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K2 Build – #6950 Part 5 – On The Air!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I finished the base kit construction at about 3:30am Monday morning. This includes the first run at the bandpass filter alignment.

There is still a bit of work to be done on the base rig itself. I need to put the radio on some test equipment to fine tune the bandpass filters. I originally was having an issue with 17m only not tuning, however now that I have gone back in and played around with it I knocked 15m out of whack too.

The way the higher frequency (30m+) bands work is the tuned inductors are shared with two bands. The inductors resonate the higher frequency band of the two and then there is a set of trimmer capacitors that resonate the lower frequency inductors to a higher frequency. All that happens when you change bands is different circuits are switched in and out of use with relays. For example – 17 meters uses the inductors from 15 meters with the extra capacitance added in from the capacitor bank. 15 meters must be tuned first and then the caps for 17 meters are tuned – they don’t affect the tuning for 15 meters because they are not in line when that band is active.

There is something goofy with 15 and 17 meters. I may have one of the trimmer caps in backwards. However, I installed them on the board in the orientation that fit the outline on the board the best (tapered end on one side, both edges of the caps were flat for the 12m and 17m bank so I went off the component shape/board outline and not what the manual said about the “flat edges”).

The next issue that needs resolved is the front panel buttons on the right of the display seem to have acquired the functions of the buttons on the left side. For example: the filter button acts like the band – button and the pre/att button acts like the display button. Weird, and it doesn’t happen all the time – just most of the time.

All of that said, the K2 has made two QSO’s so far! One on 20 meters and the other one on 40 meters. I need to get some more radio time with it….

In the end it took me 13 days to get my first QSO! The kit was a lot of fun to build, a lot of work, and a bit of a head-banging session to figure out what I did wrong. The best part about it is – doing the last alignment, tossing the case back together, and see it work!

I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone somewhere along the lines said that building a K2 is one of those great Ham radio experiences that every Amateur radio operator should take advantage of at some point. I would have to agree. To that point, the support of the Amateur radio community on building them is tremendous. I am surprised with how many people locally have built them – and MULTIPLE K2’s at that. Three of my friends here have built at least two. That leaves quite a bit of knowledge to be passed down to the newbies!

K2 Build – #6950 Part 4, Alignment 2

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

It took a lot of work, several breaks, dinner, and a beer but I plowed through and got to the second alignment! So far everything looks OK. Playing with the internal frequency counter is pretty cool! I will set everything as best I can for now until I can get to a test lab to dial everything in perfect.

Winding the toroids wasn’t much of a pain. I have heard people say they hate winding toroids but it wasn’t bad at all. In the past I have wound some baluns, but nothing going inside a radio.

One part I didn’t like about the second stage of the RF Board assembly was mounting components on the bottom. Just about all of them needed the leads cut first. This chewed up a lot more time and was very tedious. Soldering them became another issue. The clearence between the components already installed on the top made it impossible to get to the pads without touching other components, let alone getting solder in there. My method was to do a solder transfer by putting a blob on the iron. After I got the part locked in place I soldered the other side – getting creative on snaking the solder between the components. Then I went back and re-melted the solder on the first lead and let some fresh solder flow in with some flux. Even still, some of them I soldered from the component side just in case – the solder didn’t flow through the hole to the other side in several cases.

Here is a picture just before I started the alignment. The RF Board is becoming populated!

Note the PLL Upgrade board near the top left corner (next to the Control Board) of the RF Board in the picture. It is a tan strip just above the yellow test point. After my friend mentioned this board was really hard to get in I took that in to account when I did this section. The manual has you install this part in place of RP3, which goes in before the components behind. Because of the size of the board, components, and leads I decided to put the components on the RF Board on before I put the PLL Upgrade board in place. I had to skip ahead a couple pages to get to the inductor instructions but I think it made things a LOT easier!

Well, it is after 3am so I better go to sleep. I still have more of the alignment process to do. I was too tired to finish it.

