Elecraft AX1 Ultraportable 17/20 Meter Antenna System

Hi guys! I just received an email from Wayne N6KR a few hours ago related to a new antenna system that will be offered by Elecraft later this year. We really hope! At the moment, all specifications could change without notice, but it seems to be a brand new product that will be soon offered by Elecraft.

The AX1 is a dual-band (20 and 17 meter) compact antenna system based on an optimized 2-piece whip. It intended for use with lightweight transceivers such as the Elecraft KX2 an KX3 that are equipped with an internal antenna tuner. The AX1 can be configured for HT-style or right-angle use as shown below.

What type of operation is the AX1 designed for?

The AX1 is ideal for pedestrian mobile (/PM), where the radio is used hand-held (HT), or for lightweight “HF Pack.” It can also be used during table-top or trail-friendly (TFR) operation, thanks to the supplied BNC-L and anti-rotation bail. No poles, trees or other supports are required, so the AX1 can be deployed in seconds. 17 and 20 meters are excellent bands for this purpose. With 5 to 10 watts, moderately good propagation, and some patience, 1000 to 2000 mile contacts are commonplace, and DX contacts can also be achieved. We’ve made many contacts with Europe and Japan from Northern California using the AX1 attached to a hand-held KX2 or KX3.

Wayne
N6KR

The AX1 comes with:

  • 3” base/loading coil with male BNC connector and
  • counterpoise wire socket (for mini-banana plug)
  • rugged 44” telescoping whip with 3/8”-24 threaded mount; collapses to 6”
  • anti-rotation bail for table-top use
  • BNC-L adapter for table-top use
  • mini-banana plug for use with a counterpoise wire

We do not know yet when the antenna will be available for sell, but it will be presented at the next Pacificon’s antenna symposium tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 20th) by Wayne Burdick N6KR himself…. What a lucky audience!

The antenna FAQ sheet can be downloaded here in my blog :

Click here to download Elecraft AX1 FAQ

 

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73
de Jeff | VA2SS

Digital Modem from BG5ROJ… R.I.P.

Hi ! I received a lot of questions related to this modem, but I would like to inform all of you of 2 things.

First, when I bought my Elecraft KX2 back in May 2016 at Dayton, I stopped using the modem and start using the Elecraft internal decoder for CW, PSK and RTTY. I also combined the use of the KX2 with the K-Board from QRP Works, that is indeed giving me a lot of fun and satisfaction.

Second, earlier this year, I was looking to use again the BG5ROJ modem, but, not so lucky I was, the modem died, I have never found why, and it never turned on again since that time.

To be honest, I do not have the skill to repair the modem, neither planning to buy another one. I’m still having my NUE-PSK as a spare digital modem, but did not use it either.

So, probably I will not be able to answer more technical question about the BG5ROJ modem. You will understand, as time go by, memory do so.

I really hope all people who having this modem or planing to buy one will have great time with it.

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73
de Jeff | VA2SS

 

WSJT-X 1.8 RC3 is out! – UPDATE

To all enthousiasm digital users, a new WSJT-X release candidate 3 is out now for all major platform.

The “RC3” release also includes many minor bug fixes and an
extensively updated WSJT-X User Guide.

We strongly recommend that all WSJT-X users should upgrade to this new
release.

73, Joe, K1JT, for the WSJT Development Group

The download is available at :

https://sourceforge.net/projects/wsjt/files/wsjtx-1.8.0-rc3/

 

Do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73
de Jeff | VA2SS

WSPR…. Have you ever tried this mode ???

Hi all! Sorry for not giving you updates recently… quite busy at work!!

Have you ever try to use this mode ? Yeaaa… this is not for QSO, I know. But have you ever tried this mode for antenna testing purpose ??? All of you will be agree that testing an antenna system could be a very “qualitative” task. By having a software to to analyze and calculate the RX result at the other end could be a lot more effective with real and more trusted result.

I will not take more of your time for today… I will be back with some results…. but here a few for now.

Meanwhile,  for people who like to compare antenna system performance, and you are reading my blog, please really consider using digital mode to rely on credible results and reports…. Hi Hiiiiiiiiii ‼️🎉😜  

Switching an antenna system with an “A & B” antenna switch  and posting your qualitative taught on a Youtube channel… Please do remember that your ears are obsolete today, and more relevant technique exist.

