26 Apr 2010

Qsl Direct

In past years, especially when I first got my license I always relied on the RSGB qsl bureau and generally found it workd very well, and to my knowledge still does - and just occasionally I received cards direct via the snail system (Post), usually from Swl's - to which I mostly replied providing the details of the qso they heard were indeed correct (I know how frustrating it is waiting for returns). This week - I had my first qsl card sent direct by post from Germany - It was from Horst DD9ZZ confirming a Bpsk31 qso on the 15th April 2010, all the usual details were given, and he also sent the return postage - I am impressed by this gesture and in true "Ham" spirit returned my card - unfortunately It was one of my "Emergency" cards as I do need to get some more printed as most if not all Psk qso's are confirmed via E-qsl these days - these cards do seem to remove the "Personalization" from qsl'ing but they do serve the purpose. Hers is the card he sent - I actually like this design, it's colourful and well printed on good stock - being an "Ex Printer" myself I thought it well worthy of showing here - My thanks to Horst- this is one of those better qsl cards.

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25 Apr 2010

Sporadic E

Sporadic E season will soon be with us - some openings have already been reported on 10m, and I can confirm this as I heard very weak Cw sigs last week during one morning but lasted just 5 mins and were gone - never to return - presumably 6m will follow in the coming weeks - for a better understanding of E Propagations check out Julians (G4ILO)'s ... article on this subject - Very interesting reading.

22 Apr 2010

More Gadgets

More additions to the household in the form of the MFJ Antenna Analyser - this was one of those must haves and finally got to order one last month but for some reason there had been a delay with my supplier - I had been under the impression that the Psu was supplied with it but no - thats extra, but should not present a problem - so as I wanted to run a check straight away I loaded the rest of my AA size batteries (10 in all) ... ! I was glad to see my 40m dipole which was cut for 7025, dipped around 7012 - and the 6m beam which has been sitting on my garage floor for the last six weeks was mounted on a pole and that came in at under 52 Mhz so needs tweaking - hopefully will get that up next week as I have to change the direction that the mast tilts over for easier access - and requires some drilling (I suppose it will rain next week) ! First impressions of the unit (for the money) I'm not particularly impressed with build quality, I have bought many items in the past and it lacks something, however it's minor and I will not be sitting there looking at it - compare that to the looks and finish of the K3..... does'nt look too bad in the photo but it has rough edges - same with the paint finish, internals same.
MFJ 259B


I had been looking at an HT - but spotted a VX8 going 2nd user at a price significantly lower than new - and with Aprs capabilities which I fancied having a dabble with was too good not to miss, and it has wideband scan facilities - theres a lot to take in here - I reckon I've got plenty to keep me occupied for the next month.

20 Apr 2010

Volcanic Haze

This was the view through our upstairs window early this morning as the sun rose, the volcanic dust/ash that has been swirling around these past few days still hanging in the sky - it was also significantly darker earlier last evening when a dark glowing mist set in, accompanied by a sudden temperature drop of about 4-5 degrees - despite an apparent easing of the eruptions last night it seems to have started up again, although they are saying a change is on the way for the weekend with a stiff southwesterly wind which might disperse it. Wondered if this might cause some sort of localized ducting or enhanced v/u propagation ?

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18 Apr 2010

Busy week

Not had much time this week so have not been reporting the weekly "Action", which has been mainly in the garden taking the opportunity to soak up some well earned spring sunshine after the awful winter - the garden IS now looking like someones done some work  !!

Radio-wise I have been doing quite a bit on Psk through the week and have been monitoring activity on both 30 and 40m and using the psk reporter have been amazed at the  number of countries that have appeared - the highlight of the week for me was working JON TF3PPN  up there in Iceland which of course has been featured in the main news  this week with the huge cloud of volcanic ash thats been  blowing around causing air chaos throughout europe - at this point is still not showing signs of slowing up, I wished him well although he did not refer to the incident, he was also my first icelandic station  on Psk digi.

