It is a new generation of ultra-portable shortwave transceiver. It adopts advanced RF direct sampling architecture and is equipped with powerful baseband and RF units. It integrates rich functions of major models and has built-in popular remote network control function. [B]ringing you a new amateur radio experience.
RF direct acquisition architecture, HF/50MHz full-mode transceiver
Supports listening to WFM broadcast frequency bands and supports listening to aviation frequency bands
Built-in high-efficiency automatic antenna tuner
Support network remote control
Integrated standing wave scanner and voice pager
Integrated modem, preset text messages, CW automatic calling
Standardly equipped with high stability TCXO internal clock source
External expansion equipment can be connected to expand the frequency band
On Sunday, August 20, 2023, en route to check in with my parents, I popped by Lake James State Park for a little early evening POTA fun.
In the car, I’d pack the Elecraft KX2 kit and I still had the REZ Ranger 80 vertical antenna system on loan from REZ Antennas (it’s since been returned to them).
The last time I deployed the REZ was on Mount Mitchell in some pretty sketchy weather. While I recorded a couple of short videos, I didn’t record a full activation video since we were having a family picnic that day.
Before sending the Ranger 80 back, I wanted to fit in a proper activation showing how I deploy the antenna, how I tuned it for the first time, and how it might perform on the 40 meter band.
Lake James State Park (K-2739)
It was golden hour at Lake James and the park was bustling with activity. There were kids running around, parents chasing them, and several families cooking out at the numerous picnic sites.
I sought out a location that was private and quiet mainly because the Ranger 80 antenna has four 31 foot radials, thus a large footprint; I didn’t want children, pets, or anyone tripping on the ground radials.
Fortunately, one of my favorite spots overlooking the lake was free, so I could simply set the Ranger 80 up in the woods where folks weren’t walking.
The Ranger 80 is super easy to deploy: simply extend the vertical, attach it to the top of the base, then attach the stainless spike to the base and plunge the entire thing into the ground. Next, you deploy the four radials and connect it to the base of the antenna.
It only takes a couple of minutes especially since the counterpoises are wound using the over-under method. I simply tossed each line into the woods and didn’t worry if they were all lying perfectly on the ground.
Note to REZ: Consider offering optional high-visibility counterpoise wires–for those of us setting up in busy parks, it would make the ground radials more conspicuous to passersby.
Next, I needed to tune the Ranger 80 for the forty meter band.
Typically, when I use a sliding-tap tuning coil style antenna like this one, I turn on the radio and move the coil until I hear an audio peak, then I fine tune it by sending a “dit” on the radio, checking the SWR, and adjusting the coil slider.
That evening, though, I had my RigExpert AA-35 Zoom antenna analyzer so I set it to continuous SWR monitoring and adjusted the coil until I achieved a good match. Easy.
I should add here that when you use an antenna like this frequently, you learn where the best tap points are on the coil thus tuning becomes easier. My friend Alan (W2AEW) actually made a PVC rig for his coil antenna (click here to check it out).
With the antenna all set up and ready to rock-and-roll, I simply hooked up the Elecraft KX2, my VK3IL pressure paddles, and prepared the logs.
The final boat-only accessible island is Minnie Island, located in the middle of Gardner Lake in the town of Salem, Connecticut. I DO have experience kayaking on a Lake, thanks to my uncle, who has two kayaks and has taken me out on Tillson Lake in New York’s Hudson Valley a number of times. Unlike the challenges the river posed, I felt like I could manage the lake on my own. I did need a kayak, though, which I didn’t own.
I had to do some kayak research then. In case you didn’t know this, different kayaks have different specifications on how much weight they can hold. I’m a big guy, six foot five inches tall. Add me, plus a backpack of radio equipment, and I needed to be sure I didn’t sink.
I started on eBay, looking for people selling used kayaks. There are all different kinds of kayaks. Some made for the ocean and dealing with waves and others for casual lake paddler. Some have rudders, some have small, sealed cockpits and some even have motors. I had no idea how serious you could get with all of the accessories and options. I was really looking for something simple.
