Saturday, 1 December 2018

ARRL 2nd

SRI for no update but to much to do at work and at home with other stuff.

The total result for ARRL was 72 QSO and 37 multipliers for a total of 262 700 points which is more then double the score from last year.
Activity seems higher then last year and I still missed a lot of stations I heard which is inspiring for the future.
Worked a handful of single yagi stations with low power with the smallest I think was G3LGR with a 14 el DG7YBN and 200W who was -20dB with me.
Heard a few small stations that did not copy me so I need higher power then the 500W I used now and the Italab pallet PA is on hold at the moment due to other projects priority.

The only hardware issue during the two weekends was that I lost elevetoin indication on friday evening before the 2nd part but it was a poor connector and easilly solved.
Experimented a lot with the dual pol setup and it works exactly as predicted but I have some noise in the area causing problems in some cases but have not found anything while searching.
It can clearly be seen both in the SDR spectrum display and Map65 as pulsating or changes in noise levels in both time and frequency domain.
Need to continue searching as its quite irritating and lowers the RX performance quite a bit.

Had some problem with Map65 that stopped decoding after been on for a few hours and reporting to Livecq was irregular and missed a lot of stations from time to time.
To resolve it I needed to reboot the computer so I need to evaluate that further to figure out why it  happens.

Have been looking for a PA controller that is remotely controllable and able to monitor all parameters as my intention is to have the complete station remote controlled but have not yet found anything really usable.
My programming skílls is limited and a task like that should be to much and take to long time for me.
The search and work continues.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Low band

Nothing new on 70cm builds but I did put up my 80 m 1/4 vertical last week.
Its 20.5 m high and I did put out 80 radials 20m long and some 40m long ones too.
Have a tuning box in the bottom where I tune it at 3.79 and also a switch and a second matching net to allow operation at 3.5 as well.
Have an additional net for 40m but I have not put it in yet.

Have also spent some time building and trying to communicate with a OE5JFL controller I got a PCB to from SM7FWZ some time ago.
The board is based on ON4BCB design.

I cant communicate with the controller but I think it is a faulty RS232 circuit that causes it and I have ordered new ones so I can continue.
The board only have TTL serial signals so I built a converter with a MAX232 but it seems to not react correctly on one channel so I hope exchanging it will help.

The new amplifier on 70 is slow progress.
Got the controller working but need to get it all in the box and connect it together and to make the 24V regulator and switches.

Besides from that I waiting for the rain to stop and higher dec. so one can work and also the last ARRL part.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Nothing new

Nothing has really happen since last weekend.
Worked some on the moon during the weekend but very low activity so mainly some tests with Bernie ZS4TX using different polarization.

Have continued with the Italab pallet amp I purchased a while ago but the progress is slow.
Did CAD and milled a PCB for the ON7EQ Arduino controller and put in screened box with feed through caps and inductors on the board that will hopefully work as RF sheild to avoid problems with RF on the input pins to the controller.

Will reprogram it later to also include the designer ON7EQ in the startup sequence.
I just did an initial test and tried to familiarize myself with the code.
The startup sequence fault handling seems to jump the 50V supply voltage because it never stops there as it stops on every other voltage or current measurement so I need to test some more another evening.

Have received the boxes for the preamp and balun but need to CAD and print a support for the balun before I can put everything inside and attach it to the antenna.
Hopefully the weather will be good in the weekend as now its very damp and wet so everything is soaked.

Monday, 29 October 2018

First part done

The first ARRL weekend is over.
It started with heavy rain Friday afternoon but it cleared up Saturday afternoon and the remaining of the weekend was fairly OK besides some snow Sunday.
Managed in total of 39 QSO's with some new stations and some worked before.
Think the activity was higher this year compared to last year and Sunday evening activity was very good with a lot of stations QRV.

I believe the smallest station worked was K1DS with single yagi and 100W or so.
One funny thing was Tobbe SM7EOI who lives 35 km away uses 4 * 11 el DG7YBN antennas hrd good but we missed to work before my noise became to high at MS when I beam into my house.
We can only work when doppler is high as the tropo signal is so strong.

Did make a switch box for the pol switching Saturday afternoon but it did not work on the RX side and the moon was on its way up so I left it with fixed RX H.
Did work XE2AT with TX vertical and RX horizontal and tried to call CQ a few times V but got no reply's.
Later on Sunday afternoon I found that the cable I used from the relay switching the two RX cables in the shack was short circuit so after replacing that it worked as planned.
The preamp for the V antennas had lower gain so the noise level dropped but it worked well.
Worked JE1TNL using both TX and RX vertical so the system works.
Compared a lot with HB9Q RX on livecq when I changed the TX pol and all times it shifted 90 degrees and a bit lower level on V as expected.

