It’s been a bit quiet lately due to life and the many surprises it can bring. However this week-end I was finally able to get my first permanent antenna install complete.
The antenna I installed is my dual band (2m/70cm) antenna that I purchased a few years back with the hope that one day it would become my permanent base station antenna. It’s a Diamond X-50N and when I’ve used it in the past I’ve been very happy with it’s construction and performance.
Stats taken from the Diamond Antenna site.
Not long after moving to my new QTH I rushed down to the hardware store and grabbed the fascia mount TV support and bolts and then was keen to get it installed. However, first I wanted to get the access panel done and then realised I needed a bigger ladder – as the install location is essentially two stories up (the antenna is now sitting ~6m above ground).
Anyway, a hire company came to the rescue and all worked out well this week-end. And with the access panel in place, it sure made the cabling very straight forward. Although, I do have a goal of eventually having some semi rigid cable for this, but for now RG-58C/U is doing the job (albeit I should only be losing about 2dB and 4dB, and this is really only for local simplex and repeater work).
I’ve only had one contact with it so far, but that was as a result of the first (and only) CQ I put out on 146.500. Reports were good from over in Bellerieve (5/7 – loud and clear) and I can happily trigger all the local repeaters on 2m, and I only attempted one on 70cm – need to try more. So, it seems a good result and I look forward to trying it out more soon. (Plus, I’m going to try some WX Satellite reception here – though on Windows this time – and see how it goes compared to my efforts in VK1 – although it still will be a sub-optimal antenna and receiver for that).
I’m still working away at learning my morse code. Practice kind of ended with the move to VK7 (as all things radio got a bit disrupted), but the last month or two it has resumed in earnest.
So I thought I’d share some of my current favourite resources that may be of use to others starting to learn or those more experienced looking to increase their speed.
I do a lot of my practice on the bus and at lunch in the library. So iPhone apps have been really useful. The main ones I use are:
- Ham Morse – This is my main tool
- Dah Dit – A useful tool, but probably goes against many principals of the Koch Method
- MorseWords – A useful tool for words practice (especially seeing you can lock your phone and it will keep going)
As for online website tools, I’ve only really focused on one.
- LCWO – Learn CW Online. Happens to be developed by one of the holders of 1000 cpm speed records and a very passionate CW op (that is, he also has an alarm clock he wrote that sends him his emails subject lines in morse code).
Computer software there is really only one I’ve used since I first thought of learning CW:
And finally some downloadable guides on how to learn/improve morse code:
Good luck to anyone out there using the above!
On the week-end just past Radio Australia was doing another digital test. It took me all three attempts, but in the end I was successful in receiving the full four sets of data sent over the 7 minute window.
Although not perfect, I was happy to be able to receive the above. I did however see some stunning examples of the above where people received it pretty well flawless. However, as an alternative (seeing it was sent as HTML) I did also get to receive the below perfectly via flmsg.
I’m hoping they do some more tests and it was interesting to read a little about the Radio Australia transmitting site. In the meantime though, I might pay a bit more attention to VOA Radiogram and maybe try receiving some of the others – especially seeing they’re getting RA alright.
A week-end or so back I completed my access panel with it’s full complement of bulkhead adapters and dust covers. Unfortunately I’ve been struggling for any good light on it though, so I’ve just taken some rough photos with my phone at late dusk (ie. low light – unfortunately.)
I went with 5 N sockets in the end. That was because five fit the space easily – and matched my aspirational antenna setup – and I went with N sockets as I figured they’ll meet almost anything I’d plan to do. I did consider having one or two BNC or SO-239 sockets, but with N connectors being spec’d to around ~11GHz I figured that’s the best bet for flexibility.
I’ve not had a chance to really put the panel to much use yet, as next on my list is to setup my external antennas. However, I do have my mini-whip connected and happily achieved a few spots on 40m with ease (indeed, VK1KW was booming in at +5). Now I’ve got it just sitting there hoping to maybe pick up some MF – we’ll see.
The idea of the access panel I definitely didn’t come up on my own. I was inspired by what I saw VK1OD had done, and so asked for some further details and came up with the implementation above for my purposes.