Sunday, March 31, 2013

K2 Front Panel Completed

The front panel is now completed and so far the build is going well, a few minor issues where there have been some solder dry joints and bridges but nothing major. With the Easter break upon us I’ve had a few work free days so that I have managed to make a good start and things are progressing nicely and hopefully I’m ahead of schedule.

My old vinyl record disc anti static mat makes and Ideal building pad and attached to my anti static wrist band I happily work away with the radio playing some background rock music and drinking vast amounts of coffee! 

I picked up an interesting tip for checking dry joint which is to hold up a bright torch behind the PCB board and check each joint; pinpricks of light will appear if the solder is dry or incomplete.

 Resistance tests on each completed PCB board were a little worrying as my experience with a DMM is not great but a quick lesson on the web got me started and the tests were not as bad as I thought. 

 It’s noticeable that if I work too long I make silly errors, so I must pace myself and remember that mistakes can happen when you have been over doing it!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

K2 Build Begins

Inventory completed, I’ve cracked on and made a start on the Control board which is the first of the three PCB boards that have to be completed. 

So far so good with no initial problems, I’m using some thinner solder wire than previous builds and it definitely makes a difference, I only wish I’d done this for the OHR100. 

I’ve managed to install all the capacitors, resistors, diodes and begun work installing the transistors. Hopefully by tomorrow I should have the Control board completed.

I've managed to take over the conservatory at the back of the house which is a small well lit room  and ideal for building purposes as it's out the way and I can leave everything in place knowing it wont be disturbed. With the radio turned up I am left to my own devices and can happily solder away!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

K2 Arrives

Finally I have my hands on the K2 kit!
It’s taken a long time but at last the kit arrived in this morning’s post. I’ve already had a quick peek and begun the inventory checks. There's a lot to check but everything is so neatly placed in the box it’s almost a shame to unpack it. I love how each individual packet is labelled with a note of who packed it, it’s a real nice touch.
 Not so neat now as I've had a good rummage.

Hopefully I’ll have the inventory done by the end of this week and then I can begin the build. I will adhere to my usual rules, those being to take it slow and steady and check everything as I go along, normally I’m happy doing two hour slots but we will see how it goes. 
 The manual is huge, more like a novel!

I’ll try to take some pictures as I go along, but there are plenty of websites around who describe the build in detail so I won’t be doing a specific build sheet. 
 The start of the inventory check, each bag is unpacked placed in a separate box and ticked off
I’ve also been in touch with Elecraft and ordered the 100 watt PA and the audio filter, (the UK distributor only had the basic kit). 
Obviously more to follow as I progress.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kent Paddle Key

Some good news at last, my Kent key kit arrived and after a fairly simple build is now connected up to the FT 1000MP V. 

The only snag having rarely used a paddle was which way round I should connect the dashes and dots. After watching a few demonstrations on the web I quickly sorted it out, though not before attempting to practice with the dots on the right paddle and the dahs on the left! (I wondered why it didn’t feel right)!

First impressions on tapping away are pretty good, I thought I would really struggle but it actually seems to come reasonably naturally, obviously I’m fairly slow at the moment but speed will come with practice.

I have to admit it's a beautifully crafted piece of kit and looks great sitting in front of the rig. It's quite chunky and  has a good weight so it doesn't slide around even with my clumsy attempts, I'm very pleased with it.

Almost forgot to add the K2 is coming next week
Long story short, the UK Elecraft dealer suddenly has a K2 in stock and by chance when ringing them to inquire about another product they happened to mentioned it. Strange indeed, but hell,I bought it there and then in case I was dreaming and the kit should arrive next week, happy days!

Monday, March 18, 2013

K2 Blues

Well once again my bad luck with overseas purchases has struck. 

At the end of last week I rang the UK Elecraft dealer trying to find out if there was any progress and suffice to say there was no change in my order and consequently no sign of my K2 arriving. 

From what I could gather the kit had not even been ordered and it seems they are much more interested in the K3 KX3 or KX1 orders and certainly don’t stock the K2 kits here in the UK. I'm not even sure if they've ever ordered a K2 for a customer, (I got the impression they didn't like the fact that someone might complain if they made a hash of building it).

