Should contest rules allow and act upon 599K QRM reports?

Thursday, 29 May 2008

K2 noise

Had an extended play on the K2 this evening enjoying 10m :-). Noticed a birdie on 28.020 and traced it to rig control. It sounds like a tone which dies in strength when the software polls the radio for frequency etc. It's easily identified by varying the software polling rate on the computer. The tone makes an appearance on discrete frequencies on most bands above 30m. There is an extract in the K2 manual on how to disable the square wave signal generator in the rig and instead use the timing source derived from the computer. Unfortunately this seems only to apply to the KIO2 unit and not the one integrated in the KPA100. I'll have to do some web research on how to eliminate it.

While I was at it, I disconnected the antenna and tried to find any noise from my Alinco DM-330MW SMPS. Sure enough I came across a low squirming warble noise on a discrete frequency and was able to move it about with the noise offset knob on the front panel. The noise isn't really a problem for me, it's remembering to try and shift it on the PSU before QSYing.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

K2 problem soved

A bit of a lessons learned here I'm afraid.

Took the K2 apart looking for the deaf 10m problem. The symptoms were:
10m tx fine
10m rx deaf
12m tx fine
12m rx fine

A really puzzling set of symptoms because 10 and 12m share the same BPF and LPF. The only difference being the addition of 2 capacitors to the BPF by relay when the 12m band was selected. I hunted around these areas looking for solder splashes that would keep these caps connected when 10m was selected but found nothing.

In desperation I tried injecting signals direct from the antenna though a 480pf cap to various points before and after the LPF/BPF. When connecting to the start of the BPF the rx sprang to life...haha I thought it's the LPF! But even when connecting to the very last component of the LPF the rx was deaf. I followed the circuit diagram and noticed that the signal path went through the 160m optional module. On connection before the 160m module the rx was deaf. On connection after the 160m module the rx sprang to life. What on earth was happening on the 160m optional module that was causing 10m rx to be deaf? Then it dawned on me, the 160m optional module allows a separate rx antenna to be used on ANY band. A quick look in RANT menu selection confirmed that 10m was selected to use the rx antenna! A quick couple of key presses and hey presto all was well.

Ok, it would be nice if the firmware let you know that the rx antenna was selected for that band by showing some symbol on the LCD but I really shouldn't have left it in that condition in the first place. I had been fooling around with a 2m transverter with a 10m IF and had left the rx ant option selected on the 10m band...easy to do I suppose.

Anyway the long and the short of it is that the K2 is 100% healthy and ready for IOTA :-).

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

CQ WPX CW 2008

I happened to be in Tignabruaich for this contest on a Family holiday but managed to get on and make some Qs.. I am eager to 'air' MM3T as much as possible in this way to get the call into K5ZD and other such databases. Currently the call is still a bit raw and I get quite a large percentage of requested confirmations and even a response from GJ saying that the call was illegal. Hopefully in a year or so the call will be bedded in and can be used seriously.

Anyway, I made 270Qs between 20m and 15m over a period of 6 hours. The highlight of the contest was being called by 7Q7ww on 15m. I was using the K2/100 and the tactical mast described previously. I think it was acting as a 5/8 wave vertical on 15m, but I forgot to take wire for radials and had to make do with a couple of loaned off-cuts. Still, everything I could hear, I could work so I was well chuffed. I learned the following:

1) My K2 is deaf on 10m. Fault?
2) It took me 1 hour to deploy the tactical mast, more practice needed.
3) I can go 6hrs straight on CW before feeling a bit 'head tired'.
4) I can run the laptop and rig off the same 12V leisure cell (110 A/H) without interference.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Recent History

I thought I'd fill in some history between 2004 and 2008. After discovering morse-runner and hence contesting, I decided to try and compete in the RSGB club championships. I tried CW, SSB and finally RTTY. I only ever managed to win 1 event and that time the conditions just seemed to favour Scotland and not the rest of the UK. Luckily I was there to take advantage of it and got the win. I also started doing RSGB field day events with my local club and enjoyed the outdoors and the companionship.

