A nice surprise in the mail today.
I wanted to thank the Dutch PACC contest committee for a nice participation ribbon that arrived today. It was the first time I took part in this contest and it was well-attended and fun. When I looked up my log results I was not able to find them at first. I later clued in that I entered as SOAB low-power MIXED! I have to pay closer attention as I was and always am CW and not mixed.
Butt in chair theory
This past weekend we had record-setting temperatures and amazing weather! Unfortunately, I heard the call of the wild and not what contesters call "Butt in chair" My name was being called from many directions..the BBQ, the deck chairs, sunny skies and later in the day a cold beer. This was a small still voice of the CQ WPX contest but at times was silenced by the fair day voice. I chose to mostly enjoy the day as there will be more contests and over the summer I will get tired of the very warm weather.
The contest conditions when I was taking part were filled with QSB and many repeats of progressive serial numbers. For the time I spent in the contest I was happy with my results and I could tell that my consistent contest practice is paying off. I can copy much faster and more accurately. In all CW contests that involve numbers in the exchange, many stations will send what is called cut numbers. These are letters in place of the actual number. The most common are 9 (N), 1 (A) and 0 (T) there are some others but these are the most common. Why am I telling you this.....well for the first time I heard a station ID his call with a cut number. As an example, my call VE9KK would be sent as VENKK. Most contest rules if not all do not allow this as well I would think the telecommunications governing body of the country they are from would not be pleased. As always I entered the contest as Low power (100 watts or less), unassisted (did not use spotting assistance) single operator and single transmitter. I used my Icom 7610 and Hustler 4BTV vertical antenna.
CQ WW WPX CW contest!
This coming weekend is a long weekend for our American friends as well as it is the yearly running of the CQ WW WPX CW contest weekend. If you are into CW contesting this is one of the big ones to get involved in. As for me, I am hoping for a nice rainy weekend as this will keep me in the operating chair longer. Last year I used my EndFed antenna for this contest as I had the Hustler 4BTV but it was not as of yet installed.
Now I am curious to see how I do with the Hustler 4BTV compared to my EndFed antenna. I try to keep my CW contesting pencil sharp by taking part in the weekly 1-hour medium speed contests which max's out at 25 wpm and the CWops weekly CWT's which plain and simply just max's out! I also have daily practice with 2 contest simulation programs G4FON and Morse Runner.
CW is my thing and contesting is my thing, so for me this coming weekend I will be doing my thing.
Here we go again………
September last year I had an issue with my Icom 7610, it was shutting down and restarting. The issue was a supply low voltage situation. With the 7610 if the incoming voltage drops below 11.44 volts the radio turns off. This voltage drop happens during transmit (CW in my case) then the radio cycles off, the current draw stops and the voltage goes back up and the radio cycles back on again. This is a normal situation with the 7610 and is supposed to happen with a voltage drop at or below 11.44 volts DC. In my last post when this happened in September 2022 I narrowed it down to the Anderson power pole connectors for more details click the "In my last post link above.
On Wednesday I was taking part in the 1-hour CWops mini contest and out of the blue while transmitting my 7610 cycled off and then on again. I thought "Here we go again". I had a good idea where the problem was and to finish the contest I lowered my power from 100 watts to 50 watts. I have the Astron SS-30M power supply and for some reason beyond me, Astron decided to use screw-down terminals to connect your radio DC cables. It is a small slotted screw and to me just a problem waiting to happen. My old Astron power supply had studs with nuts and made a very solid connection. There is a new version of the Astron SS-30 and it offers Anderson connections on the front. But the screw type connections are still present on the back of the supply.
I decided it was time to do 2 things remove the inline automobile fuse holder and fuse on both the DC positive and negative radio cables supplied by Icom. It has been documented many times how these fuse holders have caused issues with voltage drop due to a poor connection over time. The other thing was a bit more ambitious which was to remove the screw-down positive and negative terminals on the Astron power supply. They were to be replaced with studs and nuts for a solid connection.
Old screw terminals
The Astron power supply is out of warranty as for sure doing this mod would certainly void the warranty. So lets get started....The screws fastening on the cover of the power supply are Torx-type screws and you will need the proper tool to get the cover off. Once the cover was off I removed the positive and negative cables from the back of the screw-type connectors. These 2 connectors were removed from the power supply and put in their proper place.....the garbage!
Out to the trash!
Two holes now had to be drilled in the case for the new studs and this is where success and disaster are a very fine line from one another. I placed tape on the inside and outside of the case as fewer filings from the drilling make their way into the power supply case. I also placed some protection on the inside of the power supply to also catch filings. I then marked off the holes and I used 3 drill bits to slowly move the hole up to the 3/8 size I was looking for. A word about the drill bits, I put a large amount of tape around the bit where I wanted it to stop once the hole was completed. No matter how good you are once that drill bit makes it way through the metal case it is going to want to keep going. You have a lot of pressure on that drill and well no one's reflexes are that good. I use the tape as a drill stop and it worked just fine as no damage was done to the parts in the power supply.
