Thursday, December 29, 2016

17M Moxon Antenna

Over the Christmas break I had another go at building a Moxon antenna. This time not the 10m but a 17m which is a little bit bigger!
I'd had wanted the 20m but I felt it was going to be too big even in the new paddock so I settled on the 17.

Details of the build can be seen on my Moxon page, but below is a taste of the completed build on the twenty foot fibre glass mast, I've just got to mount it on the 35ft aluminium mast with a rotator at some stage. But all the testing is pretty well complete.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Results From 20M The Delta Loop & Learning About 4:1 Baluns

I completed the building of the 20m Delta Loop antenna over the weekend. The components I needed arrived on the Friday, so it was just a case of picking out some time Friday afternoon and Saturday morning to complete.

In the end I used 42 stranded speaker cable for the wire, the 4:1 balun is a temporary one I purchased off eBay for the princely sum of £19. I put it on the MFJ 259 to test and it was OK and it's recommended maximum power is 200w coverage. (I come back to that later in the post).

A bit of a mess of wires, but you can make out the basic triangle with my 6 meter experiment and the hustler in the background!

Measuring off 71.4 ft (for 14.060 the cw portion) of wire, the raised triangle was smaller than I had originally thought. The 4:1 balun was fed at the bottom left corner as recommended for DX. The only tricky bit was actually the raising of the antenna, but that was quickly sorted.

The commercial balun which I will replace with my homebrew at a later stage

Testing and reports so far has been good. Measuring the SWR I get a good 1:1 through to 14.200 where it rises to 1:2 up to 14.300. Only a few contacts so far but they have been good with 5/7 and 5/9 reports and the background noise is so quiet compared to my cobweb.

Coming back to the 4:1 Balun, I'm not too happy with buying one. I'd rather learn about them and build my own, simply because it's a big part of the hobby if your building antennas, obviously it's cheaper to build your own and you have peace of mind that it has been tested and built by you!

Having never built one before I've been looking at the Web to see what designs  are about and I have ordered the parts to have a go at building a high powered Guanella Balun. These are x2 FT 240-31 toroids and some 15 A automotive /speaker wire and a small box to house. I have all other bits in my junk box so that shouldn't be a problem. This should be enough for a reasonable power and should cover more than the UK legal limit.

A typical example of a Guanella balun

The interesting thing when you start learning about Baluns is that you are opening up a wealth of different information which can be quite tricky to understand. To this end I'm actually feeling good about learning a new part of the hobby!

As an update I completed the 4:1 balun. The Toroid's were bigger than I had expected but the actual winding was fairly easy and my impatience got the better of me as my box for containing the balun hadn't arrived due, no doubt to Xmas post, so I used an old butter dish as a container instead which worked reasonable well but was slightly too big!

Anyhow, I did some testing and the SWR was slightly low peaking at 1:2 at 13.600 Mhz. This after research was because my toroid leads were too long (the size of the butter dish). So waiting for the proper container to arrive I trimmed the wires and all seemed much better.

Morale of the story don't be so impatient!!

Finally the container arrived and I fitted the balun. Did some more testing and the SWR looked good , 1:2 spot on the QRP at 14.060. Later that day I did a test transmission on 14.060 and I got a Spanish station who gave me a 589 at 5 watts.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Building a Delta Loop for 20 Meters

So far within my new paddock  I have installed my top band antenna, (which seems to work very well). However, I'm getting itchy feet to try another antenna. The one I've always wanted to try is a Delta Loop antenna, specifically for 20 meters.

The one advantage I have here is that my take off points around the house are pretty good especially towards Australia and opposite towards the Americas. I'm fairly high up at about 700 feet above sea level with no major obstacles apart from the odd tree dotted around the garden and they say from the Cotswolds east towards Russia the next high ground you hit are the Urals which are well over a thousand miles away, so you can see my take off points are pretty exceptional.

Reading the reports about the Delta Loop, they are a quiet on receive and with vertically polarized loops good on low angle radiation so I reckon they would work well around here for some serious dxing. I thought about which band I would set it up for and came to the decision of 20 meters simple because there would be a high amount of activity both in the Americas and Australia so I should have no problem with contacts especially in the part of the low activity cycle.

I'd like to use Plan D with the apex at the corner, to maximise a good low angle of take off. I have a spare 30 foot telescopic mast which I can lengthen a further 10 feet should I require it and tying off the bottom corners should not be a problem

Calculations for the antenna are fairly simple, to determine the length of wire needed for the desired band you simply divide the resonant frequency in Mhz into 1005 and because the impedance is normally 90 to 120 Ohms you can either use a quarter wave length of 75 ohm coax to match or a 4:1 balun (which I will be using). You need to have a triangular shape (or near as) for it to work properly and of course an ATU will be required. Better to cut slightly longer and use a good SWR analyser to tune the wire to your desired frequency.

