Sunday, 18 December 2011

Long overdue!

Well I hadn't forgotten about my blog but I moved QTH in September and have been busy. The new house is much older (built around 1920s) and one advantage is I have a garden that is just over 20 metres long. Another advantage is although I still live in the same village as before the new location is a little higher up so is better for VHF.
The disadvantage is a have lots of work here to do, mainly decorating and in the summer I will have plenty of work to do outside. Will I find time for radio?? Of course!
I have already set up the shack
And just to get on the air I have put up a half size G5RV wire antenna with additional Inductors for 80 metres and a small dual band Watson W30 for VHF/UHF.

For my shortwave listening activities the Wellbrook loop  is currently propped up in the shack window where it works surprisingly well.
Generally this QTH is quieter electrically I think.

Plans for future include a better VHF/UHF antenna (possible a tri bander covering 6 metres also) getting my HF vertical back up and getting the Wellbrook loop outside. I would also like to get back onto 4 metres (70 mhz). Of course all of this will take time and may have to wait for the spring. In the meantime at least I am back on the air.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Mystery Solved!

This blog has been quiet of late. Partly this is due to the fact that I recently had to spend a two week period in London due to my work. Not much chance for radio there but I did bring the tiny Baofeng Handheld radio. Whilst I did hear a few simplex QSOs on two metres and was able to pick up one 70cms repeater activity was pretty low. Things have changed as I recall being in the London 10 or 12 years ago, maybe a little longer than that and then the two metre band was buzzing with activity.
Last weekend I was back at home and since it was a dry calm day I decided to take down the mast that held my Watson dual band VHF/UHF antenna and investigate the SWR problem I had/
I had suspected that as the antenna had been up for 3 years or so perhaps I had a bad connection in the PL259 plug or the coax had completely pulled out of the plug somehow.
Once I got the antenna down the problem was obvious.

What you are looking at is the support tube that the "white stick" fibreglass antenna sits on. The hole in the picture should have a screw in it! The screw goes through the support tube and into the base of the antenna itself securing the two together. As you can see the screw isn't there. This meant that the only thing securing the antenna to the mast was its own weight and the cooax cable that was attached to it. It seems that over the months the antenna was able to rotate enough to unscrew the PL259 plug from its socket. I found the coax cable and the PL259 plug were fine, its just that the cable wasn't plugged into the antenna anymore!
I have used this type of antenna at several QTHs with no problems. It is however a worrying thought that the only thing securing the antenna was this one small screw. The support tube was securely clamped to the mast, but the antenna was no longer secured to the support tube. I have been very lucky here that once the screw failed the antenna didn't simply blow off the mast. I will need to find a replacement and possibly look a a way of stopping this happening again.
I won't be re installing this antenna at the moment anyway as I am using my loft mounted antenna for VHF. It is fairly likely that I will be moving QTH in the next few months so I will re erect this antenna at the new place.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

SRC Mobile update

Although HF conditions in my opinion have not been too good lately, I have now had a little time to evaluate the SRC mobile whip.
It certainly appears to be a robust enough antenna physically and it looks well made. Using my LDG auto ATU I can now tune all bands from 80 to 10 metres. The antenna seems quite lively on receive, within the first few days of using it and under poor conditions I worked a DL station on 20 metres, he was calling CQ and came back to me straight away. I can monitor a local 80 metre AM net on my morning drive to work, although I would think that 80 metres is likely to be the worst band for this antenna.

Because the "Tune" function on my Icom 706 MK1 does not operate on 6metres I am unable to get the LDG atu to work on that band. I have found however that by tuning the whip up on 80 metres and then switching to 6 I get an acceptable SWR and indeed the antenna appears to work reasonably well on 6.

