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


Meeting with future QSL manager N4GNR

I had the chance to meet with my future QSL manager in person, Dan N4GNR.  I must say, he has quite the DX’ing setup.  He offered me the chance to get on the air at full power with a 151ft tower and a 20m 7 element Yagi… mind blown.

He’s convinced me that I’ll need to find a way to get a yagi or a hex beam out there with me.  I think I’ll skip the motorized rotor, and go with aiming it a direction for a few days/weeks, then move it in a different direction to work other parts of the world.


KE4TA, 9Xsomething

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to everyone out there.

The packing continues.  Getting everything ready, deciding what goes with us, what stays here, and what goes in the trash is a never ending saga.  Plus stockpiling things that we won’t be able to get (peaches and cranberries are two big ones)

Band conditions have been abysmal of late, perfect time for me to brush up on my CW.

I also got a chance to work a station on split for the first time, station in the Canary Islands, it was interesting to say the least.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomething

RIP Panadapter

So I got the panadapter installed correctly.  But maybe I did something wrong, who knows.  Maybe it just wasn’t designed to work with my radio, but I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t work.  To be fair, THE PANADAPTER WORKS!  I have no doubt that the design was solid.

Unfortunately, the panadapter most definitely caused major desensitization on my receiver.  On the order of 6db reductions on some bands.  Given what I heard regarding conditions in Rwanda, I believe that 6db reduction in reception would be catastrophic for my DX efforts.  I left the panadapter in the radio, but clipped off the wires and removed them.  I may revisit the project at another date, but for now, its unfortunate that I had to get rid of it.  Many thanks to the guys at HupRF for their expertise.  Perhaps I’ll revisit it at a later date.

73, KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething

The Panadapter is installed!!!

Thanks to some help from a friend who builds satellites, and has a much steadier hand than I do, the panadapter from HupRF is installed. img_20161020_182715

Some thoughts for anyone installing this on an FT-991.  First, its on the bottom, not the top (mistake one, but nothing critical) looks like the internal tuner board is on the top of the radio.  The IF is on the bottom.

img_20161020_182458 img_20161020_183616 img_20161020_182432

Its hard to really see the scale in these photos. But the components are extremely close together, and very small.  Each soldered connection looks like its the size of a pinhead.

I did learn a neat trick from him. Don’t bother stripping insulation from a very thin wire when its a lot easier and more precise to just burn it off and clean your iron afterwards.

Also, specific to the FT-991, the back of this radio is really tight, you’ll either have to run the SMA cable out a vent hole in the back, or drill a hole thru the top if you want a mount that is really secure.  Right now, I took the SMA cable and tied a loop to keep it from getting pulled out.

I’ll add another post in the next few days to let everyone know how it works on the air.  I still need to figure out the best SDR software to display as a panadapter, and to see if i can get it to work with my android tablet.


KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething


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.


Alan KE4TA, 9Xsomethingsomething