Amateur Radio

What size pole to insert to a steel scaffold tube?

Most radio amateur operators look at a pole* and immediately wonder how they might use it in their hobby. It becomes a weird past time and can become somewhat of a burden when passing for instance, a section of tubing in a handy-man store. I have to stop and work out if they nest together – or will they go inside some other tube I might have.

However, I have solved one riddle which is what diameter pole can I slip inside a standard steel scaffold tube?

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Solarcon Imax 2000 Review 5/8ths Vertical Antenna 10m

Dsc_0002I always fancied a low-angle vertical for 10m band and after doing my research, came across the Solarcon Imax 2000. It was a toss up between this, a Sigma 4 copy or the Sirio 827. The Sigma 4 is now called the Sirio Vector 4000 and I discounted this one because of the size of the radials which seemed excessive for my plot , Same with the Sirio Vector 4000 which is just too tall. Even so, the Sirio Imax 2000 is still 24 feet in length. But read on, it’s actually fairly stealthy for such a tall antenna.

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Success rates calling CQ on BPSK 125 Digital Mode

BPSK125 CQ CallI’m currently using DM780, parrt of the Ham Radio Deluxe suite of programs to conduct my digital hobby. Some of the modes are extremely fun – and I particularly like the very fast speed of BPSK125.

Recently, I have improved my very success rates calling CQ with this script:

5 CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
4 CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
3 CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
2 CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
1 CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
PSE K<stop>

I think it mst be quite a compelling trace to follow on the waterfall because once I get to zero and ask PSEK, I more often that not get a hit. It’s certainly better than the old standard :

CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
CQ CQ de MØMCX MØMCX
PSE K<stop>

But it’s only for fun!

Latest Version 5 HRD (Ham Radio Deluxe) Download

I used to host the last free version of HRD version 5.XXX however I had a (VERY) polite note from Dr Michael Carper (WA9PIE) explaining that the version I was hosting here, was actually compiled by the new HRD team, after they purchased /acquired the rights from Simon Brown.

Michael was at pains to explain that he wasn’t being heavy handed, he just wanted me to know that technically, I was giving away *his* product.

Silly me!

That download has now been removed – but I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Michael on his tone, friendliness and professionalism. In this modern fast-paced world, it’s becoming a rare trait.


 

But WAIT! The latest version of HRD is actually better and has amazing support too. Version 6 is awesome and has a number of enhancements including a wider selection of rigs, FSK keying etc etc.

Suggest you check the HRD guys out here – and there’s a 30 day free trial!

 

ACOM 600s automatic HF linear amplifier

James (M0YOM) and I are pretty excited about a new automatic, solid state linear amplifier from the ACOM stable. 160m through 6m with continuous duty rated at 600 watts. Well, when I say portable, I mean it’s more portable than say the ACOM 2000 – but still heavier than say an AL811. But hey, it’s super sexy, automatic and has that amazing legendary ACOM metering and inbuilt protection.

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TS990s External Keypad

I recently had the privilege of dealing with Chris Taylor of Taylor Made RF who supplied me his rather excellent custom keypad for the Kenwood TS990s.

Chris gives the device the part number TMRF TS990KP and it follows the convention as outlined in the user guide 16-7 of the TS990s user manual which allows for the user to program each of the 8 function keys a specific task, for instance; change antenna, play a recorded voice macro or change filters. An extremely handy accessory.

DSC_0242

Of course, you could build one of these but for an “appliance” operator and for sheer mini-bling, the TMRF TS990KP is a delight to use. It comes very nicely packaged with basic instructions, a simple 3.5mm jack to jack stereo lead and of course, the engineered keypad.

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Email over HF – WinLink with TS-990s problem solved

This note for TS-990s geeks who are running WinMail and RMS Express.

It is natural to use the Data menu item in position one for Voice (via microphone). On-screen, this will show as “USB”, top left of the monitor. Upon holding the button “Data” for a second or two, you can confirm that the microphone is selected for this position.

  • See the problem below

Demo of RMS Express at bottom of this article

In the event that you use RMS Express with a TS-990s, Continue reading

Kenwood TS-990s User Review

dsc_0228I finally took delivery of my TS990s in early January 2014 and it came with the latest firmware from the factory. First impressions, distilled into single words: massive, engineered, beautiful, functional, imposing, radio bling. But not a microphone in sight which I thought was pretty odd but they must have got their sums right, I would never had used a cheap mic on this wonderful radio anyway since I use a stick mic on a table boom (Heil Goldline) but it would have been good to check without making up a cable.

dsc_0231Everything about this rig is solid. My expectations had been managed by all the articles that I’ve read on the internet about the radio and I double checked the radio when I compared both the FTdx5000MP and the TS-990s at the RSGB convention in late 2013. For me, the TS-990s was the winner, although more expensive. The main reason for switching my allegiance from Yaesu was the size (I like very large radios), the in-built monitor and scope function, and particularly the fact that a single USB cable connects the rig to my WIndows 7 PC, effectively de-cluttering my MK2R+ SO2R system. I was fed up with all the wires everywhere. Continue reading

Splatter or Receiver Overload?

