Building the Cricket QRP Transceiver at HOPE 2018

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m currently at the Circle of HOPE (Hackers On Planet Earth) convention in New York City.

Yesterday morning, I grabbed some breakfast and a cup of coffee then headed to the Hardware Hacking Village–a space in the Hotel Pennsylvania with over 50 soldering stations–sat down and started to build the Cricket QRP transceiver.

I’ve always found that kit building and soldering calms my nerves and since my presentation was later that day, it was just what the doctor ordered.

I opened up the kit at 9:00 am and started working.

All of the components were accounted for and the instructions were clear and easy to follow.

Although I didn’t need extra help I did have the extraordinary luxury of having the kit’s designer, my buddy David Cripe (NM0S), sitting across the table from me at one point.

Dave (NM0S) giving my Cricket the nod of approval.

The Cricket was incredibly easy to build, taking only about one hour or less start to finish.

The cool thing about this transceiver is that there are no coils to wind (they’re traced into the board) and by breaking off a pre-scored length of the circuit board, you can build an on-board hand key.

I had it on the air by 10:30 at the special event station W2H.

The Empire State Building as seen from the roof of the Hotel Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, the blowtorch AM broadcaster on the Empire State Building (ahem…next door!) overloaded the Cricket in no small way. I was, however, able to confirm output power, audio and that the receiver was functioning.

Most impressed!

Incidentally, Dave tells me he has a limit number of the Cricket kits available on his eBay store for about $37 US shipped, if you’re interested.

Click here to view the Cricket on eBay.

As for HOPE? It has far exceeded my expectations.

I’m looking forward to Chris Fallen’s presentation about HAARP later today, followed by David Cripe’s EMP presentation (who I will introduce).

Elecraft KX2/KX3: An inexpensive adapter for earphone and mic operation

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Hansgen (K8RAT), who shares this message from Wayne (N6KR) of Elecraft. This message was originally posted on the Elecraft email reflector:

Several KX2/KX3 users have asked what I use as an adapter to go from an iPhone headset to the rig’s headphone and mic jacks.

Here it is.

This unit works beautifully with both my old and new iPhone headsets. The combination of the headset and this adapter take a tiny amount of space in my go-bag. Audio reports are great, even with speech compression set to max (MENU:TX CMP).

You’ll need to set MENU:MIC BIAS to ON, and I also recommend setting MIC BTN to OFF.

You can tap the XMIT button to start voice-mode transmit, or use VOX. See VOX menu entries in the owner’s manual.

Note: There’s a rumor that one legacy version of the iPhone headset was different from the others. I don’t have any info on this, but it means there’s a slight risk that this $6 adapter won’t work in your case. But it certainly works with the earpods I bought a couple of months ago.

73,
Wayne
N6KR

Thanks for sharing this, Mike! I’ve just placed an order for this little adapter. When doing field operations, I always use in-ear headphones, but a separate hand mic because I don’t like packing or wearing bulky headsets. I’ve a couple of earbud/mic sets (neither an Apple brand) that should work brilliantly with this adapter.

Click here to view on Amazon.com (affiliate link).

Tuckerton Radio Tower’s rich history and once record-setting height

(Image: RadioMarine.org)

(Source: The Sandpiper via Richard Langley)

Who knows how many Americans realize that 100 years ago the United States was at war? After all, when about 25 people on the street in Beach Haven in the summer of 2012 were asked for a SandPaper article what war the U.S. had been involved in 200 years previously, very few could answer the War of 1812. There seems to be a flaw in the way history is taught in the U.S., and maybe math as well.

So for those who don’t remember their high school history, in 1918 the U.S. was heavily involved – with well over 4 million troops in Europe – in World War I, the “War to End All Wars,” “The Great War.”

It is easy to imagine that even a world war wouldn’t very much affect what was then a remote and rural Ocean County. But it did, in many ways. German U-boats prowled the Atlantic off the Jersey Shore; nearby Fort Dix (at first Camp Dix) was created and became one of the premier U.S. Army basic training centers in the country for decades.

