Welcome to my amateur radio and electronics Blog. My name is Carl and I live between Northwood and Rickmansworth on the Greater London / Hertfordshire border. This new blog was started 26th December 2020 although I am in the process of transferring some of the more interesting posts from my old Blogspot pages. My main radio interests are:
* VHF to SHF DXing and contesting * HF Dxing, digital modes and contesting (particularly RTTY contesting) * Equipment and antenna construction, including homebrew and kits
My personal contest callsign is G2K.When contesting with ‘The Rats’ you may hear me using either our club call G3RAT or our club contest call G2D, we also have the club call M0HRF but that is used somewhat less now that we have been issued G3RAT.
Despite the fancy Icoms etc and potential to operate up to 400W on HF when the situation is appropriate I still very much enjoy operating low power low cost radio. I am a big fan of Hans Summers and his QRP Labs enterprise. You can find Hans’ website here and his QRP Labs shop here. I particularly enjoy the QCX Mini range of CW QRP transceivers owning one for each of 20m and 40m. See Hans’ QCX Mini Youtube video here.
Drowned Rats Radio Group
I am proud to be a founding member of the Drowned Rats Radio Group, if you want to know more about the Rats check out our webpage at About Us | Drowned Rats Radio Group (g3rat.com). We are VHF and above enthusiasts (although we also do some HF!), we do contesting and more. Recruiting now!
We are always looking for new members to join the team
We welcome newcomers and old-hands alike, full training is given and we have a lot of fun! If you are in the UK and would like more information including how to get involved in the weekly VHF-SHF activity contests and/or to come out with us on one of our field events please contact us on the link above or feel free to email me direct. If you’re new to VHF and above contesting in the UK check out my beginners guide here.
Tuning across 20m this morning and trying to work MM0PLX/P in the Shetland Islands, probably a bit close at the moment for 20m. Nevertheless, tuning across the band I was very pleased to find Peter in Jamestown, St Helena. Good copy 54 both ways.
Market Reef, or Märket, is a small reef with a lighthouse on the Swedish/Finnish border, just outside Åland in the Baltic sea. The border zig-zags through the island, making it a special DX entity. The OJ0 callsign prefix was issued in 1973, and has since that day been wanted in the logbooks of many DXers. At the time of writing, it currently holds the #162 on ClubLog’s DXCC most wanted list.
In May 2023 a team of four Norwegian operators will activate the entity once again, and hopefully give many operators world-wide a new (or maybe ATNO) contact with OJ0.
Synchronised with the Dayton Hamvention I was delighted to see the annoucement of a new transceiver from QRP Labs. Ordered this morning without hesitation and looking forward to reporting on progress on the blog! I think it will be some time before they are shipped – this will be a popular kit from QRP Labs.
Information so far: The “QMX” (QRP Labs Mulitmode Xcvr): a feature-packed, high performance, five-band (80, 60, 40, 30, 20m) 5W multi-mode transceiver kit. , including embedded SDR receiver, 24-bit 48 ksps USB sound card, CAT control, synthesized VFO with TCXO reference. QMX transmits a SINGLE SIGNAL, it is not an SSB modulator with associated unwanted sideband and residual carrier, or intermodulation due to amplifier non-linearity. QMX outputs a pure single signal. QMX is currently only suitable for single tone FSK modes, which covers the majority of digital modes in use today (if it later supports SSB, multi-tone and phase shift digi modes will be possible). This includes everything in WSJT-X, JS8Call, some fldigi modes e.g. RTTY, Olivia and more. QMX is also suitable for on/off keyed modes such as CW because it has click-reducing RF envelope shaping; it is not suitable (until and if SSB is implemented) for phase shift keyed modes such as PSK31 or modes involving multiple concurrent tones such as WinLink.
