Happy October!

October 1, 2016

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I’m hearing ZL2OK on 160M SSB with both TX and RX antennas – and the phased verticals are much better. The signal is weak in each case, but the static on the TX vertical pretty much takes out an SSB signal. Not so much on CW.

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October, Orange and pumpkins go together like a pea in a pod.

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The surfer statue in Santa Cruz, CA

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I just might try a pumpkin ale this weekend – I pretty much only try them one weekend a year. They are a novelty beer – not my favorite, but something different anyway.

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The days are getting shorter daylight wise, and that is beautiful music to a Top Bander’s ears. Its already getting dark starting at about 6:30 PM PST, and starting about half way through September it almost seemed to accelerate. We were losing an average of 2 minutes a day in most of September.

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Aspens near Moab, Utah

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The front to back is much better with this diamond layout than yesterday’s idea for a rotatable K9AY – Flag style RX antenna.

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The null is sharper by a good amount and the take off angle remains the same as does the gain (loss). The RDF is 7.87 which is better than a typical K9AY loop, but not as good as the phased vertical array. Still, it would fill in some directions not covered by my phased vertical array, and on 160M you really can’t have enough options RX wise.

Rotatable K9AY Loops

September 28, 2016

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I just realized not only do I have all the parts needed to try this – the cable runs are already right where they need to be.

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Its slightly different than the K9AY loop because it places the tuned circuit and resistor at the ends of the loop – not near the center support mast. The pattern is just like a flag.

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A rotatable sharp null should be quite good. I’ll build this and test against the 2 element NCC-1 based vertical array. I will use the MFJ-959C and switch in the array or the rotatable K9AY. I will have a tuned circuit at the feed – but just use the MFJ-959C as a preamp – since the antenna will be literally 10 feet or so away from the shack with maybe a 30′ run of coax to the fed from the shack.

160M: Noise Limbo Party

September 27, 2016

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Top Band this summer was quite good, but so far, September is a total bust for me. The last 160M new one I have is from August 29, VP6J. There hasn’t been anything on that I need until now – and while H44GC is at least S7 on 80M, he is just under the noise on 160M.

My hope right now is that I can work him before the calendar page turns to October. It will be #80 for me – so its a big milestone.

No Dice on the W7IUV Preamps

September 25, 2016

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(click on image to enlarge) . . . 

This is it. The TX vertical (left) just has a 1:1 current choke, and its resonant in the 160M band – so I use the AT2K tuner to make the ACOM-1500 happy. The RX verticals have their common mode chokes and L-C circuits, and that’s it. I even got rid of the MFJ-959C in the chain. On page 7-113 of the ON4UN Low Band DX-ing Book, John, ON4UN, says that unless you have more than -15 dB loss its probably not useful to have a pre-amp. I did try them at each antenna and with one on one antenna and sans on the other, and while they worked, they did not seem to help, in fact, possibly due to the fact that the common mode choke and LC circuit might not be compatible with the pre-amp, the signal was actually lower than with it taken out of the line. Using the K3 preamp is just fine – I need to try narrowing the filters to see if I can improve S/N even more. Don’t mess with success – the pre-amps are a “bridge too far”.

The antennas are quite close to the shack, so the coax runs are not that long at all, so it makes sense that using an in shack pre-amp is just fine.

Anyway – the RX verticals with the NCC-1 exhibit a null of a minimum of -18 dB, so I’m happy. The TX vertical has 20 dB more noise than the RX antenna – so this is the best set of characteristics – lower noise by a wide margin – and signal just about as strong on the S Meter as the TX vertical.

This morning I found a couple situations where the diversity receive on the K3 was the right combo – even though the TX vertical was noisey and the RX verts were better for a couple stations in OC-PAC and Asia, it was easier to copy the signals in diversity.

The next big deal experiment? Swapping the DX Engineering NCC-1 for the NCC-2. That should ship this week – if all goes well back in the east where they build these things.

 

W7IUV Preamps Built

September 25, 2016

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Both boards are done, and the quality of the MTM Scientific kits is top notch. The savings over buying a preamp is significant, and these were beginner level “kits”. Very easy and quick to build in less than an hour each.

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The boards fit perfectly into the Carlon boxes that used to be 1:1 Common Mode Chokes. Just drill a hole for the DC and wire the boards to the input and output SO-239’s and I’m done. I will build a small control box that simply sends DC to each pre-amp separately. There will be two switches and two LED’s.

I’ll be able to test these tomorrow night – Sunday – and early Monday morning before the work week. I’m hoping they don’t just amplify the noise – heh heh.

 

W7IUV Preamps

September 22, 2016

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I just happen to have 2 common chokes left over from the 3 loops summer experiment, and I will remove the toroids and put the W7IUV preamps inside. I also already have a nice box to put the two power switches and leds that I will need to show which preamp is on. Both antennas already have control cable run – which is left over from the loop rotators.

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I won’t need the BNC connectors since I already have the SO-239’s drilled in the Carlon boxes. I will use that nice power connector and just drill a simple for the control cable. I expect this will easily happen this weekend – a couple hours to build the PC boards, a couple hours for the control box, and a couple hours getting it all set up.

I will then get rid of the MFJ-959C since each vertical is already tuned to 1.825 mhz and now the preamp will be right at the antenna. DX Engineering sells their active antennas for $300 each, and since I already had the aluminum on hand for mine – the preamps cost $30 each, so I saved $540 and have much better antennas to boot.

The NCC-2 will be here in a couple of weeks so at that time I will see how much better the NCC-2 is over the NCC-1.