Big Day Out at Wyong

Just back from a few hours spent at the annual field day at Wyong hosted by the Central Coast Amateur Radio Club. This has to be the big day out for Australian radio amateurs. People came from near and far. It’s a good barometer of the health of the hobby and the local industry supporting it.
I was delighted to see – as the first exhibit as you enter – a full display of the Elecraft K-line presented by Gary VK4FD. Only thing missing was a KX3. Gary of course is an enthusiast, not an employee of Elecraft. A pretty good indicator of the passionate support the company enjoys.

Gary VK4FD and his display of Elecraft gear at the Wyong field day
Gary VK4FD and his display of Elecraft gear at the Wyong field day

The flea market became pretty busy as the morning progressed, but maybe not as many stalls as previous years. One stall that stood out for me at least was Stephen VK2SPS’s which included his offering of keys and bugs, surplus to his collection as he focuses on homegrown Australian manufactured keys. Eagle-eyed visitors will spot the McElroy bug (top, centre) and an interesting wooden based French military key towards bottom right.

Spotted in the flea market at the Wyong field day
Spotted in the flea market at the Wyong field day

Brilliant sunny weather, but not too hot to spend some time wandering about looking for a bargain or three. Also saw an impressive display of homebrew gear from members of the ARNSW Homebrew group.

Digging out useful info on gear

Spent a bit of time visiting WW2PT’s site and reading the thread of messages tagged with ‘K3’. It’s great when you discover someone who has followed a similar path to the one you’re on and can write about with a combo of wisdom and wit.

A key post is this one ‘Concerning computers’ about getting his K3 to talk with his MacBook Pro.

This has to be the great difference to doing ham radio now compared to when I first got the bug back in the 1960s and 70s. The sheer volume of experience and overwhelmingly good will that’s materialised on the net has created an always available knowledge bank that’s transformed the most enjoyable part of hamming for me at least – troubleshooting. Sure there’s nonsense out there but it’s not too hard to discern. And then there’s the user communities!

Elecraft's trail-friendly KX1
Elecraft’s trail-friendly KX1

I bought the KX1 and K3 partly due to the solid community of users on the main reflector, lead in the best way by gurus like Don W3FPR who are so generous with their experience and don’t hesitate to share it, as well as the active involvement of Elecraft principals, Eric WA6HHQ & Wayne N6KR and others. Other purchases are informed as much as possible by getting a taste of the user community – aside for the occasional eBay impulse of course. Buddipole’s BUG has a similar shared spirit. It’s probably no accident that both lists are well moderated.

As an example of what I’m talking about here’s an excerpt from Don’s reply to a recent query about whether or not to build the 80/30m option kit as part of the initial build of the KX1 or to do it later:

“…there are pieces of the KXB3080 that can be installed during the initial build so you do not have to remove any more than 2 toroids. At one time, I created a “cheat-sheet” telling a couple of builders how to do it – I can try to find that email if you would like to try. I would only recommend doing that to an expert and confident builder. OTOH, an expert and confident builder would have no problem removing components from the PC board without damaging the board or burning the relay cases either.

The KXB3080 is difficult to install because of the small space available in the KX1, and the instructions must be followed exactly, particularly the LPF board – if not done exactly like the instructions, it will interfere with the tuner.”

Maybe this impresses me so much because I never was lucky enough to have an Elmer when I started out!