A summary mini-update

Hello there ! Well its been a while since i sat at the desk to do a blog-posting rather than a video and of antenna related results, so this evening I thought I would return to the blog and give a summary mini-update of what I have been upton !

How do I approach this.. hmm, well, lets go for by bands of operation and then methods as a subtext !

HF Operations (80m to 10m)

Well I have mostly been busy on improving the performance of my main 6BTV antenna, this is following a fantastic field trip with G4PRS (Poole Radio Society) to have a great day out and with so much learning about antennas.

As an outcome of that, I decided to improve my 6BTV and understand more about the tools that I have. I’ve made several fundamental changes to my 6BTV and initial results, well, are seeming promising. I have yet to take the X&Y measurements I wanted to take due to the inclement weather, but I think that will be this week.

I have been doing more and more telephony work on 40 and 80m. 40m via the IC-7300 and 80m via the Kenwood TS-690 into the excellent UK Antenna 80m multi band end-fed. Although its below its optimal height, it is functioning brilliantly.

Specific Modes – FT8

You would of seen from my QRZ page I used to spend allot of time on FT8. It is an interesting and exciting mode to start making contacts with. I found myself wanting more thou, so I found another digital mode to move onto. I am still doing occasional FT8, but really for what it was designed for in my opinion, getting signal reports and checking propergation/antennas, rather than solid FT8 only.

Specific Modes – SSTV (HF to start with)

I have been enjoying SSTV massively on 20m (14.230USB) – you will see on this site my most recent received images uploaded to the SSTV section. I use SSTV early and the early evening (grey line times) during mon-fri and where i can during the weekends. I have had some fantastic contacts and enjoying the pictures / QSOs massively. It is very rewarding to get a good 595 / P5 report from another operator well into DX terrority.

I continue to enjoy SSTV in making great contacts, I hope you could be my next one !

Specific Modes – Telephony on HF(voice)

Whilst on UHF/VHF I tend to be more comfortable with the longer QSOs via repeaters and even simplex on 2M, I still find HF QSO’s challenging, but very rewarding. At home I’m limited to 50 Watts, and when up against even legal full licence holders who can typically run 100W+ making a QSO and getting a good report, is really rewarding – lets not start about the Italians who are doing a great job of warming the atmosphere in what seems like an almost unlimited use of power of the HF airwaves.

I am doing more telephony on 40m and 80m recently (Sep/Oct 21) and really enjoying it. I’m using N1MM as a logging tool, which really helps me get the call sign down – i still don’t mind asking multiple times for a call sign until i get it right thou ! I have had great contacts with the ‘secret nuclear bunker’ and also Germany – I’m hoping the solar cycle continues to improve propagation on 40m

Specific Modes – Telephony on VHF & UHF

I use my IC705 on occasion from home on 2m and 70cm. I am very lucky to get into Southampton and the Isle of White very easily from my QTH in IO90BS. This gives me the opportunity to what must be one of the best repeaters on the south coast, namely, GB3IW. This repeater has excellent coverage with people connecting to as far west as Somerset and as far east as Brighton, inland I have heard people from Uckfield, Haywards Heath and also closer to my QTH in Bournemouth. I can take one of my handhelds out with 5W of power and get into it, with varying signal reports. From home with the X50 and 10W I am always 5/9+10 without problem.

I am working on a packet radio project for 2M based on the excellent Kenwood TH-D7 and the raspberry Pis I have. I am also into setting up a local ‘SSTV’ night,so if you in/around IO90BS and hear SSTV on 2m, it can well be me !

QRP / M / P

I continue to use my IC-705 both at home and mobile as a QRP transceiver. I have no interest in adding an amplifier to this fantastic and amazing transevier. For me QRP is almost becoming a sub-hobby in its own right. I have several very exciting antennas to use /M and /P and (/PP)

I’m hoping in the autumn and winter months to get out more with the IC-705 and my other UHF/VHF handhelds for some exciting and interesting field experiments.

