Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Using RCFOrb On a Nexus 7

Having Used RCFOrb for a while on my laptop as mentioned in my blog I was keen to try the Android Version to control the K3. The Christmas holiday gave me the opportunity.

Download and installation was easy. Setting up the server information in the app was just like the windows version. HF bands were a bit quiet but there was a 4m contest on so used it to have a couple of QSOS. 



Monday, November 9, 2015

More work on my old FT726R

As previously mentioned  in my blog I thought I had fixed the sticky contacts on the relay in the 144MHz module of my old FT726R. The adjustments only lasted 6 months, so it was time to make a more permanent fix

I made a  long search for a replacement relay, but found none, mainly because of the non standard pin configuration. It was time to try another way.  I found some DPDT 12v relays in my collection of around the same size, but with totally different (normal) pinouts. It was not possible to drill new mounting holes for the pins, The only option was to glue it upside down on the PCB and put wires from the relay pins to the corresponding PCB tracks


Original Relay with cover removed after previous relay contact adjustments

Relay Removed

Replacement Relay hand wired in place

While I had the radio open i fitted an extra cable to allow an external preamp output to be connected  to the 2m module receive input, without the risk of transmitting up the back end of the preamp.
External 2m Receive Input cable(exiting module to left)



Sunday, October 11, 2015

RSGB Convention 2015

Went to the RSGB convention in Milton Keynes with G4BVY for the weekend. Very sociable event, catching up on the latest VHF contest news. Went to a few interesting talks; GW4DGU on the Gemini Amplifier design, (although being a commercial design no details were given) GM3SEK on "(RF noise) cleaning up your shack"which was all about RF noise and G4BAO on the physics of meteor scatter.

Got the WW2R DXCC cards checked by N1ND to bring my mixed total up to 200 entities, including some from the 1990s he had not seen submitted for a long time

Having heard the dinner speaker before, we went out to a local pub for dinner, reached via a 30 minute walk.The Chicken Makhani tiffin (served in an authentic tiffin tin set) we had seen but not eaten the previous month was tried and was excellent

Sunday morning attended the VHF trophy presentations to participate in the Bristol contest groups receipt of the Club superleague and G3MEH trophies. In the afternoon I helped out at the FCC exam session as an examiner, having got my credentials restablished (with the expeditious help of Amanda Grimaldi at the ARRL VEC) two days before. My last VE session was in 2001 while at Nortel.

All in all a very enjoyable weekend, encouraging me to complete some projects and start some new ones , like a 5B4AGN Triplexer

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Return to 70MHz Portable Contests after 30 Years


Having Completely re-engineered the 70MHz MRF151G Amplifier after the disaster in February , it was time to try it. The opportunity arose in the form of the the RSGB 2nd 70MHz contest. Again the Blorenge is no place to go on a Sunday morning , so it was time to visit Dorstone and again use G5NF/P

Having disposed of my pair of 5 ele 70MHz MET antennas 30 years ago I had looked for a portable antenna. I found a Powabeam 5 ele on the DX Shop web site, They had a lightweight version of the 5 ele , but that was on a round boom which I avoid based on previous experiences. So they made it on a 2 piece square boom so it would fit in my car (only just,... the elements are one piece!)

The K3 was used to drive the 70MHz Anglian Transverter then into the MRF151G. 160W was easily reached with 2W into the PA module.As the amplifier is so compact, there is no room for an LCD display on the front panel, so a remote LCD is used to display the Amp Status (flashbacks to the KLM amps with remote display). As a precaution, should I forget to Pack the display the error LED flashes an error code if there is one in the style of Harris TV Amplifiers

K3 and Anglian Transverter

Amplifier and remote LCD display

The band suffered from the usual QSB but some interesting DX was worked to the East and North. PA4VHF was the best DX at 671km


The good news is the amplifier survived the whole contest, and we got a runners up certificate. To do well in this contest you need to be well away from the centre of activity!


