Blogs Galore   April 30th, 2013

There are numerous ham radio blogs on the Internet. One of my favourites is that run by Julian Moss, G4ILO. Just Google his call to get to his blog. Julian now lives in the Lake District, but was once a regular visitor to our shop here in the south as a youthful amateur living in the Southend area. His blog is topical and very personal to him. Julian has battled serious health problems in recent years but that has not stopped his prolific output, and probably has helped with the improvement in his health after extensive treatment. I have not seen his station other than photographs, but he seems to squeeze some pretty impressive levels of activity from an antenna system which is primarily indoors. My common interest with Julan is our love for Elecraft equipment. Give his blog a visit. G3OJV.

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To Balun or Not To Balun   April 29th, 2013

The balun is one of the most talked about items in an antenna system. It’s necessity and the effect it has on an antenna performance has been argued for years. But in general terms if does no harm and in many cases, depending upon antenna type, it can improve the antenna system or at least make the feeding of the system easier and more docile. The balun can be looked upon as fulfilling two tasks. One is to match a coax unbalanced line to a balanced system such as a dipole, and the other is to act as a line isolator to prevent RF flowing on the outside of the coax. This latter problem can result in misleading VSWR readings and plots, and matching problems. Even verticals, that are not balanced systems, can benefit from a line isolator.

Whether you operate HF or VHF it is extremely ease to make a balun / line isolator. It comprises no more than a tightly wound coil of coax. In practice it can simply be a continuation of the feeder! For HF, wind about twenty feet of coax on a former such as a bottle or thin can. Lock the windings and then remove the winding former. The precise diameter and cable length is not critical. For VHF and above you need around four to five tuns. This technique can be used for beams, dipoles and verticals. It costs no more than the length of the coax, and will handle very high power. A job that can be done by anybody in just a few minutes! Give it a try. G3OJV.

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Not in my Back Yard!   April 28th, 2013

As ham radio has evolved and commercial products developed, it has become possible for hams with large wallets and large real estate, to build some amazing stations. We have all sen pictures of these dream stations. But for the majority of us, these stations remain, well, just a dream. But whilst we are all capable of envying those fortunate enough to own and operate such stations, it also highlights the gulf between the “big guns” and the rest of us.

We have all experienced the frustration of trying to work a particular wanted station and waiting in the queue whilst monster operators pick them off with ease. The playing field is far from level in ham radio. But my venture back to PSK31 has indicated that perhaps here is an area where there are less bumps and humps on the playing field. PSK31 is capable of getting through in quite difficult propagation conditions and works wonderfully well even with low power and poor antennas. Dare I suggest that this is a mode not so much favoured by the big operators? Give it a go and you may be pleasantly surprised!

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Who needs a Microphone!   April 27th, 2013

Well I got back on PSK31 today after quite a few years away from it. I hooked up a Microham Keyer to my K3. It took me a while to set it up and as my PCs are all Macs, I had to download a bit of extra software from K7AY. But I got it working and had a couple of QSOs on 20m. I must say the Micro Keyer is very elegant but I have not had much time to explore it yet. The data software I used is CocoaModem Ii and it also seems quite well designed and robust. I just need to learn how to drive it. But that’s the fun of ham radio. G3OJV.

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Hotting up The Shack   April 26th, 2013

Do you own a soldering iron? In years gone past, every ham operator owned a soldering iron. He had to! Today there is far less building going on in most radio shacks, but an iron is still a great asset. Think how many connecting leads you could fabricate yourself and all at just the length you need. You could probably tidy up your station a good deal at little cost and dare we say, more fun. Soldering is a skill worth developing. The components to make leads are readily available and there is little damage you an do. Oh, and if your eyes are not so good, try getting a strong pair of reading glasses from your local chemist. Cheaper than goggles and they usually work well on top of any glasses you may already wear.

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Yaesu Prices Slashed   April 25th, 2013

We have made some immediate price reductions on Yaesu FTDX-5000 series. Save hundreds of pounds on Yaesu’s flagship radios. Call us for more details and great part exchange deals.

FTDX-5000 £4899
FTDX-5000D £4495
FTDX-5000 £4199

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It All Comes from Essex   April 25th, 2013

VHF and UHF operators will be familiar with the rapid rise in popularity of the antennas coming from our friends at Essex based InnovAntennas. The range is ever expanding and one of the newest ranges is the lightweight models that are ideal for those with limited space, small rotators or who contemplate portable operation. One model that is proving popular is the 6 element 144MHz model which has 11.6dB of gain with a boom of just 1.8m. It is designed to cover the whole of the 144MHz band and there is an end mounted version which is ideal for vertical polarisation. Centred around 145MHz it has a bandwidth of 144-148MHz with a typical VSWR of 1.5:1. This makes it ideal for both the SSB and FM band segments. Code 144 OWL

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EBay Bargains   April 24th, 2013

We put a lot of our used equipment into our eBay shop so we would encourage you to check it regularly. We also sell a lot of clearance items here as well. If you see something on eBay that you would lime to collect from us in Hockley, that is no problem. Just give us a phone call and we can organise it. The link to our eBay shop is on our web site.

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Heads Heil Wins!   April 24th, 2013

Heil Headsets continue to dominate the ham radio market when it comes to DXing and Contesting. The quality of the headphone section together with the wonderful articulation from the boom microphone, make the headsets a wonderful addition to any ham radio station.

There is also another very important advantage and that is hands free operation. How many of us have QRZ open onl our PC or use logging software? With the absence of one hand holding the microphone, it makes operation so much easier and slicker.

We are sole UK distributors for both the ham radio and the professional ranges. Check out or

Today only (24th April) get 10% discount on Heil headsets. One day ONLY.

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Spid Arrives in UK   April 24th, 2013

Spid rotators have arrived in the UK. These well built rotators are the choice of those who are building serious antenna systems where the owner wants reliability and capability. Whether you have a medium VHF array or a monster HF or EME system, there is a model for you. Every one includes a USB ready controller that integrates perfectly with many popular ham radio software programmes. Give us a call for more you may be surprised at how competitively priced they are.

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