The WSJT-X 2.0 software suite has been released, and developer Joe Taylor, K1JT, is urging FT8 and MSK144 users to upgrade to what will become the new standard
The ARRL says:
The FT8 and MSK144 protocols have been enhanced in a way that is not backward compatible with older versions of the program. That includes any version 1.9 releases.
“The new protocols become the worldwide standards starting on December 10, 2018, and all users should upgrade to WSJT-X 2.0 by January 1, 2019,” Taylor said on the WSJT-X home page. “After that date, only the new FT8 and MSK144 should be used on the air.”
RAC supports Canadian National Parks on the Air event
Radio Amateurs of Canada is pleased to announce its support of the Canadian National Parks on the Air (CNPOTA) event which will be held next year from January 1 to December 31.
The CNPOTA Event Committee describes the event in this way:
“All Radio Amateurs worldwide will have an opportunity to operate portably from any of Canada’s 48 National Parks and 171 National Historic Sites (these are ‘activators’). Amateurs around the world will be able to chase these adventurous operators in an effort to confirm the most QSOs (these are ‘chasers’).
Activity for activators and chasers will be tracked on a dedicated website and real-time leader board and other statistics will be available throughout the year. Activators and chasers will be able to compete for and collect online awards and certificates created specifically for the event.
Come join the fun and plan to visit one of Canada’s beautiful Parks and Historic sites next year!”.
RAC will be assisting the organizers in promoting the event through articles in The Canadian Amateur magazine, the RAC website and in social media.
For more information about the event please visit the Canadian National Parks on the Air website at: https://cnpota.ca/
RAC MarCom Director
Radio Amateurs of Canada
The first article deals with buying used and new equipment, while the other article is a review of the uBITX QRP transceiver. Thanks go to Ken Reitz for graciously allowing these to be posted after their initial publication!
And thank you, Robert!
Readers, I highly recommend both of these articles. In his used equipment guide, Robert makes practical suggestions for navigating the world of pre-owned radio gear and shares some important tips. His uBITX QRP Transceiver article is essential reading for anyone who has considered building this incredibly affordable kit.
Many thanks to buddy, David Day (N1DAY), who shares the following announcement from his website:
Announcing the 2019 Lightbulb QSO contest, March 9th 20:00 UTC through March 10th 20:00 UTC.
We’ve all heard the stories…..Joe Elmer was so good at antenna matching that he made a 100 mile 20M QSO on an ordinary 100 watt household lightbulb. So here is your chance to try it out. Go traditional and compete with just a lightbulb dummy load. Or, get creative and invent an antenna design that uses the lightbulb as a key component that makes your antenna work. Five categories of competition give you different paths to gaining bragging rights as TOP BULB in the 2019 Lightbulb QSO contest. Categories of competition are:
1. Household – an antenna constructed of any lightbulb available for purchase in normal home use applications.
2. Commercial/Industrial – an antenna constructed of any lightbulb available for purchase in commercial and/or industrial applications.
3. Homebrew – an antenna constructed of any home made light bulb that radiates visible light when power is applied.
4. Dummy Load – any lightbulb that normally serves as a dummy load (see miscellaneous rules). Please note that the administrators do not recommend this category of operation because it puts both the operator and RF sensitive equipment in close proximity to the load. However, several, lightbulb purists wanted the category so here it is for entry at your own risk.
5. Freestyle – ?anything goes. Get creative and string all of your Christmas lights together, what ever you want and as many lightbulbs as you want. Bring down the power grid if you must.. we just don’t care, but certainly want to reward extreme creativity.
The Objective of the Lightbulb QSO contest is to build and use an antenna constructed in a manner so that the lightbulb is a key component of the antenna and to promote understanding and practical application of antenna matching concepts that allow a lightbulb to be used as a radiator in two way radio communications.
Saturday, March 9th, 2019 20:00 UTC through Sunday, March 10th, 2019 20:00 UTC.
Bands of Operation:
160M, 80M, 40M, 20M, 15M, 10M, 6M
As you might notice, this isn’t the typical QSO Party.
I love the idea–it reminds me of a QSO party I did once which challenged you to use unconventional antennas (I logged a number of contacts using a pair of trampolines!).
I also appreciate the opportunity to build something new and participate in a contest that (obviously) doesn’t take itself too seriously. What fun!
David has spent several months building a variety of lightbulb antennas. Here are a few of his creations:
If a Lightbulb QSO Party sounds like fun to you, start planning your antenna now!
