Discussion:
New Ham & First Time Builder
(too old to reply)
Dan Lesley
2002-10-25 07:13:00 UTC
Permalink
Hello All!
I am very new to ham, in fact, I haven't even gotten my ticket yet. =
Even with that being the case, I've already been investigating the toys =
I wish to buy. I really like everything I have read about the K2, but I =
have read many different opinions as far as who should undertake such a =
project. I'd like to hear some opinions from people who have done this, =
and after giving you some knowledge of my background.
I have never taken on a project like this before. I have done some =
very minor soldering work, but it was many years ago as a child, so we =
may as well pretend I haven't done any soldering at all. I do have an =
extensive background in computers, and while I have done quite a bit of =
work with pc boards, I have never done so on the component level.
I have almost made the decision to give it a go, after doing some =
practice soldering on some inexpensive printed boards, but would like to =
gather some more opinions on this decision. I would like to hear anyones =
comments, but especially those that have had a similar lack of =
experience when they themselves started the project, and how difficult =
the kit was for them.

Thank you,
Dan Lesley
Atlantic, IA

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k***@ENTERZONE.NET
2002-10-25 12:18:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dan Lesley
I have almost made the decision to give it a go, after doing some
practice soldering on some inexpensive printed boards, but would like
to gather some more opinions on this decision. I would like to hear
anyones comments, but especially those that have had a similar lack of
experience when they themselves started the project, and how difficult
the kit was for them.
Dan,

When I started K2 #2490, it had been 10 years since I had done any
component level work to speak of. You are on the right track doing some
practicing. I'm sure that you'll be up to speed in no time at all.

You can build a K2 in a day (or so I'm told) or you can spend years
building one. It's all up to your comfort level. The K2 build process is
very well documented and you test as you go so, if you do make a mistake,
it is pretty easy to troubleshoot and fix it. The support organization
for Elecraft is Second to None - Absolutely FANTASTIC!

The only advice I can offer is to take your time and enjoy the
process. There is nothing too difficult about building the radio and when
you're finished building it, you'll have one hot little radio to use!

I have about 65 hours in my K2, KSB2, KPA100 and KAT100. I think the
enjoyment of building the rig and options add to the overall value.

One word of warning. This is addictive stuff. Once you build the radio,
you won't be able to contain yourself waiting for the next great thing
from Elecraft to come out.

73 de John - KC4KGU
K2/100 #2490
Mike Zak
2002-10-25 15:12:01 UTC
Permalink
In my opinion, a first-time builder would benefit from building the K1 =
first, then the K2, if you can afford the time and money to do both.

I consider myself a very unskilled guy when it comes to stuffing and =
soldering PCBs. Over the years I have built the Norcal 40A and Sierra, =
both Wayne Burdick's designs that are sold by Wilderness Radio. I have =
built the K1 and am 2/3 of the way through the K2. Across these designs =
Wayne has shown himself to be an artist and he has a very distinct style =
- learning how his designs fit together, by building smaller, simpler =
units like the Sierra and the K1, was helpful to me. He puts a lot of =
effort into parts placement and component selection, and there's a =
certain "idiot-proof-ness" that he's achieved.

A past trademark of Wayne's (and now, along with Eric) is that if you =
follow the instructions CAREFULLY, don't work when you're tired, and =
take your time, the designs WILL WORK when you first put power to them. =
The only problems I have ever encountered were when I did something =
stupid, and the problems were pretty easy to fix once I looked at them =
with a fresh look (and maybe a bit of e-mail help from the guys at =
Elecraft, who are all very helpful).

Just as important as getting the kits to work is getting the environment =
in place to build them. Getting a clear, open space to assemble them =
on; getting the appropriate lighting in place, along with magnification; =
and settling in on the right soldering iron and tip - these are all =
important parts of getting the kit built and operating and are best done =
before taking on the K2. I spent a couple of weeks just settling in on =
the right tip - the Weller ETR - after experimenting with the ETA, ETJ, =
and ETB. Even that was an accomplishment, as there are disagreements as =
to which is the best soldering tip and in the end you have to make =
something of a "personal style" decision about how you work on a PCB. =
You're better off figuring that stuff out before you take on a K2, IMHO.

The K2 has absolutely put some self-respect back into a ham's shack. =
Having a piece of gear that performs that well, that you assembled and =
aligned yourself, is definitely the way to go.

Mike - W1MU
t***@blueyonder.co.uk
2002-10-25 15:31:01 UTC
Permalink
I've just recieved my K1 and - unusual for me - I'm thinking about what I am
doing before applying the solder.

I notice there are a number of DIL parts - relays, etc. The kit does not
have DIL sockets for most of these parts. Having 11 thumbs I would use
sockets by default.

What do people think about this issue - would there be performance/noise
problems or loss of warranty?

Thanks

Tony G7IGG
Ingo Meyer DK3RED
2002-10-25 17:01:01 UTC
Permalink
Hello Tony,
Post by t***@blueyonder.co.uk
I notice there are a number of DIL parts - relays, etc. The kit does not
have DIL sockets for most of these parts. Having 11 thumbs I would use
sockets by default.
Don't use sockets!