Sunday, September 6, 2015

5th Backpackers 144MHz contest



Having not done a backpackers contest and with a promising weather forecast it was decided to try it. Blorenge on a Sunday is a pain so we went to the AFS winning site near Dorstone across the river from Hay on Wye in England IO82LB

Using just the K3 with its 8W output and my (previously unused) portable F9FT 144MHz yagi some reasonable DX was worked as there was a concurrent region 1 contest meaning lots of EU DX. The backpackers continues for 1 hour after the Region 1 contest  (stupid idea!) which means QSOs are sparse/non existant during that period. The only getaway was DF0MU, despite many attempts



For a change we used G5NF/P. Two stations complained about the missing W in the callsign!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

144MHz UKAC Sept 2015




Conditions to were not as good as the last event with the average distance being down from 226 to 216km, but more northern Multipliers were found to break the 50 barrier. Having decided not to use the MHP, as the K3 with internal xverter was good enough on its own, we ended up using it to join 2 coax cables as no barrel connector could be found!





Sunday, August 9, 2015

144MHz UKAC August 2015




Heading to the Blorenge straight after work I was greeted at the site by Driving rain and wind, not a great prospect. How wrong I was!
 Issues with The MHP cable meant that the Preamp and Anglian Transverter could not be used, so the system was quickly reconfigured 5 minutes before the start of the contest to use the K3 internal Transverter to feed the PA  and use the Transmit Cable for the antenna connection (the MHP fails to transmit)
Nothing for the first 3 minutes then it was wall to wall stations, a lot from mainland Europe. 83 were worked in the first hour, as many as worked previously in the complete contest. Conditions to the East faded out so we decided to try for multipliers to the North as GB3ANG was loud. No sign of life in JO03, IO64 and IO74 but GM4AFF and GM4JJJ from IO86 and GM6JNJ in IO75 called us with big signals
We ended up with 183 QSOs 48 multipliers for a total of around 2 Million points best DX was DK5QN in JO42 at 789km. The average QSO was 223km compared to the normal 184km.
Luckily the weather cleared by the time the contest finished. 



Pos Call         Loc       QSO Score Mult Total       ODX        kms
 1 GW0FRE/P IO81LS 181  41,207  48  1,977,936 DK5QN    789
 2 M0BUL/P   IO82OI  167  30,328  49  1,486,072 PA4VHF  652
 3 M1DDD/P  IO93CH 172  28,105  47  1,320,935 DK1MG   726

The result would have qualified for 2nd in the unrestricted section!

Pos Call          Loc        QSO Score Mult Total        ODX        kms
 1 G4CLA       IO92JL   234 43,096  57  2,456,472 DG7TG    733
 2 G4FZN/P    IO94JF   170 37,819   49 1,853,131 DK5DQ    662
 3 G4ODA      IO92WS 144 29,983   54 1,619,082 DG7TG    654

Thursday, July 9, 2015

VHFNFD 2015

After doing HF NFD a month earlier it was time to do VHF NFD for the first time in 25 years. I was invited to provide the 23cm station for GW2OP/P in West Wales along with G4BVY providing the 432MHz station. The station ran the Elecraft K3 with Internal 144MHz transverter driving a home built G4DDK transverter which drove my W6PQL  4 x MRF286 amplifier to 200W output (drive limited). The Masthead Preamp used a G4DDK VLNA. The antenna was a 44 element Wimo.

Takeoff SW over Caldey Island

The 23cm Station

The 44 ele Wimo Antenna



18 stations were worked in 10 locators. Best DX was GM4CXM at 479km.  Five beacons were heard Sunday morning. GB3MCB IO70 on tropo, GB3CSB (IO75) GB3DUN (IO91) GB3MHL (JO02) GB3ANG (IO86) all on aircraft scatter. I used the W3SZ AircraftScatter C# software which predicted very well and showed many more planes than I ever got with DL2ALF's  Airscout
One thing that did get my attention on the contest was that G4BVY's IC706mkIIg was able to monitor our 70MHz station. I had heard this was possible but never seen it in action. Seemed sensitive so will have to do it on mine. He said it only needed one diode removing
.

Friday, June 26, 2015

50MHz UKAC June 2015


As it was going to be nice weather conditions we decided to do this UKAC from the Blorenge IO81LS as GW0FRE/P. Roger G4BVY again loaned us his 5 element F9FT Tonna to connect to the Elecraft K3.


