It's been a busy few weeks and haven't had much time to sit down in front of the computer. He's an update on some of the things that have been going on....
Finally I have the Kenwood TS590 installed and running in the car. I don't really have much to add to what has already been said about this rig on many internet forums: It has a great receiver, and it has a bit of an issue with SSB transmit power. This "issue" isn't really a concern for me since I use the rig to drive an amplifier, but I can imagine it might be an issue for those who don't. Also, the fact that the TX audio has so much choice means it's a bit tricky to set up. I haven't as yet connected it up to a computer to use the software controlled 14 band graphic equalizer, nor have a I really taken the time to get someone to help me through the different settings and see if maybe one of the predefined options, with the gain and processing set properly, will be adequate. Once that's done, I will also try it out against the TS850S, which up to now is "the one to beat", performance wise. Certainly from an ergonomic point of view I love the 590, a great improvement over the Tentec Eagle, in my opinion. One thing I really like is the backlit LCD screen, the TS850 falls down in ths respect although to be fair it wasn't designed to be used in bright sunlight!
DX wise, I haven't been able to work all the DXpeditions I had hoped to work. In fact, of all the recent ones, I have only managed to work A3EAQ in Tonga, for country 306. I could hear T2GM, T2YY, and XR0YG loud, but between the fact that they were almost exclusively on CW (I am a very poor CW op) and my very limited operating time on those dates, it wasn't to be.... Maybe next time. So I am keeping my ears open for the next upcoming expeditions to places I need, namely V6 and ZK3. Fingers crossed!
The good news is that I received a card for Eritrea recently, so I now have the magic number of 300 countries confirmed from the mobile!
I was asked the other day if I was the world number one mobiler, I would have liked to say yes, but I had to confess that I know of at least 3 people who have done better than me. One had 307 confimed last time I heard, another has 325 confirmed, and a G station has only 2 countries to work for a clean sweep! And those are only the ones I know of, I'm sure there are more. I still have a ways to go.....
I was active from the station in the mountains of León for about a week over easter. Upon arrival, I set to work putting the antennas back up, a job I hadn't done at christmas due to lack of time. Unfortunately,when I started to use the EZ-hang catapault I used to do the job the first time, the elastic broke. After trying to use a fishing rod (like GM1DSK does), I had to admit my fishing skills are zero, and I ended up resoting to throwing the tennis ball up into the trees. After countless tries,I finally managed to get over a limb at about 14 metres high. Here's how it finally looks from down below, with the 20m end fed antenna:
I was active for a bit in the CQ WPX contest on 20m, and made about 120 contacts. This QTH is surrounded by really high mountains, and while I am planning to improve the antenna setup here, there is no way this will ever be more than just a fun distraction when we are in the mountains.
NOVEL ANTENNA TUNING METHOD
As previously reported, our 2 element yagi for 40 at ED5T did not give us the results we expected. On friday, we set to work to try to retune the elements, in an effort to improve the forward gain and front to back / front to side ratio.
Our aim was to ensure that each element of the beam resonanted on the correct design frequency. We wanted to check the resonant frequency at the feedpoint (no coax run to possibly distort measurements) and to do so at the expected working height. In order to do this, we used "EB5KT ingenuity". We brought the antenna down on the motorized tower and removed one element. An SWR meter was inserted at the feedpoint, with the line running down to the shack as usual. A small remote camera was installed in front of the SWR meter. Both were attached to the boom of the antenna and then it was raised to the operating height. Elias was on the shack roof watching the SWR on the screen of his laptop, and instructing Jose EA5GS to move up and down the band while watching the SWR change. The tower then came down, Vic EA5KV and Juan EA5GIE moved the lead shorting out the linear loading up or down, and repeated until the element was tuned exactly.
Then, the element was taken off the boom, the other element put on, and the performance was repeated until that element was tuned too.
Finally both elements were installed and a check was made to ensure that the final SWR was exactly what we needed. The antenna is perfect a 7.070 and covers 200 KHz either side under 2:1. We didn't have much time to test, but F/B looks at a first glance to be around 15 to 20 dB. Let's see how it works next time we have some time to test it properly.
A VISIT TO EA5/GM0OPK
GM0OPK Paul and myself have been friends since we were teenagers. Paul lived here near Valencia for a number of years, and when he went back to Scotland, kept his house here in the village of Villamarchante. He gets over from time to time, and his plan from now on is to come over more often. That means he is planning a station upgrade, and to that effect, he forwarded on his FT1000 from Scotland to me, to replace his trusty, but old, FT902DM. He popped by work on friday afternoon to pick it up. Another station upgrade that he'd put in his hand luggage is a new Prosistel rotator, and when I went up yesterday afternoon, the rotator was already installed:
We had fun working a string of stations on 15m, then had a wee chat to catch up. The next part of the upgrade will be to bring his 18m versatower down, and probably change the venerable KT34XA tribander for something more modern. If those on the other side of the world already think he is strong, wait until the new antenna system is up!