G4YSS:G/SP5-SP8-SP2 & X1M Trial,26-02-14

G4YSS Activation Report G/SP5, SP8 & SP2 (& X1M Trial) on 26-02-14

(For X1M info see SP2 activation and Appendix 1 at the foot of this report.)

GX0OOO/P on:
G/SP-005 Pendle Hill
G/SP-008 Boulsworth Hill
G/SP-002 Black Hill

2m-FM QRO on SP5 & SP8
2m & 40m QRP on SP2
All times UTC.
G4YSS - unaccompanied.

SP5 & SP8:
Kenwood TM702-T; 25 Watt 2m/ 70cm Mobile.
Home-brew vertical J-Pole for 2m. Two-section short aluminium mast.
Icom IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) H/H in reserve (not used on SP5 or SP8).

SP2 only:
Icom IC-E90 Four Band (6-4-2-70) H/H for 2m-FM.
Home-brew vertical J-Pole for 2m.
Xiegu Technology X1M 5-Band CW/ SSB HF QRP Tcvr & Mic.
CW: RS317-033 Toggle Switch (on)-off-(on) mom in 35mm film capsule.
Link-dipole 80-60-40-(30)-20.
5m H/B CFC mast with 1m end sticks.
One 6Ah Li-Po Battery for all three activations.
QRP pack (SP5-SP8): 8kg (17.6 pounds) inc 250ml water.

Ten years have gone by without a G4YSS SOTA activation of these Southern Pennine hills and sadly, though I went there in 1977 for WW2 aircraft archeological purposes, I have never once put Black Hill on the air. Also in order avoid ‘using up’ limited NP targets too quickly, I thought I would try some SP’s for a change. Similar to the 19th February, this was going to be made as easy as possible; the primary purpose being to log some more winter bonus while it’s available.

Instead of the four NP’s of last week, it was to be just three of these small 2-pointers. As it turned out, four SP’s would have been a no-go mainly because of the driving distances between summits. Finally, I had set myself the task of trying out a new piece of SOTA equipment - the X1M HF CW/ SSB QRP rig, which I bought last week. If there was time to spare, this was planned for the final summit.

Another nice thing about this was that I would get to drive on some different roads. After 14 years of SOTA, just the thought of the A66 and A684 roads invokes a real feeling of nausea. If I was going that far south, why not try the M62 on the return? Ten years ago I had no satnav. Navigating my way from one SP to another with all the little towns and a veritable spider’s web of roads in between was something of a nightmare. I had to pore over large scale maps for hours, make waypoints and manually insert a road route in my GPS-12 which I fixed in the car with a home-brew bracket. I had no computer to help me then either. Coming up with routes for the actual climbs was nothing compared to the road journeys. With nowhere to download them to, another sad thing was the total loss of all routes and tracklogs from these early days; all I have is a notebook record of the waypoints. Not so this time. A satnav removes (almost) all the hassle.

The forecast was for showers of rain/ with a brisk wind and summit temps around 3 degrees.

I left Scarborough for the 95 mile drive at 04:36, arriving via York & Harrogate at the start of the route, Barley Lane (SD 81451 41617) by 06:48. I used to go from a little higher up the lane (SD 8142 4189) but though shorter, that way is steep, grassy and uneven compared to the route via the farm, which I cribbed from G0VOF’s video. At least the WX was fine - so far so good!

From Barley Lane at SD 81451 41617, walk WSW up the farm track to turn right onto a footpath at SD 80963 41335, passing through a gate at SD 80892 41358 which gives access to the hill proper. From there it’s steeply up a stone cobbled path via SD 80801 41395 to the lip of the ridge at SD 80625 41798. It’s then just a matter of turning left and following a gentle path along the lip, to the summit (SD 8046 4141).

Today I walked past the trig for a little way in the hope of getting out of the cold wind. A large pile of stones at SD 80458 41255 gave minimal respite but the cloud was down when I arrived. Starting at 07:03, this short ascent took 27 minutes; the well surfaced path helping significantly on the steep ground.

G/SP-005: PENDLE HILL, 557m, 2 pts. 07:30 to 08:43, 2 Deg.C. 25 mph wind. Overcast with low-cloud. Rain & sleet towards the end of the activation and descent. No lying snow. IO83UU, WAB SD84. (EE - Orange phone signal.)