After we connected  up the radio to the antenna, the band was full of Eastern Europe stations and Scandinavian stations.  As the contest started conditions were all over the place and a lot of DX was worked as can seen by the map below:-


The lack of "intermediate stations" (PA/F/ON) is most marked. As the first hour hour ended, the DX stopped and it was down to working UK stations and multipliers. 125 QSOS were completed in 10 countries and 40 locators for around 3.1 Million points. The best DX was UT5XR;in KN49 at ;2215km. Not bad for 150 minutes with 100W, which the results seem to confirm:-

Section AR
Pos   
Callsign

Loc
QSOS
Score
Mults
Total
Norm
ODX
Kms
Power

 1
GW0FRE/P
IO81LS
117
55,772
53
2,955,916
1,000
UT5XR
2,215
100

 
 
 
 2
M0VXX/P
IO82QL
148
45,417
46
2,089,182
992
IK7IMP
2,072
100

 
 

3
G4CLA
IO92JL
142
41,016
48
1,968,768
985
SM2YIP
2,021
100

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

50MHz UKAC May 2015

As the weather forecast for the 6m UKAC was good and I had never been solo portable on 6m I decided it was worth a try. Overcoming the slight handicap of not owning a 6m portable antenna by borrowing G4BVY's 5 ele tonna I set out for the tump at IO82UA with my 14' portable mast. I used the K3 which gave around 75W. It was found that the USB to rs232 adaptor caused noises on the band so that was unplugged meaning no radio control; no big hardship. 61 stations were worked, best DX GI4SNA at 374km. The average distance was 108km compared to the 131km average from GW0FRE, mainly due to the many stations worked around Cheltenham.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Phase Locking the G8ACE MKII Ovened Oscillator

I decided I needed to build a new 1296MHz Transverter that would be a single unit and have enough output to drive my 350W amplifier. I had a spare G4DDK2004 Transverter module but this requires drive at 96MHz for the local Oscillator. I could have built another DFS96 but that would occupy a lot of real estate. Similarily an RDDS is too large.  In my parts collection I found some G8ACE mkII oscillators, in boxes with the PLL lock boards. One was already on 106.5MHz for my EME 10368/144 xverter so I could put another on 96MHz. I ordered a 96MHz crystal cut for 60C via G4HUP. Putting it in the unit and running the Calibration produced the following:-


The TP1 Volts was set to 6.0V for optimum performance

Thoughts then turned to the lock board. I had no idea which software the EPM3064-4 FPGA had, so I decided it was best to reload the chip.  Originally I had used a parallel port programmer running MAXIIplus+ software for programming the chip but I no longer had a parallel Port. Some time ago I bought a USBBlaster clone from China so this was found.  I downloaded and installed the QuartusII 13.0sp1 Programmer software from the Altera web site and attempted to load . Nothing useful happened. I discovered that unlike my PIC programmer the USBBlaster does not power the target, It has to have its own power. Once that was supplied the software told me it could see the correct chip and the ref_e1_64_4.pof file was succesfully loaded to the FPGA. 
After making the connections between the boards I connected a Voltmeter to the monitor point. After applying the 10MHz reference this Voltage slowly oscillated before finally settling down at a fixed Value with the Rubidium locked Frequency counter showing exactly 96MHz

Spurred on by this success I found I had a temperature calibrated 123.75MHz crystal in the third oscillator/lock board (for 24192/432MHz). I loaded the FPGA with mwref_ww2r_3064-4.pof , set conf=101 and it locked to 123.75MHz . All I need to do now is order a 123.25MHz crystal for 24048/144

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

432MHZ UKAC May 2015

Went on a nostalgia trip last night in my first ever attempt at a 432MHz UKAC. Arranged to use GW4NXO/P which I had not used for 30 years! The call raised a few eyebrows!

Used Elecraft K3+ DEMI Transverter + 100W solidstate amp. The USA MGF1302 EME MHP preamp was dusted off after it's success in winning the 432AFS contest.  A 21 ele Tonna was borrowed by G4BVY which came with a long length of feeder attached causing the MHP to be mounted at the base of the mast!