After striking out on eBay, I found a fishing supply store at the end of the Connecticut River that also had kayaks you could rent. I visited their web site and was happy to see that they were having an end of season clearance sale, where they were selling their rentals. I visited their shop and after looking at my options, I ended up buying an Old Town Vapor 10 kayak. It came with a paddle and life jacket and it was 50% of the price new. A great bargain. The added benefit is now I own my own kayak…a friend suggested that now that I do, there might be IOTA activations in my future.
What sold me on the Vapor 10 was the open cockpit. No trying to squeeze myself in and plenty of room to bring a backpack with the radio equipment in-between my legs. Also, I was able to fit it into my Jeep Wrangler.
I’m very fortunate in that over the past few years I’ve accumulated a number of QRP radios that I use in rotation when I do park and summit activations.
I’m often asked for advice on choosing radios, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, I feel like the decision is a very personal one–everything is based on an operator’s own particular preferences.
I’ve written formal reviews about most of the field radios in my collection over the years. In those reviews, I try to take a wide angle view of a radio–I try to see how it might appeal to a number of types of operators: field operators, DXers, summit activators, contesters, rag-chewers, casual operators, SWLs, travelers, outdoor adventurers, mobile operators, etc. I highlight the pros and cons, but I don’t focus on my own particular take because, again, my style of operating might not match that of readers. I try to present the full picture as clearly as I can and let the reader decide.
On that note, I thought it might be fun to take a radio out for a field activation and spend a bit of time explaining why I enjoy using it and why it’s a part of my permanent field radio collection. Instead of taking that wide-angle view of a radio like I do in magazine reviews, I share my own personal thoughts based on long-term experience.
Each new video in the Getting To Know You series will highlight one of the field radios from my field radio collection. I’ll spend time in each video explaining what I personally appreciate about each radio, then we’ll do a park or summit activation with the radio.
I’ll release these every few weeks or so–when the notion strikes me. They will not be on a regular schedule, but I hope to include each of my radios in this series over the the next year.
I’ve always been a big fan of Ten-Tec products because I love their focus on quality, high-performance receivers, and benchmark audio fidelity.
Ten-Tec has produced some impressive radios over the years and was a trail-blazer in the world of QRP with their Power Mites and original analog Argonaut series (check out these and more T-T radios here).
When Ten-Tec manufacturing was located in Sevierville, Tennessee, I knew many of the employees of the company and even did Alpha and Beta testing for their QRP radios like the Patriot, Rebel, and Argonaut VI.
I purchased my Argonaut V used in 2021 when I saw it for sale on QTH.com. The price was right and, frankly, I wanted a Ten-Tec radio back in my life.
In the activation video (below) I’ll speak to all of the reasons I love the Argonaut V, why I think it’s so unique, and why I’ve no intention of ever selling it. Then, we’ll perform a POTA activation with it.
Keep in mind that my perspective will primarily focus on HF CW operating–I don’t actually own a microphone for the Argonaut V, but I do plan to at some point.
Lake James State Park (K-2739)
On Sunday, August 13, 2023, I made a detour to Lake James State Park en route to visit my parents in Hickory, NC. As I’ve mentioned many times before, Lake James is one of the easiest parks I can hit in my travels and it’s open every day of the week–in the summer, it’s also open quite late which is a bonus.
The only negative with evening activations at Lake James is fighting the mozzies–they can be persistent!
I picked out a picnic table close to the car and pulled the Argonaut V from my Husky latching box.
I then immediately deployed my MW0SAW 40 meter End-Fed Half-Wave antenna. Since the Argonaut V doesn’t have an internal ATU, the EFHW would give me the flexibility to operate on 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters natively.
Of course, it was in the early evening, so I only intended to hop on 40 meters, but I had the option to move up the band if needed.
After deploying my antenna, I recorded the “Getting To Know You” portion of the activation video–I’d encourage you to check that out below!
Days off from work can be a really great thing. And for someone who spends most of his time indoors at a computer, I try to find plenty of excuses to go outside and get some fresh air. Labor Day is one of those days I get off from work, so I decided I would do a SOTA activation, but I wasn’t entirely sure where.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help with planning a SOTA activation, namely sotl.as, which shows all the summits on a map along with additional information about the summit.
