Tag Archives: Ham Radio

The Elecraft KX3 continues to impress

I’ve owned my Elecraft KX3 for five years, and this little rig continues to amaze me.

In 2013, I gave the KX3 one of the most favorable reviews I’ve ever published–and it continues to hold its own. That’s why last year I recommended the KX3 to my buddy and newly minted ham radio operator, Sébastien (VA2SLW), who had already been eyeing the KX3 as his first HF transceiver.

A few weeks ago, Sébastien bit the bullet and is now the proud owner of a KX3 with built-in ATU. He purchased the KX3 with plans to do a lot of field operations including SOTA (Summits On The Air) and also use the KX3 at home.

Wednesday, I popped by Sébastien’s flat to help sort through some low-profile antenna options. I had suggested that he not invest in a factory made antenna just yet, but instead explore what he’s able to do with a simple wire antenna directly connected to the KX3 with a BNC Male to Stackable Binding Posts adapter. I’ve had excellent luck using this simple arrangement this in the past with the KX3, KX2 and even the KX1.

I did a quick QRM/RFI survey of his flat and balcony with my CC Skywave SSB. While there were the typical radio noises indoors, his balcony was pleasantly RFI quiet. At 14:00 local, I was able to receive the Voice of Greece (9,420 kHz), Radio Guinée (9,650 kHz) and WWV (both 10,000 and 15,000 kHz) with little difficulty. His building has incredibly thick concrete walls–I assume this does a fine job of keeping the RFI indoors. Lucky guy!

We popped by a wonderfully-stocked electronics shop in Québec City (Électromike–which I highly recommend) picked up some banana plugs and about 100′ of jacketed wire. We took these items back to the flat and cut a 35′ length of wire for the radiator and about 28′ for the ground. We added the banana plugs to the ends of each wire.

Sébastien temporarily attached one end of the antenna wire to the top of the fire escape and we simply deployed the ground wire off the side of the balcony. Neither of these wires interfere with his neighbors and neither are close to electric lines.

I had planned to cut both the radiator and ground until we found the “sweet spot”: where the ATU could find matches on 40, 30, 20 and 17 meters (at least).

Much to my amazement, the KX3 ATU got 1:1 matches on all of those bands save 80M where it still could achieve a 2.8:1 ratio.  I couldn’t believe it!

Frankly, Elecraft ATUs are nothing short of amazing.

Even the ATU in my little KX2 once tuned a 20 meter hex beam to 40 meters and found a 1:1 match to boot. In contrast, the Icom IC-7300 sitting next to the KX2 wasn’t able to match that hex beam even though we performed a persistent ATU search. Not surprising as I wouldn’t expect a 40 meter match on a 20 meter antenna, but the Elecraft ATU did it with relative ease.

Sébastian did a quick scan of the ham radio bands where we heard a number of EU stations. I also took the opportunity to point out how well the KX3 operates as a broadcast receiver with the AM filter wide open and using headphones in the “delay” audio effects mode. The Voice of Greece sounded like a local station–absolutely gorgeous signal.

It was getting late in the day, so I couldn’t hang around to call CQ with Séb, but I left knowing that he is going to have a blast playing radio at home and, especially, in the field. Next, he plans to build a simple mag loop antenna, get a BioEnno LiFePo battery and eventually add other Elecraft accessories to his station. I’d say he’s off to a great start!

Want more info? Click here to read my review of the Elecraft KX3 and here to read my review of the Elecraft KX2.

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Radio City is closing shop

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes that Radio City in Mounds View, MN, will be closing its doors soon.

Ham City owners, Dan and Maline Fish, are retiring. They posted the following message on their website:


Sept. 11th, 2018

It’s Time to Retire.

Dan and Maline Fish of Radio City

It’s been a wonderful 36 years for us at Radio City and we have decided to retire and close Radio City. 🙁 We are so thankful for the many years of support and we have enjoyed working you, our customers. The technical, intelligent and polite conversations plus advice have been invigorating, thus making this decision extremely difficult for us.

We appreciate all the teachers, Elmers, VE examiners, ham and astronomy clubs efforts in growing new ham radio operators and amateur astronomers into our special community.

We will also miss going to and supporting amateur radio and astronomy clubs all over MN and IA at their events. We will greatly miss all the friendships we have been privileged to maintain with many of our customers.

We plan to exit by this year’s end or a bit sooner as we empty our shelves of new and used materials.

Upcoming Events:

Final Goodbye Tour:

We will be at Smartfest in Cologne, MN on Saturday September 22nd. We will also be in Carlton MN for their Fallfest on Saturday September 29th.

Goodbye Party:

Please come on by on Saturday October 6th for our good bye party. We will of course have cake and coffee for everybody.

Other Necessary Details:

Service:

We will complete servicing items we currently have in the service dept. We will not be accepting any additional ‘Out of warranty’ items. ‘In warranty’ items will be still be processed by Radio City per normal until about October 31st, 2018.

Consignment :

We will no longer accept more items for consignment. All items that have NOT been sold need to be picked up the week of Oct 13th, 2018. We will consider all items not picked up by then to be abandoned.

In closing we will very much miss all of you and perhaps there is someone out there interested in running the store under New Management.

Thanks again for all your support,
Dan and Maline Fish

Link to Fox9 News story about the store closing:
http://www.fox9.com/news/minnesota-s-last-ham-radio-store-to-close-its-doors-as-owners-retire

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Spectrum Management and the Impact on Amateur Radio

Many thanks to an SWLing Post reader who has shared the following document which was published during the IARU Region 3 conference in Seoul. The document is titled “The evolution of spectrum management in the era of hyper-connectivity and its impact on the amateur service.” Certainly a tough look at the realities of spectrum use and amateur radio’s part in it.

Click here to download (.docx format). 

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Today: W9IMS last special event station of 2018

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Brian D. Smith (W9IND), who shares the following information about SWL-friendly awards offered by his amateur radio club to commemorate the three major auto races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brian writes:

W9IMS: Last special event station of 2018

Amateur radio station W9IMS will conclude its special event season during the coming week by commemorating the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The W9IMS crew will be working other amateurs around the world, but SWLs are welcome to tune in and qualify for the same QSL cards and certificate that are available to hams.

For those who logged the station during the IndyCar Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, this is your chance to complete the clean sweep and earn the colorful 2018 certificate. Even if you missed one or both of the previous races, you’re still eligible for a Brickyard 400 QSL card, which is redesigned every year.

A previous SWLing post highlighted the 2018 W9IMS events.

Operating SSB on 20 and 40 meters (as close as possible to 7.245 and 14.245 MHz), W9IMS will take to the airwaves at various times between 0400 UTC Monday, Sept. 3, and 0400 Monday, Sept. 9. One of the best times to look for the station is during the evening from 2200 to 0200 (6 to 10 p.m. Indianapolis time). W9IMS also has a digital presence, periodically transmitting in FT8 mode.

To find out if we’re on the air at any given time, go to DX Summit – http://dxsummit.fi/#/ – and type “W9IMS” in the search box. For more information about W9IMS and the Brickyard special event, including scheduled operators, go to www.w9ims.org. Just remember that ops can get on the air at any time between now and Sunday night!

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Dan spots a rare Squires-Sanders SS-1R receiver on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dan Robinson, who writes:

This is only the second Squires-Sanders rig that has appeared on the used market in decades, though it’s the amateur receiver.

The SS-IBS, the receiver pictured in a 1970s Communications Handbook in the shack of Richard Wood, the well-known SWL and linguist, is even rarer:

Click here to view on eBay.

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