24 March 2024

The Acceptance Phase

Over the years I've posted here a few times about my adventures with my Elecraft KX2. Recently I wrote about upgrading it with the new Elecraft KXIBC2 board, which allows charging of the lithium-ion battery while still installed in the radio. I've also sung its praises here and on other forms for it's excellent design, modularity, maintainability, manufacturer support and world-class performance on SSB. 

What I've had to finally come to accept, though, is that the KX2's is a lousy digital mode performer. 

I so desperately want this little rig to run things like Winlink and JS8CALL, but I've struggled on-and-off for two years to get it working correctly, with no real success. Lord knows, I've put a few dozen hours into the effort, and have bought no end of USB sound card dongles, Digirig interfaces, cables and assorted bits 'n bobs. All to no end. My last attempt was a few days ago, when a JS8CALL session on three different bands netted only two very weak beacon reports. OK, I was getting out, but not well, and I have no idea why.

I'm no digital mode dummy. The list of radios I've run Winlink, JS8CALL, VarAC, Fldigi, MS-DMT and other digital modes on is extensive. Probably close to a dozen different models across all manufacturers, some with internal sound card interfaces, some requiring external sound card setups like the Signalink. The KX2 is, hands down, the most difficult radio I've ever dealt with on digital modes.

"No Winlink for you!"

This isn't a tragedy, merely an inconvenience. I've got other QRP rigs that do just fine on digital modes, like the Icom IC-705. It's just disappointing that an otherwise great little rig is a stinker on digital. Going forward it'll be relegated to SSB only, and in that use it's at the top of the heap. It's such a cracking good little radio that it'll stay on my 'do not sell' list, along with my Yaesu FT-818 (which, by the way, runs digital modes without breaking a sweat). One of the reasons is that the KX2 has had the MARS mod done to it, and I've actually used it to check into both MARS and SHARES nets. It's usefulness as a sideband rig is beyond measure.

So if anyone out there has a KX2 (or KX3) and runs it successfully on digital modes, I'd desperately love to talk with you. Drop me a line.

Until then, I'm screwing up the courage to do the MARS mod on my IC-705.

W8BYH out

1 comment:

  1. I've successfully used my KX3 on FT8 and PSK. Feel free to drop me a line, my email address is in my QRZ bio. I noticed your NB is on in the picture - you definitely want any sort of NB or NR turned off. - Tony N0RUA