Author Archive

Pre-production X5105 SSB Test at 5 watts

 

Worked David W5WAZ on 14.300 today just after 1600z. Took a bit for him to hear me in his noise, but he got me and we had a qso after that. Used the MFJ whip and counterpoise facing south direction.

This is a pre-production model and we are awaiting new firmware to be able to update some of the many issues with it. The radio charges the internal battery from any external 12v power source so no special adapter is required. I will continue to review and post as this unit progresses further.

VE3FAL WFD 2017 Jan 28-29

Winter Field Day Jan 28-29 2017

Fred Lesnick

Exchange: VE3FAL -10(1 station, outdoors), ONN (Ontario North)

Saturday morning packed the truck with gear and sleigh to pull into my shelter location South of Thunder Bay. This location serves as not only the area I like to hunt, hike and bike, but also my training grounds for Winter Survival as well as a training grounds for the 1st Thunder Scout Explorer Group that I am proud to be part of.

I parked the truck and pulled the sleigh in 2 kms to the location. Opened up the tent and got the fire going straight away inside as well as outside. Morning temperature was nice and the hike was peaceful as well. Scouter James and part of the troop showed up just after 10am where we practiced building and setting primitive traps up as well as relax and enjoy the day. I prepped a spot for my KX2 in the tent and later put the Packtenna EF up in the tree’s with the help of Scouter James. We were ready to roll for the 1900z start of WFD. I opted to operate 40 meters QRP CW only as it was the only band that showed any real activity; the higher bands were very spotty.

Scouter James and I spent the entire night out at the tent while I played off and on in the test. I was able to make 10 completed qso’s (exchanges) and actually beat my score from last year. For me it’s not hardcore, I am just out to play and hone skills both with radio and survival.

I made a short video of the day dedicated to WFD and it can be seen on my YouTube Channel:

https://youtu.be/YIkrRFd3pq0

https://www.winterfieldday.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

73 Fred VE3FAL

 

FX-9A Revisited

FX-9A Revisted

Got the radio back after repairs and after a short test I am happy to say that it is receiving 100 times better then it was when I first got the unit. Thanks to Frankie at Windcamp for all of his help, he is a super person to deal with.
http://www.windcamp-gear.com

I was told by Frankie when it was shipped away and on the bench that there was a bad solder connection and a virtual switch issue, what-ever that might be in English.

I am happy to say that the radio came back new and working well on all bands. Receive is like many of the other videos I have watched on the internet.
I will have more updates and videos of the unit in action after the holidays.

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year one and all….
Fred
VE3FAL

FX-9A Revisited

Chinese radio makers versus the big leagues, my perspective

I have been a ham radio operator for most of my life, was a shortwave listener from my teens and still am, and of course was able to play in the CB craze that took place in the late 70’s and into the 80’s. High school was where I got my start at amateur radio and electronics. I am not an electronics technician, nor will I ever admit I am even close, but I am a guy who has had a blast and an addiction to ham radio, mostly QRP, CW and portable ops. Combine that with my addiction of outdoors, winter survival, canoeing, hunting and camping and those are some $eriou$ hobbie$. Oh and I cannot forget photography, heaven forbid..

In the radio hobby I like to play, test , trade , and swap gear all the time to use, if it is new I want it. Portable and low power gear and small antennas is where I like to be, but where am I going with this? I have owned, Heathkit, Swan, Kenwood, Icom, SGC, Yaesu, Hy-Gain, Tokyo, Index Labs, OHR, Alinco and more gear in the past as well as Elecraft whom I think I can throw in with the big boys as they have come the furthest out of the small guys.

Recently in the last few years I have been playing, testing, reviewing, been a beta tester, manual writer for a few of those in the Chinese market, (oh and lets not forget the European market as well, we are seeing rigs from Greece, Russia and all over). Among those is my friend Yimin who lives just outside of Toronto and is the owner of Youkits Canada. Yimin has tried his hardest to put out quality gear at a price that won’t break the bank. Some in kit form and others assembled, and still backs it up with support and returns, unlike some of the other builders out there.