I've had to order some more wire , but so far that's been the only expense. So hopefully this will work out as a fairly cheap project. More updates to follow!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Learning/Practising Morse Code

I received an interesting email the other day from a CW fan called Gerry. Back in the 60s he'd been in the Royal Navy serving as a Leading Radio Operator so was obviously proficient in the use of CW. His last live transmission on air was back in 1968 , he didn't become an amateur radio operator and stayed fairly quiet until about four years ago where he came across MorsePower/CW.Com.

He now uses it daily and has become very proficient at CW once again. He wrote to me to advertise and to say even if you are not licenced you can still chat in CW via the internet and of course it's an excellent way to learn Morse Code without the pressure of being on air so to speak!

You can send and receive  at your pace and have fun in the process. For my particular CW it's excellent because I can go at my speed and I can practise receiving without any pressure I always feel when transmitting on air (this is entirely down to my head and the stroke I had back in 2015!)
If you need to practise why not give it a try and see what you think .

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Yaesu FTDX9000MP Forum

I've started a Yahoo forum about the Yaesu FTDX9000MP or D because I can find little information regarding set ups and procedures coming from owners of the rig. It's not much yet but as the saying go's "from little seeds etc!"

I know through experience that it is the owners who have the knowledge about these rigs so I'm trying to bring some together so we can discus the pros and cons of owning this transceiver.
Or even if you don't own one but would like to be involved please join us!

Come to the FTDX9000 forum

73s - M0AUW

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Building a Simple Top Band/80/40 Meter Antenna

Having the FTDX9000D has made me want to experiment when it comes to antennas, I want to explore the possibilities of the radio and so to do this properly I need antenna coverage of all bands. I'm pretty well covered except I've never really had a top band antenna or a 80/160 mix because like many amateurs I'm too lazy when it comes to trying to fit the size of a 160 antenna in to the garden. I know you can reduce the size etc, but as I said sometimes you just can't be bothered!

A while back when feeling more adventurous, I had built one and tested it, but I couldn't keep it hoisted up together with the W3DZZ as members of the "family" were not amused!
But now having the extra land has opened up my selection and somewhere within our new paddock will be an area devoted to my antenna testing with I might add full approval!

Digging out the old antenna from my shed I realised and remembered I had literally only tested it for a few days and then put it away. So really it needed retesting again to make sure everything was working OK.

Consisting of 24.99 metres of wire with two traps, I seem to remember this was a reasonable antenna that was pretty well matching the W3DZZ, but for either sentimental reasons or something else I left the W3DZZ up rather than this antenna. I can't for the life of me remember where I got the original idea from, but it must have been from the web somewhere. So I will continue to search and maybe get lucky to show the original plans.

I've been looking on the web and I think it was a 40/80/160 meter designed by G0ONX Len Paget.
Len is the same amateur who put together the W3DZZ 40/80 that I think is a brilliantly simple antenna that gives me great results. He uses coaxial traps that are very easy to construct and work extremely well.
Another amateur M0MTJ who altered Len's design states:
 " The Inverted L for 40m/80m is shown below is essentially one half of a W3DZZ dipole fed against ground using one 7.1 MHz trap. It's a very compact antenna and is simple to construct. It is most efficient, of course, on 80 metres and 40 metres, but can also be used, with an a.t.u., on 20m, 15m and 10m. "

(Click to enlarge)
Here's the basic 160 set up which is very easy to construct and looking at the picture above I realised why I chose this antenna as it fitted fairly well to the dimensions of my garden. The other reason was of course the simple trap design that I had used before on the W3DZZ so winding up some more coax was dead easy to do.
M0MTJ goes on to say:

"Adding 160m / Top Band to an Inverted L
The 160 metre Top Band can be added to this aerial by connecting a 3.5 MHz trap at the end of the 80 metre wire (where to monofilament joins the 6.55m section of wire in the picture above) with another length of wire on the other side, increasing the overall length of the antenna."

                        Find out how to do it here:

So in the next few days I will be raising the antenna back up on one of my scaffolding masts I have recently erected and see how the FTDX9000MP works on 160, I don't really want to do too much local stuff I would prefer a bit of DX, but we'll see!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Progress on the FTDX9000DX

I've sold the FT2000D to help in the purchase of my FTDX9000MP. I must admit I liked the 2000D, it was a good rig, a bit of power with 200 watts and a nice DSP set up and if I could I would have kept it but it just wasn't practical. So I was quite sad to let it go. A nice chap in Northern Ireland bought it for a reasonable price and  I'm sure he will enjoy using it and it will be well looked after.