I wasn’t entirely sure which one to pick, so I just searched around and came across Evergreen Mountain, which has the reference designator W0C/FR-076. Doing some research showed that it was about a 2-3 mile hike to the summit from the parking lot, which was perfect. The air around Denver, CO can be somewhat thin and these hikes can be strenuous if you aren’t used to it. I have been living in the Denver area for 2 years and I still am not used to it!
After a small amount of planning, I pack my radio and antenna into a bag along with the usual hiking gear and drive to the base of the mountain. There were a lot of cars already parked there, so I had to park on the side of the road. It seems other people had the same idea that I did!
The trail to the summit of Evergreen mountain was comparatively easy due to the trail being designed for mountain biking. Mountains in Colorado tend to be incredibly steep, which can make them quite the workout, even if the hike is short. This trail consisted of plenty of switchbacks, which made the hike incredibly easy, trading steepness for distance. This was a massive bonus from my perspective!
As you might have guessed, Evergreen Mountain (and the town) get their name from the impressive number of evergreen trees in the area. As you drive towards the town, it almost becomes exclusively pine trees everywhere!
As I walked, I couldn’t help but notice all the fallen pine trees, which concerned me, but I quickly came across a sign explaining the reason.
I really got to enjoy walking through these trees, and listening to the wind howl through the mountains. It also had the benefit of keeping me nice and cool in the reasonable 83° temperature outside.
The trees also blocked the views of the mountains to some extent, but my research showed me that we get plenty of gorgeous views closer to the summit!
Right before the summit loop, I was rewarded with a small glimpse of the views that were to come!
I made it to the summit loop trail, and advanced to the last little bit before the summit. Right before the true summit there is a tenth-mile little trail that leads to a scenic overlook. I, of course, had to go and take a look.
I went back and made it to the summit. The top of the mountain was pretty flat so I just went to what I thought was the summit and set up my station there. Searching around showed that I was well within the activation zone. The area had some nice rocks to sit on as well as trees for me to lash my crappie pole to with para-cord.
I unpacked my gear and started to set up. The gear I brought was as follows:
With SOTA, I have the opportunity to use my VHF/UHF equipment to make some QSOs. I find it quite rare for me to do simplex communication on VHF or UHF these days as I almost exclusively operate on HF. Also, I like to try to operate in the parts of the bands with the lowest license requirement so that the less experienced hams have an opportunity to work me. With this, I can give our technicians a chance to chase SOTA! Continue reading KM4CFT: A Relaxing Labor Day SOTA Activation→
Many thanks to Alan (W2AEW) who shares the following guest post:
Radioactive vacation on LBI (Long Beach Island)
by Alan (W2AEW)
We look forward every August to our much needed 2 week vacation “down the shore” as we say here in New Jersey. Our vacation spot of choice is Long Beach Island, one of the barrier islands on the Jersey coast. This is an 18 mile long island that hugs the Atlantic coast of southern NJ, just north of Atlantic City. The part of the island we love to stay in is called Surf City. The Surf City area has been continually populated since 1690, although the town of Surf City was officially established in the late 1800s.
The XYL and I are both pretty fair skinned, so laying out on the beautiful LBI beaches everyday isn’t really our thing.
So, the house we rent is actually on the bay side, facing west, overlooking the Manahawkin Bay. We enjoy sitting back and watching (and occasionally participating in) the wide variety of activities on the bay – the fishing & crabbing, the power boats, personal watercraft, paddle boarding, sailing, etc. Our favorite though, and the thing that keeps us coming back every year, are the awesome sunsets over the bay.
Of course, we always need to find a house that is pet friendly. Sophie loves LBI also, especially the long walks around town with the sea breeze. Here she is waiting at the top of the stairs – hoping to hear the magical word…. “walk”…
LBI is certainly a family and pet friendly place. Even the local Dunkin Donuts has a wall dedicated to the local pets:
I certainly planned to do a fair amount of QRP operating while on vacation – both from the rental house as well as POTA from the nearby parks (more about this soon). But lest you think this was purely a radioactive vacation, let me reassure you that we did a lot of “normal” vacation activities too.
