A Bit of Wet String! June 30th, 2016
Today in the Highlands it was wet, very et. I strung out 15m of wire from my KX2. It was no higher than 3m above ground. The counterpoise was just 6m of wire. The power was the internal KX2 battery. I didn’t give the setup much hope. The CW end of 40m was pretty quiet. I tuned up the band and came across a GM net operating on and around the Hebrides. The signals were quite strong and to my surprise my 10W SSB to my wet string, got through. In fact I was on the net for nearly 30 minutes. Conditions were in my favour but nevertpe less it was a pleasant surprise.
I am not an ardent QRP operator, but because most of my operating these days seems to be portable work, I rapidly realised that calling CQ with low power does not bring very good results. Likewise, sticking to one band is not a good idea. It is more a case of hunting and pouncing. And sometimes the odds seem against you, in which case the best solution is to switch off and have a cup of coffee!
End of The Line! June 28th, 2016
There are many, many antenna designs and they keep coming. But there is one antenna that is used frequently and often as a last resort; the end fed wire. That is where I find myself in the Highlands of Scotland.
My current location is on the edge of Loch Linnhe just outside Fort William. My KX2 is working well and matching most thins with its internal ATU. But where i am at the moment there is no alternative than to use an end fed long wire. In days gone by this was a common arrangement. Not so much now though. However, it is still an option that sometimes has to be pressed into use.
In the somewhat remote area that I am operating in, things are a lot different. There are few local signals and the S9 signals from Central Europe are somewhat muted. In fact, the strong signals come from Scandinavia which is a nice change. I have my little KX2 perched on a window ledge and connected to an end fed wire around 15m long. Beneath me is solid rock so I am using a counterpoise laid on the ground. I am using the recommended LiOn battery from Elecraft and tise gives me up to 10W output. Conditions are not wonderful and contacts are not too easy to come by. Using this QRP arrangement I have managed to work into the USA. But somehow this very simple arrangement has a charm all of its own. Forget mobile phones and wifi, this is true radio as it used to be.
All Quiet on The Western Front June 27th, 2016
I have spent some time roaming around the Shetland Islands. A new area of Scotland for me and apart from a rather rough 12 hour boat crossing from Aberdeen, it has been very tranquil. I decided to take a new Elecraft KX2 with me in my camper van and Diamond HF whips for 40m, 20m and 17m. What I expected and what I got was total quietness. No RF noise whatsoever. Each band was quiet with no S-meter movement and the signals just popped out of the speaker or headphones. On one very notable occasion I was listening to an ON4 station working a string of Jas on 20m. He was S9 but the Jas were hardly moving the S-meter, yet perfectly Q5. What chance would I have, down south, of hearing them with S7 noise?
Operating from the Shetlands is rather like stepping back in time. When I first went on the air in 1960 there was no electrical noise other than that from passing cars and summer static. Then we worked DX with old army receivers that had poor front end performance, but there was no interference. If you were to put a 10dB attenuator in front of a modern receiver, that would equate to what we used to work with. But then we had no noise to contend with and signals down to S2 or S3 were perfectly easy to read.
New Shipment of IC-7300s Arrive June 13th, 2016
We have just received another large shipment of IC-7300s. Sadly most of these are sold. But if you are quick you may just be able to get one of the few that have not been allocated to orders.
Yaesu Announce FT-891 HF Transceiver June 3rd, 2016
At Dayton last month, Yaesu announced the introduction of their new FT-891 HF – 6m transceiver. There was no delivery date and no price indication. Sadly no 4m coverage either – at least that is what the guys on the USA stand said.
This is an analogue design delivering 100W and is described as rugged. The front panel can be removed which makes it ideal for mobile operation. The price point will be the most interesting thing to determine. Obviously not a replacement for the FT-857, and as such might come it a a really competitive price. Wait and see!
YAESU Warrant Increased to 3 Years, June 1st, 2016
We are pleased to announce the Yaesu have announced an extension to their warranty from 24 months to 36 months. This is also retrospective to 1st January 2014. This follows close on the heels of some further price reductions to the FT-991 and the FT-DX1200. This is all good news for customers.