All in All I am pleased with the SRC. It is very convenient having all the HF bands available without swapping whips and the performance does not seem to be noticeably different from the mono band whips I had been using.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

HF Mobile

A couple of weeks back I ordered a multiband HF SRC 8010 mobile whip from Snowdonia Radio Company. It took a while to arrive and a follow up email to the company wasn't replied to but luckily today the antenna arrived. The antenna with the aid of an auto ATU will, according to specifications tune from 80 metres up to 6.
I have tested it briefly on the car today, sure enough it did tune from 80 up to 10 metres and in fact it sounded very lively particularly on the higher bands. On 6 metres my auto ATU doesn't want to speak to my Icom 706 MK1 but I was able to get  what appears an acceptable match on that band (by tuning the whip on another band and switching to 6) and was rewarded by hearing a number of stations on 6m SSB as well as accessing a semi-local 6 metre repeater on FM.
The antenna looks to be well constructed. As I understand it the base contains a small balun which help in the matching of the whip. It will certainly be nice to have more choice of HF bands when I am mobile. Up to now I had whips for 40,20 and 10 and had to decide before setting off which band I would operate each day.

I will report back when I have had more time to assess this antenna but first impressions are good.

Below is the base of the antenna

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

First the bad news.................

Switching on my 2 metre rig today I noticed a complete absence of signals. Ok I know 2 metres is quiet around here, but I had just come into the shack minutes after pulling up on the driveway where I had been listening to a QSO on the mobile 2 metre rig. Trying to transmit revealed the problem- an infinity SWR. The antenna was fine yesterday- I had a number of local QSOs with it last night. Its still on the mast, no visual  signs of anything wrong but it looks like its a victim of the fairly high winds we have had over the last few days. Maybe the cable feeding the antenna has broken loose, maybe the Watson X300 which I have been using (and which always looked a bit fragile to me) has given up. Its been up there for 3 years without giving any trouble so I guess I can't complain too much! Anyway I had intended to replace the pole which the antenna sits on with a thicker/stronger one so now I will have to get on with it. I will be ordering the new aluminium poles in a week or so. Then I will have to wait until ta clear calm day, hopefully when the next door neighbour is not in his garden(!) and do some antenna maintenance. Until then I have a small dual band vertical in the loft which will be fine for local QSOs but I know that it won't work for at least one of my regular VHF contacts where the path between us is not too good.

The better news is a new toy has arrived for me. I have been reading quite a bit lately about a new dual band minature handset from the Chinese manufacturer Baofeng. At £37 from Hong Kong including postage and a dual band antenna I couldn't resist. Mine arrived 10 days after placing the order.

Unpacking the radio and fitting the battery was a surprisingly tricky process. Although I have read a couple of reviews I hadn't expected it to be quite so fiddly. Eventually I managed to get the battery fitted and the back cover of the rig correctly locked back in place. As I said I haven't read of anyone else having problems with this so maybe its just me!

The rig is very compact, you can see it here next to my other Chinese dualbander.

Its also very slim

First impressions are that it seems to be a lot easier to program than my other handie, the manual as usual is of limited use but luckily a few minutes with the rig and the menu system starts to make sense.
The supplied earpiece/mic that came with my rig is of no use- as soon as you try to transmit with it the rig locks in transmit mode- I think other users have also had this problem.

All in all though this seems a nice little rig. I haven't used mine in anger yet (its still charging up) but will post more finding soon.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

6 metres

Whilst in the shack this afternoon I heard a local station on 2 metres saying that 6 metres was open. Well I think I caught the tail end of the opening but managed a 59 report from OZ2KEC who was the strongest signal on the band with me. Not bad for 30 watts to my loft dipole. I think I will have to plug my straight key into the FT857 that I use on 6 metres. I heard quite a bit of CW on the band and surprisingly some of it was slow enough for me to read!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Radio Active

