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.
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.
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.
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.
If 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
Well, I really hope all of you had a great summer so far? We had a great one here in Quebec this year. We had plenty of beautiful days with a lot of warm period to go out and play with our ham radio gears…. even also to renew with astronomy that I left behind since 2007! What a great summer!
I was searching for quite some time for references related to end-fed antenna. Not especially for much technical details, but more about experiences from users in the field. I happily found a short, but a great article from W1SFR Stephen wrote back in 2013.
An article I previously wrote about “end-fed antenna using an Un:Un 9:1”. End-Fed link
The main reason I was searching for such document it is because I am using this kind of antenna for portable use, and I really like the simplicity of this antenna for many aspects: fast to deploy, works on many bands, no antenna to tune, honestly effective for casual use, etc… Much of my argument is related to personal consideration of course…. like many other aspects in our lives.
Now back to the document from W1SFR. The document from Stephen was for me a way to bring field experiment results over technical details. And atop of that, he is using an Elecraft KX3, like I use an Elecraft KX2 myself since last May 2016. So I was also very pleased to find in his document a reference chart of wire lengths to use, and which “traps” to avoid when using such antenna.
The end-fed antenna he is using in his article is combined by the use of the same 9:1 Un-Un that I am using. So great! We are now comparing almost an apple with an apple! 🙂
I built my 9:1 Un-Un using the EARCHI documentation that can be found here… EARCHI document. We even use the same length of coax, but not the same type… I’m using the lossy RG-174… I prefer to keep everything smaller and lighter as possible. If I take a look at his comparison tests he presented in his chart using different antenna analyzers, I am also getting similar results on my side with mine.
My results using a RigExpert AA-600 using 25 feet of coax, 35 feet of wire atop of a 31 feet fiberglass mast.
I was reading recently many comments from people that were bored of the actual DX condition when doing outside operation; DX condition are not are their best, hard to operate QRP, etc…. But what the hell…. Hi!! Most of them also discovered that when using digital modes, even when we could find that the DX condition are not at their top, that many, many DX contacts could be easily done when QRP. Let me tell you that I had plenty of fun so far during my last summer! I even found that when using an end-fed antenna, running QRP and using digital modes…. I was able to reduce my power by half… so from a big 10W SSB :-), I used 5W or less when using PSK, RTTY or even JT…. and 1W or 2W was also very often possible. It is fun to try to use less power.. it is part of the hobby… the experimentation!
Well, back to the End-Fed antenna. It is fast to deploy and to have fun. Fairly efficient, especially when using CW or digital modes, compact, lightweight, etc… I prefer this antenna over many others that I actually own, and that I do not use very often for many reasons.
So, the article from W1SFR gave me another confirmation, another point of view, that the End-Fed antenna could be a well performer.
Give this antenna a try! It is a low cost antenna, that could be easily built, and could let you potentially renew with the fun of outdoor operation, in a minimalist way!!
I would like to thank W1SFR Stephen for his great article. Another link from W1SFR…. his antenna kit… www.kx3helper.com.
Meanwhile, do not forget to subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.
I just received yesterday from my friendly group of ELEKITSORPARTS, a small and smart group of amateur radio components designer and builder, the ADSP Filter FDS-02. They sent to me, for testing and review purpose, this small and effective audio filter that do more than just filtering!
My friend Jim WA2EUJ from HobbyPCB just sent me a few days ago, for testing purpose, a brand new HardRock-50 amplifier interface for Elecraft KX2 and KX3. This little interface let you use quickly your Elecraft KX2 or KX3 with your HardRock-50 amplifier with standard cable, without the need to build custom cable, and let you use also at the same time your KXUSB cable to control your transceiver with your PC.
With this addition, all HardRock-50 users will not need to make custom cables to drive their amplifier with their transceiver. A cable kit comes with the interface. This way, I was able to connect easily my Elecraft KX2 with the HR-50 by using the 4 conductors 3.5mm cable provided with the amplifier interface. Once properly configured, the HR-50 will change band automatically and will follow the transceiver band change accordingly. The interface will also key the amplifier from the transceiver when hitting the PTT or the TUNE button.
The setup is some kind easy and straight forward. Here is a example for my Elecraft KX2 :
Connect the 4 conductors 3.5mm cable between the Elecraft KX2 ACC connector and the HR-50 interface KX2 ACC.
Set the baud rate in the HR-50 setup menu. It must match the baud rate already set in the transceiver setup menu. Mine is set on both sides at 38,400 baud.
Set also the option KX3 Serial to ON into the HR-50 menu.
On the KX2, the feature called AUTO INF must be set to ANT CONTRL. The transceiver will then transmit over the serial line a text string information, and let the HR-50 know on which band it needs to change. This option is easily found under the TECH SUPPLEMENTAL MENU. To access it, you must set TECH MD prior to ON to be able to set AUTO INFO value to ANT CONTRL.
Optionally, you can also connect the KXUSB serial cable to your PC and into the KXUSB port on the HR-50 interface.
That’s it, you are all set!