On the market today we see Xiegu, Bofung, CRK Kits, BG2FX with his FX line of gear and others. I have had the Xiegu X1M, neat little rig but had many quirks. I have the X108G which has come light years ahead since it’s first days of life and still continues to get better, Xiegu also offers support, firmware upgrades and a return policy, they have gotten to be a fair size company.

What makes some of this Chinese gear look so good? Is it the fact that the price tags seem lower then the big guns on the market ? Does it stand up to quality control testing that the big guns do? Is it clean on transmit evading those spurious transmissions? These maybe some of the questions that get asked. For me it is just that I like new toys and like to play. Have I been burnt or disappointed? You can bet your bottom dollar I have, and many of my reviews and past blogs would tell you that. But I still like to play with this gear and see how it works. Dollar wise is another topic that is a hard one to stomach as most producers be it in China or other Countries sell in US$, so for me as a Canadian whose dollar is less, the exchange kills, and makes these radios no cheaper in the long run, tag on the fact that shipping from Canada is also very costly if I need to ship back to China, so how do you win?

Of all the radios that I was most disappointed wit it was the KN-920 that was built by I believe BA6BF and was sold via Aliexpress and a few other warehouse dealers. The KN-920 one weekend blew it’s finals burnt some of the PC board off. It was still under warranty but to ship back would have cost huge dollars. The builder send me 3 sets of finals to try replace with same result each and every time, the seller at Aliexpress was only concerned with the money he was going to lose if I was to get or return the item, at this point the consumer, customer or other meant $hit. I see on ebay they have a KN-850 now, I hope they learned something from it, but highly doubt it. Top that with no manuals, no instructions etc. Many of these builders do not speak English as is the case of BG2FX who builds the FX series of radios.

So why do we still buy or have a thirst for new gear? It is because we all want to play and not break the bank. Or in my case , that is it. I own a KX3 and just bought a KX2 for canoe trips, camping and more because it is self contained, small and does all bands and modes including digital , and also serves as a shortwave radio when out in the wilds.

So is all Chinese gear made the same ? I think not, some builders are using recycled products, out of tolerance products, solder that creates whiskers (both in part to lack of heat and the elements that make solder real , like tin and lead) and put together in their homes or offices and then put out into the market. Other builders like YouKits and Xiegu have put some thought into their builds and ideas and have actually looked at it from the consumer side, oh yea, there will be horror stories, but in my ham career I can tell you some about the big 4 as well in the past, mention IC-706 and see how many feathers have been ruffled and how long to get that beast right.

I need to add as a caveat that of all the portable Chinese radios that I have tried and do own, the HB1 series by Youkits is my favorite as a cw qrp rig. I own the MKII and MKIII and take those up North with me on a regular basis as they are also self contained with battery, light weight and cover the bands I use.

Just a quick intro to my YouTube Channel and look at a few of the rigs in action using the same antenna.

Have a great summer one and all, and don’t forget to practice your emergency plan, have a 72 emergency kit ready and stay safe on the road, lakes, fields or where ever you may be.

Again this is just my perspective.

Cheers

Fred Lesnick

VE3FAL

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Canada

Xiegu Firmware Updates for X108G OLED Version

IMG_20151001_154317

http://www.cqxiegu.com

Xiegu has come through once again with their latest firmware update to take care of a few small problems that were on the latest version of the X108G OLED outdoor version.

The first fix about a month ago was to address the issue with the Iambic keyer adding extra characters in while trying to send code. That was fixed and all is good now when using a paddle.

This newest firmware update takes care of a few things:
1) Fixed the A=B issue
2) Split mode-You can now work cw on on one VFO and voice on another for working nets when no microphone is available.
3) Split band is also working now so you can operate cross band if required
4) SQL adjustable levels also added to menu

One can now send code using the microphone PTT button while in CW mode in the event a key is not present, there is however no sidetone heard when doing this.
From what I read or what I think I read it looks like maybe one could send code while in USB mode, the rig does key up but there is very little RF going out, you can hear a carrier on another radio but no power deflection is visible.