K2 Build – #6950 Part 3, RF Board Stage II

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

I am about half way through the work on the second stage of the RF Board assembly. I need a break!

Last night I got up to the large capacitor installation. I didn’t count the parts, but I would venture to say there are between 100 and 150 capacitors in this one segment. The manual has you install the parts in a set sequence. For example – all the resistor strips, one per board, have the resistors in the exact sequence that the instructions have you put them in. This is REALLY nice because the next one to go in is right in line – no parts hunting. However, the capacitors are NOT in order like this.

In fact, the capacitors are spread through about 5 different bags and envelopes. When I did my parts inventory I did think ahead a little bit and I marked down the components with a symbol (star, x, check mark, etc) to identify WHICH of the packages the part is in. In theory, this should have worked. However, as I am building the kit it is really irritating to go between the directions and the appendix to figure out where the parts are. When there are a hundred parts it means about that many trips back to the appendix to find where it is.

The directions do say to organize the capacitors by value before starting. This is all well and good, but there are a LOT of different values. Some common ones (labeled with a 103 and 102) are in their own envelope, so this helps.

My strategy for this section was to find all the high-count parts (the 102’s and 103’s) and do those first, rather than install the parts in the order described in the manual. I got all the high-count’s done last night. After that, I filled in the holes in the list hunting the parts down. It took me 2 and a half hours to do put in about 30 parts! Part of the challenge here is the type of capacitors. There are about 4 different types and a wide variety of sizes. If the manual could mark the capacitors with another letter/code to correspond to the type that would make things a little easier in hunting down the part.

After the capacitors were done I moved on to the IC’s, then the crystals. All in all I have worked about 4 and a half hours. Time to rest up a bit before I go back at it.

Keeping a clear head is the best way to do it otherwise you make mistakes. I’ve already made one – I put an IC in backwards – so I have been pretty careful with my work since. IC’s for example – I solder ONE pin to hold it, flip the board around, double check the orientation (based on the NOTCH!) of the IC, and then solder the rest of the pins – every time. It add’s time to the construction, but what I loose now I will more than make up for if I factor in a coule re-work jobs spinning IC’s around.  

My goal is to get to the second alignment by tomorrow mid-day, if not tonight. I don’t know how late I will stay up working tonight.

K2 Build – #6950 Part 2, Passes First Alignment!

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I hit a rough road when I turned the rig on for the first time. I got the processor initialized and then realized the controls didn’t work. After a few days of trouble shooting and bouncing ideas off of the guys at Elecraft and some friends that have K2’s I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I had a friend of mine look the radio over last night. After rolling through the resistance checks (as described at the end of the sections) again, on a different meter, we didn’t come up with a whole lot. Everything checked out fine.

We then moved on to swapping circuit boards for some good old “swapnostics”. After some poking around we traced the problem to the front panel.

Earlier yesterday I found the voltage tables in an Appendix in the back of the manual. We were going to move on to this chart and roll through the list but we took a break for a while. As soon as we went back to the trouble shooting my friend found the problem, almost immediately. U4 on the front panel was in backwards! We didn’t even plug it back in and power it up before the problem was found.

I had probably scanned over this about 10 times during my checks and never saw it. U4 has a circle on the top on the opposite end of the chip as the notch. For some reason I had it backwards and put the circle where the notch was supposed to go. It would have taken me for ever to realize that one! Oh well, live and learn.

U4 also happens to be a 20 pin IC. The desoldering iron at my friends place doesn’t work real well so I used some of my solder wick. Let me tell you – if you don’t have to desolder a 20 pin IC with solder wick, don’t! I wanted to save the chip, though, and I have had formal training in rework (2 IPC certifications, 1 PACE Wordwide for thru hole components and board repair) so I figured I could do it. After an hour and a half the chip came out – with no pads and no plated thru holes missing from the board! Some of the pins I had to reflow solder to and pull back out with the wick so I could get enough solder removed to knock the pins loose. That sure sounds like an oxymoron – add solder to remove solder? It works and sometimes lots of methods are worth a shot - if the alternative is to cut a part off why not try to save it? It was a real chore though.

