Tag Archives: X6100

Pairing my new Xiegu X6100 with a 31 foot speaker wire antenna (and avoiding RX overload)

Regular readers of QRPer.com might question the wording in my title since I’ve already posted several field reports and even a full review of the Xiegu X6100. So why would this X6100 be considered a “new” radio–?

Since I go over this in more detail in the activation video (linked and embedded below), I’ll give you the nutshell version here:

My activations with the X6100 early this year (2022) were all performed using a loaner unit sent to me by Radioddity. I kept that unit for a few weeks, shipped it on, and purchased one of my own.

In February, when I received the X6100 I purchased, I immediately noticed a small mechanical issue with the encoder.

This is the X6100 open. You can see the back of the encoder to the right of the ribbon cable.

I tried fixing it (with instructions received from Xiegu) but in the end had to return the transceiver for replacement.

The X6100 unit in this field report is my replacement–technically, the third X6100 I’ve had in my hands, and this was my first activation using it.

Many of you have asked why I haven’t taken the X6100 to the field more often this year and this is why. I basically didn’t have a functioning unit for most of February, March, and April. Radioddity was quite responsive to my issues with the X6100, but frankly I had a lot going on during that time frame so it took longer than normal to troubleshoot, modify, test, and send back the faulty unit.

Fortunately, the replacement X6100 has no encoder issues other than the brake is very tight. I’m not willing to break the warranty seal on this unit to adjust it, so I’ll just live with a much-tighter-than-I’d-like encoder.

[Update: Bob (W0BNC) points out that the tight brake is due to friction caused by a felt pad under the X6100 encoder knob. The remedy is to pull off the rubber ring around the encoder knob, loosen the set screw, lift the knob slightly off the body, and retighten. I’ll do this when I’m back with the X6100 after summer travels. Thanks, Bob!]

X6100 field kit test

This activation was also the perfect opportunity to test all of the components of a dedicated field kit I’m building around the X6100.

The kit consists of:

  • The Xiegu X6100 QRP transceiver,
  • a BNC binding post adapter,
  • paddles,
  • the X6100 battery charger,
  • a 31′ speaker wire antenna
  • 25 meters of 2mm throw line,
  • a weaver 8oz weight, and a
  • logging pad and pencil.

Everything, save the antenna, fits in my Red Oxx Hound EDC pack.

Eventually, I’ll replace the speaker wire with some thinner Wireman stuff and it should all fit in the Hound pack, albeit snuggly!

I’ve decided that the X6100 will live at my parents’ home in the NC foothills, so I’ll always have a field radio kit available while staying there overnight.

Lake Norman State Park (K-2740)

On May 9, 2002, an opportunity opened up in the afternoon to finally take my new X6100 to the field! Continue reading Pairing my new Xiegu X6100 with a 31 foot speaker wire antenna (and avoiding RX overload)

Xiegu X6100: N2HTT’s 3D printed frame and side rails

A few weeks ago, Mike (N2HTT), reached out and asked if I could test his prototype Xiegu X6100 3D-printed frame/cage. Mike is the same fellow who sent my daughter (K4TLI) side rails for her LnR Precision LD-11.

When his package arrived, I was very pleased to find out that the frame fits around the X6100 chassis. There’s no need to replace any of the X6100’s chassis screws; the side rails snap snuggly on the sides of the radio and when the components are screwed together, it holds them tightly.

The build quality is excellent and the PLA2 material feels very strong. The package came with all hardware (click here to download the PDF assembly manual). It might have taken me 10 minutes to assemble it.

I think it’s brilliant.

As with many rig frames, the side rails can make access to the encoder and knobs slightly more difficult. It doesn’t bother me, however especially since my X6100 encoder has a fair amount of brake by default (I mention this in my X6100 review).

The frame fully protects all sides of the radio and (especially) the protruding encoder and knobs which I believe are the most vulnerable parts of the radio.

I also love the flip-down screen protector which can serve as both a sun shade or as a tray to hold your phone in the field.

If you’re looking for a frame for your X6100, I believe this is a great option.

Mike is selling the complete frame kit for $65 US. He will customize the screen cover with your callsign and he has a number of color options available.

Photos:

Click here to check out the X6100 frame at N2HTT’s Etsy Shop.

Xiegu X6100: Greg uses an OTG mouse for better selection control

Many thanks to Greg who writes:

After seeing your YouTube channel, I decided to try my hand at POTA operations. There are at least three state parks on the POTA list nearby. I am trying to increase my CW speed, because CW would be a bit more efficient for operations.

[…]I have gotten an Xiegu X6100. The biggest reason was it is Linux based, which I am familiar. It is a nice size also has nice features. With an external battery (car jump starter) and a decent antenna, it should be able to make contacts.

My unit has the version 1.1.5 soft/firmware. I have found the Bluetooth and WIFI connectivity be lacking a few software components. I have been able to make Bluetooth connections to a keyboard and speaker, one at a time. However, there is no data connection to the just of the software.

So, one hears no sound and pressing a key generates no data. The X6100 has the potential to be a very capable modern transceiver. I got it through Radioddity.

