Elecraft K3 Rides Again at KY6R

The Elecraft K3 – with Dual Diversity will be back at KY6R

What a long strange trip its been. I found a K3 and KPOD equipped the same as what I sold a couple years ago and for about the same price as what I sold mine for. I then purchased an ICOM IC-7610 and sold that. Then I got into vintage gear, and while using my KX-3 and found that all of a sudden I had noise on 40M that I have never had before – I had to get back into Dual Diversity and a DX Engineering NCC-2 (another piece of gear I sold and now have “re-bought”.

Its all OK – because while I might have lost a few hundred bucks, I was able to try a bunch of things, and ironically, some of the travels through these twists and turns in the plot bore some excellent fruit:

  1. Totally by accident – and because I used a Collins KWS-1 transmitter, I learned that a Single Lever Mono Key is what enables me to send the best CW I have ever been able to send
  2. Because I chased DXCC on 160M, I am very experienced in working on the best signal to noise ratio – Top Band being the Holy Grail, but now – on 40M I find myself having to apply what I learned on 160 – but scaling it to 40M
  3. I love Win4K3Suite – its the first Panadapter that I love – prior to this, the P3, PX3 and other panadapters were very “meh” in my book. I never used one to bust a pileup – I found them annoying even, but pretty if you were just doing SWL – or maybe working on eliminating noise while working on 160M RX antennas

Well, that’s the Ham Radio hobby for you – you get to learn a lot, and I suppose losing some money here or there is relative – I sort of chalk it up to the cost of education in the School of Radio Hard Knocks.




Surprise! The KY6R Optimized 40M Loop is GREAT on 160 – 20M

The KY6R Optimized 40M Receiving Loop

When I developed this loop I was intent on squeezing out every bit of performance for 40M. I basically live on 40M any more. Just for kicks I then took my EZNec model and plugged in 30M and then 20M – WOW – both were very respectable performers.

Tonight, just for laughs I tried 160 and 80M and again – WOW – great. Above 20M it does fall off the wagon, performance wise – but that’s more than OK.


The One Main Reason I Stay Active as a Ham Radio Operator

Hams are “Keepers of the Morse Code”

There is actually a bit of a tie as far as what keeps me in Ham Radio. One is the “magic” of point to point HF radio, and the other is CW.

There is no other hobby or pass time that I know of that offers these two very unique things.

The world is enamored by real time wired Internet communication, and looking at the garbage Tweets and other social media – as far as I’m concerned it’s all trash and a waste of valuable time. It’s all short attention span theatre.

With HF point to point you never know what you’ll find. You can guess based on sunspots, time of day or year, but there is always some surprise that you can try to catch. I suppose it’s like fishing in a way.

Now add in CW, Morse Code. Because Hams are the last practisioners of the Code, it is now even more of a “secret code” than it was back in 1973 when I was first licensed.

The Internet makes all of us the same in a way, so using HF Radio and CW, I get that feeling that I am doing something unique, ecclectic, and interesting that isn’t “just like everyone else”.

Sure, it’s a novelty, an anachronistic and living history pursuit, but it helps me feel just a little bit special that I know about this little world which has been passed by all of the Internet minions as they all march to the beat of their same drum.

It’s not something that you can brag about (people would think you are some antique fuddy duddy), but I can be secretly smug knowing I know of a little secret world most others will never know.

I suppose others who love restoring old vehicles have their similar world – when we visited the Hyde Street Pier, we saw signs where they were looking for volunteers to help do maintenance on the ships. I do know of others who love to help restore and keep old trains alive.

The pilot on the Water Taxi asked if I was a “Clamper”. He explained it was the E Clampus Vitus society. I said no, but its always nice to know there are “kindred souls” maybe even “old souls” out there.

KY6R Optimized 40M Bi-Directional Loop

Two loops on one support

A few posts back I shared a model for an optimized 40M receiving loop. Last night I checked to see what it looked like on 30M and 20M – and was very, very pleasantly surprised. In the past, I had simply fed each corner of one loop with a feedline from the DX Engineering NCC-1 that I had – it was sort of an accident – but I figured since the NCC-1 is a balanced phasing device with attenuation – the attenuators act as the resistance on one side or the other and you end up phasing one end off the other.

