Website updates complete and a few general news items

A couple of months ago, I started working on some upgrades to qso365 and I’m pleased to report that everything is now complete. The most obvious thing was the change of theme which controls how the website looks. The old theme was the original one I set up in 2010 and was starting to feel a little dated. I’ve tried to keep the layout as close as possible to the original but I just think the new one looks fresher and more modern.

The other change you’ll notice is that this site (and all sites I’m responsible for) should now show as secure in your browser. It’s taken a while to get this all sorted but I’m confident it’s all complete now.

In other news, my hexbeam is broken again. The 17m element has snapped where it joins to the centre post so it’ll be a simple fix once the garden is dry enough for me to be able to work. There’s a modification I’m going to do to all the elements which should stop this from happening again. It’s making things a little awkward because the element is hanging quite a long way down and I don’t want to turn the aerial in case it gets caught on my 30m dipole or the roof.

Although I completed DXCC on 12m earlier this year, I’ve been keen to try and improve my country count and have spent a fair bit of time monitoring FT8 on there recently and it’s been open far more than I’d expect. I’m up to 113 entities confirmed, having worked some nice ones recently, including Gabon, Thailand, Australia, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, China, Isle of Man, Argentina and Wales.

My total DXCC count now sits at 280 worked and confirmed. My rate of new ones has been very slow for the last few years which isn’t too surprising due to the poor conditions we’ve had at the bottom of Cycle 24.
Cycle 25 is now around a year old and the last three or four months have been a lot better than expected because from my understanding, cycles can be fairly slow to start with it often taking four years for conditions to be noticeably better. Cycle 25 seems to be ramping up far quicker than expected and I’ve noticed that some forecasts have changed to predict that Cycle 25 could be far better than previously expected. That would be nice.

Towards the end of the summer, I built some more GM3SEK chokes and installed them in my loft, just before the coax comes into my shack. I assembled two high band chokes in series and put them on the main feed to my hexbeam, I would two medium band chokes in series and put them in the feed to my 30m dipole and wound a low and a mid band choke in series and they’re in the feed to the 40m section of the hexbeam. I already have chokes at the feed points to the aerials but figured that additional ones can’t hurt anything. I used the specified cores and wound them using Messi & Paoloni Ultraflex 7 coax which was quite a tight fit and I had to use a good coating of silicon oil to get them through!

The result on receive was a very slight reduction in noise on 40m and 30m with no noticeable difference on the main hexbeam. On transmit, it’s a different matter. Previously, if I transmitted on 20m then I would slowly kill my internet connection. It didn’t die straight away, it would go over a few periods of transmission with the activity light locking on, then returning to normal, locking on again, repeat and then finally fail.

Since adding the choke, this hasn’t happened once. I’ve made hundreds of contacts on 20m plus taken part in a number of contests, SSB, CW and data and haven’t had a problem with RF killing my internet at all. I never thought I had any RF in the shack but this demonstrates there must have been some.

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