A windy walk and fun on 2m/70cm

Being a long weekend and an extended time off, it seemed right to head out and enjoy the good weather, albeit quiet windy ! After the excesses of Christmas and nice stroll along the coastline at Heingstbury Head would help me feel less guilty about everything I had eaten and drunk in the last few days..

Christmas Dinner and nice bottle of white wine.

Having packed my back-pack with the Kenwood TH-D7 and SSTV unit Sweety and headed off in the Mazda Bongo. It was quite busy when we arrived, but Sweety was quickly off his lead and enjoying a good run around ! The Wind was really strong but I got up the first hill and made a ‘test’ SSTV transmission back home, which worked really well !

Test 2M SSTV Transmission from HH
Isle of White (needles) across the

I didn’t use the replay test this time as I was keeping warm and making it across the hill. Once on the other side towards the Isle of White clearly in view I setup for another test transmission using the repeat function, I got a great picture back, but I think moving the radio caused a few a few interruptions, but no complaints !

interference from moving antenna

I settled down with a nice bottle of water whilst Sweety continued to enjoy running around and having a good sniff.

A nice rainbow and a sniff

I had a nice QSO via the IoW Ventnor repeater, GB3IW some 25 miles away with a good signal report and newly licenced M7 called David, who was enjoying Echolink and how he was getting on the air with a UV5R as well.

I really enjoyed the THD7 in being able to do both SSTV and a QSO, the walk was really invigorating as well !

Hoping I will do more /P and /M in the New Year, in the mean time I have a couple of projects around the QTH to finish off as well… 🙂

73

Alan / 2E0FWE

QRP from the QTH

So today is memorable for two things, one is my 28th Wedding Anniversary to XYL Monica. We are so blessed to have each other and I’m so thankful to have an amazing missus who I love so dearly.

Also today I made my first ever QRP contact from my QTH with 10W of power. I’ve had the ‘setup’ for a few weeks, and its been sat under my table (sadly) waiting for a time to go out. Today the weather has been fantastic in IO90, so I seized the opputnity to get out with the 705 in my front garden.

For those who are inclined, here is the setup I used today.

  • Transceiver :- Icom IC705
  • Antenna :- HFJ-350M & CGW-560 Counterpoise
  • Antenna Analyzer :- Rig Expert Zoom AA-55
  • Additionally :- M12 Copper Washer & BD7-Maple Antenna Bracket

I made myself comfortable with a long-used and reliable camping table and as being at home, a soft cushioned chair, which was invaluable for the tuning and waits for the QRP sessions.

I started off tuning the HFJ-350M (350M) for 40M. With the Rig Expert and instructions provided, this was suprisngly easy to get the antenna tuned for the SSB Telephony section of 40m. I started with the measurements from the instructions, and then adjusted the antenna until the SWR was at a good reading.

Tuned into 40m

However with the contest on this weekend 40m was simply full of contesters. I don’t mind on my usual home-rig to take part in contesters and give the 001 serial to give a signal report, but being QRP and for 5-10 with an Italian call sign who was very clear to me, I was unable to complete the contact with my QRP setup.

For interest, I then went onto 20m (14mHz) and found tuning the antenna was straight forward. To start with it was quite close to having a SWR reading of 5-to-6, whilst not good enough, it was better than the ‘infinite’ value, so some fettling with the antenna in slowly sliding and taking a measurement soon produced the whole of the 20m band with good SWR reading for transmission

Again, 20M was full of contesters and I was unable to break the pile ups with my 5W of power. At this time I headed into the ‘shack’ and grabbed my LiFO battery, allow the full 10W of power to be used. I also research non-contest bands and QRP frequency. I found that 17M (18Mhz) was a non-contest band. I was able to use the same method to get a good SWR reading across the 17m band – the antenna was at least matching very well and using a repeatable process I could use in the field.

With some time and patient listening, I heard a call on the QRP frequency on 17M of 18.130, and with of effort with both myself and the operator from Finland listening was able to make my first QRP contact. It was incredibly satisfying with such a low power and compromise setup to make a contact on HF – my report was 5/3 with a very weak signal, understably with 10W and in an urban environment – needless today I was ecstatic to make a contact.

QRP contact video

Whilst I was unable to capture the video (the run time would of been over an hour !) I do capture the unbridled joy of a QRP contact on a portable setup. Hopefully I will be able to make more trips to less RF noisy environments as I thoroughly enjoy QRP operation as it gives a fantastic sense of satisfaction in making contacts with such small amounts of power.

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

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.

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