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Default [KB6NU] Dayton 2016: Design advances make portable operation easier, more fun

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Dayton 2016: Design advances make portable operation easier, more fun

Posted: 30 May 2016 11:13 AM PDT

At this years Dayton Hamvention, the interest in portable operation¬*was
everywhere. One of the talks at the QRP-ARCIs Four Days in May seminar, for
example, was titled, 2016: Year of the Portable Operator, and there were
many vendors selling gear for portable operators.

Portable operation is not only becoming more popular, but more
sophisticated as well. In fact, its a virtuous circle. More sophisticated
portable equipment is making portable operation easier and more fun, which
is spurring manufacturers to make more sophisticated equipment, which is
making portable operation even more popular, and around we go.

This is perhaps most easily seen in the evolution of the Elecraft products.
One of their first rigs was the K1, a small rig that was frequently toted
out into the field, even though it wasnt really designed for that purpose.
It had a small form factor, but had a conventional front panel layout.

The next evolution was the KX1. This CW-only radio was designed
specifically for field work. It originally only covered 40m and 80m, and
had a very limited front panel, but its built-in battery pack and KXPD1
paddle made it a great choice for portable operators when it was introduced
in 2004.

A big leap forward was made when they introduced the KX3 in 2012. This
radio combined a bunch of features never before found in a portable rig.
The KX3 features an SDR architecture and covers all modes, including (SSB,
CW, Data, FM, AM); used the same full-sized LCD display as the K3; has
advanced DSP features; and can be connected to a computer via USB for
firmware upgrades and for use with other ham radio software. The KX3 is so
full-featured that many operators use it as their main rig with a suitable
linear amplifier.

At Dayton 2016, Elecraft took this concept even further and introduced the
KX2. Its about half the size of the KX3, but yet has almost all of the
features of the KX3. There was a tremendous amount of buzz over this radio
at Dayton among portable operation aficionados. The base price of the KX2
is $750, and with options, will cost you about $1,000.

Of course, Elecraft isnt the only company making gear for portable ops. LNR
Precision sells a radio called the LD-5, and at Dayton, they introduced the
LD-11, which like the KX3 and KX2 features an SDR architecture and covers
160m 6m. This radio goes for about $800, and has also proven to be popular
among portable operators.
The KX2 is Elecrafts latest rig for portable operators.

Dayton also had a number of exhibitors that supplied products other than
radios to aid portable operation. There were several portable antenna
manufacturers, including Buddipole¬*and PackTenna, and BiEnno Power¬*was also
there, showing off their new lithium-iron batteries,

While radios like the KX2 and LD-11, at relatively low prices, allow
operators to easily get out into the field, portable operation would not be
as popular as it is without organized activities. Programs like the Summits
on the Air¬*(SOTA) and the National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) make portable
operation even more fun. These programs do this by providing a structure in
which operators can find one another and gain awards for operating. I didnt
see a SOTA booth at Dayton, but NPOTA was a big part of the ARRL section

If you arent already a portable operator, you should give it a try! You
dont have to invest a bunch of money in a rig to just try it. KX1s have
been had for less than $400, and simpler QRP rigs cost a lot less. Getting
outside and operating in the fresh air is a lot of fun and could give you a
whole new perspective on amateur radio.

The post Dayton 2016: Design advances make portable operation easier, more
fun appeared first on KB6NUs Ham Radio Blog.

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