07 January 2009

Winter 30m experiments

These past winter holidays have brought a positive spike in my on-the-air activity. After many months of HF inactivity, thanks to the availability of a comfortable support, I assembled what I called "2009cedevita30" antenna.

It is a base loaded radiator supported by a 4m long fiberglass pole on the balcony, at the 8th floor (approx 25m a.g.l.). The coil has been computed with the help of loadcoil/vertload programs and wound on a empty Cedevita can: 9 turns on a 6cm dia. support. The counterpoise is the balcony fence (mine and unsuspecting neighbor's).

I chose to develop a 30m antenna because I had built a SW-30+ kit, and obviously needed an aerial to try it out. But once the antenna was tuned I got carried away, used it and forgot the SW-30+!

First picture shows the antenna the morning of 26/12/08 after a Siberian snow storm. Second picture was taken few days later after a snowfall, with frozen drops hanging on the pole. No damage to the pole was noticed afterwards.

First few days I could listen after sunset and the band was pretty much dead. But few RTTY/PSK31 signals were there, so I prepared the FT817 for digital modes. On the workbench/shack it was a tight fit, wires running everywhere and nothing really interesting on the band. After one successful contact with OM-land I noticed some hum/ground problems in my transmission so I returned to the CW key.

5 months had passed since my last CW-active days. I could then operate after lunch when 30m were open all over Europe.

In 6 days I could manage about 20 European QSOs, all with 5W CW, with the worst report 549 against his 579. Some 2xQRP, 1 SOTA activation too. W/VE stations were clearly audible on the greyline but didn't manage to work any. Best DX probably Asiatic Russia one morning. Not bad for a balcony fisherman!

The E4 activation did ruin a bit the fun since many operators were busy on the pile-up.

Being able to work CW daily I noticed an increase in my copying proficiency. I still cannot send code and answer someone talking to me, and now the fun is over...

What about the SW-30+? I did find the time to connect it to the antenna and tune around. It has a nice narrow filter and I could hear everything the FT-817 did. I will try to setup a video recording of it and hopefully start using it!