Note MHP level with car roof due to length of cable on the antenna!
It was quite windy on the Blorenge but at least it did not rain. Conditions were good early in the event but tailed off towards the end. I was amazed at the number of stations worked in the Channel Islands. The Best DX was DG1KJG at 715km






Friday, May 1, 2015

Martlesham Round Table 2015

The end of April is now the annual time for the Martlesham Round Table (rather than the previous November. I drove the 200 miles on Saturday morning and arrived just at the start time. I attended the DF9IC talk on 1296MHz Amps which was very interesting. I eventually found the relocated test equipment area and had my G4DDK 23cm, 13cm and 9cm preamps measured along with a 525MHz Coaxial LPF which does a wonderful job of removing the 3rd harmonic of the 500W 70cm amplifier. There was the usual dinner on the Saturday evening which was a very sociable affair. On the Sunday there were more talks during which time I did my presentation on "Remote control radio systems for free" available as a .pdf here. As usual there were some interesting items for sale from the traders. I got a length of LDF2 with connectors, FSJ4, 3 large Heatsinks, SMA adaptors and a bundle of IEC mains leads with UK plugs (to replace the ones with USA plugs I left in the USA).

Shawn the sheep, The Tea cosy a regular attendee at the meeting was not present on the Saturday but he was persuaded to visit on Sunday. He now has clones in New Jersey and Texas!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

1296MHz UKAC April 2015

Originally I had intended to do this contest from Wales. However having blown up the 60W amplifier and the transverter IF pin diodes again  (due to the minimum power of the K3 being 3W) early Tuesday morning I decided not to risk the trip which would involve getting the generator but rather try the equipment locally.
Having tried Ankerdine hill in the past and found it blocked to the North  it was time to try somewhere else. With Roger G4BVY we had previously found a tump in IO82UA which looked good on paper, time to take a look. My "small"  system would be used. This is a K3+ G4DDK2004 Xverter +G4DDK VLNA and Wimo 44 ele. It would also be fun to try assembling my 14' Portaple mast, which collapses to 3' and is an easy fit in the Honda Jazz for the 1st time. This would all work off 12V from the car  and give me 10W



23 stations were worked with a few stations in IO83/IO93 who I dont normally work from home and stations to my SouthEast (eg IOW) I never even hear from home. However there was a lack of stations to the east which I normally work from Home.



Wednesday, April 8, 2015

RSGB Propagation forecast alerts me to DX.

Tuesday night was the 2m UKAC contest and as the clocks had changed, (enabling setup in Daylight), it was time to go portable from Blorenge, IO81LS again. As the RSGB prop forecast said conditions should be good  to the east I also took along a small 24G system to see what beacons I could hear before starting setting up the 2m gear.  I took my normal 24048/432MHz transverter (retuned from 24192MHz it used in the USA) with an FT817 as the IF and a 20dB reference horn. Sure enough upon arrival there was a big Inversion layer visible to the east.   GB3CAM at 210km was quickly found and was a good decode. GB3ZME was also a reasonable signal at 105km LOS , but not on the direct heading of 020 degrees but on 070 degrees! No other beacons were heard (GB3SCK and GB3AMU were considered possibilities)

The 24048/432MHz Transverter


The UKAC on 2m sounded like an HF contest on 20m. 144QSOS in 27 locators with the best DX being DJ2TX in JO33 at 731km. Used 300W (due to the auxiliary equipment more power tripped the 1000W generator) to a 9 ele at 15' from Elecraft K3 with solidstate amplifier and HA8ET preamp for the first 2 hours Then there was a generator incident so a KX3 running 2W from its internal batteries (I hadnt seen the need for the KX3 DC power lead!) was used for the remainder of the contest but 10 stations out to 350km were still worked!








