Monthly Archives: January 2016

Nice day to Test New Antenna

Another great weekend here in South Texas. The temperature actually broke 90 degrees here today which is pretty warm for the last day in January. I took the FT-817ND out again this afternoon and tested a 30 foot vertical end fed antenna. Managed three contacts with it this afternoon. The antenna uses a SOTA beams travel mast that I lashed to a support on the neighbors hurricane fence. The antenna element is a piece of 20 gauge speaker wire tied to the second to the last section. The other end ties to a 9:1 matchbox. I then use a 50 foot piece of RG-8X coax to the rig. I have to use the tuner in this configuration. Here is the setup:

Photo Jan 31, 2 21 16 PMPhoto Jan 31, 2 21 14 PM

Look like the setup works decent. Receive was quite good. I made a contact each on 15, 17 and 20m with the furthest being in St. Lucia. Fun afternoon of outdoor radio!

Here is what all the station components look like when taken down. Clearly a fairly light set of bits for hiking. Just needĀ  to find something to lash the pole to.

Photo Jan 31, 4 15 00 PM

For my next trick…I am going to setup both the end fed vertical along with the magnetic loop antenna and switch both to do a subjective listening test.

First JT9 QSO

Finally got WSJT-X configured to run JT-9 transmissions. I had a few initial problems related to the way I had the rig configured. I sent out a CQ and got a call back from Florida. I was operating on 5W on 40m in the early evening. Overall very similar to JT-65 but with a much tigher bandwidth and much lower noise floor. Looking forward to playing with this mode now as well.

More Outdoor HF!

Another beautiful afternoon here so another great excuse to operate HF portable QRP. Conditions were not great and I only closed a few domestic contacts. Last night I used the W4RT fast charger and topped off the FT-817ND battery pack. Here is what the station looks likeĀ  before setup:

Photo Jan 24, 1 32 02 PM

The bag holds the Magnetic loop antenna and the rig, microphone, earbuds and logbook are shown next to it. Setup time is under 5 minutes and I figure I can easily set this up for backpack carry ( I sense a trip to Academy Sporting Goods coming up soon…). Today I swept each band 20m-17m-15m from low to high with the antenna oriented first north-south and then east-west. The deployed station looks like this:

Photo Jan 24, 1 36 56 PM

Teardown was under 5 minutes and all in all a really enjoyable experience was had today.

 

Outdoor HF…only in South Texas!

The Northeast sector of the country is completely snowed in. Here in South Texas the day was absolutely gorgeous. Clear blue sky and temp in the mid-60’s. Too good to stay indoors so I decided to setup outside for awhile this afternoon. Unlike other times I have done this, I decided to go minimalist. I took out the homebrew Magnetic Loop antenna, the Yaesu FT-817ND and a set of earbuds. I ran this afternoon completely on the internal power of a fully charged battery pack. I forced operation on the rig to 5W and just had some fun.

Propagation was not too good on 10m or 12m so I stuck on 20m thru 15m. I made two good contacts as part of the Montana QSO party but not to much more. But really the day was just to nice to sweat over it. I stayed out till just before dusk as it started getting quite cold outside as the sun went down. The battery pack was just about depleted after about 3 hours of operation. Just before I shut down for the afternoon, I switched bands to 15m and tuned to 21.200 and was greeted with a strong 59 signal from Argentina calling CQ. He had just started calling and he picked me up with a 53 and a short chat. What a great feeling and a cap to a great afternoon of enjoying the fresh air and sunshine!

Off the Air

I am back in Asia on business for a week so I’ll be off the air for a bit. May try and work the local 2m repeater net on Echolink if I can time it around business meetings. The 7pm nets will be at 9am local time.

Have I mentioned I am working with JT-65?

I continue o work with JT-65 on HF bands and am learning quite a bit. This mode along with PSKreporter website are very useful for checking propagation. I downloaded an installed a slightly different program called JT65-HF HB9HQX edition. There are some nice features on this program which simplify things like logging. I set one half of my screen to work the radio and the other half monitoring PSKreporter.

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If I call out a CQ or answer someone else’s call I can immediately see who else received my transmissions. The results are often suprising. I am also able to correlate my transmissions with what is indicated by HAMCAP propagation prediction. This is incredibly useful as it allows me to predict the best band and times to make contacts in specific regions.

 

More Practice with JT-65

Continued to play around with JT-65 today on various bands and times. During the day ran at 5W on 20m and made some good domestic contacts. After dark I started to switch to 40m and 80m and have been generally pleased with the contacts on these bands.

20m was still showing activity after dark and with higher power my signals were copied in Antarctica and I was able to complete a QSO with Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean!

PSKreporter.info is a really useful tool for JT-65. It is incredibly helpful (not to mention encouraging) to see that your signals are being received even if it does not result in a QSO.

This mode looks very promising for DX with my setup and I am looking forward to trying JT9 now as well.

First JT-65 Contacts

Installed and setup JT65-HF on the PC and made my first few contacts with this mode. I started with 5W during the day on 20m but increaded power to 15W later on 40m. I was able to decode signals on 80m but did not close any contacts. This looks like an interesting mode and I will likely be playing with this some more in the future as well as will JT9 which I have yet to setup.