Month: February 2015

ALEXLOOP ANTENNA and FT 817

ALEXLOOP ANTENNA and FT 817

ALEXLOOP ANTENNA and FT 817 ND
by Danny Garris, KJ4FH

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This is my Fully Portable HF operating System! Transmit & Receive ANY Frequency from 7Mhz to 30Mhz
1. AlexLoop WalkHam Antenna – Click here (and wait 5 seconds) to go to the website and have more info.
2. Yaesu FT-817ND

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The AlexLoop WalkHam Portable 36″ Magnetic HF Antenna will transmit and receive 20 watts SSB and 10 watts CW from 7Mhz to 30Mhz. You can carry it in your hand and walk down the beach or a mountain top, however I have found after awhile you will want to place it on a nice tripod. Your hand will become tired quickly and your hands will be free to operate the radio.

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My Radio is a fully modified Yaesu FT-817ND with W4RT’s Bhi DSP filter, MARS Mod, 500Hz CW/2.3Khz SSB Filters, One BIG Punch Mic, 3000mHa Wincamp Polymer Lithium 12.6v Battery Pak, Euro Kranker Knob (not shown), Custom Mic holder, Black Carbon fiber sport side kick-stand legs, and more.

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Everything can hang nicely from the custom tripod I made. Although the Radio has an internal 3000mHa Windcamp battery, I can use my larger 7Ah 12v Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Battery for long hours of use along with my Grundig Headphones in noisy environments. I use a YouKits FG-01 Antenna Analyzer for Quick “No-Guess” Tuning of my AlexLoop. Having the RIGHT Tripod is The secert as you will learn most ALL other WILL fall over on windy days. I learned this the hard way! You want a tripod like this that has legs that open far enough to avoid wind fall. Get a good tripod!! Special thanks to Mike Olbrisch, KD5KC who helped me greatly in finding the right tripod to use for the AlexLoop outdoors and how to make a special mic holder for the Yaseu FT-817 neck strap. I will share this information in the article.

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I purchased my tripod from Amazon. You can purchase the same tripod in Lowe’s or HomeDepot in the spring/Summer in the garden section in the color of Green or silver however I wanted BLACK because I wanted it to look streamline and factory. So I researched for hours and found the same exact tripod Mike, KD5KC suggested (only in Black) on Amazom: “Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler” I took the sprinkler head off the tripod and found a PVC pipe at Lowe’s that screwed right into the top of the tripod and I cut the length of my pipe to 6.5″ Next I cut 1/8″ grooves into the top of my pipe using a 1/4″ rat tail file so that my Alexloop Antenna will not spin around in Winds. The Alexloop is directional and it does make a difference so you want to keep the antenna from turning in high winds. The Alexloop will slide perfectly over the pipe! I placed a couple turns of electrical tape on my pipe to give a slightly better fit and friction for my Alexloop.

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Next I cut my water hose fitting of the bottom of my tripod and fitted a threaded pipe to “Store” my 6.5″ Notched top pipe for easy compact storing in my tripod bag. Another tip shared with me by Mike Olbrisch, KD5KC. Mike was very helpful in giving me details and photos to help me make my own customized tripod setup for my Alexloop Antenna. He has years of experience using the Alexloop with the Yaesu FT-817.

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My Threaded pipe fitting contains a brass insert fitting with threads that taps into my tripod pipe and then a 1/2″ thread metal coupling I threaded onto the brass fitting. Then I simply wrapped it up neatly in Black electrical tape to match up with the look of the tripod.

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Both the AlexLoop & Tripod are all contained in these two small bags!! A full complete HF operating system ready for Mountain tops, beach, Camping, ARES, Field Day, SOTA or DX Outings/Events are ALL contained inside these two small light-weight bags!

Alex, PY1AHD suggested a small light weight silver VIV-VPT-1250 Vivatar tripod $12.95 (eBay or Amazon) many Hams were using that fit right inside the AlexLoop bag along with the Antenna. I would ONLY use this tripod.

vivitar
VIV-VPT-1250 Vivatar tripod $12.95 (eBay or Amazon) for Use ONLY inside or for DEMOing your AlexLoop.

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The Vivatar Tripod is ONLY used indoors.

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Fully extended it can be used in a hotel room.