Like most, a lot of vacation is about relaxing, eating, other stress relieving activities, eating, shopping, and of course, eating… Breakfasts were typically some homebaked muffins, or even some fresh biscuits from the oven with some great Black Bear Jam – a gift from a good friend in NC. Yummy!
The main meals were a mix of good ‘ole home cooking and some great local cuisine, including great Jersey pizza from Panzone’s, fresh local seafood from Mud City Crab House and Pinky Shrimp’s Seafood Company. Of course, no trip to LBI is complete without getting some of the best burgers in the state from Woodies Drive In in Ship Bottom, right next to Flamingo Mini-Golf – one of *many* mini-golf places on the island. I’ve personally seen Ray Romano golfing at Flamingo with his family.
I did manage to do some other “normal” vacation activities besides radio… A couple of relaxing afternoons on the beach, completed a 1000 pc jigsaw puzzle, read two James Patterson novels, lounging on the decks overlooking the bay and lots of strolls with the XYL and the dog.
But who’s kidding who, this is a QRP blog right! Let’s get radioactive!
One of the first tasks after unpacking was setting up the antenna at the rental house. The location was great, right next to the bay! I strapped my slip-fit military fiberglass poles to the corner post of the 2nd floor deck, which made a great support for the 40m EFHW wire. This is the same UNUN & antenna that I featured in a “build” video a few years ago. Continue reading Alan’s Long Beach Island Radioactive Vacation!→
On Tuesday, August 1, 2023, I only had about 2.5 hours to fit in a hike and SOTA activation. That was plenty of time to hit Bakers Mountain!
Bakers Mountain Park has a nice long-ish loop around the perimeter of the park called the “Bakers Mountain Loop”; it’s about 2.75 miles long and has a reasonable amount of elevation change over the topography.
Adding in the spur trail to the true summit of Bakers Mountain, I’d say my total hike is about 3.25 miles or so.
Note that I actually include a bit of my hike to and off of the summit in the activation video below.
Once on the summit, I chose a spot to set up. Since I planned to deploy my 40 meter end-fed half-wave, I looked for a branch overhanging the summit perimeter trail.
Next, I deployed my trusty 40 meter EFHW that Steve (MW0SAW) made.
Many thanks to Dale (N3HXZ) who shares the following guest post:
SOTA and POTA in the San Juan Islands
by Dale Ostergaard (N3HXZ)
My wife and I like to take educational tour vacations from time to time. The outfit we mostly use is Road Scholar.
The tours are geared around education and immersion in local cultures and experiences. In addition, you meet a lot of like-minded people on the tour and make new friends. Last summer we wanted to take a vacation to the pacific northwest. We had never been there and came across a tour through the San Juan Islands. The islands are located north of Seattle and east of Vancouver. Touring the islands is made easy on a guided tour as they arrange for all transportation between islands and on land.
Washington State has an excellent network of ferries serving the island which makes for easy connections to the islands.
After we booked the vacation I began wondering if there were SOTA and POTA opportunities on the islands. I quickly looked up sites on the SOTA Goat app and the POTA website. Low and behold there was a treasure trove of parks and summits!
Realizing the opportunity, I cross checked our itinerary with the parks and summits. The difficulty of course is that when you are on a guided tour, you have very little flexibility in the schedule, let alone transportation to go off on your own. After researching, I found 4 opportunities that included 3 parks and 1 summit. The parks were K-0061 San Juan National Historic Park, K-3223 Lime Kiln Point State Park, both on the island of San Juan, and K-3232 Moran State Park and summit W7W/RS-065 Mount Constitution on Orcas Island. The Summit lies inside the park so I had the opportunity to grab both with 1 activation. Continue reading N3HXZ: SOTA and POTA in the San Juan Islands!→
I’m on a POTA quest – activate all references in the state of Connecticut. There are 136 parks in the state and four of them are islands, only accessible by boat. Three of which are in the Connecticut River: Dart Island (K-1659), Haddam Island (K-1673) and Selden Neck State Park (K-1714).
I don’t own a boat. Plus, even if I did, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to tackle the Connecticut River on my own. I have no experience navigating these waters, and it’s a real river, more than you’d want to try with a kayak with the currents and all. Even the POTA web pages for these islands warns “Boating experience and channel knowledge recommended.”