The other thing I did this week was get the mic out of its bag and try SSB (quite uncharacteristic for me)  as I usually prefer cw or digi, but worked DAVE G7SKR activating SOTA Watchcroft DC0074, I'd heard him the previous day as I was tuning 40m and he was a solid 5/9+, again this time he was 5/9+ and he was running 50 watts into an inverted V, he gave me a 5/7 with my 10w , so with the time I did spend operating it was a good week for me - hoping to improve on that next week ?

13 Apr 2010

Digi - Gripe

All running fine here with the Psk set-up on 10/15w and stations are at last responding 1st time in most cases (Band conditions permitting)
I am very happy with this generally and now trying to break the "Macro syndrome", it's good fun I have to say as it creates "true" keyboard to keyboard comm's, (and improves your typing) ...  but I have discovered after endless calls to some stations  they cannot hear my calls - the reason ?  they have set up the CQ macro in their software to 5 second intervals (or less)  on Auto  without realizing they're constantly doubling with your calling - or for that matter anyone else's. I do not use this facility and prefer to be in control of the thing personally - still everyone to their own I guess...  Would'nt it be nice to just make a call, then listen for a caller?  Heard a similar incident on 20m about 3 weeks ago on CW where one particular station proceeded to call CQ, a call that lasted around 7 mins continuously  without coming up for air, it was quite amusing to hear a barrage of comments that followed (from various parts of the globe)  when it ended - only for the station to start up again !!
Please - Call first, then just have a little listen, you never know!who it might be........!

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6 Apr 2010

Storm Damage

Slightly bent - mast suffered at the hands of recent high winds - luckily the 2m/70cms antenna
was ok - bruised maybe !  all fixings intact though and the mast will be salvaged as a test mast.

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1 Apr 2010

Psk Dm780 (Update)

I wrote some while back saying how frustrating it was being "tied" using 5w only for Psk on the FT817, I suspect the 2.5-3w out using this mode is too easily overlooked and I abandoned Psk for a couple of years and stuck to "The Mode" (CW) which was surprisingly much more reliable and always threw up a few surprises even with the poor band conditions we have had, but since getting the FT450 up and running On Psk and running (Just that little extra power - 15w) it is making all the difference and I am now enjoying good regular qso's on this mode, I have also persevered using HRD / DM780 -  configuring the logs as one, so all contacts appear in one log - E-qsl is working ok, as is the auto logging feature (but I always check to see if it's entered correctly) and back up after every session - although still running slower than I'd like on this machine it really is very enjoyable to use - I have not looked into the Psk reporter yet - maybe take a look over the weekend.
Previously I had been using MixW, followed by Fldigi, (which I used on my Linux machine), and even in the short time I'd been using these it always presents a new challenge when changing to different software, as if your like me I can never find where anything is !! Hoping to fill the log over the weekend - enjoy your Easter.

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Mast Assembly

Finally got round to getting that mast up - I did purchase a 15'  aluminum pole to go on the end section of the house  which would hopefully be the centre support section for my 100' top doublet, but for some reason something told me I should use wood instead, so I utilized an old length of stair rail that I had in my garage of some 12 feet in length - I had also intended to mount my 6meter beam on top, but due to the weight involved and pure awkwardness in raising it, it might now have to go on the garage roof - it will be lower, more readily accessible,  but will need substantially more coaxial, wished I'd used aluminum.
Getting the pole up working high on the ladder presented it's own problems added to the fact I somehow managed to drill the mounting holes too large ! the plugs were too slack and would not grip - so had to go to my local store for beefier plugs (Make sure YOU drill the correct size hole) - all in all it was taking a whole lot longer to get this pole up than I'd planned, and getting it up with a beam on the end in this postition is now not an option.
I have a couple of those mast top pulley (Halyard) assemblies, one of  which will sit near the top of the pole and should be easy to attach and pull the centre up from the ground, when fixed and in use I can tuck the nylon chord away up near the base of the pole - maintenance should be a simple case of dropping the chord down and winding down.

This illustrates the pulley (Not Fixed yet) spot the mistake ?

The beauty of this type of installation for me in this location is the ease with which the antenna can be raised without clambering on the roof - one leg might be bent a little but not enough to affect it's performance too much, and the centre height is around 38' - tomorrow I will start to make up the antenna (although heavy rain is forecast), but I may put up my temporary 40m dipole.

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