Conclusion

Well I am keeping incredibly busy, its my final year of my MSc and am enjoying a new contract with a fantastic team who keep me wholly engaged thruout the day. I do hope to return to my local club when i can safely, until then i am keeping in touch with several of the members via email and hopefully when the weather gets better, back on the 2M net !

I have probably gone on for too long due to absence of recent postings, but thanks for reading and staying with me. I am hoping to do more frequent updates, no matter how busy i get, even if its just a short write up with some theory and application.

Until then take care, stay safe, and enjoy your radio.

Alan / 2E0FWE

6BTV – Increasing Performance

Increasing performance –

Prep with tools and connectors
Initial Readings – more details below

Pre

MULTI SWR RESULTS (measures at the median of the band)

20m : 1.34

80m : 1.5

15m: 1.10

40m: 1.42

Blurb about radials

more blurb

MULTI SWR Results post radial

20M: 1.35

80M: 1.48

15M: 1.14

40M: 1.48

Conclusion

MULTISWR Deltas

SWR Increase/Decrease

20M : +0.01

80M: -0.02

15M: +0.04

40M: +0.06

All steam ahead!

So aside amateur radio, my other ‘interests’ is model railways. My fellow rail enthusiast are building this small layout.

Shillingstone prototype

Whilst that hasn’t been taking all of my time, it has taken a fair chunk in trying to find all my N-Gauge track and equipment. I have how ever been very busy in and around the shack !

SSTV

I have got the VC-H1 working. Getting all the cables from around the world (Korea, Portugal, USA) was quite an adventure and took a fair amount of ‘google-fu’ to source. I have a number of videos, but this one is probably of the most interest where I done a field test and the results.

VC-H1 Field Test

The broadcasts from the park resulted in complete susses of received images from my QTH about 1 mile away.

VC-H1 field test results (approx 1 mile max)

I was using a Baofeng with 5W and other tests around IO90BS really showed how the height/hills in the town effected the reception. I think my best chances for long-distance are away from the SE direction where I am behind a steep hill. I will spend some time and do some VHF reception modelling in the coming weeks.

Shack Tidy

So with the 2nd year of my Part-Time MSc coming up time was limited to get the ‘shack’ (aka Home office) into some semblance of tidy. Getting a Radio Shack tidy isn’t just making it ‘look’ tidy, its about getting RF right, every thing that requires ferrietes to have them and good cable management, all whilst be useable, manageable and allowing for further development of other projects.

I started outside and installed good coax, as well as a general tidy up around the antennas. I then installed a thru-window panel, allowing the feed lines to be tidy into the shack. From there I took out all the transceivers, receivers and other radio devices. The bulk of the work was done over the weekend as it took a fair amount of time.

Shack Tidy Day 1

As you can see from ‘Day 1’ there was allot to do just to things in place.

I’m now have installed the transceivers onto the bonding and am looking forward to test out the bonding/grounding results.

Bonding

My next step will be to get my Windows computer re-installed with the necessary chokes and filters to operate well with the computer with no effects from RFI. When that is installed I should have a good idea of how to tidy the cables best as described in the Grounding and Bonding book.

Events

With re-opening of the Poole Amateur Radio Society and enjoying regular on Thursday evenings, I’m getting more out of my radio and understand them than ever. Its great to have good and productive conversations with fellow hams, although the conversation sometimes does drift to non-radio activities, I have been grateful to receive several courgettes which XYL Monica made into a lovely meal for me !

The club is having a field day event away from the QRM of the urban environment. I’ve very excited to be going with my IC-705 and Alexloop ham-pack. I got a new ‘mast’ for the antenna, as you can see here.

Bike Repair Stand as Antenna Mast

Results are really encouraging !

With all the equipment that will be required for the field day I got a hand cart. Sweetly and I had a great time testing it out.

Testing the trolley cart with Sweety.