David passed along the following links for guidance:
Dave Benson K1SWL, founder of the renown Small Wonder Labs, listened to you and has designed a 40 meter version of his winning Hilltopper design. Four State QRP Group is honored to have been selected to kit the new transceiver. The Hilltopper is a high performance CW transceiver for the 40M meter band. It is the perfect solution to your portable operation needs – small, lightweight, wide 40 meter frequency coverage and low current drain, extending the life of your portable power source. The receiver is adapted from K1SWL’s SW+ Series with minor modifications. The front-end circuitry was revised to replace the now-vanished 10.7 MHz IF transformers. The receiver output is suitable for headphone use.
The transmitter strip is a proven design using three BS170 transistors for the PA. The frequency source for both transmitting and receiving is a DDS VFO employing a Si5351 PLL module. Control for the rig is provided by an Atmel ATmega328P. This runs both the frequency control and the full-featured CW keyer.
A custom silk-screened PCB enclosure is included with the kit. No drilling or cutting required!
There are two pre-installed SMT ICs on the board, but the remainder are ALL THROUGH HOLE parts, and all jacks and connectors are board mounted, the combination making this kit very easy to assemble with no external wiring needed.
Many thanks to Pete (WB9FLW) who shares the following information regarding HobbyPCB’s much-anticipated portable transceiver which is now shipping. The price is a competitive $529.00.
The following information comes from the HobbyPCB website:
The IQ32 is 5W output, 80-10M Amateur Radio transceiver with powerful 32 bit processing providing high-end features at an entry level price. The IQ32’s 3.2″ color LCD touch-screen display and dual control knobs provide an enjoyable operating experience in a robust package.
Available for immediate delivery!
Introducing the HobbyPCB IQ32 HF transceiver, based on the high performance RS-HFIQ RF system, the receiver in the IQ32 consists of 5 band-pass filters to reject out-of-band signals, an LNA with frequency dependent gain and a conventional quadrature down-converter. The transmitter features a Class A, 5W power amplifier with individual low-pass filters for each band to exceed FCC requirements for spectral purity.
The IQ32 features a large, color, touch-screen display providing an enhanced user interface and informative spectrum and waterfall displays found on radios costing much more. With a powerful STM-32 DSP processor, the IQ32 transceiver has variable filtering, multi-mode AGC, memory functions, built-in PSK encode/decode with keyboard support.
5W not enough power? Add a HARDROCK-50 to your station to boost up to 50W. The IQ32 and HARDROCK-50 seamlessly integrate together for a powerful mobile/base station!
Simple upgradeable firmware, no connection to a computer required, no drivers, no cables. Simply insert a thumb-drive with the appropriate file and the IQ32 updates its own firmware.
Frequency Range: 3-30MHz (performance guaranteed on 80/60/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M ham bands)
Sensitivity: MDS < -128 dBm on 80M dropping to < -135 on 10M
I may see about grabbing an IQ-32 to evaluate. I’m very curious how its receiver might stack up to the Elecraft KX2, the CommRadio CTX-10 and the LnR Precision LD-11. (Please note that these links lead to my other radio site, the SWLing Post.)
It doesn’t appear that the IQ-32 has an AM mode, but I would still like to see how it might handle broadcast listening on the shortwave meter bands using ECSS.
Check out WA2EUJ’s IQ-32 presentation at the 2018 Hamvention on YouTube:
CommRadio dispatched this loaner CTX-10 for evaluation and I’m excited to get my hands on it since it’s not everyday I get to evaluate a transceiver designed around field portability (my favorite category of gear).
Yesterday, I took a few shots of the CTX-10 as I unpacked it:
I’ll need to build a fused power cable with the supplied pigtail and also sort out an 8 conductor (Yaesu compatible) modular plug microphone. Of course, I’ll give this radio a thorough review testing it on SSB, CW and digital modes (especially FT8).
Since the CTX-10 is built on the CommRadio CR-1 and CR-1A I anticipate a capable receiver section (in other words, expectations are high). Of course, I’ll test the CTX-10’s ability as a broadcast receiver as well.
Those of you who are fans of single lever paddles will be pleased to learn that LnR Precision has announced the latest key in their product line: the SKCC Sideswiper.
Here’s the description from the product page:
The SKCC Sideswiper is patterned after the Kungsimport key produced in Kunsbacka, Sweden in the 1980’s by Hakan Scard (professional operator at Gothenburg Radio, SAG) and Ben Jomkert. It is a classic very traditional Sideswiper produced for the Straight Key Century Club.