Some operators mistake what is actually their inadequate receiver circuits as “splatter”. Genuine splatter that causes annoying interference on the band is very rare. What is more regular is operators assuming that the products they are hearing is splatter. It’s probably not.

m0mcx-ts-2000-with-goldline

TS-2000 suffers with close-in strong stations

For years, I ran an FT1000MP at home and I would curse under my breath, those stations that slid up to me in a contest, just a kHz away and started calling CQ, particularly the 80m activity nights. I would hear that typical crackle and scratching sound which was louder than the station I was in QSO with. I would bail-out and find another frequency. I couldn’t believe these stations had the staying power to stick next to me since clearly they would be receiving the same crackle from me – as I did from them. Or did they? Something was odd.

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Special Event Operating Procedures

IMG_6963

Callum, M0MCX

This note will be particularly beneficial to those who may be required to run a special event station either on the lower bands or maybe on VHF. These tips & tricks will also help you anywhere on the band, regardless of your circumstances.

Preface: There are a number of aspects that appeal to me in this hobby, fancy radios, interesting antennas and GREAT operating. I enjoy making my hobby more fulfilling by operating well, and I don’t just mean following my license conditions. I like to mimic great operators, those guys that sound clear, even under QRM and QSB, they mean well, they act professionally, like they’re in Mission Control during an Apollo Mission. They inspire their contacts to act professionally – even the Italians don’t scare them! Someday, I hope I might be half as good as them :)

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Designing a Radio Ham Shack

I can’t remember how many times I’ve moved my shack around. And when I do, it’s always wrong, it doesn’t look quite right and nothing fits where it should.

m0mcx shack redesign

Further, just when / if I do manage to get it right, I need to get to a particular piece of equipment that’s stuffed away perfectly on a shelf. I seem to spent more time dismantling the darned thing to get the piece out to either take to a field day or have it fixed.

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511 QSOs – Cornwall DX-Fest Conclusion 2013

2 Weeks in Cornwall seemed to go in a flash but in between QSOs, I did manage to find time to repair my website and get it back and running again. I love documenting the fun and games I have whilst I enjoy the science of RF. I trust you enjoy it too.

cornwall qth

Firstly, thanks to everyone who gave me a QSO. I exclusively used a pair of verticals. Antenna #1 was the 40m vertical (actually 9.6m in length with 16 radials) which also gave me a 5/8th style antenna on 15m. Antenna #2 was the dual fed 20m and 10m verticals, similar to a fan dipole. More accurately I would call this a “nested” vertical.

I ventured onto 80m band for an hour but conditions were abysmal compared to 40m so you’ll see many of my QSOs were on my favorite band.

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Amateur Radio with low electrical noise

40m and 20m verticals

40m vertical (left) and 20m/10m Nested Vertical (right)

I’ve been running many pile-ups on 40m this week and I think half the reason is that I can hear so well because the electrical noise is almost non-existent. Of course, my TX is also pretty good because of the salt water too.

Working conditions; My “holiday” rig, Kenwood TS-2000, Heil Goldline, NC10 netbook running N1MM “DX” mode with a RigBlaster for voice keying and my Acom 2000 to loaf around on.

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Microham MK2R+ Installation

I’m pleased to report that James (M0YOM) has successfully installed our Microham MK2R+ recently. This means that we can now use the FT1000MP *and* the TS2000 at the same time, ideal for SO2R.

This means that whilst I’m CQ on 40m band, I might be listening up on 20m, waiting for the band to open. Just hitting the appropriate footswitch would, in an instant, switch transmit over to the 20m band and allow me to QSO up there (and of course, carry on listing on 40m band at the same time).

In fairness, we’ll rarely use the station like this. Frankly, it’s more of a convenience of having just one microphone, one computer logger with an integrated two-radio setup and full digital modes from 160m to 70cms.

Cheers James!

CQ WPX 2010 Amateur Radio Film

I finally got around to doing the final edit for the CQ WPX Radiosport Contest. Please don’t take the film too seriously, I was really poking fun at us! However it turned out quite pleasant in the end although the title sequence at the end is a bit of an overkill :)

Give it a peek and comment accordingly.

*Note: The WPX contest is based on an award offered by CQ Magazine for working all prefixes. Held on the last weekend of March (SSB) and May (CW), the contest draws thousands of entries from around the world. Many stations erect large radio aerials just for the competition. Yaesu and Icom radios compete to be the radios of choice amongst the top amateur radio stations.

73, C.