It has been a while

… since the last time I have managed to get out portable, but this afternoon,  the opportunity came up and I grabbed it with both hands.

Yes, the band conditions were not great wtih a CME less than 48 hours ago, but regardless, I still went out.

The location was Mt Gawler – VK5/SE-013 and today, I chose just to operate 15M then 40M, both off the 40M inverted V.

Firstly, it was good to see that the vegetation is slowly regenerating after the fires.


Well, a few things have changed with my setup since last time that I was literally trialing in the field for the first time.  Firstly, the new KX3 firmware that will allow 10W output with a power supply voltage above 10V.  This change means that I can use a 3S lipo and eliminate the (noisy) DC-DC converter I was using with the 4S lipo.  Glad to say it worked out great – and everything worked as expected.

The 2nd one is the ever-elusive quest to simplify logging!


Yep, got a QRPWorks SideKar to go with the KX3 – and a micro wireless keyboard to drive it.


A bit more on it shortly…

It was a really pleasant afternoon and started on 15M

Posted a spot and started calling and only had a single contact on the band – VK5PAS.

After abut 20 minutes of calling CQ SOTA (thank heavens for the voice keyer and playback repeat functions of the KX3!) I moved to 40M and again started calling.

Like 15M the bands were pretty quiet but with the alert, over the next  hour, I put a further 10 contacts in the log.

As expected because of the conditions and time of day there was not much close-in activity – just a couple of mobile stations.

A few of the regular chasers were there, but a surprising number of VK6 stations came back to me – I have never had 3 VK6’s in the log on 40M from here before!

Stations Worked on 40M


Now, Simon, VK2JAZ was asking what I could see from up at Mt Gawler – so I told him exactly what I was seeing – the sunset – and as promised – here is the photo of the sunset I took while we were talking – the photo does not do it justice!20151009_191840

Now, onto the SideKar.

Well, it was a little bit of getting used to using it – and today, I was thankful of it being fairly slow so I had plenty of time to actually use it and get to know how to do the logging.

At the start of the session, I had to read the manual – on how to do some of the setup.  This device is specifically designed with SOTA in mind – and first things I did was to set the clock,  then set my SOTA Reference.  From there, it was pretty much just learning the keyboard shortcuts to make a log entry.

As the SideKar interfaces to the KX3, I did not have to be concerned with frequency and time – it was all recorded with each log entry.

I  was able to enter every contact into the SideKar in real time, It is a couple of keystrokes and all good!

Now of course, with the logs being entered real-time and then when I got home it was simply a matter of exporting the ADIF right from the SideKar to the computer.

As we all know – we need a V2 CSV format for uploading the logs – and I managed to find an online converter to do this.  The converter was not perfect, but took care of most everything – with just a few minor edits needed to get it ready to upload.

I guess that I’ll look at developing a suitable conversion App in the future to export the ADIF as needed for upload to Sotadata.

Now, one of the issues I have had is managing the logs for WWFF – and now, I will be a lot closer to making this a lot easier as well in the future.

Of course, you will see that I used a very small wireless keyboard for interfacing with the SideKar – and it is perfect in so much as it is very lightweight – less than 50g.  You can use any USB or 2.4G Wireless keyboard, so a bigger keyboard might be used in the future for contesting etc, but for now – the lightweight one wins out.

At the moment, I have not really used the other features of the SideKar – extended display for PSK, RTTY and CW, but there is plenty of time for that.

As toys go – Pretty happy with this one, knowing that it makes the job of logging for the portable awards much easier.  Not only is it small and lighter than a laptop – it is useable in full sun – unlike the laptop!

Yes, a big success – and it is going to simplify my logging.

Ok, yeah, I know it turned into a mini-review of the SideKar, but by lowering the burden of having to enter all the paper logs when you get home, it makes the whole idea of going portable a lot more attractive!

5 thoughts on “It has been a while”

  1. Hi Bob,

    A very interesting post, and pleased to get you in the log, particularly on a band other than 40m.

    I use Fast Log Entry (FLE) which I find fantastic. Takes me just a few minutes to input a couple of pages of QSOs from my paper log, to create an ADIF file which easily uploads to WWFF Log Search and my electronic log, MacLogger DX.

    Cheers & thanks for the activation of Mount Gawler,


  2. Hi Bob,

    Search google for ADIF2SOTA, it should do the conversion for you. I’ve used the SOTA2ADIF variant in the past.


    1. Thanks Andrew – I did exactly that! It was not perfect, but still far less than entering everything from a paper log to get it ready for submitting.

  3. Give us an update on the SideKar when you get a chance. Interesting device! I’ll get to see one in a couple of weeks when going off to do a SOTA activation with a friend for his first SOTA and his first time using a KX3 and he also has a SideKar. He mentioned something he doesn’t like about how it attaches, wrt the screw that holds it in place.

    Where did you get the micro keyboard? Was it the one sold on the SideKar site?

    1. I really like the SideKar mostly to give me the extra lines when doing PSK31/63, RTTY or even CW to display the received signal – much better than the 7 characters on the KX3 Display. Yes, I do use it for logging as well.
      The Mini keyboard is the one that QRPWorks sells.
      I recently used the SideKar for a Sota activation where I worked PSK31 – and had 5 QSO’s with just the KX3, SideKar and a Keyboard – no PC with me – Awesome accessory for someone who wants to do digital when portable.

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