Elecraft KPA1500 1.5Kw solid state amplifier

We’re pleased to announce our KPA1500 solid-state amplifier, covering 160 to 6 meters. Max power output is 1500 Watts. Other important features include:

  • Small RF deck fits on nearly any desktop (~4.5 x 13 x 11.5”, HWD); weighs only ~22 pounds
  • Separate lightweight switching power supply weighs ~15 pounds (standard cable is 6 feet long)
  • Styling matches our other K-Line products
  • Built-in wide-range antenna tuner (ATU) with instant recall of per-band/per-segment settings
  • Dual antenna jacks
  • Rich I/O complement including Ethernet
  • Interfaces to nearly any transceiver; fully integrated with K3 and K3S
  • Extensive parametric monitoring ensures safe operation
  • Silent PIN-diode T/R switching (no QSK relays)

Introductory price: $5995.

For photos and additional information, use the links : http://www.elecraft.com/KPA1500/KPA1500%20FAQ%20rev%20A1b.pdf

Required notification: “This device has not yet been authorized as required by FCC rules. It is not, and may not be offered for sale, or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.”

73,

Wayne, N6KR and Eric, WA6HHQ

Have fun and stay tuned!

Best 73,

Jeff | VA2SS

Portable mini paddle for the Elecraft KX line as a kit!

I discovered a few weeks ago, when I was reading the Elecraft usergroup, an intriguing CW paddle kit from QRPGUYS.com at a very cheap price of 25$ USD plus shipping.

I decided to order one, at this price, not much to loose, but many people were talking very positively of it. I received the kit a few days later. The building experience was just fine. First of all, the instruction sheet was well written and explained. All steps were very easy to follow. But all soldering steps asked me to be patient and precise. A good soldering iron station and a bench vise, as a third hand, is extremely recommended.

The instruction sheet was not included with the parts, but it was easy to download directly from the website.

Step 1 : Do the parts inventory.

Step 2 : All building steps… everything under 2 hours.

Step 3 : Fine tune and spacing adjustement.

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The result is quite interesting. The key can now be easily attached to the Elecraft KX2 or KX3 using the same connector header as Elecraft use for their own key using the two thumb screws.

With proper adjustment using a small Phillips screwdriver, the user fine tune the touch and feel he prefers by adding less or more turns to both screws. The rubber paddle can also be adjusted by being a little bit larger if you prefer, or just because you are having bigger fingers. By adding a few more spacers between the rubber paddle and the small metal label makes the paddle a little bit more larger.

At the end, I am very satisfied with the product. It is an excellent alternative if you do not want to spent more money on the Elecraft or Begali key. It took me about a hour to build. A two paddles kit version is also available.

For more information, please visit QRP Guys website at www.qrpguys.com.

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!

Best 73,

Jeff | VA2SS

 

 

QRPworks K-Board.. a great addition for your outdoor QSO’s !

391471If you are a digital op and you would like to travel light when doing outdoor operations, the K-Board combined with an Elecraft transceiver of your choice could be a great solution for you. Especially when used with the KX3 and the Kx2, made to be the portable of choice for many operators.

Doing digital mode while on the run could bring a lot of concerns when you are planning on how you will operate. The need of a computer is not necessarily a must have, but breaking the habit of having one could be part of a learning curve. Elecraft offer many built in decoders for CW, PSK and RTTY. I really wish they will support more protocols in a near future…. JT-65. 🙂

But willing to use digital mode with the transceiver’s built-in feature is not quite as easy as using them with a computer. First of all, you are not seeing the spectrum or any other form of signal thru an external monitor, you must use your ears and zero beat a signal. Let say in PSK31 for example, you zero beat a station by using the displayed indicator on the transceiver display, like you probably already doing when zero beating a CW signal. Then, the signal begin to be decoded and you are now able read the message from the other station and begin your QSO.

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You could of course answer to CQ message by using your CW key. You know of course that the transceiver will translate your message back in PSK and so on. Personally, I am not a CW key addict, and having a small keyboard could be a little bit more confortable for me. And having the possibility to have all macros already entered and ready to fire could be also a great addition. This is where the K-Board could be very interesting for many of us.

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K-Board QSO Features

 • Use a wireless or wired USB keyboard to send in any mode.  With  a wireless keyboard, there’s one less cable to deal with
• Store messages and macros in 20 slots (80 characters each)
• QSY instantly from the keyboard
• Use “Grab & Go” feature to capture call for messages
• Use Call and Serial number insertion features in messages for        routine  QSOs and contests

K-Board Message / Macro
Features

• Create and edit sets of 20 messages/macros on a PC or Mac with    the QRPworks free Message Management Utility
• Download a set of 20 messages/macros to the K-Board in seconds
• Create 10 different named sets of messages for different purposes      (Field Day, SOTA, NPOTA activation, Routine QSOs, contests, etc.)
• Create messages while portable using  the keyboard and the KX2,    KX3, or K3/K3S display

A hint, build your own cue card to remember all your message macros in which memory they are stored! Here an example:

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For more information, take a look at http://www.qrpworks.com/k-board.html

Reviews could be found here : http://www.eham.net/reviews/review/143021

Have fun!