See you soon !!!

Do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

*NEW* Elecraft KX2 *official* Firmware 2.79 *UPDATE*

Hi guys, a new official firmware version is now available for the enthusiasm Elecraft KX2 !

There is the firmware notes revision :

 

* SIDETONE VOLUME CAN BE SET LOWER:  MON=1 is now about 12 dB lower in volume than it was originally. MON=50 is about the same as the original maximum.

* AUTO-OFF TIMER RANGE IS 5 TO 100 MINUTES:  Auto-power-off (MENU: AUTO OFF) allows the radio to turn itself off if no controls are touched for the specified length of time. (The original range was 3 to 20 minutes.) If auto power-off is not desired, set the menu parameter to INFINITE (default).

* VFO A LOCK DISABLES COARSE VFO A TUNING WITH OFS/B CONTROL: This is intended to prevent accidental frequency changes due to touching the OFS/B control. As long as VFO A is locked, the offset-tuning feature will also be locked. (RIT, if used, is still *not* locked. RIT may be needed to fine-tune received signals even if the VFO itself is locked on a given transmit frequency.)  Note: Coarse tuning of VFO A using the OFS/B control is enabled using MENU: VFO CRS.

* FILTER BANDWIDTH & ULTIMATE ATTENUATION FIX:  Filter bandwidth settings ending in x00 Hz are now increased internally to x50 Hz to ensure excellent ultimate attenuation (stop band). For example, a setting of 400 Hz becomes 450 Hz. This is a temporary workaround for a DSP algorithmic issue with the x00 settings that will be corrected in a future release. Available bandwidth settings are now 50 Hz, 150 Hz, 250 Hz, 350 Hz, etc. These are entirely adequate for virtually all operating purposes.

 

The firmware is now available  *by using the Elecraft software utility.

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

Happy summer break!

Summer-Break-slide

I would like to wish to all of you a great summer! Have fun and take care. I will be back after my summer vacation at the end of August with more great news!

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

73

Jeff | VA2SS

Using RUMlogNG for iOS with an Elecraft KX2 over Bluetooth [Part 2]

 

I finally found some spare time today; the weather was not so good outside, and I’m on vacation this week… that’s help a lot! 🙂 My main objective today was to build a functional prototype, a proof of concept.

Step 1 : Install and power the Bluetooth module on a breadboard using a small 5V power breadboard supply.

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Step 2 : First I used my logic analyzer probe with the software Logic from Saleae on MacOS to verify if all communication parameters were well set. Hooray! I transmitted the word “TEST” between the iPad Adafruit app running on the iPad Pro and the Bluetooth module.

Then I established a link between the Bluetooth module and RUMlogNG To Go iOS app running on my iPad Pro. The Bluetooth module needed to be recognized first before going further.

IMG_0148

Step 3 : Another step was to install a MAX322 chip needed to «translate» the information using the RS-232 protocol between the Bluetooth module and the Elecraft KX2. Note the MAX322 must be powered at 3.3V. The Bluetooth module can provide such voltage output. But for this prototype, I  powered the chip using a 3.3V voltage line from the breadboard power supply.

Step 4 : Every components are now properly hookup. RUMlogNG To Go iOS app on the iPad Pro and the Elecraft KX2 are ready to establish a link. Note the baud rate must be set properly on the transceiver at 9600 bauds. As you can see in the picture below, I entered the CAT command IF; and the KX2 returned me the frequency on VFO A 14.210.

IMG_0150

There is a short video below I captured from my iPad Pro with the Elecraft KX2 and RUMlogNG To Go controlled by the Bluetooth interface in action!

Note that I captured the initial footage with the new capture function available in iOS 11. Then I completely edited the video and did all effects with my iPad Pro using the iOS LumaFusion. A great app!

My goal still to build the project for under 35$ USD. I’m also planning to design my own PCB board and offer it as a kit; Fritzing is already running on my Macbook Pro.

More to come in my next post!

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

Using RUMlogNG for iOS with an Elecraft KX2 over Bluetooth [Part 1]

Hi everyone! It is not a surprise for people who knows me well, I am an addicted fan of all Apple products. I am also the kind of guy who is always searching for a way to get more of his gears and enhance the overall experience; especially for my iPad Pro!

