A bit of DX - and FT8 on 60m.

Yesterday was a very radio active day for me.
I re-routed the cable for the 10 - 20m vertical, so I could use the PA with more power than through the diplexer. I went for about 400W.
Starting on 15m, BD7BS (China) and 9M2TO (Malaysia) with FT8, later the VK9XG DXpedition to Christmas Island on CW. Funny, I called and waited for a long time, and suddenly he called CQ again, and came back to me. Half a minute later he signed QRT.

17m FT8 yielded a few North American stations, a few Europeans, one South American and one Asian station. Quite OK, and the PA clearly improves chances.

In the evening I went for it on 60m FT8 with my special low band antenna. Lots of Europeans (no surprise there), in Asia UN7CBY and 4X1GA, and finally one North American, VE1YX, all with less than 50W (in Denmark we are allowed high power on 60m). Most of those 36 QSOs were replies to my CQs, all in less than 3 hours.
VE1YX I remember from my 10m/6m cross band operation days long ago. More about that in a later post.

The low band antenna does, due to its construction generate some RF in the shack, and after the operation I added a few more ferrite snap-ons to my cable. I will have to check the other bands, but on 60m I can now run the full 100W of the TRX on 60m.

Just over 50 QSOs in one day - and no contests - one of the highest counts for me in a single day.

I may have to try the 60m "trick" on another band some day (30m, 40m, 80m or 160m).


Nightly monitoring of 40m FT8

Last night I was monitoring the 40m FT8 frequency with my low hanging 5 band dipole.
This morning the PSK reporter showed spots from six continents, and lots of them.
In fact, all the six continents were reported in less than an hour around midnight local time. Also, some 80m work was done.

Activity from different areas can be seen clearly, there were even a lot of spots from New Zealand, about as far from me as can be on this earth.

During some of the monitoring session I tested my dipole against my home made low band antenna, and the findings were :
80m with dipole : The low hanging (feed point at about 4m above ground close to trees) was indeed quite good at reception S/N, but had a poor TX S/N.
80m with low band antenna : The low band antenna is quite noisy and has a poor RX S/N, but a considerable better S/N at TX.
40m with dipole : This worked considerably better at both transmit and receive, though not ideal, of course. Just looking at the RX reports from so many places tells me that. 40m was not tested with the low band antenna this time. More testing is required.
This morning TF5B was worked on 40m.

15m was worked a bit this morning, with a Chinese and a Malaysian station as resulting QSOs.

All in all not a bad night/morning at OZ9QV.

Winter time is low band time, so I expect to be a bit more active on 160 - 30m this winter. Ptobably mostly with FT8, but maybe a bit of QRP CW short distance work, too.


10m open to South America

The shack now has the capability of monitoring 13 frequencies simultaneously (except when transmitting).
Two more computers are set up for running WSJT-X (mostly FT8)
After setting up the computer for FT8 on HF, following the setup of the PA as previously described, 10m opened to Brazil, Argentina, Chile - and finally the Falkland Islands. PY5OD was worked.
The time of the year is the best for F2 propagation on the higher HF bands, and the solar cycle is at a minimum with a flux around 70 SFI. Even then 10m can open.
The old belief that 10m is closed during a solar minimum is clearly not correct. I know, FT8 makes thing possible that were previously impossible, but this gives new life to the 10m band, which has been my favourite HF band for decades.


Using the PA for both HF and 6/4m transceivers.

I have a IC-7300 covering HF, 6m and 4m, and a IC-7600 covering HF and 50MHz. I would like simultaneous use through the PA of both transceivers to a R-6000 antenna and a 6m 1/2 wave antenna.

