I was alarmed to hear this news on the weekly RSGB news broadcast. For those that can’t be bothered clicking the link I’ll summarise: they are introducing a new licensing system in Portugal whereby Foundation licensees have 5 years to upgrade to an intermediate license or they lose it.
I think this is incredibly short sighted of the Portuguese licensing people. As an M3 who’s had her license for 3 years if they introduced this ruling here in the UK (which some G stations have recently been arguing for in the letters section of Radcom, much to my annoyance) this would mark the end of my hobby. In fact you’d probably hear me on CB frequencies instead - I’d be the only operator not swearing their head off.
I’ll say it loud and clear for all to read: I have absolutely no intention of getting an intermediate licence. Why you may ask? Well my Foundation licence gives me everything I need, I can operate 10 watts. I have the shop bought Yaesu FT-847 plugged into the shop bought length of co-ax plugged in to a shop bought hustler 6-BTV. Plug it all in and off you go.
In my opinion the next classes of licences are out-dated and overly technical. Spend £500+ on a radio and you have no interest in opening it up soldering on some extra parts and seeing how much better, or in fact how much you’ve buggered it up in the process. The licence in this day and age should be all about operating practices and procedures, making sure people use it correctly, safely and so you understand how to prevent interference. If I wanted to do electronics I’d enrol at the local tech, I don’t, I want to talk to people and work stations all over the world, which, with today’s technology you can manage to do perfectly well on 10 watts.
As for the G station who keeps writing to Radcom moaning about Foundation licensees, he should be more welcoming to the hobby. I see older stations as Yoda figures, helping to train the youngsters into good, professional amateurs, encouraging people to want to be on air. However, there are all too many who want to knock others confidence and keep it just for old-timers only. People need to realise that Ham Radio is quite literally a dying hobby, you only need to compare the Silent Key section of Radcom to the new licences issued to realise that if more people aren’t attracted to radio soon, more portions of the bands will be left unused and eventually sold off for commercial use. Which, to a sceptic like me is probably why the Portuguese are introducing the ‘use it or lose it’ rule in the first place.
After seeing the pictures sent by Cyril F4FUL of his homemade dual band Arrow style Satellite Yagi, I finished off the prototype model I had been building during the week. The newly finished off home brew Yagi antenna comprises of 4 X 144-146 MHz Elements & 8 X 432-435 MHz Elements. The Elements are made from 3.0 mm Welding Rod and the boom is a wooden broom handle. The Elements are gently tapped into 2.5mm (tight fitting) drilled holes in the boom. I used two lengths of 50 ohms Coax soldered straight on to each of the two bands driven folded dipole element.
Finished and all tuned up and ready to assemble to the mast. I used a PVC mount which connected to the boom acting as a bush and allowed simple elevation adjustment locked off with a 6mm bolt. Set at 30 Degrees Elevation looking southerly into this evenings sky. Now it will be a case of testing as I have got some nice lengths of 6mm ally bar which is waiting to become either extra elements for the IOIo or a Cross Axis dual band yagi? I will have a better Idea of the best all round performance once the prototype welding wire model makes some QSO’s. I heard some good signals from South England and Scotland earlier on 144 SSB, It seems to be working ok so far only the test of time will tell.
For all of you living in the Northern Hemisphere today is a great day. Today the Spring Equinox (or Vernal Equinox) is upon us, this is great as it hails goodbye to winter and officially means the start of Spring.
At 11:44 UTC the sun crossed over the Earth’s equator which means longer hours of sunlight for all of us up North! Thanks to the Earth’s tilt 23.4 degree tilt we will now be getting more of the Sun’s rays increasing the temperature (hopefully) and signalling the start of Summer.
The Spring equinox also has a marked effect on propagation. We will now be having longer hours of sunlight. These longer hours mean the sun will be increasing the energy in the ionosphere more than during the winter.
You may have noticed propagation improving over the last few weeks, this is due to the Spring equinox. The Vernal equinox is a particularly good time for HF propagation as on the first day of spring the length of the day and night in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will be 12 hours each. During both the Spring and the Autumn equinoxes the northern and southern hemispheres both have an even distribution of solar radiation making it the optimum time for DX. As a result of the equinox bands should be more likely to stay open and there should be more reliable propagation paths between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Equinoxes are also the time when auroras are most likely to occur (so keep an eye out for Aurora Borealis in the night sky). Caused by solar flares colliding with nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere they usually take place in the E and D layers of the atmosphere. Auroras affect both HF and VHF propagation, decreasing the quality of HF signals but opening up interesting possibilities for VHF operators.
For those of you wanting some light entertainment on the subject of auroras and amateur radio you might want to try the 2000 Dennis Quaid film Frequency I’m not sure you’ll be lucky enough to get the kind of propagation found in this film, but at least with Summer now officially on the way propagation might start to improve.
I have recently been in qso via the Internet with Cyril F4FUL Who Is located in the French Alps, locator square JN36EH. Cyril had recently built an IOIo Satellite antenna and was interested in building a antenna similar to the ARROW antenna He saw me using in one of last years videos. The tests showed that the Arrow does out perform the IOIo. I agreed signal reports and comparisons with Cyril, Who then said he was on his way in building one and would keep in touch. I was interested to see what Cyril - F4FUL would come up with? Here is the result: The F4FUL, Home Brew, Dual Band Arrow like Yagi. 4 elements VHF and 10 elements UHF. Thanks Cyril F4FUL, for your images. 73 Good DX!
Thanks to Cyril's inspiration, I also came across some specs for a simple antenna build similar to the Arrow. I have almost completed one and have yet to add the feeder to complete the first attempt. I have built this "prototype" antenna from 2.5mm wire and a broom handlel I will post detailed info about the latest project shortly.
