SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Huntsville Hamfest Adventure

Marv KK4DKT and I left Friday from Panama City. We got there in time to do some portable ops from the parking lot of the La Quinta. This was my first portable ops with the KX3 and the Alex Loop. I snagged a 20 meter SSB contact with two Delaware Stations. We attracted about six hams. Four were from Memphis. They had a lot to share about satellite comms including moon bounce. That led to a demo by one in the group. He used an Elk antenna and an HT. He made several sat contacts. They were friends with the ham Marv had his first satellite QSO with. They contacted that same ham from the parking lot on the satellite pass and let Marv make a second QSO.

Saturday AM was shopping or at least surveying what was available at the hamfest. We were joined by John K4KQZ from Columbia TN. We had lunch with Craig NM4T. At 1300 I gave a presentation in the QRP forum Craig was moderating entitled QRP Portable Fever: Catch It! I was assisted by Marv and John. I think there were about 50 hams there. It seemed about half had done some portable QRP and the other half were making plans to. With healthy audience participation I had to rush through the last slides. We had brought lots of show and tell and we could have used another hour to satisfy all the interest in the gear.

Craig NM4T sponsored another QRP evening on Monte Sano Saturday night. It included delicious BBQ and pie. This was followed by a contest among four two man teams. We had run into Bob WB8PAF from Panama City at the hamfest. Marv and I encouraged him to be in the contest as Bob is an excellent CW op. So Bob and I made a team we called the Beach Boys. There were two stations for the contest. One was my KX3 and Marv provided his buddipole for 20 meters. The other station was Jim Stafford W4QO's  KX3 and a loop antenna on 40. We were allotted about 40 minutes of operating time. Half was on the 20 meter station and the other half on the 40 meter station. It was tough go as there was not much on the bands. Bob made four contacts and one was Canadian DX which would count for 50 points. The scores were not figured up but, we think the Beach Boys did well.

Craig solicits prizes for the event and tickets were drawn. I won a Lil' Squall tuna tin kit from K1REX. Marv won a LNR 20 meter end fed. Bob won a QRP ARCI 30 year quarterly archive CD. The turn out was much larger than last year and along with the forum it demonstrated that QRP is growing in the South East USA. Thanks Craig for putting the QRP forum track and the Monte Sano event together. I could tell you had your hands full.

Panama City was well represented at the hamfest. I saw Steve N4VSP, Henry N4HHM, Charlie KF4JR and his wife. Jim K4LIX and his wife Susan W4SBM were selling at a table. They sold a vintage Hallicrafters S-108 for the Panama City ARC which netted 80 dollars. My personal buy was lots of wire from Wire Man, a big MFJ dual 24 hour wall clock and a LNR 10-20-40 end fed to replace the one I cannot find. It is an improved MKII version and I got it with a BNC connector. Marv drove the bulk of the way back and we arrived safe.On thge drive, we mused about the idea of a regional QRP portable ops event in North West FL. Hint Hint Craig.

Jim K4LIX Table

Jim K4LIX Table

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shocking Development

This weekend Marv KK4DKT and I went out for portable ops at a local park. The weather was nasty. There was very light rain and the wind was kicking up. Marv setup his rig and the Buddipole. I put up a crappie pole and was setting up a 28 foot end fed wire. To my surprise I was getting shocks from the end of the wire. It was just a wire from the tip of the crappie pole to my hand. I could see one shock but it would repeat. Also Marv came over and he got shocked too. In fact we could hear it in his rig. So I decided that it was not a good plan to hookup this charged wire to my new KX3 rig. Marv's Buddipole was not tuning well either. I think it had to do with the very wet ground.  There was some chance we just entered the Twilight Zone so we left. Hi Hi.

I shared this with Bob WB4BLX and did some research and found a YouTube video and a January 2011 QST article about precipitation static. It can happen with snow or rain. It is hard for me to think that water or snow can be charged but it seems to be the case.


Greg N4KGL

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Elecraft KX3 SN 963 Received

I ordered a factory built KX3 in February and it arrived just short of six months later. It was worth the wait. If you want one, the delivery time has come down to 60 days for new orders. The web page is Chances are if you are into portable operating you have looked at this rig. It is very portable but has big rig features. The rig is a Software Defined Radio (SDR) with knobs  It's features can be tweaked and expanded via firmware updates.

I have spent a few days getting familiar with the controls. There is lots to learn.The controls are well thought out and once you learn a feature it is easy to remember. One of my favorite features is auto tuning for CW. In other words you can have the rig automatically zero beat to put you on frequency. I was never sure how good of a job I was doing by mentally matching my sidetone with the received station tone manually.

I did purchase the paddles that mount on the case. I have never tried any automatic keying. I can do some sending with the paddles but, I am a long time from being ready for on the air ops. Also, I can explore the iambic keying. Just turn the power to zero to make the KX3 a code practice oscillator Hi Hi.

With so much time to wait for the KX3, I made a change of my shack location within the house. The good news was the spare bedroom is a great shack. The bad news was it took a 100 foot run of coax through the attic to the back of the house. I went with a SGC 237 remote coupler that is located at the end of the coax run and from there it is 300 ohm line up to a 80 meter inverted vee. I had concerns since my IC 703 would not work with the tuner. The initial SWR would cause the power to fold-back to the point that it was too low for the SGC 237. The good news is the KX3 does not have that issue.

So the KX3 is going to be my base rig as well as portable. I did some operating today from the house to see what it would do. I checked into the Sunrise net on 40 CW. The net control was in TN. Checked good there. Then I up to the South CARS net at 7.251 SSB. I checked in with a good report from VA and no request for repeats.  Feeling good. Then on to 15 SSB and I worked "2012L" a special events station from London. OK it works! The desert was a 30 minute CW QSO with KB4JR Bernie in Lake Wales on 30 meters.

Certainly the true test will be portable ops with the KX3. I am holding off opening the case to put in the internal batteries. The KX3 internal battery charger module is back ordered. When it is installed it will allow me to put in eight XX Eneloop batteries and leave them. I have a 10 AA NiMH pack and a 10AH LiFePO4 battery for portable external power.

So the KX3 Yahoo group had various ideas for cases for the KX3 I got several of them. The Think Tank Stuff flash case looks like it will serve me well. I even procured a Alexloop to complement the KX3. So looking forward to portable ops and meeting up with the QRP folks at the Huntsville Hamfest. I hope to see Eric or Wayne from Elecraft there. Elecraft hit a home run with this KX3.

73s Greg N4KGL