February 21, 2021
Kit Building—A Dying Breed?
Amateur radio transceivers have become so sophisticated nowadays, it’s difficult even for an experienced ham to repair today’s rigs. Remember when we built most of our gear from scratch or from kits? David Duke, KM5YQ, is building a K2 that is sure to trigger those fond memories.
A while back, I built an Elecraft KX3. As with a K3, it was mostly a screw-together job with pre-soldered boards. My goal with the K2 was to have a full-featured HF rig that I totally built myself before kits like this are no longer available.
I ordered the kit back on September 4, 2020, and it finally arrived February 4—five months later to the day. Elecraft has been having delays sourcing parts from their suppliers, for the obvious reasons. Still, it is amazing that they are able to offer their first product that began shipping in 1999!
It’ll be a dedicated CW rig, and I ordered the noise blanker and internal ATU options. I also ordered a third party T-R relay kit because I plan to use it with a future external amplifier, perhaps the KXPA-100.
The instructions are very detailed and really gets you paying attention to what you are doing. First steps of the build were on the microprocessor board that controls the entire radio. Next, was the front display board, with the LCD and all the knobs and buttons. Those were pretty straight forward.
By February 8, I had progressed to the RF board to install all the relays, the I/O controller, and a few other components. I connected all three boards and panels of the chassis and powered it on for the first time. None of the magic smoke escaped! The subsequent resistance and other checks also passed. After this came the frequency counter and RF Probes—test equipment is built in.
I have just finished initial resistor and capacitor stuffing on the RF board. The resistors were pretty easy but identifying the caps has been somewhat challenging. I say challenging now, but I have yet to get to winding the toroids!
The K2 is way more complicated to build than the K3 or the KX3, but it was worth the wait and I am having a lot of fun building it so far. That’s it for now.
73, David, KM5YQ
A new version of WSJT-X is now available. Version 2.3.0 was posted on February 2. It adds bug fixes, improvements and two new digital protocols (FST4 and FST4W.) Get the download and other details from the WSJT-X website (just search for WSJT-X—it’s the first hit.)
More regional ham radio festivals are being cancelled for 2021. The Greater Houston HamFest in Rosenberg, originally scheduled for March 5 & 6 has been cancelled. HamEXPO! in Belton (October) and Texoma Hamarama in Ardmore in late October—so far—are still on.
COVID immunizations are rolling out. My wife and I received our first shot last week through the Denton County Health Department. Denton County is doing a fantastic job at Texas Motor Speedway. I spoke with several members of Denton County Medical Reserve Corps. “Goliath,” Denton County’s infamous mobile command motor home is on site. There are loads of volunteers and it’s very well organized.
It’s going to be a while before it’s safe enough (and folks are comfortable enough) to meet for face-to-face QSOs. We will continue to meet virtually a while longer.
At the time of this writing, the polar vortex is approaching. Stay warm, stay safe, stay inside and fire up a ham radio. Communicate with someone—you’ll be glad you did!
73 David, K5GIL
Play Day on Hold
Play Day is postponed indefinitely until we can get together.
This guy was born and grew up
to make a pile.
I... began my career as a wireless amateur. After 43 years in radio, I do not mind confessing that I am still an amateur.
Tom Thumb’s Good Neighbor Program
Use your Tom Thumb Reward Card to benefit MARS. Here’s how:
1. Download and print the registration form here: https://www.tomthumb.com/content/dam/store/good-neighbor/GOOD_NEIGHBOR_CHARITY_TT.pdf
2. Fill out the form with your Reward Card number, the MARS charity number 14223, your name and phone number.
3. Sign, date and take the form to your store’s courtesy booth.