One of the goals I had for the K2 that I failed to mention in the previous post was to fill-in for the K3 in DXpedition service. This is a tall order. It also necessitated upgrading the basic K2/10 to a 100-watt K2/100—being loud (enough) is an important part of pileup control. I had the good fortune to come across an already-assembled final amplifier unit at an attractive price a few days after I purchased the radio. I took that as a sign!
Another rite of passage for the K2/100 would be…how does it perform in a pileup? One of the really great things about ARRL DX CW since the advent of the CW Skimmer and Reverse Beacon Network is that literally any U.S. station (especially on the East Coast, my Western and Midwestern friends will remind) with a modest signal can elicit a blistering run of Europeans. I’ve been relatively unhappy with the K3’s response to pileups, with callsigns often being mushed together more than with other radios (e.g., the TS-930S). I understand that tailoring the K3’s AGC should help this—the KE7X book now graces my shelf but I haven’t had a chance to explore all of his suggestions yet. Having heard anecdotally that the K2 does better in this regard, I was excited to break it in with ARRL DX.
Sarah worked this weekend and I was frankly wiped out from a full week at work plus shoveling 18 inches of snow and cutting up trees from the previous week’s ice storm! Nothing approximating a “full” operation was in the cards. In about two hours of operating, mostly on Sunday, I made about 140 QSOs on 10 and 15 meters. I’m happy to report that the K2 did quite well with regard to the pileup response and I didn’t manage to break it CQing hard at full power. The K2 also passed the “W3LPL test”…Frank lives just a few miles away and is frequently quite loud here. But, I could still hear nearby stations with no problem at all. The one thing that disappointed me about the K2 is that it seemed a little deaf as the 15-m band was closing to Europe. A number of stations were right at the noise floor and were tricky to copy. This might have been “one-way” propagation, too, a topic I should write about at some point.
The upshot is that I’m extremely pleased with the K2 and I look forward many more QSOs with it!