Monday 31 May 2010


Since I was busy this morning in the garden (!) and this afternoon taking my R1000 receiver apart I haven't done much operating today. I did work DH8BQA on 6 metres however. The rest of the time I left my TS450 on receive on the SSTV frequency on 20 metres. It seemed quite active today. Here are a few of the pictures I received.

Kenwood R1000

The R1000 is a great receiver. I have had mine for years, its easy to use, stable and produces nice audio. It does have one drawback however- it is totally deaf on Medium Wave. Actually when I say Medium Wave I mean anything below 2 Mhz which of course includes tpband, Medium Wave, Longwave and the Navagational beacons. I did find a mod for this problem. It basically involves re-routing the feed from the MW antenna terminal on the receiver so that it bypasses the attenuation that normally switches in below 2mhz. Today I opened up the R1000 and had a try at the mod. It works! My R1000 is now far better below 2mhz, more sensitive than My R5000 which also has a deliberately deaf Medium wave stage!
Pictured is My R1000 with the top cover off. You can also see at the back the little board which provides a 12Khz output for DRM decoding.

Saturday 29 May 2010

QSL Card

Today I received a QSL card direct from Daniel, HB9TUD along with a nice note. As well as the card the envelope contained something I have not seen for a long time- An International Reply Coupon or IRC. It will be interesting to see if my local post office knows what it is- it is intended to cover the cost of an airmail reply. IRCs were, as I recall, almost a sort of currency at one time in the amateur radio/shortwave listening world. Also compliments must go to the Post Office who managed to deliver the card despite a rather incomplete address!

Monday 24 May 2010

Phoentics and accents

Now as someone who has lived in Wales all my life I guess I have a Welsh accent! I don't notice it of course but I have no doubt its there. When operating on the HF bands I always try and use the correct phonetics for my callsign and rarely have a problem. Yesterday and today, taking advantage of the sporadic E I have been operating on 6 metres SSB. Strangely three different stations on 6 have read my Kilo India Golf suffix as Kilo Whiskey Echo, its a funny thing but for it to happen on three different contacts it makes me wonder. On the second call all three stations got my call correctly. How can "India Golf" sound like "Whiskey Echo" ? Or perhaps I need elocution lessons!

Sunday 23 May 2010

If you can't stand the heat.......................

stay out of the shack!

A little to warm to sit in the shack today so operating time was limited. I did notice that 10mand 6 metres were open this afternoon.

I managed to work DO1SKJ on 10 and OE6BMG on 6.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Antenna work

The beautiful weather today meant it was time for some outdoor chores. Once these were done I decided to have a go at improving the SWR on my Hygain AV12 ground mounted vertical.

Whilst the antenna seemed to work well on 10 metres the SWR was a little high on 20 on the lower part of the band, meaning of course that the antenna was too short. I took the antenna down and after several trips to and from the shack to check the SWR (it must be great to have an antenna analyser) I managed to improve things across the 20m band. The problem was caused by the uppermost clamp not being tight enough, allowing the 20 metre section of the antenna to slide into the main tube thus shortening the antenna! The SWR on 10 is also nicely low, no need for an ATU on these bands. 15 metres has always been a difficult one on this antenna. Indications are that the 15metre section is too long but I have run out of adjustment on that band, if I want to shorten it any more I will have to use a Hacksaw. As it is the match isn't too bad (Around 1.5:1 SWR) but not as good as the other bands. Whilst I was working on the antenna I took the opportunity to connect the ground radials more effectively as pictured below. A good ground system is essential with the AV12 yet the manufacturers don't provide any easy way of connecting the radials. Here I have used the crimp on connectors that slide over the nuts at the bottom of the antenna.

Friday 21 May 2010

A new one on 10!

Had a quick tune around 10 metres this evening at around 1730GMT. Didn't hear anything on SSB but I did hear some signals on PSK and I managed to work OX1XC. Looking at my log I think this is my first PSK31 QSO on 10 metres!

Tuesday 18 May 2010

My impressions

Over the years I have owned quite a few shortwave receivers, and one or two transceivers. Many of these I have sold long ago, but thee are still a few in the shack here! I thought it might be interesting to share my views of some of the more memorable pieces of equipment. To start with I have complied a short view of the Icom PCR1000 computer controlled receiver. Take a look here if you are interested. As time allows I hope to add a few more pages like this. Apologies for the layout but I am not a web designer but hopefully I can fine tune the presentation as time goes on.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Revisiting DRM

Today the amateur bands didn't seem in very good shape, but I had some radio time. I fired up my old Kenwood R1000 receiver, dug out an old usb external soundcard and did some listening to DRM shortwave broadcasts once I has loaded the DRM "Dream" software onto my main PC.

