Radio - HF

Some of the equipment currently in use at my station

Main interests are CW and Digi-modes

Home Up 1980's & 1990's 2000 & Later KW1000 Yaesu FT-102

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Elecraft K3 

Ordered Feb 2008, delivered late Jun 2008. If reviews and lab tests are to be believed this is the best rig on the amateur market at the moment - bar none. I wouldn't argue with those findings although you may need to be operating in extreme conditions to see much difference between the K3 and a number of very competent competitors.

In the casual CW operating environment the IC737 (below) is almost as good and in some ways a little easier to operate. However, when a very strong station comes up close by (within 2 kHz) the K3 comes into its own and remains completely unaffected until the other station is within a couple of hundred Hz of your own frequency.

The great beauty of the K3 construction is that you can tailor it to meet your own needs - if you don't need a second receiver, don't buy one. A basic 'no frills' K3 can be quite an economical purchase, but once you start to add all the extras a fully loaded rig represents a considerable cash investment.

When I placed my order I decided to buy all the options I thought I might need to save on future postage costs. This included the 100 watt PA, Auto ATU, Transverter Interface, General Coverage module and five Crystal Filters (13kHz, 2.7kHz, 1.0kHz, 500Hz and 200Hz).

A very useful addition has been a home brew panadapter based on the Softrock Lite SDR and M0KGK software. See the Softrock page. This arrangement is now redundant since I purchased the P3 panadapter. (See below).

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P3 Panadapter

Panadapter, bandscope, call it what you will it provides an excellent view of what is happening on the band. The display span can be adjusted from 2kHz to 200kHz, although the best settings seem to be 20kHz for CW and 50kHz for SSB. The display on the left highlights a 3kHz swathe of PSK activity on 20m. Once you use one of these you can't live without one!

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Elecraft KPA500 Linear Amp

This compact 500 watt amplifier fits into the same size case as the K3 transceiver and covers 160 to 6m. The output stages are run from a linear 70 volt supply which utilises a large toroidal transformer. A switched mode supply would have been the obvious choice for a small cabinet, but the linear supply eliminates any possibility of RF hash. 

With a suitable interconnecting cable the amp follows the K3 band switching and once a few parameters have been set up the K3 effectively becomes a 500 watt transceiver.

Two rows of LED's indicate power output and SWR. The orange LCD displays various parameters, voltage, current, temperature, power, SWR etc.

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KAT500 Auto Antenna Tuner 

My latest acquisition from Elecraft. With a suitable connection to the K3/KPA500 no manual intervention is necessary. Rated at 500 watts with SWR up to 10:1 and a kilowatt if the SWR is less than 3:1. It certainly matches my 42m random wire without complaint on all HF bands from 160m upwards.

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K2 100w Transceiver

Very compact 100w transceiver purchased second hand in 2016. Needed some alignment, particularly the filter set-up. Of the many options available for this rig only the 100w PA, SSB and 160m modules have been fitted. Works well, I like the built-in keyer for CW.


Icom 735.

I bought an IC735 new in 1991 with a 500Hz CW filter and it was my main station rig for 12 years (until 2003).That original rig was passed on to my son Duncan (M0KGK) when he obtained a licence in 2004. Not a very large "box" but it pushes out 100 watts and in it's day was an excellent receiver. General coverage receive and totally reliable. A little outdated now, nevertheless it fully met my requirements for a number of years.  

A recent requirement for something portable to take travelling in our motorhome resulted in the purchase of another 735. This one is a tidy example fitted with the narrower 250Hz CW filter. Everything works as it should and the sensitivity is as good as I remember the original.

Vibroplex twin paddle morse key. This generates the dits and dahs that make up the Morse code (CW). Most people seem to opt for the Bencher paddle but I have always preferred the more solid feel of the Vibroplex. 

Keyer is home brew built round the K1EL PIC design. Speed variable from 10-50 wpm. Now mostly redundant as I use the K3's excellent internal keyer, but should be useful for driving the recently acquired IC735.