So I’ve been super busy, but very happy with all with all the amateur radio activities. It will be harder after September to spend weekends like this as I start my MSc Computing Research year in earnest, but undoubtedly the model trains and amateur radio will make a welcome break when time allows me to do so.

Getting back on 80m !

Having got some much needed help in the evening after work, my friend and I erected the 40ft mast. This went pretty well between the two of us, and resulted in a nice vertical mast.

A nice vertical mast

As this was done after work on a Friday evening, we headed in for a lovely meal prepared by XYL Monica.

The next day the weather was unusually good and a day of productive antenna erection could commence ! Having guyed the mast the previous evening, my intention was to get the 80/40m dipole attached to the top with the feedline going up the mast. However, after several attempts I was getting this result.

more like a catapult than a mast !

The tilt base from Barenco really came into its own, doing this any other way would of been difficult, not to say incredibly frustrating boarding on insanity.

After several breaks to contemplate a solution I figured on using the hardware I had but changing the antenna. Thankfully I have a UK Antenna 80m end fed in storage, so I lowered the bent mast to a more sturdy but decent height and used another of the fibreglass poles I had. Feeding the end fed thru this I was able to get it a good height and not as intrusive as when i had two fibre glass poles going into the front garden. I ended up with a ‘sloping L’ configuration rotated 90 degrees from the feed point.

back on 80m

The above video makes this much clearer and you can see the height of the initial mast and fibreglass pole which support the 80m wire.

The SWR results across 80m are impressive and I attached to my IC-705 to test, the reception was fantastic.

The multi band was resonant on every frequency stated, so I will be really looking forward to trying this antenna out on a more frequent basis

40m gave impressive S.W.R. readings as well, I am only planning to use QRP levels, with the occasionally 50W from the TS620S. I am very excited to get this antenna into the Kenwood Ts690S as its a super-het receiver with many filters in it. Thats not to say the IC-7300 wont be the main transceiver any more, but will be fun to see the difference between the two.

Until next time.

73

Alan / 2E0FWE

A busy weekend ! Dipoles, Verticals and repeaters !

So what a busy weekend ! Having been to Poole Radio club this week and catching up with an fellow member received the necessary advice on how to best install my 80m/40m dipole in terms of location in my QTH.

I then set about building the mast to get the dipole up, its a series of videos, so i put them here in order.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

So TL/DR i didnt make all the progress I wanted, having taken care of my health and not getting too tired, i have ordered a new tilt base for the 33ft mast.

Barenco BE103 on order

The Barenco looks a good bit of piece for the price, if it allows me to tilt a 33ft mast up with ease, worth every penny ! For sure there will be a decent video and review when its installed.

With that the Poole Radio Society on 2M I set about getting my 2M equipment setup. I tried to use the Retevis RT90 but wasnt having much luck with programming and operating it. I got the RT90 as its a good DMR radio and works with my Pi hotspot, but for monday i just needed something simple to use for the 2M net, so i pulled my IC-2200H out and done a factory rest on it.

I was soon on the air with my Yagi and making a great local contact. I couldnt reach the 3rd contact in the QSO on the Isle Of Wight, so over night considered how I would best address this for the monday night net.

J-Pole on 2M

I was really impressed that i got the antenna up in less than ideal weather (rain, wind) and had positive S.W.R. readings

I then set about calling CQ on the 2m calling frequency of 145.500 and was able to make a number of contacts thruout the day.

2m contacts in a variety of good distances in and around Bournemouth

I was really pleased that I was making and having really good conversations with seasoned fellow hams in the area, especially another member of Poole Amateur Radio Society remembered me which was great !

Feeling ambitious, i then set about looking for repeaters. Our local repeater is no-more for at least the short term and no real indication of if/when GB3PBR will return. GB3JB appeared to be just in reach, and i setup the 2200H with the respective frequencies and tones to access it, sure enough I was rewarded with the ‘pips’ that I could reach the repeater !

