Tag Archives: New Products

Elecraft KH1 Super Power? Anytime/Anywhere POTA/SOTA Hunting!

Photo from morning SOTA activation on Richland Balsam.

Yesterday morning, I took my Elecraft KH1 to the summit of Richland Balsam and performed a SOTA activation using only the KH1’s whip antenna on 20 meters (I ran out of time to hit 17 and 15M).

It was insane fun. Without really intending to, I actually filmed the entire hike to the summit, entire activation, and the hike back to the car. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before.  I plan to post the video by Monday (Nov 6) if at all possible (again, trying to push my KH1 videos to the front of the line for a little while).

Parking Lot Pedestrian Mobile

After the SOTA activation, I drove back to town to pick my daughters up at their acting class. I arrived about 20 minutes before the class ended and thought, “why not pull out the KH1 and see if I can hunt some POTA activators–?

I opened the trunk of the car, grabbed the KH1 from my SOTA pack and then decided to even film this short, impromptu hunting session.

As you’ll see in the video below, it took no time at all to deploy the KH1, hop on the air and work a couple of stations.

Short Video:

Click here to view on YouTube.

I could have also chased some SOTA activators, some DX, or just looked for a random ragchew with someone calling CQ.

I like hunting/chasing POTA and SOTA activators, though, because the time commitment is manageable. For example, by the time I ended this video, my daughters and one of their friends were already hopping in the car to hit the road. I didn’t have to apologize to anyone for ending a QSO early. 🙂

November is KH1 month

I decided that I’m only going to use the KH1 both in the field and in the shack during the month of November. The only exceptions will be other radios I need to test or if I need to make contacts outside of the 40-15 meter KH1 window.

One of the big reasons for this level of commitment is that I am in the testing group of the KH1. This is how we flesh-out any minor issues that may have gone unnoticed.

Another reason is I do plan to post a comprehensive review of the KH1 eventually and I only feel comfortable doing this after I’ve spent dozens of hours with a radio.

If I’m being honest, another reason is that I absolutely love this anytime, anywhere radio. It’s so insanely portable, I take it with me everywhere. The KH1 and I have been inseparable since last Monday when I took delivery. And, yes, I’m still contemplating what her name will be.

Note that I will post some of my other activations videos this month (I’ve quite a few out there!) and I will also post the occasional bonus video exclusively on Patreon. Indeed, I posted a video on Patreon yesterday where I paired the CHA F-Loop 2.0 with my Icom IC-705.

Stay tuned for more radio goodness and I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

Introducing the new Elecraft KH1 handheld-portable CW QRP transceiver

WG0AT holding the Elecraft KH1

From Elecraft:  something BIG, in an incredibly small package…!

Just this morning, Elecraft introduced the new Elecraft KH1.

In brief, the KH1 is a five-band (40, 30, 20, 17, and 15 meter) handheld QRP CW transceiver with options for an internal battery, internal ATU, whip antenna, and fold-out logging pad.

Exciting!  And if you’d like to get the scoop on this new handheld radio–– along with photos––we’ve got it here.

Q: What is the Elecraft KH1?

WG0AT with the KH1 making contacts pedestrian mobile.

A:  The Elecraft KH1 is a compact, five-band CW QRP transceiver designed for both handheld and tabletop operation. Indeed, the “H” in the model number signifies “Handheld.”

To be clear, although it is quite small, the KH1 isn’t just a tiny radio:  it’s ergonomically purpose-designed, to be a pedestrian-mobile CW station.  It’s lightweight, easy to hold and use, and will fit both right and left-handed operators. With the optional “Edgewood Package,” it also includes a fold-out logging pad.

Q: How much does the Elecraft KH1 weigh?

A: With all options (ATU, Antenna, Battery, and logging pad) the KH1 weighs in at a featherweight 13 oz.

Q: What features does the Elecraft KH1 offer?

