Category Archives: News

QRPacificon 2011

If you live near Santa Clara, California you still have time to register for the 2011 QRPacificon, sponsored by the NorCal QRP Club.  By registering you will be included in the Saturday evening drawing.

Events schedule

Friday night we will kick off the festivities with our no host banquet again hosted and arranged for us by James Bennett, KA5DVS. James will be our host and provide more details later. If you would like to join us plan to meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 on Firday.

We will start presentations at 8:00 Saturday Morning and will have a great lineup of speakers. Presentations will run throughout the morning

8:15 Jim Duffey KK6MC
Jim’s talk will be on VHF and UHF antennas for QRP-Portable operation

9:30 Tony Parks, KB9YIG
Softrock SDR design and the RXTX Softrick transceiver

10:45 Rex Harper, W1REX
PIC or PICaxe? What IS the big whoop? Why should every ham ‘play’ with a PICaxe?

Saturday night will feature

  • Annual QRP Auction, one item per seller up for auction to the highest bidder. Doug Hendricks, KI6DS will be the auctioneer, and we always have a lot of fun at this event.
  • QRP 2011 Builders contest. If you have built a piece of QRP gear since last year’s pacificon, please bring it to enter in the show. Prizes will be awarded. Please bring a 3 x 5 card with information about your entry on it. Judging will start right after the auction.
  • 2 buildathon projects: The SDR Receiver project for new SMD builders, and the PICaxe kit. Both designers will be available during the buildathon. If you plan to take part in either build project please plan to bring your own tools and equipment.
  • QRP Vendors Many of our vendors will be setup to sell their goodies. If you are a QRP vendor, then take this time to setup – tables are free.
  • NorCal QRP Hfpack Zombie Night “Hanging Eye Ball QSO’s” Here is another opportunity to meet with your fellow qrp’ers.
  • Door prizes – We have an ever growing collection of donations for this year. In order to be in the drawing you must be registered. You can do this by going to the QRPAcificon Name Badge Page.

Registration is free. More more information about QRPacificon please visit www.norcalqrp.org

(Source: NorCal QRP Club)

Ask Ten-Tec: Questions about the Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP transceiver and Model 418 Amplifier

Soon to come:  an interview with Ten-Tec regarding the much-anticipated new Ten-Tec Model 539 and companion  Model 418 100 Watt amplifier.

Many online readers are intrigued by this new product, and have already emailed questions about it.  If you have a question or comment about the TT 539, please contact me; I’ll do my best to present it to Ten-Tec during this upcoming interview.

And do check back for the complete interview next week!

Click here to go to our contact form.

Ten-Tec’s new 100 Watt Amplifier – The Ten-Tec Model 418 – Photos and preliminary specifications

The Ten-Tec Model 418 100 Watt Amplifier on display at the 2011 Ten-Tec Hamfest. Click to enlarge.

Today at the 2011 Ten-Tec Hamfest, Ten-Tec announced two new products in development: the Model 539 QRP transceiver and the companion Model 418 100 Watt amplifier.

Being a QRPer, I typically have no use for amplifiers, but this one, I must admit, will make for a perfect in-the-field companion to the (future) Model 539 or any QRP transceiver.

The Model 418 can sense the incoming RF and will automatically switch bands accordingly.

Best of all, though, is that the standby current will be as low as 150mA!

Ten-Tec Model 418 Features:

  • 100 Watts
  • All HF Bands + 6 Meters
  • MOSFET Amplifier
  • Standby current as low as 150mA
  •  DC input voltage 10V – 16V
  • Selectable input attenuation, Delay
  • 2 selectable antenna connections
  • Dedicated 6M antenna connection
  • Band switching
    • Manual OR Auto – RF Sensed
    • Seamless connection to PC
    • Seamless connection to Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP Transceiver

Ten-Tec Model 539 – Ten-Tec’s new QRP transceiver

Ten-Tec Model 539 on display at the Ten-Tec Hamfest, September 24, 2011 - Click to enlarge

At the Ten-Tec hamfest today, I just happened to stumble upon the new, as yet un-released Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP transceiver.

It’s a beautiful, simple little unit.

The footprint is very similar to the Elecraft K2, while its height is slightly greater  than the Yaesu FT-817. It’s very lightweight and certainly backpackable.