Thursday, April 2, 2015

Restoring my old FT726R

When we moved to the USA in the early 90's Roger GW5NF got the FT726R that was my primary VHF rig. It did make a trip to Gibraltar on the 1984 ZB2IQ expedition. Roger subsequently  used it with G4VXE off a car battery for Backpackers contests but had recently retired to the shack floor due to some issues. I decided it was time to rejuvenate it

First issue was that it did not work off the internal mains supply. Looking at the shorting plug on the back panel that had been used to supply 12V from the portable battery the link had not been removed, allowing 12V to be fed into the output of the internal PSU. Luckily Yaesu had foreseen this issue and fitted a fuse which had duly blown. The fuse  was replaced and the 12v wire removed from the plug and the radio lit up off its internal supply

50MHz and 432MHz receiver and transmitters worked fine but 144MHz was quiet on receive (no sign of GB3VHF) and only produced 3W on transmit. Occasionally blipping the ptt would increase the receive noise and the beacon would appear. An internet search revealed the radio is known for having a sticking relay in the 2m module which some had cured by burnishing the contacts whereas some had needed to replace the relay. Time to examine the module

Sure enough, in the quiet receive state no 9V was being supplied to the receiver chain by the relay. The relay, FBR221D012M  is no longer available  (note the available FBR221AD012M is very different). It was suggested that the contacts needed burnishing so the cover was taken off and the contacts burnished and adjusted. . This seemed to fix the problem for the time being. The transmit chain was also aligned as per the manual; a load of flux was found all over TC01 which was removed and adjusting TC01 and TC02 increased  the power to 18W which was reduced,  as per instructions to 10W maximum. The receiver was already tuned and could not be improved.  It was noted that the front end mod using a BF981 and the IF gain increase mod had previously been done, making it state of the art at the time

While the covers were off the 50MHz module was aligned. It had been noted as having a marked peak of 18W at 52.0MHz and 8W at 50.2MHz. Also the power control had limited range. 190degree setting was 0W 200degree was 4W and 210 degrees was 7W. The module was then aligned as per the manual the power output was now flat at 10W 50 to 52.5MHz but the power control was still compressed the best achievable was 190degree setting was 0W, 280degree was 5W and 10 degrees was 10W . 

The radio has been successfully restored and has now been re-integrated into Rogers shack to compliment his TS2000. It easily drives the 2m and 6m amps to full output.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Feature upgrades for the 432MHz Solidstate Amplifier

Having upgraded the 2m solidstate amplifier I decided I should do the same upgrade to the 432MHz Amplifier.  The original writeup is here The Two same features were needed:-

1. There is no bypass position, so one cannot test the antenna SWR before letting the amplifier use it. This cost of the lack of this feature was learnt the hard way on my 70MHz amplifier
2. Currently the Elecraft K3 keys the DEMI transverter which keys the amplifier which sequences the antenna relays and preamplifier. There is no output for the Amplifier to properly sequence the DEMI Transverter along with the antenna relays and preamplifier, this needs to be added.

A bypass switch was added to the front panel along with a bypass LED. A phono socket was added to the back panel for the Transverter output. An hour was spent adjusting the PIC code and all feature additions were accommodated.




Monday, March 30, 2015

Feature upgrades for the 144MHz Solidstate Amplifier

Having got the 2m Anglian up and running it was time to  interface it to the 400W solidstate Amplifier.  Two features were needed:-

1. There is no bypass position, so one cannot test the antenna SWR before letting the amplifier use it. This cost of the lack of this feature was learnt the hard way on my 70MHz amplifier
2. Currently the Elecraft K3 keys the amplifier which sequences the antenna relays and preamplifier. There is no output to properly sequence the Anglian Transverter along with the antenna relays and preamplifier.

A bypass switch was added to the front panel along with a bypass LED. A phono socket was added to the back panel for the Transverter output. An hour was spent adjusting the PIC code and all feature additions were accommodated. Also incorporated was the LCD showing the alarm trigger levels at amplifier startup


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Locking the 2m Anglian Transverter to an external reference

G4DDK had mentioned it was possible to Injection lock the 116MHz oscillator of the Anglian Transverter by Injecting 116MHz into the LO port of the Transverter module. In my parts collection I found an early 116MHz DFS module, similar to the design used on 96MHz described at  at http://g4fre.com/dfs9096.pdf  except it used (10MHz * 11)+(3 * (10MHz/5)) and three 116MHz crystals. The output level was ideal at +3dBm While monitoring GB3VHF it was found to put the transverter onto the correct frequency as opposed to the free running frequency.

