Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More QRP

It looks like I've certainly caught the QRP bug, I find myself constantly searching for information regarding kits and builds.

I was surfing the net the other day looking at QRP bits and bobs and came across Colin M0CGH’s radio stuff. I saw that he had built a rock-mite and so asked him a few questions. He very kindly replied back with detailed information and also gave me some great advice and other links re the Rock-Mite and QRP building.
It seems I made the right decision to go for the Rock-Mite and not the Foxx-3 which is good news. I’m still awaiting the arrival of the kit and in the meantime have been on the lookout to see what enclosure I can use as I don’t think I will house the kit in an Altoids tin. There are some very nice aluminium boxes to be had but obviously there is no rush and I will continue searching, something will no doubt pop up.
One thing that did cross my mind was that somewhere hidden away in the shack I know I have an old 12v 5 amp power supply and although I will be using a 9V battery for testing and if I'm out portable, I wondered if I could use that power supply when indoors?

I’m assuming it should be OK, I guess it may produce some hum, but please any experts out there who disagree do let me know.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

QRP - Further News

Change of plan with QRP kit building, I said in the last post I was going to build the Kanga Foxx-3 but then I came across the RockMite from Small Wonder Labs. I read the reviews in eham and I was hooked and promptly ordered the 40m meter version.

This is a well-known and proven piece of kit which should be ideal for me to get back in to building. By all accounts from watching various videos on YouTube the build is fairly simple and for your buck you get some great results. It's a really small transceiver that fits in to an altoids tin, hard to believe!

Dave Benson K1SWL has already been in touch and confirmed the order, so I’m just waiting for the package to arrive, hopefully within the next 10 days, can't wait to have ago at building again it should be fun.

The power supply (FP-29) on the Yaesu MK V played up the other day, nothing too serious but the cooling fan failed to work on switch up. It could be any number of reasons but the interesting thing was that I picked up the power supply and turned it upside down and switched it on, the fan instantly came on so it could just be dirty.

I use the Mk V virtually every morning before I go to work so it would not be surprising if dirt is collecting in the fan. I have two labradors and its amazing the dust and dirt they can create as well as all the general household dust.

I try to keep the shack and equipment as clean as possible hoovering and keeping everything clean and tidy just to keep the dust to a minimum but you'll always get some dirt getting through. Basically I need to remove the cover of the power unit, check it and at the same time give it a good clean.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Bit of DX and Some QRP Building

With the unseasonal windy conditions the cobweb has been at “half-mast” for nearly ten days, so I have been slightly limited on the higher bands.
However it didn’t stop me in getting a rare contact from Greenland the other day on 17 meters, a German station OX/DL3GCS. I’m beginning to enjoy searching around for the DX stations and have started to use various websites to see what’s about. There is definitely a challenge to see if you can find and work a particular station and I am certainly getting the bug.
Since I cannot afford to splash out on a K3 I have been looking at what other kits are available. When my FL2000B needed repair I really enjoyed getting stuck in to tinkering and the soldering, the fiddling of internal parts was further developed when I added the filters and CW extras for the FT1000MP V.
The last kit I built was a long time ago sometime back in the 90s, it was a small Howes receiver which was great fun and fairly easy to build. So I have been searching around to see what QRP kits are about and I have come across a few nice little kits that seem fairly easy to build.
One that takes my fancy is the Kanga Foxx-3 transceiver …..and get this, its price is £29.95, can you believe that?  Ok it’s not going to be the bee’s knees but it does get out and it has some reasonable reviews and I can build it for 30 meters.
The other kit I quite fancy building is the Brue CW transceiver from Walfords which is priced at the princely sum of £44. Output of the Brue is 1.5 watts but you can build a small RF linear amp to get it up to 10 watts, it’s usually set up for 80 meters but it can also be set to 30 meters using crystals.
So to start with I’m going to buy the Kanga Foxx-3 transceiver and see how I get on, of course I will publish all the details with how I progress on the blog, wish me luck.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Radials Everywhere and Tapping the Key

Over the past few weeks I’ve continued to slowly add more ground radials to the 30 meter vertical with the total now approximately at 50 odd wires, but I’m still getting 40 ohms at reactance, the swr holds at a steady 1:4.
If the ground is wet the reactance will drop to around 38 ohms so I’m pretty certain that it’s now not the amount of radials but the ground that the vertical is sitting on. The other factor which may play a part is that I cannot circle the whole antenna with radials, it’s just not possible as there is no way I could have an antenna mounted right in the middle of the garden, certain members of my family would be none too impressed.
So with the vertical placed to one side of the garden the majority of the radials (about 40), are spaced out in a semi-circle in a westerly direction, the rest are placed where I can around various obstacles. 
Earlier in the year I managed to lay out a large piece of chicken wire at the edge of the field which is over one side of our perimeter fence facing east. I have connected the chicken wire to the ground plate via 10’ of old earth wire, but I’m not certain that the chicken wire is doing very much as it is some distance from the antenna. The problem is having a shed in between the wire and the antenna hence the 10' of eath wire! I suppose the chicken wire should really be close to the antenna as possible but beggars cannot be choosers and from what I’ve read the more ground connections I can put down the better the antenna.
As I busily connect up more radials I do find myself muttering that it probably won't make any difference and so far I've been proved right. I'm not really sure why I continue to add them because in all honesty the vertical is working perfectly well and I have managed to get contacts throughout the globe, I guess I'm just searching for perfect reactance!
The bands continue to be reasonably good if you are prepared to be patient and listen carefully. Normally first thing in the morning before going off to work I have a listen on 30 and there is always something interesting happening, I even heard a couple of VKs the other day but before I could reply a handful of European stations had dived in before me.
My CW is back on track after having a period where everything seemed to be a struggle, I seem to get good and bad periods, (god knows why) probably not enough practise! But it’s definitely picked up now and I can happily tap away at around 18 wpm.
I had a few good chats over the weekend and I even found myself not bothering to write stuff down as I was translating most of the details in my head; there’s no question that once you’ve had a few good qso’s your confidence picks up and you can find yourself chatting away at speeds that you didn’t think you were capable of, just goes to show the more you practise the better you become!