Tag: KX3

Monthly QRP Outing

Monthly QRP Outing

Every month the Lake Wales Amateur Radio Club has their QRP outing. It is normally at Crystal Lake Park in Lake Wales. This month was no exception. It was a really good turnout as well. 10 of my fellow hams showed up and we had 6 radios set up.

One of the goals of the monthly outing is to test new set ups you may have and this month I had one. I bought a SpiderBeam 12m (40′) push up pole. I’ve had an end fed half wave antenna for quite some time now but have not been able to use it since at the State Parks and other places I go you are not allowed to use the trees for supports. This gave me the opportunity to test my new set up.

My drive on mount consists of a 3 foot 2×12 with a floor flange and 1″ pipe, 3 feet long. I used hose clamps to mount the SpiderBeam to the pole and a bent piece of stiff wire to hold the antenna end. Instead of driving on the board I put it under a picnic table, pushed up the pole, and it worked great! I made 15 CW contacts, most of them DX on 15 meters. Since the CQ WW contest was going on, that helped quite a bit.

I can use this set-up at the State Parks and not worry about having to tie the antenna to anything. Also, if I have continued success I may sell my Buddipole system since I won’t be using it anymore. I prefer the EFHW antenna and it performs much better. I do not need a tuner on 10/20/40 meters and the KX3’s internal tuner matched the wire on 15 and 30 meters. Best part, I didn’t have to drop and raise the antenna to make band adjustments!

AE4RM Station during 2017 CQ WW

Also, since it was CQ WW weekend, I set a goal of 100 contacts. I’m not a big contester and I only operate an hour of so at a time so 100 contacts on a weekend is a lot for me. Especially since I am operating on the KX3 (I did go up to 10 watts). I also used a new logging program, Skookum Logger. It is for the Mac and worked great. It may not have all the bells and whistles of N1MM+ but I would say it is very comparable to N3FJP’s logging program. I’m still learning it but it has a lot of great features and interfaced with the KX3 and my WinKeyer with no issues at all.

Overall, it was a good ham radio weekend.

Taking a Forced Break

Taking a Forced Break

My luck has not been to good lately on trying to activate parks. First, my KX3 had issues just when I was getting rolling and had to go in for warranty repair.

Just as after I got it back and was going to start activating again, my truck starts giving me fits. I either have to get a "new" truck or put an engine in this one. Since I don't want a car payment, it's looking like the engine is the way to go.

Once all that is fixed, I plan on activating two parks a week. If they are close together, maybe more. I really enjoy activating an miss it even though I just started. My goal is to activate all the parks within 75 miles of my home by end of next year. That's about 80 parks.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… I've gotten active again with SKCC. I'm also a member of FISTS but have not been active with them. I'm looking into them I found out I am really close to quite a few awards and didn't even know it. I'm going to start participating more in their activities as well. I don't think I've touched my mic in a month!

As for my CW progression. Well, I've hit a wall. I just lose one letter then an avalanche of lost letters follows getting me frustrated. I can handle the SKCC exchanges with no problem, but once I'm in a rag chew, I get lost real fast.

In January, maybe earlier in September, in going to take the CW Ops classes. It's two months of intense CW training that is supposed to take you to 15 words per minute in 2 months. I've heard nothing but good things about it and it must be popular. The waiting list is about a year! I hope it helps. I'd really like to become proficient at CW.

In the meantime, I'll just keep plugging along.

AE4RM Shack and Antenna Upgrades

AE4RM Shack and Antenna Upgrades

I moved the shack back into the garage office where I originally had it.  I had moved it into the house but I just didn’t have the room I needed.  I also felt like I was making too much noise for everyone. So, I’m back where it all began. 

I love my Alpha-Antennas DX-CC antenna. I’ve made almost 2000 contacts in 2 years with it and got my DXCC with it. In fact, I plan on adding 8 feet to the tower I have it on. Yet, I’d like to get up a few more antennas to play with.  First, I’m going to put up a long wire antenna. I have around 100 foot of wire, a balun, and a mast and a tree. I’d like to see what it can do. 

