VK9CZ Cocos Keeling

Been getting worried this one would escape me as an ATNO but they were super strong today on 20m, still took me an hour to work them but managed it in the end, no amps here only 100w out of the radio, I am slowly refurbishing an old Jaybeam TB3 as ive mentioned on a previous post, I put it up as a 2 element just to have a play as I still have a fair bit of work to do, but on a 10ft pole lashed to a fence VK9CZ was a cracking signal, admittedly this was in my workshop which is in the countryside so very low noise level and few neighbours so fairly clear take off for such a low height, anyway for your viewing pleasure, as far as im aware they are there for a few more days so im hoping to bag them on CW which is my preferred mode. 

Shack downsize, in prep for upsize and DXped update

Strange one, ive seriously downsized the shack, I am selling or have sold most of my equipment and have only been left with the IC-7300 and a borrowed IC-7000 (Thanks to Tony G4LDL) I hope to  purchase the IC-7000 as I intend to use it on a little DXpedition which was due to to take place a few weeks ago but due to the Thomas cook collapse and me losing my flights Ive had to put on hold, why am I selling the rest of my equipment I hear you ask, or maybe you dont really care. a mate has just purchased a TS-990 and an Acom 2000 Amplifier, he has decided to sell his IC-7700 which I have drooled over for more than a few years, so thats the reason, the only downside is its the older first gen IC-7700 so fingers crossed I wont have any PA issues but its just such a bloody lovely radio on receive and a joy to operate I simply want it.

So thats it im flogging everything I can get my hands on so I can buy the Icom IC-7700 watch this space.

I have assembled the IC-7000 along with the matching LDG AT-7000 ATU, a Winkeyer USB, Palm Mini Paddle Key, Nevada PSW-30 PSU, Hopefully a Hexbeam Lite and a 5 element 6m Op-Des, Spiderbeam 12m Pole and a doublet antenna, and the only thing I have left to purchase is some Coax, which will probably be Messi and Paoloni Ultralfex 7,  all are aready and prepped for my trip to ZC4, its just a matter of actually sorting the dates, will be borrowing my daughters laptop and running N1MM+ for logging/Rig Control and CW Keying via the Winkeyer USB. 

Disaster

So where to start, ive spent a bit of time trying to sort out a small tower in my back garden, finally managed to get the holes drilled I needed to, and despite a few setbacks its finally up, still needs a bit of work but its up, decided to put the driven element from my TB3 3 Element Tribander up simply as a rotary dipole, initially the thinking behind this was its wasnt too big and too much of an eyesore then if all went well it would morph into a 2 element tribander in a month or so, well that was the plan anyway.

Just to add to the story, my Cushcraft R7000 vertical has been up in my garden for 18 months now and ive had zero issues with neighbours or interference, so less than a week after putting the rotary dipole up, admitedly its a little bit above the roofline of the house and visible from in front of the house, anyway my phone rings and its my housing association saying they have had a complaint about my aerials and that im causing interefence to someones TV, Phone and Broadband, utter shite really and i told the guy as much, basically it boils down to someone doesnt like the look of my antennas and has complained and using a ridiculous excuse that im causing interference. 

So where does that leave me, it leaves me with having to have  my local housing association coming for a visit this thursday to inspect my antennas, what will happen, I have no bloody idea, it maybe the end for my plans and I may have to resort to wire antennas, I just dont bloody know, am i pissed off, damn right I am. 

A82X Liberia

Been trying to get the odd ATNO in the log recently but conditions have been pretty dire, just having a multiband vertical is not ideal either but it is what it is, whilst at the workshop today I put together a bit more of the Jaybeam TB3 that I am refurbishing and that I used recently as a rotary dipole, this time I used one half of the boom and put it up as a 2 element tribander just really for a laugh, unfortunatley I couldnt put it up on the 20ft scaffold pole as I did with the rotary dipole as it was just too heavy to lift on my own and bungee to a fence pole so up it went on a whopping 7ft pole, I fully expected it at that height not to work well if at all and mostly to be a cloud warmer.

So off I trott on my lunch hour tuning around the bands and saw a few spots for A82X so thought I would hand turn the beam towards them and see how it went, ive struggled to hear them on the vertical at anything other than ESP level so was pleasently surprised to hear them at a decent signal strength on my 2 element 7 foot high cloud warmer, anyway half an hour later and I had 3 contacts in the log, 20m SSB, 15m CW and 15m SSB, happy days.

 A little snippet of them on 15m today, I also heard them on 10m for about 5 minutes very weakly but no QSO resulted, the picture on the post is the monster yagi 🙂

VK2BY

As you will already know by previous posts, I dont have a big station, either at home or at my workshop, during work breaks im slowly renovating a 30 year old Jaybeam TB3 3 Element Tribander, its cleaning up remarkably well and internally the traps look brand new even after all this time, I wont ever be able to erect it a s a 3 element but im going to try and put it up as a 2 Element tibander on an 8ft boom, I may or may not get away with it at home, yesterday I put up the driven element of the TB3 on a temp scaffold pole at about 20ft, just using it as a rotary dipole, just reallly to have a play and see how it performed versus the R7000 vertical I use at the workshop, literally about 5 minutes after I put it up I saw a spot for Brad VK2BY on the cluster and tuned to his frequency not really expecting to hear much if anything, much to my surprise Brad was 58/59 signal even without any preamps on the HF radio turned on, I rarely use the preamp in any radio below 15m

Brad finished with the current qso he was having and I threw my call in, he came back asking for the G0 and back I went, it took a couple of times as others were calling over me but Brad persisted and we enjoyed a few overs, surprisingly I was given a 55/56 report, to say that made my day was an understatement, all on 100w and a rotary dipole at 20ft, after being licensed over 30 years I still get a buzz when I manage a long distance DX QSO, love this Amateur Radio lark 🙂

OJ0DX Market Reef 50Mhz

Ive been waiting for this one for a while, although Market Reef should be an easy one to work the reality is there hasnt been much 6m operating from there in recent years, OH0 Aland Island seems to be much easier to find on the magic band, anyhooooooo OJ0DX has been popping up on 6 for the last few days, unfortunatley although ive heard him many times they have only been at ESP level, IE just above the noise and albeit for long periods of time, they simply never heard my 100w to a 6 Element  OP-Des.

