Thursday, 21 February 2013

Visit to Waters and Stanton

I visited W&S this morning. My trip was to purchase a KAT3 internal ATU for my K3. I couldn't wait for Dayton!
My trip coincided with the first demonstration of the new Kenwood TS990 136kHz ( the ads say 1.8MHz) to 50MHz transceiver in the UK ( it said.....) at a UK dealer.
Unfortunately I am not sure I got the correct name of the Kenwood guy who was doing the demonstration. I think it was Dave Wilkins. Apologies if I got that wrong. He did a good job, however.
My first impressions were very favourable. A nicely made radio with lots of features and buttons! Kenwood have obviously put a lot of work and thought into this new flagship radio.
For over £6k I did think it missed a couple of things I would like to have seen included. The radio is clearly aimed at the HF operator. It may not really cut it as an ideal IF radio for VHF or above. Now there is a surprise! Although it has a reasonably good transverter interface arrangement (transmit is 0dBm at the DRV socket, with receive via the Phono rx in socket), I didn't get an answer as to what its transvert band options were. Neither did I find out if it had facilities for displaying transverter IF offsets etc.
It did include an external 10MHz reference input that could also be used for reference out to synch two such radios. A nice touch that will be especially appreciated by the digital guys.
The facilities included a colour screen that can display from +/- 5 kHz to +/-500kHz in both spectrum and waterfall. However, it didn't appear to include a continuum noise measurement mode and since the radio has no IF output it cannot apparently drive e.g. an SDR-IQ receiver that can run continuum mode. If you don't know what continuum mode is used for, or how useful it is, you aren't really using your radio!
If I seriously operated HF and had the money, I would certainly consider buying one. For now my K3 offers better value. Now to go and fit the KAT3 to it and see how well it works compared to the external MFJ manual antenna matching unit I have been using.
Look for me on WSPR. When I'm in the shack or office, but busy on other things I tend to leave it on. Yesterday I was on 20m. From the WSPR reporting page I noticed that my coverage from the improvised vertical seems to be nicely omnidirectional. That is as I would expect from the vertical at the bottom of the garden, with a clear take off over more than 320 degrees.
73 for now de Sam
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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Clean up

The last two days have been given over to cleaning up the shack, which over the last year had become virtually uninhabitable!
It is amazing what you find in boxes, carefully put on one side because they are not immediately required.
One such was a perfectly good Tek current probe and mA/mV converter. It should be perfect for RF current measurements on 472kHz. Now, if only I could find a second one!
I also found my old T7F 70cm FM transceiver and two TNCs. One is a Tiny 2 and the other is a BSX2.
A lot of old PCBs were disposed of. These were mainly old computer and router boards, but included a few RF boards.
The shack floor and under the bench really looks a lot clearer now, but there is still another day or two of cleaning to be done. The test equipment bench may be clear, but a significant amount of stuff found its way onto the work bench!

73 de Sam

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Prompted by a visit from G7OCD yesterday I decided to sort out my PCB etching facilities.
For some months I have been unable to run my Mega triple tank etching system because the clear etch crystal solution had crystalised out, trapping the PCB holder and making it difficult to remove the tank lid to pour in near-boiling water to dissolve the crystals in the solution. I eventually had to cut the retainers from the lid, allowing me to remove it and gain access!
With access I was able to (eventually) pour in the hot water and then syphon out the spent solution. That didn't go too well as the syphon sucked up crystals and stopped working. It didn't matter what I did, I couldn't get it working again.
As I had to go to Rapid Electronics to get new crystals and other components I added a new syphon to the growing list.
These come in pairs and even the first of these also gummed up. However, the other syphon worked OK and the tank is now empty, ready for a new etching solution to be added tomorrow.
I also bought new sensitised PCB material, universal solvent and some other stuff. Now I can etch the new 4m transverter board and the two PA driver boards.


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