I removed the IC-7610 from the operating desk recently to prepare it for shipment to Michigan for a display replacement. In it’s place I have setup the IC-705 with the AH-705 auto-tuner on a more permanent basis so I can continue to play radio. By comparison, the enormity of the “hole” left by the 7610, its two matching speakers, and the ICOM power supply was striking. The entire experience has me questioning the common sense of maintaining such equipment. And it’s not just the desk space required, the double-boxed radio that I will drop off at the UPS office is massive, and the shipping bill alone, impressive. This only serves to reinforce the notion (at least to me) that smaller footprint equipment is just smart ham radio strategy.

This month-long switcheroo of equipment on my desk brings with it additional challenges. The IC-705 was designed to be used laying on a rock outside. Same goes for the Elecraft KX3. The cables all connected on the sides which is a logistical nightmare when trying to use this stuff on the desktop where you would want the transceivers sitting up for easy access to the controls. Right now I have a veritable rats nest of cables running in and out of the 705 and I haven’t even connected the microphone. All things to consider carefully when selecting equipment and building a shack. I’m going to have to quickly come up with some sort of cable management system for the 705 on a desk just to feel better about it. The same would be true of the KX3 if I choose to use it over the coming month.

Yesterday, with the replacement radio cooking along at 10 blistering watts of HF CW, I managed to easily work ten stations, most of them POTA activators in the field. To be honest, I’ve never seen much difference between ten and a hundred watts so long as I’m using a decent antenna. Hardcore QRP enthusiasts will expend many brain cycles trying to convince you that there’s only a negligible difference between received signals at 100 and 5 watts, yet most also will tell you using 10 watts instead of 5 watts is a way too much power kind of sacrilege. Go figure.

Fortunately, I’m not a purist and 10 watts falls into a category I consider to be “low-power” and I’m good enough with that. I’ve often said my long affiliation with the QRP world has nothing to do with power levels. I’d run a kilowatt if it was safe to do so in a package that I can carry in my hand and it would run off a small battery. Since that’s not possible, I fall in with the QRP crowd for the portable equipment, the kits and home brew projects, and for the whiff of self-sufficiency I get when fraternizing with the best of these. Five watts, ten watts, psh. Who cares?

Now, where is my new Elecraft KH1? Ordered it at 2pm on October 20th, six weeks ago. So far, nothing but crickets out of California…

When Enough is Too Much

You’ve heard the expression, when it rains, it pours? Some of that seems to be going on here this week.

I ordered the new Elecraft KH1 on October 20th and am expecting to receive it any day now. Then yesterday I saw where a fellow was offering for sale an Elecraft K1. Four bands with the internal auto-tuner and backlit display option. The price was right and I jumped on it because I built a K1 about 20 years ago and have continuously kicked my own hind quarters (which isn’t easy to do!) for having sold it long ago. To be able to again own a fully tricked out K1 in great condition was too good to pass on, so I didn’t. Check is in the mail.

Then last night I was texting with a friend about our meeting at the Ft. Wayne hamfest today. He mentioned that he is thinking about selling his KX2. When I asked him what he would replace it with he said he was looking for another Icom IC-705 to add to his collection. Hmmm. I’ve always wanted a KX2 but was never patient enough to wait the 16 weeks it takes to get one fresh from the factory. And as it turns out, I have a 705 gathering dust in the closet. Now we’re kicking around the notion of an equipment exchange.

If we did that my shack would suddenly include a K2 I built in 1999, the K1, KX3, KX2, and the KH1. That’s a LOT of Elecraft wizardry right there and that makes me wonder when enough is too much?

QRP Stuff

I jumped into the Spartan Sprint last night with high hopes. I was using the IC-7610 at five watts into the old CHA MPAS Lite antenna mounted vertically on the ground and with one 31-foot radial. There was much confusion (on my part) about the event start time having just changed the clocks over the weekend. Not hearing a single soul I gave up for an hour and went back to watching the Indiana Pacers game. They won, by the way, 152-111 over the Spurs, tying their own record for points scored in a half and a game. It was an entertaining three-point shooting contest.

Back in the shack a little later, I finally heard a few stations calling “CQ SP” but conditions on 40 meters weren’t good and 20 meters was dead to me. I ended up working three stations though it felt like cheating. Two of them were less than ten miles from me! I did work John, K4BAI down in Georgia, who always sports a big signal. And that was it. Three contacts using a “tubby” transmitter. I need to send my report and soapbox to Richard, KI6SN and hope for better luck in the December Spartan Sprint.

