The ups and downs of amateur radio!

There are some days when things don't go quite right. In fact, nothing goes quite right.

Yesterday morning, I thought I'd have a look on 28MHz JT65. I plugged the interface lead into the sound card on the computer but there was no receive noise. Fiddled and faffed and discovered that there was a problem on the socket with the computer.

Managed to get around that by using an external USB sound card which came with the ZLP interface. That worked great with WSJT, but with the W6CQZ JT65-HF program which I use on HF there wasn't enough gain using the basic interface that I have from the FT1000MP. In the shower, I realised the simple way around that was to run all the digimodes from the FT847 which had previously just been used on VHF/UHF. Got that going and in fact, the receive on 28MHz seemed to be better than from the old setup. I had some contacts to test it and all seemed ok.

Later in the day I was playing around on FSK441 on 144MHz and I noticed the output was down! I had a sinking feeling that I had done something horrible to the PA whilst on HF JT65A. Fortunately, it proved to be the patch lead between the FT847 and the amplifier. I removed the patch lead and everything seemed ok. Need to grab some more connectors from Maplin tomorrow and make another up.

Then I got panicky about a noise that the FT847 made when going back to receive on JT65. That proved to be something to do with the JT65-HF program - WSJT was fine. I think it was just a slightly different click of the relays on HF. But I'm not quite convinced!

Playing around on JT65 on LF I realised that the filters in the FT847 weren't anything like as good as the FT1000MP. I decided to connect the MP back up. On LF, the lack of gain really wasn't an issue compared to my findings on 28MHz earlier. So that's good, I can still use the MP for JT65 on 7 and 3.5MHz.

About then, I saw a tweet from Paul, M3JFM to say he'd just worked ZD7XF on 10m. Now, I'm pretty sure that I haven't worked St Helena from the UK, so I thought I'd better do something about that.

I found Nigel, ZD7XF on 7MHz easily, but what a pileup! I decided to admit defeat somewhat grudgingly and went to bed.

The cats asked to get up at 0530z so I had a quick check on the bands after testing them out. ZD7XF was audible on 3505. I tried a couple of quick calls, but it was clear I wasn't getting anywhere. Back to bed!

By 0800z ZD7XF was on 21MHz. The Butternut isn't great on the band, but it works - just. After just a few calls, Nigel was in the log! Already, today seemed more positive. After breakfast, I thought I had a few minutes before I needed to start my jobs! I checked 28MHz and he was there - not strong, but workable. It took a few goes, but I made it. Thank you, Nigel!

It all worked out in the end. Need to get that patch lead sorted and take a look at the socket on the laptop.....

And a quick 'get well soon' to Paul, M3JFM who inspired the ZD7XF chase!

Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “The ups and downs of amateur radio!”

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    good evening Tim, well I hope you will be happy to know that all us hams have now and then “one of those days” congrats on snagging a ZD station.

  • Larry Faehling KL7IBV:

    You had the whole thing in the shower? No wonder it didn’t want to work. 😉

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