Saturday, August 22, 2015

The HF bands were dead today.

I was on the HF bands today and there was a QSO party happening state side but other than that the bands were dead. Is this what I have been missing for the past few months?? I am thinking the way to go at this point in time may be the digi modes? Once again I will have the joy of setting up my sound card modes…..thats always "fun". I ordered Win7 64 bit and according to the online tracking it should be here Monday. Not wanting to really setup any radio related programs on my desktop PC as when I install Win 7 64 bit it's going to be a clean install. Time to head out and  pick up  my better half from work, hope your weekend is going well out there!

Friday, August 21, 2015

I'm back.................

So where have I been..........really nowhere actually I can't believe my last post on the blog was June 10 but at least I am still in the year 2015!! The blog has gone quite for almost 3  months and really so has ham radio here at VE3WDM. I have been very busy with work, here in Toronto we hosted the Pan Am games and I was directly involved with the point of around the clock standby. Before Pan Am there was the prep time and then after the post Pan Am "stuff" To be honest there was time at home but after getting home I just just to tired to turn the rig on or post on the blog. I have been reading all your posts and really enjoyed that. Now that things are slowing down a little bit of "normal" seems to be happening I'm back in the radio saddle. I did check my blog stats and readership sure has fallen to almost nothing but that makes sense seeing it's been same old same old regarding my blog content. So what is new here well most of the "new" things happen in the last few weeks as I started to slow down. First off I sold my Alexloop antenna it seemed I just was not using it  now that I moved to Toronto. I posted the sale online and it was gone within an hour! With the sale of the Alexloop I was able to purchase the P3TXMON add on to my Elecraft P3. This week I also upgraded my PC.  One of my hard drives gave up the ghost, the one with the OS on it!!. At the same time I figured it was time to move up to the next level with my PC.  So I looked at purchasing a new machine or just upgrading what I have. I decided to upgrade the PC as I have 3 fairly new hard drives in the tower, up to date video card, I just replaced the power supply and the DVD player has no issues. The decision was made to upgrade the motherboard, the processor and ram. So the new system is Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 motherboard, AMD 8320 8 core processor at 3.5 GHz, 8 Gb (2x4) of DDR3 ram at 1600 mhz. I really had not done this before so lots of reading on the internet and YouTube videos, surprisingly things went smoothly. I now have an Asus M3A76-CM motherboard, AMD Phenom IIx4 2.8GHZ fan cooled processor, 4 Gb of SDram, Zoltac GT620 64 bit graphics card, and D-Link 1GB lan card hanging around..........may put it up for sale.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WHAT an SWR of 99:9!!

The other evening I had an opportunity to get on the air it has just been to long and I was very excited about spinning the dial around the HF band! I ran the coax out to my MFJ 1788 on the balcony and fired up the K3. I jumped on 20m were not to much was happening but on 30m there was some Dutch DX that was calling CQ so I thought I would give them a go. Prior to calling my SWR on the loop antenna was tuned to 1.2:1 BUT when I started to call the Dutch station my SWR readout on the K3 magically became 99.9:1!!! It was like the coax had been removed from the antenna and was sitting on the ground. It was late so I wanted to look into this at a later time, this evening was the later time so I hooked the antenna up and gave 20m a go and the SWR once again on the K3 was showing 99.9:1. It was time to trouble shoot, was it the coax, MFJ 1788 antenna, the K3 or my LDG antenna switch? The first thing I wanted to do was to remove the antenna as the problem.
Without LDG antenna switch
I removed the coax from the antenna and in it's place put a 50 ohm dummy load. In a way I was relieved to see the 99.9:1 SWR thus removing the MFJ 1788 from the problem. Next I bypassed the LDG antenna switch and low and behold the SWR now was 1.1:1 and me saying thank god it was not my K3! So it would seem the LDG  antenna switch is the problem so I took the switch cover off and looked around. I cleaned the SO-239 connectors, check the internal connections and all seemed to be great. The only problem spot to me could be the switching relays with internal contact troubles? After exercising the relays the trouble in the LDG antenna switch seemed to be ok. If the trouble comes back this is a 4 position switch and I only use 2 positions I could swap out relays and look at ordering all new relays. At this point all seems to be working well but stay tuned to see if relay swapping and ordering is in the near future.
Relay in the LDG antenna switch

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My memory is good just short!

DSP board version
When I installed my new synthesizer board in my Elecraft K3 I also wanted to take some pictures of the other boards that are in my radio. The reason for this is the K3 has many optional boards that can be added as the operator gets the funds or finds the need to add or upgrade a board. For this reason your rig can have a board with certain versions that go along with it. I have read on the Elecraft site for example a DSP board that is version "C" and above does not need a certain upgrade but the
Filters that are in the K3
boards below that can be improved  with an upgrade. So this begs the question what board do I have??? I really don't want to tear down the K3 just to see the DSP board version. Another example for me is what darn filters did I instal in the K3?? I won't go on and I think you get the idea as to why I took pictures once the K3 was apart. Now having said all this I have on problem that I would like the input from my Elecraft readers. When purchased my K3 I ordered it with  lots of options but since then I have lost the paper work detailing the options I ordered. Most if not all are very easy to see once you open up the rig.... but not the TCXO oscillator. I am not sure if I ordered the upgraded 1 PPM high stability or the stock unit? Below are 2 picture of what's in the rig now your input would be great!
The mystery TCXO