145.400 FM - 16 QSO’s:
G0VOF (pre-shower for once) was in first call with a 59 report on my 10 Watt signal. Mark kindly spotted me and at the same time informed chasers of the day’s targets; namely ‘G/SP-008 & G/SP-002 later.’

After Mark, came 14 other chasers from Manchester to Leicester to York and even Scarborough when Roy G4SSH (34m ASL) called in with a 55 report. Two thirds of chasers were worked with 25 Watts from the Kenwood/ M rig; the rest with 10 Watts. Logged were: G0VOF; G7PIE; 2E0RWB; G0OHY; 2E0JCM; M3MNA; M6MNA; G4SSH; G4UXH; 2E0SRL; M0SSD; G0SNG; M3VHU; M0NWT/M; G0VNV and G1XVF.

144.050 CW - 1 QSO:
Just as I was closing, Roy called in again. I knew that the earlier FM QSO would be neither use nor ornament to him so I offered to try a CW QSO on 144.050 using the FM rig. Roy fired up his FT897 and we QSY’d. Without sidetone I couldn’t really be sure what was going out but I called him as best I could using the PTT on the mic. He came straight back with his callsign and a report which I recognized as 449. I sent back 559.

Without a BFO it’s not easy and I wouldn’t like to do this on a regular basis. However it was OK as a trial. Roy later reported some chirp which would have been caused by the wind blowing into the mic and the modulated sounds generated in the moving plastic parts of the mic in response to my keying. Radio is normally easy for the activator and hard for the chaser but this was the opposite. A tone (MCW) transmitted from the chaser end might make a difference but would the FM receiver resolve it? In theory perhaps not. An external BFO, near in frequency to one of the IF’s, could be tried.

The minute I finished this final QSO the rain arrived, later turning to hail or sleet,. In trying to pull the mast over with the coax so that I wouldn’t have to get wet, I damaged the umbrella on the cairn when two of the spokes went ‘twang.’ It was still raining until I’d walked half way down the hill with what was left of the umbrella, fighting with the wind driven precipitation.

The descent took until 09:07 followed by a 20 mile/ 32 minute drive to a point east of Trawden for SP8.

Ten years ago, in ignorance and for want of something better, I walked from a farm track east of Trawden at SD 9256 3738. There is space for one car to park without blocking either the road or gates. I always make sure mine is touching the fence. This was repeated today.

The idea was to walk east along the track towards Beaver farm, near where in 2004 I found ladders and stiles (marked then at SD 9281 3736; SD 9282 3731 & SD 9286 3712) to take me over farmland to the hill. Whether I wasn’t paying proper attention I don’t know but I ended up walking easterly along the track to a gate exiting the farmland at SD 9333 3724. I then had to walk back west to climb the hill from SD 9276 3693 via the planned route. All this could have been avoided but sadly it was the rare occasion when I accidentally left my OS map in the car and of course I thought I knew the route.

First you follow a service road as far as a United Utilities building at SD 9283 3679; skirting that to the left to find the path. Just beyond at SD 9294 3664, a kissing gate allows access to the open fell. After that it was plain sailing going SE up a boggy but well defined path for a distance of 1.2 km to the summit ridge at SD 9336 3604 then a further 600m SW along a very wet ridge path to the trig point.

The start time for the ascent of SP8 was 09:50 and because of the early detour which included searches for the ‘missing’ stiles around the south side of the farm and some bog detours later on, it took some 52 minutes. I resolved to find a shorter route back but at least the WX was now fine and occasionally sunny. With a rainbow in sight though, it had been prudent to strap the spare brolly to the pack just in case.

G/SP-008: BOULSWORTH HILL, 517m, 2 pts, 10:44 to 11:36, 5 Deg.C. 25 mph wind. No low-cloud or lying snow. Sun on arrival. Rain throughout the activation. LOC: IO83WT, WAB: SD93. (EE (Orange) phone signal.)

As I was setting up a walker arrived. He was a scout leader from Nelson and I envied his proximity to these SOTA hills. We sat chatting a little way down the lee side of a grass mound but there was not enough spare coax to get completely out of the cold wind. With the intention of demonstrating a pileup, I gave out a 10 Watt CQ. My only reward was the drumming of rain on the umbrella and 25 Watts faired no better. How had I managed to log over a dozen QSO’s with 2 Watts from here in 2004, I wondered? The chasers must have packed up SOTA in favour of elevenses. I called a few more times as the man donned his waterproof then sat down again patiently waiting.

