Elecraft KX2 Announced

Eric Swartz WA6HHQ announced the new KX2 QRP transceiver this morning at FDIM 2016. It’s smaller than the KX3, but is still packed with features and performance.

Posted in QRP

Collinsville, IL Hamfest 2016

Murrell (W9ISP) and I traveled to the Collinsville, IL hamfest held on January 23. Its quite a drive, but we have made the trip for many years. Its the best hamfest within driving distance during the winter months. This year the hamfest was in a new venue. Well, not actually a new venue, but a larger section of the same building.

005As you can see, this is a large space, much larger than years past. There were vendors set up in the hallways outside also. Even with the larger space, the floor was VERY crowded at times. This was partly due to the poor vendor space layout in sections of the floor. Overall, lots of space, vendors and gear for sale.

Here are some of the things I found at the hamfest:







The 1″ x 32 TPI air dux coil stock is getting really hard to fine. I picked this one up for a buck. The insulators are for my remote antenna tuner project. I broke the insulator on the tuner box, so for a couple of dollars I was glad to find these.









Bud aluminum enclosures for $.50 each, and a 200 pf Johnson cap for $5. I’ve paid as much as $20 each for these on ebay.









Brand new bag of ty-wraps for $1, and an RF probe for a VOM $1.







Fairly new CB radio for $5. This one I bought to put in the truck, along with this external speaker. I know what you’re thinking, but a CB is sometimes the best method of figuring out why you have been stopped in traffic of the interstate for an hour, etc.

006I always find something rare at hamfests. This time I saw this Multi-Elmac PMR-8 mobile receiver in mint condition. I have never seen one of these in person before. It was made by the Multi-Products company in the 1950’s. Its a 9 tube, dual conversion receiver that is extremely compact. Here is a link to W8ZR’s excellent page on the PMR-8. W8ZR PMR-8 Page

004The most unusual thing I saw at the ‘Fest was this. A guy was giving away a hard boiled egg with every purchase. This was a new one on me. No I did not take the egg……

NorCal Paddles – Part III

IMG_7134Here are the completed Plexiglas paddle pieces. They are supplied in the kit pre-drilled, but you have to cut them to the desired shape and polish the edges. I decided to use the classic shaped paddle shown in the instructions. After cutting the pieces to the rough shape, I used a flat file to remove the saw marks. The edges were polished using a 220 grit foam sanding block. The whole process took about an hour and a half.




I assembled the paddle to get an idea how everything fit, and if any changes were needed. I quickly decided to replace all the brass nuts and washers with stainless. They were too small to polish and coat with clear enamel. I had spent so much time polishing the larger brass pieces and coating them to preserve the finish, I didn’t want the brass nuts and washers to require periodic polishing.










Altogether, I have about 15 hours invested. I really like how everything looks so far. All I have left to do now is install the wiring and make final adjustments.

Norcal Paddle Kit – Part II



Here is the paddle base with the final coat of paint. As stated in the last post, I am not very good at painting things, but I think it came out very well. The red color is going to look great with the polished brass parts on it.





After the brass pieces were cleaned and de-burred in the shaker (see part I Post) I wanted to polish them to a mirror finish. I tried Brasso on a cloth, but that didn’t work. I tried Brasso on a Dremel tool buffing wheel. That did nothing more than make a mess. I had the best results using a small wire wheel on the Dremel tool, followed by a 220 grit foam sanding block.



When all the bras pieces were polished, I wanted to preserve that shine by applying a clear finish. I used Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel. Before applying the clear finish, I plugged the threaded holes with screws, and the other holes with dowel rods to keep the clear enamel out.





Here are the brass pieces after applying the clear coat.  I’m very pleased with the results. I installed the center magnet after the clear coat dried. The instructions say the magnet is a “press fit”, and you should use a vise and wood blocks to install it. Since I had already clear coated the pieces, I didn’t want to ruin the finish with a vice. I used a small file to carefully enlarge the hole in the brass. Then I carefully tapped it into place.


At this point I have another 4 hours in the project, for a total of 12 hours. In the next installment, I will do the final assembly.