Wednesday, December 21, 2016

FX-9A Revisited

Got the radio back after repairs and after a short test I am happy to say that it is receiving 100 times better then it was when I first got the unit. Thanks to Frankie at Windcamp for all of his help, he is a super person to deal with.

I was told by Frankie when it was shipped away and on the bench that there was a bad solder connection and a virtual switch issue, what-ever that might be in English.

I am happy to say that the radio came back new and working well on all bands. Receive is like many of the other videos I have watched on the internet.
I will have more updates and videos of the unit in action after the holidays.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year one and all....

FX-9A Revisited

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

FX-9A in action (well not really) against other rigs

I did a short write up about the FX-9A the other day and just wanted to follow that up with a video of it against a few of my other rigs sharing the same antenna and running the other rigs without a PREamp on and even turning on the ATTenuator to compare :
The rigs I put the FX-9A up against were
Vertex VX1700
Elecraft KX2
Xiegu X108G

Have a listen and then you tell me, the FX-9A gets bombed by them all including the Xiegu X108G with ATT on and PRE off.

73 all

Monday, September 12, 2016

FX-9A once again......

FX-9A not a radio for everyone

Finally pulled the FX-9A out from under the desk to give it a whirl once again on 20 meters since the bands are somewhat lively tonight, hooked the paddle up, power, adjusted to 18 wpm , set power output to low (5w) and called CQ using the windom. Sent out a few CQ's, was I being heard ? Reverse beacon says I was:

But that was not all that was hearing me, aside from the quirky cw sidetone from the speaker, missed characters while sending cw and the YL yelling from the living room "hey what are you doing in there" my dual band VHF/UHF radio was actually breaking squelch on the SO-50 downlink UHF frequency whilst I was sending code with the FX-9A. 
I have wanted to put a SDR on and check for spurious emissions from the FX-9A but have not had a chance to do that yet. We do not have cable or satellite tv but only use internet based tv such as Netflix and Android TV, but the FX-9A was sending out crazy lines across the tv at the 5 watt setting, plus the UHF rigs squelch being triggered, this tends to tell me the transmitter is not very clean, even at low power settings.

These radios are way overpriced, poorly designed and made, and no firmware updates are available like with the Elecraft models or even the Xiegu X108G, which is still by far a superior radio to the FX-9A. The LNR radios are probably 3 times the radio these made in the bedroom radios can ever be.

I have seen others videos and reviews on this radio and others seem happy , but they are way behind any of the others, add that to no warranty, replacement policies and no paperwork or instructions I would not recommend these radios to anyone that wants to operate with a signal that is clean and will keep you out of trouble. It also tends to overheat very quickly, even at low power. 



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Chinese radio makers versus the big leagues, my perspective

I have been a ham radio operator for most of my life, was a shortwave listener from my teens and still am, and of course was able to play in the CB craze that took place in the late 70's and into the 80's. High school was where I got my start at amateur radio and electronics. I am not an electronics technician, nor will I ever admit I am even close, but I am a guy who has had a blast and an addiction to ham radio, mostly QRP, CW and portable ops. Combine that with my addiction of outdoors, winter survival, canoeing, hunting and camping and those are some $eriou$ hobbie$. Oh and I cannot forget photography, heaven forbid..

In the radio hobby I like to play, test , trade , and swap gear all the time to use, if it is new I want it. Portable and low power gear and small antennas is where I like to be, but where am I going with this? I have owned, Heathkit, Swan, Kenwood, Icom, SGC, Yaesu, Hy-Gain, Tokyo, Index Labs, OHR, Alinco and more gear in the past as well as Elecraft whom I think I can throw in with the big boys as they have come the furthest out of the small guys.

