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Author Topic: KX3 QRP users... question about outdoor use  (Read 9510 times)
KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« on: August 28, 2013, 01:35:56 PM »

Hello, everyone.

I'm making some decisions on my first radio purchases.  I had pretty much settled on building the KX3 kit, with my plan being to use it as a base and a field QRP unit.  I've been watching a lot of videos about the KX3 and the FT-817nd, and it occurred to me that the 817 appears, at least in photos and video, to be much better built for outdoors use.

Does anyone think the KX3 may really be a bit too fragile and not sealed well enough for regular use out camping/hiking either in the desert or in the mountains?  As neat as the unit is, I would hate to pay all that money for one one and then ruin it taking it outdoors often, especially in the desert, or to have to avoid using it if I'm out and the wind is blowing kicking up some dust.  I'd rather get a QRP unit that would be able to handle this kind of use/abuse as well as possible.

I've never handled either radio, so I'm hoping someone here can shed some light.  If I end up getting the 817, I'll just get a second transceiver for a base.

Thanks for your help!
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73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
W1JKA
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Posts: 1773




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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 04:28:49 AM »

Re: Jeepscape

  A few things to consider:Personal differences in definition of hiking and camping use. To me camping is more or less semi permanent and relatively dry operating conditions i.e. tent, car, lean to, nice day picnic table etc. all with a stable/element protected operating position. Hiking on the other hand consists of weight consideration, exposure to different wx conditions (especially SOTA), most often a none protected operating position from top of a log/rock where it can be easily yanked off by running into/tripping on the antenna wire with the possibility of stumbling on the trail with your backpack and contained radio acting as a cushion between your back and the ground. Bottom line for me as I have mentioned in other post is that my K-1, KX1 or Weber tri bander with their digital read outs, extra exposed control knobs /function buttons, exposed speaker openings and relatively fragile cases(not to mention initial cost) will do fine for camping but on the trail I stick with my rugged MFJ Cubs operated inside the confines of a freezer bag and when appropriate  can be easily dried out in front of a campfire after an occasional swim from my canoe. Obviously I only operate cw and don't own a KX3(yet).Your interest in the KX3 and SSB ops. will certainly add another dimension in your choice. Good Luck
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W4KYR
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Posts: 581




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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 04:57:40 AM »



 I think Elecraft should have a "Manpack" option for their KX3. Built like those 'Army PRC' and Vertex VX 1210 'grab and go' radios. One can build a cage or a box themselves to protect the KX3.

A quick look in Google Images revealed this. This is kind of what I am thinking, seems someone is already making a protective case for it. I would take this further and then add a frame around that and add a gel cell battery and a outboard mount for a hamstick antenna.

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KK6GNP
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Posts: 158




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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 06:40:52 AM »

W1JKA, I will be using it in both scenarios (camping & hiking w/ SOTA), with the added issue of camping in the desert with some very fine blow dust.  I'm concerned that the KX3 really isn't sealed up very well from what I have seen of assembly photos and video.  The up side is that building the kit will also afford me the knowledge of servicing it myself if need be.

W4KYR, I was checking those upgrades out over at Gem's Products website and they look great.  It's a move in the right direction for sure.  Seems to me someone could manufacture a completely new weatherproof case for it if they wanted.  I'd just like to see a hardened version for hiking/SOTA.

I'm starting to lean toward just getting two different radios at this point.  If I do, I'll pick up a KX3 next year as an addition.
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73 ~ Cory (JeepEscape)
KK6GNP
WB6BYU
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Posts: 13341




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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 12:33:48 PM »

When I was working in the woods in Alaska I found the camera accessory that
was responsible for more good photos than any other was a Tupperware container
to use as a camera case.  That allowed me to carry the camera with me in
situations where I wouldn't have done so otherwise.  It survived being dropped
out of a helicopter, full days working in the rain, floating in salt water in the
bottom of a canoe, etc. And it was easily replaceable when it got damaged.

So you might want to look in the Kitchenware section to see if you can find
one that fits your rigs.  They are more for protecting it in transit rather than
when in use, but you can always turn the container upside down over the rig
for protection on the operating table, or make a special cover with wires
passing through sealed holes.  (Possibly a container with two lids, one adapted
for wires to pass through for operating and a second solid one for protection.)

Do make sure it doesn't overheat during operation, of course.


My old Ten-Tec Argonaut 505 has survived being operated from the rain forests
of Alaska to the desert of Australia, beaches in New Zealand, and many miles
in a backpack (generally wrapped in my bath towel for protection.)  Not to
mention resoldering the VFO circuit board with a propane torch in a logging camp.
Dust could be a problem in the gear mechanism that adjusts the tuning of multiple
TX and RX stages (thankfully improved in the later models) but otherwise it should
be OK as long as you can take the covers off and blow it out when you get back
home.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6136




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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 06:23:49 PM »

I currently own a KX3 and recently sold my FT-817. The KX3 having 12 watts SSB and a great RF speech processor completely beats the 5 watt FT-817. With internal batteries it's 5 watts vs. 2.5 watts.

While portable I place the KX3 inside a one gallon baggy and if dust were to get inside it can be blown out with a can of compressed air.

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W4KYR
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Posts: 581




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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2013, 07:08:14 PM »


 This ham from Austria made the KX3 into a manpack radio.  He gives instructions on how to build your own version. He should try to get this into production on his own, it would be a pretty hot selling accessory. This is exactly what I mean by making the KX3 into a rugged manpack radio.  http://www.oe2atn.at/tom/gobox/


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AF6WL
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Posts: 144




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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2013, 07:40:46 PM »


 This ham from Austria made the KX3 into a manpack radio.  ...This is exactly what I mean by making the KX3 into a rugged manpack radio.  http://www.oe2atn.at/tom/gobox/


Sorry but that is not a manpack.
It is a very nice go box that offers a robust protection for transportation.

A manpack a ruggedized weather sealed radio with controls that can be operated outside in the  worst of environments : desert heat and dust, winter cold, snow and rain.
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GILGSN
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Posts: 207




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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2013, 12:51:33 AM »

Hello. I do own a KX3, also a K1 and MTR. My camping radio is the MTR.. Because it is the smallest, performs handsomely and is fairly cheap. The only problem is availability if I had to replace it. I have missed the KX3 SWL capabilities though. A Pelican 1200 or 1400 case will solve your problem. You probably won't be operating in the rain. It's just no fun. The risk is during transport and storage. The Pelican with the foam will protect the KX3 against shock and humidity.

Gil.
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2013, 05:07:50 AM »

Hi, Cory!  I've got an 817 and it's a world of fun, no doubt about it.  I got mine used, at a bargain price, because it had a problem with the internal battery.  I've had a *ball* with it in the couple of years I've owned it.

But I'd like to mention two things if you're considering the KX3 vs the 817.  One is that the 817 slurps up battery power pretty quickly.   I've got a handful of gelcellls for portable operating but I've found the 2200mAh one to be pretty useless--it doesn't last long enough to be worth the bother.  Both 7Ah and 12Ah work fine for my purposes, but they're pretty heavy if you're going to be hiking.

The other thing is that the 817 is an old design these days.  I wouldn't buy one brand-new at retail prices; I think there are certainly better choices for the money.  If you want an 817 and can find one at a good price, used, then that might be fine.  The KX3 is at the start of its life and they're selling like beer at Mardi Gras, so they'll be around for years to come.   Oh, and if you do get an 817, definitely get the optional narrow CW filter.

73 and GL!  --ken
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