First CW QSO on the FT-450D

Tonight I got back to the parsonage after a two-day preaching workshop in Conway.  I arrived about 10:00PM CDST and, after settling in a bit, got the radials re-deployed on my antenna and tuned up on 40 meter CW.

After tuning around a bit, I heard K4ZNC in Tallahassee, Florida calling CQ.  I answered him and had a nice 10 minute QSO.  His name was also John.  I only ran 90 watts into the MP-1 and it did a great job.

Now I just have to figure out how to keep my cat off the desk when I’m trying to operate.

73,

John — KQ8X

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100 Watts

Just a quick update.  I received the Alnico DM-330MV 32 amp power supply.  Got it hooked up and am now running full power from the FT-450D.

That’s about all I have in me to write tonight.

73,

John – KQ8X

Coax Problem Solved

This afternoon, I took some time to work on the problem of running coax into my study at the parsonage so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the radio, power supply, microphone, key, computer, etc. out to the table on the back porch just to operate.  It wouldn’t normally be a problem except for the fact that I couldn’t drill any holes in the wall or otherwise do anything destructive to the house since it belongs to the church.

Today, after lots of looking and poking and prodding and thinking, I suddenly noticed a gap near the top of the storm window frame.  The screws holding the frame to the house were not long enough and had pulled free from the house.  This was nothing I did.  I just discovered it upon inspecting the window.  I was able to slip a length of coax through that gap from inside my study to outside the front of the house.  I made a quick trip to our nearby Walmart and purchased a small bag of longer screws, a screwdriver (since I didn’t have one handy) and some white Duck Tape.  I replaced the short screws with the longer screws and closed the gap around the coax entry point.  I wrapped the white Duck Tape around the coax outside so it would blend in to the white paint on the vinyl siding.

I had plenty of coax to reach to a concrete block already sitting near the foundation of the house behind some tall shrubs.  I used the C-clamp to attach the MP-1 antenna mount to the cement block and attached the antenna to the mount.  With the antenna fully extended, only the very top of the antenna is visible above the shrubs and not very noticeable at that.  I attached the radials and spread them out from the mount in various directions in the grass.  Since they are black, they are also not noticeable.  I’ll just have to remember to temporarily take them up from time to time before the caretaker mows the yard!

After I finished all of this, I hooked up the 450D and turned it on.  20 meters suffered from an S-9 noise floor and I heard no stations.  Without tuning the antenna, I changed to 40 meters and heard a couple of CW stations.  I had to get back to my office since I took time in the day to set everything up, knowing I wouldn’t be back again until after dark, so I didn’t have time to do any operating.  I shut the radio down and now I’m back in my office at church writing this post.

Figuring out the coax problem opened a lot of doors for me.  I now have the radio set up on my computer desk in the study.  This will allow me to interface the radio to the computer using CAT for easier logging and, possibly, computer control of the radio, although I’m not sure how often I will utilize that feature since I prefer working hands-on with the radio itself.  Having the radio inside will also allow me to use my Shure SM7B broadcast mic for voice contacts along with the DBX 286A microphone processor I have used for years for radio and voiceover work.  I’m sure the mic will require some tweaking to get the audio right, but it’s sure to be better than the supplied MH-31 hand mic that came with the radio.

I’m aware that I have not yet posted the video review I promised.  Perhaps I will tonight, now that I have everything pretty much set up the way I want it.

73,

John — KQ8X

Random Wire Thoughts

I’m sitting here tonight having just watched one of my favorite movies, which will remain nameless to protect the not-so-innocent.  But it reminded me of my best friend, Noel, K5NER.  I remember the treks we would make from the dorm in college to the radio shack at W5YM.  I remember the two of us working 200 contacts in an hour during November Sweepstakes one year.  I remember us sitting up until sometimes 2:00AM drinking coffee and talking about everything under the sun.

I am also thinking about my mother, KB5WZH, who became SK on Easter Sunday.  I remember her tough yet sacrificial love.  I remember her generosity to her family and friends and even strangers.  I miss her already.

