Elecraft KX-3, 2yr Pitstop

It’s been just shy of 2 years since my KX-3, one of the first kits to roll off the line, arrived in my shack. In that 2 years we’ve seen many firmware enhancements, a few accessories, and some bug fixes to the KX3. If serial numbers are to be believed there are now well over 5000 of these little guys in the field.

There have been a few production changes so far in the KX-3’s lifecycle, and I figured with so many in the field the hardware platform was fairly mature and now was as good time as any to do some routine maintenance on mine. As my friend says, it was time for me to pay my Early Adopter tax.

4 items from the Elecraft Appnotes and Mod kits jumped out at me as issues I have experienced.

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Digital QST – Making it useful

Over the last few days the ARRL released the long awaited Digital Edition of QST. This digital edition is available to all ARRL members as an additional membership benefit, and is in addition to the print version.

Many years ago when I moved to Iowa, I learned a simple truth: A CD is a lot easier to move than a filing cabinet.

Over my life with computers and electronics, I’ve learned something else equally important. Proprietary data formats, even if not encumbered with Digital Rights Management, are doomed to cause headaches.

So now we have a digital QST all nicely wrapped up in a proprietary format for our viewing pleasure. Thankfully, it’s not heavily DRM encumbered so it’s fairly easy to do something about this issue.

First, you might ask, why would we want to take away the absolutely wonderful reading experience the ARRL has crafted for us and replace it with something as mundane as a PDF?

Here are a few reasons:

  • As it stands it’s pretty much useless for viewing on any Tablet, eReader, or Smartphone.
  • My comment about being an ‘absolutely wonderful’ reading experience should have had sarcasm tags.
  • It’s tied to the Adobe Air runtime. Adobe Air is based on flash, which is a technology rapidly in decline, and thus has a somewhat dubious future. This makes it completely unacceptable for archiving.

Learn how to convert your Digital QST to an industry standard PDF for free after the break!

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KT5TK-11 Balloon Aims for Distance Record

Hot on the heels of the K6RPT balloon launch late last year now the W5ACM group wants to out do them with the KT5TK Texas to China balloon attempt.

Assuming everything gets off the ground as scheduled, you’ll be able to track the position of the balloon in near real-time on the APRS.fi Website after it launches on Saturday Feb 11th at 3pm.

KT5TK-11 Tracking on APRS.fi


2011 Des Moines Renaissance Faire on your iDevice

Yes, I’m still here, just not much to publicly say in the last few months.

This weekend is the first of 2011 the Des Moines Renaissance Faire, and Mary and I are planning attendance for at least one day of each weekend. I decided to program schedule into Google calendar so I could have a handy reference as to what was going on, where it was and when.

I thought someone else might be interested, so I made the calendar public.

The easiest way is to email this link to an account you can access on your iDevice and then tap on the link in that email:


After you tap it, it will prompt you to install it as a new calendar, just say yes. I recommend viewing it in list view on a small screen.

Android and other device users should be able to use it too, but I can’t guide you with instructions. It’s probably pretty similar to iOS.

I plan to add the events on the Friday before the weekend so it’s as current as possible. I think they will automatically update since it is a subscribed calendar.

You can also download the schedule in iCal format by clicking here.

Standard disclaimers apply, I have no affiliation with the festival, etc.


A Tale of Two Service Calls

Sometimes you just have a bad day, or a run of them. Last Sunday, my Dell laptop died, Tuesday night, my Apple iPad died.

These were two totally unrelated problems, and thankfully both were covered under warranty. The iPad has the standard Apple 1 year warranty, my Dell had 2 year Complete Care. I thought it had 3 years, but evidently I only ordered 2. Both the iPad and the Dell warranties expire before mid-June. I’m pretty happy they both died this month and not next.

Now, keep in mind I’m a pretty big Dell fan. I generally recommend their laptops to people, and the Complete Care warranty they offer is no small part of that recommendation. Computers all break eventually but desktops much easier to fix, laptops break more often,and are a lot harder to fix. With Complete Care it doesn’t matter who’s fault it is, Dell will fix it. It’s as much an insurance policy as it is a warranty. Dog eats it, 2yr old jumps on it, lightning strikes it, it’s covered. You get the idea.

This provides me with a great opportunity to compare support side by side.


Here’s how each service call went.

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