80, 60, 40, 30 and 20m
CW and FSK Digi modes
All features of QCX-mini (VFO A/B/Split, RIT, Message and frequency memories, beacon, keyer)
5W output at 9V supply (can be built for 4-5W at 12-13V supply)
SWR bridge built in
Single signal transmission (zero unwanted sideband, zero residual carrier, zero intermodulation distortion)
Solid-state band switching and transmit/receive switching under CAT control
High performance embedded SDR SSB receiver with 60-70dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
Built-in 24-bit 48ksps USB sound card
Built-in USB Virtual COM Serial port for CAT control
Si5351A Synthesized VFO with 25MHz TCXO as standard
Easy to build single-board design, Professional quality 6-layer, through-hole plated, silk-screen printed PCBs
All SMD components factory assembled
Connectors: 2.1mm power barrel connector, USB B (for audio and CAT control), BNC RF input/output
Built-in test signal generator and testing tools
Switched mode regulators
Receive current 80mA, Transmit current 1.0-1.1A for 5W output with 9V supply (around 0.7A for 5W with 12V supply).
Optional aluminium extruded cut/drilled/laser-etched black anodized enclosure
After my success with the Ultimate 2 and 3, QCX Plus, QCX Classic and QCX Mini, and QDX, I am excited!
The HF bands have been pretty dire so I thought I’d fire up the old FT991 and see if I could get anywhere with Yaesu System Fusion, I’ve tried before with only limited sucess. The limitation was that whilst I could seem to work folks on the local repeater using CTFM I couldn’t manage to connect to the WIRES-X network. Apart from this my only other success on CTFM was a direct QSO with my old friend Dave G8LZE, who is new very sadly SK, Dave lived less than 1Km from my QTH.
Pulling my hair out with frustration unable to connect to WIRES-X I resorted to a google search. Very quikcly I found a helpful YouTube video by Jonathan Creaser, M0XXJ. According to Jonathan’s advice the Squelch (SQL) on the FT991 needs to be set at ’20’, don’t ask me why!
Still learning the ropes but good to have digital QSO with New Aealand and USA today.
I’ve loaded up a few node ID onto the 991 including: CQ-UK, Southern Fusion, NWFG and Z-AUCKLANDLINK.
Apart from the occassional FT8 QSO with European station I’ve been a bit slow off the mark this year with regards 6m and Sporadic E. This afternoon I noticed that Brazilian stations were being spotted by UK stations on 50.313. Neither the 5 ele YU7EF beam or the Moxon are up at the moment, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I had a go with my 80m EFHW (which I only put up last week to see how it compares with my G7FEK inverted L for 80m). Imagine my surprise when not only was I heard by at least 4 stations in the Sao Paulo area, I actually completed a QSO with one of them. Well, blow me down!
287 QSO in the UK/EI DX CW contest, not bad for a CW rookie.
Most QSOs made on 40m and 20m with a smattering on the other bands. Not many G or EI stations worked (67, so just under 25%) which will mean low multipliers but I guess inter-G (and EI) conditions have been far from ideal. A couple of QSO including PV2K Brazil on 10m rounded things off Sunday lunchtime. The most frustrating thing was the Swiss contest running at the same time (with different exchanges!), a number (most) HB9 stations were not willing to work stations in the EU/EI contest. QSO totals with DXCC in brackets: 80m: 38 (18) 40m: 128 (28) 20m: 91 (29) 15m: 20 (13) 10m: 9 (9)
After the frankly terrible conditions on the lower HF bands over the last few days (with the Kp Index reaching 8 yesterday), it was good to see 6m (50MHz)open for Sporadic E propagation. Nothing spectucular worked but it is good to have the following in the log: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Andorra, France, Germany, Poland and Lithuanina – admitedly all with FT8 – nothing heard on USB. I did see some UK stations working South Africa, Brazil, Chile and Argentina, no such luck here on the Moxon at just 4m height but it’s still a good start to ‘the season’ 🙂
The second activation was conducted on the same day as the Canvey Rally which also presented an opportunity to activate Canvey Island (west and east – WAB TQ78 and TQ88) for the Worked all Britain group. I also managed to activate Two Tree Island (TQ88) for the WABers, that activation also included Parks on the Air (POTA) G-0090 (Leigh Nature Reserve). Equipment used: Yaesu FT857D, Ampro whip antennas for 20m and 40m, Ultramax 18Ah LifePO4 battery.