Saturday, March 21, 2015

Building The Elecraft KXPA100 & My First 100W Contact

Four weeks ago I decided to pull the trigger and get the KXPA100 amp from Elecraft to complement my KX3.  I've spent the past 6 months working virtually QRP with my KX3 as a base station and it's been both satisfying and frustrating at the same time.  Trying to contact Europe on 10 watts is a great thrill but trying to break a pile up seems impossible.

The KXPA100 build was easy, as it took me around 30 mins to complete.  Elecraft's instruction manuals are very good and give clear pictures with descriptions.  The only issue I had was the missing parts, which I blogged about earlier.  They should really look at their QC department to ensure all the correct parts are shipped with their products.

After hooking it up, which was a breeze, and setting some menu items within the KX3, I was on the air.  I just happened to be on 20m and tuned up the band to find EE8Z calling CQ from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.  Tuning the antenna and checking my wattage, the first try back to him on his CQ was 59 to me.  The Canary Islands was in the log.  It's amazing what a little power can bring you!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Digital Mode Hell - My First PSK31 Contact

Last week I decided to dive into digital.  Head first.  With no helmet.  I came out the other side with a few battle scars, some lost hours but a lot of first hand knowledge about HF digital modes.

I attended our local ARES meeting where Peter, N0MTH presented on the ARES 2m BBS (N0ARS) which reminded me to purchase some type of audio/TNC device.  4 days later I was the owner of a Signalink USB and module jumpers for my KX3 and TM-V71A radios.

Last weekend I downloaded FLdigi and spent around 4 to 6 hours trying to configure my laptop and KX3 to talk to the Signalink to blast out some PSK31.  After many failed attempts and quite a bit of digging around on the net, I finally made my first contact.  I'm still working out the bugs and have quite a few unanswered questions.  One thing I learned is, no matter how many YouTube videos you watch and web pages you read, there isn't one single source to get all your digital mode questions answered!  Trial and error is the name of the game!

Next goal is to try and connect to our local ARES bbs via 2m.