My First Begali Adventure

The nice days have come again! For me, this means going up to the roof deck of my building, usually with a ham radio or two. Elecraft, the manufacturer of my HF radio, makes a portable key which connects to the radio. I really liked the concept and the way the key screws into the radio, which provides the base, but I could never get it sending just right. At the end of last year I knew that I needed to buy a new portable ke. I decided on the Begali Adventure Mono. It exceeds my expectations, and I would highly recommend it. For the non-hams, we use a key to send Morse Code.

The K1USN Slow Speed Test happens on Friday afternoon and Sunday evening. It provides a fun hour-long event where we make simple contacts, containing the name and state abbreviation. For example, I would send Austin PA. Last October I went up to the roof deck for the final time. I wanted to give the KXPD3 key a final chance. I sent Austin PA and it dropped the first dot of the P, turning it into a G. The other station thanked me for GA. I knew I needed a better key for next year.

Many other users of the Elecraft KX3 recommended the Begali Adventure, so I decided to make the purchase. Begali makes both a double paddle and a single paddle version. I started on a double paddle key, but ever since I switched to a single paddle key I cannot go back. Plus, I can use it both as an electronic key and as a mechanical key for doing SKCC work. I set the PF1 programmable function key on my KX3 to let me select the CW keying mode. The key took a month to arrive from Italy, but I didn’t mind. I ordered it well in advance for just this reason. I also ordered the base and a steel plate to mount it on, if I wanted to use it in the shack.

The weather had not warmed enough, so I first tried it in my shack with the base. It performed beautifully. It did not miss a dot or a dash. It has one knob to adjust the tension on both sides of the paddle, which I appreciated especially for field use. I looked forward to its initiation on the roof deck.

Today we had a lovely day with temperatures in the low 70s. I got a haircut, and made it back just in time for the Slow Speed Test, feeling good and ready. I unpacked everything, and tuned up my AX1 antenna. I had started later than I wanted, and of course the first time of the year meant untangling wires and testing things. Still, I worked two stations, one in Illinois, and one in Oklahoma. I felt good, but not great. I had worked both stations before from my shack using my Alpha Loop. I wanted something more.

I checked in to the Drive Time net on the Phil-mont machine, a fun local net. The temperature had started dropping, and I also had to think about dinner. I decided to tune around 20 meters one last time before going back downstairs. I tried a few stations, then heard YL3CW calling CQ and working stations.

I sent my call, and he heard the 3. I slowed my speed and tried a few more times, and finally he got it. KA3TTT! We exchanged signal reports and names. he gave his name as Val. I gave him a signal report of 569, and she gave me one of 449. A signal report contains the readibility, signal strength, and tone, abbreviated as RST. I gave him a perfect readibility and a pretty good signal. I had almost perfect readibility, and a signal 2 S-units less than his, which I consider respectable given that I made the contact running 5 Watts into a loaded whip. The AX1 continues to impress me. We completed the exchange and ended the contact.

After it ended I looked up where I had just worked – Latvia, 4300 miles. I had gone on my first Begali Adventure! I wonder where my next one will take me.