Radio Repairs: Part 2

Today I took my son and we headed south down towards San Jose to meet up with George, K6GT. After about a 90 minute drive from Oakley we arrived somewhat early in his neighborhood, so we kill a few minutes. Got to see where Apple is headquartered, that was neat. I called George about 11:45am and he said he was home, so we headed over.

I have seen George at some of the NCCC meetings I attend, but I had never spoken to him. Great guy, he is. He showed Zack and I his shack, completely with Elecraft K3 and Panadapter. No one he could loan me his Yaesu FT-1000 MkV, it goes unused in the closet. LOL.

He had the radio packed up in its original boxes with all the paperwork included. I think this is what they call a “selling point” as he made mention, “it’s for sale, name your price.” Wow, a MkV, the radio above mine, which has 200w output, although he said I would not get it. Still it would be great, since it is loaded with filters.

George even gave my son his QSL card for visiting his shack. Unfortunately Zack got very quick and shied away. At least he did say hello when we arrived. So I packed him up, and tied down the radio in the back the truck and we were off towards Pleasant Hill to get the wife.

Once home I took down the SteppIR BigIR and carried out to the front of the house to work on it. The copper tape was a complete mess. Thankfully I was able to straighten it out and get it on the spindle. I even got the spindle back on correctly (or so I thought) before connecting the 80M coil and balun and moving back to the mount to raise.

I spent a few minutes connecting all the cables up to the vertical and then made my way to the shack to fire it up. I turned on the controller and then attempted to calibrate the antenna. No sooner did I start that process and I got a very ugly sound coming from the housing. I let it run about 15 seconds and then powered it down. I was loosing light and decided I would take a second look at it tomorrow. No idea what it causing it to hang up now, hopefully the few seconds I had it on didn’t ruin the tape.

As for the radio, I held off setting it up tonight. With any luck it should be a seamless transition to the loaner rig. I will have to spend about 60 minutes configuring it the software I use. At the least I will have the low bands for the RTTY RU, but might be out of luck on 40/80M unless I can figure out WHY the Copper-Beryllium tape does not want to retract or extend.

Radio Woes

I recall making a post on the QRZ Forums asking the question, “What’s the draw to ARRL Sweepstakes?” It drew a wide range of comments and opinions from both the contesting crowds and the LIDs making off colored comments. Now that I have participated for 3 years I understand the interest and why so many enjoy this series (CW & Phone) of contests. Unfortunately for me this weekend for the phone portion of the contest it would have been better to watch from the sidelines.

I was handicapped going into the contest with a Yaesu FT-1000MP that had no 15M, seems I have a Local Unit that has failed in the radio. Oddly enough, I did report it working for the entire CW contest just 2 weeks ago. I also figured out my antenna issues on the SteppIR BigIR. It see the Copper-Beryllium tape that extends up the fiberglass tubing has come loose and was twisted inside the EHU. I also noted quite a bit of moisture in the housing, which is also a cause for concern. The moisture seal around the EHU seemed to be intact, might require a closer look before I make repairs on the tape.

While I will have a full SS Phone write up later in the week, it was not a good contest weekend. There was some hope beginning the contest on Saturday as I had 3 good hours, unfortunate with the lose of 15M on the rig I could only S&P on 10M and 20M. Still it was a better performance than how I started last year. Dropping the SteppIR BigIR revealed the copper tape problems minutes before the contest, so I erected the Alpha Delta DX-EE for the possibly use of 40M. No one could hear me.

Sunday was dreadful, disappointing and discouraging (enough of the ‘D’ words). I got a late start and when I finally did start the money bands were 10/15M, not 20M, but it was here I could only operate. So I put in maybe 2 hours and called it quits. The “fun factor” was lost and I was not enjoying myself. Too many problems going into the contest, which handicapped me. I guess a saving grace would have been to run as a precedence ‘B’ (high power) over ‘A’ (low power). Not that it would have helped much, as I could work nearly everyone I heard with 100w.