Tip for future builders: Pay attention to the NOTCH on the IC’s, not the other markings! Unless pin 1 is dotted (or a notch and a dot on pin 1, that would be harder to screw up).  

After getting the chip out I put in a socket just in case. This way the chip can be changed if need-be. You never know if the heat damaged anything. Though, the supply voltage went to a dead pin when the chip was flipped. Its fixed now so thats the important thing!

Speaking of it being fixed, I finished up Part 1 of the RF Board assembly this evening! After getting the issue resolved last night I didn’t do a whole lot. I figured a good goal for tonight would be to make it to the second stage of the RF Board assembly and I did!

Tonight’s work: build the voltage probe, signal probe, and frequency counter probe; adjust the CW side tone; check the menu navigation; calibrate the AGC, and calibrate the S-meter.

It feels really good to see some of the radio working! What is really COOL about this kit is the included test gear. The radio has it’s own test gear built in – including a volt meter! If you wanted to risk it you could theoretically build the K2 without a DMM, as long as it goes together without a hitch (I don’t recommend you try).

Here is a picture of the voltage/current metering. The thin black wire that loops around the right side of the circuit board is the voltage probe. It connects with a two pin plug to the control board right behind the keypad. A jumper next to the plug selects the voltage source between the probe and the input voltage to the radio. The current meter reads the draw from the radio. I have seen about 80mA from it with the backlighting turned off. I am curious as to what it goes to when the receiver is running with a bit of audio. That is a LOT less than my FT-857D at 650mA!!

 This is a picture I took a few days ago right around when I turned it on for the first time. This is what it will look like when it is all done! I know, there are thousands of these out there and they all look the same. It is neat to see one you build take shape though.

Next up – build Stage 2 of the RF Board. After that I will see if I can dial in the receiver with some lab equipment – signal generator, etc.

K2 Build – #6950 Part 1

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I am taking a break from my project so I can write up a little here. Ever since I got the kit I haven’t spent a whole lot of time to do anything else!

My K2 serial number is 6950. I guess Elecraft has made quite a few of these! Based on the comments others say about them its no wonder – they are fantastic radios.

As of this writing (roughly 4:00pm on Saturday May 22) I have the front panel done and the control board (except for one cap). I have started in on the RF board construction, but I haven’t soldered anything yet. My next immediate goal is to finish inventory. I really wanted to start melting solder so I took inventory of the control board first and then built it the same day. I didn’t go through inventory of the whole kit.

My theory on the inventory now is I better get it done. I don’t want to get to the end of the kit and realize there is a part missing that keeps me from finishing. I would rather put in a list of parts I am missing now and have the rest of the kit to build while I wait than have to wait that much longer at the end.

That said, I have done inventory so far on the following sections/packs: RF pack A, Control, Front Panel, KSB2 (optional), Miscellaneous (hardware, some jacks, allen wrenches), and Wire. The only component as of yet that is missing is 1 of 3 .0027uF #272’s on the Control Board.

RF pack B will be interesting. The whole thing is packed full of resistors, capacitors, and toroids. The other packs had some larger components – blocks holding IC’s, buttons, pots, knobs, etc. When you have bulky objects there aren’t as many that can fit in a bag. When you have smaller components you can pack a LOT in to one bag!

So here are some pictures of my build so far:

(click on them to enlarge)

Note #6950 in the upper right of the box.

Here is my first component! R5 on the left side. Yes, I did break away from the assembly instructions. You are supposed to do the soldering in sections. Oh well. I wanted the shot!

Here is about everything I have done up to this point. The front panel is done and everything on the control board (except for the one cap) is done. I installed the SSB components on the front panel before I assembled it (page 29 in the manual).

