Sunday, September 30, 2007

So I've been staging/integrating the CQP station most of the afternoon.

I promised to get on the air for the CQ WW RTTY contest. Had the filters installed in the radio, the radio working, the computer attached and mostly working with the radio...

... but I couldn't get the antenna to load up. Tried a couple different things, but it still wouldn't load up.

Physically inspected it. "Oh, there it IS!" No connection from the center conductor of the SO-259 UHF connector socket and that side of the actual antenna.

No worries, I tore it apart and soldered in a new wire to make the connection.

Lo and behold! It works.

Time on the clock? 5:06 pm PDT. Six minutes after the end of the contest.

Not a single RTTY on the bands anywhere.

Oh well.

I still need to do the following things this evening:

To do tomorrow:

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

My SB-201 has stopped working twice since I've had it. Essentially the the transmit/receive relay would stop working.

Greg suggested that I clean the contacts with a piece of paper. That worked, but about 6-8 hours of operation later the same thing happened. Clean the contacts again, good to go.

Now, I REALLY like the amp. It gets all sorts of "very clean signal, very nice sound" comments on CW. But I really couldn't trust it for contesting. Besides, it gets pretty warm when "doing" RTTY. Plus Greg blew his up doing RTTY.

For the short term I put my AL-80a into service. It it a bit more modern than the SB-201 and runs a bit more power. However it too has its "issues." For some reason it doesn't want to tune on 80m. But I digress.

So... I wanted to get an AL-600S, light-weight, solid-state 600W amp for the California QSO Party. But Ameritron has back ordered them until forever...

The AL-80a weighs a ton, so I ain't taking it on the road. The SB-201 weighs a lot, but not enough to totally preclude taking it on the road.

The solution? Fix the SB-201. So I ordered a new relay from Harbaugh (sp?). It arrived on Friday.

Today I tore into the amp. Now I am not a "tear into your equipment and replace critical parts" sort of guy... But with help from my good friend Bill (who was a ham 'once upon a time' but let his license lapse. That hasn't stopped him from building a KX-1... Just got to get him to take the darn test...) we got the relay out, and the new one in.

We lugged it down stairs and tried it out. It worked for a minute or two then stopped. After some thrashing around we discovered that the Amp Keyer had died. Fortunately, due to mis-placing the Amp Keyer a couple of weeks ago, I just happened to have a brand new spare, just sitting in the box ready to go.

Wired everything back up again, and lo and behold... The amp works swell.

Made a quick QSO with Bob, W7AYN who gave me yet another "nice and clean signal through the amp" report.


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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hacking my way through the "Get Your Feet Wet" "contest" I got to experience my first inbound CW pile up.

Folks were being very relaxed about who owned a frequency but I finished one contact and then heard...

... Well... A mess. Seemed like a constant single pitched tone for a couple of seconds, then some brief space and it started up again. Clearly not QRM or a tune-upper, but...

Then, after about 3-4 seconds it hit me... "Oh, so that's what two or more stations *exactly* zero beat sounds like!!!"

So, after that blinding flash of the obvious I waited another second or so until there was enough spacing to grab a couple of characters, "??BZ/E de AE6RF/N KN" and got on with my life.

The same thing happened at the end of my third QSO. By the end of the third people had wandered off.

Pretty cool, eh?

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Today was the first day of the FISTS "Get Your Feet Wet" contest (about the same as the old Novice Roundup).

Since the contractors finished early I got to play some radio. Not sure how many contacts I've made today. It's all paper log. All hand keyed. But... A bunch.

Heck I even picked up DE!!!

Also made a couple of contacts in the WA QSO Party. Not lots, but enough so that folks don't have to worry about me being thrown out as Unique.

Plus two normal, non-contest CW QSOs. One was normal FISTS QSO, the other guy was just calling CQ.

I'm basically a ragchewer at heart so will typically take time out of a contest to have a nice CW ragchew.

It's all good.

But my head is spinning and I'm hearing CW even with the radio off.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So, after a somewhat traumatic day, I plopped myself down in front of the radio.

Nobody home on 20m and 30m so I start at the low end of 40m and work my way up.

7.0029 MHz. KE3/?V ??? Huh?

Nope... CE3/VE7SV. Weak, but copyable.

Try working him using the paddles a couple of times. Nope.

Set up the internal memory keyer in the Icom. Nope.

Finally decide I'm going to need more gun.

Find a RCA/RCA cable and hook the Icom up the AL-80a.

Try it into the MFJ dummy load that I have. RF feedback all over the place. Not good.

Find a "quiet" out of the way spot on 40m to tune up. DRAT, with the microKeyer down I don't have an easy CW tune mode. Oh well, kick it over to RTTY. Seems to tune OK. Clearing 500W easy. Does dim things a bit when I key...

Tune back down to 7.0029 Mhz.

He's not there anymore.

Tune back up to 7042 kHz or so and try a couple CQs. No takers.

Not my night. I'm gonna go eat worms.

Oh well, at least I have some cycles into the AL-80a now.

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