Hexbeam is fixed, DXCC 2021 and general updates

I posted back in January to say that the 17m element on my Hexbeam had snapped in the storms and was causing problems. It took over three months before everything came together to allow me to get the mast down and repair it but I managed it last weekend, just in time for the CQ WPX SSB contest this weekend.

I also put a fix into place that should stop the elements from breaking like this again and I added some additional fixing to my ADS-B aerial that’s on top of the mast because I’d noticed that when we had strong winds, it was tilting very slightly.

For the last three months, I’ve not had much more than 40m and 30m to use because the broken element was affecting the other bands on the Hexbeam and so it was very nice to get back onto 17m and be able to rotate the aerial again. I’ve been operating mainly on FT8 this year, generally operating for a while before I start work and then keeping it ticking over via a remote session for the first hour or so of work in the mornings. I was interested to see how long it would take me to work 100 entities and that was achieved on the 23rd March as can be seen on Clublog.

100 DXCC entities worked in 2021

Over the last week, I’ve managed to work the A25RU DXPedition to Botswana. It’s not an all time new one for me but I’ve picked up some new slots; 20m CW/data and 15m/17m CW.

This weekend I’ve operated for a few hours in the CQ WPX contest as mentioned above. Although conditions have been noticeably improved over the last few weeks, I don’t think they’ve been too good this weekend, certainly nowhere near as good as for CQ WW last October. Having said that, I still think solar cycle 25 is picking up much quicker than expected and it was great to work ZL on 20m at 22:00 last week via the long path at 13,066 miles.

A few weeks ago I bought myself a new radio, a Yaesu FTM-300DE which I’ve set up in my office so I can monitor some YSFReflectors. I can generally be found either monitoring the QSO365 reflector (#26368) or GB Allstars (#48460). There’s a net run every Thursday at 20:30 UK local time on GB Allstars that I generally call in to.

Yaesu FTM-300DE monitoring the QSO365 YSFReflector

Over the last month or so, I’ve replaced the mishmash of LED bulbs we’ve had in the house with Hue LED bulbs. I was initially a little concerned that they might cause noise on HF but I’m happy to report that I’ve not noticed any increase in base noise level. Programming them all has been quite an experience but I’m very pleased with the end result.

As I write this, we’ve just gone into British Summer Time and although I prefer GMT, I can’t deny that the later sunsets mean that the higher bands should now start staying open longer into the evenings so hopefully there will be more to work as we head into spring.

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