Thursday 26 May 2011

HF Mobile

A couple of weeks back I ordered a multiband HF SRC 8010 mobile whip from Snowdonia Radio Company. It took a while to arrive and a follow up email to the company wasn't replied to but luckily today the antenna arrived. The antenna with the aid of an auto ATU will, according to specifications tune from 80 metres up to 6.
I have tested it briefly on the car today, sure enough it did tune from 80 up to 10 metres and in fact it sounded very lively particularly on the higher bands. On 6 metres my auto ATU doesn't want to speak to my Icom 706 MK1 but I was able to get  what appears an acceptable match on that band (by tuning the whip on another band and switching to 6) and was rewarded by hearing a number of stations on 6m SSB as well as accessing a semi-local 6 metre repeater on FM.
The antenna looks to be well constructed. As I understand it the base contains a small balun which help in the matching of the whip. It will certainly be nice to have more choice of HF bands when I am mobile. Up to now I had whips for 40,20 and 10 and had to decide before setting off which band I would operate each day.

I will report back when I have had more time to assess this antenna but first impressions are good.

Below is the base of the antenna

Tuesday 24 May 2011

First the bad news.................

Switching on my 2 metre rig today I noticed a complete absence of signals. Ok I know 2 metres is quiet around here, but I had just come into the shack minutes after pulling up on the driveway where I had been listening to a QSO on the mobile 2 metre rig. Trying to transmit revealed the problem- an infinity SWR. The antenna was fine yesterday- I had a number of local QSOs with it last night. Its still on the mast, no visual  signs of anything wrong but it looks like its a victim of the fairly high winds we have had over the last few days. Maybe the cable feeding the antenna has broken loose, maybe the Watson X300 which I have been using (and which always looked a bit fragile to me) has given up. Its been up there for 3 years without giving any trouble so I guess I can't complain too much! Anyway I had intended to replace the pole which the antenna sits on with a thicker/stronger one so now I will have to get on with it. I will be ordering the new aluminium poles in a week or so. Then I will have to wait until ta clear calm day, hopefully when the next door neighbour is not in his garden(!) and do some antenna maintenance. Until then I have a small dual band vertical in the loft which will be fine for local QSOs but I know that it won't work for at least one of my regular VHF contacts where the path between us is not too good.

The better news is a new toy has arrived for me. I have been reading quite a bit lately about a new dual band minature handset from the Chinese manufacturer Baofeng. At £37 from Hong Kong including postage and a dual band antenna I couldn't resist. Mine arrived 10 days after placing the order.

Unpacking the radio and fitting the battery was a surprisingly tricky process. Although I have read a couple of reviews I hadn't expected it to be quite so fiddly. Eventually I managed to get the battery fitted and the back cover of the rig correctly locked back in place. As I said I haven't read of anyone else having problems with this so maybe its just me!

The rig is very compact, you can see it here next to my other Chinese dualbander.

Its also very slim

First impressions are that it seems to be a lot easier to program than my other handie, the manual as usual is of limited use but luckily a few minutes with the rig and the menu system starts to make sense.
The supplied earpiece/mic that came with my rig is of no use- as soon as you try to transmit with it the rig locks in transmit mode- I think other users have also had this problem.

All in all though this seems a nice little rig. I haven't used mine in anger yet (its still charging up) but will post more finding soon.

Saturday 21 May 2011

6 metres

Whilst in the shack this afternoon I heard a local station on 2 metres saying that 6 metres was open. Well I think I caught the tail end of the opening but managed a 59 report from OZ2KEC who was the strongest signal on the band with me. Not bad for 30 watts to my loft dipole. I think I will have to plug my straight key into the FT857 that I use on 6 metres. I heard quite a bit of CW on the band and surprisingly some of it was slow enough for me to read!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Radio Active

I have managed to get a fair bit of time on the radio over the weekend. Yesterday I found 15 metres to be quite active and worked several stations including SV7BAY just running 10 watts into my 40/80metre dipole.
This morning I left the rig running 1 watt on WSPR on 10 metres but the I was heard and could only hear one station, in Norway. I had some success on 17 and 15 metres on pSK31 and rounded the afternoon off with a PSK31 QSO with HB9MZI, (pictured above) the only signal I could hear on the band!
Tonight I will try for a CW QSO, probably on 80 metres to continue with my CW practice!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Broadcast QSLs

Here is my latest QSL card from the shortwave broadcast station- "voice of Nigeria"

I am hoping to get a few more reception reports off to various broadcasters soon. The Aim is to QSL as many as I can before they all disappear!

Sunday 8 May 2011

Fresh Air

Apologies for anybody expecting a radio related post today- Its something different for a change!

The annual classic car show which is held locally here tempted me out of the shack! The venue is within walking distance so I set out hoping that the rain would hold off. It did luckily and in fact for the couple of hours that I was there we even enjoyed some sunshine!
I brought along my dualband handie and was interested to hear that the masrhalls and stewards at the event were using PMR446 handhelds.
I have had an interest in cars since I was a child and of course at the age of 43 the cars I remember from those days are now regarded as "classics"- I guess this is a sign of old age!
Anyway amongst the familiar Morris Minor, Ford Anglias and Cortinas and MG sportscars was one vehicle that I don't ever actually recall seeing on the road.

Its A Borgward Isabella. According to Wikipedia this model was produced from 1954 to 1962. As you can probably see from the picture this one is right hand drive so therefore was intended for the UK market. I can only guess that they were not that popular!