EleCraft K2 Field Day

Click on the small pictures to see enlargements.

For the past two years, we have operated FD at Henry Coe State Park, south of San Jose, CA. The first time we went up, the K2 was just a gleam in our eye and a sketch on the back of a log page. Last year, it was a rough draft--a heavily marked-up schematic, some color drawings. But we always knew that the K2 was destined to be a real radio, and we both looked forward to the yearly pilgrimage to Henry Coe, this time to undertake the first serious field test for the K2. (This was a casual field day. Instead of going for point totals we concentrated on testing the K2s and on meeting with hams who came up to the site to visit us.)

Eric, WA6HHQ and Wayne, N6KR show off their K2s

(Photo courtesy of George, KJ6VU from the K6SRA group)

Henry Coe State Park is located at 2600 ft in the mountains to the east of Morgan Hill, CA. Our operating location is on a hill that looks directly down a sloping canyon to the east - ideal for propagation across the US from California.

Elecraft field day site.

View to the east.

Our two station field day set up consisted of two K2s: one running into a 130' long wire down the hill to the east and one running into a SLV vertical. We also ran both antennas into an A/B switch to compare their operation. (The long wire down the canyon is a great performer, but interestingly the vertical would switch off with it 50% of the time for best signals.)

View to the east from our SLV vertical.

View of the Elecraft site from the north.

The SLV vertical is in the foreground, and the long wire is fed from the VW vanagon to the pole on the left of the SLV, then over the oak tree to the left and down the canyon to the east.

We had a great time operating our K2s in their first contest situation. Both were battery powered, with one K2 using its internal 3AH gel-cell battery for the complete weekend. We made heavy use of the K2 internal memory keyer, programmable memories and the variable crystal filter bandwidths. In a word, the K2s passed field day testing with flying colors.

To test RX overload performance we ran two K2's side by side in Wayne's VW Vanagon. One was operating on 40M and the other on 20M. The antennas were less than 50m apart. There was no overload of the K2 RX when the other was transmitting. The only signal the 20M RX detected from the 40M K2 was the 2nd harmonic, as was expected.

Click on the small pictures to see enlargements.

Dueling K2s (tables rotated out for viewing.)

Dual K2 operating positions.

K2 on the air.

Operating position #1 as seen from position #2. (Day #2, N6KR asleep at the key.)

We also tested the K2 RX while listening to another field day station (K6SRA - The Sierra Radio Association) that was running 100W on 20M less than .5KM from our station. Their beam was pointed directly at us. (We initially worried about their close location, but the K2 handled their local signal with no problems.)

While listening directly on their frequency, the K2 RX AGC operated well, even though the signal was pinning our S-Meter. We then tuned 10KHz off of their signal to listen to a weak CW signal. We observed no overload or de-sense of the weak signal when their 100W station was transmitting.

K6SRA field day site (0.5KM from Elecraft site)

A Strong signal source for K2 RX testing!

The comments from stations who listened to our K2 TX signal were all very favorable. The K2's PIN diode TX/RX switching contributed to our low operating fatigue. The K2 transmitter remained stable, even when it was run into a poor SWR. We certainly abused the K2 final transistors this field day, but they survived the weekend without any problems.

Next year we hope to return to Henry Coe with a plethora of K2s (both ours and yours!)

Listen for N6KR and WA6HHQ on the air from our home QTH's. We are putting the K2's through their paces whenever we have a free moment.

Thanks again to the K6SRA group for their strong local signal source and for a great Saturday dinner, and to those who made the trek up to our field day site to see the K2.

73,

Wayne, N6KR and Eric, WA6HHQ