Should contest rules allow and act upon 599K QRM reports?

Friday, 21 May 2010

Elecraft K3 ERR 12V

I was in the middle of the RSGB 80m club championship cw leg yesterday when the K3 suddenly displayed the above error message "ERR 12V". The KPA3 module (100w PA) went into bypass mode and the radio went into QRP mode and the fans came on at level 2. The power control would not adjust past 12W. I switched the K3 off and on again and it allowed me to set the power above 12w, however when I touched the key the K3 displayed the same error message and conditions.

I did a quick google search and came up with reports of this error message from many K3 users. One report suggested that it would be the pcb connection fingers between the RF board KPAIO3 board or between the KPAIO3 board and the KPA3 board (2 sets of connection fingers create a three board sandwich (RF board/KPAIO3 board/KPA3). The user suggested that a slight oxidisation of the pins can occur and cause high resistance on the 12V line. I took the top off, removed the KPA3, removed the KPAIO3 and examined all parts of the sandwich. I cleaned the pins and re-assembled the sandwich (as did the other user). To my surprise everything now behaves as normal.

When I think about it, this design is pretty flawed. You just have to look at the main pwr lead connections to RF board and then look at the poultry size of these connection fingers (2 connecting sets!) to the KPA3 PA unit which draws the highest current in the radio. What were they thinking about?

Hopefully this blog will help others when the inevitable happens.

Hams4hams call

Rolland (PA3FRO) called today after spotting my blog on the internet. He is most concerned about the quality issues I have with my mast and suggested sending me a better fitting end cap. I agreed of course as without a proper fitting end cap damage to the mast is bound to occur (during transportation etc).

I suppose the rest of my observations are fairly superficial, so hopefully now I can just get on with using it. I haven't errected the mast yet due to space restrictions, but I will report back with my experiences (and pictures).

Rolland mentioned that he has already had repeat orders from satisfied customers and with the low price point I'm not surprised. It always pays to do business with real radio amateurs and Rolland's customer service is second to none.

Hams4hams 18m pole

My Hams4hams 18m pole has arrived. It looks a bit rough round the edges:
1) The mast sections are not cut straight, so the bottom section will always touch the ground on one edge and not spread the load evenly on the base.
2) The gloss finish on the bottom section (only one I can see so far), has several deep gouges that has been crudely covered up with marker pen.
3) The stitching that attaches the nylon draw rope to the bag has compromised the integrity of the bag material to such an extent that slight pressure on it when pushing the mast into the bag will cause the bag to rip.
4) The rubber end stopper is too big for the bottom of the mast meaning that the internal mast sections will fall out every time it is picked up.

I've still to make up the clamps but hopefully it will do the job for a 80m monopole.

Monday, 17 May 2010

MM3T IOTA 2010 Island of Bute EU-123 (Antennas)

With a 10m fishing pole and 10m of wire up it, I can get the following bands:

A 20m Jpole (attach coax at approp point near the shorted end of lamba/4 ribbon feeder)
A 40m lamda/4 monopole and 15m by default (attach coax at the open end of ribbon feeder and add some 10m radials to the braid)

1 fishing rod = 3 bands, croc clips on the coax (just clip to the appropriate points and go).

I'm calling it the skELPer :-). Keeps things simple for IOTA, we don't want to spend a lot of time setting up as hard work detracts from the fun. It could also be used as an end fed zepp with the short removed from the ribbon feeder and a tuner attached instead.