SHOW & TELL 2017 – there’s still time!

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People, Projects and Prizes!

As of this writing (March 16th) it’s three weeks until HCRA’s Annual Show & Tell on April 7th. That also means it’s only three weeks to finish your project, put together documentation and perhaps win a nice prize for your efforts. No time you say? Well, twenty two days is over three weeks the last time I checked. I’m sure you can rustle up something to show off to the crowd, get their creative juices flowing for 2017 and maybe win a nice prize! But… you really need to get started pretty soon!

BONUS SNOW STORM!

I don’t know if you noticed but the “super storm” of March 14th has effectively pushed back any yard work for at least a few weeks. Now you’ve time for a project and a prize!

K1VOI and the antenna gun. WB1DBY photograph

What exactly is Show & Tell you ask? Well, it’s a chance to show the members something cool you’ve done in your shack, antenna farm, secret laboratory, etc. over the last year. Maybe it’s a new antenna that works like a signal magnet, or a neat way to mount a radio in today’s ‘too small’ vehicles, or a tesla coil (yes, we’ve had one), or a KW amplifier (had those too), or a trick piece of software, or….  You get the picture. Speaking of pictures here’s a few photos from past events to whet your appetite.

KA1TDQ’s 75M AM Exciter

An RF sampler by KB1NWH. WB1DBY photograph

Rock-Mite and keyer by Matt, W1MSW. WB1DBY photograph

 

And of course there’s the prizes. This year the three winners get to choose from a hundred dollars worth of prizes that include an ARRL Operating Manual, a Raspberry Pi 3 and a TC-1 Multi-function tester.

Show & Tell 2017 Prizes

The audience votes for the best project, the votes are tallied and three winners are picked at the end of the evening. It’s easy to do and it’s fun. Of course everyone is a winner here because we all benefit by seeing what our fellow HCRA members created. Everyone in the audience and the presenters takes home a big dose of enthusiasm for 2017!

So there you go. Time to stop surfing, head to the shop and warm up the soldering iron. You too can be a winner at HCRA’s 2017 Show & Tell!

 

Last Swap & Sell of 2016

SwapSign
Last Swap & Sell of 2016 is this Friday, November 4th. There isn’t a December meeting because of the Holiday Party
 
Let’s end 2016 with a bang! Take a look around your shack and bring in an item or two that will become someone else’s holiday gift :).
 
From the KK1W shack is an assortment of books and a nice LED desk lamp (with USB charger) to read them under. Some old, some new all good reading that will expand your amateur radio horizons.
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What are you bringing? Please comment to this post, with photos if possible.
 
Oh, the desk lamp is brand new AND is rumored to be grey with #87 on it, whatever that means...
Have you purchased your Holiday Party ticket yet? They’ll be on sale at the meeting. See Harold/N1FTP so you don’t go hungry this holiday season.
 
See you Friday evening,
 
Jim/KK1W

“Make a cheap ham HAPPY” night at HCRA!

Returning Friday, September 9, is HCRA’s Swap & Sell Table. A sight guaranteed to brings smiles of joy to any frugal hams’s face.

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Take a look at the photos, it gives you an idea of just some of this month’s offerings. That’s correct, you see a 1.3G frequency counter, project boxes, transformers, and more. There’s even a LARGE box of assorted wire and cable, dig through, pick what you want and make your donation. No reasonable offer refused.

Make the table even better by bringing along your own items for sale. The more we have, the more exciting for everyone!

NEWS FLASH! Rumor has it N1FJ may have a Mosley Tri-Bander to contribute to the cause. Watch for more info and and bring your roof rack for an HF antenna bargain

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Good stuff cheap – Swap & Sell September 9th

SwapSign

Swap and Sell will be returning to HCRA meetings for the remainder of 2016. Since the program started this past January lots of good stuff has changed hands, people have gone home with either cash in their pocket or a new trinket to play around with in the shack and HCRA added a few dollars to the club treasury.

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The photo on the left shows a sample of items that could make their way to the swap table, but we need more! We need YOUR good stuff to keep up the excitement, attract customers and most of all – have fun! It’s like a mini-hamfest at every meeting.

We all benefit if you have items you’re willing to donate to the cause. Think of all the things you’ve purchased, used for years but they’re now sitting unused in the shack or workshop. You can sell them and make a few bucks or….. Why not donate them? You’ve had your fun, maybe it’s time to pass it along to someone else. Donations benefit HCRA but most of all the new owner gets to take something home and not break the bank. Everyone wins!!! If you do want to sell your items please remember the suggested donation is10%, thanks! All donations are tax deductible under 501 c3 guidelines.

