19 July, 2020

Tweaking the K2 for digital modes

My Elecraft K2 which I assembled as a kit in 2001, has mainly been a CW rig, but now I wanted to use it more for digital modes like FT8 also. That required some tweaking:
  1. Wider bandwidth in SSB filter, so I took it from 2.4 to 2.6 kHz (KI6WX)
  2. More sensitive VOX (G3RXQ)
  3. RF-filtering on audio input (G3RXQ)

All of these are modifications to the tighly packed KSB2 board shown above so it took some patience to implement them. The bandwidth modification consists in replacing six ceramic capacitors that were sitting between the crystals. The VOX sensitivity modification is done by adding a pot which can be seen in the image as it sits outside the PCB on the left-hand side. I was lucky to find a mini 5k slider pot in my junk box which fitted in. Finally the RF-filtering was done by adding an inductor of 2.5 mH (right below the 5k pot) and a decoupling capacitor.

06 July, 2020

Recognizing a CQ on the FT8 waterfall

A CQ is not so hard to recognize on an FT8 waterfall display as there is a charactaristic indendation from the right early in the 15 second period. This can be seen in the three circled traces in the figure.

They show a CQ at 711 Hz with SNR 11 dB, one at 899 Hz with SNR 16 dB where my receive cursor is placed, and one at 2003 Hz with SNR 6 dB. These are fairly strong signals so it is easy to see the indendation, but in my experience it works down to almost -10 dB also if the contrast is set correctly with the slider on the display. 

Look closely and you'll see one in the period before also, at 21:15:00 (SNR 12 dB). Try this the next time you run FT8 and I'm sure you'll recognize it too!