The kit version has been delayed for the time being due to several (most) beta builders experiencing frustration with the process of assembling the front panel onto the main board with 15 loose and unsoldered switches, jacks, and controls. These issues indicate that the TR-45L kit version will most likely be offered as a semi-kit with the main board being largely factory assembled, leaving the pre-aligned plug-in RF board in kit form. The internal battery option would be available in this kit version, but not the Z-Match ATU.
A second kit version in a thinner housing is also being considered (see the TR-45L “Skinny” photos). This version would be offered with no options available (other than a $20.00 tilt bail) as there is no room inside the thinner housing for the internal battery nor the ATU option. It does, however, contain an internal speaker. Unfortunately, while greatly simplifying construction, these semi-kits will erode the normally expected cost savings with a kit. The best guess price for these TR-45L semi-kits would be around $500.00. We welcome your thoughts and opinions on these semi-kit concepts.
For those interested in signing up for the reservation list, you can use the reservation form linked here. Be advised, it could take up to 6-8 weeks until they are ready to be shipped.
The TR-45L has been a long time coming, and I thank you for your patience during the development cycles with parts procurement issues due to the covid pandemic. Let’s hope that the ugly covid experience is behind us…
In a nutshell, the TR-45L Skinny will simply be a TR-45L in a skinnier chassis with no option for an internal battery nor Z-Match ATU, but will still have an internal speaker.
For those of you who don’t care for the Z-match or internal battery, the TR-45L Skinny will certainly be more portable and less bulky than the original TR-45L.
I suspect the performance will be identical. I’m sure the internal speaker will work well, but I will be curious if it sounds as full-fidelity as the original TR-45L. I might ask John for a loaner to check it out once released!
Again, if interested in this variant of the TR-45L, you might wish to fill out the reservation form.
Because I receive so many tips from readers here on QRPer, I wanted way to share them in a concise newsletter format. To that end, welcome to QRPer Notes, a collection of links to interesting stories and tips making waves in the world of radio!
IC-705 Firmware Update
Many thanks to Uli Zehndbauer who notes that Icom recently released a new firmware update for the IC-705.
Here are the details/notes about this firmware version from Icom:
Changes from Version 1.27
– Displays the Receiving (or Transmitting) route icon (RF or TM: Terminal mode) on the RX History Log and QSO Log
– Displays the Receiving (or Transmitting) route icon (RF or TM: Terminal mode) to the chunk information in the QSO audio file
– Displays the Receiving route icon (TM: Terminal mode) to the following screens;
RX HISTORY screen
GPS POSITION (RX) screen
QSO audio, PLAY FILES screen
QSO audio, FILE INFORMATION screen
– Improves the WLAN access point list so that you can delete the connected or saved access points
– Improves the CI-V command 1F 01 (DV transmit call sign) so you can set only the “UR” call sign without the other call signs.
In the past two weeks I’ve received a number of video links from QRPer readers who are featuring CW activations in their YouTube videos.
First up is Steve (K9NUD) who has started a new channel featuring his CW activations primarily using a cootie/sideswiper. Steve is doing something I wish I had the time to do which is add CW closed captions to his videos. This makes it easy to follow along. Check out this video:
Jonathan (KM4CFT) recently noted in the comments of my YouTube channel that he made a video of his third ever CW POTA activation. I had to check it out and am glad I did. You get a very good idea of what it’s like on the air as a CW newbie. In other words: not that bad at all! Incidentally, when I looked up Jonathan on QRZ, I discovered we have a mutual friend in Zach (KM4BLG).
Keep up the great work, Jonathan!
Chris (KD2YDN) sent me a link to the following video on his new YouTube channel. In the video I actually get to hear what my signal sounded like during his SOTA/POTA activation. He certainly captured some amazing morning scenery and a gorgeous sunrise from Westkill Mountain:
I think you should consider checking out these videos and subscribing!
The ARRL Handbook 100th Edition
The ARRL has announced pre-orders for their new ARRL Handbook. I feel like everyone should have a copy of the Handbook. It’s simply chock-full of useful information–much of which is simply timeless. I still reference the 1994 handbook my buddy Mike (K8RAT) gave me shortly after I got my license in 1997. I feel like it’s important to have reference material like this in paper.
As a side note, I’ve been to a number of shortwave radio broadcast transmitting stations and at each one of them I’ve seen the ARRL Handbook on the Chief Engineer’s shelf. Lots of great radio principles inside.
