Monday, July 28, 2014

Some operating time in the park.

The setup in the car
It was a great day today even though they called for rain  it was just overcast and very nice cool temps in around 17C. I was off work today and after I had completed the chores around the house it was time to get out in the outdoors for some ham radio. Since there was a chance of rain I decided to not set up outside and get rained out but instead I took my car and set up the Elecraft KX3 mobile from one of our near by parks on lake Ontario. I set out on my way and checked and double check all my items (last weekend I forgot   a coax connector and the portable op's came to a fast end) I arrived at the park around 13:00 local time and began to call CQ 20m I had no takers and decided to spin the dial to see who I could find. I did come across some DX stations calling CQ but was not able to be heard and some had very long waiting lists wanting to contact them. I then came across Bernie KB4JB from Florida and we had a very nice 20 minute QSO. The CW speed was in around 14 WPM and both of us were able to share station, location and other information before conditions changed and we both faded out. The KX3
20m mobile whip 
operated just fine for over an hour and a half on the internal batteries at 5 watts output. At one point during my QSO with Bernie for some reason my KX3 key was just not sending what I wanted. As time passed in our QSO I noticed my headphone cord was under the KX3 Key and causing the troubles. Once that was dealt with the code improved minus the headphone cord! I only made one QSO for the outing but it was a long one and the speed was at a very comfortable.  The antenna was a mono band 20m whip, the power was 5 watts from the internal rechargeable batteries and the radio as was mentioned the Elecraft KX3. It was time to head home and get dinner going for Julie's home coming from work.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Shut down two days in a row!

A foggy view of Toronto from my setup
This weekend I planned on getting some radio time in Julie was going to see a friend who lives out of town on Saturday so I thought I would get out and get hamming. We live right on Lake Ontario and within a short walk and or bike ride there are some great locations on the lake to do some portable op's. On Friday night I charged up the KX3, set out all of the needed items for outdoor ops. Saturday came and off I went, I decided to walk and it turned out to be a longer walk then I thought. I arrived at my
Trail on the way there. 
spot and setup the KX3 along with my Alexloop. Just as I sat down to get some operating time in it started to rain! With no rain gear and about a 1/2 hour to walk back I packed things up and headed back. Well I tried it again on Sunday and this time I took my bike and some rain gear just in case. This time I set everything up and was ready to go until I tried to connect the Alexloop to the KX3…..it seems for some reason I removed the adapter that allowed me to go from PL 259 to BNC at home! There was no way to hook up my antenna to the KX3 radio so I decided the radio god's were just not smiling on my this weekend and I headed back home the long way to tour around the lake.  Lesson learned I now plan to make up a small 3x5 card with all that is needed for the trip.
Small river on my way home. 
One of the many beaches 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cooler KX plus heat-sink

The Cooler KX plus heat sink installed 
From my previous posts my readers know I am now in the process of delving back into the digi modes with my Elecraft KX3. With the digi mods there are long duty cycles and thus the PA's in rigs sure do get a "hot" workout. In the KX3 if the heat goes to a certain point the power is rolled back to not damage the PA's in the rig. There are other events that can cause the rig to roll back power but operating in the digi modes is sure high on the list. Not wanting to operate on reduced power and not to say bringing the rig to this point really can't be good for it I have a choice operate a lower power or find some way to keep the finals cool. The heat sink on the KX3 is good but not great and therefore a
Cooler KX plus compared to stock
product called Cooler KX comes into the picture. This is a very easy upgrade to the KX3 and has been designed to not take away from the KX3's styling. The company is Canadian and Fred VE7FMN has done a very professional job on adding extra cooling ability to the Elecraft KX3. There are 2 heat sinks that are offered and they are the Cooler KX lite and Cooler KX plus. I ordered the Cooler KX plus and am very happy with my purchase. Once I placed my order Fred was in contact with me via email asking very important and clarifying questions to make sure my installation went without a hitch. The heat sink arrived very well packaged and with all the hardware needed for a trouble free instal. The instructions that came via email from Fred were very well layer out and easy to understand. I am never excited when ever I have to take apart either my Elecraft K3 or KX3 as this is the time things can get damaged. The heat sink upgrade is fairly straight forward and easy to do compared to let say the sub-receiver addition to the K3 now that to me was a nail biter. The heat sink instal involved removing two nut and bolt configuration to release the
Two PA's fastened to heat sink 
two PA's from the heat sink and then 2 more screws that secure the heat sink to the radio. It was basically the reverse to instal the new heavy duty heat sink from Fred. If you own an Elecraft KX3 I would recommend this upgrade as no matter what mode you are operating in your PA finals will be cooler and thus a longer life for the KX3.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Giving PSK31 a go

Last weekend I was able to setup my Elecraft KX3, Toshiba netbook and Signalink for digital operations. The first mode I chose to try out was PSK31 as I had used this mode in the past and was somewhat familiar with it. The software I chose to go with was Digipan and again it was software I had used in the past. The sound card set up as I remember can be very frustrating but Signalink has provided a very good step by step setup for windows 7. Once I was finally setup and had the software and rig co-operating I only had time to receive some signals from the waterfall. Seems the setup is working just fine on receive (20m at the time) as I was able to decode France, Germany, U.S and Italy. I did try to answer some CQ's and was not heard but as I said time was running out for radio time and I had to pack it in. Some if the kinks that still have to be worked out are….
1.  Getting the macros set up the way I want them.
2.  Fine tuning the settings on the KX3 for digi operations.
3.  For some reason the output on the rig is set to 5 watts but the Isoloop control box only shows 1 watt              output but I also have my LP100 meter hook in (which for some reason started working fine again) as well and it shows about 4.87 watts.  Im going with the LP100 meter.
4. Digipan does not have CAT control Im told you have to use another program for that. CAT control is nice for band changes compared to dialling band changes.