I know I’ve not updated this blog for some months but don’t panic, I’m not actually dead!
Although I’ve not done much operating this year, I have still been playing radio. I’ve been melting a lot of solder building WSPR and QRSS transmitters and there’s normally some RF being transmitted on an HF band somewhere running very low power from this QTH. I’m having a lot of fun testing different aerials and different power levels and still enjoying radio.
Everything goes in cycles and as a result, I’ve hardly had any QSOs this year – A quick check of my log shows that I’ve made just 220 contacts in 2014.
I changed my car about six months ago and I fitted a new Kenwood TM-D710GE wireless. My old Kenwood TM-D700E has been retired and the new model does a lot more. I’d had some problems getting the GPS working but the GE model has a GPS built in so as a result, I can be tracked as G6NHU-9 pretty much every time I’m out and about.
Friday night was very windy over here on the east coast and when I went to bed I noticed that there was more noise than normal coming through my aerials. Normally I can hear the wind gently whistling through the mast and the Hexbeam but there was an actual rattle coming from somewhere which is unusual.
The wind had dropped a bit by Saturday morning but I could still hear some rattling from the outside which I quickly traced to be coming from the area where my 10m vertical is located and by looking out of the window I could see the top part of the aerial hanging down.
A quick trip outside confirmed that my Sirio Gain Master vertical for 10m had folded over completely, having broken just above the bottom join. You can see it here and I’ve highlighted the fold.
Broken 10m vertical
The pole is mounted on the side of the house above a flat roof and the area where I normally put the ladder is well shielded from the wind so with the help of M6DHU I was able to quickly get up there, unbolt the pole and lower the aerial. Here’s a closer version of the break with the same area highlighted.
Close up of the broken section of my Sirio Gain Master 10m vertical
The centre radiating element appears undamaged so technically it’s repairable but I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet as I don’t really use it too much. When I’m operating on 10m, I tend to use the Hexbeam although it can be handy with the vertical during contests. A good friend, M0YNK has a Sirio 2016 and I’m thinking it might be a better option, if I decide to replace it.
I’m not too upset about the aerial breaking as I suspected it was going to snap when the winds really kicked up towards the end of last year, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did!
December was another month where I did very little on the wireless regarding actual QSOs made but I did operate QRSS/WSPR on various bands for most of the time. My interests are shifting slightly towards low power experimentation but I’m still keen on trying to increase my DXCC count. In December, I worked one new entity – Lakshadweep Islands.
QSOs made: 73
DXCC entities worked: 20
New DXCC entities worked: 1
Total DXCC worked: 265
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 245
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 261
I’ve had a very busy month with very little time to play radio and despite the fact that there have been a number of DXpeditions in November, I was only able to work one of them which was San Andres Island. I did manage to pick up some new band slots on 40m though and they were Mongolia, Colombia, Bermuda, Georgia, Tunisia, Ceuta & Melilla, Curacao and Republic of South Sudan.
QSOs made: 160
DXCC entities worked: 56
New DXCC entities worked: 1
Total DXCC worked: 264
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 245
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 260
The two new countries worked in October were Guantanamo Bay and Republic of the Congo.
QSOs made: 807
DXCC entities worked: 94
New DXCC entities worked: 2
Total DXCC worked: 263
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW: 244
Total DXCC confirmed using LoTW/QSL cards: 259
In my last post I mentioned that I’d put my 40m vertical up and was hoping to work some new DXCC entities on 40m during the Japanese Amateur Radio Teleprinter Society (JARTS) contest. Well the band was pretty noisy but I did manage pick up three new entities – Alaska, Canary Islands and Uzbekistan.
I only intended to play for a short while during the contest but I ended up doing more than expected. I didn’t sit in the shack all weekend, I did a couple of hours here, a couple there and in the end I stopped when I reached 650 QSOs. The bands were generally in good shape and I was getting good responses to my CQ calls with my best rate over a two hour period being 75 QSOs/hour. At a peak I hit 108 QSOs/hour which I sustained for about twenty minutes. As always, during a data contest where the rules permit, I had the amplifier running for the whole event and was using 400w. No QRP for me!
The output from my amplifier. I don’t do QRP in contests.
My QSO totals per band were:
40m – 115
20m – 290
15m – 140
10m – 105
During the times I was operating there were very few stations to the west but I’m happy to have worked over 150 JA stations over the weekend on the higher three bands. Here’s a map of all stations worked on all bands (click for a much larger version).
Stations worked by G6NHU during the JARTS WW RTTY Contest 2013
Last weekend, following the Martello Tower Group DXpedition to Herm Island, I put up a 40m vertical in my back garden. Not just any 40m vertical, it’s exactly the same one we used to great success on Herm. It’s made up of a 12m Spiderpole with a 1/4 wave vertical element and around 30 radials.
The plan is to leave it up over the winter period (or at least until my XYL insists I take it down) and hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some new DXCC entities on 40m. It’s the next band I’m working towards my DXCC award on and I’m confident it will help me to complete that.
40m vertical in my back garden
I used the same choke arrangement we used while on Herm – an ‘ugly’ choke wound on a sweet jar and a radial ring with the radials attached via crocodile clips. The choke even still has the sticker on showing which cabin we were operating from on Herm!
Choke balun and radial ring at the base of my 40m vertical
The first thing I did once it was put up was to check it with the analyser. I didn’t tune it at all, just used exactly the same length element we’d used while away and although I could probably lop a couple of inches off to bring the SWR dip right into the centre of the band, I decided this was good enough.
SWR plot of the 40m 1/4 wave vertical aerial
This weekend is the JARTS RTTY contest and the following weekend is the CQ WW SSB contest so I’m really hoping that this aerial will perform better than my doublet.