All I have left now is my trusty K2, a Tokyo ATU and my OHR-100A QRP 5 watt transceiver together with 3 RockMites and the FTDX9000MP. All other bits and pieces are now going towards financing the Yaesu. Actually I need a good clear-out, so this is just the excuse I need.

I'm continuing to learn more about the FT9000, I've just ordered a 64Mb memory card for the recording of voice and CW. I'm also at the stage of working out what exactly I can get on the Monitor. Looking in more detail you can actually set up an internal log book with maps of contacts. You can set up times around the world and if you have one, set up a rotator with all directions of the compass! But as things progress I will no doubt begin to understand more that's available to me.

The FTDX9000MP takes up so much room!

Contact wise has been interesting, I tried my first SSB QSO the other day with a chat to a ham in Texas, who gave me a 59 at 300 watts which wasn't bad considering the conditions and with CW I had another QRP contact from a German station who was only using 0.5 watts from Leipzig. The receive capability is just amazing, you can pick out these QRP stations quite easily and no one else seems to be able to hear them!

M0AUW at the controls
It's not all plain sailing though, a classic mistake I did today was install the MD-1 mic I have in to the back of the rig (you have to, as the front is a special 3 point pin) and if not fitted correctly the rig will lock itself and you are unable to transmit. I spent a good hour looking for a reason why it wouldn't transmit finally got some info off the web which solved the problem! Still got loads to learn!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Begali Key

Being a CW fan I have a number of straight keys and one or two paddles. I have a Stillwell straight key which is a good handmade solid key and I have a couple of the Czech keys that are very good day to day keys .
I also have a bencher and a Kent paddle key that I try to use fairly often, but my paddle skills are still not the best and I seem to have good days and bad.

Another key I have is a Begali Spark straight key which is very nice (so it should be for the price)! Very smooth to operate and a nice light feel to it, although its quite heavy so there is no need to lock it down when in use, unlike the Czech keys.

I've been using this with the FTDX9000, the light touch with the ability to easily alter the spring or the gap is very useful when replying to different operators. I don't know if I'm the only one doing this, but  I adjust my keys, quite often depending on what mood I'm in, if I'm tired and want to key a slow QSO I open the gap and tighten the spring so I have to work a bit, or I go the other way if I'm with it and wide awake to speed things up. Does anybody else do this or is it just me?

My speed is still quite slow, around 14/15 words per minute, the other thing I find which maybe because I'm get older and hopefully wiser, is you don't have to speed along. A lot of CW operators tend to send faster than they can be understood, their spacing is wrong or each letter becomes one great long word. Simply because they are sending faster than they actually capable of.

That's quite a statement I know, but I think its true. Just because you can understand 18/20 wpm doesn't mean you can send correctly at 18/20 wpm and boy can you hear it sometimes. 
But other skilled operators, it is true music to your ears, precise timing, the right spacing, makes all the difference.

Of course you get used to different types of code being sent, but you know when you can hear good CW. It can be fast, but you can understand it and it makes all the difference.

It's interesting that I used to be around 18, but I've slowed since my stroke, I've lost the capability to memorize the conversation so I have to write most of it down. BNC,  Brain Not Correlated any more! Still the old adage is practise practise and I certainly intend to do as much as I can so the speed should eventually pick back up!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Follow up on 2 Meter Yagi and Rotator

I have finally put the two meter yagi in the attic together with the completed and refurbish rotator. So far so good, the alignment is correct and I have been listening in on my local club net with most members due north of my positition.

Fitting it all in the attic proved a little more difficult having to resize the height and obviously fit the wiring from the attic floor to below in to the shack, but eventually I got there and completed it without bringing the roof down!

 The cleaned up rotator set up in the attic

The yagi facing north fits snugly, especially where at first it was limited with turning 360 degrees because of height but with a quick alteration all was well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

FTDX9000MP The Ultimate!

The FTDX9000MP is probably the ultimate rig for me. I think for the last few years I have been pandering after one but the thought of spending around £8000 for a new one filled me with dread and there was no way I could afford that kind of money for a rig.

Then by chance my Brother in law bought a used one for just under £4000. Naturally I was over at his place to see this extraordinary rig in action and I wasn't disappointed! What a rig, it's massive, dwarfing my FT2000d . With all its bell and whistles I wondered what it would be like to use in anger. I had a small play, but to be honest I couldn't really sit there and do the things I wanted to do simply because I'm more a CW man and he is more an SSB so it was completely different set ups.

Then my brother in law who is a finicky sort of bloke , who likes his equipment to be spotless and clean, free of marks of any kind and this used machine had a few marks here and there, nothing terrible but the previous owner had been a smoker and the radio stank of tobacco. The owner had realised it was in need of a bit of a clean up and had ordered a new PSU cover from Yaesu but that was about it.  My brother in law had obviously given it a think and rang a certain dealer looking for bits to replace his beloved FTDX9000MP, things like covers and cable ETC.

 The dealer was sympathetic but started chatting to him about the possibility of buying a new rig altogether on a special deal rather than trying to build up the older rig. Somehow as he does, my brother in law came out smiling with a new rig, he now owned two FTDX9000MP's.

The brother in Law was over the moon having done a decent deal and suggested we go up to London together to pick up his brand new and spotless FTDX9000MP.
Well you know what's coming next?
So there we were in the car travelling up to London and he casually mentions on the way , "how would you fancy owning an FTDX9000MP"?

I was flabbergasted, my ultimate rig had arrived it was just there for me to say....... yes!
It took me all of a couple of seconds, I'd sell the FT2000d give my brother law a deposit and pay him on a monthly basis with no interest what could be better? He was happy, he had his new rig for a special deal plus he had sold the older rig to me and I was delighted.

By the weekend we had brought the FTDX9000MP over to my house set it up. But because of all the old kit in the way we just had to let it sit in my shack till I could clear some space.

 Monday morning comes and I 've cleared enough space for the beast to sit comfortably with its monitor and PSU. It wasn't till the evening I managed to actually connect up, give it clean and a polish, (it really didn't need much work), switch it on and have a play, I was like a kid in a candy shop.

Twenty meters I hear a QRP station RA7RA, he calls CQ a few times, I'm on ten watts, what the hell lets try!
First time he comes straight back, name is Pavel, RST 599, QTH Savastapol that's 2500 km or 1500 miles he putting out 150 milliwatt of power, no else can hear him yet I can , that's a Cobweb antenna and an FTDX9000MP for you!

I kid you not, once you've tried the rig there's no going back and I thought the FT2000D was a good rig.

The receive capability is just something else, I could go on and on, it's just an amazing rig, it's rather like you've been driving a reasonable car then you jump in to a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari.

It's early days yet but I've had more QSO's since getting the rig than I have in the past 3 months!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Continuation of the Rotators Builds

I've polished up the bell of the CDR HAM-M and I must admit it looks pretty good. All the ball bearings have now arrived and I have started fitting them back into their prospective collars, now I find out when I fit them back in to the rotator if I have them the right way round!

Checking that the collar is still good for fitting after cleaning is essential as they are reasonably delicate, plus you can test out your theory of which way up they fit if you don't know. All the websites I've looked at regarding rotator servicing just mention about noting which way the ball bearing face in their collar rather than pictures, which I would obviously prefer so mistakes are not made. Sorry the picture below is a bit fuzzy but hopefully you get the idea!

Below is one collar I have refitted with new ball bearings, if when first dismantling you notice any ball bearings rusted or pitted, I would definitely replace, the bearings are cheap and it's definitely worth doing a replacement rather than the pain of them jamming once put back together.

The ring gear has also had a clean but looks pretty sound, no need to replace thank fully,  so I will go ahead with a light greasing and refit. 

I'm just waiting on the terminal strip now , I will then need to take out the old one, clean up the connections and resolder to the new terminal and then will give it a smoke test and see how it goes!

The smoke test proved interesting.... Nothing happened so I had to recheck everything. Turned out the wiring within the rotator was faulty and I've yet to find the fault. So I turned to the CDE AR-40, this is a different set up that uses far less ball bearings, they are only a handful evenly spaced within the rotator bell. Easier to clean up and re-grease so I'm not complaining!

An afternoon later, after working out how to reset in the right direction with the help of a Utube video, I had got it back together and because I hadn't been able to get the CDR HAM-M working I pinched the terminal plate (cos it was the new one), I connected all up for the smoke test and it started whizzing around no problem.
I decided to call it a day, as I had two out of the four now working correctly.

I will work on the other two to see if they are repairable or use them for spares, either way for the price I think I did reasonable well!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rebuilding a CDR Ham Rotator Model HAM - M

Well I tested the two Ham IV rotators and one definitely works and the other I will use for spares, but I was told by the seller that both were working. One of these rotators I plan to use for my main HF antenna system when I get it up and running. All I'm going to do now is buy some cable and get things ready.

The only problem I came across with the Ham IV rotators were there size and weight they were just too big for my simple scaffold pole with my VHF set up. What I needed was a smaller style TV antenna that would be light enough for the scaffold pole or up in the attic.

The same chap who I had originally bought the rotators off also had a lighter CDR Ham Rotor rotator. He wanted £40 for it and would also supply a spare AR-40 and the control box, the problem was they were not in pristine condition and needed a good service, I'd never attempted servicing a rotator before, but I had the manual and Utube so I thought what the hell , let's give it a go.

Looking at the two rotators I had previously bought, one was just filthy and full of grease and opened up ( by the previous owner) but the bits were all there in a box. The other was together but the cable connections and terminal strip were shot and stuck with rust from being in the outdoors, they needed a good soak in penetration fluid to free them up. The idea being to then test it to see if anything major was needed to be done.

