Antenna Matters   December 29th, 2014

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I recently nad a need to bring an HF antenna lead in through a window opening. Not the most popular thing to do in the winter months! Even RG58 did not allow the window to fully close and resulted in a considerable draft.

One of the items we stock is a mobile coax lead designed to feed through the hatch back edge closing point and this involves the use of a very thin mini cable that is quite robust. On one end is a plug and the other end a socket. This makes an effective way of bringing in a coax feed whilst allowing the window to be fully closed.

Buddipole Buddistick for Mobile.

The buddipole range of products is well know around the world and I have used them for a number of years. My favourite is the Buddistick as it is so versatile. And it always struck me that it could be used for mobile operation. It is one of the more efficient antennas because of its large coil and lengthy resonator whip which is very easy to adjust.

Most mobile installations use an SO239 socket mount on hatch or boot mounts. The buddipole system uses a 3/8″ stud mount. This can be resolved by the use of one of our 3/8″ to PL259 adaptors. This makes a very simple and effective HF mobile installation. Peter G3OJV

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Diamond Compact HF Antennas   December 25th, 2014

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I have always favoured single band mobile antennas over multi band types because of the lower losses and the fact that they tend to be easier to tune. Multiband mobile whips can give rise to spurious resonances because of additional self resonances over and above those that are intended.

Diamond of Japan are perhaps better known for their VHF and UHF range, but the compact HF single handers carrying the suffix “FX” such as HF20FX for 20m, are worth a serious look. I am using these myself at the moment.

The first advantage is that they are fitted with a PL259 connection, so they easily plug into the popular hatch and boot mount connectors. Secondly, they have an easily adjustable resonator whip that does not require the use of any special Allen key.

These are base loaded designs on a small former which gives them a slightly wider VSWR bandwidth than would otherwise be obtainable. They also easily unscrew into two sections making them easy to stow away. And finally the Japanese engineering shows through.

If you are thinking of going mobile, look them up on our web site. Peter G3OJV

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It’s Not All Ham Radio   December 25th, 2014

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I spend most of my working days talking about, writing and selling ham radio. I also spend some time operating. But sometimes you need a break and need to switch off.

Sitting in front of a TV has never been my idea of relaxation. However, I do very much enjoy music and this has always been an important part of my “other” life.

The picture above shows part of my music studio where I compose and mix. This involves writing some backing tracks for local singers. My great love is jazz and I do about one live recording a month for a local group of professionals. From these tracks we extract the best and then I spend several evenings editing and mixing.

It’s miles away from the ham radio hobby, but it keeps me busy and stops me dropping off in front of the TV!

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RSGB Christmas Contest   December 24th, 2014

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Christmas Eve is upon us and another year is drawing to an end. Boxing Day heralds the beginning of the RSGB Christmas holiday contest covering 6m 4m 2m and 70cms. This is run from 1400 – 1600 on the four days from 26th December to 29th December.

I did participate in the contest last year in order to test out my 2m LFA Yagi and found it quite a pleasant way of fitting in some ham radio operation without interfering too much with the family Christmas. In fact that two hour daily period is often the time when everybody is recovering from their midday meal!

Having just returned from a Christmas Eve carol service, and settled down with a glass of wine, it really seems like Christmas. This year I may try some fixed operation from my mobile setup, to see how far I can get. As with my participation last year, I will not have a competitive station – far from it! But it is a chance to quickly test the station’s ability on the VHF/UHF bands and at the same time, avoid falling asleep after a meal at Christmas.

A Happy Christmas to you all. Peter G3OJV.

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Yaesu DR-1XE Repeaters for Scotland   December 23rd, 2014

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The new Yaesu DR-1XE digital repeater has been attracting a lot of attention, and no more so than in Scotland. In fact we have delivered six units to Scotland so far.

One may think that Yaesu have been disadvantage by the fact that D-Star has become so well established around the world. Certainly Yaesu were very late in coming into the market. But the YAesu repeater has one strength that makes it ideal for both new digital repeater installations and as a possible replacement for existing analogue repeaters. This is because it can handle both types of transmission and even work cross modes. That is a really big plus point.

I have no experience of operating Yaesu digital mode, but one of the big developments is that the new FT-991 base station will be compatible, as are a number other new radios from Yaesu. Is Scotland showing the way ahead, or will both modes continue to developed and leave the ham operator with having to make the difficult choice! Peter G3OJV

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Sinking The Elecraft KX3   December 23rd, 2014

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Any successful product attracts manufacturers that are anxious to provide accessories they think will sell. Apple Corporation is a great example of this. And Elecraft, with their top selling KX3, have their fair share of manufacturing followers.