I have managed to get a fair bit of time on the radio over the weekend. Yesterday I found 15 metres to be quite active and worked several stations including SV7BAY just running 10 watts into my 40/80metre dipole.
This morning I left the rig running 1 watt on WSPR on 10 metres but the I was heard and could only hear one station, in Norway. I had some success on 17 and 15 metres on pSK31 and rounded the afternoon off with a PSK31 QSO with HB9MZI, (pictured above) the only signal I could hear on the band!
Tonight I will try for a CW QSO, probably on 80 metres to continue with my CW practice!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Broadcast QSLs

Here is my latest QSL card from the shortwave broadcast station- "voice of Nigeria"

I am hoping to get a few more reception reports off to various broadcasters soon. The Aim is to QSL as many as I can before they all disappear!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Fresh Air

Apologies for anybody expecting a radio related post today- Its something different for a change!

The annual classic car show which is held locally here tempted me out of the shack! The venue is within walking distance so I set out hoping that the rain would hold off. It did luckily and in fact for the couple of hours that I was there we even enjoyed some sunshine!
I brought along my dualband handie and was interested to hear that the masrhalls and stewards at the event were using PMR446 handhelds.
I have had an interest in cars since I was a child and of course at the age of 43 the cars I remember from those days are now regarded as "classics"- I guess this is a sign of old age!
Anyway amongst the familiar Morris Minor, Ford Anglias and Cortinas and MG sportscars was one vehicle that I don't ever actually recall seeing on the road.

Its A Borgward Isabella. According to Wikipedia this model was produced from 1954 to 1962. As you can probably see from the picture this one is right hand drive so therefore was intended for the UK market. I can only guess that they were not that popular!

Friday, 29 April 2011

40 metres

The YL was busy watching the royal wedding this morning so I had some extra "Shack time". I thought I would see if I could find any of the special MR or GR prefix callsigns. I opted for 40 metres, using the TS830 on SSB for a change. I was going to use the TS450 but I couldn't find the mike! Anyway conditions seemed rather noisy but I did get hold of MR0TMW in Co. Antrim and GR0AXY in Edinburgh. Along with GB2SWF (speyside whisky festival). Later I worked F4ELJ in Brest As the band was pretty poor I fired up the SRW linear on 40. You can imagine my embarrassment when running about 350watts I worked PA/DG8KAJ who was running 10 watts!! Well I don't often use the linear so at least I have warmed it up a little. All in all a pleasant morning and quite unusual for me as I havent worked much on SSB lately.
Generally HF conditions seem poor here today with even 20 metres with more noise than activity.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Icom 706 and 6 metres

I use an Icom 706 Mk1 in my car. Coupled to an LDG IT100 auto atu it works well. Press the "Tune" button on the rig and the ATU does its stuff. Although I use mono band whips for the HF mobile the ATU is very useful in broadening the useable bandwidth.  reading the reviews on Eham I recently saw a reference to this mobile antenna  and am thinking about getting one. It seems it is basically a whip with a balun of some sort in the base. Although it would not be likely to be as efficient as a mono band antenna it would, along with the LDG ATU, allow me access to all bands including or so I thought, 50 mhz, 6 metres-a band which I have not used mobile before. 6 metres is output on the same antenna port as HF on the 706
The 706 covers 6 metres as does the LDG atu. BUT as I found out today the 706 will not generate a tuning tone on 6 when you press the tune button. Neither will the atu work on 6 when I generate a carrier from the rig. Why this should be I have no idea. The Specs of the LDG atu state it covers 50 mhz. Now I believe it is a known shortcoming of the MK1 706 that the "tune" button does not work on 6 metres but why the LDG does not react to a  50mhz carrier I am not sure. As it stands though it seems that if I did get the multiband whip I would not be able to use it on 6 metres.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Ready to Go

Ok, It does't look much but today I made up a doublet for the HF bands. 40 metre top section, 10 metres of 300ohm feeder and a 4:1 Balun.
Its going to be fun fitting this into the garden, in fact half of it will be in the field behind the house. In any case I am hopping it will be a little better than the shortened dipole is on 80 metres and will hopefully work a bit better on the other bands.
I haven't put it up yet,thats a job for another day.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

More work on the TS830

Here is the 830 minus its covers

One of the replacement 6146Bs

The two valves in Situ

Pa compartment cover screwed back on!

