New Watson 100kHz to 2GHz Receiver   October 30th, 2014

DX-Patrol

One item that every ham radio shack should have is a general coverage receiver. Why? Firstly it enables you to actually hear your signal whilst transmitting into a dummy load. Secondly it enables you to check for spurious signals and interference. Thirdly it enable you to listen to any ham band that your main transceiver does not cover.

A wideband radio that covers the range above is normally either very expensive or very poor in performance. But now with SDR technology, this is all set to change. So we are proud to introduce the new third generation low cost general coverage receiver.

Watson are well known for their innovative products, and this new receiver carries on the tradition. It not only covers from long wave right up to UHF, but also has two separate antenna inputs that allow it to incorporate front end filtering. The software permits you to monitor virtually the whole of the radio spectrum and the demodulator can cope with all the popular transmission modes. And as for power, all you do is to plug the USB cable into your Windows based PC.

This radio is not only great for use in the shack. Ot can also be great for travelling around. Delivery is expected in early November and will be priced at the introductory offer of £99.95. Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | No Comments »

We recently received a generously in-depth review of one of our new Mosley antennas, and felt it made sense to share this customer’s experience and opinions with those of you that read our blog. Here is Dave Chilvers 2E0WPZ review of the  for 10, 15 and 20 Meters:

 

beam

First of all full marks to Mosely for the strength of the packaging. I know that packaging might not be of interest to many people but apart from preventing damage in transit it is also a clear indicator of the makers intention to deliver the product in good shape and a general indication of the quality control within the factory.

After removing all parts from the wrappings and laying them out on a nice flat area of the lawn i retired for a cup of tea and a read of the instructions. How are the instructions then? well like most modern bits of equipment they are written by someone who knows the gear and at times falls just short of the mark on every aspect  but to be honest just read the relevant parts that are not immediately clear a few times and once you are on your knees on the lawn then most things fall in line nicely and the colour coding is a great help.

Construction of the relevant parts all seemed to be manufactured to a good level and everything slipped together fairly easily. (just make sure you have all the clamps the right way up and the drain holes on the coils facing down when assembled.)

So, now you more or less have got everything in place and lightly tightened it`s time to set the legs to the correct distance from the coils and as suggested to just fix them to prevent movement with electrical tape ready for adjustment if desired. It is suggested before anything further to put the antenna up where it needs to be for a correct SWR indication but in my case and at my age I fixed mine to a high fence at around 10`and connected 20` of coax to my analyser and stood back to check the readings. At this point i had quite a high reading on 20Mtrs but the other two bands were fine. I emailed Mosely and had a response almost by return (time of day obviously denotes this) A few emails later and it became apparent that the antenna would have to be at it`s intended height above ground for the readings to become a better indication of what needed adjusting. I have mine set on vertical poles that have to be unclamped and dropped down vertically so I took a chance, removed the tape and drilled the aluminium tube at exactly the measurements given in the instructions (people with tilt over towers etc might want to check at working height before drilling) but i knew that if need be i could easily move the sections by a very tiny amount to fine tune things as the fixing screws provided and quite small which would allow around 1/8” of minimal adjustment if I had to re-drill which to be honest wouldn`t make a lot of difference from past experience i knew that I would need to move things at least 1/2” to make any difference. I also applied self amalgamating tape to the joints to keep things free from corrosion should i need to make adjustments in the future. The antenna takes 1.5” tube at the connecting point where i would normally use 2” but once up and guyed and considering the light weight of the beam even with my rotator just below the antenna things were nice and steady. So, time to test the SWR readings at my finished height of 25`and the higher two bands were still very good, the 20mtr band was still the highest (from memory maybe 1.5 and even less in the shack)Could I have gotten all three bands down to 1-1? maybe! but they are so close that I`m not bothered. Pay attention to forming the coax choke as close to the feedpoint as possible and IMHO rather than using something like RG 213 or similar use a decent small coax like mini 8 which I swear by. That will keep the load on the front of the beam down to easily acceptable amounts. I`m a 2E0 but possibly full licence holders might want to consider rg213 if they intended to run at full power but even then I don`t see the point. (don`t forget to leave the loop of coax if you intend to mount the rotator like mine)

Which brings me to the only fly in the oitment, after preparing your coax in the normal way with nicely soldered eyelets, you then discover that each leg just slips over two posts that stick up into the air, don`t get me wrong it`s a very easy connection but it then leaves both feed connection out in the weather and those that have connected coax to this type of fitting will know that weather proofing those connections and more importantly the section where the braid is separated from the centre can be a challenge. Possibly a supplied connecting box that sits over the two points and is big enough to accommodate where the braid and centre separate would have been good( similar to a tv antenna) and if i had had a suitable project box I would probably have made something up that was fitted upside down with an open bottom but there might be a good reason why Mosely want that feed point out in the open. What I did (maybe right or wrong) was to carefully apply a small amount of clear silicon to the two feed points and also the point on the coax where the braid and centre core divide. I was very careful not to let the three silicon points touch as a good friend did make a remark about capacitance through the silicon.

