Sunday, November 23, 2014

Armchair ham radio at it's best!

The armchair setup
There have been evenings when Im relaxing and icing on the cake to the evening would be the added flavour of ham radio. Having said that I do have a "shack" in the condo but there are times when you are in the Lazy boy chair and sitting in the cold hard wooden chair at the radio desk just does not turn my crank! While relaxing in the chair and thinking of radio I came up with a nice solution to bringing ham radio to the Lazy boy chair. On a side table I am able to comfortably place my Elecraft KX3 and the MFJ 1788 control head. I ran a shorter piece of RG8X coax from the MFJ 1788 loop to it's control box. From the control box to the KX3 the RG8X is rather bulky so I used a piece of RG58U coax that came with BNC connectors on each end. The MFJ control box require a voltage source from 9 to 16 volts to work. To make things more simple I used a 13 volt DC power pack that I can recharge. The KX3 is powered by my Astron power supply back at the radio desk, in the condo that is not to far
A closer look 
away. The key Im using is my Palm radio mini Paddle since the KX3 is on a side table to my left using the KX3 paddle would be awkward. The Palm paddle can nicely sit in front of me and I have a 3 ring binder with a metal plate on it the palm paddles magnets hold it secure. I brought along my iPad mini as I can look calls up on QRZ.COM and am looking into a logging program for it, one that I can upload to LOTW and club log.  During my short operation on Saturday evening I was able to contact VE1BA in Nova Scotia my RST was 589 with some QSB and our QSO was a KX3 x KX3 and QRP x QRP contact. It was a nice QSO as we chatted about the weather, antennas and rigs. On Sunday I was almost able to complete a contact with W9MIC as the conditions on 20m were not all that great. I really can't log W9MIC as the contact really was not completed as we both faded into the noise floor. Another benefit of this setup is I have the opportunity to use my KX3 and become more familiar with it. There have been times when I have been using my KX3 out in the park and forgot how to do certain functions……maybe those moments will be far and few between.
The op desk with Palm paddle

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Searching the log for familiar faces

I have been using LOTW as my online logging program for some time now and for the most part have liked using it. The logging programs I have on my PC are N3FJP's AClog and DXlabs log and both logs have made uploading to LOTW very easy with just the push of a button. For some reason I was on LOTW and I decided to search my log for possible fellow bloggers I made contact with. Low and behold it turns out that I contacted the following fellow bloggers…….W2LJ, EI9KC,AE5X and KL8DX. It's not many and may not be all but I sure was surprised that at some time in the past (some contacts were made before I got into blogging) I made on air contact with these fellow bloggers.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Weather VS MFJ 1788 loop

Outcome of my damp MFJ 1788
The weather has been up and down up this way from snow and minus 2C then up to plus 14C it's the top end of the temp scale that I enjoy but that will soon come to an end as winter is on it's way! While on the subject of the warmer weather also comes showers and damp weather, for some reason this has an affect on my MFJ 1788 isoloop. In past I have found my antenna to be SWR sensitive to the damp and or humid weather. I had posted on some of the mag loop user groups to see if  others had the same issue. I was not able to get lots of responses but the consensus was that weather really had no effect on others loop! I ended up taking my loop apart and just checking out the insides and all looked good.
The work of the internal tuner
Once the damp and or humid weather changed all was well with the loop. The effect on the antenna is the SWR will not go below 2.7:1 on any given band but any other time the SWR would be either flat or close to it. I posted about this very problem this past summer on my blog and it really was not a humid summer so the problem did not arise that often. Now that it has happened again my own conclusion is the damp weather has an effect on the dielectric characteristics of the air that separates the capacitor plates in the antenna. This by no means is a scientific conclusion but as for simple old me it's the conclusion I am leaning toward. I do have an internal antenna tuner in the Elecraft K3 and my Elecraft KX3,
The SWR of the antenna
this allows me to lower the SWR so the rig does not see the high SWR.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Almost QRP/QRP contact

My drive to get our snows on....just in time!
Relaxing at the radio with some tea
Have to go into work on Sunday so I wanted to spend some relaxing time at the radio this afternoon and see what was up on the bands. I started out on 17m and it did have some DX on there but it faded very fast. I then received a call from our veterinary that our cats food was in for pickup so it was off to get that. When I returned it seemed that 17m things were just not happening. I jumped down to 20m and came across KB3RUN/QRP calling CQ I came back to him and he did hear me BUT this nasty QRN came over the radio and wiped out his signal all together. It seems to be a plasma TV that is in the area somewhere and by the time I filtered it out KB3RUN/QRP was gone. I did send an email just to let him know I did not forget about him. Most times on my contacts and almost contacts I send an email to thank the op for the contact.