I joined the local contest group GM0B and took part in CQWW SSB events in 2005/6 as a multi-multi team and managing to persuade a few members to do CQWW CW 2005/6 as a multi-single team. In 2006/7 I organised GM0B for IOTA as a multi-2 and we activated Bute and had a great laugh, but only scratched the surface of getting to grips with being competitive. GM0B missed CQWW in 2007 due to lack of operators and didn't look like it would ever do a CW contest again due to lack of a shack. I decided to try and organise a club and contest group to ensure in the event of GM0B backing out of CQWW SSB or CQWW CW contests, I could still compete without soiling GM0B's pedigree with my poultry score. The new club's contest call is MM3T and will predominantly be used for CW contests. The next outing for MM3T will be IOTA when I'm off to Islay off the west coast of Scotland.

Well that's us up to date, and where it goes from here we'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Magnum Rally

I went to the magnum rally in Irvine on Sunday. I was hoping that some kind sole would have have brought along their Elecraft K3 to show off. It's really too late to find I don't like the K3 as I have already ordered one (due to arrive before IOTA). I also wanted to sell an old VHF multi-mode transceiver to fund the outstanding balance of the K3. It wasn't to be my day as the K3 didn't make an appearance and no one wanted the old VHF transceiver. The reason for this blog wasn't for these failures but to document a find.

I'm off to the isle of Islay for IOTA on 25-28/7/08 so have been thinking about what antenna to take. I'm going with family, but will be setting up and operating alone. I don't want to be spending a lot of effort/time setting up, but still want to put out a potent signal. There, on an army surplus stand at the magnum rally, a friend spotted an 18ft fibreglass mast made by a company called Thales, neatly wrapped up in a waterproof army green shoulder bag. On inspecting it, I discovered it was not only a mast but a field antenna system. There was a reel of wire which when mounted at the top of the mast could be pulled out and wrapped round and down the mast to a feed point. The reel itself also had an integral socket connected to the reel wire which allowed a collapsible metal 7ft whip to be inserted thus increasing the overall length of the antenna to around 30ft. All in all, a 25ft stucture as light as could be hoped for and designed with attention to detail that only the MOD could orignally afford. I scooped it up complete for £40, so the day wasn't a failure after all.

On getting home I errected it in the back garden with a friend and stuck an LDG Z-11 pro antenna tuning unit at the bottom and managed to tune it from 40-10m. It wouldn't tune on 80m as expected, but I didn't have any radials fitted and could still hear A61 and W3,4,7,8 and 0 coming in on 20m. I recon with some practice I'll be able to deploy the antenna alone and therefore it could be the one for IOTA.


The purpose of this blog will be to track events in my ham radio hobby until I get bored or forget to blog. I'll try and include some photos of what I'm talking about as we go along to make for easier reading. I'm new to the whole blog concept, but hopefully you will be patient while I find a writing style and get to know my way around.

I was born in the summer of 69 and I've been a ham since 1986 and although I've taken a few breaks along the way, I have enjoyed the hobby immensely. I would describe myself as a traveller in the hobby as I haven't settled into any particular niche of activities and instead like to to learn, play then move on to the next area of interest. As such, I've become an expert in nothing but have a base understanding about a large area of the hobby.

Between 86 and 96 I enjoyed peak conditions on 10m and managed to put together a resonable station despite living at my parents house. I passed my 'A' class exam in 86 and said goodbye to CW and hello to SSB DX.

Between 1996 and 2000 I successfully completed a degree in Electronics, then between 2000 and 2004 changed job, moved house, got married, was made redundant, got new job and had a family. During all this time I was all but absent from the ham radio scene.

Since 2004 several things have happened. My Ham radio hobby was more closely merged with my computer by using an electronic log book and electronic QSLs (gone was the drudgery of the hobby!) and data modes became a possibilty for me. My interest in CW (morse code) made a surprise come back and this time I had the computer to use for training, which really made the difference. Instead of calling for hours on my limited radio setup, I could train with programs like morse-runner. This had a two fold effect, firstly my receiving speed very quickly went up and also an interest in contesting was developed.

Anyway this completes the 'introduction' part of the bog. Now to blog what's happening as it happens.