An item that recently came to our attention was a replacement heat sink for the KX3. The standard heat sink is a thick plate that attaches to the top side of the transceiver. The difference is that this replacement plate is thicker and has fins. Of course it adds weight and mass to the transceiver, but that is the nature of a heat sink.

The installation is simple and it uses the existing screws that are part of the original heat sink assembly. The only slightly fiddly part is reinstalling the two bolts and captive nuts that clamp the PA to the heat sunk. So does it work?

I suppose the question should also be is it necessary? The answer really is dependent upon your method of operation. If you operate the radio at its maximum power from an external 13.8v supply (12W output), then the heat sink will be of benefit as the temperature rise will be less and so aid stability. But the KX3 does have an in-built temperature compensation feature that generally takes care of this. If you operate data modes, AM or FM, then temperature rise is more of an issue.

I think that this accessory probably helps to keep the temperature excursion down for full power operation, particularyl in hotter climates or even in the summer UK sunshine. It also happens to look good. Subject to further testing we hope to be able to offer this as an option within the next few weeks. Peter G3OJV

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Camping with Ham Radio in Winter   December 20th, 2014

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One of my loves in ham radio is portable operation. I don’t do as much as I would like, but my KX3 and rucksack are regular travel companions. Most of this operation takes place in the warmer weather when it is easier and more comfortable to do this kind of outdoor operation.

A few weeks ago I purchased a camper van. Not something I had considered before. The main purpose was as a day van with occasional overnight stays. It was not until I got the vehicle that I realised this could extend my portable activities into the winter months and when it was raining. The leisure battery offers independent 12v DC and is rated at 135Ah. This is more than enough for my KX3 and gives me 10W output for long periods.

A camper van is significantly smaller than a motorhome, but has the big advantage that it is largely metal rather than fibre glass. This offers a great earth mass. I was unsure how this would work out with HF operation, but a simple hatch mount on the rear door and a base loaded 40m whip gave me 1.2:1 at resonance. You don’t get much better than this. The bandwidth at the 2:1 VSWR points was around 80kHz which is fine for CW.

My intention is not to operate on the move, but rather to be able to park up somewhere and operated whilst having a coffee or a light lunch. My van has a side kitchen which gives me plenty of worktop space for the radio. I also have a diesel heater and a fridge, so extended all weather operation is possible. My first trip will be to the West Coast of Scotland in February. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Peter G3OJV

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Antenna or Leaky Dummy Load?   December 19th, 2014

I never cease to be amazed at how many hams neglect their antenna system. Newcomers in particular often;t seem to overlook the importance of antennas. CB verticals are often used, or short verticals that promise all band operation. Frankly such systems are so poor in performance that it is a wonder they produce contacts at all. Somebody once described them as leaky dummy loads. Not too far from the truth, particularly on the lower bands!

The antenna is the most important part of the station and no matter how much you pay for your transceiver, the antenna is the deciding factor on your station’s performance. There are many examples of expensive transceivers feeding poor antennas. It really is necessary in many cases for the owners of such stations to spend a little more time on their antenna systems.

Yes, small gardens are limiting factors, but that really should underline the need to makes sure that the antenna you use really is designed for the job. In fact there are arguments sometimes for operating on just one band and optimising the antenna for that particular band. You can always change bands later. The difference between a good antenna and a poor one can be really dramatic. Maybe band conditions are not really as bad as some would believe. By all means spend money on the transceiver, but also consider how much money you have spent on your antenna! Peter G3OJV.

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Elecraft K3 Sales Soar!   December 19th, 2014

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The UK Elecraft K3 sales have hit new heights and is now outselling every other base HF transceiver we sell by a very large factor. We are even receiving much more expensive radios in part exchange. A good proportion of K3s are ready built but there is no shortage of those who want to build their own.

There is no getting away from the fact that the K3 is a most remarkable transceiver and offers so much more than its competitors in many areas. The designers are active hams, some with really big antenna systems and they know exactly what is needed for top performance. And the K3 is so versatile. It enables owners to specify and buy just the specification that they need. A K3 can cost as little as£1500, but can cost up to £4,000. But the good news is that at any time you can upgrade your K3 as and when you can afford it. How many other transceivers offer this? And if you are thinking of buying a used one, you may have a problem. Few come back on the market! Peter G3OJV.

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We are pleased to announce that we are now taking orders for the new Yaesu FT-991 transceiver. This is a great new design offering 100W on HF-6m and 50W on VHF/UHF.

Our price will be honoured even if Yaesu fix a higher price and if it is lower, then that lower price is the price you will pay. To get your order in, just place an order by paying£100 deposit. You have nothing to lose and possibly something to gain.

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