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

 

Twitter Is -Not- The Woodpecker Of Old…

Many of our older, Er, Ah, I mean…more experienced Hams in the club, may recall the “Russian Woodpecker”. Beginning around 1976 till around 1989 when it ceased, this powerful radio signal was heard world wide and when triangulated, the source was found to emanate from inside the Ukraine. Hence the name, the Russian Woodpecker.

Twitter’s only metonymy with the Russian Woodpecker is the use of the bird metaphor in their names. The Russian Woodpecker wanted to disrupt communications, Twitter wants to facilitate them.

As Amateur Radio Operators, one of our goals is to communicate with as many good friends, and make as many new friends as possible using our radios. Similarly, as a club the HCRA needs to communicate with as many of its members (and our friends) as it can. By using Twitter, the club has one more item in it’s tool-kit to do just that.

Twitter is easy to use, accessible via PC as well as any number of mobile devices, and proven itself to be an effective way to share information and ideas. Be it between people who follow other people, or people who follow institutions, such as our club.

A major plus Twitter has going for it, is that while not everyone has time to log onto the internet, then go to websites browsing text files, most everyone has time to look at a quick message sent to them containing 140 characters…or less! That’s right, in about 30 seconds you can instantly learn what’s happening with your club. These Tweets may include a link that would provide you with more information and content.

So, it’s with the above in mind, the Hampden County Radio Association created its own Twitter account called “Hampden County RA” or “@HampdenCountyRA” and we encourage all our members to follow us on Twitter. It’s easy to locate, you can find it by simply clicking on this link: https://twitter.com/HampdenCountyRA. We look forward to your follows, and all club members who follow @HampdenCountyRA, will be followed back.

One last thing, to alleviate any concerns, be assured this is the official and -only- account the Hampden County Radio Association has on Twitter.

Successful New England SOTA Day

Thanks to the efforts of Nick (K1MAZ), the SOTA Jerks (NE1SJ) and all those who participated, we were able to pull off the inaugural New England SOTA Day. We had about 10 activators from around New England and Canada activate SOTA peaks all around the same time on August 10th 2012.

Activators Include

Callsign Name Summit Designation Location
NE1SJ Frandy (N1FJ) Pocumtuck Rock W1/MB-015 Deerfield MA
KK1W Jim Webb Hill W1/CR-011 Hardwick MA
K1MAZ Nick Quabbin Hill W1/CR-013 Ware MA
NT1K Jeff Mt. Tom W1/MB-006 Holyoke MA
WN1E Dave Mt. Norwottuck W1/CR-004 Amherst MA
KB1RMA Chris Fort Mountain W1/MV-002 Epson NH
N1EU Barry Misery Mountain W1/MB-021 Williamstown MA
N1AW Al Bald Mountain W1/MB-014 Bernardston MA
W1PNS Peter Putney Mtn. W1/GM-114 Putney VT
VA2SG Jean Mt Brassard VE2/LR-052 Quebec CA

* – Bold Callsigns are members of HCRA

Soap Box

NT1K's NE SOTA Setup

Jeff (NT1K) Mt. Tom
Climb was easier than I recall. It only took little over 1/2 hour to make the hike. Forgot some equipment which limited my G5RV Jr. height to about 12ft. I thought it was going to cause some issues but I managed to make a decent amount of contacts including a hand full of summit to summit contacts.

 

 

 


KK1W SOTA Aug 10 - Webb Jim (KK1W), Webb Hill
This was my second time on Webb Hill. If you read the trip log from our first activation you know the story of the huge ant hills on the trail. They are still there. I drove up Hill road until I didn’t want to scratch my truck any more, parked and walked to the trail head. Once there I followed the trail until the ant hills came into view, then I used the ‘go to’ function in Back Country Navigator to bushwhack from there to the summit. Too many ants for me! The hike is about .3 miles with maybe 200′ elevation gain.

