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

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Elecraft K3 sn1293 is born!

The K3 arrived whilst I was preparing for IOTA. I managed to build it to the 10w stage in 12 hours. The 100w stage took an additional 2 hours. The build was straight forward and well documented.

As can be seen from the above picture, there are lots of bits to assemble and close attention has to paid to the types of screws and washers used for each part of the assembly. Other than that, if you have put a computer together in the past then this will present no problems.

Before long you start to see the radio taking shape and the exitement starts building. I had planned to do 6 hours and then have a break, but like a good book, I just couldn't put it down.

The K3 is an excellent transceiver and to date I've yet to find something that doesn't work :-).


Well it's all over now for MM3T on EU8 Islay. I had great fun and managed to make 460Qs over 12hrs on CW with 100w and a doublet.

Here I am sitting near Carraig Fhada Lighthouse (Port Ellen) with the 'singing sands' in the background. I'm out in the open and it's about 22:30BST. I'm using WinTest for logging and the light from the screen was enough to see the keyboard by (just). The midges were biting as there was so little wind, but other than that the conditions were perfect.

Here you can see the Elecraft K2/100 sitting on the trolley I used to get the battery up to this vantage point. The case I use for the carrying the K2 helped bring it up to a convenient level. Out of sight is my WinKey USB and taped to the trolley handle is my LDG Z11 pro and Elecraft BL2 switchable balun. You can just see the 300 Ohm feeder (bottom left) going to a doublet mounted on a 10m fishing pole behind me.

It wasn't all plain sailing though as Murphy visited the station just before the start of the contest. I had been in the K2 menus configuring the PA fan to run on HI continuously and accidentally changed an adjacent menu entry. The result was that there was no sidetone and no rig control! Luckily I had brought a small laminated manual (Nifty K2 manual) and after 20 mins of reading was able to return the K2 to full operation...phew!

There seemed to be a distinct lack of UK stations on air, as when I did find one they were LOUD. I can only imagine that the brilliant weather proved too much for most UK hams to stay indoors for the contest.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

IARU World championships, RSGB HQ entry

Well, I decided that I would work them despite the unfair operator selection practices. They have widened out the net (slightly) for operators by including one of GM's top 160m dxers (who had unbelievably been missed out until now). This suggests that they are at least trying to include ops from outside the HFCC & friends pool that has been used so often in the past.

I still feel a lot more attention and support would be evident from the rest of the UK, if there was a public call for operators and then, as a result, a publicised decision making process about the final team selection. I don't know about you, but I'd be very interested in the thought process behind the team selection that was made to represent the RSGB.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

RSGB VHF Field Day 2008

I took part with interested members from our local club (Mid-Lanark ARS). A location had previously been found near sea level on the Solway Firth (West coast Scotland) which eliminated some of the hills between our home location and a S - SE direction and afforded us a bit of a sea path for the West side of England. The SE direction was partially blocked by a spit of land approx 1 mile away and then the peak district (only 30 miles away over sea) and was still a major thorn in our sides from having a clear path to the SE. Our path was also majorly blocked to the North by several mountain ranges. Using stacked yagis on 2m probably wasn't a good idea for this reason. We changed over to a single 9 element yagi mid contest (pointing SE) and signals dramatically improved, although some of the team thought that it may have been down to bad coax (time will tell).
As usual the weather oscillated between glorious and awful and we were soaked and dried many times throughout the weekend. I tried out my Carp umbrella for the first time and was happily making tea and admiring the view in the dry even through the biggest downpours, but it did bounce around rather too vigorously on it's guys during some spells of high wind.
I also used my new fishing trolley to cart my leisure cell around trying to find a good spot for the WIFI network we used to link WinTest together between the various stations (6/4m, 2m and 70cm). I'm pleased to say that WinTest and the network were solid and trouble free for the whole weekend.
Getting a group of people to use the more advanced features of WinTest is always very difficult when no practice sessions have been arranged beforehand. We did however manage some passing of stations between the 2m and 70cm operators which hopefully will spur the others into using this facility in the future.
I did feel saddened that the same effort was not afforded to the HF field days, but the majority of the Mid-Lanark ARS seem to be more interested in VHF and above.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Friedrichshafen 2008

Just back from Friedrichshafen Hamfest 2008 and have to say that the prices for 2nd hand gear were ridiculous eg. FT290 in poor condition, 250 Euro (£200 ????). Previously I had thought that we Brits were hard done by in terms of the cost of amateur gear, but now I know we aren't the worst.

Out of the 3 days at the show I only bought a bit of wire (10 Euro) and a mains filter (10 Euro). I held off buying, thinking that the prices must drop by the Sunday, but unfortunately it was not to be. Everything you could want was for sale, I just couldn't find anything to buy that was a reasonable price let alone a bargain.

As the show went on, another amateur and I started trying to out do one another with examples of ludicrous prices such as 25 Euro for a broken tape recorder and 200 Euro for a Cobra 148GTLDX (it looked like it had been recovered from a skip).

On the plus side I saw a K3 in the flesh for the first time, but unfortunately it was in a glass case and not connected to an antenna. It was turned on though and the display was very stricking and well laid out. TenTec were represented and I got the chance to play with the TenTec Orion II and the OMNI VII. I can normally walk straight up to any make of transceiver and start sussing out how drive it within a minute or so. Not so with these puppies! I found it very difficult to know what was happening and even after 10 mins of twiddling I was still none the wiser. I did however find several things I didn't like during that time such as wobbly, cheap feeling controls, awful display and lag between front panel control adjustments and the associated control display icon.
The friedrichshafen hamfest is really about meeting other hams and browsing through the present product offerings from all the main manufacturers. Most are on show and can be connected up to give you a fair idea if the product is for you or not.

Friedrichshafen and the surrounding area is a beautiful location for a holiday with the possibility of visiting 2 other very different countries only a short train/ferry trip away. We may go back for another holiday but not to coincide with the hamfest.