Posts Tagged ‘Products’

PART2: Mod for Signalink USB so it can be used with 2 radios

The finished product
Below are some of the options I came up with to see if I could get my Signalink USB to work with two different radios……
  1. Rewire the internals of the unit each time I switch radios, this was just not an option as it is time consuming and the unit I believe over time would not stand up to these continual wiring change outs.
  2. To purchase Signalinks plug and play boards, you simply plug in the board for the K3 or the KX3. This is for sure an option but again I was wanting to not take the Signalink apart each time I wanted to change out the radios.
  3. There is also the option of purchasing a second Singalink USB unit but this is very pricey for what I wanted to do.
  4. Try to figure out if it is possible to set up the internals so with the simple flip of a switch mounted on the outside of the unit I could change the internal wiring to make either the K3 or KX3 work. This was the option I decided to work on.
    internal mod wiring
So settling on option 4 as my choice I set you to see if and how it could be done. I did an internet search because the way I look at it is why try to reinvent the wheel if someone else already has! My results turned up only 2 that I could find were the unit was being used for 2 radios. Both did not seem to suit my need. The first seemed the operator configured a device that allowed the use of two of the same radiosbut at different locations. Each radio could be controlled by the same Singnalink unit. The other site I found this op used 3 RJ45jacks in a separate box to do just what I wanted to do…BUT…..I was looking to not have yet another “box” I was ultimately looking for an “all in one” solution. I ended up drawing out many possible circuit diagrams and at one point almost finished wiring what I thought was the "solution". I then realized it just was not
One final check before assembly
going to work and had to hit the drawing board again.  I finally came up with a workable plan that involved drilling only two holes in the back panel of the Signalink. I had to install a ON-NONE-ON mini switch and a hole for an RJ45 pigtail to be placed. Some of the things I ended up learning as I went along were: 
1. A long pigtail had to be made on the connections between new rear panel switch and the 8 pin DIN wiring. This allow the removal (if needed) of the circuit board.
2. I had to solder the wires into the 8 pin DIN they just did not stay in place and with the extended pigtail there was lots of movement in the wires as the covers were put in place, I didn't want any wires coming loose once assembled.
3. I ended up removing the pigtail and adding a rubber grommet as the plastic housing seem to have a sharp edge to it.
 Below is my diagram for the mod, the "K3 Signalink RJ45" is the internal jack on the unit. The wiring shown in my diagram for this RJ45 is the wiring that is on the circuit board and does not need to be added. Also on the 8 pin DIN there are jumpers between Spk-1, GND-5 and GND-6.  I have tried the unit both with my K3 and KX3 and it works great. The final thing I have to do is just label the rear switch.

Out and about with my KX3 radio

The KX3 being used in my lap.
It's the Easter weekend and I normally get the Friday and Monday off work but this year I decided to also take the Thursday and Tuesday. Today was to be a great day with the temperature in around 17C the forecast was for sunny skies in the morning and early afternoon but then rain rolling in for later in the day. I decided early in the week that with the nice weather I was going to make today an outdoor radio day........well from the car just a bit muddy and wet to setup outside just yet. I took  my Elecraft KX3 and some mono band HF whip antennas that attach to a mount on my car. I set my sights on 15m and the conditions seemed great and the DX was rolling in. For the time I was on the DX contacts that I made were:
1. I1YRL from Italy and Luc was very strong and no fading what so ever. While talking to him I found out that in the summer of 2014 he and his wife visited Toronto. Luc gave my 5 watt QRP signal a report of 579. Luc was very surprised I was QRP 5 watts using a mobile whip from my car. 
2. EG90IARU/5 this was a special event  again they were booming in and I was able to make the contact on my first call. This was a very fast contact with the usual 599 report.
3. IT9NJE and Gene again from Italy gave me a 549 signal report.
Over all I was very pleased with my hour on the radio from the car out in the park. I was happy I did not have any Murphy moments but I did have an "old age" moment..................I installed the 15m mono band whip antenna on the car. For some reason (old age) I set the KX3 to 20m and could not understand why the antenna tuner was needed everywhere on the band! Then in occurred to me I was on 20m using my 15m antenna. Once that was sorted out the morning went very well.

Time for some shack cleaning and putting items up for sale.

As I am doing my operating from the condo there are a number if items in the shack that have just been gather dust. My feeling is if Im not using it someone else can! So the following items are up for sale…….
1. Balun designs balun model 1110cu it's called a QRP balun but is rated at 300 watts. It's a 1:1 isolation balun I did use them at my old place to make sure not unwanted RF was radiating from the coax. Since I only have one antenna now I no long require one.
The price is 25.00 including shipping within North America.

