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Wednesday 21 February 2018

home made groundplane antenna tests

I have recently fitted a new PL259 to the home made groundplane antenna after finding one, though I do intend to replace it with a crimp-on type, testing has not gone smoothly though.

Initial tests in the shack showed high SWR, initially this was traced to the RG213 feeder I'd used to add a bit of distance, this needs new PL259s as there is a short in one end (unsure which), removing this the antenna still appeared to be out of tune despite the fact the radials and radiating element all have had no length removed, testing this afternoon in the living room the SWR dropped, final tests will be conducted in the open.

I did, despite following procedure, not realise that I was testing on a frequency in use, I was advised of this and checked other frequencies as matter of course.

Testing will continue in the next few days given time all being well.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Thursday 15 February 2018

Possible change of car

Though this should not be a massive problem for me, as the car in question is yet another Toyota Aygo, the same generation to my current car however all is different inside the one I looked at and this will influence where my radio gear can and cannot go.

Firstly the car I looked at had airbags in the A-pillars, this, combined with a rev counter sticking out of the top of the speedo means the display for the FTM-400XDE cannot be placed where I have it now, however the space above the stereo where I have the extension speaker fitted should accommodate the radio's display using heavy duty sticky pads and the existing screw.

The power wiring for the FTM-400XDE can still be taken from the battery in the usual way and through the bulkhead behind the steering wheel with the main loom (as this wire is not an RF carrier) and the radio grounded to the chassis behind the dashboard, to make this work I need to make up a loom that can jump the stereo wiring and leave it untouched like the current car, which utilises the Parrot handsfree I have fitted to the car (though this does not work properly as the display wiring is damaged and due to the airbag issue I alluded to may not fit the new car without some serious thought.

The 400's main unit will need a home, previously this was hung onto the glovebox lid mount points with cable ties, and remained there to this day, however in the new car I was thinking perhaps mounting it in the boot instead, though this means I would have to extend the display and mic leads to accommodate this, something I plan to research before I decide yes or no, as I do want the main unit out of the way.

The antenna will go on the roof in about the same position, should be easy as the car is identical.

I fitted a bicycle carrier to my current car and will transfer that to the new vehicle as well, as this was never wired in by an auto electrician this stands as a convenient mount point for extra antennas if I desire, though it does mean the boot door will not open, I will look to wire this up.

So on closing I have a lot to think about and perhaps I will be more likely to enter those contests with a car that I can rely on, and as the one I went to look at is not due MOT until later in the year it rules out uncertainty that I won't make the National Hamfest (and I won't have a failed exhaust).

I'll update this in due course

73 de 2E0EIJ (not /m though)

Wednesday 14 February 2018

The future of GB3HG and some QRM hunting in the home QTH

Today I received in the post March's RadCom, it was this that told me of GB3HG's future, that future is that LAMCO have sponsored yet another Yaesu System Fusion repeater and that said repeater would be going into service at GB3HG, however on investigating this further I have yet to find what I am looking for.

I am well in range of HG given it's prominent location on Sutton Bank near Thirsk and I should be able to hit it with an HT, though none of these are System Fusion as they are all Chinese HTs, this sudden turn of events makes me even more eager to get a Yaesu FT2D, however I still have my FTM-400XDE in the car.

As part of this turn of events I have been monitoring HG all day, and given that there has been no change to the NoV (as this would show on it is clear that the existing repeater hardware is still operating, however HGs output was full of QRM so I had to investigate that too and I found the culprit, my Raspberry Pi Zero which operates as the most energy efficient IRC bouncer on Earth, seems like I will have to place it inside a metal enclosure, either a pre-made one or an off the shelf one from Maplin customised to accommodate the Pi Zero, though since the reboot to determine the QRM it is not as bad at present.

If indeed what I have seen is in fact reality (a picture in RadCom and a tweet by LAMCO back this up), then a gap will be filled between 2 YSF repeaters already operational on 2-metres, this would be GB3CD in Crook and GB3NA in Barnsley (I'm unaware of any other 2-metre Fusion repeaters closer than those), and this should see an increase in Fusion operation in this area, however I plan to keep using GB3IR as well as that has the Echolink and IRLP facility (and probably the best place for FM use after the switch of HG to Fusion anyway), and I also intend to, at some point, use the newly opened MB6RY simplex WIRES-X gateway in Richmond operated by Andy M1SDE.

I have to say this has transpired to be a very interesting turn of events that I certainly will be keeping an eye on.

73 de 2E0EIJ

Monday 12 February 2018

Trouble times

Of course there is the still unfortunate news that I have not alluded to just yet but has progressively worsened at this time, and then another issue to put pay to me entering the 2m FMAC on the first Tuesday of this month was the battery on my car, it is still working but some mornings the car is not starting well, and the Saturday before the contest it would not start at all without me jump starting it.

The first thing to do really would be to replace the battery with a new one though that might be best left until the current one won't hold a charge, which I believe could be soon as on the Saturday morning I alluded to the voltage in the battery was down to 9V, not enough to run the starter motor and therefore not enough current either, this did reveal the FTM-400's voltage input is pretty wide but that voltage certainly would not have been enough to transmit, the FTM-400 was disconnected from the electrical supply while the car was jump started to protect it, this is generally a precaution I take as it is an expensive radio (and my only Yaesu at this time), it's not mentioned in the user manual.

I don't intend to risk entering the contest with a potentially defective car battery and with the other issue outstanding I could find myself in the situation in that I may not be able to replace the battery for some months, however this may not be the case.

The situation I currently find myself in also decreases the likelihood of me being able to save as much as I would like in order to purchase the FT991A and the FT2D (both of which are expensive radios and I'm after a 991 for the purpose of being able to operate HF other than 10-metres), but I've dealt with far worse before and will do what I can to pull through it.

I hope I can have the summer of portable radio I'd like to have, as I still need to get batteries and a tent, maybe I can have a friend join me camping if they're up for it and don't complain about my hobby (I do have one friend like that and they need to learn to accept that it is my hobby so it probably won't be them).

73 de 2E0EIJ