So, she is up at 25`, the cheap standard rotator handles what is a very light beam but I realise that I will have to drop it down when the wind picks up to gale force levels taking into consideration my set up.

How does it perform with my 50 watts of power? It works extremely well and for the first time I find that I can break into pileups let alone put out CQ calls and get distant stations returning to my call for a change. How does it compare to my Hustler 5btv vertical and my i max 2000 vertical? in general it`s better for sure but like most things in amateur radio propagation plays a big part on a day to day basis. If i can hear them on the verticals and swing the beam around to the correct bearing and the other operator gives the time to switch between them then the beam is always as good and 90% of the time is maybe 2 S points better. Doesn`t sound like a lot but it is the difference between being heard or not IMHO and when you consider that the beam is in the garden near other antennas and the house and my verticals are out in my field on 20ft poles completely in the clear I think it speaks for itself. I`m lucky, I have the room but for operators that are space limited this mini beam is a way of enjoying contacts that they might have struggled with without it.

Posted in News | No Comments »

Sad Loss – G4ILO   October 25th, 2014

I was saddened today to learn of the loss of Julian, G4ILO, whose blog I have been following for a few years now.

Julian once lived in the Southend area and was a regular visitor to our shop. His fresh young face and his enthusiasm for the hobby are my early memories. He later moved away to the north, and I lost touch with him. But more recently I caught up with his activities via his blog. He was a great enthusiast for Elecraft gear and the factory surprised him a couple of years ago when they delivered him a complementary KX3. It was a magnificent gesture from the other side of the Atlantic, and perhaps demonstrated how widely Julians’s blog was read and appreciated.

His last entry in his blog “One Foot in The Grave” was moving, and nobody could read this without feeling deep emotion. Perhaps a message to many of us?

As I say, I lost touch with him at a personal level, many years ago, although we did exchange a few emails over the past two years or so. He is a sad loss to the hobby and his fight against his illness and determination to operate and blog right up until the end, perhaps sums up his character more than mere words can express. Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | No Comments »

Antenna for a Small Garden   October 25th, 2014

There are many occasions when a small garden seems to be a major obstacle that restricts ham radio operation, particularly on the HF bands. I know this from practical experience. I once had an acre of ground but for the past 8 years I have been operating from a garden whose longest dimension is 50ft. That is quite restrictive and I have spent a lot of time outside experimenting with a variety of options and with various levels of success. In fact I have done more experimentation from my small garden than I ever did in my much larger garden! And in many ways I have had more fun because it is much more challenging. At work, i get may requests for advice on antennas and almost all relate to a compromise of some kind or other.

The quest for an answer to the small garden problem has recently lead me in a somewhat different direction and at present I am operating a 4-band system covering 40m to 10m that easily fits into a 45ft lot and is capable of working DX. It will handle full UK power and only requires an ATU at the band edges. This means that any transceiver with an internal ATU is going to be able to match it right across the band because the VSWR is much lower than the G5RV typically offers.

It should be possible to add 80m to make it a 5-band system, but with restricted bandwidth. This is my next task, weather permitting. The eventual aim is to make this a commercial product that can easily be installed with minimum of hardware, even in difficult locations. And just to give me even more of a challenge, all my tests are being carried out with a KX3, whose maximum output is 12W! So I reckon that if I can crack the small garden problem with 12W, there is going to be some serious operating capability using the UK maximum power limit. I will report back on my progress. Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | No Comments »

A Station in Minimal Space   October 12th, 2014

P1020133

Many will be surprised at the simplicity of my present ham radio station, as the picture above shows. My recent work with the simple Mosley Mini-31-A was done in conjunction with the little KX3. The whole station sits on a window ledge. The picture shows the KX3 with AC power supply to the left. This particular KX3 has no internal ATU and feeds the Mosley dipole direct. I would normally have an internal ATU fitted as this enable me to achieve a perfect match for the transmitter section right across the bands.

The station is simple, but it works well. Today for example I worked CO6 in Cuba running just 12W SSB on 10m into the dipole. This is bordering on QRP although many would argue that anything above 5W is not QRP!

I hope that this will encourage others that you can have fun without loads of gear. But there are a couple of tips I would pass on, that are particular relavent to the Elecraft KX3. The first is to use the internal compressor as this certainly raises the talk power. The second is to buy the matching Elecraft (MH3) microphone, shown in the picture. It is not the cheapest of microphones, but it really does punch out a great sounding signal. I reckon these two suggestions are worth around 3dB or more of gain, making your signal sound like 25 – 30W! Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | 1 Comment »

The Mosley Mini Dipole   October 11th, 2014

P1020127

The Mosley mini dipole offers some interesting possibilities for those with small gardens. I fall into that category and so I decided to install one recently.

The total length of the antenna is just under 20ft and is a significant reduction in size over a more traditional triband dipoles. This antenna covers the 20m, 15m and 10m bands, missing out the two WARC bands in between. But in doing so it does offer extremely clean lines. Mosley are famous for their dual trap design and so achieve three band resonance with just a single trap in each leg.

