Sunday, July 31, 2011

VHF simplex QSOs

When I'm out and about mobile, I generally have at least one VFO scanning about 40 channels on 2m and 70cm. The 2m FM calling frequency (145.500) is one. But generally, I seem to end up making QSOs via the repeaters. This works well and I have lots of fun and interesting contacts.

This weekend I decided to leave one of the VFOs on 145.500 and make lots of CQ calls! It yielded a couple of decent contacts. Yesterday, from one of the lanes around the village, I worked a SOTA station M0TUB/P on the summit of Cleeve Hill near Cheltenham. And today, when I was driving back from Mum's near Cheltenham, I had an excellent QSO with Giles G0NXA across the town and up and over the Cotswold escarpment. I wonder if a few CQs on 145.500 on the daily commute will bear any fruit?

Reflections on the Es season so far

The VHF Es season seemed to kick off early this year in mid April. So here we are at the end of July and it seems to have been going for a while. Sadly, it generally starts to tail off a bit now - normally.

The new V2000 aerial has proved a great success for single hop Es on 50MHz and I have two to three hundred QSOs in the log. 70MHz has been more sparse. I think I have probably spent too much time on 50MHz at the expense of 70MHz. And for me, 144MHZ has been a wipeout, with nothing heard or worked. But that's just a case of not being there at the right time.

The Anytone AT-5555 has proved a lot of fun on 28MHz with a good number of low power QSOs around Europe on Es. With the exception of very low power WSPR operation, this has been my most rewarding HF operation in a couple of years!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Farewell to Gerry Gearing G3JJG

It wasn't until yesterday, browsing the Southgate ARC site that I learned of the death, on 21st June, of Gerry G3JJG. It was good to see that the Gloucestershire Echo had published a nice obituary for him, although it didn't mention his amateur radio interests!
I'd known Gerry since my days as a new licencee in Cheltenham. Particularly in those days, I was very much in awe of his ability in CW operating and learned a very great deal from Gerry and Derek, G3NKS in the 1980s and early 1990s as we took part in RSGB's NFD on behalf of the Cheltenham ARA. I remember Terry, G3JFH marvelling at Gerry's ability to dig out weak signals on the 40m band in the last hour or so of the contest when many other groups were working nothing!

Gerry's obituary mentions that he was tenacious! I can confirm that and had cause to receive more than one 'tenacious' e-mail when I was RadCom's Contest Columnist and therefore perceived to be responsible for the RSGB's Contest Calendar and Rules. Suffice to say that Gerry was not impressed with something (I completely forget now and he probably had a point in any case....) and I was TOLD about it!

Tenacious he was, but in my experience he was never rude and always a gentleman. He was a proud member of the First Class CW Operators Club and had served on their committee for several years.

I shall miss hearing G3JJG on the bands. Gerry, it was a pleasure to have known you.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Anytone AT5555 28Mhz rig

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd been looking at these rigs. Well, I have had the chance to play with one and I must say I'm not disappointed.

Quite obviously the rig shows its CB heritage. It's quite big too. Certainly it wouldn't fit in the centre console of my VW Polo in the same way that the FT8900 does.

The rig comes with a mounting kit for the car (which I made double as a stand) since the loudspeaker is on the bottom of the case, not ideal if you want to place it on a shelf in the shack.

I've found the rig fun and easy to use. As supplied in the AT5555N configuration from Nevada, the rig is 28MHz amateur band only. I quickly got used to the channel change moving me up or down 10khz and using the clarifier to tune in between in either 1, 0.1 or 0.01 KHz steps. This is only of significance on CW/SSB of course.

So far, I have had the rig connected up to the Butternut HF6V at home and have had a number of contacts around Europe using Sporadic E propagation. Some more distant signals have been heard from South America and the Middle East.

Output power is around 10W FM and a little more on SSB. Entirely adequate to make some fun contacts. Haven't tried it on CW yet, but it should work with an external keyer.

I like the fact that the rig is available through Amazon making it easily accessible to someone who might be new to the hobby or getting back into it again.

If you've not played on 28MHz before then with rising solar flux, this is the time to do it!


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