Thoroughly disappointed I cancelled the order as I could see that I just wasn’t getting anywhere. The price of the pound against the dollar has recently taken a hit and is not brilliant at the moment so ordering direct from Elecraft is a possibility but may prove costly; I guess I’m going to have to wait. 

The only other option is to see if any come up on Ebay but of course I lose the fun of building the kit, the ideal situation would be something like a partly built kit but I doubt that will happen. 

So unfortunately I just have to accept that I'm going to have to wait a little longer for my K2.
To cheer me up I ordered the Kent twin paddle key kit which should be arriving in the next day or two, hopefully concentrating on the build and learning to use a paddle will take my mind off the K2!
................C'est la vie!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Time For a Switch

Many may be surprised that as an ardent CW fan (I rarely speak on the radio) I’ve never used a paddle key, having stuck with a straight key for nearly 16 years. Actually I tell a lie, I have, but a long time ago when I was first licensed and really it was too early and I was put off by the experience. 

Now that I am tapping away on a daily basis my Morse has moved on and I can quite happily converse at 20 wpm, the trouble is my sending hovers around 18 wpm max and if I try to speed up with a straight key mistakes naturally happen and it get uncomfortable after a few qso's. I could persevere and stretch myself (and sometimes I do), but quite honestly I should have used a paddle some time ago.

I love straight keys having 5 different keys ranging from a very nice “Stillwell”, a Himound, an old Watson and a couple of Czech keys these being the two I use most of the time. But as I said you find yourself limited and I think now the time has come to move to paddles. 

I’ve been watching Ebay to see what’s about and spot any bargains but so far with little luck. I want to start with something fairly moderate like a Kent and see how I get on. Hopefully with time and practice I will switch over fairly easily but it won’t happen overnight, so I must remember to be patient and put in loads of practice. 

Once I’ve bought the paddle I will post up some pictures, any advice on switching from straight to paddle will be greatly received!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

K2 Ordering Issues

When ordering kits and bits from overseas my luck always seems to run out. The OHR 100A took nearly 4 weeks to arrive, evidently it had got lost in the vast empty space of the UK postal and customs service!

Two weeks have passed since I ordered the K2 and still no sign, so I was getting slightly agitated. I emailed the UK Elecraft distributor to enquire of any news, the reply was not good, quote: "Elecraft are out of stock of the K2 at this moment".

Now not that I'm suspicious but I know as do most potential Elecraft Kit owners if I go on to the Elecraft website there is a page all about stock levels, naturally if we have just ordered our new kits we like to see that all things are in order before we pay out are hard earned cash. So on reading the mail from the UK distributor I went to double check, because I distinctly remember when I ordered my K2 I checked the Elecraft website for stock.

Well, someone is telling porky pies because the Elecraft site clearly states K2s are in stock. Hmm, some peeps may call me a pessimistic old git, but my initial feelings is that my order was either mislaid or forgotten, (perhaps I'm wrong), but what's the betting that in approximately two weeks from the date of this post I receive my K2?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

K2 The Wait Continues

Coming up to the 2nd week from ordering the K2 so I’m hoping it should arrive in the next few days, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes another week. Sometimes customs are pretty good and things go through quickly and sometimes it can take forever. 

Meantime I’ve been playing with the OHR100-A and getting some pretty good QSOs all over Europe, it really is a great little rig, the receiver is very sensitive and picks up weak signals just as well as my FT1000MP V but of course I have all the filters for the FT and so can narrow everything down. With the OHR100 you’re a little limited but providing the QRM isn’t too bad and using the bandwidth you can have some fun with just 5 watts.

I’ve taken the two meter yagi down, I just wasn’t using it and I could put the rotator to much better use with something like a Hex or another Moxon. Two meters is fairly quiet round here and to be honest I rarely chat on the bands, looking in the log my last conversation on the radio was over two years ago! With the Yagi and the 50MHz inverted V both sitting doing nothing I might just advertise with the local club just to see if anyone wants them or maybe just dismantle them both.

 Re another antenna we’ll see what I can come up with once I’ve done a bit more research. I am limited in what size I can use, having a cobweb, a 30m vertical and an inverted V all up in the garden does clog things up and a great big Hex or Moxon might not go down too well!