145.400 FM - 12 QSO’s:
Once I’d got the BNC plugged into the rig things improved with an immediate response from 2E0JCM - John in Blackburn. I had to resort to a white lie when I told my companion that the plug had ‘fallen out.’ Evidently not knowing what the ‘B’ in 'BNC stood for he seemed to accept it but left soon afterwards.

I can’t say it was pleasant with a cold wind and ever encroaching damp which included the log. Hunched over trying simultaneously to talk, log and hold a fractious umbrella from a wind which would steal it, is not the best of SOTA experiences though there are of course much worse.

I logged: 2E0JCM; 2E0RWB; G4FQW; M0AAM; G1JCW; G8VNW; 2E0VEK/M; 2E0DKB; G0TKL; G0VOF/M (Mark who spotted me); M3OOK; finishing with G4UXH - Colin.

A rainy descent with umbrella held low against the southerly wind, was completed by 12:12. There followed what seemed like an interminable drive through an almost continuous string of towns and villages. I remember Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Luddenden Foot and many more. Unlike the middle of the Yorkshire Dales, there was a fair amount of traffic which resulted in the 36 mile satnav directed drive taking an hour and twenty minutes to 13:40. I think I cribbed the grid ref for the A635/ Pennine Way layby from G1INK’s writings and it was spot on. Though blowing briskly it was still fine but there was a delay while the rucksack was repacked. Out came the 2m-FM mobile rig and in went the new X1M HF QRP rig, a dipole and the 5m mast.

The route, new to me, starts through a roadside gate opposite the layby at SE 07533 07192. Almost the whole route can be seen stretching up the hill and it looked quite a long way. That said, a sign by the gate announces, ‘Black Hill - 1.75 miles.’ Initially the task goes right against the grain as you must first descend to ford a stream; Reap Hill Clough, at SE 07653 06916. There’s a sharp climb out of the gorge and a short distance further on at SE 07866 06615, a second stream (Dean Clough) is encountered. This has an even deeper gorge and can (according to a notice) be troublesome when in spate. Its slippery looking bed was fordable today though as there was little water but the advice is to cross at a bridge 1km downstream (SE 0884 0696) if in doubt.

The path is paved almost all the way, though there is a gap between SE 08150 05484 and SE 07983 05104. Here the gradient is not great and a well drained gravely surface avoids any bogginess. After experiencing both routes, I am convinced by the statements of other ops, that this is the better route compared to bog bashing from the Holme Moss TV mast.

This was a good climb in part sunshine and I reached the trig, GPS’d at SE 07816 04683, in 43 minutes. It’s difficult to tell, but maybe the trig is not at the highest point. I know that Roger G4OWG had a favourite peat grough to sit behind but its position is well past the trig so I set up in the open 50m to the south; erecting the dipole first.

G/SP-002: BLACK HILL, 582m, 2pts, 14:53 to 17:14. 4 deg.C decreasing. 25 mph wind. Part overcast, no low-cloud or lying snow . Sun on arrival. Rain throughout much of the activation. LOC: IO93BM, WAB: SE00. (EE (Orange) phone signal 75% of the time.)

145.400 FM - 13 QSO’s:
I only had 5 Watts from the handie to a half-wave on this one but 2W0JYN came quickly back to a CQ call. It wasn’t long before the third batch of today’s rain came down, along with the third ‘brolly fight’ of the day. The damp log and the awkward rubberised PTT on the IC-E90 added to the hardship. It seemed uncanny that the only periods of rain in the entire day had perfectly coincided with my three activations! Soldiering on, I went on to work: G0SSC; G6XBF; M0AGJ; G0OHY; G3YPE; M0MDA; M3NHA; M6NHA; MW6SHJ; GW0DSP (Mike - long time no hear!) M3HGH and a tricky final contact with Bob G6ODU.

Thankfully by now the rain was gone and there was some sun to help balance the cold wind. In winter I don a Primaloft jacket for the activations, removing it for the descent. However it’s not waterproof and on days like today, though it still insulates, it becomes damp. Bog water had somewhat overwhelmed my map case/ sit-mat, something I am never ecstatic about. SOTA activators generally ignore these things and carry on with the job in hand. I had promised myself a trial of the new X1M and Phil G4OBK was relying on any information gathered.