I’m thinking about my Dad, KC5FIX, who became SK one cold mid-December day 5 years ago.  I remember also his tough yet sacrificial love, his generosity, and his love of radio.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.

I wish I could sit around and play the guitar with my dad one more time and hear him tell stories from his youth.  I wish I could taste my mother’s cooking one more time and hear her stories as well.  I wish I could talk to them both on the radio while driving to somewhere or another in my car one more time.  I wish I could see the joy on their faces one more time when I went home for a visit.

I love you Mom and Dad.  I hope you are resting now, and I hope you are proud of me.

73 and 88 from your son, John, KQ8X.

 

 

New Transceiver: The Yaesu FT-450D

Just an hour or so ago, I pulled the trigger and ordered my new transceiver — the Yaesu FT-450D.

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I went with this rig because it meets almost all of the following criteria:

  • 100w PEP output
  • Pre-installed CW filter and IF-DSP
  • Small enough to be portable, but larger than, for example, the FT-857
  • Less than $700 new

With the $50 mail-in rebate from Yaesu, the total cost will meet the price criterion.

There are two problems yet to overcome.  First, to operate at full power, the FT-450D requires 22 amps constant.  My current power supply is only 19 amps.  Therefore, I will need to operate at less than 100w until I can purchase a minimum 30 amp power supply.  However, even at 50w, I’ll be operating and 10 times the maximum PEP output of the FT-817.

The second problem is finding a way to run coax into the house so I can set up the radio on my computer desk in the study.  Since I live in a parsonage owned by the church, I cannot drill holes or otherwise change the structure in any way.  I am hoping to be able to temporarily remove a screen from the nearby window and run the coax in, using foam or some other material to seal the bottom of the open window.

Regardless of how I finally set it up, I am anxious for the radio to arrive so I can get back on the air.  As soon as it arrives and I get it set up and running, I’ll publish a video review.

73,

John — KQ8X

 

Goodbye QRP

As I mentioned in my last post about the MP1 Super Antenna, I needed an antenna capable of handling higher power, and I promised I would explain why.  I need it because I am moving on from QRP operation.

When I first got into QRP, I was in a living situation where antennas were not an obstacle.  I had good antennas at decent heights.  However, now that I am a United Methodist pastor, I can no longer have permanent antenna installations in a location I am guaranteed to be living for more than about three years.  Because of this, I am forced to use a portable antenna in sub-optimal deployments.  In order to be able to operate effectively, therefore, I need more power.

So, I’m selling my Yaesu FT-817 in order to help fund the purchase of a 100w HF rig.  Right now, I have my eye set on the Yaesu FT-450D.  The reviews are good and the YouTube videos I’ve seen look very promising.  If I am successful in selling the 817, I will be purchasing the 450D as soon as I can.

If you are interested in possibly purchasing my FT-817, here is a link to the eBay auction.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Yaesu-FT-817-QRP-HF-Transceiver-/301908425997?hash=item464b24fd0d:g:j58AAOSwwpdW9HAl

73,

John — KQ8X

Arrival of the MP1 Super Antenna

The MP1DX Super Antenna package arrived today via UPS.  I have to say I was immediately shocked at how small this antenna is.  Put together, with the top telescoping whip fully extended and the tuning coil completely closed, the antenna is only about 7 feet long.  One thing I am impressed with is how easy it will be to put this antenna up and get on the air.  The most difficult part of that process will actually be taking down the 20m dipole and disconnecting the coax from it to use with the MP1.

One thing I am not impressed with is the carry bag for the antenna and mounting hardware.  It is a thin, cheap, vinyl-like material that will never stand up to repeated use and transport.  One thing I will definitely want to do at some point is look for a better alternative to the bag.

Another thing I’m concerned about is the strength of the telescoping top section.  As I write this, we are experiencing 20 to 30 mph sustained winds gusting to 40+.  Will the top section stand up to such winds?  Only one way to find out.  After I leave the office for the day, I will begin the process of setting up and tuning the antenna and attempt to make some contacts.  I’ll record it all and post a video later.