In the meantime I would start on the dismantled AR- 40 rotator and start cleaning it, degreasing and see if I could put it together. Cleaning took me a day of just removing the old grease and polishing it up. The two ball bearing holders were cleaned but it was obvious I would need 50 new ball bearings as the old were pitted and badly rusted.

I decided the terminal strip had really seen better days. I'd tried to fix it with a simple choc block but there was no way the choc bloc was going to sit where the strip was. So I've went on line and found a UK supplier of rotator parts and ordered a new strip which should be with me in the next few days.

You can see in the pictures how bad it is and no wonder some of the screws were not moving, they were so rusted up! But apart from that, everything else just needed a good clean and degrease and I don't think I'll need to replace anything else. The new ball bearings arrived the other day so I've fitted them in their collar and they are sitting ready to be refitted, typically I needed a further 50 ball bearings for the other collar so I had to re-order and am still awaiting there arrival.
The only other problem I have thinking forward is which way up do I fit the collars with the ball bearings, smooth or the marked side? I think the smooth side should be facing up when located back in the bell end of the rotator like this picture which I found on the web, and if logic dictates this feels right.
Which would then mean they end up like the next picture and although it isn't a CDR Ham, I think most designs would be similar. So the higher facing part of the bearings in the collar actually face downwards.
Until I get the rest of the parts I can't really continue with the restoration so for the moment I'll just have to wait till all parts have arrived. Further updates in my next post!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Building a 2 Meter Yagi (Version 2)

A while back I built a 2 meter Yagi and had great fun playing around on my local club net with it  attached to a small rotator, but as is the case, I moved on to other things and sold the TV rotator and the Yagi on to a friend.

The original
I noticed in the stats of this blog that one of the most read items is the building of that 2 meter Yagi. It's a very simple design and for its simplicity it works very well especially for my latest project with my newly acquired Trio 700s where I needed a small Yagi antenna. So I read back in the blog and decided to make a mark 2 version.

The first items I required was three aluminium 18mm tubes, two at one metre length and the other at 1500mm and one boom 15mm by 15mm square also at 1 metre in length. I would also require three pieces of wooden curved dowel (12") to support the aluminium tubes when mounted, a small but thick piece of copper wire for the hairgrip 12.5mm in length and 10 plastic tie grips.

The aluminium tubes will be rear element 1020mm, drive element 920mm and front 890mm. The rear and front will remain at their lengths but the drive will need to be cut accurately in half and then two small hole drilled about 2 mm from one end to take a small screw for the coax and hairpin wire.
The hairpin wire should be 5 cm in length bent at right angles 2.2cm width, and bent again at right angles for another 5cm. the width between ground and live should be the 2.2 cm.

A = 5cm B = 2.2cm

The coax should be roughly a metre long, stripped for a PL259 at one end and split for ground and live at the other with two metal eyes soldered on for a screw placement on the drive element. If this antenna was going outside it would then be waterproofed for protection, but in this case it was going in my attic.

You can alter the length of the A  for minor adjustment of SWR.

The elements are fixed by the plastic tie grips going round each of the dowels and the tubes, they are light and hold the tubes in place. The wooden dowels are then screwed in to place in to the boom by a small screw or you could fit a small bolt and nut.

I got a good 1:1 and 1:2 SWR over the upper part of 144MHz  and lower 145 MHz and as soon as I can will be placing it up in my attic to see how it does with a bit of dxing!

Here is the link to the site for further explanation:  Yagi Build

All Mode 2 meter DX and Rotators

I managed to pick up an old Trio 700s all mode transceiver the other day at a fairly cheap price that was just too good to miss, although I already have an Alinco 2 meter rig, but it's purely for local FM traffic. So here was a chance to see what some SSB work on a VHF rig was like as I hadn't done much in all my years in the hobby!

Trio 700s complete with amp and pwr

But the first thing I really needed was a decent antenna, a Yagi or similar and a bit of power as 10 watts from the Trio might not get me too far. My old homebrew Yagi had long gone so I needed to build another and in the meantime my Brother in Law had given me an old 6 element job that needed a bit of a clean up but would certainly do for the moment. I managed to find a small amplifier off the web which gave me 50 watts of power and I began setting things up and experimenting.

It sure is quiet out there, maybe it was conditions but not a lot was happening, but through a bit of perseverance I knew I was receiving and transmitting on the local club net. But that 6 element Yagi was proving very direction and I was getting sick of the arm strong method running downstairs from my shack to where the antenna was placed, a rotator was required.

Have you seen the price of rotators lately?
It was a bit of a shock, I wanted something small and light like a TV rotator, but you try and find a new one in the UK, it seems they are out of favour. plenty of second hand ones on eBay, but going for more than the new ones used to be and they looked pretty worn out anyway!