I have working with the support group, who are good. Hopefully, the next software update will improve things.

What I found that worked and was a help was a mouse/trackball with OTG (on the go) cable connected to the USB Host port.

One was able to select the menu/submenu items.

The best improvement was Memory Editing the submenu Tag item. Using a trackball to update the Tag information via the popup screen keyboard was very easy and quick. Using a mouse/trackball with X6100 might be a good video.

Thank you for the tip, Greg! I will have to give this a go. I’m curious if other readers have explored using a mouse/trackball with the X6100 as well. 

One of the most appealing things about the Elecraft K4 interface (another Linux-based transceiver, I believe) is that you can connect a mouse and have full control of the radio. This made selecting items so much easier than using a finger to do the same on the touch screen. 

A review of the Xiegu X6100 portable SDR transceiver

The following article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of The Spectrum Monitor magazine:


A review of the Xiegu X6100 portable SDR transceiver

by Thomas (K4SWL)

Do you remember when band scopes and spectrum displays started appearing on radios?  It was a pretty phenomenal innovation. Being able to “see” what was in your neighborhood on a particular radio band was incredibly useful, especially to operators who like to hunt stations, and to DXers who wanted to follow the reply pattern of DX stations running split. Spectrum displays, among other things, gave operators an overall “big picture” of band activity, and it was truly insightful.

Additionally, the advent of SDR (software-defined radio) architecture made not only spectrum displays but also time-based waterfall displays accessible in radios of all price ranges.

From the perspective of both a ham radio operator and a shortwave radio listener, I can tell you that once you become accustomed to the benefits of a spectrum display, when you don’t have one, you feel like you’re cruising the band wearing blinders:  it’s just that essential.

As a result, many hams and SWLs have come to rely on these features. No doubt customer demand has pushed manufacturers to include spectrum displays on almost all new SDR-based transceivers––even portable transceivers!

Enter the X6100

In November 2021, China-based radio manufacturer, Xiegu, started shipping their latest SDR transceiver: the Xiegu X6100.

Xiegu has become quite a household name among HF field operators.  I’ve reviewed both the Xiegu G90 and the Xiegu X5105. The common theme is their affordability, portability, superb built-in ATUs, and impressive feature set. Admittedly, high-end performance––in terms of receiver as well as audio performance––is not their strong suit, but in the field you don’t necessarily need contest-grade performance. I’ve found that both the G90 and X5105 are quite effective and adept in the field and at home. Many a new ham operator has turned to Xiegu products to begin their foray into the world of HF.

Judging by appearance alone, you can tell that Xiegu was targeting the same operators who might consider the Icom IC-705. Cosmetically it’s strikingly similar in terms of knob, screen, and button placement on the front panel.

The X6100 also has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, like the IC-705: a first for the sub-$1,000 portable radio market. But unlike the IC-705, this functionality was not in place with the first production run of the X6100. It’s being slowly implemented via X6100 firmware updates.

But in my view, that’s where the similarities with the IC-705 stop. Based on the announced X6100 specifications, I could tell well before the X6100’s release that it would lack many of the features that make the IC-705 such a hit; features like a touch screen, D-star mode, VHF/UHF multimode, built-in GPS, built-in D-Star, built-in repeater directories that can auto-load the repeaters closest to the operator, advanced filter shaping, and so much more.

But the X6100 and IC-705 share enough similarities that field-portable HF enthusiasts have taken notice…Nonetheless, it’s one major difference that has really caught their attention. Continue reading A review of the Xiegu X6100 portable SDR transceiver

César’s field radio kit

Many thanks to César (CA7OKD) who shares the following photo (click to enlarge) and description of his field radio kit:

Hi Thomas,

I share my backpack to get away anywhere, to a hill, park or beach…

    • Backpack for photographic equipment
    • Mini EF Hfkits antenna (the Balun Hfkits is missing because I lost it on a beach)
    • Coaxial M&P Hyperflex 5 with M&P connectors
    • Bottom: MFJ1899T antenna
    • Xiegu X5105, Micro, Dry Bag
    • Xiegu X6100 (perhaps the first in Chile)
    • Folding tripod stool chair

I had a very good RS-188 (McHF clone) and a uSDR; I sold them because these equipments don’t have a tuner (I like to keep the minimum).

The X5105 is a very good transceiver, the integrated tuner is wonderful.

The X6100 that fails to convince me. At least in 40 meters it is acceptable.

Greetings,
César CA7OKD

Thank you for sharing this, César! Photography backpacks in many ways are absolutely ideal for radio gear. Many allow for a great amount of flexibility in terms of adjusting internal organization. In addition, they’re very well-padded.

Interesting what you say about the X6100 compared with the X5105. I’m hoping to do a video soon focusing on the differences between these two. 

Thanks again for sharing!

Tony tames X6100 audio with a simple ground loop noise isolator

Many thanks to Tony (K2MO) who writes:

Tom:

My X6100 arrived this week and I did notice some noise on the receive audio when wearing headphones. It shows up as a 1000 Hz tone with a few harmonics and it’s loud enough to make the audio a bit fatiguing to listen to. The good news is that the noise disappeared when I added a mini line isolator between the rig and headphones. It also removes the hiss!