Nicholas Wood of the Ocean County Cultural Heritage Commission[…]discussed two aspects of Ocean County and WWI in his 75-minute lecture/slide show at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum on Monday evening.

[…]The second half of Wood’s presentation discussed the once-famous but now mostly forgotten Tuckerton Radio Tower, built in 1912 by the German government.

[…]The tower was 820 feet high, making it, at the time, the second tallest structure in the world, behind only the Eiffel Tower. It was one of the first and most powerful transatlantic radio stations ever constructed. It survived until 1955, when it was torn down and sold for scrap metal and today lends its name to Little Egg Harbor’s Radio Road.[…]

Click here to read the full story at The Sandpiper.

Mike’s review of the Sangean HDR-14 AM/FM HD Radio

Sangean HDR-14 (left) and the C. Crane CC Skywave SSB (right) (Photo: Thomas)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike S, who comments with his short review of the Sangean HDR-14. Mike writes:

Well, I did something I said i would not do, triggered by Amazon’s tendency to introduce impossibly low prices on things for a couple of days, I sprang for the HDR-14. I have used it side by side with its direct competitor (the Nicetex “SPARC” SHD-TX2) for a few nights and a couple of days. Interesting little device.

As has been pointed out by those that read the specs, it is barely larger than the CC Skywave overall. It is made of the same soft, shiny black plastic as the larger Sangean portables (it is alternately a fingerprint magnet or a scuff magnet) but has a much less solid feel. The swivel-out foot on the bottom is a welcome addition and works well.

I have not yet played with other features (memories, etc) except to note that somebody has finally gotten it right in that memory locations store the chosen FM multicast channel instead of just the frequency.

The Sangean HDR-14 RDS display (Photo: Thomas)

Performance is a mixed bag. This is NOT an HDR-16 crammed into a smaller cabinet; not surprising, really, considering the amount of real estate available for circuitry. Analog FM and HD capture are right up there with the the larger sets and similar to the SPARC. I am unable to reproduce the spurious FM image problem noted by a lone Amazon reviewer. Audio is “just OK” out of the speaker with a harsh emphasis on treble – the SPARC portable is MUCH better with its passive radiator – but just fine for headphones or an external speaker.

However, for AM, that reviewer was spot on. The noise floor on AM is a tad too high and the native sensitivity a tad too low; resulting in “just OK” useable sensitivity on the band especially compared to the SPARC. I had no trouble with AM-HD on the only two stations in NYC metro (WCBS and WINS); however, it was unable to even detect the HD carrier from known stations in nearby cities that I was able to get >50% on the HDR-16 and HDR-18. The selectivity is better than the SPARC due to the DSP active for bandwidth adjustment; witness that I was able to clearly separate stations in Connecticut (600) and Philadelphia (610) from the splatter of local powerhouses at 570 and 620. Unfortunately too, analog AM reception is plagued with DSP artifacts reminiscent of earlier Tecsun sets which can even manifest in odd distortion in adjacent-channel splatter that bleeds into the tuned signal. The fact that the audio circuit/speaker accentuate the treble, make this even more annoying – the “ticks” from adjacent channel splatter are so harsh that you might think the speaker cone is damaged and vibrating.

I’m still waffling on whether to keep this one. It’s a nice little set which is sure to become a collector’s item, and its FM performance really is exemplary. But I kinda view the inclusion of the AM band as its raison d’être and in that regard it could certainly do better.

Thanks for your review, Mark!

It’s interesting that you couldn’t reproduce FM overloading or imaging. I have noted images on the FM band and it hasn’t been in a market as congested as that of NYC. It’s only noticeable when listening to stations adjacent to strong signals, however. It’s almost as if the FM filter is a little too wide.

I also agree about analog AM reception.

My HDR-14 review has been delayed due to a very hectic schedule, but I plan to complete it in the next couple of weeks! Thanks again, Mike!