Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

So, it’s Boxing Day. What better to do than reinstall a server, right? I spent the morning backing things up and doing a fresh install of Debian 8.2 (Jessie) on this machine (previously Debian Wheezy). System info can be seen here for the geeks out there :)

Now time for more mince pies! Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and all the best for 2016!

Linux Christmas!

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Icom IC-7100 SO-239 to N-Type

Icom don’t seem to like N-Type connectors. I have an X-50N Co-linear, with about 5 metres of Westflex 103 of which both ends are terminated with an N-Type plug. I used to have the Yaesu FT-897D, which is why I have the N-Type attached for VHF and UHF. Yaesu (at least in Europe) use N-Type chassis sockets for their UHF transceivers, but Icom use the SO-239, unless you buy something like the IC-9100. Since buying the IC-7100, I have been using an adapter.

Today, I decided to change the chassis socket on the Icom to an N-Type. Conveniently, there is no soldering involved. They have used a sprung clip to connect to the socket pin. Perhaps this helps prevent connection problems due to thermal expansion and contraction between the chassis and PCB or any movement in the connector pin itself. You could probably change it without opening the case, but its nice to see what you are doing and to know you are not bending the clip! Below shows the internal socket connections.

Icom IC-7100 RF Connectors

Icom IC-7100 RF Connectors

Icom IC-7100 N-Type fitted for VHF / UHF

Icom IC-7100 N-Type fitted for VHF / UHF

Before changing the socket, SWR was around 1.5:1 at 433MHz with the original SO-239 and PL-259 to N-Type adapter. After changing the socket to a plain N-Type and removing the adapter, SWR is 1.1:1 or better from 430-440MHz (Shown by the transceiver). It shows how critical things like connectors and adapters get at UHF, although most of the miss-match was probably the adapter. It also makes it easy to remember which port is HF and which is VHF/UHF. A mod well done. If only Icom built them with N-Type sockets in the first place! Oh, and whilst I had the lid off, here is a photo of the inside of the IC-7100 :)

1:1 SWR after changing the chassis SO-239 to an N-Type socket

1:1 SWR after changing the chassis SO-239 to an N-Type socket

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RSGB 21/28MHz Contest

RSGB 21/28MHz Contest - 4th October 2015. Operating from Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker.

The 15m and 10m beams.

A few of us decided to have a go in the RSGB 21/28MHz contest on Sunday. We used Georges call, M1GEO and a combination of equipment from us all. I brought my 3 element 28MHz Yagi, Dave M0TAZ brought the two masts and his 21MHz 4 element Yagi, while George and his dad brought the Icom IC-7700 and generator. Fred G3SVK also came and done some CW.

UK stations can only work outside the UK and non UK stations can only work UK stations. This made it quite hard work as there was not much activity due to the bands not being in good shape, especially 10m. We could hear some beacons though, although not strong, we received a beacon in Brazil and one in Argentina. We did work some good DX however, including South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil and VP8NO in the Falkland Islands on 28MHz.

The operating table.

The operating table.

Still, we had fun operating outside in the October sunshine for possibly the last time this year!

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Practical Wireless 70MHz Contest

70MHz DK7ZB 12.5r Yagi on Racal PU12 mast.We had a fun day up at Kelvedon Hatch on Sunday for the Practical Wireless 70MHz contest with fantastic weather yet again!

Dave M0TAZ was operating with his Racal PU12 mast and IC-7100 and I brought along my amplifier and Yagi for this once a year event. There was good activity although as predicted, the final hour was a bit slow going.

We were operating for the whole four hours, running 160W into an 8.24dB Yagi giving an ERP of ~1kW and we worked a total of 47 stations, of which the best DX was GM4JR at 454km. We also worked into Wales and The Netherlands.

As PW contests do not give you a QSO map, I plotted my own in Google Maps by exporting a KML file from the Minos logging software. The QSO map can be seen here.

A photo of the field can be seen below…

PW 70MHz Contest 2015 at Kelvedon Hatch

PW 70MHz Contest 2015 at Kelvedon Hatch

I also took some video on my phone, which can be seen below…

You can also read Dave’s article on his website. George M1GEO, Chris G8OCV, Dave M0YOL and some others also attended to play some radio so it was a good day all round!

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RSGB 2nd 70MHz Contest

2015_70MHz2_1

M0UKD/P – 70MHz

We had some great September weather today for the 2nd 70MHz contest. We setup at the Kelvedon Hatch ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’ as seen above, using my new 70MHz amplifier at 160w and my 4 element DK7ZB 12.5Ω Yagi.

QSO Map

QSO Map

Conditions seemed quite normal, we worked no Scotland or Ireland but our best DX (as many others) was PA4VHF at 449km. Other highlights were GJ3YHU in Jersey and M1CJN/P in the North York Moors. Total contacts was 46.

A very enjoyable day of operating and testing the new amplifier. Next week, it’s the Practical Wireless 70MHz contest, so lets hope for the same weather and some band openings perhaps? Maybe I’m asking too much :)

The Claimed Scores are available. Thanks to Dave M0TAZ, George M1GEO, Dave M0YOL and Chris G8OCV for help & company, and of course everyone we worked (or tried to work!).

RSGB 2nd 70MHz Contest at Kelvedon Hatch

RSGB 2nd 70MHz Contest at Kelvedon Hatch

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Two years in the making – 70MHz 300w Amplifier

70MHz 300w MOSFET Linear Amplifier

Today, I finished a project I started over two years ago. It’s not that it took two years to build, it’s just that its taken me two years to get the parts together and build in my spare time! The upcoming 2nd 70MHz contest and PW 70MHz contest prompted me to get this finished.

Its a 300w 70MHz amplifier, using a BLF 278 MOSFET. Power supply is 50v @ 10A. The amplifier has 9dB attenuation at the PA input to bring the gain down to something usable, as without the attenuation, 2.5w input gives 300w output (21dB gain)! The input & output power, with 9dB ATT (total 12dB gain) is:

  • 5w = 100w
  • 7.5w = 150w
  • 10w = 200w
  • 15w = 300w

The amplifier uses ~7.5a @ 48v for 200w O/P, so it’s around 80% efficient. Bias is set to 750mA. The maximum power here in the UK on 70MHz is 160w, for which this amplifier requires 8w of input. Below is a picture of the inside. I will tidy up the cables at some point!

300w PA & LPF

300w PA & LPF

Bird 43 - 70MHz 250w+

I need a larger Bird element to measure the 300w output on the Bird 43!

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5th 144MHz Backpackers Contest

On Sunday, Dave and I went to South Weald to take part in the 144MHz Backpackers Contest. We used Dave’s 9 element Tonna 6m AGL and 10w from the Icom IC-7100. The weather was perfect, blue skies and sunshine and hardly a breeze! Dave worked 51 stations and some good DX for low power, due to the big stations competing in the 144MHz Trophy contest. We managed contacts with England, Wales, Scotland, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Our best DX was DR4X at 648 KM. The QSO map can be seen below.

5th Backpackers 2015 QSO map

5th Backpackers 2015 QSO map

I brought along some 70MHz equipment, which I set up after packing away the 144MHz gear and spent about an hour on 4m working 8 stations. All in all, a good days operating in the sun!

Backpackers in the September sunshine!

Backpackers in the September sunshine!

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