A rule for RF is: Build all connections as short as possible. Each socket
lengthen the connections.

Second reason: The sockets use springy contacts inside, so each spring can
loose its "power" and you have a bad connection point.

72/73 de Ingo, DK3RED Don't forget: the fun is the power!

***@t-online.de http://www.t-online.de/~dk3red
DL-QRP-AG #824 http://www.dl-qrp-ag.de
QRP ARCI #11295 http://www.qrparci.org
Ed Tanton
2002-10-25 18:44:00 UTC
Permalink
Hi Tony... in my judgement, the use of a HIGHEST QUALITY (machined-pin,
gold-inlay) IC socket does not hurt a thing. I used them throughout my K2
w/o the slightest problem... with the exception of doubly-balanced
mixers... where I used 'insertion pins' (which are essentially machined-pin
IC socket PINs w/o the actual socket-plastic. I already had them, and
didn't figure it would hurt to use the very best (with the least
interelectrode [pin-to-pin] capacitance.) Probably didn't matter a bit over
'regular' machined-pin IC sockets. I cannot stress enough the unsuitable
nature of 'regular' tin-plated IC sockets however.



73 Ed Tanton N4XY <***@earthlink.net>

Ed Tanton N4XY
189 Pioneer Trail
Marietta, GA 30068-3466

website: http://www.n4xy.com

All emails <IN> & <OUT> checked by
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LM: ARRL QCWA AMSAT & INDEXA;
SEDXC NCDXA GACW QRP-ARCI
OK-QRP QRP-L #758 K2 (FT) #00057
John J. McDonough" (John J. McDonough)
2002-10-25 15:38:01 UTC
Permalink
Dan

Several folks have suggested that a first time builder could undertake a K2,
and I don't want to suggest it's not possible, but I wouldn't do it.

The main reason is cost. Without the confidence of having several kits
under your belt, it will be hard to enjoy building something as expensive as
a K2. Even the K1 may be pushing that envelope, depending, of course, on
just how much a few hundred dollars means to you, personally.

Keep in mind that you will be exploring new territory. There will be places
where you will have some doubts as to what the instructions mean. If the
investment is "large" to you, whatever that means, every place you encounter
a little uncertainty will be pretty stressful. Depending on your
personality, you may feel a certain amount of pressure to get it done.
Without experience, you have no way of really knowing what to expect.

I built a K1 in a weekend. A friend of mine, at about the same time, built
a K1 with fewer options in about 3 weeks. He is a much more skillful
builder than I am. But we have very different personalities. We both
thoroughly enjoyed the building experience, but it was very different.
Without experience, you won't know whether you should be taking a week or a
month, and any impatience on your part will not only ruin the experience for
you, but it will likely pressure you into mistakes.

Now, maybe you are a very methodical, patient person. Maybe spending the
better part of a grand isn't a big deal to you. Well, if that's the case, I
would say go for it.

As has been pointed out before, the Elecraft kits are wonderfully
documented, and there is no reason anyone, with enough care and patience,
couldn't build one.

But you are you. Can you methodically go through a thousand or so steps
without pressuring yourself to hurry up? Is the size of the investment
small enough to you that you can enjoy the process even though you will have
a lot more uncertainty than an experienced builder? Do you have a place
where you can work in reasonable solitude for a few hours, then leave your
work undisturbed until tomorrow, and perhaps carry this on for a number of
weeks?

These are probably more important questions than how many solder joints you
have under your belt.

72/73 de WB8RCR http://www.qsl.net/wb8rcr
didileydadidah QRP-L #1446 Code Warriors #35

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Lesley" <***@metc.net>
Subject: [Elecraft] New Ham & First Time Builder


Hello All!
I am very new to ham, in fact, I haven't even gotten my ticket yet. Even
with that being the case, I've already been investigating the toys I wish to
buy. I really like everything I have read about the K2, but I have read many
different opinions as far as who should undertake such a project. I'd like
to hear some opinions from people who have done this, and after giving you
some knowledge of my background.
Stuart Rohre
2002-10-25 20:28:00 UTC
Permalink
I found a good warm up for the K2 was the Ten Tec superhet receiver kit.
IT even has similar digital display board mounted to a Mother board.

Ten Tec has many manual features for the first time builder, such as
soldering instruction and component recognition aids.
73 Stuart K5KVH
Bob Tellefsen
2002-10-25 17:51:01 UTC
Permalink
Dan
To paraphrase former president Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing you have
to fear is fear itself.

Yes, the K2 is a radio with a lot of parts, but that's all they are, just
parts. You put them on a board one at a time. You check the directions and
the description of the part, and go on.

We had one ham 94 years old who built his own K2. I've worked him on the
air using it, too.

We have a lot of first-time, or near-first-time, builders assembling their
K2s successfully.

When you start, my best suggestion is a detailed parts inventory. Not
because you will be short a part, that seldom happens. The idea is to
familiarize yourself with the parts before you need to reach for them.
There will surely be some you won't be familiar with, so that is a good time
to identify them and know where they are in your parts kit.

Come on in, the water's fine.

