Saturday, May 21, 2016

Out on the trail with the KX3






The bike all loaded up
I had Friday off and it was a beautiful sunny day so it was time to take my KX3 out on the trail to see how my new bike/ham radio setup works. My goal today was to see how to fit all I needed and find out what I really don't need to take on my bike and to make sure my antenna setup worked. I wanted to have an enjoyable ride and at the same time have all needed to setup for portable operations on the trail. The antenna was my mono band whip antennas from 10m-40m. I have them in a nice nylon roll up canvas bag I found they fit just perfect on the bikes horizontal support frame. I also have 2 canvas carry bags mounted on the rear of the bike that can be removed. While also loading the side bags I came to the conclusion that less is more! I had to trim down on what I was bringing. First off my KX3 was in a Pelican case and the case has to go as it takes up one side bag Since the KX3 is a trail rugged rig and I have a protective face cover ( from GEMS) for my next trip the KX3 is not going in the Pelican case. I also found the binder I use would not even fit in the side bags so that has to be re-thought out as well. The binder I have now is nice as I put a small metal plate in it for my Palm paddle to secure too via it's base magnets.
After loading up the bike the first thing I found out was the kick stand on the bike would not support the bike and the loaded side bags. It turned out to be a fine balancing act when it
Diamond K400 mount
came time for setup making sure the bike did not tip over. Since the bike is brand new and I told the bike store what I was doing he wanted to see if this bike stand would work as it is lower profile. I was told if it was not doable then to come back and a more robust kick stand will be installed free of charge.
Here is a list of the items I am packing:
KX3-on it's own with no Pelican case
Extra battery just in case- The Tracer battery pack
18 gauge counter poise- only for 20m at this time
Pens, paper and 3x5 cards with programming Kx3 instructions
Headphones- I don't use ear buds as my hearing is not that great and any noise around me tunes out CW.
Trunk lip mount base for antenna- Diamond K400 
Miscellaneous items- antenna connectors, adjustable wrench, tire repair kit for bike, hat, sunglasses and so on.
Lets get to the trail adventure..........I was able to bike to one of my pre picked spots down at the Lake where a nice size picnic table was available. The antenna mount setup worked great on the bikes rear rack which I mounted back at the condo in case there was issues. I attached the counter poise via a male female 14 gauge connectors. The rig setup was straight forward as I have done this many times in the past. I fired up the rig  and I wanted to see at this point if the counter poise was sufficient for a decent SWR and it was. BUT after
The setup
the tuning process had finished and my KX3 display returned it returned with an error message "ERR TXG D=114. Never had I seen this error before on my KX3 but then again Murphy is always close by to make things interesting. I was not able to transmit at all so I was dead in the water........and I was even picking up a G4 station calling CQ! I got the Iphone out and Googled the error code and it came back that possibly a TX gain calibration was needed to be done. That was not a big deal as the Elecraft software utility does this automatically but the rig has to be at home to do this. The trail/ham radio outing had come to a grinding halt but that was just fine as I really accomplished what I set out to do and that was see how things packed up, transported and how the rig operated using the bike to mount the antenna on. Back at home I did the TX gain calibration and the same issue persisted. I went online to the Elecraft reflector and was advised that it may be my internal AA batteries were low. They were just charged I thought.........Julie informed me it was about 3 months ago that happened. I
The surprise error code
charged the unit and all is well. So today it's another great day and it's off to the trails again to hopefully make a contact or two.    

4 comments:

  1. Hi Mike,
    three month is not that much - probably time to purchase new
    batteries. For some years "Ready to use" rechargable batteries are available, they are supposed to have 80% of their capacity after one year - not as cheap as conventional batteries, but it feels good, to just pick them and let go.
    73
    Peter/DL3PB

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    1. Good morning Peter, the batteries I purchased and really have not used all that much are the Ansmann 2850. The reason I chose these were great reviews and they last a long time.
      73, Mike

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  2. I often use my bike to travel to QRP-portable destinations. I enjoyed seeing your setup.

    73, Craig WB3GCK

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    1. Good evening Craig, it sure is a nice way to travel and with the side bags I have all the room I need.
      Have a good week.
      73,
      Mike

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