I have a smile on my face…
A huge smile!…
I got back from a vacation in Nova Scotia on Thursday and there was a note on my door from UPS. A package was waiting for me to pick up. A package with ‘Elecraft‘ written on the side.
Woo hoo!! My KX3 has arrived. It is serial number 238.
So for now, to familiarize myself with the radio, I hooked it up to a 2Ah li-poly battery pack which I use for my KX1. This pack did not have enough current capacity to supply the KX3 at 10W output for more than a few seconds but it was good enough to operate at 5W for a couple of hours.
I don’t have any permanently installed antennas at home, so I set up a pair of verticals attached to the balcony.
This works reasonably well.
I set up two antennas; A 31′ pole onto which I wound 36′ of wire, tightly wound at the top (½″ pitch), loosely wound in the middle (2″ pitch) and then large windings toward the bottom. (6″ pitch) and a loading coil at the base. I was able to resonate this antenna on 80m and 40m against a single 16′ counterpoise made from RG-174 coax shield by selecting tap points.
The second antenna was 19′ or wire supported by a 20′ pole. This antenna was naturally resonant on 12MHz and the the KXAT3 internal ATU was able to resonate it on all the higher bands: 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m, 10m and 6m against the same single 16′ counterpoise.
The longer antenna is naturally resonant at 3.6 MHz against a 16′ counterpoise wire when the full length of the base loading coil is in-circuit and at 8 MHz when the base loading coil is bypassed. Feeding the antenna through 50′ of RG-174 coax makes no difference to the resonance when the loading coil is bypassed but it does lower the resonant frequency with the full length of the loading coil in-circuit to 2.7 MHz.
The antennas pick up a lot of electrical noise from all the electronics around the neighborhood so I had to deal with an S5 to S8 noise floor but it was sufficient to get to know the radio
The first thing I did (after tuning the loading coil for 40m) was to send CQ on 40m and have a listen to my own signal as received by the web SDR radios in Kingston, Rhode Island and at K2SDR in Sea Girt, New Jersey. I tried both the 10W and 5W settings and I could detect only a small difference in signal strength. I tried to listen to my SSB signal but for some reason I was not able to hear myself when talking. I checked mic gain and compression and both the RF and ALC meters were showing output. I guess voice is that much weaker than CW.
I spotted myself on QRP Spots and within a few minutes the first QSO was in the log book. Dennis K1YPP was kind enough to give me a call from Newton, NH. I wish I had known that Dennis was an Appalachian Trail (AT) hiker (learned that from QRZ.com after the QSO) – I’ve visited the AT and hiked upon it just one time but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.
I operated from the AT with Ron WB3AAL who has completed more than 1000 QSOs from the AT and administrators an amateur radio awards scheme for completing QSOs from the AT and others from the QRP Polar Bear club. After the hike, they bestowed upon me a ‘trail name’ (and ‘bear name’) – Dittie Bear. Hence the name of this blog!
I will be getting to know this new radio over the next few weeks, so far I am deeply impressed!!