73, Bob N6WG

-----Original Message-----
From: elecraft-***@mailman.qth.net
[mailto:elecraft-***@mailman.qth.net]On Behalf Of Dan Lesley
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 11:02 PM
To: ***@mailman.qth.net
Subject: [Elecraft] New Ham & First Time Builder


Hello All!
I am very new to ham, in fact, I haven't even gotten my ticket yet. Even
with that being the case, I've already been investigating the toys I wish to
buy. I really like everything I have read about the K2, but I have read many
different opinions as far as who should undertake such a project. I'd like
to hear some opinions from people who have done this, and after giving you
some knowledge of my background.
I have never taken on a project like this before. I have done some very
minor soldering work, but it was many years ago as a child, so we may as
well pretend I haven't done any soldering at all. I do have an extensive
background in computers, and while I have done quite a bit of work with pc
boards, I have never done so on the component level.
I have almost made the decision to give it a go, after doing some
practice soldering on some inexpensive printed boards, but would like to
gather some more opinions on this decision. I would like to hear anyones
comments, but especially those that have had a similar lack of experience
when they themselves started the project, and how difficult the kit was for
them.

Thank you,
Dan Lesley
Atlantic, IA

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Don Wilhelm
2002-10-26 00:06:02 UTC
Permalink
Dan,

I agree completely with Bob - the parts go in one at a time, just don't put
more in at one time than you can handle.

In my opinion, the K2 is actually easier to build than the K1. While there
are fewer parts in the K1, there are many places where the soldering space
is tighter than for the K2 (even though the SSB option for the K2 is REALLY
tight - so don't try that option until you get some experience).

While I am on the subject - by all means use a slender soldering tip for any
of the modern kits - I prefer a 1/16 inch chisel tip because the flat
surface provides better heat transfer to the joint and minimizes the dwell
time necessary to complete the soldering than a conical tip would do. And
by the way, a hotter tip temperature should mean quicker soldering joints.
The way to fry components is to heat them for a long time - strive for a
soldering time of 2 to 3 seconds - if it takes longer, the usual reason is
that the tip is not hot enough. I use a tip temperature between 700 and 800
degrees F with larger pads and component leads needing the higher
temperatures.

Just take your time and you can do it.

73,
Don W3FPR

----- Original Message -----
Post by Bob Tellefsen
To paraphrase former president Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing you have
to fear is fear itself.
Yes, the K2 is a radio with a lot of parts, but that's all they are, just
parts. You put them on a board one at a time. You check the directions and
the description of the part, and go on.
Kevin B. G. Luxford
2002-10-26 04:31:00 UTC
Permalink
Hi gang,

No I have no experience of building Elecraft kits (yet), but one little
thing I do now is check every resistor value both visually (reading the
colour code) and with a digital ohm-meter. Somethimes these little
suckers are a bit off in value, but many more times, my old eyes
mis-read one of the colours. I find the blue body colour of 1%
resistors makes is a bit hard for me to read the band colours easily.

FWIW.

73
Kevin
VK3DAP
Post by Bob Tellefsen
Dan
To paraphrase former president Franklin Roosevelt, the only thing you have
to fear is fear itself.
Yes, the K2 is a radio with a lot of parts, but that's all they are, just
parts. You put them on a board one at a time. You check the directions and
the description of the part, and go on.
We had one ham 94 years old who built his own K2. I've worked him on the
air using it, too.
We have a lot of first-time, or near-first-time, builders assembling their
K2s successfully.
When you start, my best suggestion is a detailed parts inventory. Not
because you will be short a part, that seldom happens. The idea is to
familiarize yourself with the parts before you need to reach for them.
There will surely be some you won't be familiar with, so that is a good time
to identify them and know where they are in your parts kit.
Come on in, the water's fine.
73, Bob N6WG
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 11:02 PM
Subject: [Elecraft] New Ham & First Time Builder
Hello All!
I am very new to ham, in fact, I haven't even gotten my ticket yet. Even
with that being the case, I've already been investigating the toys I wish to
buy. I really like everything I have read about the K2, but I have read many
different opinions as far as who should undertake such a project. I'd like
to hear some opinions from people who have done this, and after giving you
some knowledge of my background.
I have never taken on a project like this before. I have done some very
minor soldering work, but it was many years ago as a child, so we may as
well pretend I haven't done any soldering at all. I do have an extensive
background in computers, and while I have done quite a bit of work with pc
boards, I have never done so on the component level.
I have almost made the decision to give it a go, after doing some
practice soldering on some inexpensive printed boards, but would like to
gather some more opinions on this decision. I would like to hear anyones
comments, but especially those that have had a similar lack of experience
when they themselves started the project, and how difficult the kit was for
them.
Thank you,
Dan Lesley
Atlantic, IA
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Kevin B. G. Luxford Phone: +61 0438 003 474
Work related email: mailto:***@infotech.monash.edu.au
Private email: mailto:***@optushome.com.au
"homo non potest diu vivere sine aliqua delectatione sensibili"
George Winship
2002-10-25 22:36:01 UTC
Permalink
Hi Dan,