The antenna is designed for the usual 50 Ohm feed. Cable is attached directly to the antenna via terminals. The coax connection to the antenna requires the cable to be correctly connected as one side of the dipole element goes directly to the metal work of the mast. This is the traditional way of almost all Mosley antennas. It seems to do the job and with this system you cannot use a balun as it would be partly shorted out. If you doe feel the need for a balun, then use the popular method of making a coil of the feeder immediately prior to the antenna feed point.

The assembly is simple, although you are required to drill a couple of holes to fasten the ends of the elements, once you have adjusted the optimum length for the part of the band that you wish to operate in. VSWR at resonance is very good indeed, with 15m and 10m coming very close to 1:1, whilst 20m’s best point is 1.4:1.

I chose to mount the antenna as a fixed dipole. After all, most dipoles are in any case fixed. The result is a single mast that supports a horizontal dipole, a tidy arrangement that can be fixed in the desired direction. You could add a rotator in order to cope with the nulls that are present on the ends of the antenna but that ads cost and weight,

It works fine and as with any such antenna, the higher the better. Mine is just 25ft up, but I had no problems with SSB QSOs using 12W from my KX3. Bandwidth is a little narrower than on a larger antenna, but if you wish to move from band edge to band edge, then an internal ATU will easily cope with minimal loss on the average coax feed length. It’s a great little antenna. Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | No Comments »

Elecraft PX3 Arrives   October 10th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 13.05.27

The new Panoramic adaptor has arrived from Elecraft and is ready to ship. We are now fulfilling orders and if we have missed you, then please call us now. It makes a great mate for the KX3. Peter Waters

Posted in News | No Comments »

P1020093

Some of you will know that I have owned a Morgan 4/4 for many years – well over 20 years in fact. G89GWP has taken me all over the UK including two trips to the Highlands of Scotland. She’s has been absolutely no problem at all, other than a battery failure that was fortunately close to home.

But I decided that it was time to part company with her as in the past two tears I have not used her nearly as much, and it seemed a shame to just leave her under the covers in the garage. So in mid September i took her for her last drive to the Morgan garage in north Essex where she now awaits a new owner.

The final drive was not as emotional as i thought it might be and whilst it was sunny, it was also quite chilly, so I donned my flying jacket for that last trip. She drove beautifully with no hint of her age and as I turned the ignition key for the last time and the engine came to a halt, it was the end of a long and enjoyable relationship.

Posted in News | No Comments »

Elecraft KX3 on 144MHz (2m)   October 1st, 2014

KX3

The 2m transverters have arrived for the KX3. So I decided that I had better try and install one to see what was involved.

Like most of the Elecraft instructions, they are very detailed and much of the time is spent in reading the pages and studying the photos. Actually the process is very simple and I could install the next one in a fraction of the time!

There are two versions of the transverters. The basic model is designed to fit above the optional internal ATU. The ATY in effect provides the platform on which the transverter is mounted. If you do not have the optional ATU installed, then you need to purchase the version that also has a blank ATU board in the packet.

The most difficult part is snapping the two coaxial connector lines in place. These use micro coax connectors that require some positive pressure to snap in place. A test of confidence I thought as I snapped them in place. You need good eye sight or a strong pair of reading glasses.

That apart, there is no real problem and the only thing left to do after the installation is complete is to set the KX3 up in the menu. One thing that did throw me for a few minutes was when the dipslay showed 122MHz. This proved to be normal and all I had to do was to retune to 144MHz. It subsequently appears that you can also monitor the air band!

As yet I have not tested it on the air. It indicates 3W output and I could hear signals that base transceivers could hear. In fact it seemed very sensitive. But I really need to do some further tests. In the meantime I am quietly confident that this is another Elecraft winner.

Posted in News | No Comments »

National Hamfest 2014 held at Newark   September 29th, 2014

Elecraft Newark 20141
The end of September heralded the annual National Hamfest. Once again the weather was fine and this meant that both outside and inside, visitors were able to enjoy the offerings. It’s a big event for us and involves more work than some may realise.Tuesday evening the lorry was picked up. All day Wednesday was spent in packing the lorry. A 6am start on Thursday with a stop for breakfast, meant we arrived at 10.30am. The unpacking and erection of the stand took until 7pm. Then it was back to the hotel.

At the end of Saturday it was time to pack the lorry again and make our way south down the A1. A stop for a meal and then onto Hockley where we had to unpack the lorry again and put things back into the warehouse. We got back to our homes at around 11pm. Sunday was a day off and then most of Monday was spent in putting all the stock back on the shelves. Yes it takes nearly a week’s work to achieve two days at the Show.

It was well worth the effort and we met many old friends as well as some new ones. Elecraft probably provided the biggest interest and I personally enjoyed talking about and demonstrating this great range of equipment.

The only regret that I had, and I know that many have the same view, is that this year they had no lecture streams. Many visitors find that this provides a welcome break in walking around the hall. Whether you enjoyed the subject matter or the opportunity to sit down, this really needs to be brought back for next year. Peter G3OJV

Posted in News | 1 Comment »