Having proved it worked, I then mounted the DFS116 inside the box. A slider switch (less likely to get damaged portable than a toggle switch) was used to remove the 13V from the DFS when there is no external 10MHz applied. The output from the DFS did not need disconnecting from the transverter LO input when powered off.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Using the Anglian 4m Transverter with ANAN-10 and N1MM logger+

This morning I decided using the K3 with the new Anglian 4m xverter for the 70MHz contest would be too easy, so I decided to try hooking it up to the ANAN-10 and trying to use it with the N1MM Logger+ software.

Its easier to use the TX port output with a 20db attenuator than the xverter port output. If you do use the XVERTER output, the TX port has to be terminated, as it still produces 0.5W output and Powersdr will complain of SWR alarms. As previously determined, a 30MHz LPF is always needed on the output.  I used the EOT output pin 25 of J16 to key the transverter. The Mic input had previously been wired for the KX3 PTT microphone

Powersdr makes the ANAN-10 look like a TS2000 to the N1MM software so N1MM could track the frequency through a com0com virtual serial connector.  I used a COM4<>COM5 pair.

Tuning Powersdr through the beacons was a challenge, so, having remembered I had a Griffin powermate USB knob I Installed that on the windows 7 64 bit machine (the driver/software on the griffin site for Vista worked fine). I configured it to tune the rig up and down. This worked fine BUT ONLY if Powersdr had focus. When N1MM had focus the tuning knob did very strange things to the frequency.  This was overcome by deleting the default setting entries in the Griffin setup software. I then discovered (after reading the N1MM documentation) it was possible to tune the radio (only in run mode) from the keyboard. This scheme worked well.

The transverter produced 7W into my loop antenna in the loft. A few QSOS were made on SSB with locals then my thoughts turned to CW. Initially I used the Powersdr CW keying facility as I failed setting up the N1MM keyer to send cw through the CAT connection. Unfortunately the paddle connections were swapped over so G4BRK got to suffer my cw with the paddle operated upside down ( you can swap the paddles over in Powersdr I later found out, but its in the <DSP><CW> tab!) I then worked G4BWP (my best dx) then G4RFR on CW.

After the contest I went back to looking at the N1MM keying. I discovered, (also in the <DSP><CW> tab) that, whilst leaving the primary cw connection as "radio", (ie its key jack) a secondary connection may be set as a com port (COM6 in my case) and the RTS and DTR set to convey the cw and PTT signals from N1MM. Another com0com virtual port pair was set up (COM6<>COM7). In N1MM in the <configurer><hardware> Tab,  COM6 was set up as a "CW/other" connection with RTS and DTR appropriately assigned. This then worked fine




Friday, February 27, 2015

Anglian 4m Transverter

Having had success with the 2m Anglian I decided it was time to finish its cousin the 4m Anglian Transverter . I also put the tinplate box module  in a cabinet along with the 7W power module mounted on a heatsink on the back panel, using the same metal box from makerbase.co.uk.  A metal chassis plate was needed for the inside of the box to mount the modules on, I found some aluminium sheet on ebay that could be supplied cut to size. Note that as supplied there is a lot of "paint to paint" contact between the metal box parts, so a lot of scraping was done to get "metal to metal" contact to help screening. To further help, a piece of Aluminium angle was mounted between the back panel and the chassis plate (as can be seen in the upper picture:-





The transverter was setup so that 0.5mW from the K3 on 10m produced 6W on 70MHz, which is the ideal drive level for my amplifier which has an internal 3dB Attenuator

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Anglian 2m Transverter

A while ago I populated the pcb for my G4DDK 144MHz Anglian transverter. I finally got round to putting it in the tinplate box and tuned it up. All was well, so I decided to put it in a cabinet along with the 8W power module mounted on a heatsink on the back panel. I found a couple of cheap Metal boxes off makerbase.co.uk A metal plate would be needed for the inside of the box to mount the modules on, I found one off ebay that could be cut to size. Note that as supplied there is a lot of "paint to paint" contact between the metal box parts, so a lot of scraping was done to get "metal to metal" contact to help screening. To further help, a piece of ali angle was mounted between the back panel and the chassis plate (as can be seen in the lower picture:-

To add heat transfer, I wanted to mount the power module directly on the heatsink rather than mount it on the back panel then on the heatsink. To do this I would need to make a rectangular hole in the back panel. Discussing this at the Malvern Radio Club, it was recommended I used a nibbling tool. I found one on the internet for 9.00 shipped. It is a brilliant tool; I can see a lot of use in its future!