After 20+ years of not soldering any thing more difficult than a
PL-259, my family surprised me with a K2 for my half century birthday.
Reading many of the helpful articles on the builder resources page
on the Elecraft web site were a tremendous help to get me ready to
build. Especially helpful was Tom's, N0SS, soldering tutorial article.
And there are other articles that are helpful on deciding what tools
that you might need along with construction tips.Zipping through the
reflector archives by subject was also helpful. And solder practice
was a must.
Here are some things that I found that made my kit-building
experience successful;
A workplace, well lit, and not needed for anything else, so you
can leave your kit out.
Some way to keep the parts cataloged for the board you are working
on. I used the bottom half of cardboard egg cartons and labeled each
egg socket with freezer tape. Then when I started a new board I could
put new tape on and reuse the carton.
A good temp. controlled soldering iron.
A good solder such as Kester #44
A wrist ground strap and/or an anti-static mat.
A good pair of needle nose pliers.
A good pair of wire nippers to nip those component leads.
Some sort of magnification. I used an optivisor as it left both
hands free.
A DVM.
Patience!!!!
Check, double check everything.
Knowing when to quit. Two hours at a time was about my limit.

I have probably left something important out, but others on the
list will fill you in, I am sure. I found that the boards that came
with the kit were many times easier to solder than the ones I
practiced on.
Dan, this is the most fun that I have had in ham radio in years.
My K2 just celebrated its first B'Day and it has never given me a
single problem. It was a joy to build and is great fun to operate.
If you decide to build and you should happen to have a problem,
even if it is just not understanding something in the instuction
manual, there are many talented hams on this reflector who will help
you with whatever you need. And the Elecraft support staff are
wonderful.

Hoping to hear you on soon with your new Elecraft.

73,
George, NC5G K2-2217
Lyle Johnson
2002-10-26 00:29:00 UTC
Permalink
Hello!

I am a Field Tester for the KAT100-2 version of Elecraft's new Antenna Tuner
kit. If you are curious about this unit, or the competition's similar(?)
units, read on!

1) Like all Elecraft products, the kit was packed well. The parts packaging
seemed a bit nicer than the earlier kits I've purchased from Elecraft -
touches like the name of the person who packed the parts envelope, part
numbers for the parts envelopes, etc. Elecraft is growing :-)

2) Being a Field Test unit, there were minor corrections to be made in the
manual. That's what field testing is all about -- to help the purchasers of
the product have an accurate manual and a good operating experience. Field
testers aren't paid,; we're just part of the Elecraft community doing our
bit to help, probably because we believe in the concept of well-engineered
kit alternatives to mass-produced radios.

3) I also built and own an LDG-11 series Antenna Tuner. In my case it is
the RT-11, for remoting at the antenna.

4) The Elecraft KAT100 uses larger components (.8 and .94" diameter toroids
versus LDG's .68 inch, for example). The implication is the Elecraft unit
ought to be somewhat more efficient with less internal losses, less
possibility of toroid core saturation, higher power handling capability,
able to withstand greater mismatches (but not necessarily match a wider
range of impedances).

5) The KAT100 is well-integrated with the K2 system.. I refer to the K2 as
a system rather than as a radio, because it is a system. The KAT100 is a
system component, dependent on the K2 for operating, and well integrated
with it.

The downside, of course, is that you can't use it with your other radios
(you do own another radio, don't you?).

6) The KAT100 was particularly appealing to me because I have split my K2
from its KPA100 Integrated Amplifier. This allows me to easily take my K2
on a trip, and still have a 100-watt QRO station at home, without replacing
top covers or disassembling anything. The KAT100-2 is designed to fit into
the EC2 cabinet, which happens to also house my KPA100.

You can see the results of this at http://www.fidalgo.net/~wa7gxd.

7) My current station antenna is an aging TH6DXX 20m-15m-10m beam. The
KAT100 has no problem matching this antenna on most bands.

This should not be taken to mean the now-matched antenna actually performs
well on all bands - it doesn't. In fact, it is abysmal on some. The
Hy-Gain matching system is such that on many bands the antenna feedpoint is
essentially a short circuit at both DC *and* RF, and even if you can match a
piece of shorted coax, that doesn't mean it will radiate well.

A far better antenna for multi-band use would be either a doublet (think of
it as a dipole) or perhaps a vertical element over a decent ground with DC
conductivity but not an RF short (e.g., a reasonable RF choke at the antenna
end).

8) I am still in the evaluation phase of the KAT100. But at this point I
can say that I am pleased with it. If you have a K2/100 and need an antenna
tuner for it - and don't need to share the tuner with another radio - then
you should seriously consider the KAT100.

If you are at all interested in splitting your K2/100 - or making a custom
accessory that can operate well in the potential RF fields that might be in
the case of the tuner and won't create RFI which might be coupled into the
K2 receiver - the KAT100-2 version is worth your careful consideration.

73,

Lyle KK7P
Ron D'Eau Claire
2002-10-26 00:43:01 UTC
Permalink
I would add to the great comments offered by others to SOLDER AS YOU GO!


The process of stuffing parts in bunches then soldering the pads in a
group has always lead to missed solder connections.

I recommend:

1- Check the part you are about to install and where you are putting it.

2- Put it in and form the leads to hold it in place.