The book is $80 on pre-order. That’s a lot for a book, but it’s also a LOT of book!
Here’s the announcement from the ARRL:
We have arrived at a milestone. The 100th edition of The ARRL Handbook for Radio Communications is here: Handbook 100. How do you celebrate the most widely used one-stop reference and guide to radio technology principles and practices? By continuing to fill the pages of another edition with the progress and achievement of radio amateurs. Handbook 100 is written for everyone with a desire to advance the pursuit of wireless technology. Here is your guide to radio experimentation, discovery, and innovation.
Each chapter is filled with the most up-to-date knowledge representative of the wide and ever-expanding range of interests among radio amateurs. There are practical, hands-on projects for all skill levels — from simple accessories and small power supplies to legal-limit amplifiers and high-gain antennas.
Radio electronics theory and principles
Circuit design and equipment
Signal transmission and propagation
Digital modulation and protocols
Antennas and transmission lines
Updated with new projects and content, including:
An all-new chapter on radio propagation covering a wide range of bands and modes
New and updated sections on electronic circuit simulation
New cavity filter and high-power HF filter projects
New coverage on digital protocols and modes
New material on RFI from low-voltage lighting and other sources
Revised sections covering new RF exposure limits
New content on portable station equipment, antennas, power, and assembly
New material on ferrite uses and types
New section on how to use portable SDR to locate sources of RFI …and more.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve had the pleasure of helping John beta test this radio for the past month. In that time, I’ve gotten to know the radio from the inside out and have even taken it on a few POTA activations. In fact, with John’s permission, I just posted my first TR-45L activation video for Patreon supporters yesterday. The radio was using an early firmware version in that video.
TR-45L Video Tour and Overview
Yesterday, after an early morning appointment, my schedule opened up; a rarity in my world.
I then got the idea to take the TR-45L out to a park, do a full video overview of its features, then put it on the air in a POTA activation.
Hazel loved this idea too.
So I packed the TR-45L, a log book, my throw line, and two 28′ lengths of wire. Hazel jumped in the car before I could invite her.
I’ve used a wide variety of antennas on the TR-45L over the past weeks, but I hadn’t yet performed a park activation only using two lengths of wire and relying on the TR-45L’s optional Z-Match manual antenna tuner. This would make for a great real-life test!
I pushed this video to the front of the line since the TR-45L just hit the market. I wanted to give potential buyers an opportunity to see and hear this radio in real world conditions thinking it might help them with their purchase decision.
I’m currently about 7 weeks behind publishing my activation videos. Much of this has to do with my travel schedule, free time to write up the reports, and availability of bandwidth to do the video uploads (I’ve mentioned that the Internet service at the QTH is almost dial-up speed).
I was able to publish this video within one day using a new (limited bandwidth) 4G mobile hotspot. Patreon supporters have made it possible for me to subscribe to this hotspot service and I am most grateful. Thank you!
So that I can publish this report quickly (this AM), I’m not going to produce a long-format article like I typically do. Instead, this is one of those rare times when the video will have much more information about the radio and the activation than my report. I’ve linked to and embedded the video below.
YAESU is excited to announce a new HF/50MHz 100W SDR Transceiver – FT-710 AESS.
The new FT-710 AESS is a compact design yet provides 100W output, utilizing the advanced digital RF technology introduced in the FTDX101 and FTDX10 series.
A few of the remarkable features of the new FT-710 AESS are:
YAESU Unmatched SDR technology emphasizes the Receiving Performance
Band Pass Filters dedicated for the amateur bands to eliminate out-of-band unwanted signals
RF Front-End design with the 250MHz HRDDS (High Resolution Direct Digital Synthesizer) enables phenomenal Multi-Signal Receiving Characteristics
QRM rejection by the dual core 32-bit high speed floating decimal point DSP for SHIFT/ WIDTH/ NOTCH/CONTOUR/ APF (Audio Peak Filter)/ DNR (Digital Noise Reduction)/ NB (Noise Blanker) and 3-Stage Parametric Equalizer
High Resolution 4.3-inch TFT Color Touch Panel Display
3DSS (3-Dimensional Spectrum Stream)
VMI LED (VFO Mode Indicator) placed around the VFO dial shows the current operating mode (VFO-A, VFOB, Memory Mode and Clarifier/Split Operation)
“PRESET” Mode Function most suitable for FT8 Operation
AESS: Acoustic Enhanced Speaker System with SP-40 creates the high-fidelity audio output#
External Display Connection Terminal (DVI-D)
Built-in High Speed Automatic Antenna Tuner with 100 channel memory
Support the FC-40 Auto Antenna Tuner
SD Memory Card can be used to save the communication record, transceiver setting, the memory contents, screen capture images, and to update the firmware
Two (2) USB Ports (Type-A and Type-B)
Other essential features such as CW ZIN and SPOT, IPO (Intercept Point Optimization), and Remote Operation with Network Remote Control System to name a few
Because I receive so many tips from readers here on QRPer, I wanted way to share them in a concise newsletter format. To that end, welcome to QRPer Notes, a collection of links to interesting stories and tips making waves in the world of radio!