Still at a loss I kept searching hoping that something would turn up and then out of the blue my brother in law who happened to be doing a deal with mate regarding a radio, was also selling a  Ham IV rotator for £60 and rang to let me know, so I bought it on his word!

The two Rotators and control boxes

I was lucky, it was in reasonable condition, even better it came with a spare that had a cracked collar and two control units, it just need the 8 core cable and it was complete.  The only downsize was I realised it might be a bit heavy for what I wanted, which was to mount on a scaffold pole up 25ft but I could work round that and if necessary place it in the attic with my new home brew smaller Yagi.

Testing the motor on a block of wood it was pretty sturdy and was not going to move all over the place and I decided after a bit of thought I would try it in my attic, height of the antenna might be a problem but I was living in a house at 800 ft above sea level and a 20 foot scaffolding pole might not make a lot of difference.

So I decided to carry on regardless and see what the outcome would be, after all I could always change if needed. I measured the 6 element beam and although at 3 meters it would just fit in the attic at a low position I decided to go ahead and re build a 3 element Yagi and store the 6 ele for another time.

The new 3 element homebrew Yagi has been built copying earlier specifications from my blog and I will do a separate note on how to build it. In the meantime  I've yet to place all the equipment up in the attic, but I intend to do this over the weekend, so updates will follow.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Revamping the Carolina Windom 80 Special

A couple of years ago I had played about with my old Carolina Windom 80 special  by reducing its size to the 40 Windom, but I soon realised when testing that the balun was individually set for a Carolina 80 special and so I had to revert back to its original size to make it work. The problem was I originally reduced the size because I didn’t have the length of land required for it to fit! So the Carolina 40 was put away in the shed until I could find time to re-build and figure out a way for it to fit in my garden!

The 40 I had made from the original Carolina Windom 80 special
The length of antenna issue had been sorted by having the good fortune to purchase a bit more land off the farmer, as it had come up for sale just at the right time, not just for an antenna farm I hasten to add, but for increasing the size of our plot with a mini paddock to do with what we liked and it just happened that a Carolina Windom 80 special happened to fit snugly in the paddock!

The forty being 66 feet in length (41ft and 25ft split), needed to revert back to the original size of 133 feet, 83 feet on one side and 50 feet the other. All I did was increase the length of each side by soldering new pieces of 42 stranded cable wire, nothing else was touched. Now I had to hope that the balun and transformer (1:1 balun) would still be working even though I had been messing about with them and 22 foot coax was now totally new!

I took my old fibre glass 20 foot slotted mast and I increased it in size by 10 feet with some specially strengthened plumbing tubing slotted together so that the 22 foot coax cabling with transformer would hang freely.
I re-measured the actual antenna wire lengths to confirm I now had 83 and 50 feet, did some simple soldering to the 4:1 balun to strengthen and stiffen it and hoisted up to 30 odd feet to do SWR tests, thinking that it probably wouldn’t work but I had some fun doing the build process.

Initial tests were quite good except with the 40 meter band were the average SWR was about 2.0 but even so I could just about use with a tuner.

80 MHz                 1.4 – 1.8 across the band

40 MHz                 1.8 – 2.0 across the band

20 MHz                 1.3 – 1.5 across the band

15 MHz                 1.4 – 1.6 across the band

10 MHz                 1.7 – 1.9 across the band             

Being pleasantly surprised by the outcome and comparing against the Cobweb and Hustler it’s not a bad antenna for a multi bander and of course it does state that you have to use with a good tuner.
Over the next few weeks I will try to make a few improvements here and there. But all things considered I’m quite pleased with my semi homebrew antenna!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Building a Six Meter Dipole

 I have finally got round to building a six meter dipole. I searched the web for some ideas and came up with this simple dipole just to get me started.

At a later stage once I've got the idea of how the band works with its various different segments I'll build a small Yagi.

In the meantime, this is very simple , two approximate 5ft aluminium poles (to start before trimming) about 10 mm circumference screwed together on a piece of curved wood for support and strength. Then connected with some heavy duty electrical wire to an SO 239 female connector. The whole lot has then been attached via screw through the wood to some old plastic bread board I cut to size and then mounted on a fibre glass 20ft pole.

The basic layout of the 6 meter dipole

The SO 239 connector is used for the PL259 plus cable at the back


The whole antenna fixed to the fibreglass pole with a nice shot of the cobweb and other inverted V's in the background!
So far on receiving I am getting some good signals and the MFJ readings are indicating 1:1 over the CW portion of the band and 1:2/3 further up towards SSB. I'm yet to transmit as the band hasn't been open in time for me to get going.
But it's early days yet and I am sure I can improve things with this antenna or playing around with a more directional antenna, and I'll update as I go forward.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

M0AUW Goes SDR part 2

Well I've received the CAT connector and all it consists of is one cable a mini CD ! Presumably the mini CD is for the drivers but we'll see. First I have to load up the OmniRig application which is the software for connecting the HRSDR app to the rig. Once that installed I connect up the rig to the PC via the CAT and start calibrating the settings.