I monitored thruout the day and enjoyed several really good QSO’s via the repeater, which varied to just down the road (ended up with a simplex conversation off the repeater) to many miles away beyond Dorchester !

GB3JB

I continued to add a choke filter and Y-split to the 2200H so i can use the Yagi and J-Pole should I so wish to.

It has been an excellent weekend on the radio, the shack still isnt as tidy as I would like it, but its getting plenty of QSO and 2m action thats for sure ! I’m looking forward to next week and progressing the 40m/80m dipole some more, it will be excellent to be back on both frequencies again.

Many thanks for all of those that had telephony QSO’s with me this weekend and setting up/checking and giving me loads of info about 2 meter operation in the locality, it really has been great to have a ‘rag chew’ with local operators again.

Stay safe / 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Mobile at last ! New Forest Trip

Having owned the IC-705 for quite some months this was my first time to take it portable. With the weather looking slightly dodgy our group of friends headed to Boulderwood in the New Forest.

Our risk taking with the weather was rewarded with a fantastic, albeit slightly cooler than of late, evening in the New Forest.

Portable in the New Forest in Boulderwood

It was great to go with a friend as although the setup was minimal a helping hand was greatly appreciated. I attached my Alexloop Ham Pack antenna to my Buddipole mast with a bungee which done an excellent job of keeping it secure

bungee, buddipole tripod/mast and ALexloop hampack = nice secure setup

I brought along a couple of fold up tables, one for the ladies ot have their pic-nic on the other for me to setup my radio. I started with just the IC-705 first and tuned to 20m. The quality of the signals away from the QRM of my QTH was simply amazing.

Receive singals where really strong and clear – absence of background noise (QRM)

I did try to reply to the CQ calls, but couldnt get a response this time, but was nethertheless glad to just be trying.

Operating the the Alexloop Ham pack was everything it should be, really easy to tune into the frequency. I was getting SWR of 1.3 to 2 on all the frequencies i tuned. I dare say I could get better as I get more expericned with it, but the gauge on it is fantastic.

Resonence LED in full effect on 20m

As seen in the picture above the LED on the tuning unit shows the power/matching of the antenna to the transceiver. I also used the SWR meter on the IC705. I did bring along my rigexpert (HF) but didnt need it in the end.

Having run 5W on the internal batttery, i then switched to a Lifo battery and got the full 10W portable. My connections to the battery need improvement, but are functional.

I was able to test FT8, and received plenty of signals from around the world. I explained to my friend how FT8 works and our signals on PSKReporter. It was amazing how far we was getting out on 10W and the Alexloop !

2E0fwe portable from the new forest reaches far !

I was unable to make a contact, but I was still gald to be getting out. I need to learn how to adjust the volume control on my linux laptop, as the signal was overloading, i suspect i missed some DX/RX opputnities.

Next we tried WSPR – with the portable battery it was no problem to keep going. I checked the database and my own site and could see that we was getting out nicely, albeit with 10W which is probably the most power I have ever used on WSPR.

WSPR mobile

I must rememer to update my callsign for Mobile operation next time as I only changed it later in WSJT-X.

After digital modes and with the sun / grey line coming in I made one more try on telephony just calling CQ, but alas no responses. I dont feel disappointed, i had limited time and wanted to make sure we got back home all feeling well and having an enjoyable evening, so packed up. Again having a friend help was great, everything was put away with no damage and easily into my camper van.

This was a great first experience of being portable. I really enjoyed it and am sure to keep on trying and will probably make Boudlerwood my goto place. If you ever see me there, dont be shy and am always happy to talk to people who are interested.

Having a great time in Boudlerwood, New Forest with the IC705 and Alex Hampack

This has really added so much more to this already amazing hobby. I can thorougly recommend portable operation !

More vidoes next time, but until then 73

Alan / 2E0FWE

Its July already ?!