Something I’m not entirely sure of is the configuration of the radial system for this antenna.  The radials are all connected to a common push-on connector and fit on the mounting bracket of the antenna.  I was under the impression that the radials were separate from each other, each with its own connector.  I also notice that there are two connection points on the mounting bracket for another set of radials, but only one set of radials was included in the package.  I’ll have to do more research on this.

More later.

73,

John – KQ8X

KQ8X is QRV thanks to Super Antenna

It’s been almost a year since my last post.  In that time, I was moved to pastor a new church in another town, which is important because now my antenna situation has now changed.

I strung up my 20m dipole in a tree about 7 feet off the ground (which is nowhere near high enough) and ran the coax in through a hole in the wall of the enclosed back porch of the parsonage.  It was the only possible place for me to put the antenna at my current location due to not wanting to drill or otherwise make any physical changes to the house or property of the church.

After trying the antenna with my FT-817, I found it to be horribly inadequate.  While the SWR was fine, its performance was very bad, nothing like it was in its last location.

So, after much research and planning, I have purchased Super Antenna’s MP1DX antenna package.  Rather than taking time and space to describe the antenna here, follow this link to the MP1DX on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Super-Antenna-MP1DX-Portable-SuperStick/dp/B014VVL340/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458524361&sr=8-1&keywords=mp1dx

You can find out more about the MP1 at http://www.newsuperantenna.com

I chose this particular antenna for the following reasons:

  1. I needed a limited-space antenna solution.
  2. I needed an antenna that did not depend upon the availability of end supports as a dipole does.  1 & 2 combined made me realize I needed a relatively small ground plane vertical.
  3. I needed an antenna that is highly portable.
  4. I needed a multi-band antenna so I would no longer be limited only to 20 meter operation.  Although I would like to operate on 80 and 75 meters, I did not purchase the optional coil for 80 and 75 meters at this time.  That may be my next purchase later on.
  5. I needed an antenna that would handle more than just QRP power levels while still fitting the portability and limited-space criteria.  The MP1 will handle up to 500w SSB and 300W CW.  I’ll say more about this criterion later.

So, I’m looking forward to receiving the MP1 sometime on Tuesday.  With any luck, I’ll be posting a video about on YouTube.  Look for the link in my next blog post, as well as more details on my mention of higher power in #5 above.

Until next time, 73,

John – KQ8X

World Amateur Radio Day — April 18, 2015

So it’s been quite awhile since I last posted about storms and radio not mixing.  Today, as it happens, we are just a couple of weeks into spring and we are already getting storms.  Joy.

Today, however, I’m writing in celebration of the International Amateur Radio Union’s (IARU) World Amateur Radio Day (WARD). WARD 2015 occurs on April 18 and I’m working on some ideas for how to celebrate.  The most obvious answer is to operate!  I’ll certainly be doing that.  I want to work some of the special event stations on the air that day.  Here is a breakdown of the ones I am aware of:

  • Oman: A43WARD 0500-1700 UTC
  • Puerto Rico: KP4FD 0000 – 2359 UTC
  • United States: W4SNC – Iredell County Amateur Radio Society, North Carolina 1100-1600 UTC
  • World Radio Network: Special WARD IRLP net:
    1600-1730 UTC via the World Conference Server (IRLP Node 9251) and the Hi-Gate Server (IRLP Node 9250). KD2HWN, net control. Stations around the world are encouraged to check in.

This list comes form the IARU website at http://www.iaru.org.  No frequencies or band designations are listed.  I’d like to work these stations and any others on 20 meter CW during WARD.  If you are reading this and know of any other special event stations, let me know and I’ll post them.

In other news, I still want to add a 40 meter dipole to my antenna installation.  I’m waiting, however, because of certain things in the offing concerning my job.  More on that later when I am authorized to talk about it.  For now, let’s just say I’d rather not erect an antenna and then just have to turn around and take it back down again.

Until next time (which hopefully won’t be as long as last time), 73.

John — KQ8X