Bicycle Mobile with KX3   July 31st, 2014

Cycle Antenna

The picture above shows my latest set up for bicycle mobile. I hasten to add that I do not operate on the move as I don’t think it is practical or indeed safe. I use an Elecraft KX3 transceiver powered by AA cells. That way I operate in the lightest possible way and use the Elecraft dedicated paddle key. My bike is a Tern Link7 that folds up really small, yet is very rugged. That way I can easily put it in the boot of even a small car.

For the antenna I have chosen the Buddistick with their clamp p[tion arrangement to attach it to my cycle carrier. The complete antenna set up can be purchased as the Buddistick Deluxe kit. I run a short earth wire from the bike frame to the base of the antenna feed socket on the Buddistick clamp. The whole antenna system together with the KX3, easily fit into my pannier bag which in turn easily detaches from the bike. For more information on the bike, check Evans Cycles on the web.

There are a number of considerations to observe when using the setup. The most important is the earth counterpoise. I try to keep everything simple and compact. A separate earth counterpoise does the job but is a bit of a nuisance in laying it out, particularly in public places. Setting up the resonance, even with the counterpose, can be unstable. The whole system VSWR can vary depending on whether you are touching the transceiver case or not. At first I failed to resolve this issue, but some thought and some tests resolved the problem.

Firstly try and find the best tappings for each band on the Buddistick. You can fine tune with the whip and then make a note of the settings. The coil taps can be fixed so it is only the whip length that needs to be recorded. Do all this without an antenna tuner. This is very important. On the KX3 you can programme one of the short cut keys to bypass the internal ATU for you. Now once this is done you really do need that antenna tuner to stabilise the VSWR and make the system less “touchy.” I love the internal ATU for the KX3 as this is just amazing in the way that it matches in a fraction of a second, even wide impedance ranges.

The bike metalwork does not provide enough earth for bands below 21MHz. I found that the easy and most effective way is to simply use a fairly long feeder to the transceiver which also acts as a counterpoise. Mine is about 15ft long. A choke formed by a few turns of coax on a ferrite former at the transceiver end will make things even more stable.

The beauty of the system is that it is very simple, very efficient and very compact. It is possible to consider using a radial stretched above the ground as a resonant counterpoise, but it does mean a little more work in setting up. I prefer to use just the bike frame and the coax feeder. The KX3 has super low battery consumption. If you really wanted to raise the power you could use an external 12v supply and run up to 12W. The KX3 still works at battery levels down to 8V so there is no sudden death. The radio also has very comprehensive system monitoring so you can watch the battery volts very easily.

Give it a try.

Peter G3OJV.

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Ten Miles and Three Watts   July 22nd, 2014

I spent another day in the Peak District of Derbyshire, with my bike and my Elecraft portable set up. It was hot, very hot. I used my Alex Loop as the antenna. Conditions were not great, but that does not detract from the fun.

P1010763

I have been based in Wirksworth and decided to cycle to Duffield, a route which allowed me to take a look at some old railways stations. The road distance is just over ten miles.

P1010717 I stopped at Idridgehay station, long since vacated by British Rail. But interestingly, the line is now in private ownership and has been brought back to life. In the summer months there are 4 return trips a day between Wirksworth and Duffield. This suited me fine because it enabled me to continue by bike to Duffield and then get a lift on one of the rerun train trips to Wirksworth. They kindly let me put my bike in the luggage area which saved me having to fold the bike. A great day out.Peter G3OJV.

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An Uphill Struggle   July 21st, 2014

I am in the Peak District and it is very aptly named! Having ridden around some portable sites and clocked up 10 miles, I appreciate how flat, by contrast, Essex is.

The weather is fine and conditions on the HF bands are good. But oh, those steep hills. I suppose if I was to be operating on VHF, I might feel a little different about the Peaks! Peter G3OJV

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QRP with No Outside Antenna   July 20th, 2014

photo
I have come up to Derbyshire for a few days and my usual travel companion is the Elecraft KX3 coupled to the Alex loop. This time I erected it indoors and my first QSO was on 15m with DM5EE.

It is not the first time that I have used the loop indoors but it does prove that even if you cannot erect an outside antenna, and even if you run QRP, it is possible to enjoy ham radio.

I also have ny fold up bike with me, so if the weather is kind, I wmll try some portable operation.

Peter G3OJV.

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Special ICOM ID-51E   July 18th, 2014

To commemorate our 50th Anniversary, Icom Inc is releasing five special editions of its popular ID-51E dualband D-STAR handportable. Not only will these models be available in red, blue, lime, white and black, but they will include the following special features.

Special 50th Anniversary Edition Features

• RS-MS1A Android™ Application (Optional OPC-2350LU cable required)
• Faster Data Transfer in DV Mode (Three Times Faster (approx.))
• Longer antenna supplied for Optimal Receive Performance
• Additional Dplus Reflector Link Commands
• DV and FM Repeater Search Function
• Enhanced D-PRS Functions
• 50th Anniversary logo displays on the opening screen.

