Tuesday, 24 November 2015

KX3 Shield installation

Amongst many deliveries this week, one very welcome package was side plate covers for the KX3. Ive noticed on recent trips that the soft pouch that I use to hold the KX3 is offering very little protection to the knobs.

The side plates allow the installation of a clear cover that is intended to give protection to the delicate front panel.

Installation is easy. It takes less than 10mins and also comes with a Heat sink to help the PA transistors stay cooler for longer. I didn’t want to fit the heat sink at first – I thought it wouldn’t allow the radio to fit in the carry pouch. But as you will see the case I use was able to take both the radio and heat sink. To complete the installation you will need 10minutes of spare time, a screwdriver and a 10mm spanner.

If you own a KX3, use it out and about - this is a quick and simple upgrade you should seriously consider.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Ham Radio & PLT devices

Over the past few years and again recently I have heard a lot of chatter regarding PLT interference. Especially with Ham radio and shortwave bands. These devices plug into a power wall socket in your house and allow you to create a wired network via your mains wiring in the property. It’s a perfect solution for properties that cannot send a wireless signal from one end to another (Just like mine).  It does however have a draw back. In creating a wired network these PLT devices create a lot of mains born interference and this can effectively block out any amateur radio bands.

In recent stories I have heard audio samples and read stories of how these devices can create S9+20db of noise. Thus reducing the amateur bands unusable.

I wanted to see for myself the effect of using PLT devices in my property. So I visited PC World and purchased 2 devices from NetGear. The Powerline 500 promise 500Mbit/s and this would solve a huge problem I have in my home right now, but feared for what it would do to my beloved radio.

The results were interesting and nothing what I expected. You can see my full test in the video below – but for a spoiler alert keep reading....

The results were - It did nothing. It had zero effect on any of the bands I use at home. After the video I monitored the shortwave bands and tried other frequencies. Again, nothing.  I tried it while the network was busy - I streamed 4K films and copied a 25Gb file. Guess what. Nothing.

The moral ? – Don’t believe the hype.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Morse Tutor kits - the details

Its been a few weeks since I last updated you on the progress of my Arduino Morse Tutor. Well I hope this blog post will satisfy those who have shown such a great interest with the project.

The project is being released as a kit for you to purchase, construct and enjoy. It will be available from Kanga Products and will be released in the upcoming weeks.

We have created 2 variations of the kit, based upon feedback we have received from our beta testers.

Standard Edition

The first “standard” kit is available without a display, and has 3 modes. It will generate Letters, Numbers and Mixed. In groups of 5 available from 4WPM to 34WPM and also allow you to insert a character space of between 0.01 and 4.5 seconds.  There is the option of using headphones and also allowing you to connect a key to this kit. This kit will have about 3 to 4 hours of life in it based upon a standard PP3 battery and a moderate volume.

Deluxe edition

The deluxe version has everything the Standard Edition has, with the addition of a 4x20 LCD screen showing you all the characters that are generated and it also has the addition of a Contest Mode.

This mode will generate a call sign, an RST and either a serial number or a locator square.  Again the kit will come with sockets for an telegraph key & headphones. Early tests have shown that this kit will last about 2.5 – 3 hours at a moderate volume again using a PP3.

The delay at present is finding a cost effective enclosure that is both rugged, small and suits your and our needs for a truly portable Morse Tutor.

You can register your interest by clicking here, and at the bottom of this post is a video of the 2 prototypes I have created.

Tech Specs

Fully silk screened PCB
Thru Hole components
65mA – 78mA current draw
9v – 12v power supply
Tone Frequency – 300Hz – 900Hz
Modes :
Calls *
Display 20x4 LCD *
Telegraph Key (Straight – option of K1A iambic keyer)
(* = Available on the deluxe model only)