Next, I’ve had an unbelievable opportunity to get a Cushcraft R9 antenna.  It’s a 31′ vertical that need no radials. I have a 9′ mast I can put it on and the room for guy ropes. I’ve known verticals are better for DX in some cases because of the lower take-off angle. So, I’d like to see if it’s true. 

Finally, I have another piece of equipment that should be here this week. A KXPA-100 with tuner. This will get me back up 100 amps and help breaking through some of the pileups my 15 amps can’t get through. I’ll write about it when I get it. 

I should have the antennas up in the next few weeks and the amp soon. I can’t wait. I’ll be out tree trimming soon to get ready for the antennas. 

KFF-1848 and KFF-3627 Activations

KFF-1848 and KFF-3627 Activations

Today I activated KFF-1848 – Colt Creek State Park and KFF-3627 – Van Fleet State Trail (at Polk City Trailhead). This is the first time I worked two parks in one day and I must say, I’m exhausted.

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I started with the drive out to Colt Creek. I got there at 7:50 and had to wait until 8:00 for the gates to open. I used my newly minted yearly pass and drove back about a mile and a half to the picnic area. I was a little worried as the pavilion was screened in but then I saw an open air pavilion about 100 yards down the trail. Sam and I set up there. I img_2141decided to time how long it took me to set up. I didn’t rush and even guyed the antenna. Set up took me 11 minutes. Tear down took me 10.

This is the first time I’ve been to Colt Creek and it is a beautiful area. The view from our operating position was awesome! I had woods behind me and a lake with a huge fishing pier in front of us. Sam spent the whole time staring into the woods listening to the noises.

The activation was successful at Colt Creek and I made a total of 12 contacts. I tried 40 meters for 15 minutes at first and didn’t hear a thing. I went to 20 meters and in 45-minutes I had my 12 contacts.

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Sam and I packed up and trekked back up to the truck. We had some water and a snack and headed up to the Van Fleet State Trail. This area is no way as nice as Colt Creek. It was a muddy parking lot with one pavilion. It is basically under an overpass and is adjacent to people’s back yards. So close I could hear the conversations. Granted, this is aimg_2146 trailhead in the middle of the trail.

We set up with no issues and just went on 20 meters. I quickly made 10 contacts but I like to have at least 11 in case I messed up a call sign. Well, that didn’t happen. My radio started acting up and transmitting on its own. It sounded like the key was shorting out. So, we tore down and headed home.

Once home, I set up the radio just like I had it in the field and had zero problems. I called Elecraft tech support and they were unsure what to tell me. They did say if it did do it again that it is under warranty and pack it up and send it in. I will have to operate it in the same outdoor conditions with the heat to see if that had anything to do with it.

Logs are turned in and I feel like it has been a successful day of activations.

 

Alafia River State Park – KFF-1829

Alafia River State Park – KFF-1829

Just got home from the Alafia River State Park as part of the Parks on the Air program. I even bought a yearly pass to the Florida State Parks so I can go to any park as many times as I want.

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My Operating Spot

I  just checked the log and I have 11 contacts, including 1 Canadian and 1 Ukrainian! 40 meters was a bust. SWR was all over the place with my BuddiPole but it worked flawlessly on 20. I’ll be looking into that before I go out again. My new battery worked great as well as the KX3 and PX3.

Used my KX3 paddles for the first time. Thanks everyone for being patient with my sending. I kept losing my last dit… I really have a lot of work to do to get comfortable with them. Using them is the only way to learn.

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PX3, Battery and KX3 with Paddles

Biggest issue was the guy spraying weeds for 20 mins 10 feet from me from the back of a 4×4. I know I missed 2 calls during that time I couldn’t hear.

Sam enjoyed watching the wildlife and the mountain bikers roll by. After we were there for almost two hours, and it getting up to 90 degrees, Sam looked like she was melting. I’ll have to decide if to keep bringing her with me in the summer as it is not good for her to be in the heat like that.