Simon’s World Map
Many thanks to reader, Mike Bott, who notes that Simon’s World Map has been updated to V1.2.3.
Did you know that there is an ever growing list of Software and Apps that allow you to practice and/or learn Morse Code using Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Android and other devices? Truly a great idea, but, if you’ve ever tried using a mouse to send Morse Code, I am sure you’ll agree that it is makeshift at best. But why?
Because It takes the right tools for the job!
To Send Morse Code it takes a Proper Built Key Or Paddle.
Now You can practice with a host of software and apps using your own device!
On Sunday, November 28, 2021, my family needed a little time outdoors after a Saturday full of home projects.
I packed my field radio kit in the GoRuck Bullet Ruck, then we jumped in the car and drove to the Clear Creek Access of South Mountains State Park (the same site in my previous POTA field report).
South Mountains State Park (K-2753)
It was a gorgeous day and we had the park to ourselves. First thing we did was hike the short Lakeview Trail loop.
This trail is only 1.3 miles long, but offers up some beautiful views.
Hazel also came along and enjoyed the sights, smells, and even got her feet wet in a stream!
Fortunately, no one was using the one solitary picnic table at the Clear Creek access, so we claimed it!
First thing I did was launch a line and deploy my 28.5′ speaker wire antenna.
I knew it would pair perfectly with the Elecraft KX2!
The new N6ARA TinyPaddle
This activation also gave me an excuse to check out a paddle my buddy Ara (N6ARA) recently designed.
He calls it the TinyPaddle:
An appropriate name, because this key is wee! Ara notes:
As someone who likes bring experimental gear to summits, I have had paddles break on me multiple times. […] I don’t like carrying the extra weight/volume of a second set of paddles, so I designed my own “TinyPaddle” for backup as a middle ground option. It weighs roughly 3.7g and is 1.2cm x 1.2cm x 5.0cm in size.
He’s right, the TinyPaddle could tuck away even in the most compact of field kits. You’d never know it was there.
Here’s the TinyPaddle connected to the side of my Elecraft KX2:
Ara sent this key to me for frank feedback (prior to doing a small production run of them) knowing I’d not only check it out in the shack, but (of course!) take it to the field.
I decided to do my activation at South Mountains State Park using only the TinyPaddle.
Before taking it to the field, I had some concerns that the TinyPaddle might turn in the 3.5mm key port on the side of the KX2 as I used it. Once plugging it in, though, I could tell that it would not be a problem at all. The paddle is so lightweight and so sensitive, it’s simply not an issue. In fact, it would be rather difficult to use it in such a way that it would shift in the 3.5mm port.
On The Air
Knowing in advance that it was a contest weekend (the CQWW), I decided I would stick with the WARC bands during this activation.
I tuned the speaker wire antenna to 10.112 MHz on the 30 meter band.
The 30 meter band was more crowded than usual as many other POTA/SOTA/WWFF and casual operators sought refuge from the signal density on 40 and 20 meters.
Since I had the family with me and since we’d spent most of our time at the park eating a late picnic lunch and doing a casual hike, I allotted only 20 minutes of air time for this activation. I was hoping I could validate the activation with 10 contacts in that amount of time.
I started calling CQ with the N6ARA paddles. First thing I noticed was how sensitive and precise they were. Although the TinyPaddle is a mechanical paddle (with spaced contacts), they feel more like a capacitive touch paddle they’re so sensitive.
I started calling CQ POTA and soon logged KE4Q.
A few minutes later, I worked AI8Z, followed by W5WIL, WO0S, WA2JMG, AA0Z, WA2FBN, N0VRP, KA3OMQ, W9SAU, and K1MZM.
With a total of 12 stations logged in 21 minutes, I went QRT.