I used fibre inserts in the holes to insulate the studs from the case. These came from my other 20 amp Astron supply which are now on order from Astron. Then with the studs temporarily installed (no wires attached), I did a continuity check to ground and all was good, now the negative stud eventually does connect to ground and really does not matter but for poops and giggles I did it anyway.
I now connected the internal positive and negative wires to the studs and secured them. I then did the smoke test by turning on the power supply................all went well or this would be a much different blog post! I then tested the voltage at the Astron power supply new stud terminals and it was 13.86 VDC, then the cover when back on. I then added ring terminals to the Icom power cables (less the inline fuses and more on that in another post)
|Marked and ready to go|
When I powered the Icom radio up and looked at the onboard voltage meter was reading 13.6 volts DC and during transmit using an FT8 carrier (into a dummy load) the voltage only dropped to 13.12 volts DC which is a great improvement.
|Finish product |
ATNO for me!
Way back on April 20th late in the afternoon, I checked my go-to DX cluster DX heat to see what was happening on the bands. I saw VU2TMP from India spotted and I have seen this station in the past but never heard him just the pileup.
This time he was spotted on 15m and out my way in the afternoon 15m can do some very surprising things. I flipped on the Icom 7610 and spun over to 21.001 CW and low and behold there was VU2TMP at about S5! I put the radio in split and Dual receive and to my surprise there was not much action happening. I dropped my call a few times but he went back to other stations I could not hear most in Europe. I thought to myself the only time I hear him he can’t hear me, but I am only running 100 watts into a Hustler 4BTV.
I dropped my call again a few times and low and behold I hear “VE9?” now I am thinking it’s one of my fellow VE9’s also calling him. I tried again and heard “VE9K?” well know things are getting serious and to top it off he is now fading!! I sent “VE9KK…KK…KK” and his reply was “VE9KK 5NN” Well hot dog I am in the log. I sent my exchange and all was good.
It’s time for some Pi
A number of years ago I purchased a Raspberry Pi intending to do something with it. Well, it sat for many years with me now and then taking a look at it and thinking someday I will explore the Pi. A few weeks ago for some reason, I Googled Raspberry Pi regarding weather programs.
My thought at the time was to get live local weather reports via the Pi. Also, it had been about 3 years since I had seen my Raspberry Pi and was not sure if I had thrown it out during one of my spur-of-the-moment clean-up binges. I eventually came across it after searching everywhere. "I put it where for sure I would know where it was". That did not work so well BUT I have learned that once I do find something I always place it back in the spot where I first looked for it. I degrees.....
The box the Pi was in was complete with a power supply, protective case, HDMI cable, micro SD card and a cooling fan. I plugged in the Pi and powered it up with the micro SD card in place, a monitor, mouse and keyboard. Well a red LED light came on but that was it the monitor was blank, and well actually had a floating message "No device connected". I was sure I had downloaded a Pi OS onto the SD card years ago. I did a fast Google search and found out if you have only a red light and no green light (besides the red light) then most likely your SD is either blank, not in properly or defective.
It was off to the Raspberry Pi site to download the latest and greatest OS and in my case that was bullseye. I did check the SD card and it was blank so I was hoping after the OS was installed and put back into the Pi things would come to life...and they did. I also found out that my Pi was a Pi3 (not Pi3B) the latest and greatest is the Pi4 B. The Pi3 will do me just fine and I am finally going to be using it.
As stated I wanted to use it for local weather and I ended up finding something better! Local weather, space weather, UTC clock, contest calendar, VOCAP, a world map that has a host of configurations and more. The software is called HamClock by WB0OEW. This package runs very smoothly on my Pi3 and will auto-update, which I have experienced once already.
|And so it begins|
Now Raspberry Pi is all new to me and I am learning about Sudo, the command line and what to enter into the command line. At this point, in time I have just cut and pasted commands from websites (such as HamClock) to install the program. The installation process for HamClock can be found under the "Desktop" tab on the HamClock site.
I am just starting my Pi learning curve and would appreciate any advice and program suggestions to run.
Bacon and Eggs…not radio but very interesting.
My dad passed while I was at a very young age but through my mom, I learned that he was a Lancaster bomber pilot in England during WW2. I remember asking her questions but she did not know much as he spoke of his time in the war very little.
What I did know was he was a commercial pilot in Ireland and then joined the Air Force during the war. At the time he was asked to train as a tail gunner as at the time there were too many pilots and not enough Lancaster aircraft. He completed his training but never sat in the tail gunner turret as he was called up as a pilot. That's all I know of his military time but I have always had an interest in that part of his life. When I lived in Ontario just outside Toronto is the home of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. They have one of the very few flying Lancaster bomber aircraft. In the book the sound of the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines of the Lancaster were often mentioned. I can somewhat understand this, when the museums Lancaster was out flying as it did often you could hear the rich sound of the 4 engines.
This brings me to the book I just finished reading called Bacon and Eggs the story of a Lancaster bomber crew. It is a fictional story based on real crew and actual events. This book goes over the events of the formation, training and missions of one Lancaster crew. It's a short read and is available on Amazon as a book and ebook. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited then it is a free read. In closing, after reading the book I look at sitting down to a meal of bacon and eggs in a different light now.