I’ll be going later this week to Colt Creek State Park and going to try to make a day of it by going to Fort Foster Historic Site and Hillsborough River State Park

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Sam is Melting…
Local Park Activations Planned

Local Park Activations Planned

This week I plan on activating 4 parks and hopefully getting 10 contacts at each one. Monday or Tuesday I plan on going back to Alafia River State Park. I’ve been there once and did my first activation there but I only got nine contacts and need 10 to make it “official.” I also want to go through another complete set-up with no pressure of getting to other parks again.

Then, later in the week I plan a three park run – Colt Creek, Fort Foster and Hillsborough River State Parks. It is 80 miles round trip so if I get an early start I should be able to do it. Once again, there is no pressure, this is just a personal goal in preparation for activating parks further away.

I’m planning a Space Coast run, if the stars align, for July. I plan on working 3 parks the first day and 3-4 parks the second day. It’s about 30 mins from park a to b. Another 30 mins from park b to c, and so on, so this is doable and a good challenge for me. It’s far enough away where I have to be prepped and have everything I need but close enough where I can get home in 2-3 hours if needed (or someone come to me).

I’ve also added another tool to my arsenal. I have a mag mount and Hamstick antennas for 20, 30 and 40 meters so if I go to a place that is not “ham friendly” I should be able to at least operate from my truck.

Here goes nothing…..

Setting Up the KX3 to work with Fldigi and Windows 10 (Part 2)

Setting Up the KX3 to work with Fldigi and Windows 10 (Part 2)

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Welcome Back! Did you get your hardware all set up? Great. Now, lets get to Fldigi and set it up to work with our KX3.

Go ahead and open Fldigi. The first thing we are going to do is set up Rig Control. Click on Configure – Rig Control.

Once there, click on the Hamlib tab. Be sure to check the Use Hamlib check box. Then choose Elecraft K3/KX3 (Beta) for rig. For device use the Com port you discoved your KX3 was using in Part 1. In my case it is Com 5. The rest of my settings are:
Retries – 3

rig

Retry Interval – 600
Write delay – 0
Post write delay – 100

Baud rate – 38400 (that is default for the KX3)
Stopbits – 1
Polling Interval- 250
Mode Delay 200
Sideband – Rig Mode

Then check the following two boxes:
PTT via Hamlib command
Audio on Auxiliary Port

Once you have all that click on Initialize. Once you have done that you should see the frequency readout in Fldigi change to what is on your KX3. If it did not change confirm all your setting, especially the device (com port).

Save the configuration then close.

Now lets configure the sound card. Click on Configure – Soundcard.

SC.Once there click on the Devices tab. Click the Port Audio box. The capture device should be the microphone we identified in Part 1 and the Playback should be the speaker/headphone jack we identified in Part 1 as well. I’ve left all the other setting at default.

Now, lets test it. Click on the little phone book (Open List). I like to use 14070 most of the time but depending on band conditions you may need to use a different band. So click on 14070 and the KX3 frequency should change to 14070.

If the mode on your radio is not Data, go ahead and press the Data button. Alternatively you can chose PKTUSB from the drop down menu on the left under the frequency. Tweak your volume until you can see some signals and decodes on the left.

Congratulations. You have set up Fldigi to work with your KX3.

If you have any issues, feel free to contact me. I’m good on QRZ.

Setting up the KX3 hardware to work with Fldigi using Windows 10 (Part 1)

Setting up the KX3 hardware to work with Fldigi using Windows 10 (Part 1)

Fldigi-WaterfallLike many of you I wanted to try digital mode with my KX3. The most popular application being Fldigi. Even with my 25 years plus in the IT industry working with various software application, networking and industrial controls I still had quite a bit of problems setting up the radio to work with Fldigi. A recent FaceBook post by a fellow KX3 user who had the same issues I did showed me I was not the only one who had struggles setting this up. Even with a great guide by a fellow ham, K4MTX (see his blog post here), he had the same struggles I did. For that reason, I thought I would put document the steps I took in setting my KX3 up with Fldigi.