X1M Trial - 3.557 CW - No QSO’s:
With the dipole, key and 12V power plugged in to the rig, I was ready. Before phoning Roy G4SSH, I tuned 80m to be greeted by what could only be described as an awful racket. It was a grinding interference, cyclic but strangely musical. In fact interference is not the right word. It wasn’t interfering with anything because nothing else was audible. It was apparently taking over the entire 80m band. The first thing I did was look accusingly over at Holme Moss TV mast almost exactly 1 mile to the SE; then down at the X1M. Either way, had I bought a pup? Roy heard nothing from me nor I from him so I suggested 40m which seemed clear. A frequency of 7.136 CW was decided upon.

X1M Trial - 7.036 CW - 1 QSO:
Having paid out £280 for this little rig, the forthcoming QSO with G4SSH must class in the top ten for greatest relief. In fact this was the very first QSO it had made. Though I was spraying dots from the unfamiliar keyer to say nothing of the stiff new RS toggle switch which was controlling it (after a fashion) Roy gave my signal 559 whilst I was receiving his at 579. I tried a QSY to 7.032 but Roy kindly came up to move me ‘down one.’ With little in the way of expectation, I reopened my account on 7.031.

X1M Trial - 7.031 CW - 9 QSO’s:
It is surprising when you look at it, but the X1M had soon made more QSO’s. Still with dots spraying everywhere and malformed words on my part but with the 4.5 Watts available, I managed to work: G4NCU/ QRP 559/589 (Sent/Received); ON6ZQ 579/559; G4CPA (599’s); GW8OGI (599’s); DL2EF 579/559; DF5WA 578/569; OE7PHI 559/579; GM4OOE/P and GM4OBK/P. The last two; Nick and Phil were SOTA S2S’s on GM/SS-244 - Belling Hill. The exchange was 559/599 which made me wonder about the X1M’s receiver. They had migrated to 40m after a failure to qualify on 2m-FM. Roy had been instrumental in putting them onto my transmissions which was good. At least Phil, a prospective X1M buyer, would hear what one sounded like at the remote end.

I wouldn’t say that the listening experience was that pleasant but I am used to a 0.5KHz CW filter for CW and perhaps Holme Moss mast was undetectably playing its part in the background. The keyer delay between dots and dashes was subtly different from what I’m used to and the receiver recovery time after each transmission occasionally caused the first character or two of an incoming callsign to be missed and the AGC leaves something to be desired. Despite those caveats, this rig was working surprisingly well. Nobody seemed to be having any trouble copying me and I now became glad that I’d bought one.

The test was over. This rig was bought simply as a CW backup for overseas travel and never meant to be used. With the ‘main’ mode tested, was there any point in trying SSB? Though I’ve had surprising successes with my FY817ND in the past, I didn’t think it was worth it for the handful of people that would detect a 4.5 Watt phone signal, particularly if conditions were not tip top. Nevertheless, I was here on a summit, the dipole was ready and waiting and there was still plenty of daylight remaining. The only thing that could be said against it was that I was feeling a bit chilled by now but what difference would a further 5 minutes make to the situation?

X1M Trial - 7.135 SSB - 16! QSO’s:
This result was certainly unexpected. I now had to wait for the presently fickle phone network to re-engage but after a call to Roy, he spotted me on 7.135. With some apprehension the little microphone was plugged into the 3.5mm jack socket and the TX keyed. Shocked by the minor pileup, I worked the following stations; all except two giving me good reports: M0IBC - 59/58 (Sent/Received); G4UXH - 59/59; G0TDM - 59/20dB over; G4LHT - 59/59; G4CPA - 59/57; G6TUH - 59/59; G4AFI - 59/59; M3NHA & M6NHA - 59/10dB over; PA0SKP - 59/59; G0RQL - 59/59; DJ5AV - 57/27; G0HRT - 59/59; MW3PZO - 57/20dB over; G3XQE - 59/5dB over and EA2CKX 57/42.

I closed down at 16:55 uplifted by the early success of the X1M. In fact Phil phoned me the next day for an update and to tell me he was ordering one. If it goes badly for him, I will feel somewhat responsible; especially after his experiences with the YouKits HB1B which failed. That said, the X1M did work remarkably well though conditions on 40m, particularly for short skip must have been near perfect. Two ops including G4SSH reported that the TX audio sounded, ‘a bit muffled’ but nobody asked for any repeats. The 16 stations were worked in 19 minutes. That’s about normal for me even with QRO as I’m not a particularly fast op. The first one or two stations sounded like they were tuned slightly HF of me. Does that mean the X1M’s frequency display is slightly out compared with Roy’s spot of exactly 7.135? I wondered; but the rest netted in perfectly well.

