30 Jul 2011

Damn it !

Ever started a job and this happens?


Well today it happened and it always seems to happen when your in a hurry to get the job done as I had to take the xyl to the Dentist of all things !

I decided to check the main station earth connections just outside the shack and install another 4 foot copper spike – upon tightening this happened – as luck would have it,  quickly going to my emergency box I found an exact match – as I am located on the ground floor the lengths are short  -  about 5 feet.?

Maybe I was a bit too enthusiastic !!

28 Jul 2011

Shack Newcomer

Today I did no operating – I just have not had the time and the  summer seems to have flown by and I still have not started on  the shack re-vamp although we have made several new additions including antennas,  tuners, plus the new Kenwood radio and I had been thinking of changing the FT450 (Back up radio) so after some though decided to go out and do a swap (well – not quite swap) !! So we have landed the new FT450D, essentially the same as the original radio though I notice some menu items have disappeared or changed, it now includes 300/500Hz CW filters, and it has a re-designed front panel with new slightly larger knobs with silver embellishing – and the main tuning knob seems a tad larger and has a rugged rubber feel, but quite smooth (some questioned the size of the tuning knob but now the rig has front feet it raises the front so it’s not a problem, and  (Yes) it now boasts Backlit front buttons ! In the subdued light of my cave you can quite clearly read the front’s of the buttons – even the 590S hasn’t got that – the receiver seems more sensitive as I’m sitting here listening to QST on 14.04763 and both 450 & 590 are on exactly the same frequency readout – spot on.

So this week end I will be air testing the new radio for the first time and will be looking on 10 and 6m.



I am still a way off finishing this “Small” job, and cannot wait to resume normal service on here – still I have managed to squeeze in the odd bit of CW here and there (No Digimodes)

I suppose next thing we’ll all be thinking of is 80m / Topband !

Isn’t radio a fun hobby !

Oh forgot to mention the pics were taken with my New Kodak Playsport HD Pocket Video camcorder which does stills at 5Mpixels – whilst not as good as my Sony I think they’re good enough for this.    (More on that later)

Cheers and Beers.

21 Jul 2011

10m Inactivity !

I have been managing to mainly monitor 10m early in the mornings for half an hour or so, as in the distant past I remember working JA’s on an apparently empty band – no such luck though – I think conditions have been poor of late and the solar flux had seemed to go into reverse !

This morning, as a couple of days ago I listened across the 10m Beacons including those on 28.200 and heard the following from this Qth

SV2AHT  -  I0KNQ  -  IZ0KBA  -  4X6TU  -  GB3RAL  all between  07:00 – 08:00 UTC

But the CW end of the bands remained quiet – I have been sitting here working on the computer with 10m in the background for over an hour now and still nothing so I decided to put out a call in the hope of raising someone – still nothing yet the band was obviously open, you could clearly hear the background noise – I checked the beacons again. still there !

Obviously a very large proportion of the Amateur fraternity choose to ignore the vast open spaces of 10m on the basis that if there’s no band activity present – then it’s closed.

Not so  -  LISTEN.

17 Jul 2011

Afternoon Assembly

This afternoon I found myself in the Garage/workshop tidying up and had one of those moments when I looked into my “Radio” junk box and found the components required to make up a “Balun” project that I had been planning during last year but never started ! just recently I had been looking at erecting a different antenna – I had looked at the “Doublet” for a start, but last week I found an old article in the “UK Practical Wireless” on the old G5RV !! so I was thinking along those lines – either way a 1:1 Balun  (Choke) would come in handy so the half finished one I had in my box was pulled out – It is of the “Ugly” type made up of 18-21 feet of RG58 which was wound on UPVC pipe – how much ? I was’nt sure so stripped it all of to check,  (it was 21’) so I re-wound it and started from scratch – I had to poke around the workshop to find the other bits to start but after a couple of hours came up with this design (There are plenty of these around I’m sure)
It consists of about a foot of upvc piping 1.75”, Dia app’x ,  with end caps drilled to take  two post type terminals, and one SO239 chassis socket, and 18-21’ of RG58 50 ohm coaxial cable (RG213  was a bit too heavy for this) but might make another (Big Boy)  later on 5” pipe.
The terminals are soldered up and end caps sealed (Glued) up and the whole thing covered in Black electricians tape – I could say this is my prototype – I have not tested it yet – I had difficulty in getting the ends on as the RG58 would not push down enough into the tubing and so there was a risk of shorting the terminals but this seems to be ok.
This will be placed “Immediately Outside the shack” to take the 450 ohm ladder line from my doublet/5RV with a length of about 10 feet of coaxial into the Tuner/Rig – the preferred method would be to feed direct to a balanced ATU but would mean having to hack the wall again so it’s easier to gain shack entry with the existing aperture.
So that was my Sunday Radio Job - the Doublet/RV will have to wait a bit now.

2 Jul 2011

Profi-2 Paddle

If your “Main” interest in amateur Radio” is shouting into a “Mic” click away NOW !

I  have recently returned to my roots and re-discovered the total JOY of using CW – after all it IS a digital mode…! it’s either on or off.

My recent acquisition of  the Begali key is a joy compared to my poor old Bencher BY2 which I had previously regarded as being “Top quality”, it  suffered damage some while back taking a  tumble and damaged the paddles – I could probably restore it but just felt the need for change, and I feel the Begali was a great move - it is beautifully smooth and firm.

I visited an old friend of mine recently and he loaned me (Yes loaned) a Profi 2 by Schurr Morsetasten, I wont go into £ s d but the website describes this key as being machined from a solid block of surgical quality Brass coated with a trade secret polymer that resists wear, staining, and pitting with years of use – the finish IS superb as you’ll see in the pics alongside my Begali – it’s a beautifully crafted piece and in use it feels firm, yet light and when you wind it up (a bit) as most “Paddle” user’s will agree you get into a sort of “Rythmn” and the tendency for me is to start “Slapping” the paddles, it is here that this particular key falls short – this is purely a “Touchy Feely” thing and I start to feel uncomfortable with it  -  it does not have that “Positive” feel of the Begali" and it’s owner is correct in saying that the Paddles  have a bit of “Give” – just looking at this key makes me drool and I could certainly get used to it but having the opportunity to compare the two side by side I actually prefer the Begali’s Feel  -  only a CW op would tell the difference, it’s very small  but it’s there – I reckon perhaps it’s the perspex paddles and that perhaps if they were to be replaced by similarly quality machined and finished aluminium it might add that extra something.

That said – these keys ARE a masterpiece, crafted with with precision and a wonderful showpiece on the desk, my love for modern keys is growing.

The Profi is the Gold Plated one in the Pic.


Upgrade under way

Latest addition  here is the Kenwood TS590  - and what a delight to use,  superb  audio on receive even on 80m listening to some of the late night nets – armchair quality, I feel like I have a new pair of ears – the receive noise level is very low and can hear stations otherwise lost, as compared to the FT450 which is quite noisy by comparison – Setting it up and driving it is another thing – the Dsp filtering is on a par with mid/high end radios  - and the layout is very well thought out  -  they have a winner here.

I also have a separate Ldg 200pro tuner – very quick and all those memories !!

This afternoon I ripped out the old radio racking and set up a temporary desktop until I get my finger out and build some more shelving – more on that later – but we’re operational at least.