K4 Software availability

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Overview:

Software for the Elecraft K4!  I and a friend are now creating software for the Elecraft K4 radio.  We are not associated in any way with Elecraft, this is just software we wrote.  The radio is new enough that software is still scarce.  We are looking to create Windows 10 and above, utilities, not remote solutions.  While some of the software might function remotely, none of it is designed to function remotely. Read more »

Categories: Reviews | 2 Comments

Building a coax entry panel

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Overview:

Entry PanelA year or so ago, I got the idea of installing a loop antenna to help reduce some of my RFI.  Not wanting to follow some of my previous bad practices with more bad practice, I decided to totally rebuild my coax entry method.  This led to the creation of a patch panel, and that in turn led to the creation of a coax entry panel for bringing coax into the home.  What started as a project to install a receive loop, turned into a full blown shack rebuild starting at the antenna, and ending at the operating desk.  I laied out several thousand feet of radials under the 6BTV, then decided I needed to redo the coax feed, which in turn forced a rebuild of the entry panel, which in turn forced a rebuild of the coax feed method, and the introduction of a patch panel for RF.  That of course forced the redo of my operating position desk.  Most of this project is now finished, I used panduit, and carefully ran each cable in a neat and ordered way…  This is the story of the entry panel…

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Categories: Cleanup, Construction, Info, RFI Mitigation, Station, Tools | Leave a comment

6BTV Yearly Maintenance

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Overview:

I do a yearly maintenance on my 6BTV, just before Winter starts each year.  Why?  It rains in Oregon, and it rains, and it rains…  It rains all winter.  Not hard, just a constant drizzle…  I dislike working in the rain, so once a year in August, or early September, I bring down the 6BTV, and look things over…  I thought I might share what I do for the next person… Read more »

Categories: 6BTV, Reviews, Setups | Leave a comment

Building a K4 external keypad

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Overview

Protect Cover for CP-48I have a belief that the less you touch your hardware, the longer it will last, and the cleaner it will remain…  Sometimes I do contesting, and it occurs to me that during a contest, I might hit the memory button containing my callsign, several thousand times during the course of a contest.  While the button is probably rated for millions of presses, if nothing else, it will get very dirty over time, as I use it over and over…  I very much dislike that, so I developed an external keypad for my Elecraft K3.  Upon updating to the Elecraft K4, I discovered I could not live without the Genovation Keypad, I had been using for years on the K3. Read more »

Categories: Construction, Elecraft K4, Info | Leave a comment

Propagation, part II

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“The Sun, and the Ionosphere”

 

Overview
The Sun, image credit: NASA, GSFC, SOHO, ESA

The Sun, image credit: NASA, GSFC, SOHO, ESA

The sun is a gigantic, continuously running nuclear fusion reactor, 93 million miles away.  It is so far away it takes the light from the sun eight plus minutes to reach Earth.  Yet, that light from the sun can still cook the skin right off your shoulders if you are not wearing sunscreen.  That energy also can create complex chemical reactions in the ionosphere, that allow radio waves to be refracted, absorbed, or passed, thus allowing us to work DX, or closing the bands.  Clearly the sun is delivering quite a large energy punch to the earth’s upper atmosphere, and just as clearly that energy punch is changing how the ionosphere refracts radio waves. Read more »

Categories: Propagation | Leave a comment

Propagation Part I

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The Ionosphere

Overview

This is the first in a multi part set of articles that will help you understand how to work more DX by understand band openings, and band closings.  In order to work more DX you will need to understand what bands are open, when they are open or closed, and, if they are open, where they are open to.  That said, let’s get started, in this first article, atmospheric, and ionospheric structure will be covered.  That will give you the basis for understanding how, and why, DX comes about.  What you learn today, will be useful tomorrow, and in understand the rest of this series.  Throughout this series of articles, you will see links to other articles, and web pages.  These links are to assist you in learning more if you want.  You do not need to follow these links to understand what this series of articles is trying to teach. Read more »

Categories: Education, Propagation | Leave a comment

Notes: tinySA

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tinySA device, click to enlarge.

Overview:

Having just purchased a tinySA, I went through the upgrade, and tools location process one does with every new piece of hardware.  I thought it might be a good idea to document the steps I used to process this item into my lab, so I thoughts I’d make a few notes on setting up the tinySA for the next person…  This is not a review, it is a few notes I might need later on to reinstall it from scratch, and  I thought I might share them with you!

