Posts Tagged ‘AlexLoop’

QRP portable at Luther Marsh

QRP at Luther Marsh... note one of Julies cameras
On Saturday morning Julie and I decided to take a hobby trip (Julies photography and my ham radio) we were off to a place called Luther Marsh. We have never been there before so we Google mapped it and off we went.....what could go wrong.....LOTS. This was a place that Julie was recommended to go by some bird watchers. It's about an hour and a half from where we live but they say getting there is half the fun.....and boy was it. Our trip according to Google maps brought us zigging and zagging all over the map. Once the road adventure was done we ended up on a lonely dirt road with a gate saying " DO NOT ENTER" Hmmmm it was time to bring out the Iphone GPS and find out where the heck we where. Well it was about another 20 minutes of driving  and we did arrive at our destination. We loaded up the camera and ham gear into our "hobby stroller" and ventured down a path in the wildlife
A view from below
sanctuary. We were not alone on the trail it was me, Julie and 
Julie's shot of the day an Osprey
deer flies!!!  We did have bug repellant  but it just had no affect on them at all. I was not bothered but poor Julie had at least 10-15 buzzing around her head all the time....and biting her!! We turned around and decided to call it a day, on the way out we noticed a path and this path lead to a lookout about 3 stories high. We went up to have a look and low and behold no deer flies. We had our lunch up there and Julie was able to take pictures and I was able to have to some radio time.
I took with me my Elecraft KX3, Alexloop, tripod and a spare battery. It was great, there was no noise level at all on the KX3 and one would wonder if the rig had a receive problem. I started to call CQ and it was not long before VE1AB in Nova Scotia  came back to me. John gave me an RST of 559 and we had a nice long CW chat it seemed that John had been to Luther Marsh several times when in Ontario.  I did have to say 72 to him as my batteries had to be changed in the KX3. I then called CQ again on 20m and WW2SUB came back to me.......hey guess where he was???? This was the first time EVER I had contacted a Submarine . He was on the USS batfish. I thought my CW was off and it was supposed to be copied as battleship. When I got home and did a QRZ.COM was in fact called the USS Batfish!
Camera and ham gear stroller (mainly camera gear)

Portable QRP = planning and adaptability

Last years shot of my planned location for today
It turned out to be a fantastic day  lots of sunshine and temperatures in around 23C. I was long over due and it was time to  pack up the KX3 and go on an outdoor trip with the rig. I brought along the Alexloop as well to give it a go outdoors.  Part of planning is making sure you have all that you need for the trip and not just radio stuff. There is water, one of those chairs you sling over your back, hat and sunglasses without these the trip could be not as comfortable. I arrived at my "spot" that I have gone to in the past found a nice parking spot in the shade. I then proceeded to unpack the car but could not believe the amount of mosquitoes that were buzzing around me. If planning had been better repellant would had been on the list but in all fairness at this time of year mosquitoes were the last thing on my mind. It was now time for adaptability and move to another location.
New setup in town
 There is no way I could have setup and been comfortable with the bugs at this location. I was now heading back to town and to another location. This one was along the river in town and always has a nice cool breeze off the river. I found my spot and setup did not take long at all and there was a table that was available as well. The Alexloop was very easy to setup and very fast to get it tuned up on 14.060. The KX3 was set to about 2 watts output and so began my CQ's. About 15 minutes into the portable operation the KX3 went
All packed up.
dead!! This has happen to me in the past with this radio and I knew exactly what is was! It was very poor planning on my part....the KX3 batteries were dead. Well not dead exactly but below the minimum voltage needed to operate the radio. That was the end of my out door adventure for the day and the radio is now at home getting it's batteries recharged. Monday is a holiday up this way and depending on the weather maybe I will give it a go on Monday.Going to have to look into a second set of batteries so I always have a charged set ready to go.

KX3 charging

Alexloop vs Attic dipole

Setup for test. (Laptop running Ubuntu update)
The propagation conditions have not been all that great over the last couple of days so what a better time to do some on air Alexloop vs attic dipole comparisons! Here is the setup I used my Elecraft K3 putting the Alexloop in antenna 1 on the K3 and left the dipole on antenna 2 on the K3. This way I can use the internal tuner for the dipole and remove the antenna tuner for the Alexloop with just the push of a button on the K3. The power output was 5 watts, figured I would go to the top end of QRP considering the atmospheric conditions being not so hot. The Alexloop was up in my radio room facing West out the widow and East through my house walls. The Dipole is in a "Z" configuration in the attic so it kinda is facing most all directions. The Alexloop frequency was 14.061 and the dipole was 14.059 and I was using CW along side the Reverse Beacon network. The current atmosphiric conditions at the time of the test were:
SFI 157
SN 173
Below is the results of the test.....not so well it would seem the Alexloop netted zero and the dipole only one. So is seems for a more acurate comparison better conditions are needed.

