Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Elecraft K3S

As you can probably see from the previous post, I am now the proud owner of an Elecraft K3S (Serial number: 10556).  Construction was a snap, with only two small hiccups:
  • The kit was short two #2 washers, which unfortunately are needed almost immediately upon starting construction.  After emailing Elecraft, they rapidly sent me the necessary washers and construction proceeded.
  • Using a computer to calibrate the Transmitter Gain settings is the preferred method.  I connected the computer using the USB cable (instead of the RS-232).  I couldn't get the computer to recognize the K3S, though, until I found a K3S menu setting which sets the USB port as the default port for computer communication (vice the RS-232 serial port.)  This was not mentioned in the calibration instructions in the Owner's Manual, nor was it mentioned in the Assembly Manual.  Once that menu setting was adjusted, calibration was rapid and simple!
Construction was also lots of fun.  I didn't keep track of how long it took, but I guess that it took maybe 12 hours.  This time includes the installation of numerous additional options.  In fact, the only additional options I didn't get were the subreceiver option and internal two-meter transverter option.  I plan on adding those later.

My next challenge will be to make an antenna system commensurate with the formidable K3S receiver.  At the moment I have only a 20 meter dipole hung in the attic, and an end-fed wire with an EARCHI UnUn hanging from the window to a tree.  The dipole favors stations in the Caribbean and the southern part of Africa.  I haven't figured out the radiation pattern of the wire, since wire antennas can exhibit some intense lobes and nulls when you load them on non-resonant frequencies (the K3S internal tuner can load this antenna on 80-6 meters).

I'm also learning that I have to find a way to cope with ambient noise levels in the suburban development, too.  So that's a challenge, to say nothing of dealing with the local CC&Rs.  The ambient noise levels tend to be S5ish.

Right now I'm investigating whether I can install a "W1AB Killer Antenna", which is basically an elevated ground plane that is fed with balanced line through a balun (in order to keep feed line losses low).

Even with the very compromised antennas, I've had decent DX.  Aruba, Bonaire, Brazil, Haiti, Spain (on 75 meters phone!), Slovenia, Cayman Islands, and others.  Not bad for a few days of casual radio fun.

The K3S beauty!  The key is a Kent Twin Paddle (a gift from the XYL).  The straight key is just a plastic Aamco key (which works fine, thanks.)  For phone, I'm using the Heil Pro-3 matching headset, which I also really like.

No comments:

Post a Comment