Posts Tagged ‘Elecraft P3’

My QRP signal is spotted in Europe!

I had some down time over the weekend and felt it was time to spin the K3's VFO and see what was out there. I started on 15m it really did not seem all that busy but I was hearing some German stations so the band was open. My Elecraft P3 is great as I was able to get a snapshot of the CW portion of 15m. This allows me to not spend time moving up and down the band blindly and maybe just missing some stations as they end their transmission. One could end up concluding the band is dead and move on when in fact they just missed a station or stations calling CQ and waiting for a reply.  I ended up calling CQ in and around the QRP watering hole at 21.060, in the past I have checked the Reverse Beacon Network (or RBN)  just to see how my QRP signal was doing. At this new QTH
P3 on 20m showing some signals
for some reason I have been only able to get spotted in Canada and the U.S. To my surprise when I checked RBN I had been spotted in Hungary, Switzerland and Germany. I was very shocked and it kept me on the band calling CQ. Unfortunately there was no answers I then moved onto 17m and was spotted in France but again no answers to my CQ! I then ventured down to my standby band of 20m and found F5GPE Pierre calling CQ. His signal was in around 559 and I gave him a call and he came back to me with a report of 539. I did send him an email thanking him for the contact, he did get back to me giving me more details about his setup.

ARRL CW Contest done QRP style

Oliver is asking……"Ahhhh dinner!!!
I took part in the ARRL CW contest this weekend in a part time way, I was not able to go full tilt as I had things around the house that needed to be done. I skipped the Friday evening as it's most of the big guns going at record setting CW speeds. I operated QRP, single band, non assisted, single transmuter and with my MFJ 1788 magnetic loop antenna. The bands were alive with CW and you would never think we were in the downswing of a solar cycle! Then conditions over all were great on 15m I was able to get on from early morning into the early evening. In the morning the bands were filled with
The rig setup
Europe and as the late afternoon rolled around the South Pacific started to boom in along with Central and south America. Some of the standout locations I heard were Bangladesh, Guam, Japan, New Zealand and South Sudan. None of which I was able to contact the pileups were HUGE!! Some of the highlights for me were contacting Hawaii, Cuba,  and grabbing a new DXCC Dominican Republic.
Score rundown is as follows
Contacts        DXCC's      Points
81                   39                9360

The equipment  used was the Elecraft K3 with 500,400 and 250 inrad filters, the Elecraft P3, Begali Contour Key and the Flex control external VFO knob and last but not least the MFJ 1788 Magnetic loop antenna. The software used were N1MM+ contest software, N4PY rig control software and MRP40 CW code reader for the chain saw speed code. I never had Murphy pay me any visits during
The contest software
the contest which really is a first time. I found 15m to be a great band very low noise floor and lots of action. I did venture up to 20m for a listen and from my location it was very noisy and I was glad I decided to stick with 15m.  Sunday seemed to be an easier day for making contacts I had far less repeats to do, Saturday I really had to work for each and every contact. Looking forward to the next CW contest!

It’s time for the Kool-Aid…..:)

It's like the Borg connected to the collective!
As my readers may have clued in already I am a big Elecraft fan and the two radios I have at the moment are the Elecraft K3 and Elecraft KX3. One of the best things I like about these rigs as well as the accessories such as the P3 and PX3  Elecraft is constantly improving and adding things to the radio. These improvements for the most part are  upgradeable downloads via the internet. The other thing is the upgradable downloads are not complicated to preform, it's as simple as
New software loading
downloading and setting up the utility from Elecraft. From then on  all you do is plug your rig in via USB or serial cable to you PC and double click on the utility icon on your desktop. Your software on your rig is read and if there is any new upgrades you see them on your utility and can download them to your rig...........and that's it! There are release notes telling you what has been added or enhancements to your rig. Time for me to get off my soapbox now.

Almost QRP/QRP contact

My drive to get our snows on....just in time!
Relaxing at the radio with some tea
Have to go into work on Sunday so I wanted to spend some relaxing time at the radio this afternoon and see what was up on the bands. I started out on 17m and it did have some DX on there but it faded very fast. I then received a call from our veterinary that our cats food was in for pickup so it was off to get that. When I returned it seemed that 17m things were just not happening. I jumped down to 20m and came across KB3RUN/QRP calling CQ I came back to him and he did hear me BUT this nasty QRN came over the radio and wiped out his signal all together. It seems to be a plasma TV that is in the area somewhere and by the time I filtered it out KB3RUN/QRP was gone. I did send an email just to let him know I did not forget about him. Most times on my contacts and almost contacts I send an email to thank the op for the contact.

