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Thursday, September 1, 2016

QSOs on a "Poor" Band

Today I was reminded that it never hurts to try.

Earlier this week Beth and I, after looking at the weather forecast and our calendar, decided to find something to do outside today. We finally settled on a day trip and picnic at Great River Bluffs State Park, about an hour east of here and overlooking the Mississippi. We could do a little hiking and then Beth could read while I did a little hamming (Don't all wives pack along a book in case the OM decides to get on the air?).

Great plan, but then I looked at the propagation forecast. Conditions for 20 meters, my favorite band for QRP in the Park was listed as "Poor". Shucks, why bother packing the KX3 along and putting up the antenna if no one will hear me. I was about to leave the rig behind and take my own book. In the end the KX3 did come and Beth and I found an operating/reading position about 600' above the Mississippi. There was shade for Beth and trees I that could get my antenna into without a lot of trouble.

For a poor band 20 was doing pretty good today. WA3GPM (PA) came back to my first CQ before I was even properly settled in my chair. I was expecting to review Reverse Beacon Network hits and instead I had a QSO. Before Beth got her book finished I had also had good QSOs with KB1CL (MA), N7DS (MT) and N1WPU (ME).

Never leave town without your never hurts to try.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

QRP - Houseboat Mobile

For a few days at the end of June we had a family houseboat vacation.

It's been several years since I've operated houseboat mobile. The first was in 1992 operating on Shuswap Lake, BC using a Heathkit HW9 and Hustler Mobile whip antenna.
The second time was in July 1995 operating on Lake Roosevelt, WA using the same HW-9 but with an endfed wire antenna.

This time we were in Voyageurs National Park on the northern Minnesota / Canadian border. I used my KX3 and twin lead fed 20 meter zepp.

For the antenna support I had one of my 16' crappie poles strapped to the upper deck railing. My antenna is 34' long with a 14' feedline. With this support it formed an inverted V sort of antenna with the far end dangling off the end of the boat...a prime example of "any antenna beats none at all". I did manage some QSOs, though, working WG0AT, N6TEM, VE3TLO and KD8DEU.

I had hoped to get on a little for Field Day but June weather in the Upper Midwest tends to be a little unsettled. This June was no exception. On Saturday June 25 we had thunder storms in both the morning and the evening plus we were under a tornado watch that evening.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Two (watts) Fer 20

I'm sorta on a twins kick right now. After building and using my 80/40 meter mid 50s QRP-in-the-Park Twins I looked around the shack and spotted my

Ten-Tec 1056 "Any Band" DC receiver that I had built several years ago for 20 meters. Unfortunately the 1056 is no longer sold by Ten-Tec but Pacific Antenna does sell the TwoFer 2 watt transmitter kit . I should be able to make it into an excellent "twin" for the 1056.

Monday, April 18, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter and 1T4 / 3V4 Regen

I've gotten off to a slow start with my mid 50s QRP-in-the-Park Twins. So far only W3BBO in Erie PA has gotten one of my special QSL cards. Now, though, I'm back from a two week trip and ready to get on the air again.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (On the Air)

I've finished my mid 50s QRP-in-the-Park Twins. Today I put them together and got on the air....unfortunately no responses to my CQs, but my 1 watt signal was getting out.

The Reverse Beacon Network gave me hits as far west as Utah, south into Texas and east to Massachusetts, not real strong but I was copy-able. I'll try again tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (Wired)

I've finished wiring my new transmitter. To help debug a little I did use three colors of wire; black for the ground and cathode circuits, green for the signal grid and red for the plate and screen circuits. Recommended in the 50s was solid (not stranded) wire and square corners with wires running parallel to the chassis sides. The wiring certainly came out looking better than some of my other projects but lead lengths may be a problem if I try this at higher frequencies.

This transmitter sounds fine and per spec it loads up to about a watt out on 40. I'll need to add more capacity for the pi network to work well on 80.

Fortunately I still have my winter vertical up and tomorrow's forecast is for 8"-12" of snow here in SE Minnesota. I'll have time to be on 40 trying out my 3S4 x 2 - 1T4 / 3V4 Regen station.

Friday, March 18, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (Ready to Wire)

The paint is dry and it looks good. The parts all mounted with no problems. Wiring is next.

Looking at the actual underside vs my drawings it looks a lot tighter than I had imagined...but, fortunately, only half a dozen or so components need to be wired in under the chassis. Most of the wiring is just that, wiring.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (Waiting for Paint to Dry)

Watching paint dry is never fun, especially since this project needs 2 days for the aluminum primer to dry followed by at least a couple of days for the top coat to dry.

I spending this time looking at under-the-chassis wiring and small component placement. With the addition of a solder strip everything is still looking good. One thing this exercise did help me realize, though, is the amount filament related wiring. I'll probably do the filament wiring first and route those wires closest to the chassis.

Friday, March 11, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (Metalwork Done)

A major checkpoint is to be done drilling and punching holes in a nice (unattainable these days) chassis.
I also try to mount the major parts to confirm I don't have any surprises or problems.

Next is to clean up a few burrs and then prime and paint the chassis to match my regen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

3S4 x 2 Transmitter (The Plan)

After building a 1T4/3V4 regen receiver to go with my 3S4 QRP Midget I decided that I needed to rebuild the Midget. What I'm ending up with is more like a Midget on steroids. It still uses two 3S4s in parallel and runs on 90 VDC but it now fits better with the 1T4/3V4 regen. With matching knobs and paint the two will be my mid 50s QRP-in-the-Park Twins.

I'm making several changes from the original QRP Midget. Since I wanted to run this transmitter and my regen from the same power supply I'm rewiring the filaments for 1.5 VDC rather than 6 VDC. Next, the QRP Midget directly heated 3S4 cathodes require a floating filament supply in order to be keyed. I couldn't share the filament supply between the regen and the transmitter. My fix is to key the 90 V B+ line. I have a WWII key with totally enclosed contacts so I won't find myself across 90V to ground sometime. Next I added an antenna loading control. Given the parts I had and the mid 50s sort of design a pi network made the most sense. Dip and load pi network tuning works best with a plate current meter so I also added that. Finally, I saw no need for the QRP Midget DPDT power switch. I left it out completely. I'll just disconnect the filament supply instead. The original QRP Midget fit in a small Bud minibox. Mine will require a 4x6 chassis.

I've found all of the parts and
laid out the chassis. Next step is to drill...I'm committed then.