Now my dipole is up semi-permanently, I can sort of operate every weekend I’m home. I say ‘sort of’ as it’s much noisier here in town than at the lookout where I made my first contacts, and I suspect I don’t get out as well with this little half size G5RV at only 6m high.
I turned the radio on last Saturday afternoon to have a tune around and heard VK6QM calling CQ contest. I wasn’t aware there was a contest on, but when no one else was answering I called back and got a quick lesson in what the exchange was (signal report and contact serial number) and scrawled that and my times on a piece of paper. Continue reading
I went out for my first shot of HF operating today had had some success as well as learning a couple of lessons.
The set up was at a local lookout – it has a slight elevation compared to town, it’s out of the noise (nearest power-line is about 400m away) and partially surrounded by the salt lake that the town is named for. The lookout has an iron railing that is perfect for strapping my 7m squid pole to. The plan was to hook 20m of wire from that down to the back of the ute and run it as an end-fed.
Lesson 1 – there is only so much tension that can be placed on a squid pole before it snaps.
I got another BF-888S in the post today. This one was $18.03 from ebay seller jeenygq. It continues to amaze me that I can buy a frequency agile 70cm transceiver for less than a packet of cigarettes. My ‘reason’ for needing another one is that in addition to my uncompleted 70cm foxhunt project, I’m starting an AllStar Link Node project. I’m always keen to test eBay purchases straight away while they are inside the 45 day PayPal refund timeline, and this seemed to call for one of my other recent purchases – a Rike RK-560 frequency counter.
On the F-Troop net this morning, VK6AS mentioned there was another good pass of SO-50 today. With last weekend’s mistakes learned from, I had another shot at it. I thought I could hear snippets of voice modulation down in the static when the satellite was still at -5º elevation which seemed odd. It wasn’t until about 40º that I got anything readable, and even then it was only for half a second at a time.
The pass was almost directly overhead for me, so at the apex I was able to just point the Arrow straight up, and copied VK6AS’s call. I put out a call to him and was thrilled to hear his reply of congratulations. So thrilled in fact that I wobbled the antenna and lost him. I was so frantic from then on trying to find the satellite again that I completely forgot to keep adjusting my downlink and didn’t copy anything for the rest of the pass. Continue reading
In February, I attended a meeting at HARG that included a talk and demo by Chris VK6FCGB on using the FM repeater payload on SAUDISAT 1C (SO-50). Satellite work is definitely in my ham radio hobby plan, both because of the technical challenges and my remoteness from other hams here.
I like measuring things, this is perhaps best illustrated with this photo of the current contents of the second drawer in my kitchen. Apart from the usual cooking implements, it contains an infra-red thermometer, a compass, luggage scales, gas bottle scales, 10.5 GHz dopper speed gun and a Geiger counter. I also own numerous electronic meters of various kinds. My most esoteric measuring device is probably a Brix sugar refractometer (uses the bending of light to measure the concentration of sugar in a liquid).
So it caused great excitement here when my antenna analyser arrived this week. At over $300 it’s my most expensive piece of equipment in the hobby. I purchased it on ebay, from a seller I’ve dealt with before and it took about exactly a month to get here due to some story about the stock they had being damaged. To their credit, they air freighted it when they finally had stock.
One of the exciting things in amateur radio at the moment is the unbelievably low price of the Chinese handheld radios. One of the very cheapest is the BF-888S. It’s a 16 channel 70cm unit putting out about 2.5W. I got a pair for $42 from a Chinese ebay seller.
These radios are so cheap, they make you want to invent projects to use them. One project I’ve had in mind for a while is to use them for ARDF/fox hunting (you hide a transmitter, and people drive/wander around with receivers trying to find it) with kids armed with little Yagis.