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!


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!

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!


de Jeff | VA2SS


Countdown to 2017 Hamvention!

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


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


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.


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”


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!

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.”


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.


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.


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.


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

• 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:


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!


Jeff | VA2SS

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


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???”


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!


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:


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!


Jeff | VA2SS