I am glad I did not save all this work for the day of the contest, because there would have been no way I would finished it all before the contest started. Since the XYL is off at work today and my son is keeping himself busy with toys from Christmas I had time to further troubleshoot the SteppIR BigIR and connect the Yaesu FT-1000MP MkV in the shack.
Since it was more important to work on getting back on the low bands (40/80M) I decided to pull apart the SteppIR BigIR and take a second look at it. Yesterday was nothing more than replacing the spindle correctly to take up the slack on the copper tape that runs up and down the length of the antenna, depending on what band I am on.
It sounded terrible as I let it calibrate, eventually it stopped and thankfully there was no visible damage done to the sprockets or the copper tape. I then came in the shack and changed bands to 20M. A quick check and the tape was spinning and feeding into the antenna. I reconnected the 80M coil and the 1:1 balun and the antenna seemed to work. Rarely do I use the vertical for anything other than 40 and 80M because of the hex beam ends up working 5 different bands (10M thru 20M). This is the main antenna I use when contesting on 10/15/20M.
I then turned my attention to the Yaesu FT-1000MP MkV I got on loan from George, K6GT. I cannot thank him enough for lending it to me. Hopefully I can put in a good show this coming weekend during the ARRL RTTY Roundup and give George partial credit for allowing me actually get on 15M. It’s been a while since 15M working on my Yeasu FT-1000MP.
The easy part was to remove my rig and replace it with his MkV. Once the new radio was in place, I connected my radio to an adjacent outlet and began configuring the loaner unit. There were a few new menus and the front panel is a little different than what I have been used to. The menu navigation was just as easy. Some menus went unused, but about 20 minutes and I had the new rig configured with all my settings. I went off in search of a RTTY signal.
I found two hams having a QSO and it seemed I was decoding correctly using MMTTY. Half the battle won. I found WM5DX calling CQ and answered his CQ. He told me I was “upside down” on my signal and he could not see my print. A quick flip to the correct menu and I modified one setting. I found WM5DX about 2 minutes later and answered his CQ. When he finally turned his beam towards me he said I was 10 to 20 db over. I was glad to know I could transmit and receive.
One minor issue I had was with the rotator and I can’t pin a reason as to why. I had to set up two ladders to get on top of the roof to investigate. I opened up the rotator housing to confirm all the wires were connected. They were. I checked the power in the shack, it was on, as well as the wires that move the antenna. All connected. I attempted to turn the hex beam a second time and it moved. So, while it was a problem momentarily it seems to have worked itself out. All the better, because the last thing I want to do is resort to the “armstrong” method of turning my hex beam.
So all seems ready for RTTY RU weekend. There will be 4 established practice sessions sponsored by the NCCC beginning Thursday with 2 different sessions, followed by 2 more sessions on Friday. While I can’t confirm I have either or both days off from work I am hoping to get both off. Since my 2010 effort of 652 QSOs and 49,552 points running high power (500 watts). This was one of my best efforts in ANY contest to date, based on the number of contacts made. I will post my goals on Friday.