2. Elecraft N-Gen this is a kit that I put together myself and works great. It is very good for many RF and IF alignment tasks. The price including shipping is 50.00.

3. LDG AT200pro antenna tuner I am no longer in need of a tuner as my K3 and KX3 all have on board ATU's this unit works and looks great. Price is 150.00 shipping included.

4 Hendricks 41dB step attenuator, I put this unit together myself and works great. Price is 50.00 including shipping.

The selling of these items will both clean up the shack and give me some ham bucks to clutter things up again!

Replacement rechargeable battery for Elecraft KX3

Tracer Battery kit
In a recent post I told the blog world about the failure of my KX3 portable power source. It was an external battery that was ordered from China. The battery  lasted under a year until it just failed to take a charge. The battery was only used maybe 6 times.  Not sure what failed but a fellow blogger  Larry W2LJ with the same battery had a similar failure as well.  It was time to get on the net and look for another external, compact and reliable battery. Plan number one was to avoid the products from China as I have learned a hard lesson there! Reading blogs of op's who operate portable and use an external power source (when the internal batteries give up the ghost) I came across a company called Tracer operating out of the U.S. To make a long story short I ordered from them and below are the spec's on the Lithium Polymer battery.
Closer look at the battery
- 12 volt  8Ah, weight is 600 grams (19.4 oz), charge time is 8-12 hours and carry case.
- Come with it's own wall charger and car adapter charger.  
- An LED battery charge status indicator. 
- A flate discharge curve. 
- Zero self discharge. 
- A tough ABS case
Status indicator light

Cooler KX plus heat-sink

The Cooler KX plus heat sink installed 
From my previous posts my readers know I am now in the process of delving back into the digi modes with my Elecraft KX3. With the digi mods there are long duty cycles and thus the PA's in rigs sure do get a "hot" workout. In the KX3 if the heat goes to a certain point the power is rolled back to not damage the PA's in the rig. There are other events that can cause the rig to roll back power but operating in the digi modes is sure high on the list. Not wanting to operate on reduced power and not to say bringing the rig to this point really can't be good for it I have a choice operate a lower power or find some way to keep the finals cool. The heat sink on the KX3 is good but not great and therefore a
Cooler KX plus compared to stock
product called Cooler KX comes into the picture. This is a very easy upgrade to the KX3 and has been designed to not take away from the KX3's styling. The company is Canadian and Fred VE7FMN has done a very professional job on adding extra cooling ability to the Elecraft KX3. There are 2 heat sinks that are offered and they are the Cooler KX lite and Cooler KX plus. I ordered the Cooler KX plus and am very happy with my purchase. Once I placed my order Fred was in contact with me via email asking very important and clarifying questions to make sure my installation went without a hitch. The heat sink arrived very well packaged and with all the hardware needed for a trouble free instal. The instructions that came via email from Fred were very well layer out and easy to understand. I am never excited when ever I have to take apart either my Elecraft K3 or KX3 as this is the time things can get damaged. The heat sink upgrade is fairly straight forward and easy to do compared to let say the sub-receiver addition to the K3 now that to me was a nail biter. The heat sink instal involved removing two nut and bolt configuration to release the
Two PA's fastened to heat sink 
two PA's from the heat sink and then 2 more screws that secure the heat sink to the radio. It was basically the reverse to instal the new heavy duty heat sink from Fred. If you own an Elecraft KX3 I would recommend this upgrade as no matter what mode you are operating in your PA finals will be cooler and thus a longer life for the KX3.

In the market for an external battery

This was the battery I purchased just over a year ago, it was for the Elecraft KX3 as a back up battery for the times my internal batteries gave up the ghost. Unfortunately the battery will no longer hold a charge and it's only after a year and maybe 3 uses. I am now in the market for an external battery that I hope will not let me down after only being called on 3 times. Any ideas out there??

The Yaesu FT-897 is coming to it’s end

I read the report on Southgate Amateur radio news that the Yaesu FT-897 is coming to an end. This is a great rig for both portable, mobile and home use. You can have up to 20 watts on battery power and up to 100 watts from  your DC power supply. Not only do you get HF but VHF and UHF as well. This rig being an all in one was just great to the new ham who can't afford the large price tag with some of the larger rigs but with features that this radio comes with. There is no news from Yaesu as of yet of a replacement or even if there is going to be one.

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