April 24, 2017

Elecraft kicked off the season of new things with the announcement of a new 1500-watt amplifier during the just concluded Visalia DX Convention. The solid-state KPA1500 covers 160–6 meters and includes a built-in auto tuner. A separate power supply is required and will be available. The introductory price is $5995 US. The amplifier has not yet received FCC approval and cannot be offered for sale until that authorization has been obtained.

Elecraft KPA1500
Elecraft KPA1500 Amplifier

This new solid-state equipment has the AMPS mailing list buzzing about the sun setting on tube type HF PA’s and analog front-end transceivers. Mark, G4FPH wrote:

“I think we are truly seeing the sun setting on valve HF PA and analogue front-end transceivers. The combination of big LDMOS FET and majority DSP TRx, with whole-chain linearity correction, is delivering some of the cleanest SSB signals ever heard on the amateur bands. It’s still fun to play with those examples from the last 50 years of our history though!”

Will the new FCC Commissioner be tough on enforcement? Signs point to “Yes”. The FCC has proposed a fine of more than $400,000 on a Queens, New York, man who has admitted making unauthorized transmissions on New York City Police Department (NYPD) radio frequencies, maliciously interfering with NYPD officers’ communications. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, said that with the NAL, the FCC is making it “abundantly clear that it will not tolerate unauthorized and illegal use of the radio spectrum.” The entire Commission now must sign off on such proposed fines, and Pai said he was grateful to his fellow FCC members for “agreeing to act swiftly and strongly” in the matter.

A boatload of disqualifications from the CQWW 2016 SSB has rocked the radiosport world recently. This isn’t the first time the rules didn’t keep up with the forward march of technology and probably won’t be the last. Click through the many heated threads from the contest reflector to get a feel for the angst this has created.

South Africa’s ICASA has canceled 2,100 Amateur Radio licenses, believed to be more than 1/3rd of the total, for non-payment of licence fees.

Handy reference from Hans Remeeus, PA1HR that provides an easy to use summary of key measurements for HF transceivers, receivers, and amplifiers from QST product reviews.

Field Day 2017

ARRL Field Day is just two months away. It’s the most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June (June 24–25), more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations. If your plans are more ambitious than a simple backyard operation, then there’s a lot of planning preparation that needs doing!

You will want to take a deep dive into the rules with a special focus on the bonus points and what you have to do to earn them. Remember, one of the prime directives for this event is to expose the general public to our hobby. This usually requires advance work with local news and media along with providing a station where unlicensed visitors can get on the air (GOTA) and make radio contacts while supervised by licensees.

There’s a lot to do to get ready. What follows are a few simple bullet points that may be useful in your own preparation. And don’t forget the food. Field Day is 50% radio and 50% “camping” with your friends. There has got to be plenty of food!

In preparation, HQ has created a short video that can be used to promote the event in your area. Add it to your club Web site or a personal blog to inform others about this unique operating event. They’ve also made available a “What is Field Day” PDF that can be distributed and this Field Day site locator will help you find activity in your area if you want to join the fun with others.

Social media enthusiasts might appreciate the Field Day event on Facebook. Twitter enthusiasts are requested to use the hashtag #ARRLFD when sharing their plans and photos.

Field Day swag from the ARRL includes hats, shirts, and more, more, and still more.

Operating more than one transmitter in close proximity to others presents a unique challenge during Field Day. You’ve still got time to build band pass filters like this, or this, or this. You could buy the filters you need, but building your own makes for a great club project.

When hams operate in something as special as Field Day they like to shoot video of their operations. Here are a few of my favorites from 2016 offered for your amusement and inspiration. You might even glean a tip or two…

Good luck and hope to see you on the bands during Field Day 2017!

Ten Clicks


Long letter this week with the Field Day links so I’ll make this a short PS.

I’ve recently started putting archives of the more recent letters on the Web. Email subscribers will continue to get the letter first. I try to get them emailed on Monday’s (UTC). I won’t place them in the Web archive until the following week.

As always, I appreciate you subscribing and reading CALLING CQ to the very last drop.

Feel free to share this letter with your friends, but please encourage them to subscribe.

Make it a great week!

73, Jeff KE9V