Sunday 27 February 2011

Radio Rallies

I attended my first radio rally of 2011 today. Held by the Swansea Amateur Radio Society at the Neath Sports centre.
This is not a particularly large rally but it seemed well attended and it was nice to meet up with some friends old and new. One of the highlights for me was meeting fellow blogger and local CW partner MW0IAN, Ian.
I came away from the rally with a few small items-a couple of BNC plugs, a dipole centre piece and some 300ohm feeder (I am thinking of making an HF doublet).
The next rally for me may be at the end of June (west of England Rally), these radio events are quite thin on the ground now, when I started in the hobby it seemed like there was a rally almost every other week!

Friday 18 February 2011


My confidence in CW operating is slowly improving. As well as a couple of QSOs with local amateur MW0IAN I have also managed a QSO on 80 metres CW with 2E0ROD in Peterborough. This evening I have some time in the shack and I was going to try a few CQ calls. Switching on the HF rig however I was met with S9 of noise over most of the HF spectrum. Lets hope it is only Temporary, it sounds like some localised electrical QRM.
As an extra incentive to improve my CW I have joined the FISTS club. Their website can be found here.

Because I have been concentrating on CW I have not been on the air on PSK31 for some time now, this was a mode which I was using quite heavily up until now. Whilst I am sure I will return to the data modes it is nice sometimes to be able to operate the radio without having a PC switched on. Maybe thats why I am not really interested in SDR at the moment. I have however been using a borrowed "Softrock" SDR receiver connected to the IF output of my TS830 to monitor the CW section of the bands and I find it very useful.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Ongoing project

The receiver pictured is a Realistic DX150A. Its a general coverage receiver from the late 1960's/Early 1970s. It is a simple, single conversion analogue set covering from Medium wave up to 30 Mhz. I bought it on Ebay as a "spares or repair/not working". Externally the receiver is complete and in good condition although it was quite dirty!
When it arrived here I connected it up to a 12 volt supply and was surprised to find it does work! It does however need quite a bit of attention, there is a broken tuning core inside and the BFO does not work so it only receives AM at the moment. The receiver has been modified in the past. You may be able to see the two BNC sockets on the rear. One of the BNCs is for an antenna, the other, well I'm not sure but I think the receiver may have been modified to take a digital frequency counter.

I haven't tried to connect the receiver to the mains supply yet. For one reason it has an unusual connector for the AC lead (I think this may be another modification) secondly there is a possibility that the transformer may be for a 110v USA type supply. I have a friend who has a variac and one I have sourced a mains connector we may be able to see what the correct operating voltage is using that.

I am hoping that trying at least to improve the receiver will result in some fun and some learning along the way.

Thursday 3 February 2011

First Step in CW

Fellow blogger and local Radio amateur MW0IAN drew my attention to a range of frequencies around 3570 on 80 metres where slow(ish) CW QSOs were to be found. I set up my TS830s this evening on that frequency and was monitoring when I heard a very strong station calling CQ. It was none other than MW0IAN himself! Well I had no excuse, he was sending at a speed I could read, nice clear CW and a strong signal. I had to reply. We had a short but enjoyable CW QSO, my first on that mode for over 20 years!
I felt it was a step in the right direction, I will be a little less nervous with my next contact on the key now that I have broken the ice so to speak
Pictured below is my CW station. Note the straight key- I need quite a bit more practice before I consider using the paddle.

Anyway thanks Ian for the contact, i don't suppose we broke any DX records- probably no more than 1km between us-but it certainly helped my CW progress.