Thursday, September 24, 2015
Taylor Swift and My KX3
In May, I bought an Elecraft KX3 radio kit with almost all the options at Hamvention. Out of stock in Dayton, Elecraft shipped the kit to me and it arrived about two weeks later.
After some confusion on my part about receiving some wrong hardware, I built the kit and as I wrote here, I initially thought the receiver was deaf. Elecraft came to the rescue and had me install the default configuration file because I probably messed up some settings that deafened the receiver.
As I wrote back in June, "the receiver came to life after loading the defaults," but despite what I wrote, I still thought that the receiver was not that receptive and not living up to its reputation.
My spouse and daughter went to Gillette Stadium to see Taylor Swift in concert on a Saturday evening in July, so I had the house to myself for a good hunk of the day and planned to use the time to install the 2-meter receiver in my KX3.
About 45 minutes into the process, I had to disconnect the cable that mated the HF antenna connector assembly to the automatic antenna tuner circuit board. Then I had to remove the automatic antenna tuner circuit board.
After doing so, I noticed that the cable I had just disconnected seemed to flop around too easily. Examining the cable, I saw that only one strand of the stranded wire cable was actually connected to the HF antenna connector assembly! When I touched the cable, the remaining strand of wire broke. too.
I'm not sure what caused the cable problem. I may have broke it during the kit assembly, but I don't know how because I only had to deal with the cable briefly during assembly. It was not like I was moving it around a lot and weakening the solder joint.
Anyway, I closely examined what I needed to repair, but there was no way I could fix it. My eyesight isn't what it used to be and even with magnifying glasses, I was not sure where the cable was connected to the assembly. And even if I figured it out and soldered the cable to the assembly properly, the cable might now be too short to mate with the automatic antenna tuner circuit board.
I called Elecraft Monday and explained my plight and they agreed to send me a new HF antenna connector assembly, which arrived a week later.
Meanwhile, serious family health issues required my attention and there was little time for radio throughout most of August. The health issue was resolved two weeks ago and after the dust settled, I hunkered down and began working on the KX3 again.
Monday evening, I replaced the HF antenna connector assembly and Tuesday evening, I finished installing the 2-meter transverter. After buttoning up the radio, I connected it to my 40-meter dipole, powered it on and held my breath.
The radio came to life tuned to WTIC (1080 kc) and the Red Sox game was in progress. I immediately noticed that the receiver sounded a whole lot better than before the Taylor Swift concert.
I tuned up and down the AM band and could hear one or more stations on most of the AM channels, which was not the case before Ms. Swift took the stage. I switched to the HF ham bands and the receiver seemed much more sensitive than before.
Now I was worried about the transmitter. Was it stressed transmitting into that single strand of wire? I inserted my HF SWR/watt meter checked the transmitter's output and it did not seem worse for wear with the meter measuring 10 watts more or less.
I am not an engineer, just a ham who has been around the band a few times, so I don't know if the single strand of wire was the cause of the receiver's deafness. Would the receiver care if it was connected to the antenna via a single strand of wire or multiple strands of wire? My guess is not and perhaps there were other issues with the HF antenna connector assembly.
Anyway, I am very happy with the KX3 now and plan to build the PX3 on Saturday when my spouse and daughter go to the Big E to see Kansas in concert.