First UKAC of 2021

It was pleasant to enter the first RSGB UK Activity Contest (UKAC) on Tuesdy night. Being the first Tuesday of the month this contest was on 2m (144MHz).

Activity levels were good although conditions were nothing special with many reporting high levels of QRM and deep QSO. It was particularly disappointing now to work any /P stations (portable operating is not allowed under current VHFCC contest rules, in accordance with HM Government Covid restriction in ‘Lockdown 3’). I did miss working some of the stalwarts of the UKAC like Chris (G4FZN/P) and Pauline up in IO94 and Gordon (G8PNN) in IO95. Despite missing some of these regulars it was a pleasure to work, amongst others Gordon (another Gordon!) GI6ATZ for my ODX at a shade under 500km.

Here is my map of contests map, note that there’s nothing much to the South / South East – I have rotten take-off in that direction.

M0ICR RSGB UKAC 144MHz 5 January 2021

Building a K16 CW Keyer for the QCX Mini

The marvel that is the QCX Mini is already equipped with a rudimentary electronic keyer for Iambic modes and including memories, beaconing and practice modes but I wanted to add a K16 keyer for increased features.

The K16 Keyer from Steve Elliot K1EL is perfect for both contesting and casual use and fits on a PCB measuring just 38mm x 35mm. I am using the Kanga UK version of the board available here. Detail of the full range of keyers from K1EL (US site) are here. The K16 chip can be purchased separately if you wish to design your own PCB here (US) or in the UK, again from Kanga UK, here.

Further details of K16 features and operation can be found here.

I have previously built a K14 keyer into an Altoids tin but on this occasion I am salvaging a defunct USB soundcard case to build the keyer into (matches the QCX Mini styling) and will be supplying the power from 2 x CR2032 cells (the keyer only draw 1mA when on and uA when in standby mode) rather than the larger PP3 specified by Kanga.

This is the original soundcard and box:

The K16 keyer in progress:

I intend to integrate my old K14 Keyer into my 20m QCX (vanilla).