Thursday, 31 March 2016

To the beach

My wife suggested we have a family trip to the local beach and I took that as an opportunity to put the new rig in my rucksack and see how it worked portable.

I took the HB1B, Palm mini paddle, 12v SLA battery, a multi band 40m EFHW design antenna and a 6m pole as well as all of the family picnic related kit. 

It was easy to find a spot out of the wind and set up, initially I thought something was wrong because of the lack of noise but it wasn't long before the signals on the band gave me confidence. I put out a CQ call at the 14.060 QRP watering hole and was answered by OH5LP and also worked HA0HH further down the band who was calling CQ and a decent signal to me. I didn't spend much time playing radio with having the family but did try the new station and work a few contacts. 

I took some video that I will try and edit together for YouTube but my early findings on this rig is that it is certainly a FB radio and just perfect for what I needed. I hope to get a few more portable ops done before I return to work next week. 

EDIT----- video link to YouTube

73 for now M0TEF. 

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

New toy - Youkits HB1B QRP rig

My new toy arrived today, I spotted an eBay bargain at the weekend and accidentally hit the buy it now button (well that's what I told my XYL) 

Early indications and quick tests including a couple of quick QSOs tell me I'm going to love the basic simplicity of this radio. Tomorrow I have even negotiated a trip to the beach so I can check it out by the sea. 

I hope to make a few videos of this and the pixie kits soon and get them on YouTube and linked to the blog. 

Please listen out for me and excuse my terrible CW skills. 


Tuesday, 29 March 2016

More building kits and home brew

I finally got going on another pixie, this time on 20m. It needs the experimental touch but for now I was happy having the two frequencies on a switch adding In capacitance to shift by about 4kHz. 
In an unusual twist for me I even made some effort to make it neat and tidy by putting it in a box I had laying around, it had enough room for internal batteries too. 

I was tempted to build in a VXO but with a youkits HB1B due here in the morning I might save the efforts and stick with two frequencies for the fun and simplicity of it. 

By the time I finished the build the band had started to close and certainly wasn't up to much on low power levels obtained from a 9v battery. Tomorrow I will give it a whirl and see where I'm spotted on the RBN and hopefully have some calls reyurned. 

73 for now M0TEF

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Milliwatt madness, frogs, pixies and QRP adventure.

I have had a wee break from radio related activities and blogging. Work has had large demands and my young family have taken up the rest of my time, I also had my FT-817 stop working as it should do and left without a decent QRP setup.

I wanted to play radio as QRP again and bought the frog sounds QRP TRX as shown in previous posts but it spent much of its time sat in a drawer as I felt my CW was too rusty to get on air and make contacts. Well I bit the bullet and got the frog on the air from home using my CG keyer and palm mini paddles to save the world from my bad straight key skills, or lack of skills should I say.

The evenings have been kind to me and the kids climbed into bed early giving me some time in the shack, I unplugged the FT-1000mp Mrk V and plugged in my bargain crystal controlled Frog. I never made any contacts after 30 minutes of CQ calls but the reverse beacon network managed to report me as being heard as far away as Estonia at just over 1000 miles. I was using a 9v battery as a power source and later discovered power out was around 100mW.

Following my success I visited the local club, Lincoln Shortwave Club and showed the station. Some members suggested I give it a whirl but may not get much of a reply, I made it clear I was happy enough to see where I was being heard in the RBN website. I was not expecting the results I got when I added the frog to the club antenna, a StepIr 40m 2el Beam pointing towards Europe, I was running the same setup again and started to view the RBN spots to see if it performed better. The spots rolled in pretty well when I was called by a weak station, I managed to use my Brain and ears to decipher the CW from the cacophony of signals that the front end provides to the audio amp to pull out a F6 station. After a few more ??? Calls I was able to distinguish the calling station as F6GSI. My keyer was at 16wpm which is a touch on the fast side for me but Alan came back to me and although I missed bits I was able to make the contact and confirm a two way 559 report between us, when I checked the QTH of Alan I realised that the south of France on 100mW of CW on 40m was not bad at all for a QRP contact.

So.... I went home and started tinkering with a pixie 2 that was on the shelf and have managed to get a ropey VXO working on it as per VK3YE suggested on his YouTube videos, I have more to play with and try and add some audio filtering to the set but am pleased with what I've heard so far including a JA station calling CQ, sadly the station did not hear my reply at such low power levels from a now depleted 9v battery.

I hope to keep the blog updated as I venture into playing about with silly kit radios and would live advice on kits to try, especially if anyone has advice for 30m kits too.