Sunday, December 27, 2009

Crossing the pond again with the PRC-320 (N2RRA)

Yesterday I crossed the Atlantinc again with the PRC-320 in the 20m band. As you can see in the picture, it was already twilight and I was also using the 4m-long whip. I got a signal report of 41 that later improved to 51. This was probably because I rushed to answer N2RRA's CQ call and did not have much time to fine tune his signal.
N2RAA (operator Eric) from Queens, New York, was broadcasting the QSO live on the internet. You can see his webcam at and also visit his website at

The country no. 63: United Arab Emirates (A61BK)

I have just received the eQSL for a QSO on the 15m band that I made when operating maritime mobile. It was with A61BK in Dubai. I was amazed how well the FC-40 antenna tuner worked that I decided to install one in mt car as well.
Dubái o el Emirato de Dubái (en árabe: إمارة دبيّ; el nombre "Dubái" no tiene ningún significado en árabe, pero en hindi significa "Dos Hermanos"[cita requerida]) es uno de los siete emiratos que integran desde 1971 los Emiratos Árabes Unidos. Posee 4.114 km² y su población asciende a 2.262.000 habitantes (2008).[2]
La ciudad de Dubái es famosa por sus cientos de atracciones turísticas y su gran zona de rascacielos, entre ellos el Burj Dubai, y bloques de edificios en Sheikh Zayed Road, situada en el distrito financiero de Dubái.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Crossing the pond with the PRC-320

Today I crossed the Atlantic for the first time with my PRC-320. It was a QSO on the 20m band with W1/GI0MPT (Eamonn) from Massachusetts. He gave me a 55 report.
I was using the transceiver at full power with the 1.1mAh battery and a 4m-long military whip antenna. I do not have the exact reference of the antenna, but on the bag it says it is property of the NVA (National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic).
This is my default antenna at the moment. It works well with the Yaesu FT-857D and the FC-40 autotuner.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tests with a new mic element

Today I have been doing some tests with a new mic element, with the help of Julio (EA1UP) and Ernesto (EA1LQ). I was in a car park with the righ on my car and the 2.4m manpack antenna. I threw a wire on the grouund as a counterpoise.
Julio reported a big improvement in the readability of my signal in 20m SSB with the new mic. It was sligtly larger than the original (I had to file the plastic case on the sides for it to fit) and had a greater impedance (600 ohm as compared to the original 300 ohm). I think Ernesto has found a smaller 300ohm piece so we will have to give it a try.
I also tested the setup (2.4m whip, wire counterpoise, high power setting) in a QSO with IW9HIK, who gave me a signal report of 59. The picture is courtesy of Anca (YO8SOY).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The right paint for Clansman radio equipment

I have just received some pictures from a friend in Belgium who is getting ready for painting his newly arrived PRC-320. He got the exact clansman paint colour (deep bronze green) from a UK dealer. For those interested, the exact details are:
AESP 0200-A-221-013 Painting of Service Equipment Chap 3, Serial No. 22, Clansman equipments
Primer: H1/8010-99-224-2079 Paint, priming epoxide, air drying. Paint finishing: H1/8010-99-224-8663 Paint, finishing, matt deep bronze green, polyurethane, air drying.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Guglielmo Marconi Nobel Prize Special Event (IY7NGM/P)

On Saturday I tested the PRC-320 on 20m with the 2.4m whip and the mic element outside of the handset's case. It is a noise cancelling mic that is used in the boom microphones of the Clansman headset, and I do not think it fits inside the handset, because the latter is not open on the back to allow the noise cancelling feature to work properly. I will have to find out more about this.
I made a short QSO with IY7NGM/P, a special event callsign to celebrate Marconi's Nobel Prize in Phisics one hundred years ago.

This is a video of IY7NGM/P last summer featuring a QSO with YO9APK.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Germany: The first country with the PRC320

This is my first eQSL with the PRC320, and also my first validly confirmed DXCC entity for my eDX award. If you remember, Rainer made a recording of the PRC320 to let me know a tittle bit more about its modulation.
I have done some further research on this issue, and I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PRC-320 Video

I do not have much information about this video. It could be a Romanian station received in the UK on the 20m band.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From Ireland to Copenhagen

Today I made a QSO with EI9JU (operator Gerry) from Ireland, and he sent me his eQSL right away. This means the country number 62 from the 100 I need for my eDX100 award.
Today I also made a QSO with 5P15COP, a special event station for the big United Nations "Copenhagen Climate Change Conference". The operation takes place from EU-029 Zealand Island (Denmark), where the big Climate Change Conference takes place. Everyone is welcome to read more about the project at where you can also read about their QSL and awards.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sunny morning with the Clansman PRC320

Today I made two and a half QSOs with the PRC320, all of them in SSB on the 20m band. I say "two and a half" because I am not sure that EN500I (a special event station from Ukraine) got my callsign right.
The other two QSOs were with I0IFO (operator Luciano from Tivoli) and YO2UU (operator Dori from Arad). In the latter case I felt a bit sorry for the short QSO due to the harsh modulation of the PRC320 and the need to save battery power, so I called him again afterwards with the Yaesu FT-857D.
The antenna I used in those cases was the 5.5m whip that I have in my car, but I am not very satisfied with it because it falls outside the normal range of the internal antenna tuning unit of the RT320 transceiver. I will have to find a different antenna setup because 20m is one of my favourite bands.

