Getting hot under the collector/base junction
My Elecraft W1 power meter has been absent from the antenna chain for a while due to a jumper cable shortage when I last reconfigured my shack. But now the W1 meter is back in the chain and it revealed something a bit worrisome about the 1Watter transceiver...
The Elecraft W1 power meter is a nice, inexpensive QRPp to QRO meter because it measures from 150 watts all the way down to 150mw.
|Power meter in background showing 500mw by the end of the first QSO|
Heat is the enemy
The maximum power output available from a power transistor is closely linked to temperature, and above 25°C falls in a linear manner to zero power output as the maximum permissible temperature is reached.
But the real moral of the story is...
|Band conditions on the evening of this QSO|
So as I sat here wondering why my 1 watt radio was only producing a 1/2 watt now, I reminded myself that I was having extended QSOs using a (now) 500mw radio with other QRP operators (5w and 2w). I was also using my attic antenna, not some multi-element beam on a tower. Band conditions on 40m were also a limiting factor tonight (see snapshot at right).
But it's times like this with my 1Watter that keeps reminding me to lower my power and raise my expectations.
There's more to using Morse Code than Learning Morse Code
How to practice for a ragchew
THIS IS COMMUNICATION with Morse Code and it is different than anything else we are familiar with so treat it as learning a new skill.
Next stepsAfter you've practiced with machine sent top 100 or top 500 words you'll still need time copying actual QSOs because more often than not, most operators you will communicate with have lousy spacing and run their words together or use so many abbreviations that you'll have to learn to hear the abbreviations as new words. When I work an operator who runs things together I'll first try to really exaggerate my word spacing during my exchange to give them a hint and if that doesn't work I ask them put more space between their words. Some will comply, but some folks just don't seem to know how to leave space so I'll catch what I can, politely respond to what I could understand and then move on.
So if you're getting discouraged when you reach a wall of comprehension, try the steps above and with time I think you'll find your comprehension during a ragchew improving and it will take you to a new place in the hobby.
That's all for now
So lower your power and raise your expectations... and put extra space between your words!
Update 11/7/2016:KA8BMA pointed me to a nice reference created by W0XI for the top 100 "Ham Words" used in QSOs... check it out most common ham words
Comparing CW audio
The Elecraft KX3 and the Ten-Tec Eagle
Listen more than you send
Listen more than you talk because God gave you two ears but only one mouth
Listening to on air CW QSOs using your own HF radio...
Find conversations that are at different speeds for your practice copy. In my experience, when I only practice copying higher speed CW for a time, my ability to recognize slower CW gets rusty so practice copying all speeds. I was worked by a station some months back when I was sending at only 13wpm who came back on the second exchange and replied that I was too slow to copy and he quit the QSO. I don't want to be like that.
Along with copying QRS stations, practice copying stations that are well above your comfortable copy speed in order to stretch yourself. You will likely miss much of the conversation but your ability to start recognizing common words and abbreviations will increase. Another side effect I find is that when I listen to a 25wpm (well above my present copy speed) exchange between two operators who have equally strong signals, I'll usually copy one station better than the other. I try to figure out why that's the case. Something about that operator's style is easier to copy and when I discern why that is, I try to emulate it.
I want to be able to copy all speeds of CW; both to encourage new QRS operators and ragchew with the QRQ old-timers.
Web SDR stations are accessible from http://websdr.org and allow you to listen to CW anytime you have access to the internet. Web SDR stations are available from around the world, potentially from countries you haven't been able to regularly hear from your QTH. So it allows you to hear different sending styles from around the world.
|Web SDR station|
Listen to machine generated CW
|Morse Trainer app for Android|
Sights and sounds
Pill bottle balun
|If I could save RF in a bottle...|
The child and arthritis proof cap keeps the goods away from young and old alike...
Just what the doctor prescribed...
Evil RF noise in Ethernet over power adaptersMy internet comes in at a corner of the house. In that room I have my cable modem and a WIFI router. Unfortunately the WIFI is seemingly non-existent at the other end of my house and especially in the upper floor opposite the WIFI router. I tried re-orienting it and different antennas to no avail.
As a solution, I purchased an Ethernet over powerline adapter. This routed the Ethernet through the house wiring to receivers plugged into outlets at points where the WIFI was weak, thus providing Internet access to those rooms. The model I purchased also had ethernet ports which I needed for some of my older devices.
Ethernet over powerline seemed like an ideal solution.
|Typical Ethernet over powerline adapter|
The SearchI restored the power and fired up my Yaesu HT which has general coverage receive and tuned it to 7030kHz. I walked around the house and conducted a bit of a fox-hunt for the offending noise. The noise occurred at every outlet in the house !!!
I tracked it down to one of the Ethernet powerline receivers. I unplugged it from the wall and discovered blissful silence. I figured it had just gone bad. It was out of warranty so back to the store I went and purchased another set. This time it was a different brand, as the first one was no longer carried.
I installed the new adapters and everything was fine... for a time.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on meThis week the noise returned with a vengeance. Being wiser I went straight to the new adapter and unplugged it. Yep it had gone bad again. It was in warranty but I'd learned my lesson. Whatever sort of RF filtering these devices have doesn't last. Something zaps them. I can't plug the receiver into a AC line filter because it stops it from receiving the Ethernet over powerline.
So out they came and back to the electronics store I went. This time I purchased a WIFI extender with Ethernet ports built-in. I'm back to blissful RF quiet (to a degree) at my QTH.
The moral of the storyIf you have RF noise at your shack and you use these devices, check them out. They could be the S9 noise culprit. If you haven't bought them, take my advice and don't chance it.
I didn't think a WIFI extender would work for me because my laptop can't even detect the WIFI in some of my rooms but the WIFI extender (at least the Netgear model) seems to work well. I now have blessed Internet in every room and no more broadband RF noise.
That's all for now
So lower you power and raise your expectations (and rid yourself of pesky RF noise)
I'm always on the lookout for useful tools to help increase my copy speed and enjoyment of CW/Morse Code. Training applications for beginners that teach letters and letter groups are great to get started but after you're making QSOs and copying at useful speeds those apps get a little stale.
I recently wrote about using the "Morse News" RSS reader application for PCs. What I liked about Morse News was that it would send the text of news articles as CW. I found it useful as a natural language trainer but I didn't like being tied to my PC during training.
I wanted a similar application for my smart phone.
Just the mobile ticket to CW training
I'm not sure how I missed the "Morse Trainer for Ham Radio" app up to now but I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and really find it useful.
|Morse Trainer in QSO Text Mode|
I keep the speed higher than I can comfortably copy so I'm missing some of what is sent. There's nothing like reading an action novel where you're missing half of what's going on. Did Tex get shot or not? I missed that word, hehe.
I have no affiliation with the maker of this application. I just wanted to share.
That's all for now
So lower your power and raise your expectations