Making your radio time interesting is what counts!

I spent some time on 20m in the CW portion of the band and as always I wanted to make contacts with the lowest power possible. I came across 9A2G who was calling CQ and at the time he was not to busy with takers. This is a great opportunity for me to drop my call to someone who is listening. I started out at 500mW's and moved all the way up to 5 watts and nothing no contact. He did have some stations answer his CQ  and some where very weak so  he had good ears but not for VE3WDM. I then came across EG7MAL and I worked my way up to 5 watts and he came back to me with VE3?. He decided to move on as I was just not making the trip. At this point I was wondering how my low power signal was doing so I decided to call CQ at the QRP watering hole on 20m. I was checking with the Reverse Beacon Network to see how I was doing.  My 500mW signal was heard by AA4VV in North Carolina which was just over 1,000 miles per watt. I then bumped my power up to 1 watt and was very happy to see F4DXW was hearing me which meant my 1 watt of power made it 3461 miles. I did not make any contacts but I did find a way to make the radio evening a bit exciting even without making a two way contact.

Sunday radio time.

Not much going on
I was able to get some time on the radio Sunday afternoon, there were some contests going on but did not seem much other than that. At the same time I was able to get my radio control program (N4PY software) to work along with my logging program (N3FJP's AClog) and I found out that there is a cluster program that is offered with the N4PY program. It also has been integrated very nicely. Back to my on air time……I did run into two very strong signals calling CQ and giving signal reports. The first was MX0AAA It's a club station that was founded in 1934 and according to the map on QRZ.COM the station is located in London England. The contact was made on 20m with 5 watts and my signal report was 559. I then saw another strong signal on my P3 again on 20m. The call was MD0CCE and Bob was located on the Isle of Man and my signal report was 579. That was it for the contacts for the weekend. I was very pleased with these two contact for QRP and the MFJ Loop antenna

Learning more about the Alexloop

What turning the loop can do
As times goes on and I use the Alexloop more and more I am coming to realize that this antenna may not be a bad choice for my condo antenna. The loop is small and I thought may not preform that well, stacked up against my Alpha Delta DX-EE dipole antenna yes it does not far very well. BUT for limited space, fast to assemble and take down and stealth the Alexloop is a great contender. Recently I have been only using the Alexloop indoors and either on the main floor or my second floor shack. The power has been set to 5 watts and as was said in my previous posts I was able to get into Europe with some decent reports. This weekend using the loop antenna along side my K3 (Up to this point I have only been using my KX3) they seem to get along very well. The tuning of the antenna has been made easier because of the P3 and external monitor. I am able to tune to peak noise using the band scope or otherwise known as the Elecraft P3. Peaking the noise level this way has almost netted me a perfect SWR on all bands. There was only a very minor self tune I had to do in order to get the SWR flat.

Man made noise on the band
I did notice on 30m today there was lots of man made interference and by simply rotating the loop most if not all the interference was eliminated. As well after rotating the loop the signals I was listening to were still there. That to me can be a great bonus once in the city of Toronto and the interference problem may increase and by turning the loop I may be able to rid myself of some of it. I also wanted to know what the loops receive bandwidth would look like on the P3 and I am please to say that's it's great. As for transmitting I have found the loop has to be re tuned anywhere from 10 to 25 Khz depending on the band. This was a good learning weekend for me regarding the Alexloop. I have been toying with the idea of the MFJ magnetic loop as you can tune it from your desk. I have tried to add some extra length to the Alexloops coax and have had some good and bad results with tuning the loop for best SWR. I have noticed as well that when tuning the loop your body has an affect on the SWR as well. You may see a great SWR but once you have moved back to  your radio the SWR goes from your tuned 1.2 to 1 to 2.2 to 1. This is not the case all the time but has happened now and then.
A nice bandwidth with the loop
One other element I wanted to try this weekend was Skimmer, there was a contest on and I wanted to see how well it did. The results were very pleasing and I was able to see how Skimmer can help me. I have played with Skimmer in the past and just could not get it working but I stuck with it this time and am pleased with the results.
Skimmer showing the picture

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