Monthly Archives: April 2014

A short review of the KX3 helper: a simple, effective non-slip pad


I recently purchased the KX3 helper from Steve (W1SFR) and can report that I’ve been very pleased with this uber-simple, affordable, non-slip tilt pad.


While I like the built-in tilt legs on the Elecraft KX3, I prefer slightly more angle for operation on my desktop.  The KX3 helper allows you to chose a number of positions and angles for the KX3.


What I love most is the fact that it will not slip while you’re tuning or making adjustments to the KX3 (even if inserting Mic or Key plugs).


The little shelf on the back of the KX3 helper is the perfect place to hold your microphone when not in use.



Though Steve produces a number of non-slip wedges (and many other accessories), I find the size of the KX3 helper to be ideal for many of my portable shortwave radios as well. Here’s the Tecsun PL-600 for example:




At $13.45 US shipped, I believe the KX3 helper is a true bargain. Plus, you’re buying from a fellow radio hobbyist who does this sort of thing out of his passion for radio.  Check out all of Steve’s radio accessories by clicking here.

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Hidden feature: Calibrating the Tecsun PL-880 for zero-beat operation

Tecsun-SSB-QRG-1Many thanks to Dan who learned, via the Tecsun PL-880 group, of another way to calibrate the PL-880 in upper and lower sideband. This method seems to be a little easier than a previously posted procedure.

Anna, with Anon-Co, translates this procedure given to her by Tecsun technicians:

  1. Place the Tecsun PL-880 in LSB or USB mode
  2. Tune to an AM broadcast station and zero-beat the signal (fine tune it until the signal has no SSB distortion and voices/music sound natural)
  3. If the last two digits of the frequency are not “00”, this means there is some display deviation
  4. Simply press and hold the [SNOOZE] button for about one second or so to calibrate the last two frequency digits, which will show “00” when successful.

I will try this procedure later today by re-calibrating my PL-880.

Dan has also noted what many others have–that the PL-880 “is sensitive to both power levels, and time in the powered on state, and will vary by some hz up and down the bands
no matter what one does to zero at any particular point.”

Has anyone else experienced this?

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The Juno Earth Flyby QSL card

Happiness is receiving the Juno Earth Flyby QSL card in the mail:



Many thanks to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for making the Juno Flyby such a fun experiment. To read more about the flyby, check out our post from last year.

Were any readers able to “work” the Juno spacecraft?

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Draft bill outlines major changes to BBG and US International Broadcasting

BBG-LogoMany thanks to Dan Robinson who shares this post on the BBG Watch which outlines major changes to US International Broadcasting.

The draft bill, originating in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is known as the United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014. The bill outlines:

  • “the creation of the United States International Communications Agency within the executive branch of Government as an independent establishment”
  • creating an Advisory Board of the United States International Communications Agency–as the name implies, this board would serve in an advisory (in lieu of management) capacity
  • a new CEO of the United States International Communications Agency, who would be “appointed for a five-year term and renewable at the Board’s discretion. The CEO would exercise broad executive powers.”
  • the creation of the Consolidated Grantee Organization, for the non-federal grantees of the BBG who would be consolidated “and reconstituted under a single organizational structure and management framework.” This would affect the following agencies:
    • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL),
    • Radio Free Asia (RFA), and
    • Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN)
  • “The Consolidated Grantee Organization would have its own board and its own CEO.”
  • “The Voice of America would be placed within the the United States International Communications Agency.”
  • Changes to the VOA charter including more freedom and flexibility to report the news. BBG Watch quotes: “The Voice of America’s success over more than seven decades has created valuable brand identity and international recognition that justifies the maintenance of the Voice of America; the Voice of America’s public diplomacy mission remains essential to broader United States Government efforts to communicate with foreign populations; and despite its tremendous historical success, the Voice of America would benefit substantially from a recalibration of Federal international broadcasting agencies and resources, which would provide the Voice of America with greater mission focus and flexibility in the deployment of news, programming, and content.”
  • The new bill also outlines sharing resources between the VOA and the new Consolidated Grantee Organization (which currently maintains much of its own network infrastructure)

There are many, many more points to this bill thus I would encourage you to read the BBG Watch post in full for all details.


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Pirate Radio Recordings: Wolverine Radio

SSTV-28Apr2014-080706For your listening pleasure: 1 hour and 7 minutes of pirate radio station, Wolverine Radio–recorded April 27, 2014 starting around 1:10 UTC.

Wolverine was broadcasting on 6,945 kHz in the upper side band. Typical of Wolverine, lots of music variety which spans the decades and no commentary other than station ID throughout.

I decoded Wolverine’s SSTV QSL (see right) with Chris Smolinski’s SSTV app for iPhone.  As you’ll hear, overall signal strength and audio fidelity were excellent.

Click here to download the recording as an MP3 or simply listen via the embedded player below:

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