The Ten-Tec folks I spoke with said that the current requirements may be as low as 250 mA on receive–though they’re not yet certain.  When I asked John Henry (Eagle and OMNI VII firmware author) about the receiver performance, he mentioned that the receiver board is the same as the Eagle’s, and performance is likely to be somewhere between that of the Eagle and the Jupiter. There is some compromise on a receiver optimized for backpacking and QRP field ops.  Nevertheless…wow.

Price:  still undetermined.

Ten-Tec hopes to take pre-orders at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention. They also announced a companion 100 watt amp for the new QRP rig (see separate post). The amp, however, will work with any QRP radio on the market.

I honestly believe this may be a transceiver worthy of the Argonaut lineage.

Features include:

  • 10 Watt QRP Transceiver
  • 80, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12 and 10 Meters Ham-Band Only
  • AM, USB, LSB, CW Modes
  • Tricolor backlit internally adjustable display
  • Hardware features in common with the Ten-Tec Eagle Model 599
  • Noise Reduction
  • Noise Blanker
  • AGC – Fast, Medium, Slow
  • RIT
  • Pre Amp
  • 100 Memories
  • Two VFO Displays

Thank you, Ten-Tec; you listened.  

Additional photos:

Ten-Tec's John Henry behind prototype of the Ten-Tec Model 539 QRP Transceiver

Bob Heil’s new show Ham Nation on Leo Laporte’s TWiT network

As a big fan of ham radio and an avid listener of the TWiT network, I’m pleased as punch that Leo Laporte has asked Bob Heil (K9EID) to host a show called Ham Nation.

I spoke with Bob about the new show at the 2011 Dayton Hamvention.  He has many ideas and a lot of enthusiasm and energy to put into Ham Nation.

His first line up? None other than Joe Walsh WB6ACU and Dave Jennings WJ6W. Bob also has plans to use future shows to give Leo Laporte radio lessons so he can obtain his Tech License.This could be a first for ham radio and leveraging the listenership of the TWiT network, could bring a lot of newcomers into the hobby.

Click here to go to Ham Nation’s home page.

Subscribe to Ham Nation via iTunes.

More details on the Elecraft KX3

Here are some more details I’ve collected on the newly announces Elecraft KX3 ultra-portable transceiver. According to Elecraft, a product brochure will be available soon.

Dimensions: 3.5″H x 7.4″W x 1.7″D — a bit larger in all dimensions
than a KX1.

The KX3 will have a mobile-mount bracket–it will be covered in the to-be-product brochure.

RX-mode current drain ~150 mA. Very efficient on TX, with dual-output-impedance 5W/10W PA.

The optional 100W amp is in an external chassis. The internal amplifier is 10W with switchable impedance matching so it can also operate with maximum efficiency at 5W.

PA output impedance switch allows efficient 5-W use from internal batteries, or 10 W from external supply.
100 W+ with new high-performance external amp/ATU that works with most 5W to 10W rigs.

Questions from emails reflectors–answers by Elecraft:

>Same flat layout as the KX-1 – just bigger box I would assume????
Yes, but with new fold-up rear tilt-feet.

>…and a K3-like front panel, including the same LCD.
>
> And it makes use of EVERY display on that LCD?? Carumba!

Not quite. I think there are a couple annunciators that are not used. But it’s amazing that the design team managed to fit almost all the features of a 10W K3 into a box that is a small fraction of the size and weight. And with space left over for an internal battery pack!

By the time we’re done, we’ll be using every icon.
Totally different architecture than the K3, of course. (Wayne N6KR)

> More $$$ or less $$$ that the regular K3?
Much less.

> Dual output impedance 5w/10w pa? I don’t understand.
The MOSFET 10-W amp stage includes an output transformer with both 1:4 and 1:1 windings. When using low power, or when running from internal batteries, the 1:1 winding is used, which optimizes efficiency at about 5 W, greatly reducing transmit current drain. The 1:4 winding is used when running higher power (using an external supply).

> One email said 10w/100w models. Is that correct?
The 1.5-pound radio itself puts out 10 watts+. We’ll also be describing a new, high-performance 100-watt+ companion amplifier/ATU for fixed-station/mobile use. It will work very well with other 5 to 10-W radios besides the KX3.

(Source: from various internet sites but primarily through Elecraft and QRP-L reflectors.)

Ten-Tec Adds Two New QRP Transceivers – Models R4020 and R4030

The Ten-Tec Model R4020 40/20 Meters field-portable QRP transceiver.
The Ten-Tec Model R4020 40/20 Meters field-portable QRP transceiver.