Here is the information I have been looking at via the web. I used this formula to build the "prototype" Yagi. I will be trying it sometime this week. Dimensions for a 3/6 Element Dual Band Yagi Beam
This morning I was fortunate to hear some big signals coming through on my mobile work bound journey. I heard VK3MO from Austrailia with a 5/9 just as he was closing down. I then tuned up the band (20M) and came across Kentaro - JO7CVU from Sendai City, North Japan. Ken was coming through 5/8 and peaked at 5/9, I gave Ken a quick call from the mobile FT-857 and Maldol 20M antenna and too my great surprise Ken - JO7CVU came straight back to me and gave me a 5/6 report.
I managed to sweet talk Louise M3TLL to video the contact with Ken, I should be uploading it this evening. This definately was a great copy from my mobile running 50watts in to North Japan, I will be listening out for early morning DX tomorrow.
Last week and this week I decided to try and work some stations during Tuesday nights RSGB VHF Contest. The Contests are held weekly on Tuesday evenings and Cover five VHF Bands. I have operated on two of the five Contest bands 144MHZ and 433MHZ.
Below is the table found at the RSGB Contest Committee Site explaining what band is used and the operating times of each Tuesday's evening Contest. Also the previous month - January's results can be seen via the Results links.
The contacts I made during both Contests were worked using the Yaesu FT-847 and the home made single loop horizontal antenna better known as the IOIo beam. ON 144Mhz I ran 50W and worked 17 stations with the furthest Station to be worked being M0BRA at a distance of 279km. The results were even better on 433MHz which surprised me as I only worked 10 stations with QSB and poor conditions, again I used the FT-847, IOIo antenna and this time only 35Watts. The furthest Station worked at 302km away was G5LK. Many Thanks to all Stations worked, I had a lot of fun as well as obtaining a few points!
I will be looking forward to using my humble antenna system and QRP Station in many more VHF Contests, hope to work some of you!
Most of you HF guys will have been active this weekend either Taking the ARRL Contest serious or like myself looking out for DX and giving a few points away at the same time. I made some nice QSO Sunday evening on 20M as the band stayed open until my bed time. I worked near enough 25 Stations in one hour with big signals and lots of fast signal reports/Power output exchanges. I worked on the 20M band with my Yaesu FT-847 and Vertical Antenna - Hustler 6BTV (ground mounted with 4X 20M radials). To my amazement the change in signal reflection and propagation path had influenced the change of my preferred HF Station a Yaesu FT-767GX and Full wave Delta loop that normally does the best job for me. Not the case this time, It is good to have a choice of the two set ups. Check out the log to see the ft-847, 50W and a 6BTV performance.
Since I sold my Toyota Rav 4 I haven't had the means of setting up the spare Hustler 6BTV - Base Station Multi Banded HF Vertical. I used the tow bar fixing which I had made and had some excellent results with that one, not to mention the 14,411 YouTube Views on the Video I made using it.
With the first Mast Mount Creating so much attention the pressure was on to come up with another Mast Mount strong enough to bear the Hustler's 6 Band Load in windy but typical Yorkshire conditions.
I had seen some wheel bearing Mast Mounts on eBay, so I decided to make up my own version which worked out well.
3mm Mild Steel Plate, Cut at 260mm wide X 550mm long. 25mm X 25mm X 3mm Angle Iron (L), Two pieces cut to a length of 550mm. 70mm X 70mm X 3mm plate square, Two pieces cut in half into a triangle to become gusset supports. 200mm diameter 3mm plate, cut plate into a half circle then drill 12, 6mm holes to be used as radial mounts. 38mm diameter mild steel bar, 600mm long used as mast stub. ( I used solid bar, but pipe is also OK).
I cut the plate using a guillotine with a 6mm a capacity, The angle iron strengthening strips were cut using a hack saw. The Iron bar was cut by band saw and the holes in the plate were cut using a plasma cutting torch. I then assembled each component using the Metal Inert Gas (M.I.G) Welding process. click on drawing to enlarge Each joint is welded on both sides to ensure maximumstrength Extra support provided by using gussets. Pre drilled for accepting different radial wave lengths and cut to mate up to the Steel bar - Mast. Tacked up ready to finish off the M.I.G Welding fun.. Some weight removed but strength still maintained using a plasma cutting torch. The Proud owner and fabricator of Portable Mast Mount Number 2, Me Myself and I. (and you if you email me). 3 Tonnes of Toyota Estima holding down the Mount with the Hustler 6BTV fixed to it demonstrating its function. The result... Looking good so far, will be building up the antenna properly soon and adding a few radials whilst trying it out on the FT-857 mobile/portable set up. More to follow regarding using the mount and antenna the next time I go out for a drive around, I will be looking forward to that!
Last night before pulling the plug, I had a last radio contact to make which was with M0OGY - Dave in North Lincolnshire. I recently became friends with Dave - M0OGY, via the ever growing YouTube Community of "Hams" and "SWLs" that have some very interesting Amateur radio videos on YouTube. Dave and I recently worked each other for the first time last week on 2M SSB .
Last nights QSO was worked on 80m a totally different band, which worked much better with bigger and louder signals sent and received. Dave's Shack looks impressive and can be seen in his video as he works with a Yaesu FT-1000 Delta, G5RV and 100 Watts.
I used My Yaesu FT-767 GX, Heil GoldLine Mic, G5RV, and 50 Watts to make the contact with Dave. Tnx Dave. It is a useful tool to be able to use YouTube as a means of checking how your station is sounding at the other end of the QSO. I will slightly back down the ALC after hearing myself on Dave - M0OGY's Video.
Watch Dave's YouTube Video of the QSO at his end, where you can hear us both up to no good. hi hi