Saturday, 5 December 2015

cheech and chong up in smoke

I had a lightning strike the day before yesterday. I was sitting in the shack working on my computer and looking out for new band / slots on the DX cluster. All of a sudden the heavens opened up with a heavy downpour of rain. The next moment there was an almighty thunder clap. Normally there is a delay between seeing the flash and hearing the clap, but not this time it happened at the same instant of time. 

The earth leakage relay tripped and All the power was off. I expected the worse, thinking the computer would be fried. 

After reseting the power supply I was much relieved to see that the PC appeared to be working. The IC-756 P3 seemed OK, but the ADSL line was down. 

I have subsequently discovered that the IC-756 has no RF output, all other functions seem to be working as per normal. Strangely the Expert 1K-FA was also in the line ahead of the transceiver is unscathed. That is a huge relief......

The YAESU G-1000 DXA rotator is acting strange. The panel illumination is rather dim.  It appears as if the rotator is turning freely in both directions, albeit much slower than normal. The calibration is way off. I am hoping it might be something simple like a voltage regulator that has gone faulty. 

The image below is of the thick-wall aluminum mast. It looks as if the lightning either entered or exited the mast at this point. This spot was some 2 meters from where I was sitting. 

This is much like the movie  "Cheech and Chong up in smoke", but not nearly as funny. 

Add caption

Monday, 14 September 2015

SARL FD Sep 2015 – Golden Gate National Park

I set up a field station on the veranda of our highlands retreat log cabin, situated in the magnificent Golden Gate National Park some 4 hours drive from my home . The views to the east and north were awesome.

I used a telescopic fibre glass mast and erected a link dipole for 15, 20 and 40m. I used my trusty Elecraft K2 transceiver and Begali HST paddle.

I started calling CQ on 40m CW, after 20 minutes I gave up in disgust, I did not have a single reply. IMHO CW is in danger of becoming obsolete in South Africa.

I tried my luck on 20 and 15m, but the propagation was simply too poor to enable any QSOs with my QRP setup.
I had no option, but to revert to using the ‘muggle’ mode. I really don’t enjoy using SSB…..

I was looking really looking forward to the field day event and I had high hopes that the event would be well supported, but alas that was not to be.

All this effort to end up with only 22 QSOs in the log :-(

Overlooking the log cabins

Mast errected even befor we were unpacked

Shack with a view......

Saturday, 22 August 2015

AFRICA-DX 2015 contest results

IMHO the inaugural AFRICA-DX contest was a success. A total of 123 logs were received.

We had some issues with overlap with the RSGB Commonwealth contest and a few minor issues with the log checking process. Igor UU0JC the author of the “LogChecker” has been very accommodating with our requests for software features.

Next year we hope to gain momentum, with a bit of luck the AFRICA-DX (all mode) contest will become popular for the contesters and the DX hunters alike.

Thanks to all those that participated, the next one will be bigger and better.

The next contest will be held on Friday 11 March 2016 starting at 1800 utc and ending on Saturday 12 March 2016 at 1759 utc

The certificates ready for posting

The results listed by ITU zone

Sunday, 19 July 2015

2015 SARL Winter QRP contest

As you all know I am a huge fan of QRP, but after reading the feedback below from Roger ZS6RJ (the guy with the rather loud headset) I could not resist sharing his feedback "Ode to a QRP contest".

Conditions on the higher HF bands were rather poor and working QRP DX from the southern tip of Africa was not easy to say the least.

I did not work a single DX station, I sure hope others fared better.

Ode to a QRP contest:

“Come help with QRP”
“It’ll be a hoot, you’ll see”

I raised the hex beam with great glee
Ignoring the fiberglass stuck in me

Calling ad-nausea for more than an hour
Left me disillusioned and rather sour

So as the QRP leader broke down the camp
I whacked him over the head, with my linear amp.

Roger ZS6RJ and Nick ZS6NCK operating ZS6WR club station  

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Building the Ultimate-3S WSPR kit

I set aside a few hours to build the U3S from QRP kits.

The build went fairly well, the instructions are fairly clear. When I first applied power it was obvious that something was wrong. What I saw on the display was not what I expected to see.

I did some fault finding and came to the conclusion the 20 MHz clock was not functioning. I carefully removed the crystal and replaced it with a temporary 10 MHz crystal.

I then powered the U3S up and I was very pleased to see “Diagnostic mode” displayed on the display.

Tomorrow, I will try and find a suitable replacement crystal. Then hopefully I can set it up to WSPR to the WWW on 10m.

What a relief……

Start of build

This is a problem !!

Problem solved

Mainboard, display (not visible), synthesizer and 10m low pass filter