Final Descent:
With the sun still shining but getting low in the sky, I felt the need to go down and no further bands were tried. Besides, with all that success under my belt I didn’t want to spoil it by risking failure of any kind. It was a pity about the horrendous noise across 80m but 40m was perfect for showing what the little rig could do.

The walk down took 38 minutes but I did pause to collect some extra waypoints and photos on the way. It had been left beside a busy main road but conveniently the car was still there waiting for me unmolested at 17:52 - perhaps one advantage of owning an old heap. Two helicopters with under-slung loads, which I’d seen while driving across for Boulsworth Hill, were still going about their tasks; possibly repairing local footpaths.

The 100 mile drive home via Barnsley Road, M1, M62, A19, York and A64 took from 17:58 to 20:12. I would have continued along the M62 to Howden and then to Driffield but a sign announced serious delays between junctions 36 to 38. The MP3 retransmitted into the car radio on 87.5 MHz, once again provided the entertainment and a total of 241 miles were driven in the day.

Total: 68 QSO`s comprising:
SP05: 16 on 2-FM; 1 on 2-‘CW’ (all QRO).
SP08: 12 on 2-FM (all QRO).
SP02: 13 on 2-FM; 10 on 40-CW; 16 on 40-SSB (all QRP).

Ascent & Distance:
SP05: 287m ascent/ 3.6km. Times: 27U, 24D.
SP08 - Two Routes:
Up: 270m ascent/ 3.4km. Down: 17m ascent/ 2.6km.
Total - SP8: 287m ascent/ 6km. Times: 54U-36D.
SP02: 269m ascent/ 6km. Times: 43U, 38D.
TOTAL: 843m (2,766ft) Ascent - 15.6km (9.8 miles walked).
Times: 2hr-04 min of ascent; 1hr-38 min descent. Total: 3hr-42 min at 2.6 mph ave.

Distance driven: 241 miles.
Activator points: 15.
Good DAB reception (Smooth Radio UK) along all walking routes.

I don’t like waterproofs and despite rain on all summits, in keeping with policy, none were worn today. A simple and lightweight black ‘Mary Poppins’ umbrella served well for the activations as well as giving protection from driving rain whilst allowing good ventilation during walking. The thing to remember is to hold it firmly into wind at all times.

Though it was occasionally sunny, the rain seemed to know precisely when to strike. All summits were cold, wet and windy but there was no snow covering. The only low-cloud encountered was during the first part of the Pendle Hill activation.

This was a relatively easy sub-3,000 foot day with less than 10 miles walked. The drive between SP8 and SP2 used up more time than planned but all walks were completed in daylight.

As per last week, mental pressure as well as weight was decreased by using a one band, one mode approach from the Kenwood TM702-T 25 Watt FM Mobile on the first two summits. That allowed more time for a longer summit stay on SP2 which in turn enabled a try out of the X1M QRP rig. A single 6Ah Li-Po battery covered all requirements for the day with power to spare and pack weights were low enough to be barely noticeable.

As I remember it, the only S2S`s were with Nick and Phil on their SB afternoon summit. They too were successful in activating three in the day.

The newly acquired X1M 5-Band HF QRP Transceiver was tested and was a resounding success on 40m at least. That said it is very much work in progress. What I do know about it thus far is detailed in Appendix 1 below.

Thanks to ALL STATIONS WORKED and to the spotters: G4SSH; G0VOF and 2W0JYN. Also, welcome back Roy G4SSH, who was there at the end of the phone when a pre-spot was needed. Evidently it was a hectic day for Roy who was being phoned by three of us at regular intervals. He tells me that’s the way he likes it. Thanks Roy!

73, John G4YSS.
(Using GX0OOO/P; Scarborough Special Events Group Club Call)

The Xiegu Technology X1M 5-Band CW/ SSB HF QRP Tcvr.

  1. Limited Trial:
    Please refer to the four X1M prefixed sections in the G/SP-002 activation notes of the report above. These on-air tests were far from exhaustive but in my opinion, the rig shows promise.

  2. Other findings:
    These are my own thoughts and findings on the X1M soon after it was delivered from ML&S last Wednesday. Some of the assumptions, observations and opinions may be wrong!!! They are only preliminary. Some of the writing below is just thinking aloud. The first part deals with the X1M. The second part examines whether it’s possible (or as it stands impossible?) to use the X1M with my Sainsonic MX-P50A HF linear. No doubt much more info will be gathered in the fullness of time making these notes redundant.

2a) X1M QRP Rig - G4YSS:
£289.95 inc P&P from ML&S. Arrived 19-02-14. Opened parcel 21-02-14:
A power lead was made up with the supplied 5mm barrell plug, 22 AWG red/ black PTFE insulated wire, 3 Amp circuit breaker, 3 Amp reverse polarity diode and 1/4" female Faston connectors. The rig was powered up from 12V SLAB battery by G4YSS & G0UUU on Sat 23-02-14.

Observations on receipt:

  1. Rear strain relief shroud on mic. plug half broken off plug body. Weak plastic.
  2. Main tuning dial will not press to access menus…
    …Retaining nut loose. Tightened nut and refitted knob. Now OK. It was later found that nut on volume/ On-Off switch plus all eight allen screws on front & rear panels were also loose. There was one loose screw in the mic. All needed tightening. Alerted ML&S by phone. All noted. Stock will be inspected.
  3. Menu functions slow or would not register. Turned rig off/ on again to clear.
    Reset all parameters via menu 14. Seems OK now. May be a case of getting used to it. OK on SOTA trial.
  4. Checked that rig would not key up on WARC bands. It would not. Enabled broadband transmit via menu 11. Rig now keys up on 18 MHz etc. Rig left in broadbanded state.
  5. CW: Radio keys up on 14 MHz with sidetone. Good RF output via VSWR meter into dummy load or Windom but will not drive linear amp as no ACC lead/ output available in to switch linear into TX mode.
  6. SSB: Connected mic. Pressed PTT - ‘RX’ changes to ‘TX’ only momentarily and not always. No red LED on Mic. Rig continues to receive with Mic PTT pressed. Tried pushing mic plug in a lot harder. SSB now works normally and shows output on VSWR meter into dummy load. Mic plug needs attention.
  7. Some www photos show BNC RF output connector. Mine has an SO239 which I don’t like.
  8. Some advice says to tune low side of CW signal or you’ll be off frequency. No evidence for this yet but needs further trial. Maybe earlier software versions suffered from this. Software can be updated via 9-way ‘D’ Connector with suitable lead & computer program.
  9. Weights: Using accurate scales X1M only - 620gm. Mic, 3.5mm jack plug for key & 5mm barrel plug for 12V power input - 86gm. Total: 706gm. (This does not include power wiring and circuit breaker added by me.)

Eardrum bursting CW sidetone:
Opened case as follows: Pulled off both knobs; removed locknuts from both controls; removed all four allen screws from front panel and top two from rear panel (2.5mm hex key). Removed front panel. Slid top of rig off forwards and set ‘deafening’ sidetone down to a level in keeping with incoming signals using left hand of two trim pots and turning almost fully clockwise. Pot seems very ‘touchy’ & non-linear. Reassembled. (There are two tiny pots at left front on top PCB. Left one is sidetone. Right one is mic gain.)

Muffled Audio:
After two reports that the SSB TX audio was a little muffled, I have drilled the microphone case through to the electret mic head in the hope of reducing this problem. I am quite used to this as I have had to do it with all of several Jingtong JT208 2m handhelds which I have collected over the years. The X1M mic is easy to take apart if you choose the right screwdriver and the PCB slips out of the way easily enough. While I was in there, I removed the small speaker as it has no function in this setup. The transparent pad which fits over the PTT button inside must be placed back in position with the PTT lever on top of it.

Output (Harmonic) Filters:
Switched the rig on and tuned up through the full frequency range (0.1 to 30MHz). As the following frequencies (MHz) are reached a filter relay (presumably) can be heard loudly clicking in: 3.500 000; 7.000 000; 14.000 000; 21.000 000. As the following frequencies (MHz) are reached filter relay can be heard clicking out: 4.000 001; 7.300 001; 14.350 001; 21.450 001.

As stated by the manufacturer, the WARC bands are not separately filtered. However, it would seem that the 80-40-20-15 MHz filters are NOT left in circuit on the WARC bands. For example both 18 & 21MHz could be covered by the 21MHz filter. 10 & 14MHz might be covered by the 14MHz filter but it seems from the above that they are not.

However, there is no relay sound at the 28.000 000 MHz or 29.700 001 MHz points. This can be taken as good news. It probably means that a 30MHz cutoff LPF is permanently connected in circuit throughout the full frequency range. If true (and given the coverage of this radio, it would make sense) this would mean that 24MHz harmonics will be attenuated In fact the second harmonic of 18MHz will also be ‘slugged’ to a minor degree depending on the slope of the filter. Unfortunately, the second harmonics of 10.1 MHz will be radiated fully and the third harmonic of 10.1 MHz more or less unattenuated. A 10MHz dipole antenna will significantly attenuate 2nd harmonics but not 3rd harmonics. That said an antenna should not be relied upon for this purpose! On the plus side, 4.5 Watts on a remote summit may not cause too many problems but strictly speaking it should not be encouraged. As per the makers recommendations, a separate external filter should be used for 160m and the WARC bands. Running the X1M thro’ a linear with its own band LP filters is also a solution.

The X1M menus seem logical and fairly easy to use though I haven’t tried programming memories yet. Eyesight needs to be good to read the display. As expected, there is no ‘S’ Meter/ VSWR facility etc. Four menus are available by pressing the (RH) frequency tuning knob.

There is no means of reducing IF bandwidth for CW though an ‘accessory’ is mentioned. This refers to an audio filter but whether internal or external is unknown to me. ML&S stated that they have no accessories in stock at present.

2b) X1M with Sainsonic MX-P50A Linear Amp? (Just thoughts).
Why does linear not work with X1M? It checks out OK with FT817ND but that has a dedicated ACC lead from one unit to the other. Easy answer: Despite a filter select switch being fitted on the linear’s front panel, there is no RF sensing in MX-P50A which means it cannot be used with rigs other than the FT817 unless steps are taken to transfer PTT to it via a separate lead (as per 817).

If MX-P50A Linear is powered up without an ACC lead, shorting pins 2 and 3 (GND) on ACC connector inside linear puts it into TX. Any RF input source then gets amplified. Eg: FT817 without ACC lead or X1M. I could just fit a manual RX/TX switch but for convenience linear needs PTT from rig. Investigated whether this can be obtained along with a ground from the ‘D’ connector at back of X1M. It cannot. Using a DMM, most pins have 5V nom on them. One has 0.75V and one is at 0V. (Pins 1 & 4 = 5.08V; Pins 2 & 3 = 5.05V; Pin 5 = 0V (to chassis); Pin 6 = 5.06V; Pin 7 = 0.75V; Pin 8 = 5.08V; Pin 9 = N/C? ). Crucially, no pins changed state with PTT - either when mic PTT is pressed or with CW. This does not help.

Can I get a PTT from the X1M mic? Removed Mic rear.
Mic is actually a speaker/ mic with speaker not used. Four wires into mic. pcb. Black from body (sleeve) on plug; yellow from Mid (Ring) on plug and red from tip of plug. Also white which is about 1K4 to red. Yellow has 5V on it until PTT pressed on side of mic then 0V. However, as expected, this wire does not change voltage state when CW is used; only SSB. Also as expected, the centre of the CW key (in my case a mom switch) is at ground potential when key is plugged in. Can CW PTT be derived from CW key? But what about CW delay etc. Messy!

  1. Conclusion:
    A line could be taken off the mic to switch a relay for the linear for SSB. However CW would not be served by this method. To use this rig with CW & SSB into a linear, I may need to build relay working from the X1M internal TX VCC. That presupposes that I could find it without circuit diagrams and should I really be ‘in there’ with a new rig under guarantee? Answer - NO!

Alternatively I could perhaps use a diode ‘sniffer’ with an opto isolator to create RF sensing in the linear RF input. I am not scared to take that to bits. If it failed I would probably be ‘on my own’ anyway. No info on the use of the X1M with a linear was found on the Internet. As it stands now, I am inclined to leave it purely as a QRP backup rig for the FT817/ MX-P50A on EA8. After all, it will only be used if FT817ND packs up on the island.

  1. Mic plug repair:
    Asked ML&S for ‘approval’ to repair X1M mic plug by re-terminating/ reinforcing.
    Richard of ML&S. Telecon 0345 2300 599 on 25-02-14: ‘Yes, no problem.’ ‘Please remake/ reinforce the mic plug.’ ‘Noted on all fixings being loose. Apologies. We will check all stock before dispatch in future.’
    Good! saves sending it back! Plug reinforced internally and externally with rubber tape and is now more durable. Gave him findings on filters. Rig is now in a tip top working state.

  2. Links:
    ML&S: http://www.hamradio.co.uk/amateur-radio-main-equipment-base-station-radio-x1m-transceiver/adonis/x1m-5-band-5w-transceiver-pd-5455.php

X1M English Manual pdf: http://www.qsl.net/ea3gcy/x1m_archivos/X1M%20manual%20english.pdf

73, John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:
Hi John,

The reason the AGC performance is not good is simple. There is no AGC. It’s back to the old days of riding the gain control.

Some units have a problem with the Mic connector. It seems to be either the soldering on the board or a poor quality socket. It probably isn’t the plug. I had the local dealer swap my rig after I found the PTT unreliable, although the red LED did light when I pressed the PTT on the occasions it keyed the TX. The replacement is reliable but the red LED does not light. This is a minor thing as I can see (just) the Rx/Tx indicator on the screen change.

I had an option of having BNC or UHF/SO239 type connector for the antenna. Both freely available.

No there is no CW filter, but in VK this isn’t too much of an issue.

Yes the CW controller seems a little different, but it is OK.

You can change the sidetone and BFO frequencies in the main menu. The early factory settings were wrong but have been OK for last 6 months, I’m told. Mine were reset by the local agent.

I consider my X1M as a basic rig for basic activations and adding a PA, CW filter, etc is beside the point. The time spent modifying the set is better spent using it IMO.

Tightening the nuts on the switch and gain pot may put strain on the PCB so just over finger tight is about right.


In reply to AX3AFW:
Hi Ron,

Thank you very much for these further tips, comments and suggestions. I will ease off the control nuts a little. I wouldn’t want to cause PCB damage.

You are right. I will use the rig as it is and try to get used to it. In fact it may not see much use as it was only bought as FT817ND backup for a holiday. I would like the option of using it with the PA that I will already be taking but have decided to do nothing about that for the time being. Considering its capability (SSB for one) over and above most QRP rigs, the best thing about it is the weight and to me that is always the first thing I look at when a new rig comes out.

Mine is probably less that 6 months old & I haven’t noticed anything that would point to BFO freq’s being in error but I wish I had known about the choice of a BNC. SO239’s are heavy and bulky when you add the adaptor that must be carried (and worse; potentially left behind!). All my antennas have BNC’s.

To be honest I am colour blind, especially to red LED’s. I have a charger with a change of LED red to green but I can’t for the life of me see the difference. If the sun is out it’s a waste of time added to the fact that when you key the mic, it’s in front of your mouth not your eyes. So I shall do what you do and look at the display/ listen for a ‘normal’ sound change from RX to TX.

Thanks again for all that info, which will benefit others too; and for your interest,

73, John G4YSS.

In reply to G4YSS:
John, that was a fascinating read and will digest it in detail later.
However, one small point. Holme Moss is the Domestic Radio Transmitter for East Manchester and Yorkshire carrying VHF and Digital programs. The TV mast is up the road so to speak, Emley Moor…

Mick G8NVX

In reply to G8NVX:

It was the VHF TV mast for the North of England at one time. (And N. Wales). It’s radio coverage is slightly more than East Manchester and Yorkshire as the Band II coverage map shows.



In reply to MM0FMF: Well, it certainly looks after us in South Yorkshire :slight_smile:


In reply to G8NVX:

When I was a nipper, Holme Moss was a big signal on Band I TV in Liverpool. On VHF it has such a fabulous coverage, it used to be used to transmit TV in Welsh to North Wales. This would be before the Moel-y-Parc TV site was established. (SOTA LINK: Holme Moss is on G/SP-002 and Moel-y-Parc is just along from Penycloddiau GW/NW-054).

It always makes me smile when Mike YYY moans about the poor VHF takeoff from here when it is the site chosen for one of the most important broadcast sites England. Yes, I know they have a bigger mast than Mike! It does show the effect that a plateau has for a low mounted antenna compared to rapidly falling ground.


In reply to MM0FMF:
I know, it’s a great site / area. I spend a lot of time on Woodhead Pass and also West of Holmfirth nr Greenfield and I do quite well on HF and VHF.
But yes as you say, they are far bigger structures hence the need for the large coverage, but mine 10’ off the ground does reasonably well considering.

Off up to North Yorkshire tomorrow for the weekend not SOTA but more hill bagging’ish. going up for a change of scenery and by the looks of things a good weekend for the weather. Must remember to take my shades!!