Friday, 26 March 2010

QRP on 17 meters with the FT-817

In my previous post from late last evening I decided to get my 817 back on the air and attempt some qrp contacts. I was really surprised at what 5 watts into 130 feet of coax to a vertical can do. I’ve been working all over Europe and to the southern U.S. states with this barn burner. Most contacts took one call with the real DX taking 2 to 3 calls. There was lots of QSB and the band was wall to wall digital signals. Low power and high power stations and stations with sidelobes – lots of sidelobes.

Setting up the 817 took a bit of effort since there are no DSP filters like in the FT-950 – nada, nothing. I had to resort to the RF gain control and the RX control on the Signalink USB interface to dig the signals out. The 817 performed admirably. I had the 817 stored in an Eagle Creek pouch for protection and its little log book with the last entries dated in 2001.

FT817_Log_2001_smThe 817 was an early 2001 copy with no filters installed. Way back in 2001 I was still able to make SSB contacts (before I lost all of my hearing) and these QSOs (log book above) were made from my car with monoband Hustler verticals – not the most efficient antennas. They were cheap and they worked and allowed me to operate mobile from quiet locations. At that time I still lived in the downtown core of Ottawa – a very noisy environment, even before the days of plasma TVs. I traveled south to one of the locks on the Rideau Canal near Manotick and operated parked near the lockmaster’s building. As you can see from the log conditions during that Cycle 23 were very good.

Today’s contacts included IK7EJT, LB1TE, YL2JZ, DL5ZAA, IZ4BEZ, and KB0QC all on psk. I had a 569 report and all other sig reports were 599. Conditions are very good and the 20 meter band stays open quite late here in North America. 17 meters fades out at sunset.

QRP is lots of fun and a bit of a challenge for simple transceivers lacking all the new DSP controls of the new radios.

I hope to fill out my little log book with more contacts during this year’s upcoming Field Day. I will be operating with the Ottawa Valley QRP Society from Bate Island on the mighty Ottawa River.

For the record space conditions as follows:

Solar-terrestrial indices for 25 March follow. Solar flux 88 and mid-latitude A-index 5. The mid-latitude K-index at 1500 UTC on 26 March was 2 (12 nT). No space weather storms were observed for the past 24 hours. No space weather storms are expected for the next 24 hours.

The Firmament – Jan Timmermans

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