The good news is the 6146bs I had work. The neutralisation process I am not sure about however. As the handbook suggests I tuned the rig up on 28.500, turned the SG switch on the rear off and using my R1000 receiver adjusted  TC1 for a minimum "s" meter reading on the R1000. The only problem was that I didn't get a sharp reduction in the S meter reading, in fact it didn't vary much irrespective of where TC1 was. So I left TC1 more or less where it was with the old PA valves.
At present the rig now has healthy RF output with a pa current well within the specifications. Everything seems stable with no fuses blown so far. I may get a local amateur friend to look at the PA neutralisation issue again before I use the rig in anger though!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Time for a change?

Well it is for these 6146b valves that I pulled from my TS830s tonight. They don't look in good shape

 If you don't know how they SHOULD look (I didn't!) I will post a picture of one of the unused 6146s I have shortly. Hopefully you can see that the metal filament in the valve is warped. Both 6146s are basically the same
I think the state of the PA valves may be at least part of my TS830 problems. Next job then is to try replacing the 6146s and going through the neutralisation process.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Matching my speed

Having finished work a little early today I was sat in the shack, I only had a few minutes as the YL wanted me to take a short walk with her. I decided to call CQ on CW  on 15 metres. Now at the moment I am still using a straight key and I would estimate my sending speed at around 12 to a maximum of 14 words per minute. I was only running 25 watts to my 80/40 metre dipole so I wasn't really expecting any instant replies but immediately UR8IB came back to me. Great.............but hold on, I think he was sending at about 20 words per minute. Well I am pleased to say that I got the basics of the QSO, name and report etc but it was a struggle. His CW was good but a bit too fast for me! Still I am making progress it seems.
On my trip home from work today I was also lucky enough to work on 20 metres SSB R50YG in honour of the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

The mystery of the TS830S goes on. Opening the PA compartment I could see nothing that had obviously blown. I removed and reseated the 6146 PA valves and checked and adjusted the bias adjustment as the manual states. I was then  able to get a reasonable RF output on 80 and 40 metres into a dummy load. Attempt sat trying to tune on 30 metres and 15 metres resulted in another blown fuse and a dead rig.I am lucky in that we have locally here an amateur who is experienced in working with electronics and particularly valved gear. He has suggested the trying a replacement pair of 6146's first (I have a few spares) if this doesn't make any difference he has offered to take a look at the rig.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Progress................of a kind!

Well my TS830s isn't quite as badly damaged as I thought.It is now working OK on receive at least. Why is it now receiving? Well I am almost too embarrassed to admit this-but lets just say its important to make sure the fuse holder in the rig is screwed fully home!!
In any case switching on the heater switch shows that I have some plate current to the PA valves but the current rapidly increases within seconds and if the heaters were left on the fuse would simply blow again. The fault here seems to be similar to the one I had with my small SRW linear- that too showed a rapid increase in plate current. That fault turned out to be a combination of a blown capacitor in the finals stage along with a dying resistor. I hope to get some time over the weekend to open up the PA stage of the rig to have a close look.

I spent some time this evening trying to get the data lead I bought to work with my FT1000MP but to no avail. The DIN plug on the lead was indeed incorrectly wired according to the pinout data in the Yaesu manual. Two of the wires (earth and PTT) were going to the wrong pins. I resoldered these to the correct pins but I still cannot get the software to key the rigs PTT. I think I will stick to the TS450 for data-it works well in this mode and is simple to use. I feel a bit annoyed that I am left with a lead that doesn't do what it was bought for-but I guess it could be easily adapted to suit another rig. I have come to the conclusion that the 1000MP is not really suited to the data modes.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Not good news