This is a direct copy from the Xiegu Firmware Folder:

  1. I. Update description

[A=B]

A=B functions are available

[Split screen] mode

Update the transceiver switching logic, both two VFO in any mode, split screen mode are effective.

  1. The PTT switch is no longer disabled in CW mode. Ignoring automatically key settings when PTT is pressed (by pressing the manual key logic), enter the sending State and CW tone generated (microphone effective at this time), release the PTT to produce a state of setting CW the delay time of switching and quit sending.
  2. When not in CW mode, no longer disable keying. Keying action and the VFO key were setup consistent (hand keys left / right automatic key). At this point, the carrier is related to the current VFO mode( Into the launch logic will open the carrier switch).

Key behavior in CW mode is not affected.

PTT behavior is not affected when there is not in CW mode.

  1. [SQL]

Updated SQL code

  1. SQL=0, invalid squelch;
  2. SQL=1~10, the squelch invalid when S signal is greater than the SQL value, otherwise, squelch effectively.
  3. [SQL]

When the user upset the X108G data, you can press the RST key, so that the X108G to restore the calibration data.

  1. II. Firmware update tutorial:
  2. Press the frequency knob (keep the action), turn on, connect the USB cable to the computer.
  3. Open “ My computer”, there is a Update X108 (*:) mobile storage device.
  4. Open Update X108 (*), delete the file, this time on the radio will show delete progress (waiting for progress to complete 100%).
  5. Copy the latest firmware to the Update X108 (*:) to wait for replication to complete, and then disconnect the USB and the computer.
  6. Restart X108G, firmware update is completed!

Xiegu Tech

Portable Zero LLC, A Happy Customer

Portable Zero Accessories

In the past few months I purchased a few radio accessories from Mike W0MSN at Portable Zero
http://www.portablezero.com/icom706.html

My first purchase was the IC706 Escort for my Icom IC703. I ordered the Escort directly from Mike and had it in my hand in only a few days. The product was as described, easy to install and attach to the radio. Service and shipping from Mike was fantastic.

So I was looking for and in the market for a good bag for my Xiegu X108G, tuner and accessories. Well the X108G is not much larger then my FT817 so figured this would work just about right for the radio allowing me to take it out in the field. So looking at Mikes Portable Zero sight I was thrilled to see The Sherpa Bag.
Mike’s description for the bag is as follows:
“The 817 Sherpa Pack is the perfect way to transport your Yaesu FT-817 transceiver, tuner and accessories. Order item 817-SP”

817 sherpa pack

I sent an email to Mike about my order, he replied asking what my address would be to ship the radio and then I was sent a PayPal Invoice in very short time. I replied to Mike and within a very short time I had confirmation that the bag was being shipped out Friday morning, it was just after 2:00PM on Thursday that I placed the order..

I look forward to the Sherpa Bag arriving and allowing me to take the X108G outdoors in a  nice all in one ready to go kit.

I thank Mike at Portable Zero LLC for his efforts and his quick and speedy service and top quality gear.

Fred
VE3FAL

Xiegu X108G Outdoor Version at JOTA 2015

Took the X108G Outdoor Version out to JOTA this weekend outdoors near Neys Provincial Park near Marathon, Ontario, temps during the day were 3c and at night was -4c first night and second night was -7c. We operated from a dining tent outside and was running battery power and a windom at about 15′.

We had light snow and rain during our outing and Saturday morning we did a hike to The Crack which is a large path through the rugged rock in the area.

http://superiorhiking.com/the-crack-in-the-rock/

Here are a few pictures of the weekend and a few links to YouTube videos of the X108G in action:

IMG_20151017_072959 IMG_20151017_110000 IMG_20151017_164758

Was a great weekend out in the bush and having the 1st Thunder Scout Troop again take part in JOTA


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