Operating Notes – 4/14/10

In no particular order, here are some notes from my recent operations, such as they are:

  • Operating without guilt. Monday night, I finally finished preparing my tax returns. Now, I can operate without feeling guilty that I’m putting it off.
  • Operating without power. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been QRP. I had to send my IC-746PRO in for service, so I’ve been using my Elecraft KX-1 exclusively.
        It’s been interesting. Thanks to good band conditions, most of the contacts have been quite solid. This evening, I even received a 599 signal report.
        I’ve even mad a couple of DX contacts: FM5LD and CT1JOP. The CT1JOP QSO even qualifies me for the “1000 Mile per Watt” award. Of course, it helped that he has a 40m beam. He should really get the credit for the award.
  • Another QSO of note. A couple of nights ago, I worked N4NAB. His QSL, should I be fortunate enough to get it, will go into my collection of QSL cards from stations whose call signs spell words.
  • What went wrong with the IC-746PRO? In case you’re wondering what went wrong with the IC-746PRO, the problem is with the antenna tuner. For some reason, it decided it didn’t want to tune my dipole on the lower 100 kHz of 40m, even though that’s where the SWR is lowest (<1.5:1). My guess is that one of the relays went out. The display backlight had also started acting funny, so I’ve requested that they look at that as well.
  • Forza Begali! I love my Begali paddle, but in the last year or so, I’d been having trouble with the contacts. I tried various ways to clean the contacts, but to no avail. About a month ago I e-mailed Begali, described my problem, and even offered to bring it to Dayton to have them take a look at it.
        Bruna, Piero’s daughter, offered to send me a contact cleaner that she thought would cure the problem. I was expecting some kind of cleaning fluid, but what arrived was what looked like a strip of brown plastic.
        Whatever it is, it worked like a charm. I’m now having no problems at all with the contacts, and it’s a real joy to use again.
  • Another QSO of note. My third QSO of the night was with Tim, W3TIM. He was running a 250 mW Tuna Tin into a 730-ft. doublet antenna, tuned with a homebrew, balanced line tuner (see below).
    W3TIM Antenna Tuner

    W3TIM uses this antenna tuner to tune a 730-ft. doublet antenna.

    He obviously doesn’t need that much tuner for that little Tuna Tin transceiver. We swapped some e-mail after our QSO, and I asked him about it. He confessed to being a broadcast engineer, and noted that that’s how they build them at broadcast installations. He guesstimates that it will handle 5 kW. In addition, he has an old Gates BC transmitter that he uses on 160m AM, where he runs considerably more power than 250 mW.

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