Category Archives: News

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.

John Kanzius, K3TUP (SK)

John Kanzius, K3TUP (SK)

There are few hams in this world that I admire more than John Kanzius, K3TUP. John took knowledge from his amateur radio hobby and applied it to the medical field. His new cancer treatment research has been called the most promising medical innovation in decades.

Read the ARRL article about him here.

We will miss you, John, but are happy that your research continues on!

73/72

de

Tom Witherspoon (KF4TZK)

Radio time station CHU is moving

After seventy years of broadcasting Canada’s official time, NRC’s shortwave station CHU will move the transmission frequency for the 7335 KHz transmitter to 7850 KHz. The change goes into effect on 01 January 2009 at 00:00 UTC.

Many QRPers use CHU to check propagation and UTC in the field. Follow this link to a full press release on The SWLing Post.

Sol food! Sunspot numbers on the rise.

According to a new article published by NASA, we may have finally hit the rock bottom of the Solar Cycle and are on our way to Solar Cylce 24.  According to sunspot forecaster David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the recent sun spots groups that have appeared on the sun belong to Solar Cycle 24. This is an encouraging development since we have been dealing with the solar minimum for what feels like an eternity in QRP time (nearly 2 years, according to NASA). 

I’ve seen a lot of discussions on ham radio sites, in the ham press and in email groups about hams waiting to try QRP until the next sun spot cylce is in full swing. I don’t think this is necessary. In fact, I have been operating QRP throughout this lull and found that the solar minimum has had no effect on my daily/weekly QRP QSOs in the lower bands (160/80 & 40 Meters). I’ve also done some pretty respectable DX in the higher bands as well. Yes, those DX contacts are more rare, but it makes me appreciate each one even more. 

With that said, QRP will really come alive in the higher bands in a couple of years. There’s no better time to hone your skills than to be practicing when the going is tougher.   It’ll make you a better operator. I promise.

So, box up that amplifier and sell it on eBay. Then, find the power knob on your transceiver and turn it down until you barely notice the power output meter trembling–hit the air and have some QRP fun!

WorldRadio Magazine now a part of the CQ family

I have subscribed to the basic black and white newsprint magazine, “WorldRadio” several times since I first got my ticket. I’ve actually known several hams who have published in this magazine–can’t say that for the glossy magazines.

I also enjoy reading Richard Fisher’s (KI6SN) QRP column each month. He also hosts a very nice QRP blog found here.

It looks like WorldRadio will now become a part of the CQ family of magazines. According to the press release, CQ wants to respect WorldRadio’s flavor, but will transition everyone’s subscription to CQ and make WorldRadio available online. They will keep Nancy Kott (WZ8C) as Editor.

Here is the Press Release:

(Hicksville, NY and Sacramento, CA, November 12, 2008) — CQ Communications, Inc. has acquired “WorldRadio” magazine, CQ Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA and “WorldRadio” Publisher Armond Noble, N6WR, announced jointly today. CQ, based in Hicksville, New York, currently publishes “CQ Amateur Radio, CQ VHF” and “Popular Communications” magazines.

“WorldRadio”, based in Sacramento, California, has been published monthly since July, 1971, with a primary focus on the human side of ham radio. “CQ”, a general-interest ham radio magazine best
known for its support of DXing and contesting, has been in print since January, 1945.
Armond Noble, N6WR, Publisher of “WorldRadio”, said that at the age of 74 the time had come for him to retire. “I wanted to be sure that ‘WorldRadio’ found a good home, and that our readers would continue to be served by an independent voice in amateur radio,” Noble said.

“CQ” Publisher Dick Ross, K2MGA, said, “‘WorldRadio’ has filled an important niche in our hobby for nearly four decades. We welcome “WorldRadio’s” readers to the CQ family, and we look forward to
meeting their needs for many years to come.”

Current plans call for “WorldRadio” to continue to be published online as part of the CQ family of magazines, with Editor Nancy Kott, WZ8C, continuing in that position. “WorldRadio” subscribers
will also have their subscriptions transferred to “CQ” magazine. Readers will be notified of details as plans are finalized.