When I was doing my resistance check at the end of the component install on the front panel I found an unsoldered joint. It was pin 1 on U1’s socket (the control IC for the LCD display). This, of course, was after I had already installed the back light panel for the LCD and the LCD itself. U1 and it’s socket mount on the bottom of the board. The pins are soldered on the top – RIGHT UNDERNEATH THE LCD AND BACKLIGHT BOARDS!!! So, needless to say this was just a tad bit aggravating. The pins are soldered before the rest of the components go together for a reason.

It took several tries and swapping soldering irons to one with a thinner/longer tip than the one on the table there to get it, but I did. I put a blob of solder on the tip of the iron and slipped it between the circuit board and the back of the LCD back lighting panel.

Build note to future builders of K2’s – CHECK ALL PINS OF U1 BEFORE SOLDERING LCD BACKLIGHTING AND LCD SCREEN IN PLACE!

Overall, this kit is a blast to build! I am anxious to get it on the air for sure. It isn’t a kit you can rush, though, so if you are going to build one set aside some time. Work through the manual in the order it is written. I find I don’t have to look at the manual the entire time, I have skipped ahead a little bit here and there. However, there are build notes in there that you need to be aware of so be careful!

I will post back with another section of my build as I get to it.

Elecraft K2 Build

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I don’t have a whole lot of time this morning to post, but I figured I would chime in as to my activities.

Read the bottom of the last post for more info on Hamvention and the K2.

The kits I got are the K2, KSB2, and K160RX. So far the only thing I am missing is a cap, one of three .0027uH #272’s for the control board. I haven’t taken inventory of the options and the two packs of RF deck parts yet. Everything else has been accounted for, and quite a bit of it already used!

I will post back, maybe sometime tonight or over the weekend, with some pictures.

I have the control board pretty much done except for the last cap and going over the test points again. Last night I got as far as I could with it and then moved on to the front panel. I quit on page 29 in the manual where it asks for the KSB2 parts (if you have it, which I do). I figure that was a good place to stop since it was about 11:30. It is pretty easy to loose track of time working on this kit!

Elecraft has done a wonderful job with the kit. I had pretty high expectations from friends that have and have built Elecraft rigs. The quality and layout has most certainly lived up to the hype! I will enjoy this build and can’t wait to put it on the air!

If you are in the market for a nice kit radio I would highly reccomend the K2. I am not an “expert” builder but I have done a lot of solder melting. If you can read you can build this kit! Taking your time will pay off, there are a lot of notes, tips, cautions, etc to be aware of. What helps me is  read 3-4 steps ahead so I know what the process is rather than read a step, do, read a step, do, read a step, do…. Sometimes I jump ahead of the soldering sessions. I plug my iron in when I get to the end of the section, install the next batch of parts, and stretch out my soldering session. It all depends on the layout of the build though – you can’t do that with every section due to parts clearences or other assembly characteristics.

More later…

Dayton Hamvention 2010 – FTdx-5k, VL-2k, TS-590, K2

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

 

I spent most of today (Saturday) at the Dayton Hamvention. I got there a bit after it opened and I left a bit before it closed. Needless to say, and for anyone that has gone to Hamvention I am sure you can relate, it was a packed full day!

While I was there I was able to see a couple of the new HF radi0s on the market. One of the bigger topics/items on my “to do/get” list was to get some time with the FTdx-5000. I was glad to see Yaesu not only had one on display hooked up, not in a glass case, but there were TWO of them on display! Awesome!

Some areas that I payed attention to with my “test drive” were: filter selection, menu surfing, overall feel – knobs, buttons, and fit/finish. To be  up front with my experience – Hamvention, or any other convention for that matter, is NOT a good place to take a good test drive. To put it in perspective it would be like taking a sports car for a test drive in downtown Chicago in rush hour. It is impossible to get a true experience with radios – there is just too many people, too much noise (from the thousands of people there), and too much RF floating around. I guess if you want to see how a radio will do in a crappy RF environment it would be a good place, but I for one have a hard time being satisfied with spinning the knobs on a radio at Hamvention. It is just too busy of a place.