My project is to build a Bluetooth interface and let me connect my Elecraft KX2 to my iPad Pro while using my favorite logger RUMlogNG To Go for iOS. At the moment, RUMlogNG To Go support only 2 methods to connect to a transceiver : Bluetooth or Piglet. (I know, this is a known iOS limitation to access external devices). 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I really do prefer a connection over Bluetooth for many reasons, but at first for energy efficiency. I like this logger app, even the MacOS version. It is a very powerful iOS app with a lot of nice add-on features like a versatile DX cluster, world map with grey zone, logbook import and export using Dropbox, and much more! The developper Thomas DL2RUM really pay attention for all feedbacks received from users. Cheers to Thomas! 🙂

I will use for my project the Adafruit Bluetooth LE interface. It is really a polyvalent  board, compatible with Apple iOS, that can be easily integrated inside all custom built projects. I bought mine at DIGIKEY store; their iOS app is also really cool! Everything is done using my iPad Pro. I am even writing this blog using exclusively my iPad Pro. Hi Hiiiiiiiiii ‼️🎉😜

I will also use a wide known and available MAX3323 chip for the serial communication between the Bluetooth board and the Elecraft KX2.

The project will cost under 35$ USD to build. I’m also planning to design my own PCB board and offer it as a kit. It will be almost a plug and play experience, easy to assemble to everybody!

More to come in my next post!

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

KX2 owner’s manual and errata updates available

KX2 owner’s manual and errata updates available

Hi all,

There are two revised documents available for the KX2:

Owner’s Manual rev. A6
Errata rev. A5-2 (for Owner’s Manual rev. A5)

Links to these can be found on our Manuals & Downloads page. Both have been updated to describe all of the latest firmware features.

73, Wayne N6KR

Just to be quicker, there is the 2 links 🙂 :

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

*Update* Elecraft KX2 Beta Firmware 2.77

*Update* Elecraft KX2 Beta Firmware 2.77

There is an excellent note from Wayne N6KR related to the last beta firmware version 2.77 who also includes a few tips on how to manage the log feature.

 

When using the KX2 hand-held, logging may be difficult. The KX2 can now capture
up to 2048 transmitted characters, along with time, band, and mode, so you can
update a paper or electronic log later on.

To enable logging, set MENU:LOGGING to ON. Logging applies to CW (C), PSK-D (P)
and FSK-D (F) modes, and only when using the internal keyer. To take advantage
of time stamping, either set the time (MENU:TIME) on every power-up of the KX2,
or install a KXIO2, which includes a real-time clock powered by the internal
battery.

When logging is enabled, the DVR icon (above the S-meter) flashes slowly.
Outgoing text decode is turned on, allowing you to make sure you’ve sent call
signs accurately. If you fill the log, LOG FULL will be shown briefly, and the
DVR icon will stop flashing.

To review logged text, tap DISP and rotate VFO B to find the LOG display. The
VFO A knob can then be used to scroll through text. Time/mode/band are shown on
VFO A (e.g., “0023 C14”); text is shown on VFO B. Holding CLR erases the entire
log. To “dump” the log, send “LG;” to the KX2 via KX2 Utility’s Command Tester
screen.

Tips: To conserve space, use message buffers (MSG) to send CQs, name/QTH, etc.
Messages are not recorded in the log. To start/stop logging quickly, assign the
LOGGING menu entry to a programmable function switch (PF1-PF4).

Wayne Burdick, N6KR

 

The firmware can be downloaded from this link :

ftp://ftp.elecraft.com/KX2/firmware/beta

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

UPDATE: Elecraft KX2 heatsink from ProAudioEngineering

Elecraft KX2 heatsink from ProAudioEngineering

I finally found some spare time to install the heat sink. As for my previous side panels from Scott, I was already aware on how to disconnect the BNC connector easily.

Here a few pictures when I installed the heat sink side panel. The installation procedure was quite straight forward. Removing the BNC connector, applying thermal compound and reassemble the KX2 took me 10 minutes. So it is an easy upgrade to accomplish. The user manual also gives to the user advice on how to achieve with less trouble all necessarily steps.

Removing the BNC connector seems to be the real tricky part for most user. But you only need to take a sharp tool, and carefully release the red wire from the plastic connector. You will be then able to remove the BNC connector from the side panel. Be careful to not break the connector.


Applying the correct amount of thermal compound is essential. Adding too much will not be more effective, and can be even worst. If the compound is spreaded on other vital electronic parts, it could create serious issue.


