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.

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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.

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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). 🙂

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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

 

Countdown to 2017 Hamvention!

Join us and meet a lot of friends at the 2017 Hamvention !!!

IMG_0072

Do not forget to follow us on Twitter at @va2ss and also  @hamradio360 for the latest news related on 2017 Hamvention… the new home for amateur radio in Ohio!

We will post pictures, comments and all many interesting things related to our great hobby on our Twitter channel! For all fellow hams who will travel, please be careful and take care!

Stay tuned everybody!

Best 73 de Jeff | VA2SS

Digital Modem from BG5ROJ: New firmware 1.04b available

 

HardwareChipA new firmware is now available for the Digital Modem from the BG5ROJ group : version 1.04b.

You can download the firmware upgrade at this link : Firmware 1.04b download link

Thanks to Berj KI3U for the hint!

Note that you must also have the PC software running on Windows platform to proceed with the upgrade. The software can be found at the link : PC upgrade software

NOW SUPPORTS THE CAT CONNECTION WITH THE FT817!

For more information on how to upgrade the modem, please check you user manual. It is really important to follow carefully the manual instructions to make sure to not bricked your modem. A useful hint, make sure to use fresh batteries for this step.

How to upload the firmware?

The modem has a firmware uploading feature to enable more future functions and features. Follow the steps below to start the firmware uploading:

Step 1 : Rotate the VOL potentiometer to the right end, turn the unit on and it will enter the boot-loader mode.

img_0065

Step 2 : Connect the USB cable between the PC and modem, load the dsPIC33E/PIC24E loader Application program, enable the USB upload feature and then click “Connect”

img_0066

Step 3 : Load the new firmware, click “Erase-Program-Verify”, as the picture below:

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

Jeff | VA2SS

 

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.

img_1295

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.

img_1299

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:

capture-decran-2017-01-23-a-22-13-23

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