AA8IA Amateur Radio

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A Rough Radio Weekend

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During the past week I swapped out my ~105′ ladderline-fed doublet for an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus. I finally got the LB up in the air on Friday, with the help of some family. The LMR-400 I’m using to feed it is heavy, and the LB Plus itself is heavy, so it was causing the mast to bend pretty good without guy wires above 25′. As a stopgap measure I tied a piece a rope to the top section and secured it down in a way that would bring the mast back to vertical.

The LMR-400 was purchased from a place who had premade 50′ sections with N-connectors used for wireless backhauls. Not only do I not need LMR-400 on HF, but I also don’t need N-connectors on HF. This just causes me to have to use adapters to connect it to antennas and radios. The current LMR-400 likely has water breach. The N-connector on one end can easily be twisted, and there is intermittent connection of the ground. I ordered some RG-213/U with PL-259s which should be here this week.

I didn’t get an opportunity to even attempt to tune the 10/20/160 wires. The antenna doesn’t resonate inside the band edges for any ham band. Although, my LDG tuner will very quickly tune up on 10m through 20m. I was also able to tune up on 160 around 1820 khz. I can tune up on 40m as well, but there is RF floating around in the shack. I’m not sure if it is due to the close proximity of the antenna to the shack, the bad shield connection on the coax, or a combination thereof. So I can’t run 100w on 40m right now. I’ll worry about that once I have the new coax in place. I can tune on 80m, but only in the SSB portion. Not good — I prefer CW.

It rained most of the weekend. Fortunately there was no lightning, but there was no way for me to know whether there would be lightning. T-storms were forecast. So it was always in the back of my mind that I may have to quit any contest I was operating in this weekend. The noise on 40/80 was rough.

I attempted to operate in the WAE CW contest this weekend. I didn’t do as good as last year, but I didn’t put the time in either. I missed some opportunities because I couldn’t operate on 40m without the RF taking out my keying interface every time. So it was a 10-20m contest for me. Unfortunately, there was no Europe to be heard on 10m. On 15m I felt the conditions were mediocre at best. I did make some EU contacts, but there is no way in hell I would consider it to be good propogation on 15m this weekend. Others in Ohio who worked this contest wouldn’t agree, but they are also running high [and often directional] antennas and high power. 20m was good though, and that is where I made most of my contacts.

I worked a few MDC stations for that QSO party, but try as I may I just couldn’t find many on the air. I worked what I heard though. The MDC QSO party is like the WVQP — a handful of in-state stations who have all the fun working the casual people who run across them, but in my opinion there aren’t enough in-state MDC stations to make the contest fun for those out of state. Contrast that with the FLQP, GAQP, TNQP, OHQP, PAQP, CQP, and the 7-land QPS, where there is plenty of fun to be had for both in-state and out-of-state stations.

On the bright side, I was offered some help by my niece’s husband to relocate the current antenna support to another part of the yard farther away from the house. We’ll do that in the next month or two. We’ll dig a hole and cement a pipe into the ground and then mount the 50′ Max Gain Systems mast to it. I’ll put the DX-LB Plus on top, and perhaps I’ll stick a single-band wire below it. We’ll get some solid end supports in the ground as tall as I can get them… above 10 feet at least. Hopefully I can figure out how to do this in a way that allows me to use pulleys on it to raise and lower the wire(s) rather than having to retract the mast for maintenancce or during inclement weather. The 50′ mast has 8′ sections, while my current mast has 6′ sections. So, retracted it will be more difficult to work on things using the 50′ mast. And I definitely need to get that DX-LB Plus tuned for resonance inside the band edges of as many bands as I can.

Written by Mike

August 15th, 2011 at 10:08 am