Sunday, October 20, 2019

Comparing receive signals with and without 1:1 balun.

20m without balun
On Saturday I picked up my Balun Designs 1:1 balun and on Sunday I was able to do some on air tests. I wanted to see the difference between using the 1:1 balun and not using it. This post will deal with how my receive signal was  affected with and without the Balun installed. I was able to take some screenshots from my Icom 7610 for this comparison. The first band I looked at was 20m, it was getting a bit late in the day so there was not a whole lot of action on the band. Even with the lack of signals I was able to see an interesting comparison. The span on the 7610 was set to 14.000 to
 14.100 to cover the CW and digi section of the band. The local time was in around 22:37 and without Balun Designs 1:1 balun installed the section of 20m from 14.000 to 14.100 showed some what I called washout sections. I did notice around the 14.040 mark there is some RFI on the waterfall. When I moved the VFO over to that section the RFI was very faint.  Also a very faint indication of RFI on the waterfall just past the
20m with balun
14.080 mark.
When the 1:1 balun was introduced the band cleaned up regarding the washed out sections. I was able to see digi signals, in the posted picture the digi signals are almost gone from the waterfall. There was some CW signals close to the noise floor that I was able to hear (not shown in the picture). I did notice the RFI what was in the waterfall without the balun installed is gone BUT after the balun was installed at 14.080 there was a stronger RFI signal and I could hear it very well when tuned to it. This RFI was not there all the time I would say it was on and off. Not sure what it is but that is not the purpose of this post.....save that for another post.
20m RFI without balun
With the 1:1 balun installed it seemed to clean up the band and bring out signals that were otherwise washed out.
20m RFI with balun
The next band I did was 30m and the span was 10.100 to 10.150 I found without the 1:1 balun installed the 30m band was washed out with just a hint of digi signals between 10.130-10.140. Once the balun was installed the band cleaned up and there was no longer a washout effect. The digi signals were much more significant and I also was able to see some CW signals on the waterfall. I did notice just
30m without balun.
to the right of the digi signals something on the waterfall. I was not really hearing any RFI when I tuned it in maybe it was packet I am not sure?
Because it was later in the evening 40m seemed to really shine when I preformed the comparison with and without the balun installed. The span on 40m was 7.000 to 7.100. Without the balun there was some CW signals as well as some digi signals that I noticed. I was pleased with what I saw until I placed the balun in the picture. This cleared up the band and I was able to see more CW signals and the digi section was much more pronounced. I also noticed according to the S-meter with the balun was in around S-4 and without just over S-5.

I am very pleased how the balun has improved the reception end of things.
30m with balun

30m digi signal with something to the right?
40m without balun
40m with balun

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Endfed vs Nor'easter!

My Endfed antenna was put up on October 2nd with a few issues that I blogged about but mostly have been sorted out. Today was the test to see how it held up with some strong winds, today was the arrival of a Nor'easter here in the Maritimes. There was high winds and lots of rain, I did find that as it continued to rain the SWR on 40m could not be tamed by the LDG antenna tuner. All other bands were just fine. I was outside at one point when the rain slowed a bit to take out some trash. The one end of the antenna is just outside the back shed and I gave the Endfed wire a bit of a pluck like one would do to a guitar string. Water came off the entire Endfed antenna. I went back into the house and gave 40m a go again and all was well. I'm guessing a collection of water on the antenna affected 40m and I imagine over time more water would had affected the other bands.
Now back to wind vs Endfed antenna, the 9:1 balun enclosure is mounted in a tree with the other end mounted at the shed. Before putting up the antenna I had to devise a way of overcoming the tree sway  and the stress it would put on the antenna. I thought about using a spring but when I went to the hardware store here in town there were none  I felt would flex before any stress was placed on the antenna, the springs just had to have to much tension before they would start to flex. A comment I received on my blog regarding this very issue was to use bungee cord. These were easy to come by at the hardware store and I decided to use it. My installation consisted of 2 bungee cords just incase one became effective and let go.
Today as the wind gusts picked up I noticed the tree that the 9:1 balun was on was swaying a lot but the bungee took up the flex and allowed the Endfed to hardly even move. Up to this point in time the Endfed only had to deal with a slight breaze but today it was put to the test and it passed without issue.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

My first contact as VE9KK

Well once the headphones were repaired and I ran through the starting of the radio software and making sure it was speaking politely to the radio I was off to try my hand at FT8. I was calling CQ on 20m and on Hamspots my call was being spotted in Europe and I was thrilled! Back at my condo QTH in Toronto I was only spotted in the U.S. and there was a spot in Iceland as well. It was not long at all until IU8DON from Italy answered my CQ call on FT8!! I was amazed that my signal was making it finally across the ocean. I did not have to much time after the sorting of the software and radio communication testing but the contact with Italy just made my day!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Sidelined by headphones.

Our new hobby room
This weekend in Canada is a long weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving. Today Julie and I agreed to take a break from getting our new place looking how we like it and have a hobby day. For me it's amateur radio and for Julie it's quilting. This past week I finished off our hobby room, Julie and I hobby in the same room. In the picture you can see Julie's sewing machine table and opposite to that is her cutting table and my hobby is in the roll top desk. The walls at this point are still naked  as I want to wait for about a week for the paint to be fully dry before we hang any wall items.
The wire and broken support issue
The window in about 4 weeks is going to be changed out with a new window that is almost twice the size of what is in the picture. That should really brighten up the space. My plan for my hobby day was to make sure the my radio and PC software were still getting along after putting my station back together and then I wanted to just go over the radio manual and re-familiarize myself with the radio. I turned on the Icom fitted on the headphones (Julie does not consider CW to be music to her ears) and low and behold only the right side of the headphones was working! We this side lined the plan for the morning. The headphones are AGK K240 studio headphones and I have had them for about 5 years and they are just great. Upon removing the headphone cover plate (non technical term) I two unfortunate things. The first was two wires that were torn off their termination and the other issue was  a broken support which was the reason the wires were torn off. Since these are the best headphones I have had in a long time I was determined to repair them. With the combination of a glue gun and soldering iron the job was completed and the K240 headphones are back in service. 
Glue gun nicely repaired the support issue.