In not amateur radio related news…

I still don’t have my radios or antennas yet, (too long to ship via air freight). But I did get my bicycles.  Did a Mountain ride on Saturday pulling my daughter on a trailer. Thankfully it was at a lake and mostly flat.  This morning I did a short road ride as an introduction to Kigali rush hour traffic.  Its not for the weak of heart.  The motos actually look out for you, I had one ride right behind me as a deterrent to other vehicles.  Cars and busses on the other hand won’t give you an inch of room.  Thankfully the speed limit is only 40kmh in the city, not that its respected, but traffic is congested enough that you rarely go that fast.  As soon as I’m stronger I’ll start tackling the hills.  I’ve been here just over three weeks and I’ve already lost around 5kg of weight.  I haven’t been starving myself, just walking and only eating when I’m hungry.  I’m sure the scarcity of fast food probably helps as well.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

The bureaucracy must expand to meet the growing needs of the burreaucracy!

I’ve begun filling out the forms for my license.  Apparently it takes two weeks and quite a bit of money.  The only part that is annoying, is that it will require me to physically visit the licensing bureau in person.

I’ve been drawing out potential locations for the shack and how I will route the coax so that it will not interfere with the gardener performing his duties.  I have a flat roof on one of our buildings which would be a nice out of the way location, but it would mean breaking out a ladder any time I wanted to rotate the antenna.  A ground based location would be simpler and allow me to rotate easier. So many decisions.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

First part of packout starts tomorrow, and I have an amplifier.

As some of you may be aware, traveling on the governments $$$ to Africa is never easy.  We have our first shipment of air freight (limited to 875 lbs) getting packed out and shipped tomorrow.  No room for radios on this one, its mostly clothes and kids stuff.  But the computer is going, so my next post may very well be from Rwanda with a new call sign.

In other news, the ‘QRO Club’ failed in their efforts to deliver an amplifier.  I definitely wanted some power, if not 1500W, and the rest of my equipment is rated for full power, but I couldn’t justify the price.  BUT! Not to fear, in spite of obstacles, I did get an Solid State amplifier, rated for both 240 and 120 V, and good for 600W PEP.  I like that it doesn’t require the level of tuning or expertise as a tube amplifier.  I think it will serve me well.  Between the 600W and the Hexbeam, I think everyone who wants to work me should be able.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

Time is getting close

Time really flies.  After the Virginia QSO party, I took down the HF shack, antennas, power supplies, etc, and now I only have my HT to play with.  I did receive my hexbeam antenna in the mail a few days ago.  I haven’t opened it, since it’s already packed for moving, but I’m sure all the parts are there and it will work out. This is the first pre-built HF antenna I’ve ever used.  I’ve always built them in the past.  But the movers are coming soon, the house is getting emptied…. the big move is upon us!

Alan KE4TA

Working the Virginia QSO Party

I’ve been working the Virginia QSO party all weekend.  Its the last real time for me to work HF prior to taking down the station for moving.  Band conditions couldn’t be worse.  Last year, everyone mentioned that activity was mostly 40m, with some 80m.  This year it seems like most activity was on 80m, with 40m as an afterthought.

What was different for me: this year instead of doing S&P contesting, I decided to primarily find a frequency and sit on it, no matter how long, and let a pile up come to me. I worked WC8VOA, on 7215khz, they asked very nicely if I would mind taking a break from the contest and talking to some boy scouts for a few minutes.  I figured, sure, why not, future of the hobby, be nice, etc.  Honestly, it was the most action I had been getting for awhile.  I spoke with 3-4 kids, and they went QRT, and I thought that was the end of it. I dunno, perhaps I was spotted? Perhaps a few hundred of their closest friends were listening, but well, I was in a solid pileup for an hour after that, I can only think they had something to do with it. Much appreciated.  I learned a few things about working pileups.

  1. Once you settle on a call sign, stick with that call until you work them or they give up.  Otherwise some operators will attempt to walk all over you.
  2. Some people will tune up right on top of you.  Ignore them entirely, act like you can’t even hear them.  If you acknowledge them, it only empowers them.  Eventually they figure you can’t hear their QRM and go away.
  3. Establish a rhythm: If you’re not going to chat with each contact, keep the exchange similar for each contact you make. The stations waiting to contact you will respect the rhythm, and cause less interference as a result.
  4. Be nice to the operators.  Yes, you may be king of the pile up (for the whole hour I was king), but never lose your cool.  Also, slow it down, speak slowly, clearly, and then slower.  I spent some time trying to work other pileups, and heard a few people lose their temper.  I sympathize, but it didn’t solve anything.
  5. Take breaks.  I found I could only work for 2 hours at best before I was exhausted.  The ergonomics of the station didn’t help, but I found I needed to take a break, get some food, walk around, listen to something other than static.

Anyway, its a few things that I picked up working the contest.  The trip is coming up soon!

73, Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

Time is getting close, and the antenna is on the way.

I finally have our housing assignment, unfortunately it faces towards the SW, so I’m not sure how well it will make it to the US except via long-path.  The house does have a big backyard, suitable for some decent antennas… so I decided on a Sentinel Hex Beam for 20/17/15/12/10/6 meters.  It has a diameter of only 22 feet, and is suitable for use with my push up portable mast.  Although I do have a rotor, I will likely leave the rotor off of the mast, and point it in one direction for a few days, then go outside and turn it.

For anyone hoping to activate Rwanda on 30/40/60/80/160, I may attempt to make a wire antenna, but that will require seeing the lot first hand.  I will have sufficient wire with me.

For anyone interested, I will be participating in the Virginia QSO party this weekend.  I enjoyed this contest last year, and it will give me a chance to work some pileups.

Our fly out date is May 26th!!!

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething