With the year rapidly coming to a close it looks like I will have a few weeks at home, and just enough spare time on my hands to begin updating the “shack”. This has been on my radar for a few years. The scope of the project is large enough that it will take more than a week or two to complete, still, it’s a good time to at least get started.
I have planned new equipment, improved station grounding, a new operating desk, storage cabinets, new flooring, fresh coat of paint, and a few other improvements to the ergonomics of the space, like improved lighting. Improvements and additions to the antenna farm will have to wait for Spring.
The first step was selecting a new HF transceiver to anchor the station around. The K3 seems an obvious choice. Despite it getting a bit long in the tooth, Elecraft has kept it fresh by continually cranking out new options and upgraded firmware. But I’m working within the constraints of a budget and much of it would be sunk in a K3 that shakes out at about $3K for just the basics.
And that budget includes an amplifier. Life’s too short for QRP and after nearly forty years of operating with no more than 100 watts, I think it’s time for a little fire in the wire. I haven’t yet picked the amp, and might wait until Dayton to acquire it, but it’s in the plan.
After kicking a few tires, I decided to order the TenTec Eagle. You may recall that I had one before and I was quite smitten with it. I only sold it because at the time, TenTec was in transition and its future seemed questionable. I wasn’t satisfied that they would be around for service if it became necessary.
Fast-forward 18 months, and it’s become obvious that their consolidation with Alpha Amplifiers, under the RF Concepts banner was a good thing for the future viability of the business. While it downsized certain portions of the business, it opens other doors of opportunities for future growth and I’ve seen enough to be convinced that TenTec will continue to be around should I need their service.
While the performance of the Eagle is outstanding, it was originally priced at a point where it competed directly with high-end gear. While it’s receiver stands toe-to-toe with the best of them, it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of transceivers in that price class and that made it a hard-sell.
But with the NEW Eagle pricing, the decision is a no-brainer. Transceiver, internal auto-tuner, noise blanker and roofing filter for $1499. That’s $700 less than I paid for it two years ago. And as for those missing bells and whistles, I find that a “feature” too. My interests in HF are simple and straightforward. I don’t need a second receiver and more buttons and knobs on the front panel simply don’t impress me.
QRT for 2014
Given that I’ve sold the Icom gear and am waiting (two weeks) on the Eagle, I think I can say that I am QRT for the year. I’m anxious to go spelunking in the log files and see what I managed to accomplish on the air in 2014. The Centennial QSO Party and SKCC activity likely bumped my total contacts higher this year than last, but I need to do a deep dive and see how it really played out.