Saturday, March 31, 2018

Spring tuneup on the MFJ 1788 Loop antenna

Oliver was going to watch over the operation
Each year around this time I bring the MFJ 1788 Mag loop in to take the covers off and have a look around to see how it has faired over the past year. This antenna has been great for me with my very restricted condo situation. I have been able to get all around the world on CW with most of the time 5 watts QRP. I am about 60 feet in the air, it's on the balcony and we do have other condo's all around us but having said that I have been very pleased with the performance of the loop. At first tuning the
Cleaned covers

loop took some time but now I really have the hang of things and am able to tune it in no time. Most of the time the SWR is flat or very close to flat on all bands it's designed for. Now as for band width on 15m it's very nice but as you move closer to 40m it gets very narrow but it is what it is. When reading the reviews of this antenna on Eham many have mentioned how the antenna when new from MFJ had an issue or two. My antenna also out of the box had an issue with the tuning box with a switch that had to be replaced. I purchased the antenna through DX engineering and they were very fast to have MFJ send me a replacement switch.
Now back to my yearly maintenance, the antenna is covered with a patio table cover to help it look like balcony furniture and funny thing is it does not affect the SWR at all so the cover is kept on all the time. This year I picked up a new cover as the old one was 4 years old no longer water proof and showing it's age. I removed the plastic covers  and cleaned the inside out which were really not all that dirty. I found as I do each year some loose nuts and bolts that require
Keep track of parts 
snugging up but this year I noticed one of the nut/bolt combination seemed to have some burning on it. This was one of two nut/ bolts that help secure the loop to the tuning cap. All other nut/bolt combinations were fine it was just this one that I ended up replacing with close substitution from my nut/bolt collection.  I have posted a picture of the nut/bolt that was removed, any suggestions as to what may had happened? The nut/bolt was not at all loose and it was only this nut/bolt that had an issue. One other thing I like to do is run the tuning cap full turn in both directions looking for smooth operation, spacing moving fins against the stationary fins and the function of the micro switches that stop the tuning cap at the end of each end.  Overall the antenna was in great shape and just to make sure once it was all back together and covered with new cover I tuned it through each band to make double sure all was well.
New cover and ready to go
Nut/bolt that was replaced
New nut/bolt installed

Checking fin alignment 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A nice Friday afternoon on the radio

It been some time since I posted on the blog but it's the same old same old reason......very busy these days at work. I had Friday off and got on the radio in the afternoon to see what was happening. The band scope showed just few signals on 20m but I tuned up the Mag loop with plans of netting some contacts. I was pleasantly surprised that in just over a leisurely  hour  I contacted Jamaica 6Y5WJ, Italy IQ3MW, IF9A from the island of Favignana EU-54 it's near Trapani Sicily Italy and Slovenia S52F and S51DX. A great afternoon on CW and low power to boot.  

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Update on acquiring my UK call

As a followup to my last post regarding the steps needed (if any) to acquire my UK amateur radio call once moved there. I do want to  thanks all those who posted comments and who emailed me regarding this question. It would seem I have just a few readers in the Uk as I did have loads of emails from there and some fantastic contacts were passed on to me. Well the verdict is in right from the Ofcom office. It would seem I have to start from the beginning and get my foundation, intermediate and then my full licence. Until the time I pass my first step the foundation licence I can apply for a reciprocal permit for 20 pounds and renew it every 6 months if need be. I'm not at all disappointed having learned this, in fact I am excited to get the old grey matter going again and I am very sure that once I have made it all the way to the full licence I will have gained some good knowledge and awaken some lost knowledge. I also became a member of the RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) my welcome packet arrived the other day and I was very impressed. There was a copy of the RSGB's magazine RadCom, a very nice members certificate, RSGB lapel pin and a cool key chain. I was on their website and like the ARRL it is full on amazing information and links. I spent an afternoon with a nice cup of tea navigating the information and links of their site. I also found links were I could now start warming up my grey matter for the licence adventure. The foundation licence theory is not a problem at all I just have to bush up on their rules and regs. Once I get the foundation licence is seems I have access to all bands and a power limit of 10 watts. Heck my main mode of operation here is QRP at 5 watts. With the foundation I am good to go and just keep upgrading and adding more privileges and output power.  In my retirement this will be a great way to pass the time, learn and meet the great hams of the UK.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Retirement planning time!

Time to start planning for retirement, if you say it fast the end of 2019 is not that far off and that is my official retirement date! As the old saying goes and it's so true "Where did the time go?". I will be 59 at the time of retirement and with good health I should be enjoying this next phase of my journey for some time. So where does ham radio fit into my plans? I could say that once retired I will have all the time in the world for radio......BUT........I have been off for extended holiday periods and at that time I thought I had all the time in the world. It seems even when not working you can still become very busy and radio gets crowed out with other "things" So one of my goals is to make sure I put time aside for radio time.
One of our big retirement plans (as Julie retires the same time I do) is that we are picking up and moving to the UK! We both are citizens of that great country and will be spending our retirement years there and also traveling abroad from our UK home homebase. This brings me back to ham radio again, at this point in Canada I hold an advanced ticket which includes 12 wpm CW. I have been all over the Ofcom (Office Of Comunications) site in the UK looking for information on how my transition regarding my amateur radio licence will be dealt with by Ofcom. Those of you over in the UK reading my blog maybe you can add some insight for me in regards to when I move will my Canadian licence transfer to a UK licence, do I have to start over or a combination of both? I did try my best in going over the Ofcom website but to be honest it is a confusing site.