These will be available in September and could become a collector’s item. Phone for price and to place an order.

Peter G3OJV

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World’s First KX3 4m QSO   July 16th, 2014

KX3-4m-Close

The world’s first 4m QSO using the Elecraft internal transverter for the KX3, took place today at 11.30am UK local time. This took place between G0PEP (operated by Peter Waters, G3OJV) and Ron G8FJG. The KX3 was running 3W output on SSB and Ron was running 40W to an FT-847. At both ends the antenna was an InnovAntennas dual band 6/4m Yagi.

The reason that the QSO took place in the UK was because 4m is not available in the USA. So Elecraft asked us to make the first on air test of a pre-production unit. This went without a hitch and the transmitted SSB signal was reported as being excellent. It is estimated that production units for 2m and 4m will be available as from September and we are now taking firm orders – no deposit necessary.

If you would like to see the video of the first QSO, then check out YouTube. The link will be placed HERE.

Peter Waters G3OJV.

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The Truth – Nothing But

One of my tasks is to check our competitors’ adverts and web sites and to see if there are any issues arising. It amazes me that some of the things I read are so far from the truth that you just hope that readers do not believe some of these outrageous statements,

Today I had a phone call from a potential customer who pointed to a very well known web site and read it to me. He could not believe what he was reading. He was right!

In all areas of commercial business there is always the odd person who wants to go one step further, no matter how it is achieved. The tragedy of this, is that it is at the expense of the customer, who may at the time not appreciate that he is being lied to. And one can only wonder at what is said over the phone or in the shop.

Ham radio is a very tight community and there are no large companies in the market – although some like to think that they are in that category! Companies are generally run by one individual who controls most of what goes into adverts or on the internet. To see this happening in a hobby market by so called fellow enthusiasts is a worrying aspect.

Most customers can spot the outrageous, but just how many more subtle lies are being used to promote sales?

Peter G3OJV

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For those who have often wished for a UK price that was like the prices enjoyed by our US cousins, here’s some really good news. The Flexadio 6300 model sells in the USA for $2499. The US customer would normally have to pay on top of this price a sales tax typically around 8%.

Now look at the UK price including 20% VAT, of £1695. The fact is that there is virtually no difference in the price. And if a UK customer tried to buy from the US, there would be a massive freight charge to be added, plus clearance PLUS 20% VAT.

So at the moment, the Flex-6300 is a great deal. Better get yours today before things change!

Peter G3OJV

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KX3 v FT-817ND and FT-818   June 28th, 2014

Cornwall QRP

One of my pleasures in ham radio is portable QRP operation, Readers will know that I recently made a trip to Cornwall where I took my little KX3 transceiver. I have seen much written about the comparisons between the FT-817ND and the Elecraft rig.

Clearly they are quite different radios and unlike some critics, I have used both. There is no doubt that the KX3 has the better receiver by a long way as testified by Sherwood engineering internet reports. The KX3 also has a multitude of options and features that the FT-817ND can only dream of. But the FT-817ND does win if you want 2m and 70cms and want to pay less than £500. The KX3 will shortly add 2m and 4m to even things up a bit. For HF only I would certainly say the KX3 is streets ahead and can even beat almost any other HF rig no matter what price. The rigs are in fact poles apart and so are the prices. QED!

But back to the Cornwall operation. I used the Alex loop for my antenna as it is very compact and very efficient. It also covers 40m to 10m and all stations in between. I can set my KX3 to any power from 100mW to 5W using the internal AA cells, but prefer 3W. At this power level or less, the KX3 operates in super efficient mode. I used CW in conjunction with the matching paddle key. My best DX was UA9 and I worked mostly European stations. The Alex loop was pure magic and did not require the use of the KX3 internal ATU. Headphones were my Apple iPhone earbuds.

The whole station worked well and was great fun. The unmatched selectivity control of the KX3, in conjunction with the audio filter, made copy of other weak QRP signals so easy. On the FT-817ND it would be near impossible.

I have seen some rumours about the coming FT-818. I have heard nothing official and some “pictures” have clearly ICOM and Photoshop to thank. I doubt that any new model will be called FT-818. but it is an interesting rumour that probably has been derived from possibility rather than reality.

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KX3 Operation in Cornwall   June 14th, 2014

My operation in Cornwall was by no means intense, but I did make a few excursions with my Folding bike, together with KX3 and my Alex loop. This gave me operation on all bands from 7MHz to 30MHz. With this combination powered by internal AA cells, I operated at power levels from 2.5 got 5W. Best DX was into UA9. All operation was on CW using the Elecraft paddle key.

The wholes station, including the antenna, easily packs into a small rucksack. With the Alex loop I didn’t need to use the KX3 ATU and switched it to bypass in the menu system. For listening I used my iPhone ear buds and logged on my iPad which also doubled as my map.

All in all, an enjoyable few days. Peter G3OJV

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