Sunday, March 12, 2017

Has it been this long since I was on the radio??
My last blog post was over a month ago! What's the reason for this over due lapse........I have really not been on the radio or for that mater doing any thing radio what so ever. I have not fallen off the Ham radio wagon but have been busy with my other budding hobby... photography. My wife Julie is into photography big time has taken me under her wing. I have using my time to learn the in's and outs of our camera's (Nikon D800, D810 and a Lumix mirrorless) along with editing software such as Adobe Lightroom.  I'm begging to understand that "point and shoot" is the past and for me understanding the camera and the shot is my new learning curve. As you can see from the above picture ( Done with my iPhone and an instant fail in my dear wife's eyes) the roll top desk was  long overdue in opening. Today it was time to get down to some radio time. I setup the MFJ 1788 loop antenna on the balcony and flipped the K3 switch. I found myself on 20m and the band was in decent shape. I came across F6HKA calling CQ and I called him and he came back to me (with a few repeats  of my call) we had a nice QSO with the standard exchange. My mode of choice was CW, my report was 229 and  he was 559. The code speed was about 15 WPM and I must say even with the time away from the radio I found this speed very comfortable.  Before I knew it was time for Bert to move on as he had others waiting to make contact. I was thrilled to had made this contact and I soon after sent him an email of thanks. It's not news that the solar cycle is in the  down swing BUT I read some very encouraging blog posts over this past month...On March 7th John N8ZYA posted that he had contacted Australia VK3CWB with 5 watts and using an indoor antenna!!!
John also quoted VK3CWB regarding a great attitude to have:

"Its not the QRP which is important, it's the enthusiasm, endeavor, application and belief that things can be done simply which I really admire. And of course, if you run QRP there must be a persistence and a "never say die' attitude which is also most admirable".

Monday, January 30, 2017

A 40m WSPR weekend

40m from 7am-7pm local time
With the Solar cycle heading on a downward trend I have been reading how 40, 80 and 160m may be the bands of choice for QSO's. Since my MFJ 1788 will only venture down to 40m and at the best of times I have found it to preform like a wet noodle on this band. I decided this weekend to give WSPR a go on 40m using 1 watt to see what results I got. My 1 watt signal was picked up throughout Canada and the U.S. There was a one off to Spain but the consensus from WSRP.net was on 40m my DX was going to be North America. There was one odd report which repeated itself over and over, it was from WY1R saying he was hearing me on 6m?? Not to sure what that was all about. I also was checking with PSK reporter looking at WSPR mode and funny thing was there was never any hits for my call?
40m from 7am-1am local time

Sunday, January 15, 2017

North American CW QSO party contest

Oliver keeping a close eye
I was able to take part in the North American CW QSO party contest on Saturday, it was only a part time effect with only putting in 5 hours. With the solar conditions in the downward turn I like the local contests as the DX is just south of the boarder. I was operating single operator, QRP power at 5 watts and with no spotting assistance. The two bands I operated on were 15m and 20m, the reason for this was... my MFJ 1788 loop does not go up to 10m and on 40m it's like a wet noodle. Starting on 15m was a very slow go it took me 25 minutes for the first contact! From 1800 UTC to around 1930 CW op's south of the boarder we just above the noise floor at times and when they popped up to S7 it was only for a very short time before fading. Switching over to 20m around 2000 UTC proved to be more fruitful. The conditions on 20m were much better and I was able to work my 5 watts into Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Bermuda as well as all through the U.S.
Part time summery
The P3 in action
Contacts          31
Sections            8
Multi                 4
Total points    372
My setup for the contest was as mentioned the MFJ 1788 loop antenna, The Elecraft K3 the rig has the 8 pole inrad filters 500,400 and 250 which I installed. These filters work great in contest conditions when signal are very close to each other. The Elecraft P3 Pan-adapter   , my new Elecraft K-pod which allowed me to have VFO control right beside my keyboard and as well programed macros.  My key is the Begali contour a very smooth key and  makes CW even more of a pleasure to send. The Win4K3 rig control software, N1MM+ contest software and finally MRP4064 CW decoding program for when the CW is at 40+.
software was

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Powering the K-Pod via its RJ12 cable.

The 2 resistor through hole and SMT
 Once I received my K-Pod I wanted to get it up and operating to see how it worked. One of the things that had to be done was to power up the K-Pod. This can be done one of two ways either via a separate power cable or with a small mod to the Elecraft K3 you can power the K-pod with the RJ12 inter connecting cable. The fasted way at the time was to power it via my power supply. In time I would do the mode so only one small cable would run between the Elecraft  K3 and the K-pod.......Well that time had come and the mod was to be done.  Elecraft gave you a choice of resistors
Front panel removed 
for the mod, an SMT as mentioned already or a through hole resistor. I chose the SMT as the leads from the though hole resistor had to be maneuvered around other SMT resistors. This method seemed to be asking for a short to a neighbouring SMT. It was time to replace a small (and I mean small) SMT resistor in my Elecraft K3. The resistor is supplied by Elecraft along with very detailed
Now that is small!!
instructions. The first step was to remove the front control board from the K3, this would get me access to the area the SMT  resistor was to be installed. With the front panel off and in front of me my next step was to identify R82 in the lower left corner. I located the resistor and the job on a scale of 1-10  was about a 7 for me. So It was now time to heat up the Weller soldering station and get to work. Now having said that I do want to make it clear that I am never really thrilled about placing a soldering iron anywhere close to my rig! Elecraft does offer there services for this if you want to ship them your radio......BUT.....I have done other modes to the Elecraft K3 in the past and without issue. Fortunately the old SMT resistor did not have to be removed, the new one could be mounted on top of it. After some very deep breaths the deed was done and it was time for the smoke test! With the K-pod connected to the K3 I powered up the radio and low and behold the K-pod was alive and well. 
The deed was done not pretty but it works fine.