Friday, July 21, 2017

Heathkit has a new product out.

The HM-1002 
As many of you know Heathkit has made a comeback and is offering clocks, antennas and evening clothing! They have now introduced the "precision RF meter" kits
The spec's are below:

Power / SWR / Return Loss Accuracy:
  • Meter: 2% nominal for Power, SWR, Return Loss. 
  • Sensors: Specs vary per sensor model. 5% or better when assembled as directed (no promises yet but we actually hope to beat 2%).
Power precision: Up to four displayed digits, measurement significance one part in 8,000 (125 PPM).
Frequency Accuracy & Precision: 6-digit precision, displaying 100Hz units with +/- 100Hz accuracy for MF, HF, 6 meters. Accuracy and precision always depend on sensor as well as meter. Frequency measurement requires a Heathkit® frequency-capable sensor; one is provided with each meter purchase.
Range: Frequency and power range depend on the sensor model(s) in use. With standard sensor, meter range is 50mW to 2kW power (17dBm to 63dBm) nominal, and 1.6MHz to 54MHz frequency nominal, when assembled as directed. (Subject to change) As with any power device, true SWR handling capability varies with sensor and depends on applied power level, and we will report lab results here as they are confirmed.
Front panel: Sensor/mode cluster, power cluster, SWR/return cluster, color graphic LCD display, calibrated DigilogTM bargraph, configurable visual alert.
Rear panel: Power jacks, sensor jacks, digital jack, audio annunciator.
Enclosure: Hardwood sides, plastic top/bottom, screwless top & front design with integral feet (patent pending).
Size: Approx. 2.2" high x 5.5" wide x 4.75" deep (6 x 14 x 12cm).
Weight: 1 lb (0.5 kg) nominal.
Included: All kit parts, any required assembly hex wrenches, one sensor, silver solder, one six-foot (2m) indoor sensor cable.
Compliance/legal: RoHS. Optional AC power adapter is UL approved. Patent pending.
AC power: Optional AC adapter accepts 90-130 VAC 60 Hz pure sine wave (North American standard), approx. 4 watts. 6ft (1.9m) power cord. (UK, Europe: 50 Hz compatible, but requires a different power adapter.*)
DC power: Accepts 12VDC nominal. Anderson PowerPole jack.
Tools required: Low-wattage soldering iron, wire cutters, needlenose pliers.
RFI/EMC & safety: No switching power supply brick. No mains line voltage (no 120VAC or 230VAC) in the box.
Accessories: (Coming soon) AC adapters, cables, more sensor models.

The cost for all this is 575.00 U.S. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chameleon CHA P Loop review

The Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna
I had a chance to once again use my new Chameleon CHA P loop antenna  and it's now time to give this antenna my humble review. To begin with I shopped around for a loop antenna and looked at the following brands. The Alexloop walkham  loop, the Caras HF 315 loop, Alpha loop antennas and finally Chameleons CHA P loop antenna. Most of these antenna had good reviews for the most part but I chose the Chameleon CHA P loop for it's rugged construction and slightly better reviews. The loop comes with very easy to follow instructions that contain in-depth details about the antenna. I ordered it from DX Engineering and the delivery time was GREAT along with their customer service. The loop does not take long to assembly and wth practice I have it up and running in under 10 minutes. Below is a list of the positives I found with antenna:

