The numbers are down.

Not really this bad 
It's not ground breaking news to any ham who has had their rig on and searching for contacts that the conditions are not all that great. I have seen the SF index hit over 100 but the low sunspot numbers  are really not supporting a sustained up swing in conditions. I was on the radio this past weekend and was very surprised that my CW QRP signal was not making it to the East coast. That has always been an easy contact for me. I then tried to contact a K6 station calling CQ and I was not even heard! There is this very dusty knob on my K3 and it's called "RF power" knob. I am going to be venturing beyond the QRP limits and jacking things up to 10 watts. It's not a real drastic move but I want to make sure I am not causing any RF issues here at the condo. Having said that I have read of ham's who are in condos using 100 watts without any issues. I'm not going to take that change, not into the "lets see what happens" way of doing things.  So let's see what doubling my output from 5 to 10 watts nets me.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

4 Responses to “The numbers are down.”

  • Gary Utz KE2YK:

    Limited space sure is a problem. I have enough trouble with my postage stamp sized lot here in the northeast and can’t imagine what it would be like to be restricted to a condo. Of course the first thing (although rather expensive) that comes to mind is the Alexloop for QRP. Without the facility here to homebrew a clone of the Alexloop, the Alexloop antenna has been on my bucket list for a long time. As a former Buddipole owner, I’d like to find out if the performance of the Alexloop is all it’s cracked up to be. I try to mitigate my frusutration with my postage stamp lot by taking my KX3 down to the huge beach parking lot about 2 miles from my QTH and set up my makeshift dipole with the Hamsticks I have for the different bands, the Buddipole VersaTee and a painters pole. It’s a kluge which seems to work fairly well even with the poor band conditions we are all facing these days… 73 Gary KE2YK @ KE2YK’S Contest Corner

  • Jim--KD0QV:

    RFI is not much fun at all ! Over my years of Ham Radio, I’ve had lots of RFI Interference. My first Shack at our house, was in operation from 1976, until 1997. as a Novice, my Heathkit HW-16 CW Xcver Kit was a dream kit to build, & use as a Novice for a Year. Later, the F.C.C. allowed use of VFO’s & I built a Heath kit HG-10 VFO, & it worked great. Put up a HB 40-Meter Inverted Vee, on a 40 Foot pole. Worked the World on 40 & 15-M. In 1977, I passed my General 13 WPM Code test, & the written test. Bought a used Kenwood TS-520, & got on SSB & CW. That’s when the RFI got me. For some reason, SSB always got me in trouble with the neighbors ! I made QRM on T.V.’s, Telephones, & even an Organ ! When I put up a 70 Ft. Tower, Ham-4 Rotor, & Mosley CL-33 Yagi, there was still RFI ! Put in 8 Foot Ground Rods, on each side of Basement Shack desk,(total of 16 Ft. in earth). And an 8 Ft. rod at Base of Rohn Tower. Then used Belden RG-8 Coax, a Drake Low Pass Filter, & a Johnson Killowatt Matchbox. This improved “no RFI” greatly ! Shack was in operation almost daily for 20 Years. Cable T.V. came along also, & that helped also !

    In 1997, we sold the house, & moved into a “Condo” Townhouse. We own the Land & House, but it is attached to Two others. No outside Antennas are allowed ! My only option was to install an Attic Dipole. Attic is about 20 Ft. above Ground, & our Length is 40 Ft. N. & S. I found, & bought an “Alpha-Delta-DXEE” 3 Wire Element Dipole, 40 Ft. long. It fit just right in Peak of Attic, but only 20 Ft. off Ground !It will work 40, 20-17-15-10-M, & does work well for me, over the last 19 Years. Sure, it’s not the Tower & Yagi, but at least I get out FB. A good Ground Rod in Shack floor, The TS-520, Drake Low Pass Filter, & the Matchbox are all still in daily use, & snagging FB DX, if the Bands are open. Sure beats not having a HF-Ham station! The Cable T.V. & several Dishes nearby, also help with no RFI !

    We Snowbird in Arizona for the last 18 Winters, in a 55-Resort. The Resort allows only Vertical Antennas, but with no Radials ! Hams in Resort utilize the Metal Carport Awnings to act as the Ground plane Counterpoise. Our 1100 Lots are every 40 Feet together, so RFI was a concern. I use a used Butternut HF6V Vertical, 80 thru 10-M. It works FB on 20-17-15-10-M, with no RFI at all ! 40-m & 80-M suffer getting, out with no Radials. I may have to cut some wires for those Bands, & throw them up on Roof. Finally bought a used Ten-Tec Scout Rig for here. It has a Power “Mod-Switch” on it for QRO @50-W, or QRP @5-W instantly ! This is my first “Solid State Rig, & I love it ! So easy to use, & it uses a MFJ 941D Matchbox, Drake LPF, & Good Belden RG-8 Coax. Again, not a super set-up, but I’m happy it’s working FB. If bands are open, it will snag FB DX SSB, or CW, @ 50-W, or 5W. on 20-17-15-10-M. To sum up, on HF, one should use Gud Grounds, Quality Coax, Connectors, LPF, Matchbox, & Exciters. It sure is not any fun trying to work DX, when the Neighbors are yelling at you! “Jim, it’s for you ! They hear you on their Organ” ! lol

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Gary, I have had the Alexloop and used it for portable op’s. I found for a home base antenna it would not work for me as it has to be manually tuned and that would mean I would be heading out to the balcony way to many times. When I used the antenna for portable op’s it worked great and was very easy to setup.
    73, Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Jim, you sure have had your adventures with antennas! I had some of the same adventures you did. I had purchased a new FT1000MP MarkV rig and the first thing I did with it was operate in an SSB contest. We were living in a Townhouse at the time and the RFI complaint’s came in almost right away. So SSB was out and it was time to learn CW and get it up to contest speed! I then moved away from an outdoor screwdriver antenna that had to be taken in and out when I was going to be on the rig. That just got to be a real pain and more so in the winter. I then purchase the same antenna as you had the DX EE, I also put it in the attic and it work for many years and was one of the best antenna I ever used. I operated QRP CW and never had an issue with RFI ever.
    Thanks for sharing Jim it was great to read about your ham antenna adventures.
    73, Mike

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