At the weekend it was the Region 1 144MHz contest and as always I tuned around to see what I could hear. I worked a few Gs as well as ON/PA/F stations all around 300-400km distant.
On Sunday morning, I tuned around quickly and heard a weak French station. It turned out to be F5OAU/P who, I could see from the last time I worked him was in JN27. I turned the beam down that way and called him running my usual 50W. No reply - which was fair enough - he was quite weak.
I decided to fire up the 4CX350A amplifier, now correctly wired up (see earlier post!) and see if I could raise him. I called him on SSB and though he could hear me, he was obviously struggling. Switched to CW and suddenly he could copy me quite easily. Excellent - a distance of just under 700km, We exchanged details and I was just sending him 73s on the key when....
...it all went quiet! Had a relay stuck? No.
Bypassed the amp and connected the antenna straight into the back of the rig - no sign of any stations or GB3VHF. Ah. Tried another rig. Same.
I'd thought that my trusty 5el yagi on the roof was rated at 500W, but apparently not! I was running about 300W, which would have probably been ok on SSB, but I suspect on CW, was a little too much. I'm guessing there's a capacitor in the gamma match, or rather, there was a capacitor in the gamma match.
Unfortunately, getting the antenna off the mast isn't that straightforward, but Justin G4TSH has kindly volunteered to come and help (I am not a fan of ladders, sadly).
The exciting thing, however, is that a new antenna is on the way; a 6el LFA yagi from the team at Innovantennas - I have been talking to Justin G0KSC for a while and it nice to be able to give one of his designs a try out - I'm really looking forward to it. I'm particularly interested that Justin's designs are claimed to be low noise and I have been plagued by some quite low-level but troublesome noise, a particular pain with weak signals and low level meteor bursts - so we'll see how it goes.