My very first area was the roofing filtering. This is a key area of the radio to me. The two stage down conversion receiver combined with the narrow roofing filters (600 and 300Hz in addition to the usual 15, 6, and 3kHz) is FABULUS! I have a 300Hz filter in my FT-857D and love it. Lots of people think that is too narrow for CW because it makes finding stations harder. However, I think it is just about right – it lets me narrow down the pass band to the station I want to listen to while still allowing a relatively easy ability to tune the band.

On the FTdx-5000 I opened up the IF-DSP filter as wide as it would go. Then I scrolled through the roofing filters and let them work their magic – independent of the IF-DSP filtering. I tell you what – this ability should be spread around and worked in to all radios. It is a really neat feeling knowing that the pass band is being chopped down mechanically, not digitally sampled and modified. DSP may be able to narrow the audio pass band but no matter how good the DSP is in a conventional radio it will never truly “cut out” adjacent noise and signals. They are just “hidden”. The roofing filters do just that – it is like taking a pair of scissors and cropping a picture rather than trying to erase the edges. I really wish I could have experienced the performance of the filters in a better suited operational setting and do an A/B comparison to some other radios, as well as simply play with the wider roofing filters coupled with the IF-DSP filtering.

On to the feel of the radio. It is a very high quality feel. Plain and simple. It is a big box radio, not as big as the FTdx-9000 but bigger than the FT-2000. It is heavy, in comparison to most radios, but for its size the weight feels about right. It isn’t overly heavy and I think it could be moved around. The buttons are very good quality as are the knobs.

My opinion is the knob on the FTdx-9000 is too big and heavy. It does in fact have the flywheel affect – spin it fast and try to stop it. For my hands it is just too big. After playing with an FT-2000 I think that size knob is much more to my liking in ergonomics. The FTdx-5000’s main tuning knob is slightly bigger but still fits my hands just fine. It is very smooth and also has the flywheel affect like the FTdx-9000, but it doesn’t have as much weight behind it. Maybe it is the smaller diameter too, but when you stop the knob it doesn’t pull much. It will spin very well if you want it to spin though.

As for the other knobs – the feel and qualiy are about like the FTdx-9000’s. The grip is the same. For a radio of this stature they match very well.

Some comments about the SM-5000 monitor – I have heard a lot of people say they don’t like them. The speed is slow and they are generally disappointed with them.  I did take this in to consideration while test driving and I can see where the display wouldn’t be quite what everyone is looking for. However, I think the monitor shouldn’t be discounted all that much. It is still a useful tool for surfing the bands and gives you something to look at. No, it isn’t an SDR-IQ interface and display. If you want that level of performance – go buy an SDR-IQ and run it through your computer as a panadapter.

If you are wanting a general spectrum scope and a matching accessory to your radio the SM-5000 is still a very good option in my opinion. It would suit my operating. Maybe that is because I have never had a radio with a spectrum scope, though – which there are a lot of people out there in the same boat.

All the talk about the SM-5000 aside, I must say I am disappointed that the DMU-2000 was continued on with the FTdx-5000. I think the DMU-2000 is lacking in performance for what it is. I wish Yaesu had put some engineering in to the DMU to improve it. Or, maybe get away from the DMU in the conventional sense and re-build it utilizing the 9mHz IF-out as would the SDR-IQ. The quality of display that the DMU offers is really not up to par with the competition – Icom and now Elecraft with the P3 panadapter. It is behind the times and Yaesu needs to put a little effort here.

Yaesu also has a new amp – the VL-2000:

 

Now, a change of pace – the new Kenwood TS-590.

