Saturday, September 22, 2007

Acupuncture for Radios

This seems to be the best way to keep the power on to the FT847!

Friday, September 21, 2007

FT847 Power Switch

For a week or so, I've noticed that the FT847 Power switch has been playing up a bit. I thought it might have had something to do with running off the battery and the voltage being a bit lower than 13.8v. However, it seems this is not the case!

It looks like this is a known problem!

So far, I've managed to persuade the switch into action ok, but whether it's going to end up expiring, I'm not sure.

Two more QSOs with 3B7C

I was pleased I spent a little time working on the Butternut last weekend as I had a chance to make a couple more QSOs with 3B7C today. First of all, I worked them on 15m CW, which was great, as 15m hadn't been working properly for a while.

After that, I noticed that the 17m CW signals were improving, so I gave it a go and made a nice contact there. Neither pileup took too long to get through which was good. The benefits of calling on a weekday, I suppose.

They were also worked on 12 and 10m this morning from the UK, but nothing heard on those bands here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Visit the 3B7C DXpedition with Google Earth

I thought it would be fun to visit a DXpedition site using Google Earth. I dropped the 3B7C team an e-mail suggesting that if they were game to survey the island and note GPS positions for each of their antennas, then I could make an overlay for Google Earth.

Arnie, N6HC rose to the challenge and supplied all the data. You can see the end results, if you have Google Earth on your machine, by clicking here

Sunday, September 16, 2007

144Mhz tropo to OK

Just popped into the shack to transfer some photos for the Fiddlesticks blog and heard a fierce pileup from the UK trying to work OK1KIR in a contest! Don't think I've heard JN79 on tropo before, so that's impressive.

144MHz tropo to JO51

Rounded off an interesting day, propagation wise at around 2130z last night by the usual check around the 2m beacons. GB3VHF and F5XAM were both well above average. I dropped back to 144.3, the calling frequency, to hear the tail end of someone calling CQ DX from JO51.

That sounds like DX to me, so I replied and was delighted to work DF0CI in JO51CH. Matti was running full power to 4 antennas, so it was great that he was able to hear me.

So that's the best DX on 2m with solar power, so far!

3B7C on 80m - interesting

I was fascinated to hear great signals from the 80m CW station at 3B7C yesterday (15/9) at around 1715z - a good hour and a half before sunset here. Signals were peaking a genuine S7. There was a huge EU pileup calling them and they were working Japan, so not much chance, but a very interesting opening none the less!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Butternut maintenance

I've been thinking for a while that the Butternut really didn't seem to be working on 15m and spots for 3B7C that were completely inaudible here prodded me into doing something!

I took the antenna down and cleaned all the joints up. It looked like the 15m stub wasn't active as the joints had corroded. Cleaned it all up and the noise level is improved on 15m.

And actually, I did hear 3B7C on there - but with a fierce pileup, so I didn't get involved this time, but perhaps next week...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Using the DX Cluster to find 3B7C

Talking on the repeater this morning, we discussed the use of the DX Cluster to find 3B7C or other DX stations.

Click here to access the GB7DJK cluster

Login with your callsign and once you have answered the various questions, you will see DX information start to arrive. If you want to see the latest information on where 3B7C has been operating, type:

sh/dx 3b7c

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

VHF/UHF Station now on solar power

Paul, 2E0BHA very kindly supplied a couple more batteries, so this evening, I've installed a solar panel and the FT847 for 50/144 and 432MHz is now solar powered. Power output on 2m seems to be unaffected. We'll see how well the battery keeps charged. The shack window faces south-east, so not the perfect heading for the panel, but it should do!

3B7C safely in the log for the first time..

Great relief to make it into the 3B7C log this evening. 10MHz signals were a lot louder than the past couple of evenings and though it took a while, I was delighted to make it and get a 'hello' from the operator.

The 7Mhz SSB station is coming through at good strength this evening as well, but I think I'll try 7 CW next time they brave that particular bear-pit!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Murphy's Law as applied to antennas

Have you ever noticed that when you really, really want to be able to use an antenna, then it suddenly and mysteriously develops a hitherto unknown fault!

3B7C hit the bands dead on schedule at 2000z on Friday. 10MHz looked like the place to try and work them first off. I dropped down the band and though the antenna was receiving ok, on transmit, the SWR started off at about 1.5 and gradually crept higher. I could tell something, somewhere wasn't right and was heating up.

I reterminated the PL259 at the shack (not aided by the fact that my soldering iron wasn't where I expected it to be! I hasten to add, that it was me that had misfiled it, not any other hands..). No difference.

Went up the garden in the dark and checked the feed. Seemed fine. No difference.

Gave up in disgust and went to bed, to look at the problem fresh in the morning.

Tried all the usual stuff - no difference. Thought it had to be something to do with the feeder and sure enough, picking up the SO239 barrel connector where the coax feed is attached to the aerial - it was warm! Thank goodness I don't run a KW!

I took the connector apart - cleaned it out and the problem vanished. Phew!

Now, of course, the pileup for 3B7C is huge! But given a few days, I'm sure I'll be able to work them. Have heard the guys on 80, 40, 30, 20 and 17m so far. Best signals from them on 40 and 30m for me.

Monday, September 03, 2007

3B7C team have left Mauritius for St Brandon

I received a text this morning from Justin, G4TSH saying that the team had arrived at the ship to take them to St Brandon. The ship has now left and Justin said that the ship was rolling along! Fortunately, they are well provided with sea-sickness pills.

Justin's final message said 'See you in the pileups'! I look forward to it!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

3B7C team en-route

I had a quick chat with Justin, G4TSH this morning. Justin was waiting for the taxi to Heathrow - the first stage in the journey to St Brandon. Eight team members are flying from London to Mauritius this evening, arriving tomorrow morning, to meet other team members on different flights and others who are already there.

The team will be taken by taxi from the airport to the port, where the boat will leave tomorrow evening for the 24 hour voyage to St Brandon. I asked Justin if they'd be operating maritime mobile on the voyage, but he thought not!

After the team arrive, around 1100z on the 4th September, there is a great deal of work to be done, before the stations will hit the bands, hopefully around 2000z on the 7th September. There's a real buzz to get everything going, but you've just come several thousand miles by air and sea and there's a lot of heavy stuff to carry, and the temperature's a lot warmer than the UK! So it can be really tiring.

Conditions are going to make the expedition a challenge, but we can be sure that whatever, the team are well equipped, in all senses, to make the very best of the propagation that's available.

144Mhz Trophy - interesting conditions

I made a few contacts in the 144MHz trophy this weekend. Interesting conditions, particularly to the south. Several people I worked early on mentioned good conditions to Spain, so I poked the beam down there.

Sure enough I worked EA2BFM/P in IN83, which I was really delighted with. I also heard another station in IN93 at great strength, but he was tuning around and I didn't manage to snag him.

Quite a few French stations around, though I didn't work down to the Pyrenees - JN06 was about as far south-east as I heard. Didn't hear much from Germany this time round, though DK0PU was a good signal just before the contest!

So, all in all, an enjoyable and interesting couple of hours spent playing. It slightly irked that the VHF station wasn't solar powered, so I'm going to have to think about doing that!


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