Monday 31 May 2010

FT-817 And A New Rockwell Collins 500Hz CW Filter

A new filter arrived today for my FT-817. It was an extremely simple install procedure. It involved removing the screws from the top of the 817, installing the filter by pushing it into place, replacing the cover and going through a few menu settings to activate the filter. From preliminary tests I’d say the filter works very well under crowded band conditions using CW and digital modes.

Here are a few pictures of the installation of the 500Hz CW filter into my FT-817.

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© VE3MPG_FT817_500Hz.2010-2130sm

Menu #38 of the FT-817 should be set to “CW” instead of “OFF”. There's one more thing you have to do to get the CW filter working. Check out page 14 of your FT-817 Operating Manual - number 7 at the bottom right of the page you will see the “C-Key” setting for "NAR". You have to set this in order for the receiver to switch to the narrow CW filter when you switch the rig to CW or CWR modes. To do this, first put the rig into CW or CWR mode then tap the “F” key once quickly. The FUNC Keys menu items for the A/B/C pushbuttons should appear. Rotate the SEL control until you see “IPO ATT NAR” over the A/B/C buttons. Then press the “C” pushbutton once to set the filter to Narrow. A small right-pointing arrow should appear and the rig should switch to the CW filter - you should hear a marked difference in the receiver noise “tone”.

The FT-817 should be ready for the Ottawa Valley QRP Society’s Field Day on Bate Island at the end of June.

10 Meters And 6 Meters

Ten and Six have been crowded with signals the last few days. I’ve worked Puerto Rico and to the American mid and south west with good signal reports. Both bands remained active until well into the evening. There’s a good chance these two bands will remain active for the next few hours. Low noise on 10 meters make it really great to work weak stations on digital modes. I’ve noticed before noon noise is extremely low as well as the signals. But whatever I could hear on my FT-950 and the Cuschraft R6000 vertical, I could work. Shortly after the lunch hour noise increased but so did the signal levels. There’s some great DX if you’re patient and make use of the DX clusters.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Field Day Dry Run – Ottawa Valley QRP Society

Some members of the Ottawa Valley QRP Society joined ranks today at Hampton Park. The exercise was a dry run for the much anticipated Field Day on June 26 – 27th. Here are a few snap shots of the QRP nuts enthusiasts enjoying the day this holiday weekend.

© VE3MPG_ovqrpMay22.2010-2071

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© VE3MPG_ovqrpMay22.2010-2069

© VE3MPG_ovqrpMay22.2010-2070

Just When I Thought It Was Safe

You know, I’m a cautious kind of guy. I know that every activity is fraught with peril but little did I know that QRPers were nut jobs. Yes that’s the new diagnosis for being passionate about low power operating or better known as a QRP operators. Now the professions who treat psychiatric disorders have a new (un)treatable disorder on the books. Read this post by KE9V on his blog titled “Low Powered Nut Jobs.” Now I must get this news out to the Ottawa Valley QRP Society.

Monday 17 May 2010

FT-817 Gets Updated After 9 Years

ft817a My trusty little FT-817 is getting a CW filter. I’ve had the 817 for 9 years now and it has never let me down. I have the original 817 not the 817ND version. I’m preparing for Field Day with the Ottawa Valley QRP Society and I’m trying to improve my CW proficiency in time for Field Day 2010, scheduled for June 26th and 27th – the last weekend in June. Even if I don’t reach my goal I’ll use the 817 on PSK. The 500Hz filter should help in that situation too. I also have a new PAR EF-10/20/40 End Fedz QRP antenna on the way. Dale, of PAR Electronics has informed me that between May 21st to the 27th is when he’s taking amateur orders for his End Fedz antennas. He’s extremely busy with his commercial and mil orders when he’s not fulfilling amateur orders.

I want to add that I have had 2 PAR End Fedz (EF-40 and a EF-30) installed as permanent antennas for 2.5 years; they still operate and look like new. Don’t hesitate to use Dale’s antennas in permanent locations. If they can survive Ottawa’s extreme weather conditions they can survive just about anywhere. Highly recommended for either portable or permanent locations. I keep a spare EF-20 in my go kit just in case.

Field Day equipment will include my FT-817, an FT-100 as a spare transceiver, a 15W solar panel and charge controller for my 12V 18A/H gel cell, the PAR antenna and a Buddistick as a spare antenna. I’ll be taking along my Honda EU2000i gen set to run my laptop throughout the operating period.

The bands have been lousy lately and the sun is quiet, no sunspots. Despite the conditions there’s DX on everyday. 17 meters is open as a write this at 20:30Z. Ukraine, Russian and Italian stations are on the PSK section of the band with Americans having QSOs in the phone portion of the band.

VE3MPG Blog posts that mention the PAR antennas

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Summer Storms And Your Shack

Lightnings_sequence_2_animation The summer storm season is here. As I type this there’s a lightning storm passing overhead. My antennas are disconnected and my gear is unplugged and protected with good quality uninterruptible power supplies when in use. We get some extreme variations with line voltage here. A few winters ago line voltage had dropped to 107V AC and my UPSs, all 4 of them started beeping in unison. A quick call to Hydro One and they discovered most of our rural road had low line voltage – not good for appliances. I did lose 2 circuit boards in a front loading microprocessor controlled clothes washer either from low voltage or summer storm activity – the washer and dryer get unplugged if I think about it too.

I make sure when leaving the house, even on sunny days to disconnect the station. I’m located about 23Kms from city center. We seem to have a micro-climate south of the city and summer and winter storms that bypass the Ottawa manage to hit us out here.

On the bands: 10 and 6 have been open and lots of stations on if you manage to get on when those openings occur. There’s a slew of sunspots this week making for some great DX on the higher ham bands.

Photo courtesy of Sebastien D'ARCO

Sunday 2 May 2010

20 Meter DX – Band Wide Open At 04:15Z


It’s early morning (04:15Z) out here in the south of Ottawa. 20 meters is wide open and DX stations fill the digital portion of the band. Lots of Pacific stations and quite a few Asiatic Russian stations on the air this morning. Background noise is undetectable. I have the AGC in the FT-950 in the OFF position to better hear the weak stations on PSK. I’ve just worked UA0ZAY  Igor, on the Kamchatka Peninsula. I hear Hawaii calling CQ with mostly stateside stations responding. I’m on the Cushcraft R6000 this morning running about 30 watts.

Earlier I had worked UA0ZK, Vasily, also on Kamchatka. Signals were all 599 and perfect copy. If you’re a night hawk there’s DX to be had with very little effort.


Petropavlosk Kamchatsky harbour_sm

The Volcanoes of Kamchatka are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.