My new KH1 could be arriving soon. I ordered it online the same day it was announced at Pacificon (October 20th) and according to the shipping status information on the Elecraft web site orders placed that day are expected to ship in 4-6 weeks so I should be advancing in the queue. I’ve kept an eye on the mailing list that discusses that new hardware and Wayne, N6KR recently posted that the internal logging feature with date/time/freq/mode stamps in a human-readable text format using 32k of onboard memory will be ready by December. My understanding of this feature is that you take it to field, make contacts, then come home and download the file which can be read by a human and then typed into the main station log. If that works well then field logging will become an historical artifact for me…

New (to me) blogs of note. I recently worked W6CSN while he was activating K-7889 Presidio of SF National Historic Site. I looked him up on QRZ and noticed the link to his blog. It’s in the feed reader now. And there’s Copasetic Flow, another new addition to my feed reader. And while not new, the QRP world rejoices whenever Jim, W1PID posts photos and applesauce about his latest outdoor adventure. The pictures are worth at least a thousand words, probably more.


There are several videos of N6KR’s Pacificon presentation of the new Elecraft KH1 ultra-portable CW transceiver making the rounds. In one of those he comments about a new kind of operation enabled by a handheld transceiver that he called “Diet SOTA”. The diminutive new KH1 will no doubt become a favorite among SOTA activators. That also reminded me that I haven’t chased, or even checked into the Summits on the Air program in quite some time. Following up on that, I see I last worked a summit activator in 2018. Yikes! Time flies. I tried to make amends by working three SOTA stations (MI, CA, CO) on 20 and 17 CW during the afternoon hours yesterday and will be looking for more today.

One of those worked yesterday was N4EII who was operating from W8M/UP-001, Mount Arvon in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Hours later I received a really nice email from him describing his location along with many interesting details of the UP road trip he and his XYL were enjoying along with his work for the day:

“This was the first outing/SOTA for my LNR Mountain Topper (80,40,30,20). I first called on 40 then 30 with no response and nothing heard. Thank goodness for 20 it saved my bacon and the activation. A very big thank you to the chasers all 7 of you from OR, PA,KS,CA,NC,IN. I am still amazed at these contacts with a 9 volt battery as my power source.”

He also included several photos from the summit. It was a nice finishing touch to our radio contact and it really made my day!

A Little More on the KH1

Wayne, N6KR dropped a comment here last night adding a few details to a couple things in my previous post. Sounds like shipping will be in 2024 for anyone who didn’t order over the weekend. He also added some details about the robustness of the internal auto-tuner even if its specs don’t say it covers a 10:1 range.

The Elecraft KX Radio ( community mailing list changed a little over the weekend to reflect that it’s also the group for discussion of the AX1 and KH1.

On one of the mailing lists a fellow commented that, “the most important feature of the KH1 in my humble opinion is it makes it nearly impossible to forget any parts of my station!”

To which N6KR replied, “One of our primary design goals :)”.

All Shook Up

It comes as little surprise that the Elecraft announcement about the new KH1 portable transceiver would generate a lot of buzz, especially among those with a keen interest in QRP and ultra-portable activity. Email lists dedicated to such things were humming all weekend long as hundreds of enthusiasts chimed in with an abundance of opinions, thoughts, and questions about the new gear.

I always find it amusing when some folks seem to do their level best to convince other folks not to buy the new gear by detailing all the reasons they have for not buying the new gear. I often wonder if it’s an attempt to convince others or themselves to avoid purchase? The reasons given not to order a KH1 included; disagreement on the five bands it covers, it’s size, the layout of the controls, the internal battery used, the fact that the internal auto-tuner isn’t 10:1 and the fact that it only transmits using CW. On that note, this question was posed:

“At $1099 for complete package it’ll no doubt sell well to CW enthusiasts but will this be the last ever CW only transceiver?”

As you might expect, the topic of when the KH1 will actually be available to ship was batted around. A lot. Given that it takes 16-18 weeks for Elecraft to ship a KX2 or a KX3, speculation about shipping dates for the KH1 was all over the place. The consensus was mostly after the first of the year based on a comment about them having only a hundred units at Pacificon that sold out immediately.

There were even a few gripes about how the engineering time spent developing the KH1 should have been spent on getting the long-promised, yet to be delivered, K4HD out the door. It seems you just can’t please everyone…

These are early days and I’m certain additional information, and speculation, will be forthcoming once everyone gets home from the conference. It’s certainly an interesting concept for how to make ham radio even more portable than ever. Wayne Burdick is the right person to champion this idea and Elecraft is the right company to make it a reality. I don’t know when mine will arrive or even what I will do with it when it does. But that hasn’t stopped me from looking forward to it!