Recently in the last few years I have been playing, testing, reviewing, been a beta tester, manual writer for a few of those in the Chinese market, (oh and lets not forget the European market as well, we are seeing rigs from Greece, Russia and all over). Among those is my friend Yimin who lives just outside of Toronto and is the owner of Youkits Canada. Yimin has tried his hardest to put out quality gear at a price that won't break the bank. Some in kit form and others assembled, and still backs it up with support and returns, unlike some of the other builders out there.

On the market today we see Xiegu, Bofung, CRK Kits, BG2FX with his FX line of gear and others. I have had the Xiegu X1M, neat little rig but had many quirks. I have the X108G which has come light years ahead since it's first days of life and still continues to get better, Xiegu also offers support, firmware upgrades and a return policy, they have gotten to be a fair size company.

What makes some of this Chinese gear look so good? Is it the fact that the price tags seem lower then the big guns on the market ? Does it stand up to quality control testing that the big guns do? Is it clean on transmit evading those spurious transmissions? These maybe some of the questions that get asked. For me it is just that I like new toys and like to play. Have I been burnt or disappointed? You can bet your bottom dollar I have, and many of my reviews and past blogs would tell you that. But I still like to play with this gear and see how it works. Dollar wise is another topic that is a hard one to stomach as most producers be it in China or other Countries sell in US$, so for me as a Canadian whose dollar is less, the exchange kills, and makes these radios no cheaper in the long run, tag on the fact that shipping from Canada is also very costly if I need to ship back to China, so how do you win?

Of all the radios that I was most disappointed wit it was the KN-920 that was built by I believe BA6BF and was sold via Aliexpress and a few other warehouse dealers. The KN-920 one weekend blew it's finals burnt some of the PC board off. It was still under warranty but to ship back would have cost huge dollars. The builder send me 3 sets of finals to try replace with same result each and every time, the seller at Aliexpress was only concerned with the money he was going to lose if I was to get or return the item, at this point the consumer, customer or other meant $hit. I see on ebay they have a KN-850 now, I hope they learned something from it, but highly doubt it. Top that with no manuals, no instructions etc. Many of these builders do not speak English as is the case of BG2FX who builds the FX series of radios.

So why do we still buy or have a thirst for new gear? It is because we all want to play and not break the bank. Or in my case , that is it. I own a KX3 and just bought a KX2 for canoe trips, camping and more because it is self contained, small and does all bands and modes including digital , and also serves as a shortwave radio when out in the wilds.

So is all Chinese gear made the same ? I think not, some builders are using recycled products, out of tolerance products, solder that creates whiskers (both in part to lack of heat and the elements that make solder real , like tin and lead) and put together in their homes or offices and then put out into the market. Other builders like YouKits and Xiegu have put some thought into their builds and ideas and have actually looked at it from the consumer side, oh yea, there will be horror stories, but in my ham career I can tell you some about the big 4 as well in the past, mention IC-706 and see how many feathers have been ruffled and how long to get that beast right.

I need to add as a caveat that of all the portable Chinese radios that I have tried and do own, the HB1 series by Youkits is my favorite as a cw qrp rig. I own the MKII and MKIII and take those up North with me on a regular basis as they are also self contained with battery, light weight and cover the bands I use.

Just a quick intro to my YouTube Channel and look at a few of the rigs in action using the same antenna.

Have a great summer one and all, and dont forget to practice your emergency plan, have a 72 emergency kit ready and stay safe on the road, lakes, fields or where ever you may be.

Fred Lesnick
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Elecraft KX-2 and FX-9A

Well not impressed with the FX-9A at all , here is a link to a quick video I did . i apologize for the blur and darkness in the shack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Xiegu X108G on WSPR with CHA F-Loop

I picked up a WolphiLink TNC some time back so that I could operate some digital stuff from the field using light weight set up. The WolphiLink married to my Samsung tablet seemed like the ultimate match so I picked a TNC up, since then I have been making cables to use it not only on my Yaesu rigs, but my KX3 and now my Xiegu X108G.