When properly aligned, you are now ready to reassemble the KX2.

I will test the KX2 using digital mode in the field later this summer.

More information could be directly seen on Howie website at : ProAudioEngeering

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

 

*NEW* Elecraft KX2 Beta Firmware 2.77

Hi guys, I am a little late, I know, but I was away and quite busy for my work. As of May 26th, Elecraft released a new beta firmware for the KX2 with 2 new cool add-on features : a QSO decoded text buffer and the ability to access 4 programmable buttons instead of only 1. It is very useful to execute some complex macros without the need to browse in the menu.

There is the firmware notes revision :

  • BUILT-IN LOGGING (CW and DATA MODES): When using the KX2 hand-held, logging may be difficult. The KX2 can now capture up to 2048 transmitted characters, along with time, band, and mode, so you can update a paper or electronic log later on.To enable logging, set MENU:LOGGING to ON. Logging applies to CW (C), PSK-D (P) and FSK-D (F) modes, and only when using the internal keyer. To take advantage of time stamping, either set the time (MENU:TIME) on every power-up of the KX2, or install a KXIO2, which includes a real-time clock powered by the internal battery.When logging is enabled, the DVR icon (above the S-meter) flashes slowly. Outgoing text decode is turned on, allowing you to make sure you’ve sent call signs accurately. If you fill the log, LOG FULL will be shown briefly, and the DVR icon will stop flashing. To review logged text, tap DISP and rotate VFO B to find the LOG display. The VFO A knob can then be used to scroll through text. Time/mode/band are shown on VFO A (e.g., “0023 C14”); text is shown on VFO B. Holding CLR erases the entire log.To “dump” the log, send “LG;” to the KX2 via KX2 Utility’s Command Tester screen.
    Tips: To conserve space, use message buffers (MSG) to send CQs, name/QTH, etc. Messages are not recorded in the log. To start/stop logging quickly, assign the LOGGING menu entry to a programmable function switch (PF1-PF4).
  • FOUR PROGRAMMABLE FUNCTIONS: The KX2 now has four programmable functions, PF1-PF4, rather than one. These can be used to quickly access often-used menu entries. To set up a programmable function, locate the desired menu entry, hold PFn, then tap any of ‘1’ through ‘4’. Exit the menu. From then on, the menu function can be accessed using the associated PFn switch. If a menu entry has only two values (such as ON/OFF), accessing it via a programmable function will select the alternate value, then exit the menu immediately. This is especially useful with menu entries such as DUAL RX, VOX MD, ALT MD, and ATU DATA (see below).
  • TWO ATU DATA SETS: The KX2 will now store two full sets of per-band data for the internal ATU (KXAT2). Use the ATU DATA menu entry to select which set to use. Typically SET 1 is used at a home location, and SET 2 for field operation. They can also be used in cases where more than one antenna is available for a given band. (Note: The ATU DATA menu entry has no effect on KXAT100 ATU data, which is already stored separately for each of the KXPA100 amplifier’s antenna jacks. The KX2 can remotely switch KXPA100 antennas using the ANT.X SW menu entry.)
  • ATU LC NETWORK VALUE DISPLAY: In either the ATU.DATA or ATU MD menu entry, tapping the “ATU” switch shows the present values of L (inductance), C (capacitance) and N (L-network configuration). This applies only to the internal ATU (KXAT2). The displayed data format is LxxCxxNy. is a 2-digit hexadecimal value that, when converted to binary, shows which ATU L or C relays are engaged. shows which side of the L-network the capacitance is on: Nt = TX side, and NA = antenna side.
  • ATU CLEAR AFFECTS ONLY CURRENT DATA SET: Within the ATU DATA or ATU MD menu entries, CLR (hold of the OFS/B knob) now clears KXAT2 ATU data only for the presently selected data set (SET 1 or SET 2) on the present band. As before, CLR is recommended when using the internal ATU with a new antenna. Once the data is cleared, very few ATU tune operations will usually be needed to cover an entire band. Note: If a KXPA100 amplifier is connected, the CLR operation applies to the KXAT100 ATU’s per-band/per-antenna data, not to the data for the internal KXAT2 ATU.
  • PSK-D/FSK-D SIDETONE HANG FIXED: Corrected a problem where sending characters at very slow speeds or with paddles continuously pressed could cause a transmit timeout, leaving the sidetone on.

