Tuesday, December 23, 2014

X108 HF Radio Second run

So after some issues with the first run of the Xiego X108 HF radio, the builder and engineers have made some firmware and parts changes to the radio to make it more out of the box ready. I am awaiting mine to arrive but with Christmas here mail of course is delayed so if it is not here by Wednesday Dec 24th then the next mail delivery day will be on Monday Dec 29th.

Those who have already received the updated radio say it is like night and day between the first batch and the second. Audio on SSB is much cleaner and clearer and the over-driving of the front end has been fixed. AM is also much better sounding according to those using the radio.

The firmware has been changed as well so the microphone buttons can be programmed by the end user to their choice and option for buttons on the microphone, as well a cw side-tone volume control has been added into the menu options.

So see what the mailman brings on wednesday, if nothing I will update my blog once the radio arrives and load some videos to my YouTube Channel of its performance.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year one and all.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

QRP Radios-KN-850

I noticed on ebay today the KN-850 up for sale. I purchased a KN-920 quite some time ago and had trouble with it and never got any help with an exchange, partial refund or a replacement radio for the one I had.
These and the KN-Q10 radios and others are designed by BA6BF. The KN-Q radios have taken off in the past and offer both cw/ssb at 5 watts.
The KN-920 was a nice looking radio but during a qso the radio shut down and shut down my power supply. I had to reset the power supply, turned the radio back on and then noticed the magic smoke that is supposed to stay in the radio slowly making its way out and leaving a smell behind on exit. Turned out a final gave out and traces burnt up. I was sent some new finals and asked to replace them.
Once replaced I tried the radio, power down to zero, keyed the radio up into a dummy load using cw and no problem, slowly cranked the power up and ZAP, there go the repaired traces once again and the magic smoke once again escaped.
I tried 3 sets of finals with no luck.
The seller at Aliexpress ignored my emails and refused to make a partial refund or any kind of return to me despite the Aliexpress policy, so I was not a happy camper needless to say.

I asked the seller today about the KN-850 as it has been reduced in price about his return policy and how well this radio works.
 His reply was this, and I did ask who the builder was:

" HI,, this device made by one Ham, this is the second version, the first version sold several years,
this version is better , and sold server month very good
we provide tech support for life, and or return for repair .
thanks "

So I am guessing the KN-920 was the first version and this is the upgraded better version.
There are many Chinese radios out on the market now offering all kinds of bands and modes, but quality and returns can be an issue as many of us have experienced. The other issue is the cost of these units compared to the big names who have proven themselves.

 The KN-850 covers the original ham bands, plus 6 meters (no FM). So no 30,17,12 meters on this unit.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

TJ5A on cw, 3 qsos and great reports

So this afternoon I was playing with the YouKits TJ5A Hf Transceiver running 5 watts and using my Chameleon Hy-Brid up on a 15' pole feeding coax to my shack and running about 135' of wire across the yard with far end up 20' in the air. The base of the Hy-Brid and pole are grounded with a ground rod.
I called cq on 21.050 after watching the RBN to see where I was being heard, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Ted in Stockton,ME SKCC#1312 call me, he gave me a 579 with my 5 watts. QSB came in as we finished our exchange.
Then out of the blue I heard KZ5OM Jerry SKCC#10415S in California, Jerry was a 339 and he gave me a 569 and then QSB took us both down.
I then went to 20 meters and tuned the antenna and was called by Rich K4DJ in N.C., he is SKCC#11060S, he was a 569 and I was a 459 so not too bad at all..

The Hy-Brid tunes super for me and I use this set up on 160 meters as well.
Giving the new TJ5A a workout and I can say that the power stays solid and does not move and it receives very well without the filter, will be a great test when filter is installed.
Thanks to the 3 operators, Ted, Jerry and Rich for a great hour on the air.


