Tuesday, July 26, 2016

NPOTA activation, impressions of KX2



This past Sunday I activated the Big Thicket National Preserve (PV04) as part of the NPOTA event. Along with me were the KX2, gel-cell battery and a PAR end-fed antenna which I hung as an inverted V with the apex at about 25 feet over a tree limb.

After a bit over two hours I'd made 108 contacts (33 on SSB; 75 on CW), mostly on 20m but with a few on both 30 and 40 meters as well. In all, 30 states were contacted, two VE provinces and Mexico. No DX but I'm happy with having worked so many states. I did listen periodically on 17m but heard no activity there and saw no spots from anyone, anywhere, above 20 meters.

It was quite different for me to use a microphone and I was surprised at being able to easily make contacts on phone with 10 watts and a low antenna. I've had it drilled into me over the years that QRP phone is much more difficult than CW but perhaps operating from a needed NPOTA site adds a few dB of oomph.

According to the KX2's built-in amp-hour meter I used a total of 2100 mAH worth of electrons in this outting. The battery was a 5 AH gel-cell but the KX2's internal battery (which I don't have) could have powered this operation. The right-hand side of the KX2 got warm to the touch during the times I was being called by numerous stations but the ambient temperature at the Preserve was 93F so that's to be expected. And, although the PAR end-fed I was using is designed for 20, 30 and 40 meters, the KX2's internal tuner had no problem tuning it on any band 10-80m.

I've had the KX2 for two months now and am happy with the purchase. I've been wanting an all-band QRP rig for a long time and was very much looking forward to Ten Tec's latest Argonaut a few years ago. When it was released without 12m capability I, and many others, could have (and did, sorry to say) predicted Ten Tec's future. My reason for wanting such a rig is primarily to chase DX while QRP. There is a limit to how much DX can be worked without having split VFO capability and I've reached it with my simple QRP rigs shown in the banner. Thus the desire for a more suitable QRP rig.

For some reason, the KX3 didn't appeal - it was too big, because, besides wanting a DX QRP rig for the shack I also wanted something I could more easily take afield on bicycle or motorcycle rides. Something smaller than the KX3. Also, the KX3 has features I have no interest in: 6 and 160 meters, 2/4m expansion, internal battery charger to name a few. I didn't want to pay for features I'd never use.

When the KX2 was announced at Dayton (on my birthday!) I immediately ordered one and had it in my hands just a few days later. As the saying goes, "It was everything I'd hoped, and more." It is easy to take portable, it is working DX (even during these recent conditions) and it is my solar experimentation platform.

For a month now I've been using solar power to provide the energy for my QRP contacts and this NPOTA outting was done partially to further experiment with what I have and to eventually run my 100-watt activities with solar power as well. The QRP aspect provides abbreviated learning at a lower cost.

I'll post more about the solar QRP aspect of what I'm using in an upcoming post - and later this week I'll be receiving the system I ordered to power my 100-watt activities and will post how I decided on it and why.
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6 comments:

  1. John,
    I was looking for you from Big Thicket on Sunday and saw where you were being heard on the RBN, but no luck from Florida. I heard you in there once, VERY weak here, but that was it. Sounds like you had a successful day with your KX2. I've got a KX2 as well, but haven't taken it portable yet. I hope to get into the field this Sunday for FOBB. It's a great little rig and I think the internal battery is a good option. I've been using it with the battery in the shack and it lasts a long time at 5W. Have fun and stay well.

    72,

    George
    K2WO

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    1. Thanks for listening George. I'll be listening for you during FOBB (though I have to work later that afternoon).

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  2. I have to agree with you when it comes to the size of the radio. I have a KX3 and love it. But when it comes to taking a QRP rig portable, via motorcyce, the KX3 is just a tad to big. Yes, my bike is big enough to take it along, but I have other things that also need to be loaded. For now I take the YouKits 4 band QRP radio with me.I like the size of the KX2 as well as the battery pack Elecraft decided to use. The amp hour meter is also a nice touch. Once I order my KX2, I will order two each battery packs. I use all resonant antennas that offer a great match to 50 ohms, but I'll still get the ATU with the unit.
    Good luck with your KX2.

    Barry, KU3X
    www.ku3x.net

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    Replies
    1. The amp-hr meter was a stroke of genius. The more I use the KX2, the more useful I find it to be. More than just a fuel gauge when out in the field, it helps me develop a "real world" sense of just how long a battery will last. The formulas & rules of thumb for making those determinations are still only estimates at best.

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  3. Nothing scientific, but I ran the KX2 on the internal battery for 2 1/2 hrs last Sunday for FOBB. It worked great at 5W and I had plenty of juice left. I really liked having the small package without my external battery. I've got an extra internal battery pack, but I doubt I'll ever need it. I also have a KX3, but now with the KX2 I think the KX3 will be relegated to use in the shack. The KX2 is a winner.

    72,

    George
    K2WO

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    Replies
    1. I can see the attraction of having a built-in battery and one less thing to have to carry (and remember to pack) to the field but I have two big turn-offs on the whole thing: the battery's need for a dedicated charger and the longevity of the connectors being plugged and unplugged on a regular basis. Elecraft wants $85 for the battery & charger combo. As I understand it, the charger is proprietary - other Li-Ion chargers can't be used to charge the KX2 battery.

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