Archive for August, 2011

Code Practice

August 17, 2011

Last evening while the better half was out, I fired up the rig for some cw practice. The bands were better than the other day! I found a number of signals on 40m so I located a slow QSO and started copying. I was getting % of what they were sending. Calls, QTH, RST, all the important things. About 10 minutes in a loud signal moved in close obliterating the QSO I was copying. I tried to use the inboard filters on my IC751A but they just weren’t enough. I have a 500Hz filter in the first IF and nothing in the second. So…the filter research started.

I put out an email on the 751 Yahoo list. Jarmo OH8KVA replied with a recommendation for an Inrad filter. I looked them up online and OUCH the filter was half of what I paid for my used 751! I would love to have that kind of cash now as I am unemployed. I remembered seeing many discussions on QRP-L  about the NESCaf filter kit. With a bit of research and reading I decided that was the way to go. Adjustable center frequency and bandwidth in a kit. Did I mention that the filter kit with the optional connector kit and shipping is only $38?  In Congressional economics I just lowered my deficit by $132!

I have got the itch to build something new and this will do nicely. I am considering building it as a part of a multifunction station accessory. I have an un-built Pico keyer kit in the cabinet and I need a new 24 hour clock for the shack and am thinking of brewing my own. Maybe I can find a nice tin to put all of these in and make it a fixture on the shack desk. I am now excited about building and operating again. It’s been a long time!

Conditions STINK!

August 11, 2011

So I went down to the shack this afternoon to see what was on and man were the bands terrible. I know my G5RV Jr. isn’t the best antenna in the world but man! I tuned everything from 40 meters to 15 meters and heard just a few stations. Of course I was on phone so I thought ok let’s try CW. It wasn’t much better! and on top of that my CW copy stinks. Guess that I had better get busy on that. With my compromise antenna I should really try to maximize my signal to noise ratio. and we all know that watt for watt CW is the way to go for that. I haven’t done serious CW since I was a novice studying for my upgrade. It will take me a bit to get my speed back up, but hopefully since I am unemployed at the moment I can get a routine going and bring it back up before the contesting season gets here. My IC751A has an on board keyer and I have a Dirt Cheap Paddle from American Morse Equipment as well as my original Nye Viking Straight Key from 1977.

With a little work and time I will get there.


August 5, 2011

ARISSAT1 is finally on the air and in its own orbit! I heard it on Thursday 8/4 on its early morning pass. The signals were strong on the pass which lasted about 5 minutes. As the sat tumbles through space there are deep nulls in the signal when the antenna direction is away from Earth. The null took the signals from S7 to S0 and nothing but static. Luckily the nulls only lasted a second or two. I wanted to copy the telemetry that was broadcast by the controller to qualify for the QSL certificate. Even though the tracking site told me when the  pass would be, I was not ready to copy. So I knew I  should be  ready to go early the next time. During the next pass I would be working so it would have to wait till Friday.

On the first pass of Friday 8/5 I was ready. The IC2000 was on and the squelch was open. My pad was ready with the pre-configured log so all I had to do was fill in the data. Right on time I heard the signal fading in. As it came up I was paying attention to the telemetry to catch as much data as possible. The first round was noisy on the numbers and strong on the data points. Was this gonna be the pass that I got all the data? It didn’t seem like it. Just like in a contest I pushed on. The next round of telemetry came on and the signal was up to about S3.  So I was able to copy all the data as follows.

Secret Word – xxxxxxx

Mission elapsed time – 2444 mins

IHU Temperature – +36C

Control Panel Temp – +24C

Battery Voltage – 33.56V

Battery Current – 334mA

Did I mention that you have to copy the secret word from the voice greeting toconfirm that you actually heard the satellite? Well of course I am not going to tell you what it was! I sent my report off in an email and hopefully if I am right I will receive my certificate  back by email soon. I will scan and post when I get it.

Listening to ARISSAT1 this morning brought back a memory from my ham past. In the mid 80′s I was a field service rep for a medical equipment company. I driving in central Kentucky to another call when the 2M rig started to squawk. I had the frequency set to the down link from the space shuttle. It was the first trip that ham radio went up. It was the Space Shuttle Columbia and I thought how cool it was that I was driving in my car and Owen Garriot W5LFL (link to QST article about the flight) was riding in the shuttle somewhere above me! What was even better was that without computers I had no idea that this was going to happen! I tried to contact him but with the mobile antenna and all of the other hams trying I didn’t get in his log. It was exciting to try. The joys of traveling with ham radio are many!


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