During setup there was no breeze and the mosquitoes were unbelievable. I literally bathed myself in Deet, it helped but it was still miserable. I mentally decided I was ‘outa-there’ ASAP once I made a few contacts. Thankfully a breeze came up and it was fine from that point on. There’s no suitable rocks up there for setup but I kluged an operating desk out of my backpack and hung it off a tree. All in all I was QRV for about two hours and made lots of contacts on 40 and 20 meters, both CW and phone, and a few on 2 meter FM. By the time I broke down the station around 2:00 PM there were 41 QSO’s in the log including 10 S2S contacts. Very cool!

I used an EFHW wire antenna with one end suspended 25′ up in a nearby tree. the antenna tuned well on 40, 20, 17 and 15 but I didn’t see any skimmer spots on 15 so I’m not sure how well it was working on that band.

All in all a fun time on a beautiful day.

KK1W


AL (N1AW), Bald Mtn

My activation of Bald Mountain W1/MB-014 was frustrated by the SOTA database which said “object reference not set to an instance of an object” when I clicked Submit. I’m supposed to be a computer professional (retired) but that wasn’t helpful.
Other than that, and not getting on the air on 146.52 until 1705Z and on HF until 1759Z (poor planning and misplaced antenna parts). I had a good time, my first solo activation and a previously unactivated summit. Results: 11 QSOs (3 on 2m, 3 on 40m, 4 on 20m, and 1 on 15m), 3 S2Ss, VT and CA, (but the two in VT were two different ops on different bands on the same summit). Sorry I didn’t work any of you guys, I heard someone talking to NE1SJ once on 2m but did not hear Frandy and I was on 20 cw at the time anyway.
I sent a message to the SOTA database manager, I presume eventually my log will be accepted.


Chris (KB1RMA), Fort Mountain1082352_10200632696682945_79513529_o 963820_10200632696722946_1906873779_o

 


Dave (WN1E), Mt. Norwottuck

WN1E


Nick (K1MAZ), Quabbin Hill 

K1MAZ


Pete (W1PNS) w/ Charles (N1CAI), Putney Mountain:

Please read pete’s write up on his blog!


Any additional information please contact us!

SOTA Jerks “Introduction to SOTA” Presentation

Here is the presentation the SOTA Jerks present to local clubs (or anyone else willing to listen to us). Besides an introduction to SOTA the most important part could be the resource links at the end of the presentation.

Feel free to download and use at your club meeting or event. Modification is fine, please credit the original authors if at all possible 🙂 Most of all get out and activate!

SOTA Jerks Introduction to SOTA presentation. (left click to download).

(this is a large 23M file – just to warn you!)

 

DX Bulletin 48

From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  November 21, 2012
To all radio amateurs

SB DX ARL ARLD048
ARLD048 DX news

This week’s bulletin was made possible with information provided by CX3AL, N4QX, NC1L, VU2DSI, The Weekly DX, QRZ DX, the OPDX Bulletin,
425 DX News, The Daily DX, DXNL, Contest Corral from QST and the ARRL Contest Calendar and WA7BNM web sites.  Thanks to all.

TUNISIA, 3V.  Ash, 3V4-002 will be QRV as 3V8BB from Bir El Bay, Tunis in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/All Band/Low Power entry.  QSL via LX1NO.

ITU HQ, 4UxITU.  Serge, VA3SB, Brennan, N4QX and possibly others will be QRV as 4U1ITU during the CQ World Wide DX CW contest.  They may also be active as time permits until November 28.  QSL via the HB QSL bureau.

CYPRUS, 5B.  Jack, R2AA will be QRV as P3N during the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/All Band/High Power entry.  QSL via RW3RN.

WEST MALAYSIA, 9M2.  Champ, E21EIC will be QRV as 9M2/E21EIC from November 23 to 27.  This includes being a Single Op/All Band/Low Power entry in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest.  JA stations QSL via JR5XPG and all others to home call.