How to proceed? Here is my idea. Between the radios and the input of the PA I can use (lazy as I am) a commercial diplexer, like the CF-360 from Comet or the MX-62 from Diamond.
The problem with using those at the output of the amplifier is the limited power they can handle. 600W PEP or about 200W continuous. Not exactly fitting for the 1kW capability of the amp.
Looking a bit around on the net I found this : https://www.ka6wke.net/hf-vhf-diplexer , describing the use of a IC-7300 with an HF antenna and a 6m antenna with a home construction diplexer. There is a design that I could use, albeit with components capable of withstanding the higher power.
What about 4m ? At the moment of writing this, the power limit for 4m in Denmark is 25W, so the PA is not really necessary. If the limit goes up, I might think of a modification to the existing PA, or using a second transceiver for 4m and building a separate amplifier for 4m.

Next step is to find those components.

At the moment the amp is running low power, 200W, with a CF-360 at the output, connected to a vertical 1/2 wave 6m antenna, at the VHF port and the R-6000 at the HF port.

Now, here is the question some will ask :Why use a separate antenna for 6m when the R-6000 does 6m, too ? I have compared the two antennas, and I find that the 1/2 wave antenna for 6m performs far better than the R-6000 on that band. Further, since I do not intend to set up a HF beam, but at a later stage I do intend to have a small 6/4m capable of accepting the full power of the amp, so here we go !
I may design some high voltage capacitors , maybe made with PCBs, if I can not find some suitable for the 1kW filter I prefer to design for higher power than I intend to use, so I can avoid burnt components and/or equipment.

Oh, Boy ! Yet another project added to the pile ;)


More Shack Reorganisation

A bit more connected
Low band (160 - 30m) antenna connected to the 7600.
It looks like there is a loose connection in the connector/cable, and the cable is a bit short for proper reach. A repair or replacement of the connector is in order, but not today, as the soldering iron and other tools are not yet back in place.

The cable for the 6m/2m/70cm vertical is now shorter, with less connectors/junctions. As of now a single 25m run of CFD(LMR)400 with N-connector for the radio. This gave a clearly detectable improvement of the signals on 2m and 70cm. The cable was previously routed through an entry in the attic, as I started having the shack up there, and moved it down later. A cable is still routed that way, and can be used for some non-critical antenna, maybe as an antenna for a cross-band repeater (2,m/70cm) not to far from here.

The brilliant 2m tropo conditions of the last few days seems to have evaporated to a degree that I have difficulty working 2m DX, but may return, in different directions, in the week end. That is the prediction, at least.


2m FT8 Up and Running

This morning I detected tropo (which was probably already there last night) on 2m FT8. Just heard the signals audible, and there was a lot.
Now was the time to get a computer connected, and set up. The tiny netbook was connected and showed good signals from the East and South-East.
Time to increase power from the about 8W. An old Tono MR 150W PA was connected, and measured about 80W output, providing about 40W to my Big Wheel omnidirectional antenna, running it quietly until the bigger one arrives in a few weeks.

I was a bit late to join the party, but I am now more ready than before to join again.

Best signals heard were UT2VR and R5WM at 1550 - 1600km. Not too bad for a small omnidirectional antenna.
It is not likely that I can get a much better antenna up before spring, so I will try to work a bit of tropo in the winter season, and see what I can do with that antenna and 40W, later about 300W at the antenna, running a bit of CW/SSB, but probably more FT8.

Update : Tropo again tonight. ODX with FT8 (2-way) UR3EE in KN88dc, 1840km. Not bad with a Big Wheel antenna.


Rearranging the Shack Corner.

I recently started rearranging the corner of my living room holding my shack.
I needed a bit more space and a more convenient operation space for my transceivers and the new PA.
I have now started reconnecting radios/antennas/power supplies, and will get to the computers running the ham software soon. First things first ;).
Now, this time I am trying to arrange cables more neatly, so things take a little longer. Having enjoyed visitors does not speed up the process, but in any case, I will get there.
Most tricky part is monitors for the computers which take up a lot of the shelf space, vertically and horizontally, because they should also be readable from the operating position.

- and possibly, if the weather allows, a bit of antenna work should be tested as well.