The firmware can be downloaded from this link :

ftp://ftp.elecraft.com/KX2/firmware/beta

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

Leaving Dayton 2017 Hamvention

I had a great time again this year. I traveled this year with my two friends, Guy VE2BWL and Mario VA2EK, who was celebrating his 10th anniversary as a ham. 

The FDIM event was again this year a great opportunity for a get together with friendly people sharing many similar aspects of this great hobby… QRP, building projects, etc.  The conferences was generally interesting, especially the conference on the magloop antenna experience that brought a lot of discussion after the presentation with a few hams, especially with a friend of mine Milt W8NUE, who was very grateful with his clear and interesting explanation. 

The new location for the Hamvention was very well welcome this year. Hopefully, we did not get too much bad weather for that time of the year in the mid-west. Many food concessions were there, a lot more than in Hara location. Becoming familiar again with the new location, buildings and surrounding area was not an issue. Many vendors sharing similitudes were in the same area. I really enjoy this new location. Some aspects will be hopefully revised for later and years to come. 

Again this year, many vendors missed some good opportunities if they were having more stocks. But I have to admit that it is sometime difficult for them to predict which piece of equipment will be a hit during this event, other than new products of course. I saw many interesting pieces of equipment. The SDR world is getting more and more interesting and omnipresent in the ham radio world. I found only a few new items related to QRP and portable ops.  

I’m already planning to get there next year, again. 😁

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS

New! Amplified AlexMic from PY1AHD for the Elecraft KX2 and KX3

New! Amplified AlexMic from PY1AHD for the Elecraft KX2 and KX3


Alex PY1AHD showed me yesterday at the FDIM his new product for 2017, the amplified speaker microphone for the Elecraft KX2 and KX3. Of course, Alex kept one for me for my own pleasure! Thanks Alex! Hi Hiiiiiiiiii ‼️🎉😜

The microphone is connected directly into both transceiver mic and earphone connectors. That way, the audio is now completely rerouted to the amplified speaker microphone. We have to admit that the internal speaker system into a KX3 or a KX2 is in some way quite limited… but that’s ok… we all want a small transceiver form factor.

The microphone comes with an internal lithium battery that can be used for more than 8 continuous hours. So it will last for the whole day without any problem. To charge the speaker mic, a provided cable let you easily do it by using any 5V standard USB adapter found on the market.


The audio response is between 200 Hz and 8 kHz and weight only 200g. With a maximum 2.5W audio output, it will let you hear anything more easily by having it nearer to your ears. The user also has the possibility to connect a pair of small earphone directly beneat the microphone body. A 3.5mm mono connector is located beside the mic cord. A blue LED indicates that the device is indeed turned on, and becomes purple when charging.


This speaker microphone performance is actually well welcome by the Elecraft team and active users. It represents an excellent addition to all portable solutions for people using an Elecraft KX2 or KX3 in the field.

For a price at 125$ USD, it really worths it. The lack of audio when being portable is now easily solved with this nice piece of equipment from my friend Alex PY5AHD.

More information could be directly seen on Alex website at : AlexLoop website


Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73
de Jeff | VA2SS

Elecraft KX2 heatsink from ProAudioEngineering

Elecraft KX2 heatsink from ProAudioEngineering

Hi guys, I finally put my hands on the new heatsink for the Elecraft KX2 from ProAudioEngineering… I am a big fan of their products. Again, it is a nice product well manufactured. When adding the heatsink, you can still use the lexan cover from GEMproducts. So, if you previously installed both side panels from Scott, you will need to replace the right side panel with the new one that now include the heat sink.

The installation procedure is already well known. But as a reminder, Howie also give you a well written instruction manual with a few hints on how to perform easily the heatsink panel installation. This is really a straight forward procedure, it could be done in minutes. But you should take your time and be careful. Removing such parts like the molded connector could be easily broken if not proper consideration is taken.

Priced at 60$ USD, it’s not free, but well designed. And knowing how Howie works for a few years now, you can be assured his product is the finest you can find to fit your needs with your Elecraft KX2.

More information could be directly seen on Howie website at : ProAudioEngeering

Meanwhile, do not forget to follow me on Twitter @VA2SS, and subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.

Have fun and stay tuned!

73

de Jeff | VA2SS