There are still quite a few DRM broadcasts to be found, I received DRM for four or five different broadcasters today. The sound obtained from DRM is at its worst similar to perhaps mono sound via the internet and at best almost as good as an FM stereo broadcast. The problem is though that you need a very strong signal S9+20Db at minimum to get a readable signal from DRM, or at least that is the case using my elderly modified receiver.

This has brought me round to thinking about SDR radios. I mentioned in an earlier entry how a local amateur friend recently purchased a flex radio transceiver. I have briefly seen it in operation and the receive side sounded very good, with its filtering and good interference rejection. Of course such a device is very expensive and personally I would rather my main equipment is capable of being manually operated, I don't want to have to always have my PC running. An SDR receiver sounds appealing, particularly as I still do quite a bit of shortwave listening but again this is a very expensive proposition. So when another local amateur told me of the Elektor SDR radio which he was buying I was very interested. The Elektor is basically a populated board with all components installed  but no casing. My amateur friend has just received his and is in the proccess of setting it up and testing it out. When it is up and running I am hoping to see it in action. if it is any good it will be very tempting at the asking price when you compare it to the other SDRs on the market.

Thursday 13 May 2010

6 metre activity

I was in the shack a lttle earlier than usual today and had a quick look at the Ham Radio Ireland blog and noticed a recent entry saying that 6 metres was open in EI land. I quickly popped onto 6- at around 1530 GMT  and realised it was also open to GW with quite a few European stations at good signal strengths on my loft mounted dipole.

I managed to work SP3DOI, and was heard by OK1NI, but sadly he couldn't quite get my callsign.My time was limited as I had to be elsewhere by 1600GMT, I think if time had allowed I would have been able to work a few more. Still it was nice to have my first 6 metre contact of 2010.
I think it would be fair to say SP3DOI has quite an extensive setup and its not surprising that he was the strongest signal on the band this afternoon. Pictured is part of his HF antenna installation.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Old Versus New

I had a break from the shack this morning as I went along to a classic car show which is held annually in the village. Luckily we were blessed with fine weather, in fact for the three years that I have attended this event the sun has shone.
Looking at the cars from the 1930's up to the 1990s it is clear just how much the technology of the car has evolved. In terms of efficiency, safety and reliability I think it is fair to say that a car from the 1970s would not be able match its modern counterpart.
I don't think we could say the same for our radio transceivers. A Local amateur who I was chatting to over the weekend told me how he had recently purchased a Yaesu FT101ZD from the 1980's. The rig had been advertised as faulty but after getting it home and cleaning it up it seems to be operating well. I popped onto HF to give him a report and I can honestly say that the transmitted signal is as good as any modern gear. Whilst receiver technology has advanced, particularly with the development of SDR rigs it seems that as far as transmitted signals are concerned the old gear can still hold its own!

On the radio front this afternoon heard some EA stations on 10 metres although they were rather weak. It does look though as if the sporadic E season has arrived and it will be worth takinga regular tune around on 10 and 6. Operating on 10 metres does mean switching off the shack computers however as one of then generates around S4 of noise on 10. Thats going to make operating PSK31 on 10 a bit of a challenge!

Monday 3 May 2010

10 metre opening

Hearing a few (Italian and Spanish) stations on 10 metres this afternoon I thought I would try putting out a quick CQ call.
I was rewarded with a reply from IW1ABM, Mimmo in Turin.
So that is my first 10 metre contact of 2010, lets hope thee will be more to come. I did take a listen on 6 metres but nothing heard from this QTH.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Looking over my logbook

One of my Aims this year was to try to have at least one on air QSO per day. Now obviously there will be times when this is not possible, but for last month at least I achieved it. No DX I’m afraid but then it seems to be that conditions in April did not seem as good as those in March. There are no contacts on 15metres in last months log, but there were quite a few for the previous month.
Apart from the occasional 40 metres SSB contact the vast majority of my operating has been on PSK31 on either 17 or 30 metres and locall on 2 and 4 metres FM. The image above is of Adam M6RDP’s EQSL card, received following a very enjoyable 40 metres QSO in April.

Lets home the new month will bring an improvement in HF conditions and maybe some good weather too! I have a few antenna related jobs to do- my Hygain AV12 vertical needs some adjustment for 20 metres, where the SWR is a little high. I also may try and improve the wire antenna I have been using for inter G working on 40 metres, but as Julian G4ILO points out I run the risk of the “Improvement” being a step backwards!

In The meantime I have been looking again at the difference in performance between the HF rigs I have here. I have the Yaesu FT1000MP, Trio TS830S, Kenwood TS450S and the Yaesu 857D. The 857 however at the moment is only in use on VHF/UHF. I will elaborate in a later post about this but at the moment, as far as I am concerned the TS830s has the nicest receiver of them all. In fact this Twenty odd year old rig would give any piece of modern gear a run for its money.