I have always wanted a spectrum analyzer, I have looked at the multi thousand dollar ones for decades.  Not having several thousand bucks in throw away, I bought a used ATTA spectrum analyzed for $65.00 several years ago.  It does the job, not as well as a good HP, but it does OK for my needs.

I still want the expensive HP type of Spectrum Analyzer, but alas, I doubt I will have $45,000 bucks to throw at it.  When I saw the “tinySA”, (tiny spectrum analyzer), come to market a few months ago, and saw that R&L was selling them for $54.98, I just had to have one…  Not that the tinySA will replace a $45,000 spectrum analyzer but it does the job I need, and for $50.00 I am happy as I could be with it. Read more »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Direction Finding, Info, Notes, Quantification, RFI Mitigation, RFI Signatures, Setups, TinySA, Tools | 11 Comments

Review of DX Engineering’s 6BTV 17 Meter add on kit

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Add on kit Instruction cover sheet

Overview:

Over the past few years I have been using a Hustler 6BTV vertical antenna as my primary antenna for 80, 40, 30, 20, 15, and 10 Meters.  The antenna has worked very well for me, and I have worked much DX with it.  Over the years I have spent a great deal of time getting things tuned as I want them, putting a large, (40 radials), radial field in place, and getting the antenna exactly the way I want it.

I have been using a BWD-90 for 60, 17, and 12 meters.  The BWD-90 is basically a Dummy Load you suspend in the air, then feed it power.  Some of that power leaks out and is radiated, the rest goes up as heat.  The BWD-90 is about 6 db down from a dipole performance wise.  You might ask yourself why in the world would anyone use a BWD-90?  The answer is it is flat across the 3-30 MHz., spectrum at under 2:1 SWR.

As you can guess, the BWD-90 is not a  stellar performer, but it will load on almost any frequency.  I have been on a station simplification quest now for a few years, removing equipment where I can, and in general reducing the complexity of my station.

Part of that quest was to try DX Engineering’s DXE-A0KB-17M-INS 0c, 17 meter add on kit for the Hustler 6BTV.  I have had a lot of trepidation with regards to making any change to the 6BTV, as it is working very well, and I want it to continue that way.  I have literally spent years, tuning and setting this antenna and its associated radial field up.  As a result of all that work, and time spent, I don’t want anything to mess with the performance of the 6BTV.  I was quite worried about what would happen to the antennas performance if I added the kit. Read more »

Categories: 6BTV, Antenna Reviews, Construction, DX, Info, Reviews | 3 Comments

KPA500 Input vs. Output Power

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Elecraft KPA500 AmplifierHaving just purchased a KPA500 amplifier by Elecraft, I thought it might be a good idea to characterize a few important things about the amp.  One being the input vs. output power levels.  I had occasion to send the amp to Elecraft for testing, and updating.  The amp has been recently returned, as up to specs by Elecraft.

The amp was fed into a KAT500 tuner, and an actual antenna was tuned and used for all tests, save 30 Meters.  A dummy load was used for all 30 Meter testing.

The power on each band was increased in small steps while the output power was entered into a spreadsheet.  I used the spreadsheet to graph the amp in/out ratios.  Below you will find the input vs. output graphs for my KPA500.  This dataset is not designed to show the 1 db compression points, just a general feel for how the amp should behave.

Raw spreadsheet here… Read more »

Categories: Elecraft K3, Info, Reviews | Leave a comment

Elecraft K3: KSYN3A synthesizer installation notes

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Elecraft K3

Elecraft K3

Overview:

At one point, myself and K7OLN were living about 700 feet apart.  Both of us were very active, and as a result could not operate on the same band at the same time.  I purchased an Elecraft K3, and that helped, K7OLN then purchased a K3 and that helped more.  Then Elecraft came out with a low phase noise synthesizer, the KSYN3A.  This helped a lot.  As it turns out I was able to document the changes as we each added the new sensitizer boards to our radios.  This set of notes contains a set of images that were taken shortly after Elecraft made the new synthesizer available, and as we made the changes to each K3.

Setup:

Two K3s were used in this test and the old synthesizers were replaced in stages.  The K3s were separated by approximately seven hundred feet, both feeding resonant antenna, and both running approximately 50 watts each when tested.  K3 A, was owned by NK7Z, and K3 B, was owned by K7OLN.  Both started with the old synthesizer in place.

Results: Read more »

Categories: Cleanup, Elecraft K3, Info, Setups | 2 Comments