The light weight Oak fingerpiece allows for a close gap setting making it a very fast key with little chance of chattering. The heavy 2.8 pound base makes it a very stable device on your desk. No chasing this key around the desk or needing two hands to operate.
The SKCC Sideswiper base has a 4″x 3.25″ powdercoated cold rolled steel base with SKCC logo
The blade is highcarbon spring steel and features a Lightweight Oak Fingerpiece
Upper hardware is anodized aluminum with matte finish.
Weight is 2.8 lbs
I think this is a beautiful key–I love the simple design, heavy base and the fact they’re made by a quality key manufacturer.
The price will be $94.95 US.
Thanks for the tip, WD8RIF!
Note: this post was originally publish on my other radio blog, The SWLing Post.
I’ve owned my Elecraft KX3 for five years, and this little rig continues to amaze me.
In 2013, I gave the KX3 one of the most favorable reviews I’ve ever published–and it continues to hold its own. That’s why last year I recommended the KX3 to my buddy and newly minted ham radio operator, Sébastien (VA2SLW), who had already been eyeing the KX3 as his first HF transceiver.
A few weeks ago, Sébastien bit the bullet and is now the proud owner of a KX3 with built-in ATU. He purchased the KX3 with plans to do a lot of field operations including SOTA (Summits On The Air) and also use the KX3 at home.
Wednesday, I popped by Sébastien’s flat to help sort through some low-profile antenna options. I had suggested that he not invest in a factory made antenna just yet, but instead explore what he’s able to do with a simple wire antenna directly connected to the KX3 with a BNC Male to Stackable Binding Posts adapter. I’ve had excellent luck using this simple arrangement this in the past with the KX3, KX2 and even the KX1.
I did a quick QRM/RFI survey of his flat and balcony with my CC Skywave SSB. While there were the typical radio noises indoors, his balcony was pleasantly RFI quiet. At 14:00 local, I was able to receive the Voice of Greece (9,420 kHz), Radio Guinée (9,650 kHz) and WWV (both 10,000 and 15,000 kHz) with little difficulty. His building has incredibly thick concrete walls–I assume this does a fine job of keeping the RFI indoors. Lucky guy!
We popped by a wonderfully-stocked electronics shop in Québec City (Électromike–which I highly recommend) picked up some banana plugs and about 100′ of jacketed wire. We took these items back to the flat and cut a 35′ length of wire for the radiator and about 28′ for the ground. We added the banana plugs to the ends of each wire.
Sébastien temporarily attached one end of the antenna wire to the top of the fire escape and we simply deployed the ground wire off the side of the balcony. Neither of these wires interfere with his neighbors and neither are close to electric lines.
I had planned to cut both the radiator and ground until we found the “sweet spot”: where the ATU could find matches on 40, 30, 20 and 17 meters (at least).
Much to my amazement, the KX3 ATU got 1:1 matches on all of those bands save 80M where it still could achieve a 2.8:1 ratio. I couldn’t believe it!
Frankly, Elecraft ATUs are nothing short of amazing.
Even the ATU in my little KX2 once tuned a 20 meter hex beam to 40 meters and found a 1:1 match to boot. In contrast, the Icom IC-7300 sitting next to the KX2 wasn’t able to match that hex beam even though we performed a persistent ATU search. Not surprising as I wouldn’t expect a 40 meter match on a 20 meter antenna, but the Elecraft ATU did it with relative ease.
Sébastian did a quick scan of the ham radio bands where we heard a number of EU stations. I also took the opportunity to point out how well the KX3 operates as a broadcast receiver with the AM filter wide open and using headphones in the “delay” audio effects mode. The Voice of Greece sounded like a local station–absolutely gorgeous signal.
It was getting late in the day, so I couldn’t hang around to call CQ with Séb, but I left knowing that he is going to have a blast playing radio at home and, especially, in the field. Next, he plans to build a simple mag loop antenna, get a BioEnno LiFePo battery and eventually add other Elecraft accessories to his station. I’d say he’s off to a great start!
From the fertile mind of QRP Hall Of Fame Pete N6QW comes a new Radio Project, the Sudden QRP SSB Transceiver. If you have never Scratch Built such a Rig and would like to N6QW’s latest offering deserves close inspection.
Using only readily available (and cheap) components (and few of them) one can build a Full Blown SSB Transceiver for either 40 or 20 meters. The Radio’s Design will be featured in 2 installments of GQRP’s Sprat Magazine. The 1st being in the Fall issue (Receiver/LO) and the second part with come in the Spring 2019 issue (Transmitter).