Posts Tagged ‘AlexLoop’

The reverse beacon network is KILLING ME!!!!!

The loop horizontal and nothing. 
In my last post I wrote about how my Alexloop was just not getting out in the condo, I was checking the Reverse Beacon Network as I called CQ at 5 watts from my condo and there was ZERO spots! Well from that post I received lots of great suggestions on how to get VE3WDM's signal from the antenna to the world. So here is what I tried........I mounted the Alexloop in the horizontal position in the condo and it netted no spots on the Reverse Beacon Network. I then put the Alexloop on the balcony seeing that we are 60 feet in the air I felt this was a sure thing. The last option for me was to place an antenna on the balcony as it was open season to the condo cops.  I placed (in the cover of darkness) the Alexloop on the balcony and called CQ on 20m and 40m and then check the Reverse Beacon Network. To my surprise there were no spots and now I am really stumped and frustrated. The Alexloop is out in the open 60 feet in the air and no spots what the heck is going those dam condo cops have ham radio jammers!!!!!! Up to this point I have only use the RBN to check for spots but there is also WSPR and I have had some bloggers suggest I use this. At this point I am not able to get WSPR up and running as there seems to be some software issues. My goal now is to sort out the issues and give WSPR a go both with the Alexloop in the condo and out on the balcony. This coming weekend I hope to get on the air with WSPR and give that a go! Im really not frustrated I see this as a challenge, for me to get ham radio on the air from a condo will but only  help others in the same situation as me get on the air.

A mystery at the new QTH

Things are coming along
The boxes are slowly getting unpacked and things put away, the roll top ham radio shack is taking shape as well. I found I had a lot more gear than there was room for in the condo and may have to shed more gear! At this point there has been some bumps in the radio setup but all seems to be slowly coming together. I can't believe all the cables that are involved in having the radio talk to various hardware components. There has been one major mystery I am not as of yet to solve.....I have setup the Alexloop and added the K3 to the mix. I was able to get a great SWR and surprisingly a low to moderate noise level...BUT.....I was calling CQ on different bands with 5 watts but was not once spotted on the Reverse Beacon network. Hmmmm I then went "simple" I hooked up the KX3 to the Alexloop and again calling CQ at 5 watts was not spotted at all on the Reverse Beacon network????? I have tried to move the Alexloop closer to the window and the balcony door, the only thing that happened was the SWR was very hard to adjust on the Alexloop. I then move the loop about 4 feet from the balcony door and the SWR was great but no spots?
My setup is a stealth operation and really can't put the Alexloop on the balcony but I am 6 stories up and back in the townhouse I did have the Alexloop inside and it did very well so at this point I am stumped.

Learning more about the Alexloop

What turning the loop can do
As times goes on and I use the Alexloop more and more I am coming to realize that this antenna may not be a bad choice for my condo antenna. The loop is small and I thought may not preform that well, stacked up against my Alpha Delta DX-EE dipole antenna yes it does not far very well. BUT for limited space, fast to assemble and take down and stealth the Alexloop is a great contender. Recently I have been only using the Alexloop indoors and either on the main floor or my second floor shack. The power has been set to 5 watts and as was said in my previous posts I was able to get into Europe with some decent reports. This weekend using the loop antenna along side my K3 (Up to this point I have only been using my KX3) they seem to get along very well. The tuning of the antenna has been made easier because of the P3 and external monitor. I am able to tune to peak noise using the band scope or otherwise known as the Elecraft P3. Peaking the noise level this way has almost netted me a perfect SWR on all bands. There was only a very minor self tune I had to do in order to get the SWR flat.

Man made noise on the band
I did notice on 30m today there was lots of man made interference and by simply rotating the loop most if not all the interference was eliminated. As well after rotating the loop the signals I was listening to were still there. That to me can be a great bonus once in the city of Toronto and the interference problem may increase and by turning the loop I may be able to rid myself of some of it. I also wanted to know what the loops receive bandwidth would look like on the P3 and I am please to say that's it's great. As for transmitting I have found the loop has to be re tuned anywhere from 10 to 25 Khz depending on the band. This was a good learning weekend for me regarding the Alexloop. I have been toying with the idea of the MFJ magnetic loop as you can tune it from your desk. I have tried to add some extra length to the Alexloops coax and have had some good and bad results with tuning the loop for best SWR. I have noticed as well that when tuning the loop your body has an affect on the SWR as well. You may see a great SWR but once you have moved back to  your radio the SWR goes from your tuned 1.2 to 1 to 2.2 to 1. This is not the case all the time but has happened now and then.
A nice bandwidth with the loop
One other element I wanted to try this weekend was Skimmer, there was a contest on and I wanted to see how well it did. The results were very pleasing and I was able to see how Skimmer can help me. I have played with Skimmer in the past and just could not get it working but I stuck with it this time and am pleased with the results.
Skimmer showing the picture

Radio on a Monday

The temp antenna and op position
Well the weekend is done and I had Monday off so what a better time to turn on the KX3 and see what is happening out in radio land. I have been reading on Twitter how well 10m is doing so this was my first stop. The antenna is the Alexloop now positioned in my second floor radio room and not on the main floor. With my 5 watts of power I was able to make contact with CO8LY and CO2OQ both in Cuba! CO8LY was at 28019 calling CQ and had a mini pileup going I I waited and was able to make contact with a 599 report. He then moved onto the next station. I then came across CO2OQ at 28032 he was just ending a QSO and I gave him a call. Osmany came back to me but needed several repeats to get my call correct. His report to me was 229 but he was still able to pick me out to have a short QSO with  me. He was in and out but steady around 559. It would seem that 10m is still open and ready for biz. This was all the time I had as it was time to head out and see my Chiropractor and then off to the grocery store. If time permits I will be back on the air this evening after dinner but there are other things that have to be done now.