With the higher bands opening up nicely over the weekend I thought I would try my hand at some CW on 15 metres. I started to tune up my trusty TS830s when it blew the fuse. Not the mains fuse, the fuse in the rig. Since this has happened before I was not too concerned and i had some spare fuses to hand. I replaced the fuse and a few minutes later as i keyed the rig, everything went dead again. This time replacing the fuse had no effect. A totally dead rig, no transmit and no receive. I checked the mains plug but no, that fuse was fine. In truth I knew something was more seriously wrong as when the rig died this time there was a small wisp of smoke coming from the top cover! I took off the covers, hoping to see something obvious, perhaps a blown capacitor but there was no visual sign of the fault. Opening up the PA compartment again revealed nothing obvious. i guess it is time to download the service manual and try to check some voltages so it looks like I am going to have to devote some time to the 830s and maybe seek the help of one of the more technical locals eventually. Since this rig is around 30 years old now and has never let me down before I should not complain.

In the meantime I have rewired my CW Key so it works on the FT1000MP. I had a QSO on 80 metres CW with it last night. It works OK but it just doesn't sound as nice on receive as the old TS830.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Data troubles

I had an idea to try and tidy things up in the shack and reduce the clutter. Why not use my under used Yaesu FT1000MP on data modes? I could then dispense with the little Kenwood TS450 I use for data, I could keep it as a backup rig or maybe sell it and buy some extra filters for the Yaesu.
So, I obtained a very reasonably priced data lead from This arrived two days after placing my order-great stuff! I must say that although delivery was prompt there is no documentation with the interface whatsoever, nothing is labelled, even the two audio leads leave you to guess which is audio in and which is audio out!
Well this lead connects to the 5 pin DIN socket on the back of the Yaesu-labelled "packet"". I soon had the lead connected and was receiving PSK signals.Several hours later however I was still unable to get the rig to go into TX mode using Digipan or any other program. I could get data transmitted by manually keying the rig but no way of getting the PTT to operate via the interface. There could be a number of reasons for this- firstly the interface lead uses a USB rather than serial connector for which I had to install a Prolific driver. Secondly the Yaesu has to be set into "packet" mode for the PTT on the socket to activate, however despite doing all of this -no luck.
When DIGIPAN goes into TX the LED on the interface lights-so it is not a com port problem or a driver problem with the USB interface- the problem appears to be at the rig end. For now I have given up and re connected the little TS450 which works very well on data.This is not the first time I have tried and failed to press the Yaesu into use on Data.
The Yaesu FT1000MP is one of the few rigs I have owned from new. In fact it was the most expensive piece of equipment I ever purchased. For that reason alone I suppose I have tried to like this rig but in reality it is nowhere as good as perhaps I had thought it would be. for CW I prefer my old TS830s- it sounds so much nicer, for general receive I prefer my R5000 receiver, and the TS450 is easier for data. I guess the FT1000 does produce nice quality transmit audio though!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Radio Rallies

I attended my first radio rally of 2011 today. Held by the Swansea Amateur Radio Society at the Neath Sports centre.
This is not a particularly large rally but it seemed well attended and it was nice to meet up with some friends old and new. One of the highlights for me was meeting fellow blogger and local CW partner MW0IAN, Ian.
I came away from the rally with a few small items-a couple of BNC plugs, a dipole centre piece and some 300ohm feeder (I am thinking of making an HF doublet).
The next rally for me may be at the end of June (west of England Rally), these radio events are quite thin on the ground now, when I started in the hobby it seemed like there was a rally almost every other week!

Friday, 18 February 2011


My confidence in CW operating is slowly improving. As well as a couple of QSOs with local amateur MW0IAN I have also managed a QSO on 80 metres CW with 2E0ROD in Peterborough. This evening I have some time in the shack and I was going to try a few CQ calls. Switching on the HF rig however I was met with S9 of noise over most of the HF spectrum. Lets hope it is only Temporary, it sounds like some localised electrical QRM.
As an extra incentive to improve my CW I have joined the FISTS club. Their website can be found here.