3- CHECK AGAIN to see if it's the right part in the right holes (amazing
how they can move around!).

4 - Solder the part in. Do one lead, then check the part to be sure it
is tight down on the board like its supposed to be. That makes it easy
to "adjust" if its not seated properly. Then solder the remaining lead
(s).

5 - CHECK AGAIN to see if it's the right part in the right spot.

If you do that, you won't have to worry about "desoldering" to move that
wandering part to the right location later!

The idea of stuffing parts in mobs sounds like "power building" for
"professionals" but it's really lazy building for Amateurs, in my (not
so) humble opinion. I've been building gear for 50 years and in my
experience that's the easiest way to get it wrong. I'm not saying you'll
make a mistake if you do it in groups like the book suggests, but I AM
saying that it's a LOT easier to make a mistake that way.

Ron AC7AC
K2 # 1289
k***@ENTERZONE.NET
2002-10-26 04:52:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Don Wilhelm
of the modern kits - I prefer a 1/16 inch chisel tip because the flat
surface provides better heat transfer to the joint and minimizes the dwell
time necessary to complete the soldering than a conical tip would do.
This holds true for most soldering but, I personally use a sharp conical
tip without any issues. I have built every part of my Elecraft gear with
the same tip.
Post by Don Wilhelm
And by the way, a hotter tip temperature should mean quicker
soldering joints.
Within reason.
Post by Don Wilhelm
The way to fry components is to heat them for a long
time
Definately.
Post by Don Wilhelm
- strive for a soldering time of 2 to 3 seconds - if it takes
longer, the usual reason is that the tip is not hot enough.
Or you are not orienting the tip to the component lead + the pad
properly. Heat both surfaces at the same time and the solder will flow
like butter.
Post by Don Wilhelm
I use a tip temperature between 700 and 800 degrees F with larger
pads and component leads needing the higher temperatures.
Wow. I can only think of one thing that I've dialed up more than 550
degrees F and that is tinning toroid leads. I generally have a "dwell
time" of less than one second, even with this lower heat.

This might provide some humor for some of you... perhaps you do the same
thing without thinking about it.

I try very hard not to inhale any of the soldering fumes when I'm
working. At the same time, I try to be efficient as possible. I install
components in groups as indicated in the check list (up to 32 component
leads) and then solder them as a group.

My wife noticed that I would take a breath, start soldering, do 8 leads
and then exhale, blowing the fumes away. Take another breath, 8 more
leads. So, once I got going, I could do a "group" in 4 breaths.

Believe it or not, the Marine Corps taught me this technique. It wasn't
taught in communications & electronics school though but, rather in STA
(Security and Target Aquisition) school. (Fancy language for that "S" word
that the press has been throwing around.)

We would establish site picture, take a breath, wait for the body to calm
down (slow the heartbeat so the weapon didn't bounce every second or
so) and then fire the weapon. You exhale after you see visual indication
that the projectile has hit the target.

It is amazing how these things stay with you though. Just for grins and
giggles, I tried doing a "group" without the breathing exercise and my
hands were not as steady so, it took longer and the joints weren't as
pretty afterwards.
Post by Don Wilhelm
Just take your time and you can do it.
Definately. Work at whatever pace you are comfortable. Savor the
experience. Take my word for it... You'll be jonesing to build something
else soon enough after you finish. Make it last. <grin>

73 de John - KC4KGU
K2/100 #2490
Lyle Johnson
2002-10-27 01:32:08 UTC
Permalink
Hello Again!

I have a few more observations to add to my earlier report....

9) The KAT100 appears to match a much wider range of impedances than the
internal tuner in my Kenwood TS-850SAT. I base this on the fact that the
Kenwood tuner can't match my tri-band beam on many bands, while the KAT100
can.

10) The KAT100 is much faster than the Kenwood tuner.

11) The KAT100 is noisier than the KAT2 and much noisier than the Kenwood
tuner. The LDG RT-11 may or may not be quieter than the KAT100. Since the
RT-11 designed to be located remotely, relay noise is less of an issue.

12) Once the KAT100 has found a match, it remembers the settings for each
band, with separate memory for each of the two selectable antenna positions
(ANT1 and ANT2).

If you have two antennas, even if the matches are quite different, the
KAT100 will retrieve its settings based on the band and the selected antenna
as long as each antenna is connected to a different ANTENNA connector on the
rear of the KAT100. Obviously, if you use an external antenna selector, it
can't know which one you've selected...

If you then toggle between the antennas, the KAT100 instantly selects the
last matching settings for that combination.

13) As long as you haven't changed the antenna connected to ANT1 or ANT2,
you can switch bands and be matched as quickly as the K2 changes bands. The
KAT100 immediately loads the previous settings for that band and antenna
selection. Unless your antenna is highly reactive in the band you've
selected, you may be able to QSY a fair amount without the need for
retuning.

This goes a long way towards minimizing the relay noise issue. Once you've
walked the tuner through all the bands you typically use, and in particular
the segment of each band where you prefer to operate, the KAT100 will simply
recall its settings, and there will be no tuning noise.