Today things changed, I listened this morning whilst doing some work in the workshop, they were the same very weak signal for over 30 minutes so I switched off and carried on with the work I was doing, and hour or so later I thought I would have a break and have a quick listen, I was gobsmacked as I switched the radio on to hear OJ0DX at 599, after picking myself up from the floor I worked them quickly, and then proceeded to work them a little later on SSB, job done and another ATNO on 6m enters the log, not far off that magic DXCC from G land now. 

Anyway for your viewing/listening pleasure I grabbed my phone and recorded a few videos of them today

FT8 the divisive mode

Ive been against FT8 right from the start so why am i posting this, have I changed my mind, not quite but I have to conceed that FT8 and subsequently FT4 is here to stay, does it detract from conventional modes such as CW and SSB, of course it bloody does, just have a tune around, especially on 10m and 6m, you will often find the band is open and the FT8 frequencies are brimming with signals but move down to the CW portion of the bands and all is dead, its supposed to be a weak signal mode so why do most still continue with it when the band is wide open and FT8 signals are upwards of S9 on the meter,  anyway it is what it is.

Ive decided to join the FT8 ranks, only on 6m and ive decided its not a mode I will enjoy or love but its another weapon in the radio arsenal, its as simple as that, am i sad that a huge amount of Hams have migrated onto FT8 and all but abandoned conventional modes, too right, I will always be a CW guy and sometimes a phone guy. I have worked 59 countries on 6m in my first . 4 weeks on 6m FT8 after being on 6 for over 30 years, it would probably have taken me a few years to amass 59 countries via normal modes, in a way that saddens me but it is what it is and there is little we can do about it.

6 opened up today again and for a change there was actually quite a lot of CW activity which cheered me up no end, im not here to bash FT8, its a mode that im never gonna be in love with but I will use it, it enabled me to work my first JA stn (4 of them) on 6m a couple of weeks ago 

I still dont like it !!!!!!

6m Op-Des update

Moved the 6m Op-Des to the T&K Brackets that were fortunatley left on the back of our house by the previous occupiers, again its a temporary thing as the longterm plan is to put a smallish mast in the back garden which will allow me to chop and change antennas with not too much difficulty, its working well in most directions although when directly North im beaming slightly into the roof of our house which isnt ideal, it could really be doing with being about 4 foot higher than it currently is but im happy, worked 5T5PA on 6m FT8 last night for an ATNO for me, there are a few directions where the noise level is significantly higher up to an S4/5 it seems to be when im beamed over my neighbours properties, I suspect some cheap and dirty chinese switch mode PSUs being the cause but I have yet to investigate further, for now i can live with it. 

6m DX

When I was planning my 6m antenna for my home QTH i originally planned on building and installing a lightweight 6 Element Op-Des antenna, after partially building it, it became pretty obvious it was a little too large for my very small city location and equally small garden, eventually I decided on the smaller 5 Element Op-Des which has been working very well over the last couple of weeks it has been up, this morning whilst doing some work at my workshop I decided to finish building the 6 Element Op-Des as it seemed silly leaving it half built, luckily my workshop is located at a friends property in the country which is very rural and as he is also a Ham putting antennas up for testing isnt really an issue.

I decided as I said to finish the 6 El, I finished it early afternoon, the antenna is very lightweight as the boom is only 1in square aluminium and the elements are through the boom, I put it on a temporary pole at about 8ft off the ground and bungeed it to a fence, it was a very heath robinson affair but I just wanted to get it up to test it out, I then realised I had left my antenna analyser at home so I just connected up some cheapy crap  RG8X coax and plugged it in to my old IC-706 which I am using in my workshop, amazingly the first signal I heard was NP2J calling CQ from the US Virgin Islands, the strange thing is that I had worked him the day before from my own house for an ATNO, Dan was CQing and was in for over an hour,  so im very happy with the 6 El at such a low height as well, now to try and find somewhere to mount it properly, the workshop is only a 10 minute drive from my house so I often will have a listen about here during breaks from work.

50Mhz

Finally up and running on 6m for the pretty much non existent Sporadic E season, have a homebrew 5 Element Op-Des up on a temp mast at 15ft(ish) its working well and managed to bag TR8CA during the first few days of it being up but so far the E’s season has been terrible, little or nothing for the last week or so, just the odd quick E’s opening into Southern Europe, heard NP2 from the US Virgin Islands a couple of evenings ago, very weakly but never managed the QSO, all in all its looking like this being the absolute trough of the sunspot cycle will also result in a poor summer for sporadic E. 

Im hoping to move the antenna to back of the house in the next week or two, there is a set of T&K brackets that were left on the house from the previous occupier so why not put them to good use, just need to purchase a scaffold pole and that should mean I can get the 6m beam up to about 30/35ft.