My Personal Favorite INDOOR AlexLoop Tripod is the “AlphaLoop” Tripod $64. https://amateurradiostore.com I like using it in the house because it does not take up so much room and is lighter and less bulky than my Orbit Tripod. AGAIN I DO NOT recommend this tripod for outdoor use!!! It fell over on me in a wind gust!! But it is a really nice tripod for Indoors. I have sat this Setup in my Living room on a rainy day next to my sofa and fireplace while watching tv and worked the World on 5 watts. Even placed it in my Hallway and did the same. It is a lot easier than moving around my Orbiter Outdoor Tripod. I Love my Orbiter Tripod! This “AlphaLoop” tripod is also nice but ONLY for indoor use. I tried both the “AlphaLoop” and “AlexLoop” Antennas and Hands-down the AlexLoop won for many reasons I will not go into now.

alphaloop

I placed 2 rows of electrical tape on the AlphaLoop tripod just like I did on my Orbit Tripod to give the AlexLoop Antenna a good fit. The I took a small hacksaw and made a mark on the pipe so I would know where to lock my tripod at for best fit for my AlexLoop Antenna. This is a really good-looking tripod with a good fit for the AlexLoop BUT ONLY FOR INDOOR USE!!!! You will want the Orbit Tripod for ALL OUTDOOR USE!!!

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The AlexLoop Antenna is a Wonderful HF Antenna! I’ve had so much fun operating with it. I have it here setup in the parking lot at my Electronic Service Center. The Orbit Tripod looks almost Factory along with the AlexLoop and that was my intention. The legs spread out far enough that wind will not blow it over.

I took three nice Velcro straps available at most hardware stores and strapped the coax of my AlexLoop to the mast to keep the coax from dangling around in the wind and to give the AlexLoop a Stream-line appearance. This does not affect the performance in any way.

The AlexLoop works all Frequencies from 7 Mhz to 30 Mhz Continuous with a low SWR that is adjustable by turning the knob on the bottom of this box. You tune for Max reception and fine tune from there. When I first got my AlexLoop I was on the air in 5 minutes. I had no SWR meter, I just tuned 20M for max reception and worked W1AW/4 in GA with a 5/9 Signal running only 5 watts from my Yaesu FT-817ND. I have a Brand-new Buddipole and Buddistick that I have not even taken out of the bag yet since I got my AlexLoop! I can take a 5 minute break and grab my AlexLoop mounted on it’s Custom Orbit Tripod and walk outside in my parkinglot and make a contact in less than 3 minutes!!! It really brings back the FUN of Amateur Radio w/o all the fuss!!

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I invested in the YouKits FG-01 SWR Antenna Analyzer available from Ten Tec’s Website after much research and I’m SO GLAD I did!! This thing makes tuning ANY antenna a breeze!!!! I can REALLY FINE TUNE my AlexLoop for MIN SWR and that helps get my signal out even MORE!!!

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I can hang my Yaesu FT-817ND from my Orbit Tripod along with headphones for noisy outdoor use and my custom made Mic clip for the side of my neck strap! I am tuned to 14.300 Mhz USB and working a the Maritime Net running only 5 watts. I can pick up the entire tripod and radio with one hand and move it around or walk inside the house and continue operating. I also have TONS of Fun on DIGITAL modes such as PSK-31, JT65-HF, APRS, RTTY, SSTV, CW, and more using my Signalink USB and Acer 10″ Portable Netbook which opens a whole new FUN world to DIGITAL Communications!! You can work the World with less than 1w with PSK-31. So 5 watts is no problem!!! I can set this Tripod inside my house next to my sofa and with my Netbook work dozens on PSK contacts by my comfortable fireplace while watching TV! Click at the end of the page on the arrow to see the video about the LOOP antenna!

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You will want to do the Mic clip Mod because when using the Yaesu FT-817ND around your neck the factory mic clip is located on the shoulder part of the strap which is behind your neck. This is a REALLY nice and very easy Mod to do yourself. You will want to locate a WORKMAN MH4 or MH4B Mic Holder of eBay $6.50 and removed the adhesive backing and using a dremel tool with a small 1″ cutting wheel make a cut on the bottom and top to allow the strap to pass thru and place it on the neck strap as shown. This was a very helpful tip given to me by Mike Olbrisch, KD5KC.

I placed 2 pieces of electrical tape on my top PVC pipe to allow the AlexLoop to fit perfectly without too much play or too little play! About 3 turns of tape was perfect. Yours may vary. The notches allow the AlexLoop to not spin in high winds. Also note how far the legs stretch out giving excellent stability. After all this WAS a Sprinkler tripod and lots of water pressure was designed to spray out the top of the tripod so this was the PERFECT tripod to use for the AlexLoop! (Thanks again to Mike Olbrisch, KD5KC for his helpful suggestion). Mike uses 3 of these tripods he Loves them so much! Except his are Green because in the dessert heat things that are metal and Black are not good to grab onto!! A thought for those who will be in Hotter climates. Me, I am on the beach and flatlands of Eastern NC. When I’m not using my setup I store it as seen below ready to go inside my Electronic Service Center so I can use it at any moment. I lower the tripod so I can get it outside the door, then raise it and operate in less than 3 minutes!
Click down here on the arrow to see the video about the LOOP antenna! 73 de Dennis 

 

 

 

 

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Wonderwand Loop Antenna review – 9H3FC

Wonderwand Loop Antenna review – 9H3FC

Wonderwand Loop Antenna review

We have received this short but nice review from Chris 9H3FC / G4UDG.

