Prepping for the Intermediate

Although I enjoy using 10W and can make enough contacts, the thought of getting my intermediate was a scratch I couldnt stop wanting to itch.

So I have booked.a weekend class and exam. I’m now using my commute time to study the Intermediate Study Guide, which I have to say is very accessiable and whilst a step up from the foundation, its the right level of challenging.

I’m looking forward to being able to operate on 50W of power (which seems huge to me right now, given I’m on 10 and less usually !). One requirement of the intermediate is to build a radio related electronic device to show practical skills.

I haven’t done any ‘proper’ kit building since my teens, probably whilst at secondary school. So I thought it best to practice first on a interesting kit, and make sure I build up my skills/knowledge.

I ordered the KKmoon Multifunctional Transistor Tester from Amazon which looked challenging but not impossible. I also made sure i had the best chance of sucssess and got a few helping things.

The BURNTEC PCB Holder Clamp, at just shy of 8 quid has been fantastic. Having only used a ‘helping hands’ before, I found this to far superior in bouth build and the ability to flip the board over. It really is a good piece of kit, being both strong and easy to build/configure for various size boards. I think the biggest it would do would be around 7 inches, plenty big enough for type of projects I’m doing currently.

The YOCTOSUN Hands Free Magnifier with Two LED Light has been great for working on the very small parts. As I already glasses, this fitted over everything really well and illuminated the parts perfectly. The strongest magnification has a bit of distortion on it, but otherwise the magnifer combinde with the clamp holder make a far superior fabrication process than the classic ‘helping hands’.

I set about soldering the resitors in first, then checking them all with a voltmeter for the correct levels, i.e. 1) i had read them correctly and got them in the right place 2) they worked. Which amazingly they did. Bouyed on by the resitors i carried on with other components.

Whilst the instructions are sparse, they are practical, giving the best order to put the components in, and also including the direction of how to place them. I did have to google a couple of components (diodes) to verify the right component, but otherwise the electronic build instructions were good.

For the transistors I used a crocodile clip to attach to it so it would draw the heat away from the component. It was funny using a skill i hadnt used for so long again !

I competed soldering everything in, and I think as i progress, the soldering does get better. A friend has pointed out some which could be improved, but this was my first time in quite a while. Overall I was happy with the results.

After about 3 hours of building i got to testing, and amazingly it worked first time ! I did have to fettle the display port a little (i.e. wiggle it a bit) to get into the case, but everything did fit and it worked perfectly.

I am very happy with the practice I got and now have a working test unit for various components.

I’m looking forward to building my ‘Kanga DX Direction Conversion Kit’ which whilst still looking challenging, isnt quite as scary as before completing the mutifunctional tester.

Wet and Windy – but some action on 40m!

tuned into 40M

So the bad weather continues in the UK, i had wanted to carry on with my 2m/70cm antenna project but with the gales, it didnt seem like a sensible thing to be doing, esp as the mast is tall and heavy – even with a light breeze, it could be dangerous.

Instead I looked thru the Buddipole in the field document and reviewed the 40M section. It said it was possible, albeit with a slightly higher SWR.

its 40m but at about 2m in height…

So with the bad weather I got the buddipole setup, not wanting to lose any more antenna, I kept the height at about 2m verticle and guyed down the mast as usual and also thru the veresatee to give some extra support on the horizontal element of the dipoloe. This worked really well as the winds did pick up and mast held up well in the eright location.

I was only able to get my SWR down to 5, probably due to the height of the antenna, but amazingly I was able to receive ! Given I’ve not had alot of action on the Kenwood I was so happy to tune in and listen in. Some points I could get both ends of the conversation, others just the transmitter, but nevertheless, i found it a worth while excersie in setting up the antenna in inclement conditions and also being to use the Kenwood on HF.

Do some more investigation, one other configuration I could try is a ‘NVIS’ on 40m. This is well documented here and as I’m short one wire and the clearance mounts will probably do it another day (having just got over a bad cold, dont want to risk getting ill again !)

So for now here is a video of one of the many stations I could pick up on 40m. It was great, and amazing to see how the sun going down quickly effected the transmisions ! (80m is popular after sun).

Contact on 70cm in London!

Having previously left my handheld back at home due to rushing around, I wouldnt fail a 2nd time ! I brought my radio to my hotel near where I work in London. I had recommended previously when at home a gateway based in Bromley, being MB7ABR.

Firstly, i was just glad i could access the gateway after programming my Baofeng UV-5RTP with the necessary frequency and DTCSS code. Not being a repeater, no offset was required. The gentleman that provides the gateway has a very nice website at http://www.wiggyweb.co.uk/ detailing the gateway and how it is connected to other networks. Very generous to set it up and keep running !

I keyed up and put out my ID with a test, and sure enough the repeater beeped me back !

I was reallly amazed that in a built up city surrounded by high office buildings I could reach a gateway about 6 miles away on 5 Watts of power !

I called out a few times, but to no avail, but not to be detered, and something I am learning, just patiently waiting pays. Sure enough, after dinner a call from an Echolink user from the US of A – w3ukg got chatting. To start with my signal was weak, so i relocated near the window and everything was really clear – echolink really is amazing. We had a great chat about his pitbull dog and how he enjoyed visiting London years ago, overall a very enjoyable contact.

I’ll be bringing my little Baofeng with me on my trips to London and will continue to monitor the gateway, who knows where my next contact will be from ! If anything, its nice to have a chat with fellow radio amateurs around the world on an otherwise quiet and lonley evening in London.

73’s until next time.