MicThe first thing is the cabling. First, I highly recommend you get the cable kit from Elecraft. It may be a little more money, but well worth it. Before even trying to cable up your KX3 to your computer/sound card
you need do the following. First, locate the headphone/speaker jack and microphone jack on your computer/sound card. This may sound very rudimentary but believe me, its easy to get them mixed up. Next, right click on the speaker icon on the system tray and click on recording devices. You may notice multiple recording devices/microphones. This is what tripped me up. Determine which one is your microphone jack. On most computers when you double click the microphone it will be the one that shows “jack information such as “right panel 3.5 mm jack.” To make mine stand out and easy to find, I renamed it Microphone Jack.

Now, again, before you cable anything up you need to turn off the mic bias and mic button. To do this hold down the DISP button and the display should change to the configuration menus. Next, turn the OFS/VFO B knob until the menu changes to MICBIAS. Then use the VFO A know to change the setting to OFF. Then, using the OFS/VFO B knob change the menu to MIC BTN. If using the Elecraft MH3 this should be set to Ptt UP.dn. Use the VFO A knob to change this to OFF. Push the display button to save. If you do not do this you will start transmitting as soon as you plug in the cable to the mic port.

Since I switch over from SSB/CW to digital often I wrote macros to do this for me. You can assign them to the PF1 and PF2 buttons, use the KX3 Utility, or, like I do have them assigned to macros buttons in Win4k3. To go to digital mode i use the following:
MN135;MP000;MN082;MP000;MN255;

To go back to mic mode I use:
MN135;MP016;MN082;MP005;MN255;

Macro programming is outside the scope of this post, but its something you should look into. It can make repetitive tasks much easier.

OK, we can now cable it all up. The cables from Elecraft and marked with a green band and red band. I used the green band to go from the mic jack on the KX3 to the headphone jack of the computer. I then used the red cable to go from the speaker of the KX3 to the mic jack of the computer.

We also need to hook up the CAT control cable. Put the 3.5 mm end into the spot DMmarked ACC1 and the USB side into an open port on your computer. Right click on the Windows start icon and chose device manager. Open up ports. If this is the only serial/USB device you have it will be the only one listed here. If you have multiple, unplug the KX3 from the computer and see which on disappears. That will be the Com port of your KX3.

The final step on the KX3 is to put it into DATA A mode. Do this by press the DATA button and then use the OFS/VFO B know to choose DATA A. This is very important. Make sure the filter on the KX3 is set wide open. I have my BW set at 3.0. IF you have it to narrow, you will not receive any data.

This setup should work with most digital modes.

We will go over setting up Fldigi for the KX3 on my next post.

AE4RM’s Blog

AE4RM’s Blog

This is my home station, most of which doubles as my portable station. If consists of an Elecraft KX3, laptop for logging and digital modes, Yeasu FTM-3200D, MFJ power supply, and MFJ antenna tuner. Home antennas consist of an Alpha-Delta DX-CC and a homemade J-pole for 2 meters and 70 cm on a 30 foot home made tiltable mast (so it can come down during a hurricane). The ball is for Samantha, my German Shepherd Dog who is usually right next to me when I’m on the radio.

My station may be small and I can only run 15 watts max at this point but I have confirmed 111 countries confirmed on LoTW, 103 on phone and 53 on CW.

When I am not operating at home I can now be found doing my new favorite thing – Parks on the Air. But more on that in a different post.

I do operate mainly CW now. I use a Lionel J-36 bug (slowed down with additional weights), a Navy flameproof, and an American Morse KK1B strait key. I also enjoy SSB and work the digital modes – JT65, PSK31, and Winlink RMS Express.

I am a member of the following:
SKCC – 15542T
FISTS – 17946
NAQCC – 8477
Flying Pigs – 3783
QCWA – 37324
OMISS – 10396
YLSSB – 17145
SkyWarn – POL-914
QRP ARCI

I am a member of the Lake Wales Radio Amateurs and participate regularly in their monthly QRP day. I also am member of the Lakeland Amateur Radio Club and am active on their repeater.

I originally started this on blogspot but when I found out they did not have a iPhone app, I moved to WordPress.