So I managed to successfully install OmniRig with the drivers from the mini CD.
Looking within HDSR at the OmniRig partition, I've got to work out what settings will be required to operate the Ft2000 with the PC. Unfortunately there's no set up instructions so I've been busy on the web trying to find some sort of help with regard to setup. The nearest thing I can find is set ups for other rigs but it gives me a general idea of what to do.


Clicking on Options in HDSDR you can discover the OmniRig setup, but I had no idea how to proceed, so a lot of it was trial and error till something happened. I had a particular problem with the Baud rate on the picture below, I just couldn't get the rig to connect to the OmniRig try as might it just didn't want to know. Then I set the Baud rate to 48000 and bingo it seemed to spring in to life and I suddenly found the volume had increased and strange things were happening when I moved the mouse!
I'm still trying to find my way round the application, but it does add some interest when you can see all these potential signals on the screen. So I'm just going to keep plugging away and see where I get to and hopefully by the rate I'm going, that should be by the end of the week!

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Since my Brother in Law bought his FT DX9000 MP, I've been going over to his house quite regularly to see the rig in action and I have to say I've been impressed especially with its panadaptor screen and how he can control the rig by computer and see all the potential QSOs on screen and instantly sweep across to call them. So I looked at the DMU 2000 for my FT 2000d and got a shock at the price, £1000 plus, too much for me!

 So I started reading up about SDR via the internet about how you can adapt various radios to SDR. Well this got me thinking can I set up SDR for my FT 2000d?  It turns out you can and once more its fairly cheap to get going. Since I work in the IT trade with knowledge of computers and software I thought this was too good an opportunity to miss so promptly started searching for what is about and what I can set up for my particular rig. 

I came across a webite called HDSR (High Definition Software Defined Radio) with a package that can be downloaded and begin your adventures with SDR. It explains about SDR and various packages you can download and use, but obviously they are promoting the HDSR package.

Turning to hardware I wasn't sure where to start, but I figured the web must hold some information regarding hardware and what to use.
Eventually after much searching I came across an American site off eBay titled RTL SDR Panadapter/Spectrum Scope for Yaesu FT-2000, consisting of: A Newsky USB RTL SDR Digital Tuner/Receiver.A RG-174 cable to connect the radio's IF to the Tuner/Receiver An adapter to simplify the cable install.3 foot long USB Extension Cable to get the Tuner/Receiver away from the computer (Computers make a lot of noise).With the complete instructions and links to the correct software and drivers. I thought this is just what I need but it's in the US so postage costs would be high. Surely someone in the UK is doing something similar?

 First Results were promising

Sure enough I found a page off the UK portion of eBay that had the hardware I needed, The site consisted of similar items like the American site, a dongle, some length of RG 174 and a USB extension cable, the tools to get you up and running. You have to download the software on to the PC and basically add the drivers. The Hardware then has to be installed which is the dongle connected up to the RG174 which in turn is connected to the scope socket within the rig, which incorporates removing top and bottom lids of the rig (easy to do). Then the other end of the dongle connects to the PC via the USB extension cable. Using a nice large monitor on your PC and bingo your away!

The newly installed panadapter in the shack.

I've still got loads to learn and I haven't got the CAT yet for controlling the RIG but I've ordered one and it's coming next week. I have to say it's great fun and if you can do take a look at whats about for your radio, it's the future and it's fun, so it's definitly worth getting in to !

Monday, June 6, 2016

The CARA ,(Cheltenham Amateur Radio) Field Day 2016

The Cara ,(Cheltenham Amateur Radio)club field day took place this weekend it's literally just down the road from me(about 500 yards). Tents were set up, camper vans parked up and  antennas of all sorts sprouted out of the ground and there were transceivers and receivers from modern to old military. An excellent barbeque was laid on for Saturday evening and there was some six meter and HF contesting going on throughout the w/e 

Antennas, tents, camper vans and car parks!

The weather was brilliant for the weekend. Warm temperatures and dry conditions has made it exceptionally good this year and there was a large number of club members who have been out and about. It was nice to catch up with fellow members all addicted to the same hobby as me, sometimes a good chat and a drink boosts the radio morale.

The six meter DX competition was a bit disappointing with only 62 contacts throughout the two days and you have to admire the perseverance and patience of those guys.
But across the way from them the HF field day competition (24hours non stop)made some excellent contacts with some 800 stations.

