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. 

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