This created a dilemma – how do I get to and activate these islands?
I strategized for a while and decided on chartering a “river cruise” boat who actually listed visiting Dart and Haddam islands as part of their services on their web site. The boat captain hadn’t visited Selden Neck, so that was new, even to him. However, he had a radar, and depth finder on his boat that mapped the channel and gave us the depths of the waters near each island. His boat drew 3 feet, so we had to have at least that much depth in each place we stopped. He also had a small “Achilles” boat that connected to the back of the cabin cruiser that we used to get ashore.
We left from a marina that was directly across the river from Dart Island but decided first to head South to Selden Neck and then work our way back North to Haddam and Dart.
Putting aside the island access for a moment, I also had to strategize on what gear to bring along to do these activations. I am primarily a digital mode activator and have used the Elecraft KX3 and AX1 antenna in many of my travels where I needed a light kit.
However, I thought, I can use the KX3 but take along a more efficient antenna. I used my Buddipole tripod and mast with a versa-T and a 17’ 9” Alpha whip antenna and a 15’ counterpoise elevated off the ground with a Home Depot electric fence post.
Because the mast elevates the versa T to 11’ high, and the telescoping whip at another 17’ 9”, I was able to get the antenna nearly 30’ off the ground to the top. It was easy to pack and carry and provided better coverage than the AX1 would have. You’ll see just how good QRP on FT8 can be in my Dart Island coverage map.
Backup of everything in another bag in case I ended up in the water, including a spare radio and computer.
Once I decided on the KX3 and the Alpha telescoping whip, I packed my backpack with the computer, cables, the radio, batteries and extra antennas. I always have the AX1 and a Packtenna EFHW as backups and they fit easily into the backpack. Two bags would need to make it from the boat to each island, the radio gear with computer and the antenna bag with the tripod and telescoping antenna. To be safe, since it would not be easy to do this again if something didn’t work, I brought along an entire backup system, packed in a second backpack with an Icom 705 and my spare laptop.
One of my goals with POTA is local discovery, and my boat captain was very knowledgeable about the river and the various sites along the shores. I learned that a manufacturing plant owned by Pratt and Whitney still uses water from the river as part of their manufacturing processes and also that there was a sea plane airport along one bank. I saw an automobile ferry along the way that I had no idea existed and saw the site of the former Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant that was decommissioned in 2004. Continue reading POTA Quest: Conrad Activates Three Connecticut River Islands!→
Just back from a family holiday to Croatia and I was lucky enough to be able to take a QRP station with me on my travels. It’s always good to stop and review what you took and how it worked out, else you won’t be able to iterate and improve next time.
My wife and I have always been efficient minimalist travellers and even now with our daughter the traditional continues. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love to get their inner pack geek on when it comes to QRP ham radio and travel!
I’m very lucky to own several QRP radios, Elecraft KX2, FT-818, IC-705, but for minimalist ops they are all a/ too expensive and/or b/ too heavy & bulky. The choice naturally brought me to a CW rig and after some deliberating I chose my Venus SW-3B over my newly constructed QCX mini. The Venus is just more versatile having 3 bands and SSB RX.
So the item I spent weeks torturing myself about prior to the holiday was the antenna. You have to try to imagine from where you will operate. I don’t think you can beat a wire antenna like the K6ARK EFHW however you need trees or a mast, I thought I was most likely to operate from the hotel room balcony. I came to the conclusion, despite the extra bulk, that the Gabil 7350T and Tripod would be my companions.
And how did I get on? Well the first time I setup the station on the balcony the electrical interference was terrible, and I could not hear any signals. So I had to adapt and go for plan B. Which actually turned out to be a stunning spot.
Operating on a small jetty next to the salt water on the island of Sveti Nikola near the town of Porec in the early mornings, I deployed my station and called CQ. You can see from the RBN that my 5 watt signal was making a good impact, however only had a couple of European stations come back to me from my calls.
I decided to switch to hunt and pounce mode, and I was amazed to work several USA, VK and ZL stations over a few days. It’s such a great feeling to work DX with such a modest setup. The icing on the cake for an already special family holiday. I think you will agree such a beautiful place.
So overall I was very happy with my station choices.
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