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G/NP-031 06/Nov/2019

My son was on a school trip to a bunk barn in Halton Gill yesterday. I was to drop my son and one of his class mates at the venue at 10am. The night before it struck me that the bunk barn is only a couple of miles away from the starting point to walk up Birks Fell G/NP-031. I couldn’t really say no to an opportunity to squeeze in a cheeky SOTA activation could I?

The pub in Litton at the start of the walk.

I got a very (very!) good deal on an MTR-3B last month and I thought a zero pressure activation (no points available) would be a good time to fire it up on air for the first time. I haven’t tried a commercial MTR before so I was interested to see how the rig would work.

The walk up through the farm yard and along the well defined path was pleasant and Radio 4 kept me amused along the way. Breaking away from the path and heading towards to trig point brought me to a very boggy area but I managed ok in my 15 year old Scarpas.

View across the boggy bit towards Pen Y Ghent G/NP-010

Trig point

My venerable SOTAbeams BH3 (40/30/20m) seemed like the perfect match for my MTR-3B, so it was deployed on the 7m SOTApole. There was very little wind so I didn’t bother with any additional guy lines.

I hadn’t experenced a bought MTR before, all my others are home built. It seems as the the default keyer speed is slower on the commercial rigs. I attempted to use the direct frequency entry function to set 7.032 MHz and thought the speed was a bit slow, so I used the speed menu to take it up a notch. I fired in the frequency of 7.032 and was just getting set up when another SOTA station started calling, no problem, I shifted up to 7.033.

My MTR collection (should I call someone?)

I haven’t programmed any keyer memories yet into the MTR-3B,so I had to call CQ the old fashioned way by hand, such hardship! I was surprised by the number of callers, I worked my way through 28 QSOs. I was very pleased to work a number of G stations, something I’ve missed for a long time. I suddenly realised that I had been sending quite fast, I do hope it was OK. Received signal reports were higher than I expected when compared to incoming signals, whilst there was no problem at all, I began to suspect that the receiver could benefit from a re-alignment.

Switching to 30m brought a couple more contacts but stations were down in the noise with me, as stated above, I’m almost certain that a re-alignment will improve things.

20m brought in another 2 QSO’s but again, the signal reports didn’t tally. Rather than continue with a receiver that seemed a bit deaf, I decided to call it quits. 32 QSO’s on a weekday is not to be sniffed at!

I looked at the RBN data and it appears as though the frequency calibration of the MTR is slightly off.

So, to sign off, I really enjoyed my last minute activation, I think my new MTR will be a great asset once I’ve given it a bit of TLC. I’m probably just very picky and I like stuff to be as good as it possibly can be. My MTR-3B is ex-demo and probably not represenative. Sorry to any callers that I missed, hopefully work you soon.

I must remember to program the MTR-3B keyer memory!


The anvil seems to be bringing in the chasers :smile:


For what it is worth, we exchanged the same report and I happened to be running my TS-130V (10 watts) which is probably a bit mean in the S meter department. Unusually I actually did look at the meter. I reckon you’d have merited another couple of S points on most rigs. I’d probably have given you the higher report had I not looked and as a result been unduly influenced. :grinning:

It was good to catch you, especially as inter-G has been lacking until relatively recently.

73, Gerald

Was pleased to hear you call in Gerald, thank you.

OK on the report, it’s totally guess work of course on the MTR, for the strongest signals I give 599, if the signals are loud, but not the loudest, I give 579. For low to medium signals I give 559. If I’m missing the odd bit or struggling down in the noise, the lowest report I give is 339. I (mostly) follow Roy G4SSH suggestion of doubling up report numbers 339, 449, 559 etc. An added complication is the fact that the volume on the MTR is quite low but has a limiter for very strong signals.

73, Colin


I too judge the signal strength qualitatively even though my KX2 has a S meter (which reads consistently low compared to my FT817 and FT857). I think we humans are the best judge.

Very nice. And Yes.

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At least they’re fairly small, not boat anchors… :wink:

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Do you have the preamp on? The KX3 S-meter is designed to read correctly with the 20 dB preamp enabled. I presume the KX2 is the same. With the preamp, it is calibrated to S9 for 50 µV and 6 dB increments.

There is a documented absolute mode that corrects for the preamp gain, but that is not yet implemented.


That’s probably why Colin carries an anvil, just in case :smile:

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I do for 10MHz and higher bands (on 7MHz and below the pre-amp brings the noise up too much) and I have the IPO turned on on the FT857 and still the KX2 S-meter reads a few points lower than the 857. I even sent the KX2 back to the UK dealer for testing and they said there’s nothing wrong with it.

For example, the S-meter may indicate a signal is only S3 to S4 but if, to my ears and in comparison to other signals heard, it sounds fairly good to good, I report a S5 or S6.

Absolutely do the right thing for conditions.

When you want to compare S-meter readings between the KX2 or KX3 and another radio, switch in the preamp. Or, assuming the KX2 has a 20 dB preamp like the KX3, add three S-units to the reading (18 dB).