Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The 'Tenna Dipper GIVEAWAY

What I have here is a KD1JV, Steve Weber kit called the 'Tenna Dipper.

The 'Tenna Dipper or "TD" is designed to allow you to find the 50 ohm resonant frequency of an antenna or to adjust an antenna tuner for best match. A built in frequency counter with Morse audio output is used to determine the frequency at which the TD is tuned to.

I will probably never build this kit so I am offering up to someone who views by blog.

To win here is what you have to do:

Send me an email at OR post a reply to this blog entry with just your callsign. Your callsign must be good in QRZ. If you do not have a callsign then just post your first name and last initial and send me an email with your address.  Only one entry per person.

This will be open until 1 Aug 2016 at midnight at which time Lynn, KC0YQF, will draw a name/callsign out of a hat and that person will win the kit. This is free, no cost for postage.

You DO NOT need to subscribe to my blog or my youtube channel.

This is just a simple promotion in order to get rid of a few kits taking up room in the shack. I have a few others and will do those in a similar manner.

Good luck and 73

Saturday, July 16, 2016

"KX2 Review" or "A Better KX3"

I was thinking yesterday, while driving back from our last SOTA outing, that I have used the KX2 on almost 20 SOTA summits. We have used the KX3 on perhaps over 100 and it even went with us on our Honeymoon to Yellow Stone and the Grand Tetons.

I am really liking the new KX2! Lynn, KC0YQF, has a KX3. We purchased the KX3 when Lynn upgraded to General so she would have the means to operate SSB. I should point out that while Lynn enjoys hiking and Amateur radio she was less than enthusiastic to hike with me and sit on a summit as I plugged in earplugs and used a CW only radio (KX1 or Steve Weber MTR). While I was having a blast, it was just no fun for her. I don't blame her.

With a little prodding she upgraded to General and we were off to do some summits on SSB. I cannot say how proud I am of her while listening to her run a pileup. She really enjoys talking to everyone on SSB. At the time my only radio that I could take portable that had SSB was my K2. After one outing with it we got a KX3. The K2 is great but just too bulky and it was taking up most of my backpack. I will add that a feature that I like on the K2 that I wish the KX3 and maybe the KX2 had was the dual antenna connections as this makes it very easy to to A B comparisons.

Lynn loves the KX3 as do I. When it comes to a portable radio that has to serve two main functions; CW and SSB there is no radio that came close, until the KX2.

Wait, you might say, there are plenty of radios that do CW and SSB. Yes, that is a fact however, when it comes to my requirements they all pale in comparison. When running a pileup on CW I need QSK, no noisy relays, I also need to be able to adjust keyer speed with out digging into a menu system. It needs to be light and I do not want to carry a bunch of boxes with me.

When choosing the KX3 my requirements were:

Efficient battery usage
Built in tuner that actually works
Full break in CW
Easy to adjust CW speed without fiddling through three menus
Easy to adjust power out
Don't need a manual to use
SSB and CW

That is it, simple requirements however, no other radio fits that bill. The KX3 served us well and it will again as a non-backpack portable radio.

Yesterday we used the KX2 on two SOTA summits between three operators. Lynn and I used it on the first one and all three of us used it on the second one. Power consumption at the end of what basically was FIVE SOTA activations (CW and SSB) was at less than an 1 amp. AMAZING!!!!

When choosing a radio I like to choose based on my requirements. I am not much of an impulse buyer. I did look at many other radios when Lynn upgraded but they had to meet her requirements and mine. The KX3 and now the KX2 excels at how we use our portable radios.

Those same requirements:

REQUIREMENT                              KX3               KX2
Efficient battery usage                      YES               BETTER (and more compact)
Built in tuner that actually works     YES               YES
Light                                                 YES               BETTER
Compact                                           YES               BETTER
Full break in CW                             YES               YES
Easy to adjust CW speed                 YES               YES
Easy to adjust power out                  YES              YES
Don't need a manual to use              YES              YES
SSB and CW                                    YES              YES

I have used several antennas with the KX2, random wire up to 58foot long with and without counter poise. Buddipole Versa Tee Vertical, EF with matching unit, Hustler Vertical and Dipole. The tuner in the KX2 was able to tame the antennas that were not resonate with no problem.

The KX2 menu system, as is the KX3 menu system, is easy to figure out without a manual even above 10K feet when the oxygen clouds my thought process. The KX2 cuts my station weight from 5 lbs to 2 lbs without loosing any functionality that I care about. The battery is self contained and last a loooong time. This I really like vice the AA batteries in the KX3 (I usually used an external battery with the KX3, adding more weight and taking up more space.)