Click here to view on Amazon (affiliate link).

I thought you’d be interested since you have the same rig so I recorded a short video that illustrates how well the isolator works.

You can see the 1000 Hz carrier and it’s harmonics appear in the audio spectrum when the line isolator is removed. You’ll also notice an increase in the audio noise floor.

X6100 Internal vs. External Speaker

I also uploaded a short video that shows how the X6100 audio sounds with the internal vs. external speaker.

Note that the ICOM speaker requires a mono-to-stereo adapter to work with the 6100. Plugging the speakers mono jack directly into the rig wont work.

The camera mic doesn’t do justice to how much better the rig sounds with the external speaker, but it should give you some indication.

Click to view on YouTube.

Thank you for sharing this, Tony!

I like how the isolator is such a simple solution and imagine it could help other radios with similar issues. Often these noises and harmonics come from display noise. Also, your video certainly shows the improvement using an external speaker on the X6100! Thank you for sharing!

POTA Field Report: Pairing the Xiegu X6100 and PackTenna Random Wire

I’ve had a lot of fun testing the Xiegu X6100 in the field. Each time I’ve taken this little shack-in-a-box radio outdoors, I’ve paired it with a different antenna.

I’ve paired it with the Elecraft AX1, an End-Fed Half-Wave, and my 28.5′ speaker wire antenna.

On January 10, 2022, I decided to try one more antenna: the PackTenna 9:1 UNUN random wire.

The Packtenna random wire is a brilliant little antenna to pair with radios like the X6100 that have built-in, wide-range ATUs. It’s such a small antenna and can easily find matches on my favorite POTA/SOTA bands:  40 meters and up. It’s also very compact and super durable.

I use te PackTenna random wire quite a lot in the field, so I was curious just how effectively it might pair with the X6100. Continue reading POTA Field Report: Pairing the Xiegu X6100 and PackTenna Random Wire

Pairing the Xiegu X6100 with the Elecraft AX1 antenna…will it work?

If you’ve been reading QRPer for long, you’ll note that I’ve become quite a fan of the uber-compact Elecraft AX1 antenna.

Not only has the AX1 never let me down, but it can even outperform my other antennas in terms of snagging contacts during an activation. Yes, it can even work some DX as well.

Normally, I pair the AX1 antenna with my Elecraft KX2 (above) or KX3 (below).

I’ve even paired the AX1 directly to my Icom IC-705 using a homebrew simple capacity hat (thanks again for that idea LY2H!)

The AX1 needs a little help from an antenna tuner (ATU) to get a match across the 40, 20, and 17 meter bands. Of course, I could always mount the AX1 on a tripod and attach an in-line ATU, but I love the simplicity and speed of setup when paired directly to a transceiver that sports an internal ATU.  To be clear, the Icom IC-705 has no internal ATU, but I was able to get away with using a capacity hat to match impedance on 20 meters.

The new Xiegu X6100 (above) has an internal ATU–a good one at that! As soon as I took delivery of this loaner unit from Radioddity, I plotted hooking it up to my AX1 to see how it might shake out in the field!

The X6100 lacks only one thing that the KX2, KX3, and IC-705 have: a good, accessible grounding point on the chassis.  The AX1 needs a counterpoise to operate efficiently. Continue reading Pairing the Xiegu X6100 with the Elecraft AX1 antenna…will it work?

New Xiegu X6100 V 1.1.2 firmware addresses a number of known issues

Yesterday, I received the following notification from Radioddity regarding a new firmware version for the X6100.

I mentioned that I’ve purchased an X6100 and it’s en route to me now. It was dispatched prior to this new firmware being made public.

It addresses a number of outstanding issues:

  • Improved battery management
  • Functional CW message memory keying (thanks for confirming, Scott!)
  • Improved noise reduction functionality in CW mode
  • CW decoding algorithm improvements
  • Added hand mic button functionality
  • Bluetooth connectivity improvements
  • Many more…

I’m looking forward to this improved functionality–especially CW message keying and battery management. Continue reading New Xiegu X6100 V 1.1.2 firmware addresses a number of known issues

The Xiegu X6100 or the Icom IC-705? Making a purchase decision…

Well before the new Xiegu X6100 transceiver was actually in production, I was already getting questions from readers and YouTube channel subscribers if they should plan to purchase the X6100 or the Icom IC-705.

The X6100 has been in the hands of early adopters now for about two months, so we have a good idea what the radio is capable of and how well it performs–at least, with the current firmware revision (January 18, 2022).

I’d planned to make a comparison video in a couple of weeks when the X6100 I purchased arrives, but as I was packing my loaner X6100 to ship to the next review last week, I got yet another email and made the decision to unpack the rig again and film a video comparison.

Not comparable?

Without fail, each time I do a radio comparison I get at least one email (often several)  stating in no uncertain terms: “Thomas, you can’t compare those two radios!Continue reading The Xiegu X6100 or the Icom IC-705? Making a purchase decision…