Welcome to Dr Sheldon Coopers Fun with FT8. So i fired up FT8 last night for some receiving fun to see whats doing and certainly heard a lot of places. It looks like FT8 is the new black with many people using it. 51 countries heard and many more stations especially out of Japan. All in all, it was a bit of fun to see what I can here on my dipole. Flicked over to 15m now to see if there is anyone about.
Bottom of the cycle, bands will be dead they say. Well, perhaps not as dead as one expects. Little openings are there all throughout the day and in my case, VK2 was open most of the day. Bands are dead of course, not because there is no propagation, but because there is no one home to work. It is what it is and this WSPR thing is pretty cool. I did not learn anything i did not already know, USA in the mornings and Asia in the evenings. And a few other bits and bobs along the way.
I did have one interesting thing happen, a broken decode where I got no call sign but did get a grid square, I am not confident this is actually accurate, but if it is, then the station i was copying was in Egypt, someways south of Cairo. It would be cool if this was actually the case, but I won’t be holding my breath LOL.
In a moment of boredom i thought i would have a play with WSPR. Be very very quiet, we are hunting signals. Obviously my license does not allow me to TX with this mode, but nothing is stopping me from Rxing till I have had my fill and that is just what i am doing. I have to admit, its a bit like watching paint dry, but if you walk away and watch tv and then come back 30mins later you might notice a change or two to the list in the software HAHAHA. Anyway, its radio and it fullfills that you need to do some radio this week itch. I might give that FT8 thing a crack tomorrow and see what it is all about too.
And after letting it run for 12 hours:
So with the new mast being as giant aluminum lightning rod, I thought it might be prudent to take the coax out of the radio while the thunder and lightnings was very very frighting, Galileo Figaro. But I am kind of concerned having the connector so close to my mouse hand. If i did get a strike, i would not want to be sitting at the computer HIHI.
So i got the dipole up now in its final position. The coax is now clamped to the mast so there is no flapping about in the breeze. The ends are up at their finished height. All up we have 7.6m apex and about 3m at the ends. Seems to be working ok, rx is certainly up.
SWR is as good as it is going to get and much broader banded than the old shortened dipole.
Photo bombed by Buster the Boxer. This is some fancy engenerding going on here. There is a 6ft star dropper 2ft in the ground right up the masts clacker providing the main support, the 2nd star dropper is screwed to the retaining wall and some big automotive clamps tying the 2 together. No idea what the safe working limit on all these things are LOL, but it did not move much during the big storm we had go thought last night. So i think it should be ok.
Today i pulled down the old antenna and mast and put up a new and improved version of each. The old shortened 40m dipole was only ever meant to be a temporary solution that stayed in place for 3 years. So it was time to bring her down and put it to rest.
I bought a flag pole cause it seemed like a quick and simple way of putting up a new dipole and a balun because i want to be one of those balun guys who has to tell you what kind of balun he is using even though its kind of not important to the conversation but the word balun gives the air of technical know how and ability especially when you say its a 9 to 1 balun which is really an unun or as I call them 9:1 onions, because endfails will make you cry, but I digress. <– this is called sarcasm to anyone who is going to get hurt feelings over their antenna of choice, don’t email me call your local politician and complain to them.
Erected the flagpole and hoisted up the balun and new dipole cut for 40m on the flag raising rope, saluting while humming the national anthem and got the ends up in a temporary fashion to check the long or short of it with the analyzer, when the wife gets home from work. She comes out the back, looks at the new flag pole and remarks, Oh great, its storm season and you go and erect a dirty great big lightning attracter. Chuckles to herself and leaves me to antennaring like i know what i am doing. And if my Pythagoras is correct, when i put the ends up about 4m in the air, i should have 50mm to spare. The joy of living on a postage stamp block in the city.
So after coming home from the beach aka an activation, i put the uBitx on the bench and gave it a bit of a test out. Seems it needed some calibration work, the audio was way to tinny, so a bit of BFO fiddling was in order and a little LO calibration was needed also as it was way off frequency.
Well, I do want to say this about the uBitx calibration routines, they suck. There is no real way to get the radio any closer than 50hz off frequency. This is not good enough really and I know i can do better, but I am going to have to do a lot of code reworking so i can make the changes I require.
Anyway, thats not the point of this post, while i was sitting here trying to diagnose how I bricked the uBitx for the 4th time, i found out the lack of RF was a broken adaptor. Seems the arse fell out of it and there was no antenna thus no RF. Yeah Me 🙂