Today, my brand-new (as of Thursday) KX2 got its first outing ”just in case” I’d get time to play with it while out for a walk at the National Trust’s Dinefwr Park here in Wales. At lunch time, DH and I found the perfect sheltered, south-facing spot for picnic on a tucked away bench below the wall of Dinefwr Castle and high over the river Tywi valley floor - also perfect for getting my radio out. Despite still waiting for some of the accessories for the radio, it did the job and we enjoyed listening to various stations on 20m, including Irish, Spanish and German stations chatting away. This is my first HF rig and it was my first time on the HF bands, so I’m sure you can imagine the thrill of it all!
I had hoped to do some SOTA chasing, so had a look at the recent spots and quickly found Stephan ( DL/HB9EAJ/P) dealing with what sounded like a pile-up on DM/BW-854, Höchsten. I waited until it had calmed down a bit, but still didn’t managed to get through and didn’t want to keep DH waiting too long. Still, we both really enjoyed listening to Stephan and his chasers in Europe and the US even!
I’m still finding my way around the KX2 and the HF bands for that matters, but so far I’m very happy with it and I can’t wait to get some proper (portable) chasing done and to get out on some hills to do some activations of my own.
Today’s outing also provided me with yet another reason to get my CW copying abilities up to scratch. When you’ve got lots of people within earshot, CW is probably a lot less intrusive than chatting away on SSB. But that too is a work in progress.
Welcome to the club. Be careful it can be addictive!
Welcome and I hope to read your activation reports from deepest Wales soon!
What antenna were you using? I find chasing with a QRP radio is frustrating on SSB from my home QTH even with a dipole strung as high as I can get it. From a summit things are very different, partly from the elevation of course but also because the chasers want to hear you. When it’s in the other direction the weak signal often struggles.
CW is different and most of my chasing from home is now in CW. It is good practice for summit activations, I only started on CW a year ago, and QRP CW will get through when SSB won’t.
I’ve had my KX2 about two and a half years now and after numerous SOTA trips it’s still my favourite portable HF rig. In case you don’t already have it, one option I highly recommend is the internal ATU - it seems to load up pretty much anything.
I’ve used the KX2 with linked wire dipoles, end-fed half-waves and a vertical antenna getting good reports with my 10W of CW even on bands for which some of the antennas weren’t designed for. If you get on-air feedback on your SSB mic gain and speech compression settings your 10W will work well on SSB too with an external mic.
73 Andy G8CPZ / M0ALC
I had the AX1 with me today. I’ve got other options for use at home or in the hills, but I needed something selfcontained for today. We were really high up, but with a castle wall behind us, so a bit of an odd position, still, it clearly worked.
Until I get the bits and pieces that are on backorder, I have to hold the radio in my left hand if I’m using the AX1 (unless I can lean it on something) and that’s the hand I use for sending CW, so it gets too awkward to use. Otherwise that’s my plan too, to chase CW from home to improve my skills enough to take it onto the hills. Having a spot to listen out for makes it so much easier than copying unknown call signs, especially if they have pre- and suffixes.
I do have the ATU, it was one of my ”must haves” when deciding on which one to get. Better to have something and turn it off if you don’t want it, than not have it and wish you did.
Most signals came in really strongly, so it’s clearly good enough on the RX side. I don’t actually have an external mic for it yet, so I might not have used the internal mic correctly (the manual is suprisingly vague on what I consider imporant points like that). But something about your comment made me think of my Kenwood ear piece with mic, which might work. I’ll have to try it tomorrow.
I have a similar type of antenna, the Super Antenna MP1 and have managed a sort of S2S using CW with an operator in Québec from the top of a low hill in Norfolk of all places. Who thought Norfolk had hills?
Congrats on the new toy !!! … and best of the luck with the CW. I am also a recent SOTA activator and as others say… it’s addictive. So far I’ve done 5 out of the 12 summits over here in G/SC, Somerset but I must say that the summits over in GW/SW land are very appealing!
73, Lea M0XPO
Welcome and congrats on your CW skills! You are entering a hobby that you will enjoy for many, many years.
I am also a KX2 user. You got one of the best radios for SOTA that’s available (in my opinion)! You have the internal tuner which is excellent. I do not know for which items you are still waiting, but I would try to get a bigger antenna up. get yourself a glass-fibre pole (fishing rod) of about 6-8 m, a few tent pegs and some string. The exact length of the pole is not critical. I have good results with simple wire dipoles made from speaker cable. The KX-2 can tune 2x 7m with 7m of feeder on all bands from 40m to 10m. For 60m I use 2x 14m and 8m feeder. The optimum length for such dipole antenna has been discussed here: Random length multi band dipole (with ATU)
External microphones can be found at amazon. This has been discussed here: Alternative KX2 microphone?
Hope to hear you soon!
73 Heinz, OE5EEP
Thanks! I joined Long Island CW club a few months ago and that’s helped a lot with the CW, even if most classes are too late for me.
We do have loads of summits here, but for many of them, it will be nice to have HF capabilities and not just rely on 2m. GW land seems particularly active at the moment with loads of new activators joining in the fun. It’s great to see!
Sorry that I didn’t hear you on Sunday, since the conditions were pretty good and I was using also 10W RF power.
This was my second activation on Sunday, and since something was wrong with my standard EFHW antenna, I was using the shorter backup EFHW that works very well on 20m and 10m and reasonably well on 40m.
Further down in this thread I read that you were using an AX1 antenna, I assume with a counterpoise. When I started SOTA more than two years ago, I also tried such compromise antennas, but finally gave up because of bad results. They may work, but they’re simply not efficient.
I recommend that you’ll start with some kind of wire antennas, like center-fed or end-fed dipoles. Since you have a KX2 with an internal tuner, you could also follow the “random wire with counterpoise” route.
Have fun and I hope for a future S2S with you!
Thanks! That’s good to know re your wire dipoles.
I do have a pole that I’ve been using for my 2m slim jim antenna and it will be fine for my end-fed HF antenna too. I got the AX1 for when that wouldn’t be an option, like yesterday. I’ve got the external mic, bipod and tripod antenna attachments and such on backorder, so hopefully I’ll be able to use the radio without turning my head around to see what I’m doing.
I’m going to try propping the radio up somehow and see if I can’t use my little CW Morse pocket paddle-turned-cootie if I’m being careful. Just being a bit impatient, perhaps
Congratulations on the new rig, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy mine!
While you wait for the antenna attachments, if you have happen to have the end plates a judiciously placed clothes peg helps keep the AX1 upright when used with a right angle BNC connector.
Also, if you are thinking of getting one of their keys that attaches I found I much prefer the smaller and cheaper of the two options shown in the photo.
Very clever! Unfortunately I have neither (end plates or angled BNC connector). But I might be able to rig something else up with a short length of coax cable. Will have to play around with it a little and see what works.
I was going to get the end plates until I watched a video on how to attach them and decided that I can be careful and won’t be out in hot weather anyway. It’s too expensive and delicate for me to want to take it a part to that extent.