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Under Construction

OK ... my station is always "under construction." However, I recently built an Elecraft K2 and then an Elecraft KX1, and I decided it was time to fill out these pages a little.

My primary HF station comprises a Kenwood TS-850S, Heathkit SB-220 linear amplifier, a 3-element triband beam for 20 - 10, and a DX Engineering balun-fed sloping V-beam for 160 - 40. I operate mainly CW using a K1EL keyer, and/or TR-Log interfaced to the radio for control and keying in contests. (I left enough of my hearing in SE Asia in my mid-20's to make SSB, particularly in contests, very hard and not much fun).

I use a Yaesu FT-847 for 2m and 70cm FM, CW, and SSB, and for what satellite work I still do. This radio is also interfaced to my laptop computer and I use it for HF RTTY contests running MixW.

I recently completed an Elecraft K2, which is becoming perhaps my favorite radio. It was a "vanilla" version right now (CW-only, 10W, 80m - 10m). I am not sure yet what I will add to it, but I'm quite sure I'll add the RS-232 I/O CAT mod so I can use the radio with the logging computer in contests. 10W into the SB-220 will give me about 150W out, which will be just fine. I may add the KPA100 100W amplifier and the SSB adapter at some time so I can take it as a backup rig for the CQP Alpine County Expeditions each year. Life is too short for QRP on 160m, so that mod is not likely, and I've never met a noise blanker that really worked. The K2 link at the left is a log of my construction of the radio, and may help someone undertaking the kit.

At the 2004 ARRL Pacific Division Convention, I decided to purchase the Elecraft KX1. The major reason is that we were planning a cruise through the Panama Canal in the spring of 2005, and I wanted a radio to take with me. It is a cool project, and I've been having a blast with it using both my station antennas, and the homebrew MP-1 type portable antenna that I'll take on the trip. It is amazing what you can do with a couple of watts.

Update - November 2005

Well, the Elecraft line of equipment tends to be addictive. I purchased a KPA100 100W amplifier and a KAT100 100W Auto Tuner on eBay (OK, I wimped out, just didn't have time for a hot-soldering-iron-project). The KPA100 gave me the RS-232 interface so TR-log can talk to and control the K2. I did also build the KSB2 SSB adapter. Although I don't operate SSB much, except for a very few contests, I have decided to make the K2/100 my primary radio and relegate the TS-850 to secondary status, or possibly sell it. It's not that the Kenwood isn't a good radio ... it's just that the K2 receiver is sooooo much better

Locust Wear

Locust Wear-02_060124.jpgWhen I retired, I got interested in contesting, and joined the Northern California Contest Club. It's the most active and winning-est contest club on the planet ... OK, other's may think they're getting different mileage, but I'm still pretty sure we're on top. The club motto is "KB," which you'll hear the members exchange with each other an the end of a QSO. It stands for "Kick Butt" which is what we do in contests.

One member, "The Locust" (aka Eric [aka Rick], aka K6VVA) has a creative streak in addition to kicking butt in contests, and he designed a T-shirt which he bestows on members for various achievements. Despite the fact that my contest scores are generally underwhelming, he sent me one. pictured at left. In honor of our esteemed Governator, the front reads "I'm Not a Contest Girlie Man, I'm an NCCC KB Man." The back has a giant "KB" on it. I'm told it is bright orange. Thanks Rick!

Rick is known as "The Locust" because he tends to clean out your fridge when guest operating during a contest. "Locust Wear" is a trademark (or might be), and hopefully other Locust Wear items may be forth coming soon. And, after a very long effort with numerous government agencies (which takes way more determination and immunity to red tape than I have), Rick has spearheaded an IOTA expedition to the Farallon Islands off the coast of California, and designated IOTA NA-178. It's currently scheduled for Feb 2006. More info at www.k6vva.com/iota/na178/

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