This is an interesting beast. They really couldn’t talk about it too much and, quite frankly, I am VERY surprised they had this one on live display (minus an antenna) instead of in a glass case. It is a prototype. Kenwood has been lacking in the HF department for quite some time. With the ending of the TS-950 and TS-870 radios Kenwood has dropped off the HF radar. The TS-570 was a good radio for a long time but I think the TS-450 and TS-2000 are limiting Kenwood’s competition in the “performance” HF arena. After having a TS-2000 as a main station radio for 7  or 8 years myself I can tell you it is not a great HF radio. It is a fantastic “do everything” radio, but as the saying goes it is a “jack of all trades and a master of none”. It is a better VHF/UHF radio than HF in my opinion.

The TS-590 has the potential to turn the tides here. From what the Kenwood rep stated that I spoke with the direct competitive rig the 590 is going up against is the Elecraft K3. Wow.

Now, I don’t want to knock Kenwood in their brave endeavour, however they are up against some STIFF competition. The K3 is an opponent with CREDENTIALS. It may have the best receiver ever created in the Amateur radio realm. For Kenwood to come out of “hiding” in HF to step up to the top of the food chain is a pretty big risk. I do hope the performance of the TS-590 is really that good. I believe Kenwood is capable of it given their legacy, I just don’t have the highest of confidence in them to pull it off. Lets see what Kenwood does here and maybe they will surprise me!

The last item on the list – my Elecraft purchase. I was going to buy a KX1. I had really set my mind on one. However, after speaking with several people and evaluating what I would be using the radio for vs. what it is capable of I decided to go with a K2. I got the SSB and 160m kits as well. My plan is to keep it as a QRP rig and get an amp. This way I have the ultimate in versatility/utility – I won’t have a QRP-only rig and I won’t have a 100W box to lug around all the time. If I have the ability to power it at 100w the addition of an amp to the gear won’t matter anyway. If I had a 100w box I couldn’t go back the other way and drop the additional weight and add space in the case for batteries.

(www.elecraft.com)

I had called on Friday to see if they had any K2 stock left. After some investigation it turned out they had one left and were willing to set it aside. So I went in to pick it up today and it was gone! Apparently, one of the guys at the booth hid it and someone else found it not knowing. So – whoever got the last K2 late on Friday or first thing this morning got my kit HIHI. Thats OK, one is going out Monday and I got the better deal.  

All in all I had a good time and was able to do/get just about everything I set out to. The bad part is I wore myself out and still am not feeling well. I think I have a cold coming on so I will just use tomorrow to get some relaxation time in before going back to work on Monday.

Entertaining the Idea of an Elecraft K2

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

For those that are old enough to remember Heathkit (and I certainly don’t, at least having my hands on a real kit – only finding 20 year old catalogs in the garage), the equivalent in today’s day and age is Elecraft. I don’t know that I would quite say “equivalent” because times have changed and so has radio technology, but it is a good word for the analogy. The K2 model radio is their original flagship model. Elecraft has been known in recent years for making fantastic QRP kit radios. The K2 was the top of the line kit they made until the past couple years – it combines the option of SSB (voice) capability in the same box, as opposed to the rest of the CW (Morse code) only radios. Lately, the K3 has clearly kicked the K2 off the throne as Elecraft’s top-of-the-line rig (and, in terms of real radio performance, perhaps the best performing receiver in a ham radio box ever created). Though, the K3 is out of the normal Elecraft league of “build it yourself”. It follows the path of the build-yourself computers - you buy the manufactured parts and hook them all together, then calibrate and program. There is very little solder melting.

All that aside, the K2 is a very appealing radio. I have experience with Elecraft’s KX1 and, to keep it short and sweet, the receiver blows the doors off all the other HF radios I have (read the first update to that post) - and this from a radio box that fits in my hand. This fact has really stayed with me and I will be picking up a KX1 to add to my collection here next weekend at Hamvention (provided they aren’t sold out by the time I get there). If the KX1 has such good performance, than the K2 surely has to perform at least as good.

