Why’s this Black Box called a Brick?

So that’s why they call this a brick amplifier; just a black box, no on-off switch, no lamp to tell you it’s on, nuttin’ but a 30-watt, 30 dollar brick!  Tested it in my car by driving some distance away from friend Steve, KA4RSZ, on simplex and lowered the power on my HT to the point that he could tell I was weak, then plugged in the amp for a good signal report.  Brick 2m amp

Advertisements

Park Activation, Florida, December 2017

K4WK on deserved vacation activating DuBois Park in Jupiter, Fla Dec 2 and trying out my “new” used radio: Icom 706.

Four qso’s – Fla, Ga, SC and Va on 40m. Lots of noise. Didn’t realize till later I could’ve participated in BOTA (yes, another *OTA program), Beaches on the Air.  Think of the pileup I missed!  DuBois Park Dec 2

Tried two antennas: first was an End Fedz and it worked pretty poorly for me; then I hooked my old reliable Link Dipole as a sort of inverted vee that worked some better but overall, results were disappointing.  Need to try to get it higher.  This time was maybe 15-18 feet at the apex, in a wooded area.  In an area of Palm Trees, not a lot of branches to throw a line over, but there were a few oaks to use.

Antenna Problem, Solved

It’s a winter day abalun-with-snapped-off-connectornd finally the weather’s dry enough and mild enough to work outside so, let’s get up on the roof for a closer look at the pesky wire antenna with ridiculously high SWR.

I noticed that condition when my Kenwood HF refused to tune up on 80m

(although curiously, it would tune on 40m).  Loosening the center halyard dropped the balun within reach and the problem easily spotted: the wire on the shorter leg of the OCF Dipole had snapped off (see picture).  No wonder I had lousy SWR.  My junk box contained the proper lug connector that was easily crimped into place and dipole rehoisted.  New SWR’s are as low as 1.1 on 17m up to 2.6 on 15m and 3.5 on 30m.  The biggest improvement was on 80m; it is now 1.9 versus 5 or 6 before.  Unfortunately, propogation’s no better so I’m am still qso-challenged.

Signing off for now, de k4wk, www.hamdon.com.  Thanks for listening; you’re in the log.

Split Personality

Illustrating my Split Ham Personality – QRP or QRO?  I am conflicted.  On the one hand Dr. Jekyll wants to use QRP for the fun and challenge of minimal operations; because you can build your own gear and antennas, and because of portability – take it to the field!

But Mr. Hyde wants to work DX and collect countries and is tired of being a 90-lb barefoot weakling being pushed around by more powerful stations so he craves power!

Yes, I know about John Shannon, K3WWP, (who is a national treasure by the way) who’s worked the world many times over on 5 watts and simple wire antennas and who has made a QSO a day for 19 years (>7,000) on QRP so we all know it is possible but if you are still working full time as I am and have a limited amount of time to devote to DXing or even to just hamming in general, a little extra power is nice.  Is this a long sentence or what?  John’s excellent and interesting website is http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ and worth a visit, IMHO.

The upper amp in the pic is an old Heathkit SB-200 that I have not been able to get on the air and the lower is a “new” used Ameritron 811H I just acquired and with a tuner that is coming soon I will have it on the air when needed.  My strategy, initially at least, will be to go barefoot to try to make a DX contact calling CQ but failing that, up the power.

The rigs on the bottom are my Yeasu 817 bought used in 2012 and my NorCal 40A built from a kit in the nineties.  It needs a new keyer at the moment, by the way.

I still want DXCC QRP and have 88 countries so far, so I’ll resume that after I get to 200 countries barefoot or QRO.  Two hundred countries seems to be a nice threshold for DX accomplishments, based on the number of people at the DX dinner at Dayton a few years ago I attended.  A well-attended event, the moderator had everyone stand who had 100 countries and of course that was most of us, absent spouses.  Then remain standing if you have >200 and at least half the room sat down.  So, I scientifically conclude that >200 would put you in the upper half and that’s where I want to be.  As the count increased to 250, etc. more and more people sat down till just one hero remained but I don’t expect to ever get into a rarefied atmosphere; just the upper half will do for me.  So I’ll use my amp(s) to get me there, then sell one and keep the other for special occasions.

Wish me luck; I have 111 entities confirmed (but 146 worked) as of July 2013 so this could take a while!split-personality-qrp-or-qro