Calling CQ with TJ5A at 5 watts

Thought I would take a quick time out and fire up the TJ5A on 20 meter cw to see how the band was reacting today. Tuned the antenna up and turned on the TJ5A and set it for 5 watts. asked if teh frequency was busy (QRL?) was on 14.055.
Called cq and brought up The Reverse Beacon Network to see if I was being heard, well I sure was.
My antenna is a Chameleon Hy-Brid coil on a 15' telescopic pole, it is grounded to a ground rod and coax to the radio room. The wire I have on it is about 135' long and is maybe 20' at the far end off the ground. This is what I use on 160 meters as well as it tunes very fast and quite easily.
Called CQ for a few minutes with no one answering me so went back to what I was doing, looking at the RBN list below you can see I was getting out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TJ5A on 40 meters tonight

December 11th 2014 at 0000z on 7.173 I had a super qso with K8QS Quin in Grand Rapids Michigan and with Tom WA9TDD in Indiana. I was running 15 watts into my end fed antenna and got a S8 from Quin and S9 from Tom.
Reports was that the audio  has way too much bass and I was clipping, so I backed off the microphone until it was about 10 inches away, the clipping stopped and my signal only dropped slightly since I was not over driving the radio. The guys said the audio needs more highs and should come up about 800hz to start.
So was a great test tonight and lots of fun indeed playing with the TJ5A on 40 meters.
I will continue to play with this radio on SSB and CW and see how well it performs. It has a great receive on it and next step will be to get the 500hz cw filter into it and play around on the cw bands.
I had to make a very slight adjustment of the DDS clock for USB, I think I still need to adjust it a small amount, on LSB it sounds spot on to my FT857.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Elecraft KX3

Well I have owned a Elecraft KX3 for just about 6 months now and I have to say this radio is a great all band transceiver.
Mine see's most of it's use on cw as that is my favorite mode of operation and I run it at 5 watts all the time. I purchased the cover and side handles for mine and it protects the front of the radio and all the knobs and buttons.
The ATU in this radio will tune anything so far that I have put on it, even in the car with the Chameleon V1L whip, it tuned lightning fast and allowed a qso with Europe.

This weekend I operated in the ARRL 160 meter cw contest and in less then 6 hours of actual operating time I made over 30 contacts and scored 1,080 points, with the best qso being Arizona with N7GP.

My antenna was a Chameleon Hy-Brid with 145' of wire, the Hy-Brid sits atop a 15' pole and I have a 8' ground rod at the bottom grounding out the pole. This setup works very well and tuning is broadband and works extremely well even with my HF ALE setup band hopping and tuning.

So again the KX3 is a great  radio and I look forward to more operating time this winter with it and getting used to all the features, like operating split SSB/CW for nets and just plain split operation etc.\

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The YouKits TJ5A


I figured it was time to show the workings of the TJ5A 4 band tranceiver made by YouKits.Canada

The radio is a 4 band radio that runs USB/LSB and cw on 40,20,15 and 10 meters. 20 watts out on SSB and 10 watts on cw. The receiver in this radio is very quiet but selectivity is good, I am able to hear everything that my VX1700 or FT857 can hear on the same windom antenna.

Various tuning steps for the radio can be used, and since I acquired the first TJ5A Yimin has changed the tuning rate one more time to allow faster tuning. There is a VFO/MEM mode as well and an RIT for tuning.

Today I fine tuned and adjusted the DDS clock just slightly to be bang on with my FT857 on cw which also lined everything up for USB and LSB as well, it was out just ever so slightly but now all is good. I was able to check into the Maritime Mobile Net on 14.300 with no problems at all and a good audio report too.

Anyone who has tried the YouKits HB1B or HB1A knows how well these radios receive, Yimin strives for quality and satisfaction in all of his products that his factory puts together and he is always wanting to come up with the perfect QRP minimalist radio and knows it is going to be a Work In Progress for some time to come.

All the YouKits products are tested and reviewed by the ARRL test lab and given workout and then a full report to Yimin, at that point he will make good any adjustments that are required to keep the radio in specs. This is also teh reason he only goes with 3 or 4 band radios, as the ARRL test lab prefers it to keep the radio simple and spurious emissions at their lowest.