If your requirements are similar to mine then you are probably already considering the KX2. Notice price is not one of my requirements. If I buy something cheaper (as are many radios out there) I will eventually end up buying what really meets my requirements at some point down the road.  I think it is cheaper to just buy the radio that meets your needs first. Of course if I was able to see into the future I still would have bought a KX3 and KX2 but the KX3 would be my station radio vice the K3.

As a bonus the KX3 and KX2 allow me to use some digital modes without a computer. I have found this to be a lot of fun although it never was a requirement of mine.

In my opinion, Elecraft has another winner!

Here are a few picks on our latest SOTA outings with the KX2.

KC0YQF runs the pileup on Mt Evans (photo by wG0AT)

A real Mountain Goat checks out our SOTA activation! (Mount Evans)

KX2, right at home on a summit (Mount Evans)

Lynn listens to Steve's pileup (Genesse Mountain)

Lynn working the chasers on Genesse Mountain

Our GPS (Goat Positioning System) on Cheyenne Mountain

Mount Rosa as viewed from Cheyenne Mountain
KC0YQF on W0C/SP-113 or Eagle Rock

Steve's turn while Lynn takes a break (Eagle Rock)

Final ascent to Observatory Rock

Lynn runs the pileup on SSB while Steve chases Pokemon (Observatory Rock)

Steve using SSB on Observatory Rock

The KX2 Rocks!
K0JQZ on Observatory Rock using the KX2 with AME Paddles (photo by KC0YQF)

K0JQZ on Observatory Rock (photo by wG0AT)

KC0YQF on Eagle Rock (photo by wG0AT)

K0JQZ on Eagle Rock with KX2 (photo by wG0AT)
Pano shot of KC0YQF and WG0AT on Observatory Rock


Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July

To celebrate our Independence Day, Lynn and I activated America's Mountain or W0C/FR-004 (Pikes Peak). We have been back in Colorado for a week and are starting to get re-acclimated to the altitude although nothing really gets you ready for 14,000 plus feet.

In order to make our activation legal we hiked over to the Crags trail and wouldn't you know it we ran into one of my co-workers making his final ascent. He accomplished his hike in about 5 hours and showed no signs of wear or tear. Great job Glenn.
Glenn relaxing watching the SOTA pileup

view from our shack

Dark clouds forming above
Lynn looking for QSOs
Yesterday (the 3rd) Lynn and I decided to tackle two summits (10090 and Three Mile Mountain). It was exactly a week since we were at Atlantic Beach so no problem, or so I thought. They were a lot harder than I remember but we made it.

Cows surround the Jeep soon after we left

Lynn making her way up 10090

This Photo may look familiar

Same mountain as my QSL card pic that wG0AT took
I do not think I took any pictures on Three Mile Mountain. We only had a few minutes before the sky opened up on us. We had a good 5 minutes before the heavy stuff moved in.

Since I am going backwards, on the 2nd of Jul I picked up a new pack. My old pack, a Golite Jam 35, had seen better days. It was not only getting ripped up but the foam backing is out of shape. While I really liked the Jam 35, Golite went out of business. Now, My Trail Company is making those packs but I opted to go back to a Gregory pack similar to my old Z Pack. Why is it when you go into REI looking for one 12 dollar item you walk out 200 dollars in the hole!

Here is a stock photo of the Zulu 30.
So far I really like it. I am able to stuff everything I need in it and think it will make a good three season pack.

Before that Lynn and I were on vacation in NC. We plan to move to NC in the future and are just thinking about our exit strategy from Colorado.

Here are some pictures of our vacation.

The boat dock and trail near our house

another view (Jacksonville NC)
Swansboro NC
View from our room at Atlantic Beach looking toward the Atlantic Ocean
You can just see the Inter Coastal Water Way
Johnny and my Sis

Lynn and I on the pier, Atlantic Beach

Museum of the Marine (Eagle Globe and Anchor)
Lynn on the trail touring the swamp
Fresh water spring
Lynn trying not to fall off the floating walkway
Egret feeding

Jelly fish

Lynn goofing off

Fort Macon

Inside Fort Macon
Fort Macon
Fort Macon
There is a brand new airport at Jacksonville NC. The new facility is nice and we visited the USO for a bit waiting for our flight.  Jacksonville also has a new boat ramp and the one by the USO is closed. The new one has three areas to launch and retrieve. It looked great! The old boat launch near our house has a new wooden trail that goes through some of the swamp land I played in as a kid. Although the walk is now about 2 miles, vice 1 mile as a kid cutting through the woods. Fort Macon has really improved since my last visit. They had a great facility and even updated all of the displays in the fort. I still love the inter coastal waterway and it makes me feel like I am home. My Dad and I spent a lot of time fishing that area.

Well, I think that gets me caught up. I have a lot of video but nothing that really goes together with anything else. I tried some time-lapse on the beach and some of it came out ok but nothing I will use soon.

We are planning on hiking a few 14ers this summer. Should be a challenge and fun.