A:  Here’s a feature list from the Elecraft brochure:

KH1 features:

  • 40-15 meter ham bands
  • 6-22 MHz for shortwave broadcast band listening
  • CW mode; 5 watts, all bands
  • ATU includes whip & high-Q inductor for 20/17/15 m
  • 2.5 AH Li-Ion battery & internal charger
  • CW decode & 32K TX log
  • Scan/mini-pan feature
  • RTC [Real-Time Clock]
  • Full remote control
  • Speaker
  • RIT, XIT, & VFO lock
  • Light gray case stays cool even in bright sunlight
  • Three CW message memories with chain and repeat functions

Like nothing else on the market…

The KH1 design is all Elecraft and built on several years worth of design iterations. It is, no doubt, fueled by Wayne’s passion for handheld portable HF.

Again, the KH1 focuses on ergonomics that would make handheld operation not only easy, but enjoyable.

The two main multi-function controls (the AF Gain and Encoder), for example, are located on the bottom of the radio. This gives the operator easy and ergonomic access to the controls while the radio is in-hand.

The four buttons on the top of the radio default to the most useful functions one would need while operating portable. Using them to dig deeper into the menu levels, however, is also intuitive and well thought-through.

While the KH1 menus and features are naturally not as deep as those of the KX2 and KX3, it’s impressively well-equipped for a radio this size. At the end of the day, it’s a much more simple field radio––by design––than its KX2 and KX3 predecessors. If anything, it’s more akin to the venerable KX1!

(Source: Elecraft)

The KH1’s paddles (KHPD1) are located at the bottom of the radio––they flip down for transport, and up during use, so your fingers are well away from the AF and Encoder knobs.

The KH1 has an optional internal ATU that is not as wide-range as that of the KX3, KX2, or T1, but is much better than that of the KX1. I understand that it’ll match most of what you throw at it.

Wayne told me that one of the most complicated parts of the KH1 design was the fold-out logging pad. He wanted the logging pad to be functional for one-handed operation. The indents around the loose-leaf logging sheets allow you to pull out a completed sheet and slip it behind the others in the stack.

The logging sheets are available as a PDF download; simply print and cut. No doubt, the format would be easy to modify.

Whipped!

This is the part I love: the KH1 is designed to operate with a telescoping whip antenna.

Basically, you unclip the whip from the side of the radio (assuming you have the ATU/whip option) and screw it on the top of the top. The ATU will match the whip antenna––there’s a mechanical slide switch that selects 15/17 m or 20 m high-Q inductance for whip––or an external antenna on the BNC port.

If you’ve been reading my field reports and watching my videos, you know I’m a huge fan of the Elecraft AX1 antenna. The KH1 basically has the option of a built-in AX1 antenna…Just take my money!

Speed…and stealth

If the counterpoise is already attached and wrapped around the body of the KH1, you will be able to deploy the station and be on the air in about 20 seconds.

As many of you know, I’ve always said that the secret power of the AX1 and AX2 antennas is speed of deployment. The KH1 allows for an even speedier deployment.

This will be most especially appreciated when activating summits in the winter where exposure to the elements from simply setting up the antenna and station will often make your hands go numb.

Also, the KH1 is so low-impact and low-profile, you’ll be able to activate parks that might otherwise be off limits to an HF field installation. I know of one urban park that, with permission, I’ll definitely use the KH1 to activate; it has no park benches and no trees, just a strip of grass around a historic building in the middle of a city. Perfect for the KH1!

KH1 versus KX2?

The KH1 and KX2 are very different animals. Elecraft actually produced this comparison chart to help potential customers make a purchase decision.

KX2 & KH1 Comparison Chart (PDF)

My advice? If you have a KX2 on order, don’t cancel it.

The KH1 is not a KX2 replacement. The KX2 is a much more capable radio. The KH1, however, is a radio focused on ultra lightweight, low-profile, pedestrian-portable, CW HF field operation.

A KH1 review?

