Posts Tagged ‘Elecraft K3’

Going about it the hard way…..WHY??

Last evening I finally had some time to get on the PC and check out what fellow ham radio bloggers were up too. For the past month I have been working every day and only having time to “fast read” a post and drop a short comment. While surfing the blog sphere last evening I came across KG3V’s blog, the subject of the blog caught my attention “Updating FTDX-3000 Firmware. Below is a link to what I only could call an “adventure”.
https://kg3v.com/2017/10/14/updating-ftdx-3000-firmware/

In the post Tom does a great job explaining how he went about the firmware upgrade and some issues he ran into. Tom also goes over the enhancements this firmware will forward to his FTDX-3000. It’s fantastic how far we have come in radio, in the past if you wanted the upgrades it meant selling what you had and purchasing the new and improved version. Today’s modern rigs can chat either over the internet or with pre-downloaded thumb drives and magic is worked within the rig to either over come an issue, enhance what is already there or add something new! Having said that I just can’t understand what the issue is with the process of the upgrade. It’s just not ham radio with our Nikon cameras to upgrade the firmware it’s…hold this while pushing that….make sure you don’t do this while doing that….and on and on and on. Resources are used writing the rigs new firmware upgrade, time and money is put into it and it’s to make the product better for the end user. If this is the case why the %&^* not make the process for the end user easy peasy!!

Having said the above and let me preface this with “I am not going to say what I am about to say just because I am a fan of Elecraft but if the shoe fits……” To upgrade my K3 or KX3 Elecraft has provided via their website a program that sits on your desktop, one of it’s functions is for firmware upgrades. The process is as follows:
1. Double click on desktop icon.
2. Click on Firmware tab.
3. Click on “Check versions now”
4. Below you will then see the firmware that is installed in your rig and new firmware that is available for your rig. You then click on “Send all new firmware to K3 or KX3.
Your rig will start to click, there will be “stuff” flashing on the rigs screen, sometimes even clicking noises from the rig and then your rig’s screen returns to normal and your done. I have owned Kenwood, Icom and Yeasu rigs and never has it been this easy and my question is WHY NOT!!! Now having said the above it is true I have not owned one of the above rigs for some time now so do comment if the process has changed…but is sure does not seem it has for the FTDX-3000 model rig!

OK I’m off my soapbox now….:))

FT8 from zero to fifteen seconds

A FT8 contact
Well I took the FT 8 plunge this weekend, I have read many blog and twitter posts about it and it's such a cool digi mode! After watching some YouTube videos  I downloaded WSJT-X 1.8.0 bata software. The only changes I made was I  went into the General tab and set up some custom "behavior" settings:
1. Double-click on call sets Tx enabled.
2. Disable Tx after sending 73
 All the Radio settings were passed from the older release to the beta release. I found as others have posted that the FT 8 section of the band is very busy for a brand new mode it sure has caught on very fast. Watching the YouTube videos was a big help as this is a very fast mode compared to other digi modes. In the past with JT8 and JT65 I was able to get some blog writing done when operating BUT this new mode you have to pay attention. If you are searching and pouncing the software is very automatic when you make contact with a station as it moves through the contact process on it's own. I have up to this point only made State side contacts but having said that with the solar conditions that's great for my QRP.

FT8 from zero to fifteen seconds

A FT8 contact
Well I took the FT 8 plunge this weekend, I have read many blog and twitter posts about it and it's such a cool digi mode! After watching some YouTube videos  I downloaded WSJT-X 1.8.0 bata software. The only changes I made was I  went into the General tab and set up some custom "behavior" settings:
1. Double-click on call sets Tx enabled.
2. Disable Tx after sending 73
 All the Radio settings were passed from the older release to the beta release. I found as others have posted that the FT 8 section of the band is very busy for a brand new mode it sure has caught on very fast. Watching the YouTube videos was a big help as this is a very fast mode compared to other digi modes. In the past with JT8 and JT65 I was able to get some blog writing done when operating BUT this new mode you have to pay attention. If you are searching and pouncing the software is very automatic when you make contact with a station as it moves through the contact process on it's own. I have up to this point only made State side contacts but having said that with the solar conditions that's great for my QRP.

Working some JT-65 this afternoon

A decent showing on 20m JT-65
I had the day off today as I was called in last evening and worked through the night so I thought some radio time was in order! I wanted to try some digital using WSJT-X's program and JT-65 seemed as good as any mode. At first I attempted to just run JT-65 on it's own as I have done many times in the past. This time for some reason most times when the rig went into transmit my Elecraft K3 stopped transmitting and gave me an error message of ERR PTT. I did post this issue on the Elecraft reflector and got some great feedback BUT I wanted to get some JT-65 in! Next was to try the "back door"
My spots on Hamspots
approach by using Win4k3 suite rig control software as I also have WSJT-X set up under 3rd party AUX/CAT port. Using WSJT-X this way worked like a charm as most of the feedback on the Elecraft reflector site pointed toward software issues and not rig troubles. There was a nice amount of DX on the waterfall that I was decoding but when I checked on Hamspots to see who and where was receiving my 5 watt JT-65 signal it was all U.S so that was the spots I attempted to contact. I also threw my CQ out there as well to see if any local or DX heard me. KG5ICI came back to me from Texas Chris gave me a signal report of -16. I was not on the radio too long but it sure was nice and relaxing.
Afternoon contact

