Monday, August 10, 2020


It was a pretty busy weekend with a lot a lot of "stuff" going on.

Saturday began with our "new normal" VE testing session in the Clark, NJ Municipal Building Parking Lot. Months ago, pre-Covid, we used to chuckle when we'd have three candidates and maybe ten VEs show up on a Saturday morning. Now, we need every VE we can get. These outdoor, socially distanced exam sessions require that many VEs and more, in order to maintain integrity and reasonably quick paper flow. We seem to be getting better at it each month and we've been getting good feedback from the candidates / new licensees.  It will be interesting to see how we're going to do this once colder weather arrives in 3 or 4 months.

The rest of the day was occupied with grocery shopping, cleaning, lawn mowing and various other little things that needed my attention. I set up a new Wifi range extender/repeater in the house as I was contending with a few dead spots, and I also want to set up a Webcam to accompany my weather station so that when I check into Weather Underground, I can visually see what the weather is like at home when I'm not there. I also do most of the cooking on weekends in order to give Marianne a break in that department.

The second Sunday of each month, I volunteer along with our Church group at a local soup kitchen. They've resumed, as they were halted for the last few months. Instead of giving our guests a "sit down' meal, we're giving them a complete take out meal, as we don't have enough indoor space to accomodate social distancing requirements. That eats up a bit of the day, but there was enough time before Mass and after soup kitchen to work some more on the QCX.

At this point, I'm pretty certain I'm more than 1/2 way done. I finished getting all the resistors in, the two RF chokes, all the electrolytics, the potentiometers, the trimmer cap, the transistors and the voltage regulator. I also got the power inlet, the pin headers and the three test points installed. Of all the components installed so far, those three singular test points were the biggest pain in the butt. You can't bend the "lead" to keep them in place - so you have to find a way to support them from underneath to keep them in place while you solder.  You can't use a finger to hold them in place as they get hot when you solder them in.  They're also shorter than some of the surrounding components and that doesn't help matters.

The solution that I worked out was to use the foam strip that the ICs came on. I placed that on top of each pin after I inserted it, carefully inverted the circuit board and then soldered each pin in place, while the foam supported the pin from underneath and prevented it from moving laterally, or moving away from the circuit board. Once again - never throw anything away that's excess before the kit is complete. You may never know when things like a piece of IC foam or even a clipped component lead might come in handy for something on down the line.

The next step is the toroids and the main transformer T1. I have no problem with toroids. I'm a toroid veteran from my K1, K2 and their respective auto tuner builds. But just because I'm a veteran doesn't mean I'm complacent about it. It was after dinner when I finished for the evening. I want to work on the toroids when I'm a bit fresher. Maybe I'll attempt them during evenings this week, taking my time and going slow.

The long range weather outlook is not looking great for my QTH for next weekend. I'm sure it will probably change between now and then, but right now the forecast for next Sunday (Skeeter Hunt Day) is for showers and perhaps a 1/4 inch of precipitation. If that is indeed the case, and things don't change, I'll probably end up setting up in the back yard under our big patio umbrella instead of going to the park that I usually go to. I did this a couple of years ago and it worked fine. The only problem is that situation would preclude me from using a home brew antenna for the event. There's just not enough space for my portable W3EDP that I use on Field Day, and I'd probably end up deploying the PAR End Fedz, which I've used in the past. I could conceivably use my EARCHI end fed, but the total length of that is 50 plus feet, while the PAR is around 39 feet, which is much more suited to the limited space I'll be dealing with.

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

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