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

Have fun and stay tuned!

73,

Jeff | VA2SS

«Poor» HF condition?!? I’m still having fun!!!

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Did you search and pounce across the HF band recently? Of course, we are going for sure into the minima of solar cycle 24 for the next years to come. Many years of poor condition are in front of us. But wait, poor condition I said? We have now a good opportunity to step forward and look at this «dark period» that will last for several years to come, and bring all this on a positive manner. With some perspective and also with good will, it could be also a great period to do some «experimentation» and enhance our knowledge into this great hobby!

I am hearing all week long, quite too often,  from many hams, sometime from friends of mine : «I can’t do radio, the HF bands condition are too poor! Yurk!”.

OK then, but what “experimentation” could we do could help us to resolve the bands condition??? The use of a combination of two important things. First of all, our good will, then…. the digital modes! Many will say : “OK Jeff, we all tried PSK31 or RTTY!!! Now what??!?” But my short answer would be : “But, did you try a more effective mode… like JT-65???”

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As a ham myself since 2003, I discovered one flavor of the JT mode, the JT-65 from Joe Taylor K1JT, a few years ago from a good friend of mine who saddly died  last year Jacques VA2JOT. This smart guy has been involved back in the 70’s into deep research on digital modes especially for commercial use. I remember when he told me at that time: “Jeff, the use of a computer combined with the JT-65 mode could let you decode message that you might not even be capable hearing at them!”. And this is indeed totally true.

Last autumn 2015, I decided to try for real JT-65. Since that moment, I am getting quite amazing results with only 20 Watts or less, using mainly basic a wire antenna at 25 feet high. So, not much money investment, but mainly my good will! Now, I having a lot of QSOs on bands that are usually “dead” for many people using traditional modes like SSB or even CW. Just listening to JT-65 frequencies, and we could easily hear hams from all over the world sending CQ’s looking for fun!

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The other good thing I also discovered…. another good use of the 60m band! Using the 60m at the frequency 5.357 on JT-65 is totally awesome. Many new countries around the globe are also getting recently the right to use this small portion of the spectrum. So the challenge is also getting more and more interesting!

Here an example I received earlier this morning by e-mail:

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We could easily complain about poor HF bands condition, but we could also explore other aspects of our great hobby and continue to enjoy it!

For those interested using digital modes, just type as a example «jt-65» into Google, and start reading, do some experimentation, join discussion group and share all your experiments… and continue to have fun!!

With low or poor HF condition during the solar cycle will now become a true joy!!!

Have fun!

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

Have fun and stay tuned!

73,

Jeff | VA2SS

Merry Christmas to all!

Everybody, have a Great Holiday with your family and friends!


Always take a special care when you are travelling. Also, have fun with your new toys, for many of us who received gifts from Santa! Hi Hiiiiiiiiii ‼️🎉 

Santa has been generous with me this year… again! A brand new Elecraft K3S and a P3!

Best wishes and 73 de Jeff | VA2SS 

HobbyPCB on KickStarter with a QRP SDR transceiver

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HobbyPCB on KickStarter with a QRP SDR transceiver

Here a few information found on KickStarters about the new product from HobbyPCB. Sounds really good from a smart group of people who really like to offer affordable product at a great quality level.

This low cost SDR transceiver sounds very interesting. I know Jim WA2EUJ. He is the RF engineer who also designed the award winning HardRock-50 power amplifier…. I own one… 🙂 Really cool with especially a FT-817, Elecraft KX2 or KX3.

Not just another SDR – The RS-HFIQ offers real RF performance for serious communications. Covering the 80-10M Amatuer Radio bands with excellent RX performance and 5 watts of TX power, using open-source SDR software for CW, SSB, AM, FM and digital modes, the RS-HFIQ sets a new standard for shortwave SDR communications.

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Here all the specifications:

  • Frequency Range – 3-30 MHz (performance guaranteed on 80/60/40/30/20/17/15/12/10M ham bands)
  • Sensitivity – MDS <-128 dBm on 80M dropping to <-135 on 10M (depending on processing bandwidth and sound card performance)
  • Noise Figure – <15 dB on 80M decreasing to <10 dB on 10M
  • TX Power 5W typical, 4W minimum
  • LO Feed-thru < -50 dBc @ 5W output
  • Spurious and Harmonics <-50 dBc typical <43 guaranteed
  • DC Power 13.8VDC, 2A max, plus USB power for the Arduino Nano

Filters, Filters, Filters

The RS-HFIQ uses a bank of carefully designed bandpass filters which divide the shortwave spectrum in to narrower bands prior to the active circuitry. The down-converter and baseband provide additional filtering so the signals passed to the digitizer contain only the information needed for processing.