  1. It has a very small foot print when setup and is very portable which makes it easy for traveling on foot or bike. 
  2. In very little time you can get very proficient as setting up the antenna. 
  3. The Loop (LMR-400) section and PL-259 connectors are very good quality and also they are fitted with heat shrink to add a nice water tight fit. 
  4. The tuning box is sealed and weather proof just for those days when Murphy decides to bring some rain on your portable operations. 
    The tuning box 
  5. The 6:1 reduction gear makes tuning accurate and finding the peak noise level very fast. On the tuning box I added a 40-10 meter decal to remind me of tuning direction. Also I added the DX Engineering sticker as I am blown away with their customer service. 
  6. I was able to successfully tune the loop to at least 1.3:1 on all bands wether is was 10m or 40 meters. 
  7. Once the antenna was tuned to the lowest SWR and you move away from the antenna the SWR does not change. In the past with other loop antennas I have used the tuning know was on the top of the tuning box. Your hand being in the loop would affect the SWR and once your hand was removed the SWR would change and this made tuning frustrating. Other loops did not have the 6:1 gear reduction and finding the sweet spot and lowest SWR was a challenge. The slightest touch of the tuning knob threw the SWR off and often you would have to start over again. 
  8. On the base of the handle is a 1/4-20 female thread that makes putting this antenna on a tripod a breeze. Other loops I have used do not have this and I had to make up a homemade mount. 
  9. RG-58 with integrated RFI choke feed-line decouples the Faraday coupling loop from the radio which is essential to prevent SWR fluctuation while rotating the antenna or moving the coax cable around.
  10. If you have an HOA situation and getting on the air is a challenge this antenna could be the answer for you. 
    Quality PL-259 on Loop
Some of the drawback I found with the antenna are:
  1. The coax that runs from the antenna to the rig is only 12 feet and longer would had been better but that is my humble opinion. In all fairness the other portable loops I have own I had the same issue. Now Chameleon does offer coax with the RF choke in a 50 foot length for 65.00. 
  2. The telescoping mast seems a bit delicate and could if your not careful become damaged making the antenna unless until it's replaced. 
  3. I noticed right away the PL-259 connectors on the feed line are the crimp type and look of low grade quality. In my opinion this makes for a very weak point in the antennas construction. The loop section has quality grade PL-259 but this was skipped with the feed line. 
    Crimped PL-259 
  4. The carry bag it comes with is defective right off the self and admitted so by Chameleon. I'm not going to go into detail about that here but you can read my post about it HERE.
In conclusion I am very happy with the antenna and it's built quality, easy deployment and reduction gear tuning. It is pricey but in all fairness all the loops of similar characteristics are in around the same price. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Skunked on my day out.

The setup in the car
The CHA P loop 
On Saturday wife and I had some errands to do in the town we used to live in, it's about an hours drive from were we are now. Julie had an appointment that would last for approximately 2 hours so I felt bringing the Elecraft KX3 would help pass this 2 hour time slot. I brought along my new loop antenna from Chameleon CHA P loop antenna . (A review of this antenna is coming soon) The weather was great and I had my spot preplanned out, it was along a river that flowed through town and there was a nice picnic table there that I have used in the past. Once I dropped of Julie for here appointment it was off to the river, I found there was a wedding shoot going on and the table was not gone! I then had to scope out a new spot which did not take long. The new spot was in a parking lot at the entrance to a park, not the same view as the river side setup but it will do. I was keying out CQ for about 1.5 hours with no answers but I did hear some stations but they were already in QSO's. I did check the Reverse Beacon Network to make sure my CW signal was getting out and it was, the conditions were good as well but I guess it was just time for me to give my CW fist a workout. As always Murphy seems to make his visit at least once on my outings. On this day Murphy decided to make my CW operations a bit more challenging. For a long time I have been using the Palm Radio's Mini Paddle. I find this paddle to be very smooth and very well made. A number of years ago the folks at Palm Radio sent me their newly revised cable that goes from the rig to the paddle. It was lighter and more easy to work with and a great improvement over the more bulky cable that was being used in the past.  I have owned this cable for about 5 years without any issues until yesterday on my outing. The end that plugs into the paddle had come apart, the two parts are held together by a screw. I thought at the time I just failed to check the screw and it came loose. I did not have a mini screw driver with me so I had to very carefully plug the connector into the key. Once I got home and upon closer look I realized the connector was broken and the only choice I had was to glue the two pieces together. I did this and it worked fine but in the end this is a one time fix. Overall I made no contacts but it was nice to get out and just have the enjoyment of getting on the radio and it's very relaxing.
Reverse Beacon Network
The broken connector 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reading PC4T's blog and then WOW!!

Digi signals.
 I was out for breakfast this morning looking over the blogs I follow on my Ipad when I came to Paul PC4T's blog it was an very interesting read about the new mode FT8. Once I finished reading his piece and went back to his main page I had a WOW moment!! I saw my blog listed under his favorites and notice it has been over a month since I last posted on my blog!! I knew the summers were very busy for me but I never thought I was that busy. I have the day off today and wanted to set some time aside for the radio, it has been long overdue for a ham radio sit down session. I started out on 20m CW this morning around 10:00 local time and I was surprised at the CW traffic. As the morning wore on the band died down around noon local time. I was not able to make any CW Elecraft P3 monitor that the digi end of 20m was very busy. I made my way up to 14.076.00 and tried some JT-65  and my CQ was answered by K8GNZ, KE0ABA and WA6GXQ but when I responded my reply was not heard. I at least new my signal was getting out anyway. As I began to write this post and having JT-65 running in the background my luck changed. I had a complete QSO's  with K0LOV and KB9EWG not many contacts but it was fun none the less.