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Monday, 30 July 2018

Trap Dipoles - Really?


I've been fiddling with my wire antennas - never quite being satisfied with what I had.

Prior to this change I had a 30M dipole plus a full size Windom.

I saw some traps advertised by Spectrum Communications and the idea of a combined 30/40M antenna and a separate combined 60/80M antenna appealed.

The traps themselves are really very small and lightweight:

I bought traps for 10.125 MHz and 5.35 MHz.

The 30/40M antenna uses 24ft from the feedpoint to the trap and then 5' 8" as a tail on each end.

The 60/80M antenna uses 44ft from the feedpoint to the trap and then 11'2" to the end.

I've used "flexweave" cable I had here already.

I've also used some balanced feeder for the first time - also from Spectrum - it's very thin and needs a balun at the Shack end but the noise reduction on the low bands is very noticeable.

It always takes time to evaluate new antennas, but so far I'm more than impressed.

Good. don't you think?

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Some Casual Contesting


This weekend is the IARU HF World Championship and I have been having a dabble in CW.

I have three monitors connected to the "radio" PC, the primary screen has my main Logger32 window:

Going clockwise you can see:
  1. Great circle map plus beam heading - any DX station entered into the log entry window is also placed on this map;
  2. The pink/purple bar lists the station I am workings callsign and country;
  3. Below the pink box you can see a list of previous QSOs with the callsign being worked plus the incoming DX spots;
  4. The next window is "worked/confirmed" this lists the country/prefix being worked and shows the status of each slot i.e. not worked, worked, confirmed;
  5. The top right window is the telnet connection to my DX Cluster of choice;
  6. Below the map on the far left is my logbook window, the colour of the entry tells me if it is yet to be uploaded to LOTW and if the QSO is confirmed;
  7. To the right of the logbook is the QSO entry window including frequency and mode read from the radio directly. There's also a lookup to to auto populate name grid et cetea.
  8. Then we have 10 bandmaps which list the recent DX spots by band and frequency - clicking on a spot tunes the radio.
The left hand screen is watching out for any opening on 4M using dxmaps:

The third monitor has a number of other applications, firstly, we have CW skimmer to help me with CW RX at high speed - here we have YT0HQ at 37 wpm:

Then I have my CW Machine - this is part of the Logger32 application and is a CW keyboard with macros - simgle click on the maco or any text typed in is sent as CW:

And finally we have the remote software for the SPE Amplifier we discussed back here:

The amp is performing flawlessly since its return from the manufacturer. It has a lot of ATU frequency memories and as you tune between parts of the same band there is no need to worry at all about the antenna match - its just a case of setting it up once with your antennas and then forgetting.

The Antenna selection is also automatic as you switch bands on the radio - there are CAT interfaces from both my Kenwood TS-990 and Icom IC-7610. So the preference from 4 antenna sockets is auto selected by band.

With auto band, antenna and ATU settings its foolproof and is performing perfectly - I'm delighted.

Here's our Elmo looking like he has the worlds problems to worry about:

Good, isn't it?