There are only 2 contests that interest me the rest of the year the CQWW DX – CW this coming weekend and the ARRL 10-Meter in December. I will need to send the rig back to WA4GEG in January when he reopens his repair shop. Hopefully I can find a loaner for the time being to compete in a few early January contests.

Chirp Gone?

I want to pass along my thanks to Hank, W6SX up in Mammoth Lakes for his assistance yesterday in working with me to resolve my “chirp” issue. Hank gave me a call and we met on 4 bands yesterday (80M-15M) in order for him to listen to my problem. All worked out well as we started on 40M and then moved to 80M. Both of these tests were run with 100 watts.

Upon moving to the higher bands I had to start the Alpha 76PA in order for Hank to hear me through the noise. Unfortunately 20M caused some RFI in the shack that knocked out my Internet gateway and USB functions and digital interface until. So I had to restart the PC and turn the input power down on the FT-1000MP in order to get about 500 watts out and not cause RFI.

We moved to 15M, which had been my problem band as reported by NK7U and W7POE (via an OO Advisory Notice). After sending a string of ‘VVV DE’ for about 45 seconds Hank could not distinguish any sort of chirp and commented that my signal sounded clean.

I suspect it could be an intermittent issue because my CW signal sounded different yesterday than it did during the 7QP (InQP & NEQP) when the problem was reported to me. This also makes me reflect back to last year when Iain, N6ML e-mailed regarding my signal as seen on CW Skimmer and the “chirp” could be seen. Interesting, but I didn’t put much into at that time.

I did find out, thanks to the brain trust on the NCCC Reflector and at the FT-1000MP Yahoo Group that I do in fact have an internal AC power supply. I do recall opening the FT-1000MP up and toggling the switches to convert the radio to 12VDC when I bought it from Ken, N6RO. From what I have learned on the Yahoo Group is that any 120VAC power code, like that for a personal computer should work. With any luck I will have an extra one in my wire pile and be able run the Ft-1000MP off the AC power supply and hopefully rid myself of the chirp.

A Visit to N6RO…Again!

Known though out as a “big gun” station, N6RO) or “Radio Oakley” is a very impressive station. I had been there once before after becoming a General and knew very little about HF or contesting. It was suggested by a friend, K6NA in San Diego to go say hi to the owner, Ken Keeler (N6RO). Ken was a great guy, gave me a tour of the towers/antennas and then the setup in the shack.

Last night I returned, nearly 2 years later with a mind full of new information and knowledge I have gained, but I am still far from being an expert on anything. I was invited by N6ML, who lives locally, as he and N6WM were going to take a practice run using Win-Test in the upcoming RTTY Roundup Contest in January. Just looking at my schedule, I won’t be able to transmit from N6RO), but will play RTTY from my shack when I get home from work.

The contest software was something new to me, I had not heard of Win-Test, but it surely had some great features for RTTY, CW and SSB, all of which was operated while I was there for some two hours. Like most PC based software nearly everything is keyboard generated, from macros to entering call signs and signal reports, but this would be the first time for using Wintest in a RTTY contest.

The station was a bit different than I remember it, gone were the Yaesu FT1000MPs, replaced with the newer Elecraft K3 rigs, which seemed to be doing an outstanding job. Not sure what will become of the old Yaesus, which were piled three high. Wonder if he has any use for these….guess I could ask, wouldn’t hurt, right? The K3 was an incredible rig from what I saw demonstrated, the ‘diversity’ mode was interesting as it allowed you to listen to two antenna’s simultaneously, one in each ear in order to receive the better signal.

As I said, while I was there, the RAC Winter Contest was in full swing, mainly on 80m and 160m, both of which (as well as 40m) were worked on SSB and CW. N6RO, operating as N6ML was doing well in the contest, which was to continue this morning as the sun was rising in the west.

I would like to think that some time soon I will have a good grasp on operating to participate in a multi/multi contest. I do believe the RTTY contest would be a simple contest to participate in from a station like N6RO, more so than CW or SSB, but that’s just my opinion.