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.