Now, with everything properly set, when the band change on the KX2, the HR-50 change also automatically to the correct band. And when the transceiver transmits, the HR-50 also transmits automatically.
Again, this small interface avoid the need to build custom cables to hook the Elecraft KX2 or KX2 with the HardRock-50. It also gives the user the possibility to still use the KXUSB cable for the Elecraft KX2 or KX3 at the same time with the computer, just exactly as the Elecraft KXPA100!
I’m using it with RUMlogNG on my Macbook Pro, and it is working great!
Finally I just received last week my Elecraft KXPD2 keyer paddle that was back ordered since my purchase back in last May at the 2016 Hamvention. A nice addition to a mobile kit of course. Even if I do not use CW very often, I do appreciate to have a complete kit, and also to have an optimized setup by choosing excellent quality components. The KXPD2 is now part of my gears in my portable setup.
The major difference between the KXPD3 and the KXPD2 is of course the size. The KXPD2 is less smaller than the previous paddle version previously designed for the KX3.
Of course, by having shorter paddle means also that the mecanic pressure should be different than having longer paddle. But Elecraft did a great job on this. Even with shorter paddle, the pressure needed still extremeley smooth. The pressure needed is also extremely well adjustable. I already had the KXPD3, and with the KXPD2, I can tell you that I cannot see any difference on the pressure needed to trigger a DIT ou DAH. The mechanical parts are also well deisgned…. Elecraft did an excellent job on this one.
They also addressed the previous major issue they had with their KXPD3. The KXPD2 offer now an excellent contact mechanical system to avoid loosing DIT or DAH for many reasons already known. The 2 contacts for DIT and DAH on the KXPD2 now rely on 2 small soldered steel wires. So that way, the paddle contact system do not rely on moving parts like it was on the previous initial version of the KXPD3.
Caution must be taken with the 2 small steel wires. They are not so well protected against “loosy” fingers when the operator attach or remove his paddle. The operator must avoid putting his fingers too much closer the paddle body where the wires are located. By moving a wire by accident, it could makes contact with the ground, and the KX2 will be stuck with a repeated DIT or DAH! Even an error message could appear on the KX2 display when turned «ON» : «ERR KEY». If you see this message on your transceiver display, you have probably a «short» contact on your paddle: check your wires! 🙂
The paddle body is also made with rugged and transparent well machined «lexan» style component. Like the previous model, the paddle is getting attached the same way to the transceiver body, by using 2 thumbs screws : easy to attach, easy to remove.
Again, there is an adjustement point per paddle related to the distance between the paddle and the contact point. The adjustment is very precise and let the operator use the paddle the way is really feel confortable with it.
Meanwhile, do not forget to subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel as well.
I recently found that Thomas OE2ATN recurred and built another great «Go Box», but this time for the Elecraft KX2. What a great addition for people who like to have something very neat and compact in a small enclosure.
I’m still impressed about all the details he takes care when he is building his project. Everything is well sharp, and nothing is left aside. It is like an «art project».
The project use a water tight «Peli 1050» brand enclosure, the European version of the «Pelican 1050» from the well known company Pelican in the USA. I never verified the quality of the European version, but I assume the quality is the same because they are both from the same company holding using the same quality standard.
This kind of case is now very easy to find on the market. Elecraft KX2 deserves to have the best case! 🙂
There is 2 common questions people are asking him. More FAQ could be found on his website listed below at the of this post.
The right PowerPole is for charging the internal Battery. The original KX2 battery cable was connected to the switch and then runs back into the KX2.
So you can cut it from the KX2 and load the LiIo via the right PP. Of course on your own risk as Elecraft suggests to remove the battery while charging. My note on this solution: Do you remove your laptop / tablet / phone …. -battery while charging? Sure there might be different opinions now. In ON-position the right PP supplies the voltage of the internal battery – maybe for a little LED to have some light on the knobs or any other accessory.
The left PowerPole is connected to the 12V jack for an external supply on the KX2.
Heatsink and airflow I do not really care about heat because I´m not operating for longer periods (mostly on mountain tops) and I do no data modes. Just phonie and CW. Never had any heat problems with my old GoBox design, even when operating in direct sun for around half an hour.
I invite you to visit his personal website at the addresse below:
I’v been contacted by a friend of mine Shel KF0UR from QRPWorks this week about a brand new product that they added into their product line:
The K-Board is essentially an external extension of an Elecraft KX3 or K3 that let the operator use a standard wired USB or wireless keyboard (via a USB dongle) with the transceiver. The K-Board will let the operator use the keyboard for sending pre-recorded macros.
The K-Board is hooked to the KX3 or K3 with a serial 3.5mm cable into the serial line RS-232 connector of the transceiver.
K-Board Operational Features
• For light and compact travel. It is our smallest and lightest product • Only 3.4 oz (96g) • Size: 3.6 x 1.9 x 1 inches (92 x 49 x 25mm) • View all commands with Help displayed on the rig • Run K-Board on 9 volt battery or 8 to 15 volts DC
Go lighter and smaller!
Want to add a keyboard to your KX3, K3, or K3S?
Would you like to have message and rig control macro capabilities as well?