Yimin will produce a band specific radio as well if there is something that you are looking for in a single, dual or multiband radio.

We have a Yahoo site that I maintain as well to keep folks in the loop and to have a place for questions and throw ideas around, and Yimin does monitor the group as well.

I have included some pictures of the TJ5A internal organs. Any other questions about the TJ5A and can be found at the YouKits webpage listed at the top of this blog.

Display Board

Front Panel (Plastic still on my display)

Side panel, microphone, antenna and on/off switch


PA Unit

Main Board

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

X-108 Update

Well looks like the Xiegu factory and builder who makes the X-108 has realized that there are some issues with the radio and are making changes to it and replacing all those radio that have been purchased in North America and Europe. All dealers have stopped sales and are awaiting new shipments. This radio really does have some great potential covering all ham bands and running 20 watts out as well as many other features.
I have worked a few SSB and cw stations with the radio but tuning is still an issue as well as over loading of the receiver.Adjustments to the DDS clock as well as a firmware update made a few changes to better the out of box unit but not enough to make the radio operable all the time with ease.
They have just updated their webpage as well an have made an english page.

The radio is very sharp looking for sure and has a nice display, it will show power out, S meter, swr, has local time clock(I used GMT time), compression for SSB, RIT, and many other features.

So will keep everyone abreast of details and how the new radio works out of the box once it arrives.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Back again......

Been a while since my last blog. I do Safety Training here in Northwestern Ontario and was in Ignace,Ontario 2 weeks ago doing some training, then last weekend was in Las Vegas for some RnR, did some shooting at Gun Garage Top Notch Place), went on the High Roller Pod Ride and overlooked the City from there, breathtaking.
Got home on Tuesday and then was up at 5 a.m. and drove 4 hours to Nakina,Ontario and then took a flight via Nakina Air on a Cessna Caravan to Marten Falls(Ogoki Post) First Nations, Marten Falls sits right along the mighty Albany River. Beautiful sunrises when one is North of 50 and snow all around. This week coming I will be on the road again and in Lac Seul First Nation doing chainsaw training, this is a 4 hour drive west this time, and I hope no snow while on the road. 

Anyway:Here is an update:

Well back home for a few more days and on the road again Tuesday. I left -20c yesterday (Friday) and today in the Bay we have +3c and tomorrow calling for +9c. Did the firmware upgrade to the Xiegu X108 today and made some of the changes to the menus will try later when my LiOn charger is done charging the PRC104 battery. Also got the updated YouKits TJ5A that I need to test out and see how it works.
 I also received my RTL SDR radio that I need to play with and see how that works as well, should be lots of fun I think, I want to use it for receiving HF weather maps. And if it works well enough it is small enough to take with me while I am up north and with a small antenna can listen to the bands like that.
Have a great weekend gang.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

RaDAR Shelter or Camping Shelter

Always looking for some form of winter shelter for outdoor radio adventures or to get out and do some weekend winter camping. I am looking forward to a few winter weekend survival outings as well if not too too cold, lots of snow will be ok for helping with a shelter.
Anyway here is a look at the Eskimo Shelter available at Canadian Tire and others, right now at half price, this unit comes complete with the sleigh and cover.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

20 meter PSK Report-6 Hours into VE3FAL

So kept the PRC-104 up and logging stations today for the last 6 hours, using 3 element yagi pointed South, tomorrow will use windom and see how results vary and might try swing towards Europe the next day with the beam.

As grey line comes in it is even more neat to watch propagation patterns.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

X108 vs. TJ5A CW SS 20meters

X108 vs. TJ5A from YouKits on SSB listening to W1AW/KP2

So did another comparison on SSB against the YouKits TJ5A and the Xiegu X108.

The TJ5A is about 200hz low from the frequency I heard them on the VX1700 and the X108 and the posted frequency on DXSummit.


X108 SSB Comparison W1AW KP2 10 meters


Did a comparison on SSB again today X108 VS VX1700 on same antenna, a windom at 30'.
Both receive well but the X108 is noisy by comparison when no stations active...


