Without a doubt, my two favourite bands, with that in mind these are the two bands im concentrating on over the summer (if you can call it a summer) I put my 6 Element Innovantenna Op-Des (pictured above) back up at the workshop a couple of weeks ago so i could monitor 50Mhz between jobs, ive managed a couple of new ones albeit on FT8 but at this stage of the sunspot cycle I will take what I can get, would much prefer to work DX on conventional modes like CW and SSB (CW Preferred) but you have to go where the DX is.
A very welcome ATNO in the shape of Jeff TZ4AM in Mali and on CW as well a few weeks ago took my DXCC count to 98 and HZ1SK on FT8 this week took me to 99, very close to the magic 100, although i still need at least 20 confirmed at this point, it sometimes seems easier to work the DX than actually get it confirmed.
This years Es season has been very hit and miss, unfortunatley the one decent opening into the Caribbean last week was missed as I was not QRV that evening, there has been some nice stuff on 10m and the band has opened up into North, Central and South America as well as the Caribbean on a fairly regular basis, there has also been some nice short E’s openings into EI, GI and GM, I have resisted the temptation to use FT8 on 10m or any HF band for that matter preferring just to restrict my FT8 usage to 6m
I have been thinking of taking the Cushcraft MA5B down at home and replacing it with a 3 element 10m LFA, although the MA5B is a 2 element on 10 its still a trap antenna and thus a compromise, im still undecided whether the performance difference between the LFA and MA5B will be significant enough to warrant the hassle of changing them over, still to be decided.
As you may or may not be aware I have two Jobs, I have been a professional photographer for a number of years now, my other job is working for Innovantennas building the full array of HF/VHF and UHF antennas, alas due to the Covid 19 Pandemic my photography work has all but dried up so I have to rely purely on my work for Innovantennas, in itself its fine but it left me with a dilema to try and recoup money do I sell my photography equipment or do I slim down my Amateur Radio gear, sadly there really is only one decision, in the hope that either later this year or early next things pick up on the photography front I really need to hold on to my equipment so ive taken the difficult decision to slim down my Amateur radio equipment and take the minimalist approach, im still passionate about my lifelong hobby but need to be realistic when it comes to finances and work, so over the next few weeks the shack will be slimmed down to the bare minimum, a HF/6m radio and a radio for VHF
I intend to keep my little IC-7000 that im currently using at the workshop, simply because its a great little radio, gives me a chance to play radio on breaks at work and its the radio I intend to take to ZC4 for my little one man DXpedition should these Covid 19 restrictions finally get relaxed, ive already lost out on two trips and am still trying to get my money back from Ryanair for my cancelled trip in March. What I keep in my main shack is the next decision I need to take, I also have a lot of ancillary equipment, ATUs, Meters, Antennas etc that I need to seriously think about letting go, my kids insist im a Ham Radio hoarder, nah honestly thats not the case !!
Anyway just a little update to where I am at this point, keep safe everyone.
Well its been a while, had some family issues which have kept me away from radio and the blog, I recently purchased a 2nd hand Cushcraft MA5B due to having a very small suburban plot in the city 25ft x 40ft, so full size HF yagis are out of the question, the rotary dipole I have on the tower at the moment works after a fashion but I really wanted something with a bit more directivity and also something that would cover 12/17m, so MA5B it is, I have no idea how it will perform, Ive only put it together this morning on a small pole in the garden and will hopefully get the setup finished and it mounted on the tower over the weekend, hopefully in time for the VP8PJ South Orkney DXpedition which are currently setting up as I write this and likely to be QRV either tomorrow or Sunday 23rd, watch this space.
Its not a pretty thing by any stretch of the imagination, im guessing even though its supposed to be a mini beam, it still looks bloody big on the ground, my neighbours are going to have kittens.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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 🙂
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