A few weeks ago Karel, PE2KDK send an e-mail to a few friends with the idea to spend a weekend in a rental house somewhere remote in the woods. All these guys are HAM’s so you can imagine this will be a full blown Radio Weekend! Attending: Karel PE2KDK, Marco PH4M, Henk PE1PEX and me, Jim PA1JIM.
Meanwhile Karel has booked the house for the weekend of 2nd and 3th of April. I immediately checked the contest-calendar to see if there are any contest that weekend but there are not. Rumor is that Henk has a backorder on one of the first Icom IC-7300’s that will come out in The Netherlands. 2016 for me is all about the new Icom IC-7300, so I am looking forward a little extra for this weekend! Maybe I can play with the new rig then for the first time. If the rumor is true and Henk will take the new rig to this weekend, maybe we have to make a schedule when we are allowed to operate it 😉
Can you imagine, a whole weekend just about radio’s, a very low noise level and almost unlimited possibilities to build antenna’s?
The next thing to do is to figure out what kind of antenna’s we want to build that weekend. I do have some green glass-fiber sticks which can be used to build little antenna masts. Each piece is 1,2 meters (almost 4 feet) and you can put them together very easily. Maybe I will take a ZS6BKW with me to cover all 80 to 10 meter bands. I don’t know yet how much space we can use for antenna setup but if it is enough, we could build a beverage receiving antenna for 160 meters. And of course the 40-meter-PA3FYM-antenna (details follow) should be there all weekend!
A radio weekend full of coax cables, antenna’s, rigs and weak radio signals, I am looking forward to it!
This weekend I entered the Hungarian DX contest. A fun contest, 160 – 10 m in SSB and CW. Nice way to test my new antenna position (although not really different from the old one). There where noticeably less stations active with voice then in CW. My target was a minimum of 100 Q’s voice and 100 Q’s CW. Turned out I wasn’t even able to work 100 Q’s voice (98). CW Q’s could have been a lot more if I had stayed in that mode. More and more I dislike the voice mode for contesting. It’s loud, very wide signals, hard to copy and even harder to get copied (with some stations). Every now and the I switched back to CW and it’s just a warm bath. Every station I hear, I’m able to work. Almost every time on first try. For the division league I need to be active in voice as well, but I’m seriously considering to go CW and RTTY only for contesting.
10 meter was kind of open, but a little disappointing in score. 160 meters is just a steady S7/S8 QRM and I can only copy the strongest signals. My 2x 13,75 meter antenna as a bit small for good efficiency on this band; good noticeable in my score. But, I worked all bands! And that’s a good thing.
Last contest it became clear I need just another change on the antenna part of my setup. Since last year my neighbor has completely revamped his attic and situated his study room there. That is bad news for me because now he’s only 2 meters underneath my antenna wire. His PC monitor really dislike HF and starts striping with even the slightest signals (even 5 watts). Of course we can replace his monitor with a more HF-proof type. But an antenna wire this close will always produce some RFI.
So the idea is to move the antenna away from his attic. Fortunately our house has two chimneys, one on each side. The house is 6 meters wide (some 19 feet) so using the other chimney, the antenna wire will be further away. Hopefully my other neighbor doesn’t have anything HF-sensitive on her attic!
I’ve had quite a few antenna setups in the past years. Started with a mono-band wire dipole for 20m. Then a multi-band dipole for 40m, 20m and 10m. It was a little too much wire in the air. Then tried a combination of a Cobwebb antenna (10 – 20m) and a horizontal loop for 40, 80 and 160m. The Cobwebb worked great but I got a little tired of answering the question about the “cloth hanger” on my roof. The horizontal loop worked great for Europe, but it was almost impossible to work DX on it. So those went away. Then I put up a Fritzel FD-4. Great antenna but it was a little too long for my garden. I had to wrap the wire around my garden what wasn’t too nice to look at (according to “she who must be obeyed”). I went for the shorter version of the FD-4: the Fritzel FD-3. The original commercial one to be exact. Also works great! Missing 80m capabilities where more serious then I hoped for. Also: my guess was the Off Center Fed (OCF)-design of the antenna maybe produced some of the RFI-problems at my neighbor.
I changed the Fritzel FD-3 for a homemade ZS6BKW as suggested by Wilko PA3BWK and inspired on Fred PA3YH‘s antenna project. That works kind of OK (couldn’t test it properly on 20m and up yet) but it didn’t resolved any of the RFI-problems with the neighbor which I had hoped for.
I kind of like the ZS6BKW-inspired design of 2x 13,75 meter wire fed with 10 meters of open wire feed line. The mismatch can be fixed with an antenna coupler like a Icom AH-4, Kenwood AT-300/KAT-1 or a SGC-product.
Hopefully the weather allows me to move the antenna this weekend so I’ll be ready for the next contest.