Where has the year gone, or more accurately where did June go ? Well, having been busy with work, uni and mentoring the month flew by. WIth bad weather alot of the weekends it meant I couldnt get alot of what I wanted to do done, and the time I had was limited. The good news is that alot of my University work for 2020-21 year is complete, I’m just waiting for grades to be finalized. I’ve changed jobs and am glad to say my new role is more suited to me, so Im really enjoying work. I’ve also had a great time mentoring undergrads the past few months, but has made me very busy, but very rewarding – but heres the good news – this weekend I got a number of things on my ‘ham radio’ to-do list done.

Firstly, I got my IC-705 working in the garden on the Alex-Loop ham-pack. It went really well, although setup wasnt as good as I thought it should be. I’ll do a longer more in-depth write up, but needless to say initial operating was fun and exciting.

Recently and friend and I mowed the garden, as I had told our gardener to not worry about it for the moment due to the movement of tents and radio equipment out. With all the rain and sunshine the grass grew at a proflific rate ! I first borrowed a friends lawnmower, then got a cheap electric one from amazon that would do the job. I’m glad to say that having mown the antenna area with all the radials down the majority of the radials have stayed down.

I will continue to mow the grass and keep it short, then look at adding more radials with better wire-pins (I have been using plastic ones). I still have some more work to do on the 6BTV to add 17M to it, but hopefully the weather will hold at the weekend, in the mean time I have been enjoying FT8 and SWL, making interesting contacts and getting ever closer to the DX100 award.

Heres wish you well and enjoy your radio !

73, 2E0FWE

Coaxial Conudrums

So this weekend i really wanted to complete my feed-line for the 6BTV, its been ‘dug up’ for a few weeks and its case of making up the coax to feed into it. I’ve made many feedlines/patch cables with other coax and SO239 and PL259, but the M&P coax and connectors, well, are just really testing my patience.

underground feed line location

The video for making this cable up, makes it look so simple, even this young lady (ND2L) can do it.

looks easy enought (ultraflex 10 being used here)

And the M&P official video makes it look easy enough

Fitting plugs

I’m using ExtraFlex bury, so it requires that 5mm incision to get the collar in.

I tried soldering, cutting and fitting the plugs as per the videos. On my first attempt i didnt get a good result on the resistance, but thought to give a try anyway, but yep, it didnt work.

I stripped everything down and tried again, I only have a metal ruler for measuring lengths, but done i best i could with it, and i dont have a decent knife, i actually ended up cutting my finger and blood was everywhere 🙁

I tried again and was frustated that again i didnt get the resistance outputs that was needed for an installlation. I cut the ends of the cable off. Repeat *4. On the 4th time it was now 20:00 BST and I was getting very tired of doing this, so just stripped everything back and had a rest.

Fast forward 12 hours I took a look at what the problems could be in my method. One the measurement was not good, the ruler wasnt good enough for the job, and more critically the injury from the blade was bad. I’ve ordered a measurement tool and a proper stanley knife. I’m really hopeful I can get this to work, the cable and plugs have cost *alot* and more importantly have cost me alot in time now.

TL/DR – use the right and safe tools when working with coax and plugs (I’m) not familiar with.

15m DX at night ?!

Was just playing about on my radio with FT8, having had one phone QSO on 20m to Italy, then a number of FT8 on 20m as well, thought, lets give 15 meters a try. Having never really persisted at using 15m, it was an ideal time as I could keep an eye on WSJT-X and tidy/file stuff at the same time.

The band looked completely empty when I started, but as the CQ’s keep transmiting, lo and behold I was rewarded with a contact !

FT8 15m contact

There was even some reports to see on PSKReporter !

Reaching far on 15m with 50W of power

I was really suprised, and impressed, with how well the 6BTV is doing, its such a great antenna and I’m getting more out of it every time I have time to use it on the frequencys I previously didnt really use.

Moral of the story is, if the band looks dead, still give it a go ! you never know who you might contact !