Tuesday, 10 May 2011

TG9AHM - what a nice guy

I have just finished the GR4EST call after an eventful period of operation. I spent several minutes attempting to contact TG9AHM in Guatemala in the dying moments of the call and my perseverance was rewarded  by a solid and interesting contact which ended bang on midnight local when the callsign variation ended. Emmanuel enquired about my home call, at which point he then called me and a new country was then worked as G4EST.

Emmanuel - you are a scholar and a gentleman, thank you.

Monday, 9 May 2011

My thoughts on digimodes

I use digimodes a lot now, lazy perhaps as I am just pressing keys to activate the macros on DM780, logging done through HRD automatically, the only real input being the adding of custom phrases or messages within the predefined text. I do this often now though to stop me getting bored.

Major mode is BPSK-31, although other flavours are used as the digital imprint on the waterfall is easily recognisable.

More esoteric modes though are not as easy to identify, excepting RTTY, and I avoid using these unless previously identified to me by RSID 'coding'. I have this enabled on my transmissions and consider it has got me a few contacts when conditions are quiet on 15 and 18m.

My plea for the day is that those stations using less common modes who have RSID capability Enable it: you may well get more contacts.

Last day of my GR prefix, been busy so far, but mainly Eastern European. Still waiting for East Coast USA, the Antipodes, or South Africa (no chance as my antenna is end on to there!)

Living in hope anyway.

Good DX to all who read this anyway - both of you ;)

Monday, 2 May 2011

New toy

I got my ill-fated FT 480R back from Castle after the TX was repaired and all seemed well. After a day or so I attempted to use the memory facilities, which were operational previously, but now are not. I cannot be bothered to get this fixed professionally so delved into the unit to see if it was something obvious like a loose plug. No luck, although noticed a retaining / earthing screw on one of the boards was missing. Now looking for one to fit.

As it was my birthday a week or so ago I decided to treat myself, and saw a multimode transceiver HF to 70cm IC 706Mk2G for sale at LAMCO. As I had bought my main HF rig from there in January and was pleased with their service I had no qualms about a second purchase. It arrived the next day.
Issue now was antennae for 70cm and 6m.

70cm not an immediate issue, probably replace my 2m 1/2 wave with a 2m / 70cm colinear, but 6m caused most confusion. Horizontal or vertical.

I opted for a Moonraker 6m Halo (folded dipole in their catalogue). Arrived in 2 days and after building which was not without some issues on the tuning capacitor (Moonraker you must improve your instructions). we completed within an hour.
I decided to fit this to the mast supporting the rotator for the 2m beam so that I could gain access to the tuning capacitor easily. SWR 1.8:1 at best initially, but a couple of tweaks of the capacitor brought this down to 1.1:1 as best as I can tell in the lower section of the band. All I need is a contact now.
I coupled the 2 2m antennas to the Icom via a switch and listened for activity on 2m. Not a lot, so browsed VHF frequencies to see what i was able to hear. Radio 1 OK etc. then a a former pilot tuned to the local airport. have spent most time on the rig listening to Liverpool approach and therefore some of my former colleagues coming in for touchdown.

As a devotee of digital modes I ordered a switching box and cables from ZLP electronics in order to use the new rig on those modes and drive using CAT. I must have moved by existing ZLP Mini interface as half way through a contact on HF my TX power dropped, and when on receive I got a very weak signal. It was suggested that I had changed a setting.
As I had had issues with the reliability of the interface to soundcard connection when first received in January, I again reported this to ZLP along with a video showing the fault occurring when the jack plug was moved. I received a curt "clean the jack plug" response as a response to my complaint about the fault, this being something that had been done this time as well as when the problems first occurred.
Despite my experiences and evidence a fault was never acknowledged and I still have not received my new purchases.


I am writing this Bank Holiday Monday after the Royal Wedding.
I personally did not watch it, but considered the prefix may well be useful.
At 01:00 local on 29th April I fired up the rig on PSK on 20m worked an Italian station, then was subjected to a pile up of mainly Russian stations. Then went to 40m where a similar pile up occurred.
Been on intermittently since, mainly late afternoon and evenings, and made contacts with Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Cuba as well as the usual European bunch and West coast America
 Must keep going and hope band conditions improve so I can get East Coast USA.