Monday, May 19, 2008

ATS-3 Progress

It's been an unusually cool and damp May, so far, here in Central NJ. In fact, when I woke up this morning, the outdoor thermometer was reading 42 degrees. Quite cool for May in New Jersey. Tonight promises to be just as cool; and as a result, my neighbor must have had his heat running because I had quite bad local QRN on 40 Meters tonight. Up until about 10:00 PM EDT, the QRN was about S9.

So what's a Ham to do when the noise levels are unbearable? Heat up the ol' soldering iron - that's what! I managed to find homes for about a dozen more capacitors on the ATS-3 tonight. I'm actually seeing enough progress where in two more manual pages, it will be time for the initial testing phase. I swear, if I'm EVER going to make it into the QRP Hall of Fame; it will be for taking the longest amount of time to complete a QRP kit from start to finish.

I almost launched a capacitor into never-never land by squeezing it just a bit too tightly with my tweezers. Luckily, it hit something on my construction table and rebounded right back to me. I don't need to go to the local electronics store and embarrassingly ask for one SMD capacitor!

After I completed soldering, I turned the rig back on to find noise levels on 40 Meters back to normal. My neighbor's house must have reached the desired temperature. So I called CQ around 7.050 MHz using the bug for a change this time. I had a nice little QSO with John K9LIR. A friend of the family was in his shack listening to the dits and dahs. Seems she finds Morse Code fascinating.

Tonight, I didn't sound too bad on the bug. I can tell you there are nights when the CW just flows out of my Vibroplex like musical notes out of a fine instrument. Other nights it's an abomination - enough to send women and small children screaming into the night. I guess the arthritis in my hand wasn't too bad and everything more or less "clicked". When I'm off and the CW coming out of the bug sounds particularly horrible is when I go back to the keyer and paddles for the evening. Believe me, I end up doing everyone a favor by doing that!

73 de Larry W2LJ

PS: Thanks for all your prayers for KB9BVN. I got an e-mail from him indicating that he pulled through the emergency bypass surgery just fine; and that he should be home later this week

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