Working some JT-65 this afternoon

A decent showing on 20m JT-65
I had the day off today as I was called in last evening and worked through the night so I thought some radio time was in order! I wanted to try some digital using WSJT-X's program and JT-65 seemed as good as any mode. At first I attempted to just run JT-65 on it's own as I have done many times in the past. This time for some reason most times when the rig went into transmit my Elecraft K3 stopped transmitting and gave me an error message of ERR PTT. I did post this issue on the Elecraft reflector and got some great feedback BUT I wanted to get some JT-65 in! Next was to try the "back door"
My spots on Hamspots
approach by using Win4k3 suite rig control software as I also have WSJT-X set up under 3rd party AUX/CAT port. Using WSJT-X this way worked like a charm as most of the feedback on the Elecraft reflector site pointed toward software issues and not rig troubles. There was a nice amount of DX on the waterfall that I was decoding but when I checked on Hamspots to see who and where was receiving my 5 watt JT-65 signal it was all U.S so that was the spots I attempted to contact. I also threw my CQ out there as well to see if any local or DX heard me. KG5ICI came back to me from Texas Chris gave me a signal report of -16. I was not on the radio too long but it sure was nice and relaxing.
Afternoon contact

Powering the K-Pod via its RJ12 cable.

The 2 resistor through hole and SMT
 Once I received my K-Pod I wanted to get it up and operating to see how it worked. One of the things that had to be done was to power up the K-Pod. This can be done one of two ways either via a separate power cable or with a small mod to the Elecraft K3 you can power the K-pod with the RJ12 inter connecting cable. The fasted way at the time was to power it via my power supply. In time I would do the mode so only one small cable would run between the Elecraft  K3 and the K-pod.......Well that time had come and the mod was to be done.  Elecraft gave you a choice of resistors
Front panel removed 
for the mod, an SMT as mentioned already or a through hole resistor. I chose the SMT as the leads from the though hole resistor had to be maneuvered around other SMT resistors. This method seemed to be asking for a short to a neighbouring SMT. It was time to replace a small (and I mean small) SMT resistor in my Elecraft K3. The resistor is supplied by Elecraft along with very detailed
Now that is small!!
instructions. The first step was to remove the front control board from the K3, this would get me access to the area the SMT  resistor was to be installed. With the front panel off and in front of me my next step was to identify R82 in the lower left corner. I located the resistor and the job on a scale of 1-10  was about a 7 for me. So It was now time to heat up the Weller soldering station and get to work. Now having said that I do want to make it clear that I am never really thrilled about placing a soldering iron anywhere close to my rig! Elecraft does offer there services for this if you want to ship them your radio......BUT.....I have done other modes to the Elecraft K3 in the past and without issue. Fortunately the old SMT resistor did not have to be removed, the new one could be mounted on top of it. After some very deep breaths the deed was done and it was time for the smoke test! With the K-pod connected to the K3 I powered up the radio and low and behold the K-pod was alive and well. 
The deed was done not pretty but it works fine. 

Powering the K-Pod via its RJ12 cable.

The 2 resistor through hole and SMT
 Once I received my K-Pod I wanted to get it up and operating to see how it worked. One of the things that had to be done was to power up the K-Pod. This can be done one of two ways either via a separate power cable or with a small mod to the Elecraft K3 you can power the K-pod with the RJ12 inter connecting cable. The fasted way at the time was to power it via my power supply. In time I would do the mode so only one small cable would run between the Elecraft  K3 and the K-pod.......Well that time had come and the mod was to be done.  Elecraft gave you a choice of resistors
Front panel removed 
for the mod, an SMT as mentioned already or a through hole resistor. I chose the SMT as the leads from the though hole resistor had to be maneuvered around other SMT resistors. This method seemed to be asking for a short to a neighbouring SMT. It was time to replace a small (and I mean small) SMT resistor in my Elecraft K3. The resistor is supplied by Elecraft along with very detailed
Now that is small!!
instructions. The first step was to remove the front control board from the K3, this would get me access to the area the SMT  resistor was to be installed. With the front panel off and in front of me my next step was to identify R82 in the lower left corner. I located the resistor and the job on a scale of 1-10  was about a 7 for me. So It was now time to heat up the Weller soldering station and get to work. Now having said that I do want to make it clear that I am never really thrilled about placing a soldering iron anywhere close to my rig! Elecraft does offer there services for this if you want to ship them your radio......BUT.....I have done other modes to the Elecraft K3 in the past and without issue. Fortunately the old SMT resistor did not have to be removed, the new one could be mounted on top of it. After some very deep breaths the deed was done and it was time for the smoke test! With the K-pod connected to the K3 I powered up the radio and low and behold the K-pod was alive and well. 
The deed was done not pretty but it works fine. 

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