Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gearing up for portable mobile op's

The new "ham mobile"
Removing some metal from the K400
Well the summer is fast approaching and with it the warm weather. over the winter I started to get things ready for some summer portable op's from my car. It involved getting the Elecraft K2 mobile ready and

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The bands are dead but can a WSPR defibrillator get results

20m WSPR results
As most of you know the conditions on HF over the last week have been dismal at the best of times. Over the weekend I found 20m to be flat and 40m was just more or less local stuff. So Monday I thought it was time to give WSPR a go again. I set the output to 1 watt and gave 40, 30 and 20m's  a go. I was surprised that 20m was alive on WSPR. It was odd that I was unable to hear any CW on 20m's but using WSPR at one watt I was heard overseas.  My fan dipole in the attic is not really setup for 30m's but with the tuner in the K3 I
30m's was local only
am able to fool the rig to see a flat match. The SWR on the other side of the K3's tuner for 30m's is about 9:1 (according to my LP100A) so with one watt from the K3 and a 9:1 match what type of power is getting up to the antenna. With the help of this calculator I can enter my feed line type, power input, frequency and SWR this will get me a rough idea of the power at the antenna. So at 1 watt with an SWR of 9:1 using 30ft of  LMR-400 on 30m's the output at the antenna is around 892mW's of  raw power!! That raw power got me local responses on WSPR.  As for 40m's with one was more or less dead.

40m's was dead

Monday, April 23, 2012

Great Propagation forecast but that's it.....

I was on the radio now and then over the weekend with my hopes set on picking up some new DXCC's with the CQMM contest. I have very few of the South American DXCC's and it would had upped my total for the ARRL Jubilee. The news seemed good with rising sunspots,flux and lower solar wind....BUT....  for some reason the spots were all over my DXLab DXview world map but that's as far as it went. I heard nothing at all at this end. It just seemed to be one of those weekends with great conditions on paper but in the real world not so good. On Saturday I did make one contact PP1CZ Brazil (all ready have that DXCC) made it in with one watt with several repeats. That gave me a distance of 5088 miles per watt. Today the numbers look great again  sun spots (118) and SFI (148) but I did notice the Bz is at -15.5 that is the lowest I have seen it for some time now and once again the bands were dead.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

DXLab's software

My DXLab's desktop
Over the past couple of weeks I have been dabbling with "all in one" radio software. I narrowed my search down to Ham radio deluxe and DXLab. In the past I had about 4 different radio software programs on my computer. I found that I used one for a month then switch to another one. I would once again have to hit the  learning curve to get familiar with the program. A lot of time was wasted doing this and it could get very frustrating at times. So last month the decision was made to narrow my choice down to ONE and stick with it. So it was time to release the hounds and begin the chase!!!! It was recommended I give DXLab a shot. Up to that point I really had not heard of this program not sure why but just never had. After working with this program over the past month I have decided this is the program for me. DXLab's is made up of 8 applications ranging from rig control, logging and a  web cluster app just to mention 3 of the 8 modules.

Reason's why I chose DXLab

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday afternoon radio surprises

The view from JY5HX's beam
On Saturday afternoon I was able to spend an hour on the rig....well the rig was on in the background as I was tiding up some "stuff" on the PC. I have been reading on different blogs about poor conditions over the past week or so. I was reading this morning that things are going to pickup again with some new sunspots making there way around to earths side of things. Anyway......Yesterday I was able to snag W0S which is a special event station commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic. The contact was made on 20m with 2 watts at this end. I was reading (see W0S link above) on the Southgate Amateur radio new site that W0S was also running QRP. I was surprised to read this as he had a great signal into Ontario. We exchanged names, QTH and reports then he moved on to the next in line. W0S is located in Branson Missouri and they had a station setup outside the Titanic Museum in downtown Branson.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

QRPometer ready for action

QRPometer complete
Well the QRPometer has made it from a pile of parts to a very useful tool for the shack and portable op's. It's no wonder this kit sold out in record time and now the 4 state QRP group will have to round up more parts and move out some more kits as the demand is out there. I began this project the same way I have with all my projects.... by doing a parts inventory. That went by without a hitch all the parts and pieces were present and accounted for. It was then off to the "puttin" the parts where they belong. The instructions are very easy to

Friday, April 6, 2012

The QRPometer arrived

The 4 state QRP QRPometer
Back in late March I read on W2LJ's blog a post about the new QRPometer available from the 4 state QRP group. At the time I was also building my Elecraft KAT2 antenna tuner. I was getting to the stage of testing and setting up the tuner. I needed a watt meter for one of the tests. I do have the LP-100A meter and it is a super meter! BUT for me to use this meter it involves removing it from my Elecraft K3 setup and that is a REAL pain to do. So reading Larry's post about this new meter had me come to the understanding that this unit would be a nice fit for my shack......and also it's a kit! This little unit is a great SWR and watt meter. It's reads from 10 watts and goes down to 100mW's it has a large easy to read LED read out. The kit arrived at the shack on Wednesday of this week and it's still waiting assembly. I was fortunate to get the kit as it sold out very fast. I hope to get the unit built over the Easter weekend.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Seeing the big picture

The new setup
Old setup
 On Friday my new P3 SVGA card came in this cool add on allows me to move the band scope that is on the P3 up to a large monitor. This has been an add on I had been looking forward to for sometime. The SVGA card from Elecraft fits into the P3 and took about 20 minutes to complete the installation. It was then