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Transmit Power

Many similar SDR hardware projects omit the transmit path entirely, providing only receive capability while others provide outputs in the 10 mW to 1W range. Even under the best conditions, communication at these lower power levels can be challenging and when conditions are poor 1W of TX power is frustrating. Even driving an external power amplifier generally requires more than 1W to achieve full output power. The RS-HFIQ includes the QRP standard, 5W output, MOSFET power amplifier running Class A to keep distortion to a minimum and the MOSFET is rated for 16 watts so there is plenty of margin for tolerance to SWR and high duty-cycle communications modes. Best of all, 5W is plenty of power to drive an external amplifier to the 50 or 100 watt power level; even to the legal limit of 1,500 watts for some serious communication power.

High Quality RF Design Doesn’t Need to be Expensive – HobbyPCB

With today’s inexpensive surface mount components and assembly techniques, top-notch RF engineering does not equate to expensive hardware. In truth, the RS-HFIQ is a fraction of the cost of similar performing transceivers and slightly more than lower power transceivers that cover only 1 or 2 bands. Not only is the RS-HFIQ the only 5W all-band shortwave transceiver commercially available for under $250, it offers the RF performance of transceivers costing many times more.

An Arduino in also part of this project, an Arduino NANO. Affordable equipment always starts with affordable components.

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More information could be on KickStarters at this address : KickStarter Links

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

Have fun and stay tuned!

73,

Jeff | VA2SS

Elecraft KX2 Beta firmware update MCU 2.69 / DSP 1.49

HardwareChipThere is an update of the beta firmware update that came out last November 1st 2016, MCU 2.69 / DSP 1.49 for the Elecraft KX2. Not much than some fixes on the previous beta firmware revision.

 

This firmware version is still in beta stage.
Click this link to get the beta firmware

 

Notes from the Elecraft web site

* PSK63 FIX:  DSP revision 1.49 corrects a problem with PSK63 mode.
* ALT MD MENU ENTRY IMPROVEMENT:  Some users found that the ALT MD menu entry didn’t switch modes consistently or cleanly. This is a long operation internally to the firmware, so the VFO A knob rate was slowed down (parameter adjust).

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

Have fun and stay tuned!

73,

Jeff | VA2SS

Kenwood TH-D74 : An excellent HT from a serious company

Hi folks,

I was dealing with professional challenge recently, so I did not have enough time to explore other aspect of our hobby…. But I’m back… but I’m still very busy thought… 🙂

Of course, like many of us who pre-ordered earlier this year the brand new Kenwood TH-D74, we finally received it recently. After many months of waiting since the time we were able to see it at the 2016 Hamvention.

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Now the dream come true. My first impression of the TH-D74 were very good. The user interface is also very friendly user. Kenwood did a great job. To create an understandable menu structure when you want to offer, not only the D-Star features, but also the APRS that also comes with plenty of possibilities too… all this need to be well integrated and structured into a comprehensive menu user interface. Well done Kenwood!

To take a look at the specifications : Kenwood TH-D74 website

Here is my opening logo when turning on the HT. 🙂

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The bad side, this is the first D-Star experience with Kenwood…. at least officially. And when you talk about “1st experience”, we can also easily guess… issues.  To be honest, we found a few of them, especially related to the D-Star protocol. In my case, these issues were very obvious for me. When a HT reboot by itself by just having a D-Star QSO… it is really obvious… indeed! 🙂

But so far, I also found a “work around” for a few them, and let me finally use the HT without any problem. The sound quality TX and RX are great, especially when you are talking to someone else using a TH-D74 too! The DSP Kenwood went thru for their first experience is really awesome.

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The serious advantage with a company like Kenwood is also to come with firmware updates that do not take too long to be available to everyone. Atop of it, they also mentioned clearly which issues they corrected. What a wonderful “transparent” company! By listening to their customers complaints, and by giving them explanations on what they are doing, an user can not ask more! Do not ask this to Yeasu… uhhhmmm… sorry, but sadly true.

I will not talk much or comment about the price… for me, when I am talking about my main hobby, money is usually no object. 🙂

Kenwood just came out on Monday October 31st with a new firmware upgrade 1.04. There is a few things Kenwood addressed with this firmware update.

Updated items : (Version 1.03  1.04) [October 31, 2016]

1. In DV/DR mode, TX/RX function might become unstable.
2. In DV/DR mode, NMEA sentences (GPS data) are not transmitted correctly.
3. In DV/DR mode, “ATT” indicator is not displayed.
4. In DR mode, unnecessary error indication appears when using Reflector menu functions.
5. Memory Scan may not work correctly under certain conditions.
6. Cannot recall locked-out memory channels from the memory channel list.

If you are a lucky ham who bought or who plan to buy this handheld, you can’t be disappointed for sure.

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

Have fun and stay tuned!

73,

Jeff | VA2SS