Worked Bernie ZS4TX who has the exact same array as I do and when he TX V he was like -10 with me and when TX H he dropped to -27 so a huge difference.
Listen a lot on Bernd DL7APV with different pols and at some point he was more or less gone when I RX V.

Experienced some noise from time to time and did walk through the house with my 817 with a rubber duck on but did not find any source of extra noise but need to continue the investigation as I believe I have something interfering.
Some times I can detect noise with patterns in Map65 both in freq and time domain.

Sunday evening I had problem with MAP65 hanging when trying the decode so I could only at few times report to livecq.
Do not know why and I have never experienced anything similar before but Sunday night it was constantly hanging.
Besides from that and some high VSWR when antenna soaked the station worked without any problems.
Need to find some good settings for CW until the next leg as I tried a few times but CW does not sounds pleasant with my settings at the moment so I did not work any.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

ARRL first night

So finally I got it all together in some way to be able to work.
Finalized the antenna yesterday and the rain started the same time and has not stopped since.
Had some other work to do yesterday so late afternoon I started the station up or thats what I thought.

For some strange reason had I lost the nw Connection to the computer which worked the week before.
Tried to reconnect both ends on the cable but it did not help so I set up a WIFI nw instead.

Connected the rig together and got noice when switching on the preamp and the local beacon was fine but to amp did not TX when PTT was actuated.
Started bu testing the RIG but it was working as usual so the error was in the PA intself.
The investigation gave a broken PTT transistor in the PQL controller and fortunately I had an unassembled one so I could Exchange it.
Why it broke is a mystery but the only way I believe was the thunder hit we had a while ago.

The antenna matching was terrible and for both pol only about -15 dB return loss.
Did not bother to build the switching logic for the dual pol so I will do that today.
The idea now is to just be able to switch between the two pols for RX and TX separately and one RX pol at the time.

Did manage to work 10 stations this morning with 300W output power and the propagation seems to be OK and hrd a lot but had some problems with getting both MAP65 and WSJT to work as I want them too.
Had a 3dB increase in noice when connecting the FCD to 28MHz RX line so from time to time I did not use it.
Experienced some increased noice and I need to look into that later today and when beaming toward west I beam in the direction of the house and the noice was increasing quite a lot.
Had some strong strange burst noice from time to time that I never seen before but it later dissapered so I will not bother at this time.

Weather forecast is some rain and windy and at the moment its snowing but hopefully it will not be so much as the past night.
Shall be QRV tonight and hopefully the propagation is good.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Slowly getting there.

Slowly everything is coming together but still not sure I will be able to complete before Saturday morning.
The weather forecast for Friday evening and Saturday morning is snow and heavy winds so the weather might stop all activities but I keep on working.
One problem is that it gets dark just 2 hours after I get home from work so the time working in daylight is limited.

Weather proofing of the balun, relay and preamp for the horizontal antennas is a task and I was convinced I had a decent box for it but can't find it anywhere so I just bolted everything onto a piece of 2 mm alu sheet and covered it with a plastic storage box.
Have ordered a couple of new boxes but they will arrive next week.

Have made all cables and the H/V relay and V preamp box done so everything just needs to be connected together and the two RX cables drawn into the shack.

Got my high power permit a few day ago so now I am allowed to use 1kW output power again.
But I have only about 700W or so from the PQL amp and had no time to complete the Italab amp yet but it will be OK with that.

One funny thing is that there has been nearly 4500 readers to this blog and only one comment.
A few times I have consciously wrote something that was not fully correct but still no comments.

Planned to have the Friday off work to sort out the last pieces but forecast is rain the whole day so maybe that is not such a good idea after all.

Saturday, 20 October 2018

8 Antennas feeding done.

Today I was able to finalize the feeding structure of the horizontal array.
The results was quite good after some tuning with moving the teflon pieces to acheive the best match.
Will try to move them more equal and for a good support tomorrow.
I struggled a bit finding a good solution to attach the balun in a good way so it took some time to complete and to assemble everything completely alone cause some extra moment to prevent anything brake or bend.

Next is to build the new relay box and to make some new cables for dual pol RX and also for the horisontal preamp that will be positioned closes to the balun possible and I need a TX cable into the relay box too.

Did some supports for the open wires to and hopefully it is enaugh but I need to make a second support for the balun and relay and cables as only one is propably not enaugh.

Needed to bend it or it would hit the mast when elevating and I need to have 70 degree elevation for to gain access to the the feeding.
Hopefully I will have the time to finalize everything for the first ARRL weekend but I have some other work to do also.