front and rear, and raises it up off the table just a smidge.

Mike thanks/blames me for his purchase of the TR-45L and asked if I wanted one of his 3D-printed tilt cradles for my TR-45L. I just received it today at no cost to me–thanks, Mike!–and I really like the angle for using the TR-45L in my shack (and in the field, for sure). 

Mike is selling these for $25 in his Etsy shop. Click here to check them out!

Here are some photos:

Thanks again, Mike, for sending one to me–I really appreciate it. Now I just need to convince you to purchase even more radios! 🙂

The TR-45L is a gem–you’ll love it!