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With a family holiday planned for Malta , i made plans to take my FT-817ND and a Wonder-loop 4010  antenna with me, i applied for a callsign and was allocated 9H3FC ,  given the limitations of a hotel apartment i chose the loop antenna as it needs no radials, no support/tripod,no coax, easy to tune , operates on 40 to 10 Mtrs, and folds down into a very small box for transport.The QRP station was set up on the balcony of my apartment , with only a ” concrete ” window to the world for the RF to escape !   , I operated on 10 Mhz to 28 Mhz. CW @ 5 Watts. Click on the arrow at the end of this article to see the video on how this QRP loop antenna performs. The results were very encouraging , after one week operating for about 1.5 hours per day i managed 50 qso,s into 23 DXCC , including G , GI ,OX , DL ,EA6 , OE , SM ,YO ,HA ,K3 , 9A ,N4   etc.  A most enjoyable experience and the little loop   ( 21″ diameter )  worked very well for me indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

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73 de  Chris    9H3FC / G4UDG.

114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-rightclick on the arrow to see the youtube video!

Elecraft KX3 review

Elecraft KX3 review

Elecraft KX3 review

It was the 2011 when Elecraft company (an US based company, very rare phenomena) introduced the KX3 model.
A real jewelry : portable SDR HF plus 50 MHZ transceiver.

It includes every mode you need: USB, LSB, CW, data, AM and FM.
The output power is adjustable from 0 to 10 Watts. You can easily adjust the DSP filters, AF, RF, passband, and notch all from dedicated buttons and knobs. It even has a memory keyers for both CW and voice.

Wanna do digital modes? No problem!
The KX3 natively decode RTTY and PSK31 and display the scrolling text on the display, but you can also send RTTY and PSK31 without a PC. How? Simply set the appropriate data mode and use your key to tap out your message in CW.

DSP filtering is most impressive.:  have a look at Sherwood Engineering’s receiver test data rankings which are sorted by third-order dynamic range (narrow spacing), the Elecraft KX3 is second only to the Hilberling PT-8000A, an $ 21,000 transceiver.

QRP with Elecraft KX3

When I decided to go in QRP with my Kx-3 this little QRP performed very well. The very low current draw allowed me to use full power (approx 10W) using a Lipo battery (Turnigy 2200mAh 3S 20C Li-Po 11.1v) that lasted for at least an hour before turning back the wattage (to 5W) when the battery voltage dipped below the 11vdc threshold (time will vary depending on duty, temp and mode).  The radio is easy to pack and deploy. If there are trees tall enough in the area, I can hang a dipole and get on the air within 10-15 minutes.

You can also use 8x AA batteries (see photo above) but these are not great in performance like the LIPO!

PRICE
Being that the non-solder kit version of the KX3 is $899.95 and the assembled version is $999.95, I really do not consider this a bargain at all.

Features review

  • 160-6 meter ham bands; general coverage from 0.5-30 MHz
  • All modes: SSB, CW, Data (four sub-modes), AM, FM
  • Ultra-compact size: 3.4″H x 7.4″W x 1.7″D; 18 oz. (less options)
  • Rear tilt feet fold up for transport
  • Custom high-contrast LCD with alphanumeric text display
  • Internal 8 – AA battery holder
  • Current drain as low as 150 mA in receive mode
  • High-performance 32-bit floating-point DSP
  • Built-in PSK/TTY decode/encode allows data mode operation without a PC; transmit in data modes using CW keyer paddle
  • Low-noise synthesizer with 1-Hz tuning resolution
  • Firmware updateable via provided application software

Receiver

  • Quadrature down-sampling mixer compatible with PC-based SDR (software defined radio) applications
  • Receiver I/Q outputs for use with PC soundcard
  • Dual roofing filter option for enhanced dynamic range.(500/1500 Hz analog filters; effective IF b/w of 1000/3000 Hz)
  • Switchable preamp and attenuator
  • 8-band receive audio equalizer
  • Dual watch over +/- 15 kHz range; uses applicable roofing filter
  • Easy-to-use PassBand Tuning (PBT) for shift/width/hicut/locut; roofing filters automatically track DSP filter settings
  • Automatic and manual notch filtering; adjustable noise reduction and noise blanking; binaural audio effects for enhanced receive
  • Center-tuning indicator for CW and data modes
  • Built-in speaker; stereo jack for headphones/external speakers