Yes, it’s coming! I will purchase and review the KH1 “Edgewood” package. My unit should ship next week, so look for updates and photos, and I will push those field reports and videos to the front of the line.

To be completely transparent:  I have been in a volunteer group of testers for the KH1. Other than this, the only real affiliation I have with Elecraft––besides knowing Wayne, Eric, and some of their staff––is being a long-time customer. I own, or have owned, every radio they’ve ever made, save the K3 and K4 lines. And it’s Elecraft that makes my favorite field radios.

Product Brochure

Click here to download the KH1 product brochure.

Pricing & Availability

As with all Elecraft products, you’ve many options in terms of pricing.

Basic KH1 ($549.95 US):  Including the KH1, power cable, USB cable, manual

KH1 Edgewood Package ($1,099.95): Includes all BASIC KH1 items, plus all options (KHATU1 Antenna Tuner, KHPD1 Keyer Paddle, KHLOG1 Logbook Tray w/mini-ballpoint pen, KXBT2 rechargeable Li-Ion battery, KHIBC1 Internal Battery Charger,  and ES20 Custom zippered carrying case)

Click here to view the Elecraft KH1 on the Elecraft website.

New Product: Xiegu has a new DDC/DUC portable transceiver in the works

Image source: Xiegu (click to enlarge)

It appears Xiegu has a new direct-sampling SDR portable transceiver in the works.

Image source: Xiegu (click to enlarge)

Along with the photos above, here’s the teaser Xiegu shared via their Twitter account today:

Xiegu New product Introduction

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

The FX-4L QRP SDR HF transceiver is on order!

This year, I’ve had a couple of readers very kindly offer to loan me their FX-4C transceivers to take to the field and review.

Those offers have been very temping because I’ve only heard positive comments from owners of this wee feature-packed SDR transceiver designed by Yu (BG2FX).

Earlier this year, I learned that Yu was retiring the FX-4C and would be introducing two new radios, so I decided to hold off on an FX-4C review for this reason.

My buddy, Don, informed me that the new radios were now available for pre-order, so I checked out the option on Yu’s website, and placed an order.

Details (features and specs) are still a little sparse because BG2FX is still finalizing the design and lining up production, but here’s a snapshot of the two models based on Yu’s preliminary info:

The FX-4CR

I was very pleased to read that my buddy John (AE5X) has one of these on order.

The FX-4CR can push 15-20 watts on most bands according to John, which is most impressive for a one pound radio that fits in the palm of your hand! It covers 80 – 6 meters, sports a color screen with a 48 kHz wide waterfall display, an internal sound card for digital modes, built-in speaker and microphone, 9 – 18 VDC input range, and even sports Bluetooth!

That’s an impressive array of features for $550 US (on pre-order).

The FX-4L

I pre-ordered the FX-4L and am told by Yu that it should ship by end of October or early November 2022. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s an optimistic projection.

The FX-4L is essentially a more basic QRP version of the FX-4CR; it’s maximum output power is around 5 watts.

It’s very similar to the FX-4CR in many respects: it has the same display from what I can tell, covers 80 – 6 meters, has a wide voltage range 9 – 18 VDC, sports an internal sound card, and is super compact and lightweight.

The FX-4L doesn’t appear to have Bluetooth. Lu doesn’t mention a built-in speaker or microphone, but there’s an obvious speaker grill and even a small hole that might be a microphone. I’ll try to confirm this. Yu does note that there’s room in the chassis for the user to add a battery or ATU.

I’ve been more interested in the FX-4L because, as you likely know, it’s very rare for me top operate over 5 watts of power.

That said, I certainly see the appeal of a 15W+ radio like the FX-4CR.

(Many thanks to Yu for sharing all of the FX-4L photos above.)

Stay tuned!

I’m really looking forward to checking out the FX-4L and also reading AE5X’s assessment of the FX-4CR.

I’m curious if anyone else has pre-ordered one of these radios. Also, if you’re an FX-4C owner, I’d love to hear your comments!