Here’s what 5 watts into a 28.5′ speaker wire did on 30 meters that fine day (click map to enlarge):
Here’s a video of my full activation. Hazel was being very camera shy; for some reason, she doesn’t like the OSMO Action camera. My wife and I think it must resemble something she’s seen at the vet’s office? We may never know!
Ara is obviously a talented engineer. I’m always impressed with devices like this that are so simple, yet so effective.
The TinyPaddle is going to live in my KX2 field pack as a backup to the KXPD2 paddles which have actually failed me in the field before.
That time the KXPD2 failed me…
I mention in the video that I once needed to use my Elecraft KXPD2 paddles to communicate with my buddy Mike (K8RAT) to share my SSB frequency for a very rare park activation I activated in the spring of 2020. After plugging the KXPD2 paddles into the KX2, I found that I could only send “dits.” I couldn’t even set it up to send as a straight key from one side of the paddle.
This forced me to drive 25 minutes to a spot where I had cell phone reception to contact Mike with info for a spot, then drive back to the site. That effectively shortened my activation of this ATNO park by 50 minutes!
I sent Elecraft the photo above and they quickly identified the problem: turns out, one of the center posts had loosened and fallen out. They immediately sent me a replacement post free of charge (typical Elecraft customer service).
I use the KXPD2 paddles quite a lot because they mount directly to the front of the KX2 making it possible to use my kneeboard during SOTA activations. Since that mishap in the field, I tighten the KXPD2 posts at least once a month and also carry a precision screwdriver with me in my field kit.
A proper backup!
But having the TinyPaddle now is even extra insurance that a paddle failure won’t stop me from completing my activation!
When I made the video, I wasn’t certain if Ara was planning to do a production run of these or not. I’m very pleased to see that he has!
I hope you enjoyed this field report and activation.
I’d like to send a special thanks to those of you who are supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free–I really appreciate the support.
My daughter Geneva (K4TLI) took a few extra photos at the park that day. Enjoy!
It seems folks are now finding out about the new Xiegu X6100 HF & 6 meter portable transceiver.
There have been a few rumors about it, so I thought I’d share some of the few details that have been confirmed.
What is the X6100?
If the Xiegu X5105 and Xiegu GSOC had a baby, it would look like the X6100.
The X6100 is a completely self-contained SDR QRP transceiver much like the X5105. The X6100 sports a 4″ high-resolution color capacitive touch screen and is built on on a quad-core processor, 4G ROM, and 512MB RAM. I assume this will run on a similar Linux version/distro as the GSOC.
The X6100 will include an internal automatic antenna tuner (ATU) and a 3500 mAh internal rechargeable Lithium Ion battery pack.
Power output will be 5 watts when using the internal battery pack and 10 watts when connected to an external power source.
Modes: USB/LSB (J3E), CW (A1A), FM (F3E), RTTY (F1B), AM (A3E)
Pricing and availability have not been determined at time of posting. I will post an update when that information can be confirmed.
I can only assume bringing this new radio to fruition will take time. Most radio manufacturers are struggling to keep up inventory levels as we work our way out of the C-19 pandemic supply chain issues. Parts availability has become a real issue.
Thank you for designing these apps and sharing them, Craig. I love the simple design–I’m loading this on my iPhone. It’ll make for an easy check before I head to the field for a summit or park activation.
In the case of the iWatch app, I see this being a very “handy” tool! (See what I did there–? Yeah, sorry for that.)
Chameleon Antenna has sent me a number of their antenna systems to evaluate in the field over the past few months at no cost to me. I appreciate not only the opportunity to test these antennas, but to provide the company with my frank feedback.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Chameleon antennas are military grade and build here in the US (check out Josh’s tour of their factory). You pay a premium price–compared to imported options–but their gear is built for performance, easy deployment, and longevity.
What has impressed me most about Chameleon gear is how flexible and modular it is. Their antenna systems are adaptable to almost any situation and always built around the idea of emergency communications.
Recently, Chameleon sent me their new CHA TDL or Tactical Delta Loop antenna. This vertical loop antenna has been designed to be portable, and tunable from 3.5 to 54.0 MHz (80-6M), but, as Chameleon points out, “is most effective on the bands from 10.1 to 54.0 MHz (30-6M). ”
If I’m being perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect this antenna to look like–in terms of size–once deployed, so I set it up in the front yard prior to taking it to the field.