What is attractive to me about the rig is the versatility and utility of it. It isn’t a fancy radio by any means. You can build it however you want it – it isn’t an off-the-shelf high end rig like an Icom or Yaesu. The base kit comes as a CW-only 15 watt radio that covers 80-10 meters. There are options for 160m, SSB, 100 watts, DSP, etc, etc. As with the rest of the rig, it comes in a box of pieces and you follow directions winding all the toroids and soldering all the resistors, capacitors, and IC’s in place.

The way I see the K2 is this - the performance of the receiver is superb in a compact box that also will do SSB. I can build the radio as a base 15 watt box and have a fantastic portable SSB/CW rig that is much easier on battery power than my FT-857D. I can add a 100w amp and get the transmit power back up to that of a standard HF radio (all the rest of my HF rigs are 100w – no QRO here… yet).

It may all add up to more pieces and parts, but in comparison to the FT-857D the K2 will offer an incredible receiver advantage in a lighter box for portable low-power operation. The box may take up more space in the pack, but the weight savings on the rig and battery required to run it will be more of a benefit. With the addition of an amp the K2 would take the place of my TS-2000 as a general use rig. I won’t be lacking in power from where I am now. If the K2 has the same affect on digging weak signals from the noise floor as I experienced with the KX1 my ability and enjoyment operating HF will dramatically increase.

If you can’t hear them you can’t work them. I worked stations on my friend’s KX1 that I could barely detect on my TS-2000. That is a 4 watt peanut signal against a 100w IF DSP rig. I could only imagine what a regular rig with as good of performace as the KX1 would do…. The K2 appears to satisfy that in a much more versitile and economical box than a high-end Icom or Yaesu radio. The K3 is a bit too in-between of a rig – it has a high performance receiver but is not a rig I would put on my desk as a “show piece”. It also doesn’t quite hit the versatility that the K2 does being a compact low power, low current consuption rig that, with the addition of an amp, is a go-anywhere, do anything rig.

This, of course, isn’t to discount the possibility of getting a high end base rig in the future. On top of it all, the K2 is still an idea in and of itself. Lots to think about – options to weigh and money to consider.

Dayton Hamvention – Next Weekend!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

It is that time of year again – mid-spring and that means Hamvention time!

The Dayton Hamvention is one of the largest conventions for Amateur radio (Ham radio for short) in the world – and it happens to be right here in Ohio. I have been going since 2001 and I don’t intend to miss a year.

I usually pack in a lot of browsing and meeting up with people I usually only see once a year. My main day is usually Saturday. I have gone on Friday’s before and also Sunday’s, but most of the time by about 10-11am on Sunday vendors have started to pack up. Saturday is the day when the event is in full swing – and it is the day that the HF Pack group holds their annual “eyeball QSO” at 1:00 in front of the  main awning.

Some of the items/things to check out on my list are:

  • Pick up an Elecraft KX1 and 30/80 kit
  • Check out the Elecraft K2
  • Spin the knobs on the new FTdx-5000 if they have one on display (and not in a glass case)
  • Spin the knobs on an FT-2000
  • Get some replacement parts for my screwdriver (this should get a post of its own, but I won’t get in to it)
  • Meander the flea market and take a spin around 17m (possibly other bands) while pedestrian mobile with my FT-857D
  • Anything else that crosses my path or I think of between now and Saturday!

I may post back after the event with some pictures and happenings from the event. We’ll see.

New ARRL Website

Friday, April 16th, 2010

If you haven’t seen the new ARRL website I would check it out. They did a really nice job with it!

I guess they ran in to some issues switching over the old site to the new site, which made it impossible to run the new site for a while. I am glad they got it all figured out and it is up and running. It is defitnitely a big jump forward for supporting the amateur radio community.