One last thing. We’re looking for a new caretaker for Swap & Sell starting January 2017. All it takes is 15 to 30 minutes a month, a small donation of time to bring fun to dozens throughout the year. If you’re interested let us know. You’ll be supplied with everything you need to make it happen and at least five minutes of OJT! It’s an easy job that puts lots of smiles on our members faces. Please let me or Jeff/NT1K know if your interested in the job.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the September 9th meeting.

’73…
Jim/KK1W

HCRA is READY for Field Day – are YOU!

About seven days from now HCRA will be blasting the airwaves with “CQ Field” day from School St. Park in nearby Agawam, MA. Our plans have solidified to a 5A operation, perhaps even 6A, the usual superb four towers with beams on 40, 20, 15 and 10 and dipoles for 80/75. a Saturday VE session, lots of operators, KX2 raffle tickets and….

FOOD! Alan/AB1XW will be serving up dogs and burgers, “on the house” Saturday evening. A perfect way to stoke the fires for an all-night operation.

Read all the details and see the participants by clicking here.  After looking through the list you’ll see a few spots where we could use YOUR help. What would you like to do?

1. We can make 100 points by simply originating an NTS message to our Section Manager and up to an additional 100 points by sending 10 radiograms. Are you ready for the challenge? It’s easy and shouldn’t take more than an hour at most. Want to give it a try? Contact Jim/KK1W for more info.

2. Are you a good teacher? There’s another 100 points on the table for organizing an educational activity. It could be as simple as showing how to get active on digital modes or constructing a wire dipole. Interested, contact Jeff/NT1K or Jim/KK1W and we can get you going.

3. Finally, we can make up to another 100 points for “Youth Participation”. Any operator under 18, that makes at least one FD QSO earns HCRA 20 points. If we get five youth operators we make another 100 points! How cool is that? Remember they (or you) don’t have to be licensed to operate at Field Day. It’s a perfect opportunity to expose youngsters to a hobby that could shape their future. Time your visit just before Saturday evening and have a burger or hot dog for your (and their) efforts.

Don’t forget to pick up a KX2 raffle ticket while visiting Field Day. A mere $10 donation could bring you a spanking new Elecraft KX2!

The weather forecast looks promising and plans are in place. What are you waiting for, all we need is YOU!

Yes, Swap & Sell will be at Show & Tell!

SwapSign

 

Here’s a chance to make money on your project. After you win one of the prizes put your hand crafted watchamcallit’ on the swap table and go home with to cash along with your prize 🙂 Or maybe find something on the table for your next creation?

Once again the Swap & Sell table will be there, how exciting it is falls entirely on the shoulders of you, our members. We know everyone has at least ONE thing they probably should ‘recycle’ and the HCRA swap table is the perfect place. No shipping, no eBay fees, supports the club, makes meetings more interesting and is fun. Need I say more?

Before coming to our April 1st meeting why not take a look around the shack and find an item or fifteen worthy of creating excitement in someone else’s shack and bring it to the meeting.

No foolin, see you April 1st!

Jim/KK1W

WRTC 2014 Results and HCRA/WRTC Trivia

The scores are out! They can be found on the WRTC2104 web page. But here’s the really cool stuff.

We hosted four teams at Medfield State Hospital. Medfield was site 8 and the stations were 8A through 8D. Here’s the results from ‘our’ teams:

8A: K1M – IK1JHS & I4UFH – Won the SSB mode, placed 58th!

8B: N1A – DL1QQ & DL8DYL – The first YL WRTC team – placed 26th

8C: W1R – OH2BH & OH2MM – Sponsored by Azores Travel, placed 50th

8D: W1M – 4O3A & HA1AG – Placed 15th, our highest scoring team

Some of our team members held 1×1 calls for the event:

K1S: held by Don/KB5VP for the 12th placed W2SC team
N1P: held by Jim/KK1W for the 51st placed CX6VM team
N1Q: held by Dave/AA1YW was unassigned
N1R: held by Steve/N1SR for the 22nd placed UA3DPX team
W1H: held by Brian/K1LI was unassigned

About a 1/2 hour before the contest started I4UFH’s power supply cable broke for his iMac. One couldn’t be found quickly and they were scrambling for a computer. John/Kx1x came up with a Window’s laptop and within ten minutes the software was loaded and configured and Fabio was QRV when the opening bell rang! How cool is that?

Al/KB1XG was an official WRTC2014 videographer, we can’t wait to see some of his shots in the videos.

