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Portable Field Radio

My most ambitious kit to date.  The Hendricks PFR-3 is a 3 band (40, 30, 20) 5 watt CW radio.  It includes a balanced line tuner (BLT) as well as internal batteries.  The kit is about the size of a hardback book.  I completed the build at the beginning of October 2009.  I have made over a dozen contacts so far and love this radio.  It is easy to use and just plain fun.  I have gotten several nice comments about how the radio sounds and the majority are surprised that it is a kit.

Initially I was only getting 5 watts out on 20 meters, 4 watts on 40, and 2 on 30 meters.  But thanks to the designer and the Yahoo Group I was able to get tips on how to tweak the coils to get the full 5 watts.  Most of my problem was lack of experience building kits.  The other main issue was that I was not very careful about the input voltage.  As the manual says the power out is directly related to the DC voltage IN.  Once I got a stable 12 volts into the radio I was able to move the coils enough to get 5 watts on all three bands.  Earlier I was trying to adjust it with anywhere from 10-11 volts in. 

The next step in this process is to come up with a good portable antenna.  So far I am trying the following with my greatest success coming from the dipole:

  - 67' long wire with a 28' counterpoise.

  - 40 meter dipole made from speaker wire and fed with 15' of tiny coax.

  - Norcal Doublet.

My prayer group is going camping from Nov 6-7, 2009.  We will be setting up in the Sipsey Wilderness in Northern Alabama (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sipsey_Wilderness).  I think the elevation is only about 800' but since Memphis is 300' I am hoping to get a better signal out.  If you hear me, please give me a call!  I will create a special QSL photo to send to all my contacts. 

* Note: Had a great trip.  Heard several stations but only made one contact with K5IRH.  Did not have as much time to operate as I hoped but still had a great time!

As an update (Aug 2012): I have used this radio for over 50 QSO's and still really enjoy it. The tuner is touchy and takes small movements to find a right balance. But so far it has worked very well. I would encourage anyone to buy the current version and seek out the Yahoo user group. There are many very helpful folks ready to guide you along the path to completion.

Here are my notes from the Elecraft K1 Build

April 2, 2010 
It is DONE!!  I finished the kit yesterday and have (I think) just a few tweeks to go.  But I did manage a quick QSO last night on 40 meters.  Jim (KC0QCO) was the first QSO on the K1.  Unfortunately the band changed and another big dog station started very close to me.  So the last thing Jim sent was "did I build it myself".  Yes I did and I am amazed that it works.  The e-mail list has been a great help as well on several things that had me stumped.  I am going to use it for a couple of weeks before building the KAT1.  I want to make sure that everything works before I add any new variables.  Check out the photos at the bottom of this page.  Listen on the bands for K1 Serial # 2793!

Mar 26, 2010
Have been making great progress lately.  My sweet wife has let me have several afternoons to focus on soldering.  As of last night I am at the TESTING phase for the receiver!!!  So far so good!  I just wound L1 today and will install that next.  If the rest of the testing goes well, then I will start the transmitter section next.  It is finally looking like a radio now that the sides and front panel are attached.  This has been a great kit and once again if I would read the instructions all the way, then I wouldn't have to redo parts (hi hi).

Mar 12, 2010
I finished the Filter Board a few weeks ago.  I had to re-learn how to burn off the insulation on the wires and get them soldered in correctly.  I was fortunate enough to use the Elecraft reflector to find lots of good tips about how to do it.  My main issue was not using enough solder to clean off the wire and to tin it.

Earlier today I finished the Front Panel (see photos).  I am so excited to be at this point.  It felt like I would never get past it.  I had several building sessions but only managed to get 10 or so parts done at a time.  Anyway, I completed all the resistance checks and everything looks good.  I do hope that I haven't fried U1.  One step said to reinstall it after soldering in the LCD.  Well,l I missed the step that said TAKE IT OUT.  Opps.

Feb 16, 2010
Well I have made progress on building the Filter board on my K1.  I am up to the toroid winding section.  The first mistake I made was to wind L1 to L6 instead of following the instructions of doing L1 (wind, tin leads, mount on board).  I thought I was doing myself a favor by winding all the cores at the same time.  Well, it backfired because I wound them BACKWARD.  Ugh.  Perfectly clear instructions for someone that will bother to read!  I have now unwound L1 to L6 and rewound them.  The wire (I hope) will be okay for the 2nd wind.  It was little bit bumpy in spots but seems to have smoothed out enough.

My next challenge is getting the insulation off the wire and the wire soldered.  I don't remember having this much trouble with my PFR-3.  I don't know what I am doing differently but it is going so poorly that I am actually considering buying pre-wound toroids!  Say it ain't so.  This is supposed to built by me.  I am not afraid of a little winding.  I am afraid, however, of trying to get something off the PCB board once it is on there.

Jan 17, 2010
Just finished the inventory process.  Not always easy with a 4 and 7 year old and the normal life duties.  Always rather be with my kids and my wife than with the soldering iron.  They will want less time with me in the future.  Anyway, I am missing just a couple of parts.  The folks at Elecraft already replied to my e-mail and gave me an idea of where to find 2 of the missing items.  Hope to melt solder this week!  Add a photo to the gallery below.
 * Note:  2 of the missing parts were in fact in an envelope that I did not open.  It was labeled as "serial #" and I believed that that was all that would be in the envelope.  Nope.  Anyway, it has been a pleasure to work with Elecraft and I am really looking forward to the build.

Jan 6, 2010

Started doing the inventory process for the Elecraft K1 last night.  So far I am very pleased with how well packaged and accounted for everything is.  I am only missing two parts at this time.  I am not 100% certain that they are missing.  I haven't gone through all the bags.
Here are some photos from the other kits that I have recently built.
Here are some photos of the shack.  A few of the radios have been moved around but they are all still in use in one way or the other!

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