Other Features

  • Built in digital voice recorder (DVR) with two message buffers
  • Internal CW keyer with 8-50 WPM range
  • Six CW/DATA message memories
  • 100 general-purpose memories store VFOs, modes, etc.
  • Computer control via supplied USB cable or optional RS-232 cables
  • Full remote-control command set works with most amateur radio software applications (emulates Elecraft K3)
  • One-click firmware upgrades via the web (with free PC software)
  • Optional mobile bracket compatible with RAM-mounts
  • Tutorial-style manual ideal for new hams

Pros:

  • World class receiver performance
  • AF and effective RF gain controls
  • Adjustable filters (no optional roofing filters needed for SWLing)
  • Superb sensitivity and selectivity; outperforming even my WinRadio Excalibur with weak signal DXing
  • Auto-notch, which helps eliminate annoying heterodynes, even in AM
  • Natively decode RTTY and display it
  • Battery operation via 8 AA batteries
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Built-in speaker is small with limited volume and fidelity
  • No ATU included. The optional one is very expensive
  • Price: more than 1000 euro!
X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver

X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver

X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver

DXing with this small qrp transceiver is a great pleasure. The X-1M is the new compact HF transceiver from CHINA. It’s a very light qrp radio (750 gr) suitable for the back packers.

Here our unboxing and review!

Specifications of X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver

– Manufactured by Chonqinq Xiegu Technology Co., Ltd. of China.
– Frequency range RX:  0.1 ~ 30 MHz
– Modes: USB & LSB & CW
– Power output: 5 Watts
– Rx Preamplifier
– Automatic Internal CW Keyer
– CAT Control:  Compatible with Ham Radio Deluxe

  • Receiving sensitivity: better than 0.45uV,
  • RF output power: ≥ 4.5W
  • Frequency stability: better than 0.5ppm
  • Frequency accuracy: better than 0.5ppm
  • Operating voltage: 12.0 ~ 14.0V DC
  • Receiver Standby Current: 0.5A
  • Emission current: 1.5A Max

The X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver has an improved display, controls, quality of components and filters.

There is also a recent new version called X1 MKII which is 20 watts! Color Display with 50MHz and IF-DSP – receiver triple conversion. Preliminary features: RX: 0.5~30M,50~55M – TX:0.5~30M,50~55M – SSB/CW/NFM/AM/RTTY – TX 20W output – Power 9~20VDC (0.42A @Min – 4.5A @Max).

The green display is easy to read as is all the silk screening on the front and rear covers. The audio from the unit is also very clean and loud for a small unit. The unit is very light for an all band and all mode unit. Preamp works well and unit is very quiet on receive. Menu navigation is easy.

The microphone is small but comments received on SSB are that the microphone is very hot or sensitive and the radio can be overdriven if talking too loud or too close to the microphone.

Both USB and LSB work well on receive and even when shortwave listening it sounds great when tuning an AM station once you get used to it.

The memories are nice if you wish to program your favorite calling frequency or shortwave station. You cannot however use the memories and then tune the vfo from them; you have to go to VFO mode if you want to change frequency as the memories are locked as just that.
Click on the arrow at the end of this article to see the video on how this QRP transceiver kit performs in reception / transmission and compare this with the FT 817

PRO
Light QRP radio
SSB/Am/Fm/Cw – Micro included
Display quite large

CONS
The AGC could be better as a strong local signal will overload the front end.
There is no S-Meter and no power output signal meter.
Price ! (Still over 499$) for a chinese HF radio.
If you connect the X1M Pro Platinum QRP Transceiver accidentally into an antenna with > 2:1 SWR the PA transistor is liable to blow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

114837-magic-marker-icon-arrows-arrow11-rightClick here to go to the youtube video

Alex Loop antenna and remote tuner

Alex Loop antenna and remote tuner

Alex Loop antenna and remote tuner

Alex and Ricardo Lima Caratti are working together on a REMOTE tuner for the famous Alex loop antenna.

This video is about a remote control prototype for Alexloop.  This prototype works via Bluetooth. 
You can control the Alexloop via any Android mobile device. Obviously you can’t remotely manage this system at distance like 100 meters but it could be useful when you’re at 5 – 10 meters and you don’t want to leave your chair 🙂

You can have more info about Alexloop antenna on the website http://www.alexloop.com/
The remote control project project by Ricardo Caratti is Open source:
All the details about this … are on https://github.com/pu2clr

Here there is the second part:

And also:

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Share with us your opinion.