Rich/N1KXR was night security and roaming driver/helper from Wednesday through Saturday.

Nick/K1MAZ made many trips to town for team and competitor supplies.

Mary/KB1ME was the unofficial photographer for the DL1QQ team.

HCRA fielded 28 volunteers over the five day period. The weather was beautiful but the hot summer sun made the afternoons grueling, even with the low humidity. We drank plenty of water and used almost as much sun screen.

We serviced two cars with dead batteries (N1SR and W3SM) and changed one flat tire (KB1XG)

As far as I know, even though we spent four nights there, no ghosts were noticed haunting the Medfield complex.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered for this seventh running of WRTC. Everyone worked hard and created an outstanding experience for the teams we hosted. All competitors said they felt welcomed and appreciated by all we did for them.

What a great showing for the HCRA/WRTC volunteers!

Adding Wifi to a KX3

Wifi inside a KX3

20140512_131034-001While browsing info on the ‘Piglet’ on Nick Garner’s Pignology web site the thought struck me, I wonder if I could install a version of the Piglet inside my KX3. I built my KX3 from a kit and never installed the battery holders or the internal charger. I’ve always operated the rig from an external supply;  either Lipo batteries or from a 12 VDC supply in the shack. Looking at the size of the Piglet I thought there might be room enough to fit it inside the KX3.

A few emails back and forth with Nick/N3WG, (the guy behind the pig) confirmed the possibility. Nick suggested a through-hole version of the board, minus the DB9 and Power Poles connectors, for experimentation. A few days later the parts showed up and it was off to the races – another first for Muppet Labs. Actually It turned out to be an easy project and enables logging with  Pignology’s Hamlog app without having to deal with wires.

The first ‘trial by fire’ was on top of Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks. I brought along pencil and paper as backup but Nick’s Hamlog software and the built in Piglet worked perfectly. I logged 22 contacts without a hitch. I was using the Android version of the app which unfortunately does not export a SOTA compatible .csv file, hopefully Nick may add that in the future. I experienced intermittent cell service while on Cascade which let Hamlog look up callers in QRZ while I was logging. Very cool to be able to answer someone with a ‘Thanks Barry, you’re 599 72”, making a personable, but quick QSO. The photo shows the ‘shack’ on top of Cascade (3880’) but not the phone I was using for logging because???  You guessed it I was using the same phone to take the photo!

Piglet closeup

 

 
What you get is a really cool, KX3/W – not everyone has one of those, right?

This mod isn’t for everyone. You should be comfortable with soldering in tight places and not afraid to damage a $1000 radio. Battery drain is increased as the Piglet draws 70 ma, and you have to disconnect it if you want to use the ACC1 jack to update firmware or use a different logging program. For my use this is perfectly acceptable. The ease of logging and (hopefully) log upload to the SOTA database make it perfect.  As always YMMV, follow along for a detailed, step by step, article.

Caveats

  1. You will have to remove the battery holders in your KX3. This was not an issue for me as I never installed them in the first place. On summits I power the rig with an external Lipo battery, at home with a 12v supply.  If you’re OK with this then read on!
  2. You also need access to P3, so the KXBC3 can’t be installed. Since the battery holder isn’t installed you probably don’t have the charger anyway!
  3. Mounted inside the KX3 without its antenna exposed the Piglet’s wifi range is short, somewhere around 8 to 15’. I don’t see this as an issue as most people will be much closer than that when logging but figured I should point it out.
  4. The method I used to power it is unswitched, whenever there is power at the 9-15 VDC plug on the KX3 the Piglet is powered on. There is a spot on the circuit board with ‘switched’ 12 volts that could be used. This solves the always on when battery is connected problem but still means the Piglet is always on when the rig is turned on, and this presents the last caveat.
  5. Wired as shown the ACC1 jack is no longer usable with the KXUSB (or KXSER) cable when the Piglet is powered on. You must power off the Piglet in order to regain the use of ACC1 for firmware upgrades or using other logging programs.

If you can live with the above then here’s how you do it, including pictures!

This mod isn’t for everyone. You need to be comfortable with soldering in tight places. If you damage your KX3 I’m sure it won’t be fixed under warranty and you lose your internal battery holder.

