zondag 20 april 2014

Dipole troubles @ OT1A

Troubles on 10Mhz !

I keep it in my calendar to do a big review of my outside equipment every two years.  Normally this is summer stuff, but with the good weather of the moment and a free day on Friday I decided to do it now.

This gives me some extra time this summer to play on 10Mhz in order to achieve DXCC band  8.  With only 32 countries confirmed it will be a big job...

Four things to do :
1- line up the dipole which has turned 45 degrees by the hard wind some months ago.

2- check the wiring of the Steppir and clean the fiber tubes (a lot of pigeon shit this year).

I also remarked the results of our hard working sun.  Fibers are suffering the UV light.
Step 1 : the green painted fiber becomes grey.
Step 2 : all painting disappears and the main fiber becomes visible.

I do not estimate any risk on this process.  If needed, fibers can be changed very easily.

The 12 wires of the 3 stepp-motor were in perfect condition.
This antenna is now working fine for about 7 years in all conditions without one single failure.  Super FB !!

3- check the wiring of the Yaesu rotor. The needle doesn't follow, so maybe a bad connexion.
I've found indeed two wires with corrosion.  My plastic protection egg - vertically mounted - wasn't 100% water proof.  Now I've mounted the egg horizontally (like my steppir egg).

This is the risk of having an extra connexion near the rotor.  It helps a lot if trouble appears - the control cable can be checked end-to-end very quickly - but the risk for corrosion increases.

4- rebuild the 40m Optibeam dipole into the 30m version by replacing some tubes.
At this point Murphy joined the club.  The changing was an easy job.  In order to be sure, I did a dummy-load test and the antenna feed point to check the coax.  No problems.

 But once back on place in the air, the antenna gives me a full-scale swr...  Damn !  
Or there is a problem at the feedpoint, or there is a problem with a bad connexion between tubes.  Anyway after all work I can't come out on 10 Mhz...

 I will go for another solution i.e. making a vertical dipole.  This will be easier on short term.

donderdag 3 april 2014

DX stress

It was an sms sent by Franki, OQ5M, that woke me up from winter-sleeping.  CQ WPX passed this weekend, and again the shack stayed qrt.  Too much to do,  the final preparation for another running contest this weekend etc...

However, it was an alert to have a look at the dxcluster.  VK9MT in the air.  Mellish reef is one of the 6 expeditions to work this year !  It didn't notice that the dxpedition was started.

Ok,  due to my lack of activity the antenna was still at 17m, so this couldn't be the problem.  I quickly put up the tx and went to 24Mhz.  The expected zoo was busy, of course without listening to the operator.  I think the poor guy was so impressed that he went qrt.  Even after 5 minutes folks were calling in the empty darkness.

My expectations came true : few minutes later a spot arrived on 18Mhz, also ssb (probably the same operator).  A few calls later, Mellish Reef entered the OT1A log.

I noticed also a TX6G, but no country was indicated and with the garden calling even harder to be cleaned , I did not pay attention.

Back in town, far away from the shack, I looked up the strange TX call : Austral Isl.
My God, this was also a missing one !  And he should go qrt the next day, April 1st.
Big problem : next day was fully filled in with qrl.  Only one big hour of free time at noon (with 25 minutes for a single trip to the shack, this meant about 20 minutes of operating time).

Some more stress : this dxpedition claimed a focus on rrty, while I do not play this mode.

I took the risk, went to home and Austral was active on 21Mhz ssb.  Ouf !
Due to this stress I forgot my laptop and had to take the cluster via my poor gsm.  Nothing bad, but another problem arrived : the Austral Islands were not indicated on my bearing map and I couldn't look up for extra information on the internet.

My intuition indicated around 0 degrees, short path.  The station was there but with a weak signal.
Without listening (shame !) I took a split of 5 kHz and called.  He immediately answered my call.  This was my lucky day.   Huray.

Anyway, once passed the 300 DXCC every new entity means a challenge and often there is no way to have a second change.

DX delivers stress !