You can tell if you need to re-tune, because the SWR LEDs will show
increasing when you transmit SWR as you move from the matched frequency.
You then must manually force a retune (press and hold the TUNE button on the
K2 front panel).

73,

Lyle KK7P
Wayne Burdick
2002-10-27 02:46:01 UTC
Permalink
11) The KAT100 is noisier than the KAT2...
True. The KAT100 uses the same type of large (10 amp) relays that are used in other tuners
of its type, including the LDG QRO tuners. These high-current relays have much larger
contacts, coils, and mechanisms than the tiny relays used in our QRP tuner.

Of course the KAT100's instant recall of settings on band or antenna change makes the
noisy relays much less of an issue -- as you noted.

We may be able to reduce the noise during initial auto-tune by adding sound-absorptive
material. We're hoping to experiment with such material next week.

73,
Wayne
N6KR
w***@hotmail.com
2002-10-27 03:03:01 UTC
Permalink
I dunno.... I kinda like the quarter-crunching sound of the LDG! At first I
thought it was noisy, but now I think I'd miss that sound as I tune up. Of
course, I won't be hearing THAT tuner for long, now that the KAT100 is
coming....

Ron E
WIFL
Post by Wayne Burdick
11) The KAT100 is noisier than the KAT2...
True. The KAT100 uses the same type of large (10 amp) relays that are used in other tuners
of its type, including the LDG QRO tuners. These high-current relays have much larger
contacts, coils, and mechanisms than the tiny relays used in our QRP tuner.
Of course the KAT100's instant recall of settings on band or antenna change makes the
noisy relays much less of an issue -- as you noted.
We may be able to reduce the noise during initial auto-tune by adding sound-absorptive
material. We're hoping to experiment with such material next week.
73,
Wayne
N6KR
p***@ameritech.net
2002-10-27 03:07:01 UTC
Permalink
I don't know know about the rest of you guys, but I love the sound of my KAT2 as it hunts for
the perfect SWR. It makes me feel like I built something really neat - which of course...I
did! And it's fun to demonstrate to friends and hams alike. I can't wait for its louder
brother! Of course, then... I live alone....no sleeping babies to wake, etc... I guess it's
kind of like gazing upon a new tower and antenna - it's in the eye(or in this case - ear) of
the beholder.
73
Paul
Post by Wayne Burdick
11) The KAT100 is noisier than the KAT2...
True. The KAT100 uses the same type of large (10 amp) relays that are used in other tuners
of its type, including the LDG QRO tuners. These high-current relays have much larger
contacts, coils, and mechanisms than the tiny relays used in our QRP tuner.
Of course the KAT100's instant recall of settings on band or antenna change makes the
noisy relays much less of an issue -- as you noted.
We may be able to reduce the noise during initial auto-tune by adding sound-absorptive
material. We're hoping to experiment with such material next week.
73,
Wayne
N6KR
_______________________________________________
k***@ENTERZONE.NET
2002-10-27 04:13:07 UTC
Permalink
I dunno.... I kinda like the quarter-crunching sound of the LDG! At firs=
t I
thought it was noisy, but now I think I'd miss that sound as I tune up. =
Of
course, I won't be hearing THAT tuner for long, now that the KAT100 is
coming....
=20
Ron E
W=90IFL
=20
If you like your LDG, you'll _LOVE_ the KAT100. The LDG AT11-MP was the
first tuner I ever owned. It worked. I'll give it that.

The KAT100 is in a completely different class though. As for relay noise,
I think that the KAT100 is quieter than that AT11-MP and not _much_
noisier than the tuner in my TS-2000.

As for speed, prepare to be amazed. The LDG went kind of "clickity
clickity, clack clack clack"....

The KAT100 goes "BuzzzzzzT" when it needs to search or simply "Click" if
it doesn't have to search.

The only way I've been able to make it take longer to find a match is to
present it with something that it CAN'T match. IE; My 2m antenna on
160m. (Hey, isn't this what field testing is all about?) Even then, it
was less than three seconds and the KAT100 knew.
We may be able to reduce the noise during initial auto-tune by adding
sound-absorptive material. We're hoping to experiment with
such material next week.=20
73,
Wayne
N6KR
Wayne, are you looking at the material I sent you the links for? If so, I
can probably do some tests here as well.

73 de John - KC4KGU
K2/100 #2490
Lyle Johnson
2002-10-27 06:39:00 UTC
Permalink
Hello!

A couple years ago there was a lot of discussion on this reflector about a
surplus ELPAC power supply, suitable for operating the K2 and keeping the
optional KBT2 battery properly charged. For under $20, it was a great deal.
I have had one for two years and have been very happy with it - until today
:-(

I ran into a problem when doing some testing of the KAT100.

The ELPAC was the culprit.

Details are at http://www.fidalgo.net/~wa7gxd/k2kpa100.html.

The short version is that the ELPAC seems fine for use with a K2, but not an
external device attached to the K2. I mention this not because you might
want to run a KAT100 with one (although you might), but if Elecraft ever
comes out with any sort of other external accessories for the K2 system, you
might have difficulties if you don't understand your power supply's
characteristics.

I am sure ELPAC is not alone in their supply's reaction to idling with no
load, then suddenly having a load applied.