Alexloop on the deck calling CQ

RBN spots (click to enlarge)
The weather once again was great and I wanted to take the Alexloop out onto my back deck to see  how it would do once again. The other day I had no spots at all but this day was a complete different story. I was operating  my KX3 at 3 watts. The antenna as was already mention is the Alexloop mounted on a tripod. I called CQ on 20m,30m and 40m it was the late afternoon and nothing could be heard at my end at all. I was spotted only in the States but conditions have not been all that great. I did hear some American stations on 30m but they were just at the noise level. By the spots on the Reverse Beacon Network my signal is getting out! I am excited to see how this antenna does once the condition improve.

A nice way to rest a sore back.

Relaxing on the deck.
Last evening myself and a bathroom mat had a little hip hop time.....translation.....I was standing on a bathroom mat lost my balance causing me to "hop" and out went the hip!!! Today it was no work, off to the Chiropractor and physio. The good news is no disk problems just muscle but I still have to be very careful as I do have lower back disk issues. So what does this have to do with ham radio....nothing....BUT this does...It was a very nice sunny day out and I wanted to relax on the deck and not become board, so I gathered up (very gently) the KX3, Alexloop, Sony MDR-V150 head phones and a pad of paper.

Some things I tried with the Alexloop
1. I emailed Alex regarding his opinion about adding some extra coax so I did not have to be that close to the loop. He (as always) emailed me back within 10 minutes explaining there should be no problem doing this. At first I did try 12 ft of RG 213 and found I could not get a decent SWR. I then tried a 6ft piece 
and all was well. This would allow me to sit at the patio table and not have the loop under the patio umbrella.

2. When tuning the loop if I was in front of the loop while adjusting it's capacitor I found I could get a 1.2.1 match on soon as I moved my hand away from the loop the SWR rose to 2.1.1. I found by adjusting the loop from the back of the antenna the SWR was not affected. 
New loop to tripod adapter

3. In the past I was using plastic zip wraps to attach the antenna to the tripod. I made and wanted to try a new antenna to tripod holder made of plastic pipe and heat shrink. It turned out to work just fine and will allow me to set the antenna up much faster in the field. 
I called CQ on 14.060 for about a 1/2 hour and was not spotted on the Reverse beacon network. This does not concern me as conditions were not that great. It was not my plan to really make any contacts but the see how the loop fit on the deck. Also how the new adapter I made fit both tripod and Alexloop.  Regarding the Reverse beacon network not sure if it is up and running properly today. I tried to refresh the spots and it seem to get stuck trying to refresh.

My Elecraft KX3 has a ping??

This afternoon I was planning on setting up the Alexloop into the living room and try some operating with the KX3. I was wanting to see how the loop worked in the living room. I was going to bring it on the deck but there was the threat of rain. Out of the blue when I was on 15m  in CW mode whenever I keyed a letter and then released the key I would hear a very loud "ping" in the headphones. This only happened on 17m, 10m and 15m. I tried changing the headphones, using a dummy load and reducing the power to 0 but there was always a ping noise heard in my ear? I am not sure if I inadvertently changed a menu option that is causing this. This brought the living room KX3 operations to an abrupt end and off to the internet to see what was going on with the rig. I have posted the question on the Elecraft reflector as well as here on the blog.
Problem has just been solved seems if I have the rig on dual RX and VFO A and B are very close to each other I am picking up "me" on VFO B. Which makes sense and when in dual mod the head phones are split with VFO A in one ear and VFO B in the other. This would explain why the ping was only heard in one ear!

The bandwidth on the Alexloop.

The next step in my Alexloop tests is the bandwidth in which the loop has. Again the antenna is mounted in a bedroom/office on the second floor of the house so that may have some affect on the SWR. I do plan on getting the loop in the out doors were the ceiling, walls and surrounding furniture do not have an affect on the loop. Below is the bandwidth results.
28.004 (SWR at 2.2) to 28.060 (SWR at 2.1) around 60 Khz of bandwidth.
21.020 (SWR at 2.0) to 21.070 (SWR at 1.7) around 50Khz of bandwidth
14.000 (SWR at 2.1) to 14.035 (SWR at 1.9) around 35Khz of bandwidth
10.110 (SWR at 1.8) to 10.125 (SWR at 1.9) around 15Khz of bandwidth
  7.005 (SWR at 2.5) to 7.015 (SWR at 2.6) around 10Khz of bandwidth
 I did however use the ATU on the KX3 and the SWR was flat when used on all bands so if I want I can use the tuner and increase the bandwidth of the antenna. I do know that my attic dipole on 10Mhz the SWR is about 9.1 to 1 and the tuner will flatten that out and I have made lots of milli watt contacts all over the world. So the next step is to get this antenna out doors and give it a whirl out there and see how it does.

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