When I heard from friends that Ten-Tec had announced two new QRP transceivers at FDiM, I almost fell out of my seat. I’ve heard very little in the way of QRP coming out of Sevierville since the sad news of them dropping the popular/legendary Argonaut series.

Then, this week, when they announced the news on their (new) website, I got even more excited–these transceivers are field portable and small! They very much resemble my Elecraft KX-1.

The new rigs come in two flavors:

  • The R4030 covers the 40 and 30 Meter ham bands
  • The R4020 covers the 40 and 20 Meter ham bands

Simple enough.

The news, which started with a gasp, though ended with a sigh as many noted that these rigs closely resembled the HB-1A (Made In China) QRP Radio. Could this be? It was a little hard for me to imagine. Being a serious Ten-Tec fan, I hang my hat on the fact that my TT radios are designed and made locally–within a 2 hour drive of my QTH! I didn’t want to hear any more rumors, I needed to know from the horse’s mouth, so I emailed TT sales–they responded:

Yes, the R4020 and R4030 is based off the HB-1A transceiver with some minor modifications. We are the exclusive dealer for the R4020/4030 and will warranty and sell this item from our office in Sevierville, TN. We will offer a 1 year full replacement warranty.

So, it was true–I was not shocked. Why?  The price of the R4020/R4030 is only $249. That’s an incredibly low price for a Ten-Tec item. Too low.

I’m not sure what the “minor” modifications are that Ten-Tec made, but I imagine they had to bring it up to FCC compliance and perhaps tweak the receiver a bit. We’ll soon see.

Moving forward

I realized, this morning, that I simply need to forgive Ten-Tec for doing this. I love their equipment and hold their company and employees in the highest regard. I can’t blame them for outsourcing a radio–why?

  1. This is a tough economy.  I’ve been worried about our domestic manufacturers like Ten-Tec and Elecraft (though, surprisingly, Elecraft actually upgraded and moved their production to a larger facility). I’m surprised that they’re able to hang on. I suspect Ten-Tec has had to lean on their other markets (government, enclosures, etc.) to support the amateur radio side of their business.
  2. Ten-Tec could probably not put 2009/2010 resources into developing a radio on their own when they had low-hanging fruit, like the HB-1A, just waiting to be brought to the USA (officially). R&D is not cheap–even if it’s in-house.
  3. They are servicing this radio in Sevierville, TN. That makes me feel a lot better about about buying one of these transceivers. Ten-Tec service is top-shelf!
  4. They really needed to bring QRP back into their non-kit product line.

Bottom line?  I’ll probably get one of these and try it (well, after I invest in a nice vintage boat-anchor set up). I’m in no hurry as I have an Elecraft KX1 and it is my favorite QRP radio.

I will post reviews of the new TT radios as they become available (contact me if you have one). In the meantime, I’ve included some useful resource links below.

Useful links:

HB-1A reviews

Tech Specs of the new R4030 and R4020

Humanitarian Radio Relief in Haiti

QRP Friends:

For those of you who don’t know, I’m the founder and director of a newly formed non-profit organization called Ears To Our World (ETOW). ETOW’s mission is to send self-powered shortwave radios to schools in the developing world–you may have seen us recently featured in the Dec. 2009 edition of Popular Communications. You can check us out at:

http://earstoourworld.org

Many of you have been watching and listening to the reports coming out of Haiti in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. As you can imagine, the need for information in Haiti is urgent and that means, of course, that radios are needed. In light of this crisis, ETOW has decided to temporarily broaden our mission; next week we will send a substantial number of ETOW radios (donated by Eton/Grundig) to Haiti via our partner, Operation USA. We are preparing our radios for shipment as rapidly as we can.

As QRPers and ham radio operators, you know well the power of radio. If you’d like to help, please do what you can. Even a few bucks can help with our expedited shipping costs to get our radios to Haiti. Donations can be made via PayPal on ETOW’s website http://earstoourworld.org.

Let’s all do what we can to help these folks.

Thank you & 72,
Thomas

KF4TZK

Ohio QRPers take break from Field Day to smoke some texters

In the spirit of a segment from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno which aired in 2005, Marion County, Ohio, amateurs staged a face-off between CW operators and local texters to draw public attention to their 2009 Field Day event.

And it worked.

Mind you, neither CW op [my good friend and fellow RAT, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT) and Bill Finnegan (NR8I)] knew the event was taking place and thus, did not practice beforehand.

Read the full article here.