Set up couldn’t have been more simple: attach the 17′ telescoping whips to the stainless steel spike (with one whip attached to the Hybrid Micro), extend the whip sections, then attach the loop wire to connect the tips of both whips.
It might have taken me four minutes to set up the TDL on the first go.
This antenna needs a little space for sure: this isn’t one you could easily deploy in a dense forest, but it has a very flat profile vertically. I can’t think of a single park I’ve activated that couldn’t accommodate the CHA TDL.
I like to try to give gear a fair chance when I do evaluations and thought I’d wait until propagation was at least stable before taking the TDL to the field and making a real-time, real-life video (as I used it for the first time). But, frankly, I’m way to impatient to wait for the sun to play fair! Trial by fire…
Lake Norman State Park (K-2740)
On Monday (March 15, 2021) I packed up the CHA TDL and headed to Lake Norman; one of my favorite parks to play radio.
Propagation left much to be desired that afternoon, but the weather was perfect.
I decided to pair the CHA TDL with my Icom IC-705. Since the CHA TDL requires an ATU, I connected the mAT-705 Plus.
NVIS on the low bands
I had no idea what to expect from the CHA TDL in terms of performance, but Chameleon notes that it provides Near-Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) propagation on 40 and 80 meters. NVIS antennas are very popular for the military and for emergency communications since the propagation footprint is much closer to home than it might normally be.
NVIS is also a brilliant option for park and summit activators, especially if they’re activating in an area with a high density of park/summit chasers. For example, if you live and activate sites in the state of Maryland, employing a NVIS antenna might make your site more accessible to the DC metro area, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey–regions that might otherwise be in the skip zone of your 40 meter signal.
On the air
Operating five watts CW, I started calling CQ POTA on 20 meters and snagged four stations in about seven minutes.
I was very pleased to work a station in California and one in Montana with five watts. (Though I need to check, this might have been my first MT station logged from a park.)
Next, I moved to 40 meters and was very curious if the TDL would provide me with proper NVIS propagation.
It did! One litmus test for me is when I work stations in Tennessee on 40 meters. Typically, I only log TN stations when on 80 meters or when I’ve configured one of my wire antennas for NVIS coverage.
Here are my logs from this 28 minute activation:
Here’s a QSOmap of the activation–the delineation between my four 20 meter contacts and eight 40 meter contacts is pretty evident:
In a future video, I’ll show how I deploy the CHA TDL.
Unfortunately, I left my tripod at home, so apologies for the viewing angle as I operated the IC-705.
This first test of the CHA TDL really couldn’t have gone better.
I was able to easily deploy it on sloping ground, among trees, in a state park, and snag both locals and QRP DX within a brief window of time on the air. All this, while our local star tried its best to interfere.
In terms of construction, the TDL is what I would expect from Chameleon: military grade.
For park activators and Emcomm purposes, the CHA TDL makes for a convenient, portable NVIS antenna on 40 and 80 meters.
While I have lighter, smaller footprint antenna options for SOTA, I must admit I’m very curious how it might perform on 20 and 17 meters from the summit of a mountain. The idea of being able to rotate the antenna and change the propagation footprint is very appealing. I’ll save this experiment for a summit that doesn’t require hours of hiking, though, and one where I know I can jab the stainless steel spike in the ground (i.e. not on top of a rocky mountain).
Any negatives? When I first deployed the TDL at home, we were having 30+ MPH wind gusts. When the gusts shifted, it did move the antenna. This could be remedied pretty easily by using a bit of fishing line filament to tie off one side of the loop. With that said, I’m not sure I’d configure the TDL as a loop if I expected strong winds. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this might not be the best antenna to pack if you plan to include a multi-hour hike in your activation.
And herein lies the brilliant thing about Chameleon Antennas: If I packed in the CHA TDL and found that winds were strong on site, I would simply configure it as a vertical instead of a loop!
The CHA TDL can easily be configured as a CHA MPAS Lite portable vertical: all it’s missing is a counterpoise wire which you can buy separately from Chameleon or, better yet, just use some spare wire you have on hand!
Or, you could configure it as a random wire antenna by directly connecting a length of wire to the Hybrid Micro transformer.
That’s the thing about Chameleon HF Antennas: they can be configured so many different ways.
If you’re interested in the CHA TDL, I’d strongly encourage you to read though the user manual: it’s chock full of info and ideas. Click here to download as a PDF.
Next time I take the CHA TDL out, I think it’ll be to a summit where I’d like to see how it might perform on the higher bands with the ground sloping away from the antenna site.