Installing a Piglet inside an Elecraft KX3

  1. Obtain the Piglet board, minus the DB9 and Power Poles from Pignology
  2. Power up your KX3 and set the RS232 baud rate to 4800
    1. It’s easier to do this now than when the rig is apart for testing.
  3. Open up the KX3 for surgery
    1. I found it easier to work on the rig if I disconnected the flex cable and worked on the front half of the rig (the control panel side) without having the back half in my way.
  4. Remove the battery compartment shield board and battery holders if still installed. Don’t lose the screws holding the battery retainer and shield as It will be replaced.
  5. Prepare a small three conductor, 6” long, color coded cable.
    1. On one end strip 1/8” of insulation and tin the wires.
    2. Solder the ends to the ACC1 jack as shown
    3. Make note of the color code so you can connect them to the correct lands on the Piglet circuit board.
    4. Leave the other end of the cable free for the moment.ACC1 wiring
  6. Replace the battery compartment shield board (you didn’t lose the screws, correct?
  7. Prepare the Piglet (Figure x)
    1. Solder a jumper between pins 4 and 8 of the DB9 connector traces.
    2. Solder a (+) and (-) 2” jumper with jacks to the appropriate locations (where the Power Poles should connect) on the board. See the parts list for the jumpers/jacks I used.Piglet data connections
    3. Roughly locate the Piglet where it belongs
    4. Cut the wires from ACC1 to a comfortable length and solder them to connections 2, 3 and 5 of the DB9 connector traces. You did remember your color code, right?
    5. Use double stick foam tape to mount the Piglet as shown.
    6. Clean the shield and bottom of the Piglet board with alcohol, it really helps the tape stick better.
    7. Connect the power jumpers you installed to pins 1 and 10 to  the KX3’s plug P3KK1W on Cascade Mtn.
    8. Positive (+) goes to pin #1
    9. Negative (-) goes to pin #10
    10. P3 is the plug for the KXBC3
  8. Reconnect the KX3’s flex cable
  9. Plug a known power source into the KX3’s 9-15V power jack. You should see LED’s start to flash on the Piglet
  10. Verify you can see the Piglet in your mobile device’s Wifi list.
  11. Turn on the KX3
    1. Start your Hamlog app and follow Nick’s instructions for setup.
    2. If everything is correct you should now be able to control your KX3 with your mobile device
  12. Congratulations – you now have a KX3/W (Wifi)!

Parts List:

  1. Piglet board w/o DB9 and Power Pole connectors:  Pignology
  2. Small, flexible wire with push on connectors. I used product number 826 from Adafruit for both the ACC1 wiring and the power connections:   http://www.adafruit.com/products/826
  3.  Double stick foam tape. I used servo tape available from any R/C hobby store. Something similar to this should work fine:  http://www.sigmfg.com/IndexText/SIGSH119.html

Other information

1. Elecraft KX3 Schematic KX3 Control Panel Connectors:  http://www.elecraft.com/manual/KX3SchematicDiagramDec2012.pdf

2. KXSER Schematic the cable schematic is on the last page: http://www.elecraft.com/manual/KXPA100%20Owner’s%20Manual.pdf

Don’t forget to disconnect the battery when you’re not using the KX3 or the Piglet will deplete it. The Piglet shows approximately 70ma of current when running. Considering the KX3 can draw up to 3A on transmit it isn’t going to reduce your battery life significantly.

Remember! If you need to use the ACC1 jack with the KXUSB (or KXSER) cable you will have to turn off the Piglet. What I do is open up the rig and remove the (+) connection to the Piglet. I’m sure some craftier folks could find a way to add a switch but I’m OK with this simple approach. The KX3 is usually used portable and the frequency of firmware updates doesn’t make it a burden to stay with the simple approach.

There doesn’t appear to be any negative impact on the KX3’s performance, either RX or TX, since the modification. I don’t have access to sophisticated test equipment but A/B comparisons to an Icom IC756-2 with weak signals, before and after the mod, didn’t show any RX degradation from the mod.

Ideas, questions, suggestions, corrections?  Feel  free to drop me an email!

’73 and enjoy your KX3/W

Jim/KK1W
mailto:kk1w@arrl.net

 

WRTC payments due this month!

The following people have balances due for WRTC purchases. If you’re planning on coming to this Friday’ meeting please see Dave or myself to pay off your balance. If not a check sent to our PO Box ASAP would be greatly appreciated.

Mark/KB1SO – $456.00
Eric/W1MOR – $141.75
Dave/AA1YW – $175.00
Marty/W1MJB – $680.00
Dave/WN1E – $600.00
Larry/W1AST – $116.00
Juergen/NV1Q – $30.00
Ed/WT1W – $50.00
Larry/KD1RV – $400.00

Send checks made out to HCRA to:

HCRA
PO Box 562
Agawam, MA 01001-0562

Thanks and hope to see everyone at the May 2nd meeting, ready to listen and learn about SDR technology and JT65 communications.