Thursday, 27 September 2007

Corned Beef Hash

I had corned beef sandwiches for breakfast yesterday, and whilst pondering that corned beef is the chipboard of cooked meats, i worked into Oman on 17m. That was followed up by working the ARRL club station in Connecticut, W1AW. I could hear Isreal as if they were next door, but as always they were only calling stateside. Whats with this obsession with the Isrealis and Europeans for wanting to work the states? I can get the states most days on 17m, im much more interested in Africa and Asia, and the Pacific, or South America. Theres, someone told me, 600,000 hams in the US, so its hardly going to be rare to find one on whatever band.

All in all a good couple of days on the radio, not gone flat out, but worked some interesting calls. However, im now, inevitably i suppose, on the trail of RFI! I first noted that 7MHz wipes out my ADSL router, but thats not surprising as its totally unsheilded, cheap BT rubbish. But these past few evenings ive noticed that my neighbours new PIR halogen lamp, is triggered on by my operating on 20m. If i keep to 10W its fine, but 100W and it lights up. So i made a note to myself to operate low power on 20m in the evenings. When i mentioned this to my neighbour, Mick, he told me that their touch controlled bedroom lights also react, seemingly dependent of frequency, and flicker with my signal. Oh Dear! He told me he wasnt bothered, and that it was actually a bit amusing, but that really isnt the point, its RFI and i need to sort it.

I have been intending recutting the doublet down to 88ft anyway, so i have bumped that up in my priority list. Im going to keep the feedpoint in the same position, which will mean extending the lanyard cord at the house end by some 7ft. Hopefully that increased seperation will negate the RFI problem. Im also, with Micks help, going to carry out a suite of on-air tests, on all the bands i use and at all power levels, to see which cause problems. If nothing else it will give me a guide of frequencies or powers to avoid when the interference would be likely to be troublesome. Theres no evidence of TVI, so a LPF wont help here, it looks to be direct pickup.

Oh, and the receive longwire has come down again. This time snapped at the mast end. I really must put a proper insulator on it this time...

Saturday, 22 September 2007

All quiet at the BBC

Ive just spent a week at the BBC training center Wood Norton. Pleasent enough place, excellent restuarents in Evesham, and very good training, learning about TV signals. But as far as radio goes, the place is dead! I only took the 2m handheld, but i thought i would get something. Even with the stonking great 7/8ths whip i could only get two repeaters, nothing on simplex at all. And of those two repeaters, only one would respond to 1750Hz toneburst. As i dont yet have CTCSS in this radio, it pretty much limited my options.

It was however fairly academic anyway, as it turned out the 12v EBP-18N battery pack i had chosen to take has a bad cell, so i could only transmit with a decent power level if plugged into the charger. Hardly practical with an antenna attached that reached the hotel room ceiling. Even the telly in the hotel was badly tuned, although the one in the bar was probably more due to having a half dozen telly techs, engineers, production people or whoever retuning and adjusting it every five minutes!

So, i now need to recell that battery pack, and maybe even the 7.2v pack as well, although ive not tested that one properly yet. I do however have the EJ-12U CTCSS unit for the handheld on order from R&L in the states, so hopefully that should be here soon.

The DR-130 is now fully installed in my car, along with its huge whip antenna. Supposedly a 50W set, ive adjusted it to run at 25w, which im more comfortable with. Even so, using its low power setting of 4w i can hit the Hull repeater from my driveway, a good 30miles or so, and i can hold the Flockton repeater, close to my works at Emley Moor, all the way home from work, another 30miles. As it stands, this radio has only 20memories, but i found a chap in Italy on ebay selling various Alinco modules (sadly not the EJ-12U), and bought the EJ-19U 80ch memory module from him. This my son Sam and myself installed into the radio this morning, Sam passing me the tools from the passenger seat. He knew exactly what we were doing and how to do it, not bad considering he's only 3 and a half. So now the radio has 100 memories, plus the calling channel. My intention is to program them up with all the repeaters and their CTCSS tones that i am ever likely to be within range of in that car.

Sam helped me repair and reinstall the receive only longwire today. It had been down for over a week after the feed connection broke. Unfortunately the insulator got stuck on a newly grown branch in the tree, so could onlu be brought down by wrapping a carrier bag around it to smooth its passage. If i had taken it down the other way i would have needed to rethrow it into the tree, doing it this way left me able to pull it back up, as i had put an extra length of rope on its fixing line. Once back up, and its counterweight (a house brick) attached, we tested it. For around an hour at about six o'clock we had solid copy on 12MHz of Kyodo news FAX, so its definately working fine. At least, that was after we had solved the QRM problem that was covering the bands in S9+ hash. This turned out to be the portable telephone on my radio desk, but only when the phone is charging. Ferrites on the power lead make no difference, so the trick it to turn off the charger when using the radios.

Theres still plenty of VHF QRM, from the broadband router, but thats something to deal with another time. Im now looking for a AKD/NASA HF-3 radio for Sam, these radios are very simple to operate and Sam would enjoy tuning around, on a radio he cant break!