Because I have been concentrating on CW I have not been on the air on PSK31 for some time now, this was a mode which I was using quite heavily up until now. Whilst I am sure I will return to the data modes it is nice sometimes to be able to operate the radio without having a PC switched on. Maybe thats why I am not really interested in SDR at the moment. I have however been using a borrowed "Softrock" SDR receiver connected to the IF output of my TS830 to monitor the CW section of the bands and I find it very useful.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Ongoing project

The receiver pictured is a Realistic DX150A. Its a general coverage receiver from the late 1960's/Early 1970s. It is a simple, single conversion analogue set covering from Medium wave up to 30 Mhz. I bought it on Ebay as a "spares or repair/not working". Externally the receiver is complete and in good condition although it was quite dirty!
When it arrived here I connected it up to a 12 volt supply and was surprised to find it does work! It does however need quite a bit of attention, there is a broken tuning core inside and the BFO does not work so it only receives AM at the moment. The receiver has been modified in the past. You may be able to see the two BNC sockets on the rear. One of the BNCs is for an antenna, the other, well I'm not sure but I think the receiver may have been modified to take a digital frequency counter.

I haven't tried to connect the receiver to the mains supply yet. For one reason it has an unusual connector for the AC lead (I think this may be another modification) secondly there is a possibility that the transformer may be for a 110v USA type supply. I have a friend who has a variac and one I have sourced a mains connector we may be able to see what the correct operating voltage is using that.

I am hoping that trying at least to improve the receiver will result in some fun and some learning along the way.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

First Step in CW

Fellow blogger and local Radio amateur MW0IAN drew my attention to a range of frequencies around 3570 on 80 metres where slow(ish) CW QSOs were to be found. I set up my TS830s this evening on that frequency and was monitoring when I heard a very strong station calling CQ. It was none other than MW0IAN himself! Well I had no excuse, he was sending at a speed I could read, nice clear CW and a strong signal. I had to reply. We had a short but enjoyable CW QSO, my first on that mode for over 20 years!
I felt it was a step in the right direction, I will be a little less nervous with my next contact on the key now that I have broken the ice so to speak
Pictured below is my CW station. Note the straight key- I need quite a bit more practice before I consider using the paddle.

Anyway thanks Ian for the contact, i don't suppose we broke any DX records- probably no more than 1km between us-but it certainly helped my CW progress.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

An Interesting discovery

Following on from my last post it seems I have found the main source of QRM that was caused by one of my PCs at least. In the pic with my previous post you may have noticed  the "Black box" Icom PCR1000 receiver, sitting on top of my little HF linear amp. That receiver is connected to the main pc-the one I have moved onto another desk.Having moved that PC I found that the S9 of noise on 10 metres which was always there when the PC was on had disappeared. Today I decided to reconnect the Icom receiver. Since the Icom uses a serial port connector I use a USB to Serial lead out of the PC which connects to serial lead and then to the Icom.
Plugging the lead into my USB hub, Windows 7 automatically installed the USB to serial driver and then............S9 of noise on 10 meters. Moving the lead directly into a USB on the PC reduced this to S6 but unplugging altogether reduced the noise to nil.
I don't know why this lead should be radiating noise like this, but I will try and move the Icom receiver to be controlled by the other PC. Perhaps winding the lead around a ferrite ring would help? I think I have one here and will give it a try.If that doesn't work I think I will be moving the Icom on.

Friday, 28 January 2011

All change

I managed to find a space to reinstall the Trio/Kenwood TS830s on the Desk. Now all I need is a three way switch so I can switch my antenna between the three HF rigs. Whilst I was about it I moved the main PC further away from the radios. This has greatly reduced the QRM I was getting from that PC. The older PC which I use for PSK31 still generates some noise. In order to move that I will either need to get extension cables for the keyboard and mouse or maybe pick up a wireless mouse and keyboard set.