Friday, October 31, 2014

X108 for Shortwave or AM listening


Ok thought I would do some shortwave listening and see how the radio performed on the AM broadcast band.
I first tuned to AM, entered the frequency of 6.000 via the microphone key pad(very cool) to listen to Radio Havana Cuba, adjusted the filters to ATTEMPT to hear the station, 15khz no go, 2.3khz no go and .5khz of course a write off. Tuned around a bit through LSB/USB and found the station was much more intelligible in USB mode.
So I figured I might as well go to 890 WLS Chicago since they have always boomed into Thunder Bay like a local station, same as 650. Anyway, was in AM at 15k on filter and could hardly make out the station, flipped through sidebands and found USB and 2.3k filter was most pleasant for listening to AM. So as a GC receiver the radio needs some work, AM should be one of the easiest modes to perfect. I will make a video of tuning in WLS and post to YouTube.


X108 First Impressions

First off I want to thank Ed (Import Communications) for his patience and time with the arrival, shipment and many questions he has been asked about the X108.
Mine arrived yesterday and was packed well. The radio requires no building at all and came assembled with handles attached, power cable and USB cable and microphone.
The power connector is very small, short wires and no fuse, this would be first thing that I would change out. The other problem I have is the antenna connector, i wish all radio makers would use the BNC to prevent cross threading, cheap ends etc..

The radio display looks good, but for some of the display I need my magnifying cheaters on, but for the better part very nice.
The microphone has multifunction's like band select, last frequency, and a whole lot more.

I made a contact on SSB on 18 megs with my windom and 10 watts into TX last night, I got a 5x4 and peaked a 5x6, audio report was good as per the chap on the other end.
This morning a made a SKCC qso on 40 meters at 1204z with a member down in Alabama, I was running 5 watts and got a 579 with Bill.

I find one does not need or require the PREAMP, I find the radio is sensitive enough and picks up stations and then some that my VX1700 does not hear, receive is fairly quiet. I need to play a bit more with the ATT as well, I can hear some slight ghosting of the very strong stations from time to time when tuning.

Have used HRD and FLDIGI/FLRIG using the IC718 settings and been able to copy psk using just the audio out jack on the back of the radio and using microphone in on netbook. Need a cable now for PTT and transmit for digital modes. CAT control seems to work well and fast.

Power output is stable on this radio, measured into a digital meter and attached a dummy load I get the following:(using cw to key rig)
160 meters 10 w
80 meter 15 w
40,30,20,17,15,12,10 18 w

Have not checked current draw yet, but I can tell you that in a dead keydown on 80 meters I popped a 5 a fuse in my power bar.

I also have yet to check out the keyer portion of the rig to see how that works, for now just trying to get to know the rig.

Looking forward to hearing from others who have received their X108's and what their thoughts are.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Band Conditions Terrible

Band conditions today are terrible to say the least.
Lots of noise and signals are up and down.
Listening to a few amateurs on 20 meters last I had noticed a few of them mentions some atmospheric noise that they have not heard in a while indicating maybe the last flare is and has sent some matter down to earth.
We can only hope that the bands will pick up soon and that the noise will somewhat get less if not disappear all together.
We had a good thunder storm roll through last night, and these late fall thunder storms are fairly rare for us as well usually see rain or that other nasty 4 letter word, well it is not that nasty and I don't really mind it.

Have a great rest of the week and a great weekend as well.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

160 Meters

Well looks like it wont be long until the 160 meter contests start up. Both the ARRL and CQ 160 meter contests are really just around the corner. ARRL contest first week of December and then January is the CQWW 160 meter contest.
I have loads of fun in both the 160 tests and usually do quite well running 5 watts QRP. Each year I have done the tests I usually end up with a Certificate, but heck, if no one else enters and sends in their scores I guess that makes it easy to place huh?????

I run a sideways "L" antenna , not the typical inverted "L".
I run out about 125' to a pole in the backyard, then take the other 60' and run it to a right angle and down to about 5' from the ground, the end at the house is on a 15'pole that is grounded, I use a balun at the feed and coil the coax as well into about 10 1' turns. This antenna tunes very fast on 160 and its actual match at the shack is about 3:1 at the low end of the band. I have a 6' ground rod at the base and no radials.

