29 July 2014

SOTA activation YO/EC-049

After a busy month, I'm back again to hiking and outdoor radio activities. This time, I went for the Ciucas peak, near the Ciucas cabin in the Ciucas mountains; I know, the naming scheme is not too original but hey, the sights are awesome. This peak - SOTA designation YO/EC-049, is located about 110Km north of Bucharest and about 30Km away from Brasov, just a few kilometers away from the YO/EC-057 Gropsoarele peak wich I've activated about 3 months ago.

After leaving the DN1A main road at the "Keia" water bottling plant, there is a 5km forest road up to the Ciucas cabin; unfortunately, only 4x4 vehicles can tackle the steep slippery slopes on the last part of the road, so I had to leave my car parked about half way  - at 1350m altitude, and proceed by foot. On this road you can find the "Professor NICOLAE IOAN fountain", or simply called "Izvorul lui IOAN" (Jonah's spring), a 75 year old fountain that refreshed many generations of mountain hikers. I wish I had a bigger bottle when I passed it !

12 June 2014

Optibeam OB21-3 - largest 20-15-10m antenna

Optibeam just launched a set of 4 huge HF antennas, and the OB21-3 is definetely the one that caught my attention the most. It's a 21 element HF beam, covering the 20, 15 and 10m bands; as some of you may know, Optibeam makes proper (and expensive) antennas: no traps, no shortcuts, nothing compact, nothing lightweight.

11 June 2014

Yaesu FT-897D is discontinued

Yaesu FT-897/D is undoubtedly a bestseller, offering DC-to-daylight (actually 0.1 to 470 MHz) coverage, field day ready style and features and a rather affordable price. It's almost identical to the FT-857 (smaller, lighter, no battery compartment) and the FT-817 (even smaller and lighter, 5W output instead of 100W, no DSP) and their family is around since 2002. The 8x7 series were never aimed at high performance or even ease of use, nevertheless they are great all-round rigs, good for basic stuff and affordable, a great radio station in one rig for alot of people.

10 June 2014

SunSDR-MB1 - finally a proper modern transceiver

Expert Electronics' SunSDR-MB1 is what I've been expecting from the amateur radio industry for some time: a transceiver using modern technology, with a proper user interface, good interconectivity and decent power output. Once again we can see the smaller manufacturers are way ahead of the curve compared to the big three (namely Yaesu, Icom, Kenwood), wich are beating it around the bush by trying to force useless commercial technologies to amateurs (yes I'm looking at you Icom ID-5100A).

The SunSDR-MB1 is a direct conversion SDR transceiver, fully standalone, offering 125W output, a huge (and more importantly, working - yes I'm looking at you Kenwood TS-990) spectrum display and a plethora of buttons that will make the most avid anti-menu-driven-equipment fanatic rejoyce. The screen is also touch-sensitive, I don't find that particularly useful but at least they're implementing modern stuff.

03 June 2014

Elecraft KX3 2m option is available

Elecraft KX3 is one of the most interesting transceivers on the market today: very high performance, very low current drain, very lightweight - all of these are possible thanks to SDR technology. When it came out Elecraft promised a VHF module will be available at some point, and after a long time and some delays, the KX3-2M add-on is finally listed on their website and available for order.

10 May 2014

FLEX-6300 - a more affordable 6000 series model from FlexRadio

FLEX-6300 Signature Series is the latest model from FlexRadio. A baby brother to the already established Flex-6500 and Flex-6700 SDR transceivers, the Flex-6300 is the more affordable one (if you can call US$2500 affordable), with a bit less options but still packing some punch.

07 May 2014

SOTA activation YO/MM-005

After reaching the Tutuiatu peak, the second part of my Macin Mountains adventure on May 3rd 2014 took me to the peak of Iacobdeal (Jacob's Hill, SOTA designation YO/MM-005, WWFF designation YOFF-161), only 341m tall, standing above the village of Turcoaia. This whole mountain is a big rock quarry and there is a road for the tracked excavators right up to a few meters from the very top.