Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Windy!

Sunday night we had a cold front come through. We had a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 8:45 PM but none materialized. We did get some, brief heavy rain. The major effect was gusty winds. It was windy all night and you could hear it howling past the second floor windows of our house. When I awoke in the morning, my weather station informed me that we had some gusts between 25 and 30 MPH.

Good test for new mast for the W3EDP.  It did not come down - the mast or the antenna.

BUT ......... there's always a "but", isn't there?

When I let Harold out of the house Monday morning to do what dogs do, I noticed the wire was lower than where I had left it Sunday afternoon. In anticipation of putting another mast section up next weekend, I did not attach the anchor end of the antenna rope to the fence on the opposite side of the lawn securely enough. Well, actually I did as the wire didn't come totally loose to the point of laying down on the ground. A hastily tied secondary knot intended to take up some anchor rope slack slipped and the wire is now drooping. In fact, the wind blew the wire downward onto the roof of the addition at the back of the house where it snagged on a shingle edge. Drat!

This happened once before when the antenna was up in Ol' Mapley and a limb snapped causing the wire to "free up" from a meandering route amongst twigs and branches a bit.  I will do what I did last time (quite successfully). I will use the Jackite as my extended hand and I will gently move the wire away from the shingle, up over a small vent pipe and back up into free space - all without my feet leaving good Ol' Mom Earth.

Did I ever mention how deathly phobic I am of ladders?  Great for being a Ham, huh?  I fell off the top of a 6 foot ladder back when I was in 2nd Grade. That experience left me avoiding ladders like the plague if at all possible. My palms get sweaty just thinking about them. I will climb one if it's absolutely necessary. It's not something that's near and dear to my heart, though.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Back in business!

 


The rain held off! The day started off sunny in the very early morning, but by lunchtime it had become very overcast. Fortunately there was no rain. It was a bit breezy, but that didn't interfere with getting the W3EDP resurrected.

I ended up using 5 mast sections and the apex is up at about 25 feet right now. I may add another section next weekend, which would bring the apex up to about 30 feet, I haven't definitely decided on that.

As you can see, the mast is secured to a chain link fence post. I don't want my neighbors (who are really super people) getting upset as the antenna is no longer really stealthy. So I'm going to go at this slowly for now.

After hooking the W3EDP back up to the KX3, it was like old times, The KX3 was still able to match it on all bands within seconds. It is very enjoyable and very reassuring to have my wire antenna back.

I was going to give it a re-inaugural workout in the Flying Pigs Run For The Bacon tonight, but I am sitting in front of the TV which is tuned to NASA TV.  The launch of the Falcon 9 space vehicle has my full attention.  Well almost _ I am writing this as I watch.

I did have a nice rag chew with WB9ICH on 30 Meters this afternoon. It was a "Larry to Larry" QSO, which is always neat. I guess those of you out there with more common names run into that a lot more than I do.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

This is all that left of Ol' Mapley

 


Just a stump of its former self.

From what I understand, the tree was infested with ants, carpenter and other kinds. The arborist said it was only a matter of time before the tree either died, or succumbed to a wind storm. You can see the HF9V coax in the photo. It was kind of like a "belt" around the trunk. Now I'll have to coil it up and hang it from the fence.

I did not get the chance to re-install the W3EDP due to some frustrating reasons that I'd rather not go into here. Suffice it to say, a good part of my day got eaten up by doing something I hate doing - waiting in line. When I got home, I had to run some garden fencing across the gap left by the missing trunk, so Harold, our Beagle, won't be able wander into the neighbor's yard. After that, I bagged seven bags of leaves in the front yard that fell during a two day rain storm, Thursday and Friday.

Tomorrow WAS supposed to be sunny, but now the forecast has changed to rain. Maybe, just maybe I can get something done with the W3EDP before the rain starts in the afternoon. We'll see. I did attach the bottom mast piece to one of the chain link fence posts with about a bajillion cable ties. I manhandled it to see if it would move or shift around. That bottom section is going NOWHERE.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Friday, November 06, 2020

Fox hunting

 The 2020 - 2021 QRP Fox Hunt season began this week. Tuesday evening was the 40 Meter Hunt, and I was not able to hear either Fox. I'm not sure if it was because of bad propagation; or that my noise level on 40 Meters seemed to be through the roof, for some reason.

I fared much better last night during the 80 Meter Hunt. I worked Jim N0UR in Minnesota only 8 minutes into the game. Steve WX2S was another matter. Being only some 20 miles from me, one might think he'd be a cinch via groundwave, right? It ended up that I didn't work him until about the "twenty minute to go" mark, when he switched from split to simplex operating. It was only then that I was able to catch his attention - most likely because the other Hounds didn't notice the change and were still calling 1 kHz up.

In all, I was pleased with the performance of the HF9V on 80 Meters. I'm still waiting for my neighbor's cousin's tree service to come and take down Ol' Mapley.  What was that commercial from the 70s? "Any day now .... any day now." I think I'll be putting my W3EDP back up in the snow.

This weekend is the SKCC Weekend Sprint. I'll try and get on and work a few more as I make my way towards Tribune status. 

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Election night 2020

 I guess just everybody around the globe knows that the US Presidential Election is today. I feel really strongly about this and want to share this - because I feel it's important.

No matter what happens today - no matter who wins this election - the sun will rise tomorrow, the earth will keep spinning. There's more to life than politics. Take time to smell the flowers, enjoy sunrises and sunsets, talk with friends, share time with family. Pet your dog or cat. Get on the radio! Live again ........ and the best part of all? NO MORE POLITICAL COMMERCIALS! (At least for now).

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Monday, November 02, 2020

Going back to basics - and purer QRP operating.

 I noticed something Friday night during the Zombie Shuffle.

I decided to unhook the HF9V from the KXPA100 and connect it directly to the KX3. After all, it was a QRP event and anything over 5 Watts wasn't kosher - so what did I need the amp for? Signals were noticeably louder and again, there was noticeably less background  noise on 40 Meters. This, even though the KXPA100 was being totally bypassed.

I am not getting rid of the KXPA100 by any stretch of the imagination - so any of you who might be out there and are hot for one - don't start salivating. But I am going to take it out of line for the time being and will use it only if I need to work an ATNO DX entity or a special Special Event Station - where QRP just doesn't seem to be getting through. I mean, that's the only reason I got it, anyway. It's easy enough to put back in line in less than a minute, if need be. Just move both the computer cable back and antenna connections back to the amp - that's it ..... easy peasy.

Moving the USB cable from the back of the KXPA100 directly to the KX3, allows my logging program to still recognizes what frequency I am on.  Isn't that something? I guess I've gotten so lazy that I prefer the radio telling the computer what band and frequency I'm on rather than typing it in! LOL! And I remember the days when there was ONLY paper logging. How spoiled I've become!

I plan to purchase a DAIWA antenna switch so that I can still choose between the HF9V and the W3EDP (whenever I get THAT back up). I have an MFJ switch ..... but it leaves a lot to be desired. Strangely, it's the only MFJ product I've ever purchased that I was not satisfied with, 

Unfortunately, ANT1 and ANT2 function on the KX3 doesn't work without the amp, but that's a convenience I can learn to live without. I guess the extra relays and antenna jumper connections do make a difference, especially when you're dealing with receiving less than 20 over 9 signals. The purer the connection, the better.

72 de Larry W2LJ

QRP  - When you care to send the very least!