What I do find on 160 is that stations have no problem hearing me, however for me if I work the test both nights because of ground-wave propagation the stations I worked the night before are the same stations I hear the next night, my best chance to work stations out of my ground-wave is  usually at sunset and sunrise.

This year I will give the KX3 a workout at 5 watts in the test.


X108 shipped today

So I like to sell, swap, barter, trade,borrow and play with all types of rigs that I can to see how they perform, feel and operate.
I am a QRP CW guy through and through and still prefer operating portable and outdoors versus being stuck inside the house in a room. As you can imagine our winters here in Thunder Bay make operating outside challenging if not dangerous. In fact this winter because they are calling for loads of snow again I am planning on making a shelter in the back yard to play, sleep and practice outdoor survival skills, kind of a two fold situation, but anyway, I am straying off topic here.
I prefer QRP CW Outdoors and go through lots of rigs.
I have owned radios from tubes to transistors with my last purchase being the Elecraft KX3. I have owned a K2/100, K1 2 bander and have to say that I think the KX3 is their winner.
I own other rigs as well, Icom, Yaesu, and Vertex as well as Hughes PRC-104 military manpack radio that still works as well as the day it was made. I also have a number of YouKits products like the HB1B and TJ5A.
So once again I have strayed beyond my starting note of which is the title of this post.
So ed sent me an email this morning that the X108 has been shipped from his address and is en-route to mine so I will have another rig to play around with and test. The X1M that came out was an OK radio, was small but not a good performer on cw, voice and digital worked well at 5 watts, so I am hoping that the X108 blows the pants off of this little brother the X1M.
I will add some updates as we play and study the rig after it arrives.

X108 HF Transceiver


Monday, October 20, 2014

JOTA 2014

This weekend was JOTA, and this was the 17th year that Gary VE3ODE, Carl VE3DG and myself Fred VE3FAL have put JOTA on for some of the Otters,Beavers and Scouts in the rural area of Thunder Bay. Each year is a new location with which involves a hike and radio operations. This year we were in Oliver Paipoonge at Scouter Jerry’s home location, on his 90 acre property he has a hilltop with trails right to the top, it is about a 20 minute hike up with a backpack. Gary an I hauled our gear up in a buggy I made with gear in a tote, took us about 45 minutes to get the stuff up. A hike was done in the afternoon by the Otters and Beavers and the Scouts spend the night as well, so in our tents we braved the -2c temperatures once again, this morning though was only thick frost and no snow.
For the Otters I put on one of my manpack radios and went down the trail to talk with them, we used an open 10 meter frequency and answered many of their questions and explained how amateur radio worked. The Beavers made a few contacts with various stations around the country. The Scouts also worked stations from Coast to Coast with the best contact being into Saskatchewan with clear signals in the evening on 20 meters.
We were operating a Icom-703 at 10 watts into a windom antenna, it worked very good and of course running on battery power the entire weekend.
Campfire building skills were also part of the day and so were opening and closing ceremonies.
In total over the 2 days we had 17 participants as well as parents and leaders at the site.
Many thanks to Scouter Jerry and his family, Scouter James, Gary, Carl and the rest of the gang for a great spot and good weekend.
View from The Vista, City lights and fire

Another view of rural area, Mt. McKay is peak seen to the left

Carl VE3DG at QRP operating position

First attempt at a blog page

This will be my first attempt at a blog page. Not sure how active it will be but will try my best. I am very active in the ham radio hobby and do reviews of radios and antennas for others as well as a member of Google+ and many radio related websites and reflectors.
My own personal webpages can be found here:
and here:

I attempt to update these as well but with computer crashes and moving from old to new computers I tend to fall behind, forget log in passwords etc.

QRP and portable radio is the part of the hobby I enjoy the most.

Will continue on with my blog as the days go on. For now my webpages will tell you a bit more about me.