Caveat emptor.

72/73,

Lyle KK7P
Wayne Burdick
2002-10-27 08:55:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Lyle Johnson
I ran into a problem when doing some testing of the KAT100.
The short version is that the ELPAC seems fine for use with a K2, but not an
external device attached to the K2....
Lyle,

We're going to study the power-supply turn-on issue more carefully. As of right now your
particular ELPAC supply is the only we we know of that exhibits such a dip in voltage when
the load is applied. But if there are others like it, we'll try to find a solution in
firmware rather than make such supplies obsolete.

I should point out that this came up during KAT100 field testing, which is exactly why we
do it!

73,
Wayne
N6KR
Ron D'Eau Claire
2002-10-28 02:56:00 UTC
Permalink
I scanning the stuff on your web page, let me see if I got it straight
about the ELPAC power supply...

When faced with firing off all of those big relays in the KAT100, it
allows the voltage to droop about 4 volts below normal for about 1/2
second. That causes problems for the K2 controller. That right?

It looks like the regulator wasn't designed to respond to such large
transients quickly enough for this application. That may well be a
problem with many supplies that do not have a large capacitor at the
output. Indeed, putting a BIG capacitor across the output may take care
of the problem, provided the regulator can supply the current to charge
it up when the supply is first turned on without damage.

Ron AC7AC
K2 # 1289
John Clifford
2002-10-28 03:09:01 UTC
Permalink
The K1 is a fine little radio, but if you're like me you want to be able to
do things that a K1 can't... hence the K2.

As one who was also a first-time builder and new ham (reading the QST review
on the K2, which by happenstance I came across at a local bookstore and
bought out of curiosity, is what made me decide to become a ham), I
definitely think that a K2 is easily something within the reach of
beginners... IF:

- you are the type of person who can follow well-written instructions
('smart monkey')
- you have even a little experience soldering, or are willing to practice
- you are the kind of person who can complete a project that can't be done
in one or two sittings
- you are the kind of person who either is detail-oriented, or who is
willing to be detail-oriented when it comes to building your kit
- you are the kind of person who can handle the occasional frustration,
think about a problem, and then overcome it, or you are willing to be
- you are the kind of person who WANTS to build their own radio and is
willing to put forth the necessary effort to do so

My biggest problem with building the kit was not letting life get me
distracted. I started building the kit in late October '00, stopped after
five days and maybe 20 hours were spent on it, went to Hawaii before
Thanksgiving (wish I'd had it there!), got busy at work, went to Florida for
Christmas, got busy at work... started getting ready for the birth of my
son... and then realized that if I didn't finish the durn thing quickly
there's no way I'd finish it before my son was 18! So, in mid-January, I
sat down for a couple more 4-6 hour shifts over several days and finished
it. I finished each option (KAT2, KSB2, etc.) a couple of weeks later. I
still have to build the KNB2 and KAF2, but have finished the KIO2 as well...
and I have the KPA2 and EC2 sitting in a box waiting to be built; they'll be
this winter's project, along with perhaps a KAT100.

The biggest pain was the toroids... not because winding them was hard but
stripping the insulation off sufficiently was a pain. The solder-blob
method worked best for me. I also continuity-tested each toroid after
installation, and repeatedly reflowed the solder on each installed toroid
'leg' while pulling the wire taunt until I achieved continuity. As a
result, I have never had a 'bad toroid' problem.

I looked at each trouble-shooting problem as well as each building step
(including toroids) as an education on solid state device construction and
repair.

My suggestions for first-time builders who want to tackle a K2:

- Don't try for marathon building efforts.

Instead, decide that you will spend an hour or two each day (in the evenings
when other distractions, i.e., wife, kid(s), work, etc., are gone) and then
you will find that the radio builds itself in a month or so. If you're like
me, you will find that you will spend extended periods of time on the
weekend when you have it, and the radio will come together that much faster.

- When you stop, stop at the end of a page, so it's easy to figure out
where to start again

- Decent soldering is necessary.

Read Tom NOSS's article on soldering, and examine your first soldering
efforts to ensure they are adequate. You might want to build one of the
smaller accessory kits (KSB2, KIO2, etc.) as a means of gaining confidence
and practicing soldering.

- Spend the $70 and up and buy a decent temperature-controlled soldering
iron.

- When building, don't proceed past a testing checkpoint until your K2
passes the test.

Each stage builds on previous stages. Trouble-shooting is hard enough
without making it harder by adding more variables. Test when you are
supposed to, and FIX any problems before proceeding.

- If you have a problem, don't hesitate to contact the reflector. That's
what it's here for.

And finally, remember that building your K2 is supposed to be fun! It is,
even if you run into a few problems. Once you're up and running, the pride
of using a rig you built yourself comes back each and every time another
operator asks you what you are using.

Good luck and hope you join the 'club'...