As there is no conductivity between the metal parts of the case due to the paint a lot of time was spent removing paint to allow good electrical contact between metal surfaces. I also add a piece of ali angle between the back panel and the chassis plate.

The transverter was setup so that 0.5mW from the K3 on 10m produced 7W on 144MHz, which is the ideal drive level for my amplifier

The 144MHz connectors were spaced to allow an external coaxial relay to be attached with a pair of BNC to BNC male adapters. This allows use with a single antenna feeder if needed. Normally when using a masthead preamp the two connectors are used, eliminating the prospect of transmitting up the back end of the preamp


Friday, January 23, 2015

K3 remotehams software with N1MM

Now being able to control the K3 remotely, I next wanted to integrate It into the N1MM contest software. To do this I would need a virtual com port setup on the client PC that would allow the serial data to be seen from the remote K3. Fortunately the remotehams client software under "options" has  "Elecraft K3 emulation" To install the drivers for this,  one needs to tick the install virtual port when installing the client software, then when that has successfully installed, under "options" "Elecraft K3 emulation" I chose com2 as the port to create under the "create virtual port" tab.. Note the data rate is fixed at 38400bd.


After this was done I chose "com2"  "k3" 38400" under "config" "config ports...." "hardware" in the N1mm software and the remote K3 acted exactly as if it was local


Note this same technique can be used in any software requiring to see the K3 on a serial port. Fldigi, WSPR v2.12 and logger32 have all been successfully tried

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remote Controlling the K3 using remotehams software

When they were first launched I bought a pair of RRC-1258mkIIs remoterig boxes to control my K3 across the Atlantic. They were quite large and needed lots of cables amd 12V. Recently the need to control the K3 resurfaced. Having seen and used the remotehams system at the 2014 Hamcom to control the KG6YPI remote in California from Dallas I decided it was worth investigation

The system requires a windows computer at the K3 end running the server software. At the other end a windows computer is needed running the client software. The computer can either display a radio front panel or drive a K3/0.

The client can also be used to connect to one of the radios around the world listed/registered with remoterigs 



Note in the list of rigs above the variety of rigs available. The software supports other rigs than elecraft. I used the KG6YPI (the software writer)  remote again to get familiar with the client software.


Next I installed the server software. For this I used an Acer V5 laptop. Audio connections to the K3 were made using the LIN IN/OUT on the back of the K3 using the method of my writeup along with a serial connection to the K3 serial port. The audio and rig settings under <options> on the server were adjusted appriately adjusted.  The 4 ports mentioned in the server documentation were opened and the server launched. Even though I allowed Upnp on my router the server software never found/used it.

Using my Dell laptop, I launched the client software and saw my server on the list at remotehams.com. This list saves the current internet details of the server, data between server and client is not sent through this location. Doubleclicking my server Launched the radio front panel. Using the <skins>  tab I choose the k3 skin which gave me an authentic looking K3 front panel:-





The received audio came out of the Dell laptop.The rig could be tuned band changed and, as I had given myself transmit priveleges I could also transmit.

Three discoveries I made early on:-
1. Under >publishing> on the server if "visible on remotehams.com" is unclicked the server will not appear on the list of available servers on everyones list. If you have a fixed ip this information can be entered under <file> <new connection> allowing a connection to be made more easily.
2. The volume control is at the top of the screen for the client. If the volume on the client K3 front panel is used the volume of the remote K3 is increased which may be a surprise to anyone nearby. For this reason in my server  settings the main and sub volume sliders excluded by being viewed in the client
3. By default the power on/off button is shown on the client.  The K3 can be turned off by this button but without extra hardware it cannot be turned back on. For this reason in my server settings the"power" button is prevented from being displayed on the client