My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Building the KX3

The "correct" standoffs for my Elecraft KX3 kit arrived in Monday's mail. When I opened the package, I thought that the correct standoffs looked exactly the same as the incorrect standoffs. Did Elecraft send me the wrong standoffs again?

I doubted that they could make the same mistake twice and upon further investigation, I discovered the error of my ways.

Although, the five standoffs look the same, four take a 2-56 size screw while one takes a 4-40 size screw. I could not tell the difference until I tested each standoff with a 2-56 and 4-40 screw.

The inventory list in KX3 assembly manual deserves some of the blame for my error. The list shows the 2-56 standoff as being hexagon-shaped and the 4-40 standoff as round (see figure above). In the kit I received, all five of the 5/15-inch standoffs were round, so when I saw there were no hex 5/16-inch standoffs, I assumed I had five 4-40s and not four 2-56s and one 4-40.

Anyway, now that my inventory of kit parts checked out, I began assembling the kit.

I took my time and assembled the kit very carefully exceeding the 3 to 4 hour estimates for kit completion by about two hours.

I held my breath when I powered up the radio and was happy to see the KX3's LCD light up and display a cacophony of information, while its speaker emitted the sweet sound of ether. Instead of referring to the manual, I plunged right in and started pressing buttons and turning knobs and in a short time, I reached the conclusion that the KX3's receiver was deaf.

I monkeyed around with the buttons, knobs and various menu settings trying to bring the receiver to life without success. I opened the radio and reseated some of the pc boards, but still no luck. Getting nowhere fast, I called it quits for the day, but penned an e-mail to Elecraft describing my radio's predicament.

The next morning, Howard, K6IA, from Elecraft phoned me. He guessed that I had fouled up the KX3's settings and deafened the radio's receiver. He emailed me my radio's default settings file and suggested that I use the KX3 Utility software to load the defaults into the radio and then call him back, which I did.

Howard was correct and the receiver came to life after loading the defaults. I asked him a few questions while I had him on the phone and then thanked him for his help.

Next on my to-do list is to install the 2-meter transverter in the KX3 and build the PX3 panadpter. (I held off installing the transverter while assembling the KX3 because I wanted to be sure that the KX3 worked before complicating matters with the addition of the transverter.)

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