The New Penntek TR-45L: A Video Tour/Overview, then a full POTA activation!

Yesterday, John (WA3RNC) opened orders for his long-awaited Penntek TR-45L 5 band, CW-only, QRP transceiver.

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!

Quick note about video timeline

Side note for those of you who follow my field reports and activation videos

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.

Now back to the activation…

Continue reading The New Penntek TR-45L: A Video Tour/Overview, then a full POTA activation!

Video: Taking the new (tr)uSDX QRP transceiver on a CW POTA activation!

As I mentioned in a post published three days ago, I’m now the proud owner of a (tr)uSDX QRP transceiver.

The (tr)uSDX has been a much-anticipated QRP transceiver for those of us who love playing radio in the field.

What’s not to love? It sports:

  • Up to 5 watts output power
  • CW, SSB, FM, and AM modes
  • A built-in microphone
  • Five bands: 80, 60, 40, 30, and 20 meters
  • A super compact and lightweight form factor
  • An open-source hardware and software design
  • Super low current consumption in receive
  • A super low price of roughly $89 US in kit form and $143 US factory assembled (via AliExpress, but there are numerous other group buys and retailers)

Frankly speaking, this sort of feature set in such an affordable package is truly a game-changer. Back when I was first licensed in 1997, I could have never imagined a day when a general coverage QRP transceiver could be purchased for under $150 US. The price is almost unbelievable.

My initial impressions

On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, I took the (tr)uSDX to the field to attempt a Parks On The Air (POTA) activation. I had only taken delivery of the (tr)uSDX about 15 hours beforehand and had only had it powered up for a total of 30 minutes the previous day. Most of that time, in fact, was checking the power output at various voltage settings into a dummy load. I did make one totally random SSB POTA contact shortly after hooking the radio up to my QTH antenna.

I knew that taking the (tr)uSDX to the field and making an activation video might not be the best idea having had so little time to play with the radio and get to know it in advance, but then again, I was simply too eager to see how it might perform.  That and I always believe there’s value in sharing first experiences with a radio. Continue reading Video: Taking the new (tr)uSDX QRP transceiver on a CW POTA activation!

The new Inkits Easy Bitx SSB TCVR kit

Many thanks to Robert Gulley (K4PKM) who shares the following news from Inkits:

This is to inform all our valued subscribers that we have launched the much awaited easy bitx kit and few customers have already bought the kit.

The easy bitx kit works on a single band and can be built
for 20mt 40mt or 80mt bands.

This is an enhanced bitx design from the previous versions.
There is a complete manual available with link below.

Easy Bitx Version 1

Complete details are provided in the construction manual to build the kit in 15 Steps.

There are 15 individual kits packets provided to assemble the kit step by step.

The si5351 BFO VFO is provided with the kit in working condition. Only The IF frequency has to be set as described in the manual.

The easy bitx kit is an excellent educational kit for new Hams
who are wish to learn how to build a single band transceiver.
And later use it on the air.

The bitx in various kits and individual mods has been build by thousands of hams world wide, so this way easy bitx is a perfect kit for newbies.

The complete kit can be purchased from our website.

Presently we are shipping world wide with DHL Express.

OpenQRP kit now available in North America

OpenQRPMany thanks to Graham (G3ZOD) who writes:

The OpenQRP 40m CW Transceiver kit is now available for delivery to the USA and Canada from OpenQRP.com (USA) at $150.00 plus $10.00 shipping (USD).

This provides around 6 to 8 Watts output at 13.5 V on 7 MHz. It includes an LCD display, CW decoder, memory keyer, and has 400 Hz IF selectivity. The processor is based on Arduino technology, allowing experimentation with the firmware. It is designed by Steve Elliott, K1EL, well known for his WinKeyer family of keyers.

(The OpenQRP 40m CW Transceiver kit is also available from Kanga Products (UK) http://www.kanga-products.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=76&Itemid=78  at £89 (GBP) excluding delivery.)