Its even quiet on EchoHam (EchoLink)

So with the weathing being what it is at the moment (Heavy Rain, Wind) I’m not erecting my buddipole. I’m just about over a niggling cold, and the thought of standing outside putting up and tuning an antenna doesnt sound a good idea if I’m going to be well tomorrow,

So with no alternative (ok, do have the Baofeng, but doesnt operate well indoors) I’m onto EchoLink, which also has the simplex gateway (Ed. its not a repeater….) MB7IFD on it. Whilst useage varies with hours, it really is quiet on there today, maybe it will pick up again later, or something untoward has happend !

A survey of the neighbourhood this morning showed no felled trees, but the real gusts of wind wont arrive until later today and tonight.. Maybe even those with static antennas have been put off by the bad weather, and as 2M is line of sight, height is important.

In the meantime, will keep Echolink on, and fire up listenig to hack-green HF WebSDR. Keeping it safe in the QTH 🙂

No Transmission today..

With the bad weather looming (Storm Ciara) I have played it safe and kept the masts down, rather that thany injurys, Not 100% when the bad weather is due to hit here, but instead of not doing anything, decided to set about securing the flag-pole mast more.

I set about digging a small hole for the bucket. The bucket will have the pole support in, then thoroughy concreted into the bucket. With this place into a reasonable depth hole and then with more supports, i think this will suppor the mast when fully up right.

I used Blue Circle Read Mix Postcrete – to start with i used an entire bag in the bucket which almost done the job apart from about 2 inches of water on the top. A quick dash to B&Q topped up with a bit more and levelled provided a really study support for the pole.

‘on the label’ it says ready in 10 minutes, and for what its worth, it was very hard within that time, but as the day was ending and figured that waiting 12 hours wont hurt, put it into the greenhouse to cure some more.

Will post pics tomorrow, if the weather hasnt arrived, might get the mast up verticle, but am monitoring the weather first…

Anyhow, my review of the product got published on the B&Q website.

https://www.diy.com/departments/blue-circle-ready-mixed-postcrete-20kg-bag/35713_BQ.prd

Made me giggle it got thru the moderators 🙂

2m/70cm antenna – on a flag pole

To free up the buddipole for HF, I wanted a 2M antenna for the ICOM 2200-H I could use with ease. I investigated making a copper J-Pole, or Super J-Pole to be more precise, to increase the gain and range. Having worked out the costs, which after equipment, tools and consumables came to almost £100 !

With that I took to the internet to search for an alternative and found the MOONRAKER WTZ-270 J POLE ANTENNA for £37.98p (including shipping & VAT). So I already have the coax/connectors and a flag pole for hoisting it up on.

First job was to check the S.W.R. (I punctuate S.W.R where I can after I got caught saying SWR rather the short for acroynm – I’m not on 27Mhz here ;). I connected up my analyzer, and sure enough right in the 2M and 70cm a stunning reading of 1.3 SNR.

The flag pole has a decent plastic top, so I bolted the antenna to that, giving it isolation from the aliminum pole.

Now I quite forget how tall this flag pole was, but its a heck lot talller than my buddipole is, so I made sure that the weights were securing it. For the moment this was ok as I was supervising and it wasnt windy. I gave the mast a really good tug and with my weight it wasnt falling over anytime soon. The antennas weight with the bracket was very light, so no concerns there.

With that I headed in to my trusty Icom and started going around the local repeaters. I was not disappointed ! Immediatly stronger signals and clearer reception. A tried all the local repeaters and gateways, no problems there… So i thought, time to really test how far I could get on 10W, and tapped in the Southampton Repeater… amazingly it worked ! I got someone on /M and we could both make each other out, whilst not 5/9’s it was good enough and the furthest I had ever got on 2M and 10W – I think height and the antenna really done well.

So forecast for the weather in the UK this weekend is for high gales, and whilst I the mast & antenna are a good distance away from the public and buildings, i thought why risk it, and have taken it completely down tonight.

Good news is that will mean pictures for the next post, and maybe even a video – especially if I can reach Southampton again on 10W which is a good 30+ miles away and with some big hills between us.

Calling CQ on 2M.. its a bit quiet

I am very lucky to live near a really well connected simplex gateway, namely MB7IFD, which connects into Echolink, DStar and regular FM. It is has quite alot of activity thruout the day as I listen in casually, and tend to make my QSO’s in the evening.

Whilst I like the Ferndown gateway, I do try and get on the calling frequency, namely 145.500, and trying to make a ‘local’ contact without the use of the repeaters/gateway. Its not that I dont have anything against gateways or repeaters, but in a full over on frequency up from the calling frequency you are free from timing out and using the repeater from too long in one go.

So for now I’m going to keep trying, i might publicise when I’m actually going to go on, that my attract some listeners and get some local QSO’s.

IIn the mean time, its back to 145.2125 and MB7IFD.

Hello from M7ALU, Alan K.

Hello therre !

You may have contacted me on the radio already, where I would of already greeted you, however if this is the first time for you to find me, hello from Alan.

I have had an interest in amateur radio since my days at Hastings College of Arts of Technology (HCAT) where a Radio Club was run by an excellent tutor. Whilst I was looking forward to what would of been a City & Guilds exam back then, I never got around to taking the exam and getting my Class B licence.

Fast forward 30 years, and still with a keen interest in amateur radio I find that the classifications have changed, and the required learning also. As such one evening over several weeks I attend Poole Radio Society and thanks to the brilliant tutouring pass my Foundation licence !

Whilst I am not a nervous person, I can say that the practical test on HF and VHF in radio ettiquete had me very nervous, and this is from somone that loves to TALK (and a previous member of TOASTMASTERS, so public speaking should be a worry !). So passed the exam, with only 2 incorrect in December of 2019, and I was straight ot Ofcom to get my call sign, M7ALU becomes active !