CHINA, BY.  Jack, BA4ALC will be QRV as BY5CD in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/All Band entry.  QSL via BD4HF.

BAHAMAS, C6.  Brian, ND3F will be QRV as C6AQQ from Nassau, IOTA NA-001, in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/All Band/Low Power entry.  Outside the contest, he will be active on 17 and 12 meters, and possibly 160 and 80 meters as well.  QSL via operator’s instructions.

URUGUAY, CX.  Look for operators CW5W, CX2DK, CX3AL, CX5TR, CX7CO and CX7ACH to be QRV in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as various entry types.  QSL to home calls.

BELARUS, EU.  Valentin, EU1AA will be QRV in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/All Band/QRP entry.  QSL to home call.

HONDURAS, HR.  Hiro, JA6WFM, will be QRV as HQ2N from San Pedro Sula in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/Single Band/10 meter entry.  QSL via EA5GL.

THAILAND, HS.  Dej, E21YDP, will be QRV as a Single Op/All Band/Low Power entry in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest.  QSL to home call.

JAN MAYEN, JX.  Svein, LA9JKA is QRV as JX9JKA until around April 11, 2013.  Activity is on the HF bands, including 60 meters, using SSB and various digital modes.  QSL direct to home call.

FRANZ JOSEF LAND, R1/F.  Eugene, UA4RX will be QRV as RI1FJ in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest as a Single Op/Single Band/Low Power/15 meter entry.  QSL direct via UA2FM.

PALAU, T8.  Naotsugu, JA1MML is QRV as T8NS until November 26.  This includes being a Single Op/All Band entry in the CQ World Wide DX CW contest.  QSL via operator’s instructions.

INDIA, VU.  Special event station AU2JCB will be QRV from November
24 to December 10 to celebrate the scientist Aacharya Jagadish Chandra Bose.  Activity will be on 40 to 10 meters using SSB and FM on 6 meters.  QSL via VU2DSI.

THIS WEEKEND ON THE RADIO.  The CQ Worldwide DX CW Contest, QRP CW Fox Hunt and NCCC Sprint are all scheduled for this upcoming weekend.  Please see November QST, page 91 and the ARRL and WA7BNM Contest websites for details.

Building a portable 12 Volt DC power source

If you’re like me, you not only enjoy your radios in the comfort of your shack, but like to go outside to “play radio” in events such as the upcoming 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest. This is a contest where I enjoy being a rover station. I also take part in spontaneous DX parties, public service events such as road races and providing Amateur Radio communications in times of need to such organizations as the American Red Cross. All of these activities at one time or another may require that battery power be used, as commercial power may simply not be available.

In this article, I’m going to discuss how I made my 12 Volt DC portable power source. I urge you to make, and have an auxiliary power available for yourself in the event you find yourself without commercial power. Fortunately for me, except for the battery box, everything else I needed was found around my shack and home.

The components of my 12 Volt DC portable power source include:
1. Four Anderson Powerpoles – Two red, two black and all with 45AMP barrel connectors.
2. 10 gage red/black zip-cord power wire (It’s best if you not use speaker wire).
3. Heat-shrink tubing of various sizes.
4. Two battery post terminals, for the AGM 12 Volt battery.
5. One 4-pole snap-in panel mount for 2 sets of Anderson Powerpoles.
6. Two Velcro Velstraps – 3ft X 2in
7. One 12 Volt (AGM) vehicle battery. As your power needs may vary, and there are any numbers of detailed articles about battery selection, I’m not going to cover that here.
8. One full-sized battery box.

Go-Kit Components

Go-Kit Components

Once the components were laid out, the first thing I did was to turn over the battery box. Then with my trusty Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut out two thin rectangle holes just big enough to pass one of the Velstraps through [Picture A.]. Once the holes were made, starting from inside the box; I simply passed the Velstrap out one of the holes, across the underside of the box, then back into the box via the other hole [Picture B]. This Velstrap will later be used to hold the battery in place, once it’s inside the battery box.

Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom

Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom

I next took the top of the battery box, and again using the Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut a square hole measuring 1.00 inch by 1.25 inches. This hole will later be used as a place to insert the 4-pole snap-in panel mount to hold the Anderson Powerpoles [Picture I].

The wiring came next. Following proper techniques, I crimped a 45 AMP barrel connector onto each of the four wire leads of a 10 gauge red/black zip-cord power wire. Then, keeping with ARES/RACES standard orientation, I assembled the red and black connectors (tongue down, hood up, red on the left, black on the right as viewed opposite the wire side). With each pair assembled, I then joined the two pairs together, one set over the other. NOTE: When using large gauge wire, it’s easier to put the connector housings together before putting the barrel connectors in.

Once the four connector housings were together, I inserted the wire lead’s barrel connectors into their corresponding connector housings. Red into red, black into black. Using the proper sized heat-shrink tubing, I fed both sets of zip-cords through it, then brought the heat-shrink tubing all the way up until it met the base of the Powerpole connectors. I applied heat and shrunk the tubing in place.

Using a sharp knife, I then split the ends of the zip-cords and separated the red side from the black side all the way up till it reached the heat-shrink tubing near the Powerpole connectors. I then fed both red wire leads into one length of heat-shrink tubing, then both black wire leads into a separate length of heat-shrink tubing. On both sets of wire leads, I left a generous amount of wire extending beyond the heat-shrink tubing. I applied heat and shrunk each of the tubes around their respective wire lead sets.

Powerpole connectors on, power-leads separated then heat-shrunk together by polarity, it was time to insert the four-gang of Powerpole connectors into the 4-pole snap-in panel. The Powerpole connectors simply slide in to the 4-pole snap-in panel and are held in place by inserting a retaining pin [Picture II].

Were almost home, just a few more steps: Holding the lid at the distance I wanted it to be from the bottom of the box, I measured out the length the wire leads from the 4-pole snap-in panel to the battery posts needed to be, then cut off the excess wire. Now cut to length, I inserted both red and black sets of wire leads into a single heat-shrink tubing. I remembered to leave enough of the wire leads exposed in order for me to later attach these wire leads to the battery terminals. I then applied heat and shrunk the tubing. Once the heat-shrink tubing cooled, to minimize movement of the wiring harness I secured it to the top of the box. After striping away enough of the outer coating, I attached each set of wire leads to their respective battery terminals and attached the battery terminals to the battery posts [Picture III].

Assembled Components

Assembled Components

The above having been completed, I placed the top onto the bottom of the battery box and secured it using the last Velstrap…Done! I now had a safe, secure and ARES/RACES standard orientation compliant source of 12 Volt DC power.

Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source

Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source

It’s my hope that this article, by showing you how with readily available components and it’s quick and easy assembly, you’ll be motivated to create your own portable 12 Volt DC power source.  After all, the bottom line is this: You never know when that next event will cause the lose of power to your shack, and there’s no guarantee there’ll be commercial power available at the places you go to, or get called to. A piece of equipment like this will give you one more way to be ready to get on, and stay on the air.

73

Rich – N1KXR

HCRA Meeting Friday, November 2

   JIm, KK1W, at the helm on Burley Hill

Friday’s HCRA meeting will feature a presentation on portable operating, with an emphasis on SOTA (Summits on the Air) activations. Nick, K1MAZ, will talk about all the fun that he and Jimmy (KB1PRA), and John (Kx1x) and others had on Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire on October 20th. Nick is a recent member of the SOTA Jerks, and is also venturing out on his own to operate from many nearby summits. We’ll discuss what SOTA entails, and how you can get started from home and from a peak. New portable rigs, new antennas, and new battery technology will be shown. Join us for a fun-filled and informative meeting! Other likely participants: Ed, KB1NWH; Dave, WN1E; Matt, W1MSW; Jim, KK1W.   – Frandy, N1FJ@arrl.net