- jgc

John Clifford KD7KGX

Heathkit HW-9 WARC/HFT-9/HM-9
Elecraft K2 #1678 /KSB2/KIO2/KBT2/KAT2/KNB2/KAF2/KPA100
Ten-Tec Omni VI/Opt1

email: ***@arrl.net
Lyle Johnson
2002-10-28 03:35:05 UTC
Permalink
Hello Ron!
Post by Ron D'Eau Claire
When faced with firing off all of those big relays in the KAT100, it
allows the voltage to droop about 4 volts below normal for about 1/2
second. That causes problems for the K2 controller. That right?
Long answer:

It allows the +12V to droop to about +4 volts for about 450 mSec. The
brownout detector in the KAT100 MCU sees that its Vcc is below +5V nominal,
so it stops working.

During this time, the K2 CPU can't handshake with the now-silent KAT100 CPU,
so it fails to detect its presence.

Short answer:

Yes :-)
Post by Ron D'Eau Claire
It looks like the regulator wasn't designed to respond to such large
transients quickly enough for this application...
It appears that my supply doesn't respond well at all. Even a 60 Hz
switcher (using an SCR on the priomary) would respond in 16.7 mSec. To take
450 mSec to figure it out is really, really bad. I frankly suspect I may
have a bad supply. But it seems to works OK when it runs the K2, although I
haven't fully characterized it under that condition since I have the KBT2
installed and always ON.

The *real* question becomes:

Is KK7P's ELPAC supply typical, or is it a defective supply?
Post by Ron D'Eau Claire
..That may well be a
problem with many supplies that do not have a large capacitor at the
output. Indeed, putting a BIG capacitor across the output may take care
of the problem, provided the regulator can supply the current to charge
it up when the supply is first turned on without damage.
Yes, the supply could be modifed (if it is a design problem) or repaired (if
it is a defect in my particular supply).

With no schematics, and at under $20 to buy it in the first place, it's not
worth much time or trouble.

But I would be interested to know if other ELPAC supplies have this problem,
or if I am just lucky :-/

***

In normal operation, my KAT100 runs on the supply that also runs the KPA100,
and has no problems at all. As Wayne pointed out, this is just something
uncovered during testing, and it may or may not be typical of the ELPAC
supplies.

Worst case, a note in the troubleshooting section of the KAT100 manual could
say "If the K2 doesn't recognize the KAT100, be sure the power supply
voltage doesn't droop when the K2 is turned on."

73,

Lyle KK7P
John Clifford
2002-10-28 05:03:02 UTC
Permalink
A quick way to get around this would be to run the ELPAC thru a large
battery... the ELPAC can be set to run 13.8v to trickle charge the battery,
while the battery would supply the current necessary for proper amp
operation.

Note that you'll have to put a diode inline with the positive wire from the
PS in order to protect it from reverse voltage.

- jgc

John Clifford KD7KGX

Heathkit HW-9 WARC/HFT-9/HM-9
Elecraft K2 #1678 /KSB2/KIO2/KBT2/KAT2/KNB2/KAF2/KPA100
Ten-Tec Omni VI/Opt1

email: ***@arrl.net
Steve Lawrence
2002-10-28 16:26:03 UTC
Permalink
Wayne's response reminds me of the wonders of today's engineering.......

Picture, if you will, a scene from the mid 1800's. The era of the great
railroad expansion. You are standing at a track construction site
somewhere in the west for what promises to be a momentous occasion. As
your eyes strain eastward, the newly laid track glistens in the early
morning sun, stretching straight as an arrow as it vanishes into the
distance. Behind you the track continues straight west for miles, finally
disappearing into the hills beyond. The scene in front is one of
confusion as the last few rail sections are laid. The tracks are not yet
linked - east meeting west. And, in fact, the foremen of each of the
construction crews are vigorously discussing the problem. There is much
shouting, hand waving, and finger pointing.... You fix your gaze east -
the problem is obvious: the southern most rail from the west track is in
line with the northern most rail of the east track! One of the railroad
beds was shifted by the width of the track!

Today we have an option not enjoyed then.....

"fix it in software"

I just wonder how may recent projects have been saved by this option?

73,
Steve
aa8af





Wayne Burdick <***@elecraft.com>
Sent by: elecraft-***@mailman.qth.net
10/27/2002 02:52 AM


To: Lyle Johnson <***@fidalgo.net>
cc: ***@mailman.qth.net
Subject: [Elecraft] Re: ELPAC Power Supply




Lyle,

We're going to study the power-supply turn-on issue more carefully. As of
right now your
particular ELPAC supply is the only we we know of that exhibits such a dip
in voltage when
the load is applied. But if there are others like it, we'll try to find a
solution in
firmware rather than make such supplies obsolete.

I should point out that this came up during KAT100 field testing, which is
exactly why we
do it!

73,
Wayne
N6KR
George, W5YR
2002-10-28 20:22:02 UTC
Permalink
It works the other way, too, Steve: "fix it in the hardware so the software
will work!"

Many projects have much more time and $$ invested in software than in the
nuts and bolts.

73/72, George
Amateur Radio W5YR - the Yellow Rose of Texas
In the 57th year and it just keeps getting better!
Fairview, TX 30 mi NE of Dallas in Collin county EM13qe
K2 #489 Icom IC-765 #2349 Icom IC-756 PRO #2121
Post by Steve Lawrence
Today we have an option not enjoyed then.....
"fix it in software"
I just wonder how may recent projects have been saved by this option?
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