Elecraft K3 and SP-3

The SP-3 lets you take advantage of Dual Stereo Diversity and AFX effects

I usually use headphones for DXing and late at night in the shack – but there are times when I am working on something and don’t want to be “tethered” to my headphones. Plus, the SP-3 speakers have some interesting features – so I will have two of these flanking the K3 that will be set up this weekend.

I have a big decision to make regarding the NCC-1 and NCC-2. The NCC-1 has band pass filters for 40 and 20M, so that is a great option – but I have preamps and 75 to 50 ohm transformer plug in modules for the NCC-2. I have yet a third option, and that is a Wellbrook remote preamp – that I can switch between the two loops that I will have on my redwood frame and rotator this weekend:

Wellbrook FLG1000 preamp

The NCC-2 preamps are 16 dB gain, and the Wellbrook (ironically) is 23 dB gain – which brings the KY6R 40M Optimized Delta loop up to zero net gain (the loop is -23 dB gain with an RDF of 7.6 dB).

Another idea would combine the W6LVP loop with the KY6R loop at the NCC-1, and where I would use just a single loop at the KY6R. Each would have its own preamp, and there would be separation between the antennas.

The big question that will be answered this weekend is “Will the dual loop idea work on the redwood frame as far as phasing two loops that close together, or do I need two of the same antennas separated by 50′ or more?”. When I had 2 Wellbrook loops phased through the NCC-2 for fantastic results – they were separated by 50′ and they were the same type of antenna.



KY6R Optimized 40M Loop – Next Step

The feed line will run along the bottom 1 x 2’s and to the 75 / 50 ohm transformer. I will use a plastic electrical box to protect the transformer and resistor from the rain – and use 4 bolts to hold the ladder line that comes down from the apex and then the bottom ladder line that runs along the bottom elements.

The connections for the ladder line will be right at the end of each bottom board.

For “quick release”, I will need two 10′ RG6 lines and a couple of barrel connectors. Which reminds me – I should order those today. I have a 3 day weekend coming up – and will be home Friday too – so I expect that this antenna will be online this coming weekend.


My Year With Vintage Gear

The Venerable Collins 75A4

I’ve spent a year with the Collins Gold Dust Twins and a National SW-3 receiver. These are now all sold.

It was an interesting journey, and I used the SW-3 the most. Just by luck, KPIG was transmitting from West Oakland, and I listened to it on the SW-3 for the good part of 2019. Sadly, once KPIG stopped transmitting on 1510 khz, all that was left was trashy right wing and annoying religious radio. AM radio has been a dinosaur for maybe even two decades, so I did get lucky to hear what truly was the last great AM radio station that played music. “Talk Radio” was the death knell for AM radio IMHO.

The Gold Dust Twins got very little use, but I did learn to use test equipment, and I also learned all about the Single Lever Paddle, and how it has turned my CW sending up one notch in quality.

The old boat anchors take up precious space, so out they go. I hereby decree my vintage radio year over, and it’s time to move on. It was interesting and somewhat fun, but the people who purchased these are collectors, so I know this great old gear has found good homes.

I have gotten more excited about a 40M receiving antenna and my QRP pursuit has been much more fun than I had anticipated. After searching for my “Ham Radio Muse” after making DXCC Honor Roll, the FREQ 300 plus dual diversity receive and antenna modeling and building keep me interested.

So, it’s the triad of DXing, CW and 40M receive antenna that has my attention. Let’s see how I feel in a year – heh heh





Building The KY6R 40M Optimized Loop

A Triple Walled Aluminum Pipe in the Ground

This pipe will hold the Yaesu G450 rotator and the loop up off the ground 2 feet. It is cemented 3′ deep in that hole and is 16″ above ground – which will put the base of the antenna up at 2′ 

I’m using redwood for the antenna frame – its lightweight, weatherproof and strong

The wooden antenna frame only needs to hold 450 ohm ladder line for the two loops. I’ll no doubt add two pieces of bracing from the bottom pieces to the vertical piece. 

The 2 by 2 you see just laying there will fit inside that double walled aluminum pipe

The double walled pipe will fit in the top part of the Yaesu G450 rotator. Bolt the pipe with the redwood inside and then use two U bolts to hold the antenna frame to the pipe. 

When redwood gets wet it does get a little bit heavier, but is usually doesn’t warp or split like other woods do. I was going to use fiberglass fishing poles – but the ends are never strong enough, and PVC is way too flexible. 

Wiring detail – at each junction box the feed and resistor is opposite for each wire

The feed will use a 75 to 50 ohm transformer, and in the NCC-2 it has the same transformers at the receive antenna inputs. The NCC-1 might be 75 ohms at the input – not 50 ohms – I need to check with DX Engineering – the manual is a bit ambiguous. 

In any case, I am using 75 ohm feedline between the antenna and NCC-1 or NCC-2. I can use preamps in the NCC-2 if needed, and in the NCC-1 I have 40 and 20M band pass filters – so I have a lot I will be able to experiment with. 

Speaking of experiments, here are some to try:

  1. Feeding both loops and see what happens with phasing each loop – pointed in the opposite direction – what will happen? 
  2. Use the NCC-1 – with no preamps, how well does this work?
  3. Do the 40M passband filters help 40M? And 20M passband filters – same question for 20M
  4. Use the NCC-2 with preamps, is this better?
  5. Does it make sense to use both NCC-1 and NCC-2 with the dual KY6R 40M Optimized loop and the W6LVP loop?

I think the #1 goal is to have dual diversity receive using the UrbanBeam and the dual KY6R 40M Optimized Loops. I am guessing it should beat the broadband W6LVP loop handily, but lets see.

KY6R Optimized 40M Flag Hits 55 dB F/B!

Getting the antenna up to 2′ and changing the load resistor to 880 ohms did the trick

Updated antenna – I do think I’ve squeezed every drop of performance out now!

I have found that the W6LVP loop on 40M is not very directional at all. I will move the Yaesu G450 rotator to this new loop and use a cheapie RCA TV rotator for the W6LVP loop. If my loop crushes the W6LVP loop – I might get rid of it – I am starting to think that a loop optimized for 160M just isn’t very good on 40M. It does help knock the noise down – but I want more than just that. I also notice the W6LVP doesn’t phase against the transmitting antenna much – so that’s a bit of a disappointment. It does seem to be a low noise loop – just not great on 40M.

I also believe that the NCC-2 (or NCC-1) do much better when you have two antennas of the same type and just phase them – the RTR-2 built in the NCC-2 is nice – but only when you don’t have dual stereo diversity in your receiver. Trying to “fake it” with the NCC-2 leaves me wanting more. I really need a receiver with dual stereo diversity, and while the Orion II is a cool idea – Ten Tec tells me they can’t get many of the parts any more – so, the Elecraft K3 is the only “low cost” (used radio) game in town in this regard.

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.