When I look at all the gear in the picture here it strikes me that the little Yaesu FT857D which you can see on top of my Yaesu FT1000MP could in fact do everything that all of the other gear could do, all in one tiny box. At present I just use the 857 on VHF. Perhaps I should clear the decks and use a minimalist shack based around the 857? :-)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Learning the hard way.

For the last couple of days I have been using the CW GET software to help practice my CW sending. Although it can be quite distressing to see thaT what you thought was good CW isn't. CW GET is not like the human ear. It doesn't make any allowances. If your timing is slightly out your G will appear on CW GET  as a T and an N and so on.
One thing is for sure when I do go on air for my first (for 20 years) CW I will use my straight key rather than the paddle- results were a bit better with that! More practice needed on the paddle I think!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


Just downloaded and installed the JT65a software I have been reading so much about. It looks really complex! I have also been reading a handy guide to this mode "The Complete Bozo's Guide to HF JT65A ( a work in progress)"by Andy K3UK. I'm not sure I will get the hang of this mode but will try monitoring first to see how I get on. In the meantime I have also been playing around with the Flidgi software and managed to decode an MFSK16 transmission with it today. I have been using Digipan for years on PSK31, I can see Flidgi is a more versatile piece of software but I think it will take me a while to get used to the user interface.

Monday, 24 January 2011


When I installed the HF gear in my car last year, it soon became clear that even though the antenna mount was installed on the bootlid (trunk) of my Volvo saloon car with an HF antenna installed it was long enough to hit overhanging tree branches etc. To avoid too much strain on the antenna and mount I purchased a spring on Ebay and installed that. The spring fits between the UNF mount on the boot and the antenna and absorbs a lot of the strain.
Last year I mentioned the disappointing quality of the Sirio antenna mount I had purchased although it still works it is rusting away quite quickly and will need to be replaced soon-not impressive after just around 6 months. That mount by the way is being used for the VHF whip, the 10 year old Diamond mount is being used for HF and still looks as good as new. I can't say the same for the Ebay spring though which had a shiny chrome finish but now looks like this:

Now I didn't pay a great deal for this little item, but it was the only one I could get. It still functions of course but looks awful again after 6 months. Yes it has been outside in all weathers but surely that it what it was designed for! I  don't want a rusty thing like this attached to my car! I have now painted it silver with some Hammerite paint so that it looks a little better. I wonder is it possible to get quality antenna items anymore or should be just accept that things are only going to last six months or so?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Little and often

I am on leave from work for a few weeks while the YL recovers from an operation.This means a little extra (but not a lot!!) of time for radio in between the household chores and looking after the YL.Some of this time I am using for CW practice, a little time on the CW teaching software on the PC, a little time sending to myself on the paddle key and some time listening to and writing down CW off the air. Added to which when I am in the shack and not transmitting myself I am listening to CW. I am hoping that by doing this for a while I will be able to get back on the air with the key!
In the evenings I am still doing a little work on PSK31, as far as I can see HF conditions are still pretty poor though. I may download and give the JT65 mode a try sometime too.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Software Solution

A couple of weeks ago I posted a note on the Transmission 1 radio forum, commenting on the reports of low TX audio that I had received when using my Chinese made Luiton Handheld.
One of the contributors to the forum "Gladiator" was kind enough to post a link to some software to program the rig.
Now I already had some software but this is the Dealer programming software which has further adjustments available, including the changing of the frequency rang both for transmit and receive and more importantly some settings for the TX audio level.

Changing  some of these settings has resulted in much better audio reports which rather makes me wonder why the default settings were so poorly chosen. The software adjustments have made this little rig a much more useful piece of equipment.
Also through the post today came my second  Shortwave broadcast QSL from another station soon to leave the shortwave bands- Radio Slovakia International.