Saturday 22 September 2012

Antenna Work

Since I moved to this QTH I have not been that happy with my HF antenna. At first I put up a half size G5RV antenna and added an inductor to each leg to allow it to tune up on 80 metres. That lasted a few months but after a while the antenna wouldn't tune, try as I might i could not find out why, eventually I replaced it with a home made doublet.
After having my shed demolished I lost one of my antenna supports and for a while the far end of my antenna was simply tied to the fence.Earlier this year my next door neighbours were having some work done on their garden. They removed an old metal pole, 4 metres or so long which they had used to support a washing line. They offered me the pole, asking if it would be any use for my antennas. (I am lucky-I have good neighbours). Of course I accepted the pole and set about making use of it.

First I dug a hole at the end of the garden

And placed the old washing line post in it, filling the hole with concrete.

I now had a "Stub mast" which would form the support for my new antenna pole. 
I then ordered a hinged bracket from a seller on Ebay 

Yesterday I had a 20 foot (approx 6 metre) thick walled aluminium pole delivered and today along with a local Radio Amateur friend we put the whole lot together to make a decent antenna support.

There is a pulley at the top of the pole so the antenna wire can be easily lowered or the whole pole can be easily dropped using the hinged bracket which is attached to the stub pole. We also installed a new HF antenna the "Western HF10 " which I bought some months ago.

Here you can see the shack end of the antenna (the wire is below the VHF/UHF colinear and above the TV antenna)

First impressions of the new antenna are good. It seems very lively particularly on the higher bands and I also had some good reports on 40 metres this afternoon. I will write more on this interesting antenna when I have had a chance to fully test it but it does seem a significant improvement on the previous wire.

Monday 10 September 2012

Difficult programming

My  holiday in Cornwall a few weeks back went well, however there wasn’t much time for radio.
I did set up my FT857 and Buddistick antenna on a couple of evenings but operating time was very limited and apart from the odd QSO on 20 metres not much was worked.
I also took my Chinese made dualband “Luiton”  VHF/UHF handheld along hoping I might hear some local activity on 2 or 70 cms. Before setting off I programmed a few local repeater frequencies into the rig using my laptop PC and the software as programming vis the rigs keypad is difficult to say the least.
Now the Luiton is identical to the more commonly seen TYT UVF-1 the software, cable etc for the TYT all work on my Luiton.
Unfortunately due to a “slip of the mouse” I programmed a wrong CTCSS code for the very repeater that was the loudest and closest to where I was staying. “No problem” I thought I will just manually alter the CTCSS using the rigs keypad and menu system. However there was no way I could do this whilst I was away, I could access the menu setting for the CTCSS code but it would not let me change the code. Putting the rig into VFO (as opposed to memory) mode made no difference, I still could not alter the CTCSS. I still haven’t found out why, the only option is now to reconnect the rig to the PC and see what I can do. To add insult to injury only my ancient Windows XP laptop will recognise the rig and adapter lead. The Win 7 PC in the shack won’t do it.
I have mentioned the “quirky” user interface of this handheld before. The scanning facility on this rig is almost useless and some time had to be spent using the software to adjust various settings before the TX audio was at an acceptable level. The user friendliness of these rigs is really light years behind that of the mainstream rigs from Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood etc. Yes they are much cheaper and RF wise they seem to work OK but the are nowhere near as easy to use.
I now see one of the Chinese manufactures is offering a dualband mobile rig at a cost not that much less than the mainstream Japanese manufacturers. I hope the user interface on these rigs is better, if it isn’t I don’t think the established manufacturers will have much to worry about!

Saturday 1 September 2012

Contest surprise

Tuning around the 10metre band I heard V55V/P in Namibia. A contest station they were easily the strongest signal on the band. A quick call resulted in a 59 (!) report and a new one in the log for me.