Since the loop is of a very manageable size, I figure it might be easy just to build two loops and actually use the resistor opposite the feed point and then phase them to really null off the back. I think what I will do is start with just one loop and no resistors and see how one loop behaves – then try two loops.

All of this is especially fun because the support mast is only 8′ and I have the perfect open and easy place in the backyard to set this up. I hope to play with this this weekend. I did order these 75 to 50 ohm transformers for the feedpoint:

I might also try using potentiometers instead of resistors – just for fun.

Hyde Street Pier

The Thayer Rigging

My two favorite places as far as museum’s or touristy places is The Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. There is just something about the Hyde Street Pier that lets you really feel what it was like back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – on or near the water.

The Hercules Tugboat – detail

We went to the Hyde Street Pier today, and the weather was very nice – warm, little wind and a pretty glassy SF Bay.

Thayer Masts

We walked from the Embarcadero BART station to the Ferry Building – had lunch at Gotts and then headed to the Hyde Street Pier. WOW – I hadn’t been to the Fisherman’s Wharf area since the 80’s – its worse than I remember it – of all the great places in the SF Bay Area, what a pile of trash that tourist trap area is.

Thayer Rigging

HOWEVER, just a block or two away from that garbage is the Hyde Street Pier and Maritime Park and Museum area – not crowded and so much more interesting. What a contrast!

Hercules Smokestack

I like the close up detail of these old ships – and the cargo, automobiles and trucks on the Eureka – an old paddle wheel ferry boat that used to go to and from Marin.

Hercules Gear

Delivery Truck – on the Eureka

The Eureka Ferry Boat

Delivery Truck on the Eureka

Cargo Cart on the Eureka

When I was on the Eureka – if there were a ship that evoked some feeling of “spirits” – it was the Eureka – maybe because it was so easy to just see and feel what it was like on the ship – people coming and going – this as the way people went to and from the City and work every day, and the fact that they had so many “artifacts” on the Eureka, I really did find myself imagining that I was commuting on it.

Cool logo on the bright orange cart

Rigging detail

Hercules Detail

It was a great day – great weather and a nice break from our usual routine – we now have to go to the Computer History Museum next – these are great places to visit in January and February – two very quiet times in the SF Bay Area – and when we can play “tourist at home”.

Kat driving the SF Water Taxi

Just to make for a perfect day, we took the SF Water Taxi boat back from the Hyde Street Pier to (near) the Ferry Building. The pilot was a great guy from Benica who really knows the tides and currents on all Bay Area waterways. He let Kat pilot the little water taxi boat, which was a lot of fun.

The SF Water Taxi – if you haven’t taken this – you should!

KY6R 40M Delta Flag “Nirvana”!

I just reached 40M RX antenna “nirvana” with a Delta Loop (KAZ Style / Flag)

I decided that I should try one last configuration as far as my new 40M receiving loop is concerned – to try a delta style (“KAZ”) but using the dimensions of the best optimized flag that I arrived at.

With a Front to Back ratio just under 40 dB, I know from experience that’s as good as it gets!

This flag now exceeds the RDF of a normal flag – but is still within the parameters of the most optimal numbers that you can get out of such an antenna. The RDF is 7.66 – which is basically the best you could hope for with a K9AY Loop or Flag.

Very nice pattern – elevation and azimuthally speaking

The fact that the feed points are at ground level and also that only one support is needed are two very major pluses – so combine this convenience with bone crushing F/B, and I think I now have my antenna.

One thing I am reminded of – keep asking questions and trying “what if” models. There are practical considerations (where it will fit – where the feedlines will be run) – and then there are more technical / scientific considerations – 40 dB I know for a fact is the upper limit of such an antenna – and so I am finally really pleased with what I’ve come up with – and will be ready to commit to this.

KY6R Optimized 40M Loop: 28 dB F/B

Elevating the feed and making it 2′ shorter added almost 3 dB F/B

I’ve been able to squeeze a little more out of this loop – and it sure does look like a winner.

Almost 3 dB additional F/B – and an RDF of 7.5 – which is right on for a Flag

Very good pattern – and I will be able to switch North or South

I just received an NCC-1 and will be dedicating that to the 75A4. I will take the audio from the 75A4 and KX-3 and run the through a mixer – so I will have two sets of 40M RX antenna possibilities to play with. I can manually put the 75A4 in standby when I am transmitting with the KX-3.

The antenna size is nice and compact and I do have the perfect place in the back yard for it.