Tuesday, August 27, 2013


My health has recently taken a bit of a turn for the worse. I am going to take a break from ham radio and from posting to this blog.It's just something I don't need to be doing at the moment. My thanks to all of you who have stuck with  me and followed my ham radio activities for the last few years.I'll be back! but only when I feel that I am doing anything of interest and am able to.

I still plan on posting updates on my progress with my battle with brain cancer in my other blog One Foot in the Grave. The fight goes on!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Five minute wonder

My  Nevada WH3080 weather station has turned out to be a five minute wonder. Barely 3 months since we installed it, it has quit working. The base unit is no longer receiving information from the sensors.

We checked the batteries. The batteries in the sensor unit, which are supposed to be charged by solar power, were almost dead. We replaced them by some ordinary alkaline cells. But there is still no communication.

I think it is going in the garbage bin. It was whilst trying to reset the unit that I fell over in the garden and flattened some of Olga's plants. It is cheap Chinese rubbish.If I don't throw it in the trash I expect Olga will.

To theit credit Nevada did offer to exchange it for a new replacement when we couldn't get the rainfall gauge to work. But I threw away the packaging so we couldn't take up the offer. Either I can go back to using the one I built myself fom a kit which only recorded temperature, humidity and pressure, or abandon the idea of having a weather station altogether.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

K3 gets a hearing aid

There was a slight lift on 6m this afternoon, enabling me to try out my latest acquisition: an Elecraft PR6-10 preamp for the K3. A few days ago I noticed that the KX3 had a more sensitive receiver than the K3 on 6m. I couldn't allow my K3 to be outshone by its baby brother so the preamp was ordered. I felt that the K3 could do with a boost on some of the lower bands as well so I opted for the new PR6-10 dual band preamp which despite the name covers the range from 6m to 12m. It was obtained and delivered to me very speedily by Elecraft's UK agents Waters and Stanton. This was one Elecraft item that actually worked out cheaper to buy from the UK!

The preamp was very easy to install. It is designed to fit on the back of the K3 using the BNC connectors for RX IN and RX OUT provided by the KXV3A board. The preamp's connectors are exactly the same distance apart as the ones on the K3 so you just need a pair of BNC couplers which Elecraft thoughtfully provided. I saw from the manual that the preamp was installed like this but I was afraid I would not have enough distance between the back of the K3 and the wall so I had ordered a couple of BNC patch leads as a precaution. In the end they weren't needed.

Elecraft also provided a made-up cable to link the preamp to the K3's switched 12V output and its ACC socket so you can select the bands the preamp is enabled for. On other bands a pair of pass-through connectors are enabled. This was the main factor for choosing the ready-made Elecraft preamp instead of a cheaper home-brew one as it meant I didn't lose the use of the RX IN and RX OUT sockets that are utilized by the MFJ noise cancelling unit which is essential here on the 20m band.

Installing the preamp involved dismantling the entire station.
Although fitting the preamp to the K3 was easy, getting access to the back of the transceiver was not, and entailed the dismantling of almost the entire G4ILO station. Taking it apart may have been one thing, but putting it all together again is another. Labels fell off disconnected cables, other cables disappeared down the back of the table and had to be fished out again. If that wasn't enough, the meter illumination lamp in the MFJ magnetic loop control box chose this moment to fail, resulting in a lot of time wasted after I had reconnected it trying to find out what I had done with its power supply.

Despite these hassles, installing the PR6-10 was worth the trouble, producing a clearly audible improvement in signal to noise ratio even on 12m. I can now hear stations that can't hear me!