Some notes from Jim 9X0JW/KB1ZSQ

So I was curious why I hadn’t heard from Jim, 9X0JW / KB1ZSQ on the air yet.  I got an email from him the other day, and the situation for him is difficult.  He detailed several of the issues.

  1. RFI – Apparently everyone loooooves to use cheap lightbulbs that have horrible RF emissions on HF.  I can’t blame the Rwandans, they’re not a rich country, but its annoying.  (anyone know the best way to get this one fixed?)
  2. Lightning – Weather is a big factor, apparently they recently had some nasty storms that knocked over some antennas on the roof where he’s staying.  I’ll need a rock solid grounding system in place wherever we are.
  3. Earthquakes – I don’t think I can do much about earthquakes.

So with the bad news out of the way, I also found out that installing a vertical antenna is possible.  Jim recommends I bring both a vertical and a dipole.

73,

Alan KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

New Power Supply for the trip

So I’ve ordered a new power supply.

I’ve always been a believer that, if you can afford it, you should spend a little more money on something that will last you the rest of your life, rather than buying something, upgrading, upgrading again, and spending more that you would have in the first place.  So I picked up an MFJ 75A power supply.  It will have more than enough power for my current needs, and will be able to handle 240v for Rwanda.  Anderson Powerpoles, accessory connections, the works.  I’m still taking the Astron 20A power supply as a back up in case something happens.

I’ll update with a picture for unboxing and set up.

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomething something

I just got a package today!

So I just got a package today, from hupRF.img_20160915_182105

and now the scary part is coming…

I went ahead and opened up the package, and I was quite surprised at the size  The whole circuit board is about the size of two quarters or two postage stamps, as you can see in the picture.

img_20160915_182213

The entire package cost approximately 32$ USD, and will give me the ability to use my SDR as a panadapter.

Now the scary part of installing it begins… to be honest, I’m excited about building it, but nervous as hell about messing up my radio.

Cheers and 73 to G4HUP.  When it comes time to take the cover off and do the install, I’ll write another post with pictures of everything.  Perhaps with foul language if I end up destroying my radio…

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

I’m getting a panadapter!!! Whoo hoo!!

I currently will be taking my FT-991 with me to Rwanda next year, and I will say, that it is a great radio, but not without limitations. Some of these limitations Yaesu has already acknowledged by announcing that there will be an FT-991a. The a-model will have the ability to listen and have a waterfall display at the same time, much like the Icom IC-7300. There is a plan to offer current FT-991 owners a possibility to upgrade, but it hasn’t been announced yet.

I’m impatient and I don’t want to wait.

So I bought an SDRPlay radio, which can work much like a panadapter, but not quite, and there is one limitation: if you transmit without some way of grounding out the receive antenna on the SDR, you’ll end up destroying it. I researched a few solutions: I looked at switches that I could incorporate with my foot switch (well, won’t work with my hand mike), I looked at solutions that would work with my very nice tuner (but what about VHF?). And then I came across this website: http://huprf.com/huprf/ .  This website is run by G4HUP, a fine gentleman who has been more than helpful in answering questions for me, and, well, he is certainly smarter than me.

I purchased his PAT board for the Yaesu FT-991.  The cost with shipping and some associated parts to make a clean installation cost me less than 40$ USD!!!  It will require breaking the seal on the radio, which yes, will likely void the warranty.  But I’m actually glad to do that.  If it ends up costing me 1000$ or more to learn more of the science and art of amateur radio, then its a cost worth paying.

When the board comes in, I’ll be sure to post some pictures of the install, and any tips I can give FT-991 users if they want to try installing this.  I will be using G4HUP’s PAT70 board, and connecting it to an SDR Play, which will be displayed via an Android tablet, that will end up somewhere on top of my tuner, power supply, hammered into the wall, I dunno….

73,

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething.

 

What bands will I be on?

So I was asked by a few friends which bands I intend on operating. I won’t know for sure until I get to my QTH in Kigali, but from what I’ve been told, 20/17/12/10 are the best bands to use for getting to the United States and Europe.

Aside from the DX spotting networks, I will probably determine my operating band based on the VOACAP website below.

If you’re trying to find the best band to contact me, I will be in grid KI58.

http://www.voacap.com/

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

JT65

I don’t think anyone in Africa uses JT65 at all.  I have a friend who lives in an apartment, which means no external antennas.  JT65 is the only mode that will get his signal out of the US.  Using PSKreporter, I noticed that aside from South Africa, no one seemed to use JT65 in Africa.  Anyone know why?

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

Pileups

Listened to some pile ups on 20m this weekend. Some with good DX Operators, some with bad. Some with good DX chasers, and some with bad DX chasers. The whole reason was to learn how the DX stations work pileups… My big takeaways from the weekend:

  • Set up a good rhythm, otherwise, stations will interrupt your QSOs trying to get their call in.
  • If you’re the DX, you’re the boss.
  • If the pile up is big enough, call for certain locations or numbers, etc.  But make sure to give everyone a chance at some point.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

9X0JW in Rwanda

Just when I thought I might be the only Amateur Radio operator in the whole country… Jim, 9X0JW just got his license from the RURA, he’s getting his gear set up now, and will hopefully be on the air soon.  He’ll be in country until December 2017, so our time there will overlap.

Good luck Jim, and leave some DX for me!

Alan, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

The Gear

As it stands right now, my amateur radio related gear is as follows.

  • Rig: Yaesu FT-991, max power 100W
  • Astron 20A power supply, which I hope to upgrade soon (suggestions are welcome)
  • MFJ-998 Antenna Tuner (amazing piece of gear)
  • Heil headset with footswitch
  • William Nye straight key
  • Vibroplex Code Warrior Jr iambic key
  • Lots of LMR-400 bury flex coaxial cable
  • 2 x MFJ 1:1 baluns
  • 1 x Unadilla 4:1 balun
  • Current antennas are a 40m/15m dipole, which is also resonant on 6m with the internal tuner.  All bands but 10m are workable using the external tuner.
  • working on a fan dipole for 20m/17m at present, I’ll let everyone know how that turns out.
  • Working on an OCF/Windom dipole for 80/40/20/15/10.  Routing the lines at my current QTH is difficult.
  • I will have an amplifier courtesy of the QRO club before I leave, they’re loaning it to me, for TWO YEARS, FOR FREE!!! (UPDATE: Nope, looks like I’m running 100W the whole time since W1YW can’t return an email)
  • Software will be Ham Radio Deluxe, N1MM logger, FLDigi, and WSJT-X.
  • The official record for QSLs will be whatever I import into Ham Radio Deluxe.  I will upload to QRZ, eQSL.cc, and LoTW.  I would appreciate it if you would upload your contacts to LoTW.
  • My QSL manager will be announced in a separate post.

73,

Alan, KE4TA aka 9Xsomethingsomething