 The more I operate the X108G the more I like the radio and its performance, the lack of a dedicated digital port is the one thing that Xiegu should look into for future models, but it did not stop me and I wired a 6 pin mini-din up to go from the RJ45 microphone connector, a cable for audio from the back of the rig, and then wired to the 6 pin din to go into the WolphiLink, once it was done and tested I had success instantly in the first sequence sent on 20 meter WSPR from the house setup using my windom and 3.5 watts. The map below is of the first transmit sequence on 20 meters. A German station picked me up straight away.

 So not to be out-done I then grabbed my Chameleon F-Loop and took the gear outside to set up on the picnic table and took a shot at 20, 30 and 40 meters for a few hours. The Chameleon F-Loop is a robust and easy to set up antenna, extremely well built and manufactured and built to last and perform.

So running 3.5 watts into the CHA F-Loop using the Xiegu X108G I had lots of success, I had the antenna favoring East and West and was picked up on 20 and 30 meters from coast to coast, on 40 meters it was a bit early in the day and before grey-line so my path was actually almost all due South.
A video of my setup and getting ready to operate can be seen here:

The following screen shots were of the radio and loop in action on the various bands of the few hours I set the rig  up outside. I was powering the Xiegu X108G with a P-Box battery that has also proven to be a great powerhouse for many of my portable operations that I do.

 Above 20 meters on F-Loop at 3.5 watts
 Above 30 meters with same setup
This is 40 meters same set up

So it was a great way to spend a few hours out in the sun and operate in the back yard from the picnic table. I hope to get this rig out again and test it on PSK and see how it performs for me in that mode. I might have to re-wire the 6 pin mini-din as they are pretty fragile to wire up and cant take much heat before pins bend, and they have a very small soldering surface.
Thanks for reading and get out and operate from the field and enjoy the hobby, OH, and remember it is a HOBBY

73 Fred
Thunder Bay, Ontario EN58hh


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

F.Y.B.O 2016

So I figured the weather was looking good and I would set up for F.Y.B.O. in my back yard at the picnic bench. I cleared the snow from on and around the table and started setting up just after 1500z.

I was using the YouKits HB1B MKIII QRP CW( transceiver with built in battery. I set up the Chameleon F-Loop ( antenna on a tripod and hooked that to the radio. My key of choice was my Czech military key.


Temperature was 19F in the back yard, and some light snow was starting to fall. The bands were alive with the MN QSO party among others QSO Parties and some huge pile ups as well on 20 meters.


I was able to work WA5BDU in AR and exchange information with him. On 15 meters I heard NQ7RP/5 as well but signals were way down in the mud. My goal was not to break any QSO records or any record at all, but to just get outside and set up, I had participated in Winter Field Day the weekend before and hauled my sleigh and gear into the bush and played in that. My goal was just to set up and make a QSO and have some fun. It was a pleasure to not freeze off any extremities and still send cw without gloves.

Stations were indeed hearing  my 5 watt CQ using the F-Loop which can be seen via R.B.N. or Reverse Beacon Network (


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter Field Day 2016

What is winter field day? 
WFD is based on the same idea as Field Day. 

Its main purpose though is “To encourage emergency operating preparedness in the winter”. Of course taking into mind all safety concerns that go along with WFD should be priority, for us in the North it is hypothermia, for those in the South sunburn and UV is still a concern.

There are bonus points and multipliers and the scoring scheme is the same with callsign, category and section being logged and at the end a Cabrillo log submitted to the score keeper. Bonus points for this event are as follow:
1000 pts for if not using commercial power
1000 pts if outdoors
1000 pts if outdoors away from home
500 pts for working WFDA bonus station W8D.

My plan was to hike into my winter shelter that I have down Walker Road in Neebing Ontario. It is a 3km hike pulling my sleigh, radio gear and survival gear in. Well we had some heavy wet snow the Friday night and it made pulling my sleigh a challenge considering I would have expected some of the locals to be out with snow machines and the trail would have been packed. Well that was not the case, so after 30 minutes and only getting 1 km from the main road I hauled off into the bush and found a open area to call camp, get the fire going, set up the gear and get ready for the 1700 UTC start bell.

My gear consisted of the Xiegu X108G transceiver, Chameleon Hy-Brid Micro with 60’ wire and counterpoise, Emtech ZM2 tuner and P-Box battery box. Strung the wire in the tree, set the rig to CW and tuned up the antenna and was ready to go on CW operating QRP 5 watts. Issue was it was now +4c and had lots of snow and drops falling from the trees and onto my gear, so my wool blanket protected the gear.
   My Gear Set Up in Operation mode
Gear packed for travel in sleigh

Bands were not the greatest this afternoon, and I spent time calling CQ instead of the Hunt and Pounce method as there were other contests going on as well. I was able to hear Europe and South America on 20 meters as the day progressed. I kept the fire going and made homemade soup on the fire while watching rabbits frolicking in the great weather. I was able to make 6 contacts that afternoon during 3 hours of operation and achieve the main principal of WFD. My final score with bonus points was 3006.

I worked into KY(x2),NLI,NTX,GA and QC . The one station in KY was 1M or 1 operator mobile. The station in Quebec is the Nord DX Club and that contact can be seen and heard here on my YouTube Channel:

Here is a picture of me at the operating position of VE3FAL 1O ONN:

Was a super day outdoors as always, no mosquitoes, no ticks, warmth and of course radio. I hope next year brings good weather and good conditions as well, and maybe look to stay overnight in the bush and operate and keep up on my outdoor survival skills.
Take care everyone
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Monday, January 18, 2016

YouKits HB1B MKIII Transceiver

First off I want to wish all who read my blog page a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2016.
I have been a bit behind on blog writing as I have been busy with family, holidays, our business, enjoying the great outdoors, the vast playground that mother nature has given us, and making the best I can with what we have before us.

Many of my outdoor outings can be seen on my YouTube Channels which incorporate, radio, outdoor survival and more.

I have had the great opportunity to test and review the latest of great radios from Yimin at YouKits Canada. His webpage can be found here:
YouKits Canada

As many of you know I am a huge fan of the HB1B MKII and that it travels with me to many of the remote, fly-in communities in Northern Ontario that I travel too, the radios have fantastic receivers, great filters, and last forever on the battery pack in these radios. I usually compliment the system with a Elecraft T-1 tuner, micro switch key and small amplified speaker along with a zip cord antenna that all fit in a small tupperware container, is light weight and ready to go either from a outside area where I am staying or even in my room.

So to continue with the first part of my review. 
The radio arrived in only a few short days after Yimin sent me the
tracking number, and was sent via TNT and delivered to me. The radio was nicely packaged and no signs of damage were seen on the package.

It was well wrapped both outside and inside, once the box was opened it included the radio, charger for battery, extra battery holder.

I opened the radio up and installed the rechargeable battery and then charged the battery up getting it ready for action. The charging process for first time around took just over an hour to get the LED to GREEN and in run state.


Some of the specs from the YouKits webpage:
  • 2015 New version with SWR indicator,
  • QSK - full break- in,
  • New IC and hardware upgraded,
  • Assembed unit, tested and ready to use. 
  • 5 amateur band in one rig, no module needed. (17m band also workable, but may lower sensitive, sharing filter with 15m),
  • TX covering: 40m/30m/20m/17m/15m,
  • RX covering:5.9-22MHz,
  • Step: 10Hz,100Hz,1KHz,100KHz,
  • Output: 12V 4-5W,
  • Sidetone: 700Hz,
  • Display: Frequency,mode,voltage,S meter,RIT,forward and reserve power. 
  • IF filter 400Hz - 3KHz
The manual for the radio can be found here:

I will continue my review with the radio in action via video and of course through the blog page.