The HF contest tent

The Contest competitions are not what I remember from the old days. Computers seem to rule the roost and are used on a regular basis for logging and for tuning up and down the bands. I've never been in to contesting much but from what I saw they can be quite exciting, 24hrs of split shifts with lots of go getting without much of a break, even so, I still have to say not for me! However, one interesting thing came up especially for me was that the HF boys were using a K3 transceiver for their contest and it was nice to see it there for the first time and put through its paces. Comments about the radio were good but not good enough for me to decide  to move from the FT2000d to a K3!

The six meter contest tent

I t was nice to see some old military radios in serious action and I must admit I'm tempted by a small purchase in the near future of something like a Clansman radio. I saw two old versions, one for the mobile (Land Rover ops) and one for the standard infantryman, both nice radios, but if I had to choose I'd probably go with the mobile version.

G0NXA at the two meter DX Rig

There were a couple of radios put aside for the ordinary amateurs just wanting a tune and play and we made some good contacts throughout Europe and the UK. The weather definitely played its part in getting everyone out and it was nice to catch up with some of the club members I rarely see.

There were some brave souls camping in the field, but I must admit it wasn't for me but as I live literally just up the road it was a no brainer!! In fact I had one visitor at the house who thought I was the field day!
One chap (Chris) had brought his one man tent and set it up without much fuss in a quiet corner and he was busy all day chatting on forty to various amateurs across Europe, sounds like a well spent weekends radio work!

Chris a the controls of his rig without a blissful care!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Brother-in-Law Gets a New Toy

My Brother-in-law is what I call an off on ham. He sometimes doesn’t touch the radio for months and then has a fling for a few weeks sort of catching up. He listens a lot, mainly on 14 meters and hates CW only uses SSB but sometimes he stretches to listening to Radio Ireland (IRE), going back to his roots. He has a very nice rig that I have already discussed about in this blog, a Yaesu FT 1000d, 200 watts, lovely receive, very smooth.
I came to his house last Friday, because my internet connection had gone down and I needed to work on my computer, typically we ended up playing radios on his 1000d and also looking at various websites for newer radios. We came across a well-known classifieds ads site with a particular ad I found, that was advertising an FT DX9000MP, something my Brother-In-Law had been wanting to purchase and own for some time, but thought the price for a new one was very steep. This was the 400 watts version, with every filter and button you could ever want, the flagship for Yaesu transceivers, basically the almighty god of radios.
The price was only £3750 something I personally would probably not consider for a radio as it’s out of my price league. But to the brother-in-law it was a bargain, he felt the 1000d although a good radio was getting a bit old!

He rang the advertised number with caution as sometime scams can happen, it was OK the guy was genuine. It turns out he was moving home and had no room for the 9000 so it had to go, he’d now set his sights on something new, a Flex radio.
Half an hour later after a good chat on the phone and with a bit of negotiation my brother-in-law was the new proud owner of an FT DX9000MP, the export packaging (which I'm told is very important)and a nice MD100 mic, a monitor and all the cables.

On Sunday the radio arrived, delivered in person by the old boy who was selling and his son who happened to be a ham as well.   Turns out his son had to help with 9000 as it was so big  and heavy, 26 kilos and that wasn’t the power supply and speaker or the monitor, they were all separate! He also had very good knowledge of how it was put together and more importantly how it operated.
I had never seen such a radio, it was massive. The instructions alone read like a thesis and would take at least a week to read through. I thought my 2000d was a little bit complicated with the menu but it was nothing to the 9000. I'm told If you want one off the shelf new it will cost you around a cool £7000, so no wonder my brother-in-law was like a kid in a candy shop.
Anyway long story short, we needed a full course in connecting and powering the thing up. But once up and running it was an absolute joy. Connected to a Hustler 6Btv antenna, 5/9s were constantly reported and operators were singing about the clarity. Then the ultimate test came a VK station with a big pile up. We wound up the beast to its full 400 watts and sent the call sign, Tim VK3TJK came back with a 5/6 report , not bad for a first QSO with Australia, I suspect there will be more of those to come!

A week later the Brother in Law is still working out what everything does and keeps ringing me to go on air so he can practise various filters positions and other settings, he's even thinking of taking up CW again!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Indoor Antenna for 40 Meters

I'm going to try and set up an antenna for 40 meters in my attic as a small experiment. It was originally produced by F6CYV and I came across it on the web the other day whilst browsing. He reckons it pretty good having worked over 150 separate countries around Europe.

The actual antenna is made up of 2mm wire, the 2 coils are made up of 18 turns of 2mm wire and the distance of turns is also 2mm.
The diameter of the coils is 7/8 cm and the coax feed is comprised of 75 ohms, an old TV cable should do. But for a good feed from coax to the dipole a 1:1 Balun would help.

I'll let you know how it goes!