I was wondering if I might get some insight, perspective and counsel on
Elecraft CW QRP DX radios from the group.
About six years ago, I lived across the street from MIT Lincoln
Laboratory and Hanscom AFB. Space was limited so I built a NorCal 40A a
purchased a Hi-Q-Antennas 380 Tune A Dipole NVIS for portable use inside
or on a porch. Subsequently I purchased an older non-dsp built K2 QRP
To the point, I’m still not all that happy with the level of noise on
the K2. If I connect a miracle antenna or the hi-q-antennas between the
NorCal 40A and Elecraft K2 the Norcal 40A is much less fatiguing to
listen to and seems to “hear” a little better. Additionally, a couple
of hams from the local clubs CWA and PART helped me set up the
HI-Q-Antenna 380 TAD in September at my new home and then we tried a $5
home made 20M dipole between two trees oer a shed that was
“significantly” louder on both the K2 and Norcal. The NorCal 40A and K2
are being switched back and forth in the same setting and environment.
We had an MFJ antenna analyzer to test with as well – the 380 TAD tunes
1:1 beautifully and is optimized for 40M and military frequencies. It’s
an impressive piece of engineering. So here I am with an antenna(s)
that cost more than the K2 radio, and satisfied with neither. I’ve sent
the K2 to Elecraft’s Gary Surrency twice who certifies its one of the
ten best sounding and 10 best built radios he’s seen. I’m using a
Samlex power supply. I purchased a Cobra Ultralite Sr. with a Balun
Designs balun that I hope to have in the trees in the next few weeks
when the tree guy gets out from under his ice storm damage workload.
Maybe this wil be a game changer?
I’m thinking to go to a KX1, or K1 (build or purchase) or the Icom-703+
with 400 Inrad. Would these be quieter radios more like the 40A? I
understand the 703+ and K2 are similar generation/concept designs. Why
is the Norcal 40A much quieter than the K2? The radios are from the
same pedigree and designer. I thought about the basic K3 but I’m not
sold on the K2. Which receiver is better between the KX1, K1? I like
the concept of the KX1 as I‘m a functional quadriplegic in an electric
wheelchair and smaller packages appeal to me. However, I also have
profound hearing loss and would need ipod amplified speakers on the KX1.
The K1 appeals as well, but will it be as fatiguing as the K2? Would
the 703+ be quieter than all of the above as well ? How much better is
the K1 or KX1 receiver than the 703+? I also have spare 28A and 60A gel
cell wheelchair batteries – could I power the KX1 or K1 with these?
My interest is QRP DX [CW] and in general lifelong learning about the
world and environment. I have been essentially off the air for 20+
years and used to be 25-30wpm. My first rig was an Icom 735.
> ...hams ... helped me set up the HI-Q-Antenna 380 TAD ... and then we
> tried a $5 home made 20M dipole between two trees oer a shed that was
> “significantly” louder on both the K2 and Norcal. The NorCal 40A and
> K2 are being switched back and forth in the same setting and environment.
> We had an MFJ antenna analyzer to test with as well – the 380 TAD tunes
> 1:1 beautifully and is optimized for 40M and military frequencies. It’s
> an impressive piece of engineering. So here I am with an antenna(s)
> that cost more than the K2 radio, and satisfied with neither.
I've had a four-band K1 for more than eight years and it is my favorite
all-time QRP rig. But I don't have other Elecraft rigs, so I can't
provide any comparative observations.
With respect to antenna performance, the significant improvement that you
experienced using that cheap dipole compared to that very expensive short
loading-coil tuned contraption is entirely normal. Outside of using a
full-sized rotatable HF beam, nothing outperforms the simple full-sized
(no traps or loading coils!) half-wave center-fed wire dipole. If you
have any room at all, you'll be much better off installing resonant wire
dipoles wherever possible.
They don't *need* to be mounted particularly high, either, although higher
would be better. I've worked many DX countries from all around the world
using 20m and 15m wire dipoles less than eight feet above the ground.
Beware of high-priced shortened HF vertical antennas or dipoles. Any
*direct* performance comparison along side the wire dipole will always
be grossly disappointing. In the case of verticals, in particular, if the
grounding system is poor the on-air performance difference can easily be
five S-units (30 db)!
There is little doubt that your short Hi-Q TAD dipole is performing as
well as the physics of such a device will allow.
Mike / KK5F
(One who has fiddled with HF antennas for more than 40 years.)
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