My wife went to a cafe with her older sister, leaving me at home with our three wonderful dogs. Time to play QRP with the Xiegu x6100.
Having just enough days of above freezing temperatures, I was able to clear the patio of the half meter of snow remaining after winter. So I brought the Xiegu x6100 and Chameleon F-LOOP 3.0 outside to do a little patio portable FT8. I’m using JTDX on a Dell Latitude 7280 i5, the Xiegu x6100 and Chameleon FLOOP 3.0. It’s not perfect but at half the price of a 705, it could be a good first-time rig for “less picky” Operators. You may recall how fond I am/was of the x5105. The x6100 builds on what was missing from the X5105. Surely some of the more advanced features like WiFi were ambitious on this new rig, but the core functionalities are solid.
I know others have been very harsh on this rig but honestly, Xiegu seldomly gets the firmware perfect on the first release, but ultimately gets it right. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad radio, it’s just the cost of a lower price point. With that said, I like this radio! Built-in tuner, 10 watts, audio interface & rig control over USB-C, spectral display, built-in battery, built-in filters & DSP, … If we purchased the Yaesu FT-818 then added all these features as add-ons, we could easily buy an Icom IC-705! The things people are complaining about are things like Wi-Fi connectivity. Given the option, I would have left that feature disabled in the firmware while they work it out in development. The one-wire interface is good enough at this point. Any Wireless connectivity enabled, later on, would simply be gravy. Coming from the Icom IC-705, it’s easy to punish the manufacturer for this first-time feature failure. Having some experience with Xiegu while being an extremely happy owner of the G90 (24/7 JS8Call over a year) and X5105, the x6100 is a step in the right direction!
Setup was quick and easy on Windows. No bespoke driver downloads were required. I simply plugged in the USB-C to an empty USB port on my laptop and Windows did the rest. When first setting up the 705, searching the Icom website for audio and Cat control drivers was rather frustrating for the first time Icom user. It was the same with the Yaesu ft-891. So having drivers integrated with Windows was a nice touch. Audio interface and radio ports appeared in the device manager. This made JTDX super simple to set up using FLRig. By the way, I still haven’t looked at the user manual! It was important to see how far one could get with this radio before being forced to start fumbling through dozens or perhaps hundreds of pages of text. So yes, the set-up was extremely simple.
20m FT8 @ 5 watts
Breaking through the high power stations on 20M with 5w and a magnetic loop on contest weekend is an achievement in itself. One could have gone to hide on the WARC bands but wanting to see what this combination could do, I stuck with 20m. 5 Watts with a compromised antenna is no way to start the day. This is especially true on a weekend day during a contest. The Chameleon F-LOOP 3.0 tuned up a perfect 1:1 SWR. A quick check of PSKreporter showed the combination was working better than expected.
17 meters to Japan
A new day and another little solar powered patio portable test with FT8 on JTDX. This time the Xiegu x6100 and Chameleon FLOOP 3.0 brought me Japan, Germany & Poland running 5w on 17m. The station was powered by my diy headway LiFePO4 15ah pack and topped up with 14 watt rollable PowerFilm solar panel. I used my DC charger from the Surface Go 2 FAQ, to power the Dell Latitude 7280 via its USB-C PD port.
I believe once the firmware is sorted, this rig will complete the trifecta of new innovative rigs including the IC-705, TX500 & now the x6100. It’s not perfect, but it is a capable lightweight full-featured platform which is complemented well by the Chameleon F-LOOP 3.0.
The x6100 also works well with winlink. You may have noticed that I already put up a tutorial on getting winlink express working with this radio. https://oh8stn.org/blog/2022/03/05/xiegu-x6100-winlink-express-setup/
Chameleon FLOOP 3.0
About the Chameleon F-LOOP 3.0. My F-LOOP 3.0 configuration includes:
- 146in coax radiator
- 8in coupling loop
- F-LOOP 3.0 tuning box
This configuration provides access to 60, 40, 30, 20, 17m (15?). For regional comms using low power (80), 60, 40 & 30m are my workhorse bands. I don’t mind giving up the 80m double-loop set-up, in order to keep the simplicity and deployment ease of a single loop, albeit without 80m. 60m NVIS works well, even with ridiculously low power levels. For QRP Winlink with the F-LOOP, 60 & 30m are “safe-spaces” especially when working narrow bandwidth data modes. The F-LOOP 3.0 handles this work extremely well!
I’ve also read about a remote control kit for this antenna. Definitely looking forward to seeing how that works. The idea of setting up outside the shelter on a small tripod is attractive. No wires, no poles, …
Lots of effort goes into these posts. Researching each component, software application, pragmatic field testing. When you see these posts, the mistakes and blunders have already been filtered out. If you find any value in that, share this post and/or buy me a rootbeer.
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