This story begins with a brief comment on my troubleshooting skills. Since I began my career first as an avionics technician in the U.S. Air Force, then as a Television Broadcast Engineer, followed by instructor and program supervisor in a two-year electronics degree program, I ought to have a few troubleshooting skills. Well I’m here to tell you that it just ain’t so. Glad I moved on to writing and managing, although at times I’m confronted with a full view of my skills in those areas as well.
In this story, I had been experiencing some difficulties with my HF station. When I’d change bands the radio would just go dead, recovering after an uncomfortable several seconds and sometimes with an on and off bounce. I didn’t spot any warning messages from the K3, so I thought it must be related to my antenna or transmission lines. Plus, it always appeared when the radio was connected to the HF2V, which is the 80, 40, and 30 meter bands. Since it was an intermittent problem, it was always hard to determine exactly what was going on. Earlier this summer, I rebuilt the transmission line to the HF2V and took special care around the connections to the antenna. Well, the problem persisted.
The breakthrough came when I noticed an error message on the K3 — ERR PL-1. The message disappeared immediately when any button was pushed or knob tweaked, which may explain why I didn’t notice it before. So, I fired off a message to Elecraft Support. I got an immediate reply from Gary, AB7MY. He recommended I use DeoxIT on the connector pins for KSYN3 board and check the TMP cables. Since I was about to install the KRX3 second receiver, I did all of this at the same time. After installation I performed the VCO CAL function for both receiver’s and got an error message on the original KSYN3. With another message to Elecraft, this time answered by, Dale, K6ZP. He recommended that I swap the two boards and see if the problem followed the board. Sure enough it did. I reported this to Elecraft, this time answered by Howard, K6IA. He promised to send a replacement board — which arrived a week later and fixed the problem. All this at no charge, even though the radio is four years old. I did return the old board for their review.
The amazing thing to me was that no matter who contacted me, they picked up the thread of the discussion flawlessly and readily moved me along to the next steps. I’ll also note that Dale answered one of my questions on a Saturday afternoon. Simply remarkable service and support from Elecraft.
As to my own troubleshooting skills, oh well. Glad I’ve got the Elecraft team on my side!