This weekend it was DX with the Alexloop!

SWR 1.1:1, power 5 watts and memory CQ message
With getting most if not all of my "to do list" done it was time once again to swing the Alexloop into action and have a nice late afternoon of ham radio and relaxation. Setting up the loop has become faster for me I'm getting the hang of the in's and outs of the loop. I also am able to tune the loop in less than 20 seconds and be up and running on different band segments. The SWR is anywhere from flat to 1.7:1 and the band width is very good and retuning is not needed unless 20 khz changes are needed. This weekend the Worked all Germany CW contest was going on so I wanted to be a point giver for the contest. With 5 watts, my KX3 and the Alexloop in the living room I was able to contact the following  all on 20m:


  I did try dropping the power lower than 5 watts but is was just not doing the trick. I then was on 30m and WA3SCM Dave was calling CQ. I came back to him using 5
Time to recharge the battery
watts. I was at times in and out with Dave but he was in P.A and that's off the backside of my loop antenna. Dave was running a long wire with 100 watts and all was going well until my KX3's batteries decided to die! The KX3 just shut down and my lesson was learned in that I should be monitoring the voltage on the KX3 (via it's display) and I would had known it was due time to change over to my external battery supply. I did go upstairs and get the extra battery but it was too late as Dave was gone. I did email him and explained what happened and on Sunday he emailed me back. He was wondering where I had gotten to and did tell me that he was very interested in the Alexloop as he has worked with lots of different types of loop antennas.
I was able to spend some time on the radio today (Sunday) and I again tried 10m to see what was turned out that 10m was good to me today. I was only able to make 2 contacts but they were sweet ones!

IS0GQX from Sardinia
MD0CCE from Isle of Man

I was shocked at both these contacts two very nice and sometimes rare areas and I did both in one day! If I get the time this evening I will try some more radio time but if I don't get around to it I am very happy with the two contacts I did make today.   

The radio bug was bitting…………..

Things around the house are slowly getting packed away but the ham radio bug still bites. It's true what they say....."you don't know how much you miss something until it's gone.....or semi packed away" Ham radio is not gone from VE3WDM, the antenna may be sold and gone, coax all rolled up and boxed. The Elecraft K3 sits idle at the desk but all is not lost as the KX3 and Alexloop are calling my name!! On Saturday once our Thanksgiving preparations  were going smooth...the turkey was in the oven and the side dishes were slowly cooking it was time to feast on some missed ham radio time. The night before, I charged the batteries in the KX3 having them ready to go if the opportunity came about. It did on Saturday afternoon so I setup the Alexloop in the living room and fired up the KX3. It sure was nice to hear some atmospheric noise and even the woodpecker QRN from some offending appliance was ok as well. (the KX3's NB and NR took care of any offending interference)
I had been reading about some hot openings on 10m's from some of my blog buddies but I found 10m to be dead. I ended up hanging around 20m at the QRP watering hole. My power was reduced from it's normal 5 watts to 3 watts. Julie was on her Mac beside me and since our living room TV had been sold it was a Sony boom box radio entertaining her with tunes. The Sony radio along with it's antenna was only 10 feet from the Alexloop anymore power than 3 watts could be heard over the radio. The way Julie see's it CW is NOT music to the ears and it's much better to be on the radio and have Julie happy thus down went the power.
As for contacts I only made 2 short contacts as I did not have much time and was up and down checking on dinner. I was able to make it into Utah to WA7LNW and N3PDT in Missouri, not much but from the ground floor, indoor antenna and 3 watts I was happy with the contacts. I kept tabs on my signal using the Reverse Beacon Network and it showed only U.S stations were copying my signal. I was on again Monday evening and could hear PV8ADI from Brazil at S8 but I was not able to make contact with him.
The KX3 now is resting on the radio desk and the Alexloop is away in it's carry case until next time. I was please to get this short radio time in and the results were pretty good as well.

Some very big changes at VE3WDM

Goodbye crazy driving
The new temp antenna
I have been very busy these past few weeks and my lack of blog posts can testify to that. Julie and I have been bouncing around some very big ideas. We have some very exciting plans ahead of us that will both help our over all well being. It also will bring about some huge changes with my hobby but I am very happy to say that it's a challenge I can meet. Both Julie and I have over an hour drive each way to work. We get up very early, get home late and to be early each evening. Then there is the winter months with the snow and crazy driving. We have decided to put our home up for sale here in the country and move to Toronto. We will be living in a condo as our kids have moved out and are doing just fine. This means downsizing both with our home belongings and my ham radio. We want to get a place that is in Toronto and over looks Lake Ontario. Both Julie and I are very excited about this and with this move I will be 10 min's from work and Julie 15 min's. We will have a fantastic board walk just steps from out condo. It thrills us that all the advantages of the city will be not an hour away but minutes.
So how does this affect radio for me.....well my Attic DX EE has been sold and already is taken down! Not to worry I still have my Alexloop that I can set up in my radio room until we sell and move. I have some gear for sale and it is slow but sure selling. I have sold the Sub receiver in my Elecraft K3 as I will be very limited with antennas in the new place. I don't have any room for an antenna for a sub receiver.  So I have been going over antenna options in a condo. There are far and few BUT one main advantage I will have that I don't have now is height! In the condo we are looking at the 11th floor and
up. I am thinking of using at first my Alexloop and then going to the MFJ loop antenna. This will be a new adventure in my QRP ham radio challenge.
Changes are coming

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