Grand Cayman (ZF2AH)

Last night I decided to try the antenna tuner on the lower bands and I made a lot of QSOs. One of them was in CW on 30m with ZF2AH from Grad Cayman.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the three Cayman Islands at about 196 km2 and contains the capital George Town. Towns on the island are referred to as "districts".
The island is a high-lying reef of "ironshore" (limestone fringes with numerous marine fossils), with a highest elevation of roughly 24 metres above sea level. There is no natural fresh water on the island, so any fresh water needs must be met by catchments or desalination of seawater. The lack of rivers does however account for the exceptional clarity of the sea.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Martinique (TO1BT)

Today I visited my friend Ernesto (EA1LQ) and he showed me his radio station. We heard CO8YL on the 20m band so we tried to make the QSO, without much luck, and I thought I could be luckier with the vertical antenna on my car.
I tried a couple of times without success so I decided to look for other stations on the band. The first QSO was with Slovenia and the second one was a real surprise: TO1BT from Martinique.
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It is an overseas department of France. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados. As part of France, Martinique is part of the European Union, and its currency is the euro. Its official language is French, although many of its inhabitants also speak Antillean Creole (Créole Martiniquais) and Modern English. Martinique is pictured on all euro banknotes, on the reverse at the bottom of each note, right of the Greek ΕΥΡΩ (EURO) next to the denomination.
Fernando (EA1BT) will be active from Martinique as TO1BT from 8 to 15 December. His former DX-peditions include Sahara (S09A), Mauritania (5T6BT), Nicaragua (YN2BT) and Western Sahara (S07EA).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greece: The country number 61

I have just received the eQSL from SV7LWV (Giorgos), which represents country number 61 validly confirmed for my eDX award.
The case of Greece is a funny one. I had it already confirmed but I noticed that the only valid eQSL that I had from that country really corresponded to the DXCC entity Crete not Greece, so I contacted the eQSL staff to check it out. Some days after they told me that they had contacted the callsign owner and they verified that it did correspond to Crete, so they corrected the information. Because I already had Crete on the list, as a result of the correction I had one country less.
That is why I can celebrate it again as the country number 61. Thanks to Giorgos for the QSO and the nice picture.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

PRC-320 transmitted audio recorded in Germany

I finally got an audio recording of my PRC-320, thanks to Rainer (DG7LAL). In this case I was using the two extra sections that make up a 5.5m long whip antenna. Again with full power and the 1.1Ah battery.

It seems that everything is OK. You cannot ask more from a rig like this. I am really satisfied with the result, which encourages me to undertake further field tests. I will keep you updated.

First SSB QSO with the PRC-320

Today I had my first QSO in SSB with the PRC-320. It was on the 20m band with the 2.4m whip and using my car as a counterpoise. I was running 30W from the 1.1Ah battery.
The QSO was with IW0UII in Sardinia and I got a signal report of 55.
Here you can see a picture of the PRC-320 whip antenna on my car. On the right side you can see two extra antenna sections that I did not use this time. The day was very rainy, as you can see.

Friday, December 4, 2009

First QSO with my PRC-320

Today I made my first DX QSO with my PRC-320. It was on the 20-meter band in CW with DK3FT/M (operator Hardy, from near Frankfurt). He gave me a 549, although there was some qsb later. I heard him great with the 250Hz CW filter on the PRC-320.
I used the high power setting (nominal 30W) and the standard 2.4-meter-long whip antenna, and the handset pressel as a CW keyer. I also used a single 10-meter-long isolated cable lying on the ground as a counterpoise.
I just checked the web and there are some videos of portable and QRP stations making QSOs with Hardy. He must be a really good operator.
I wish this is the first of many more QSOs with my PRC-320. Thanks a lot for the QSO and all the effort, Hardy, and best DX!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Santa Claus Land (OH9SCL)

Today I made a QSO on the 17-meter band with OH9SCL (operator Juha) from Santa Claus Land in Finland, in the Arctic Circle.
Santa's own amateur radio station OH9SCL has been busy since December 1986, operating in Finnish Lappland in the arctic circle. The North of the country is well-known as Santa Claus Land. Most of the activity takes place in December, operated by local radio amateurs helped by visitor operators. The picture above with the map shows the original QSL card from 1986.
Here you have a video of Santa's village near Rovaniemi. Claimed to be the residence of Santa Claus, Santa Claus Village and Santapark are located 8 km north of the centre.
Rovaniemi is also home to the world's most northern branch of McDonald's. This reminds me of Hesburger, which is the restaurant chain that ruled the burger market in Finland when I was an exchange student in Turku long ago.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PRC-320 on a spectrum analyzer

Today I went with Ernesto (EA1LQ) to do some testing in order to get the PRC-320 ready for the international Naval Contest.
I got some pictures of the RF output on a spectrum analyzer.
The first picture is CW on 10.0000Mhz with a 10Mhz span. It shows two spurious signals 3.5 Mhz above and below the main signal. These two peaks bacame slightly smaller as the transmission progressed and did not seem particularly worrying, as they appear to be consistent with the service manual specs. They are 40dB below the main signal, so if we assume that the PRC-320 transmits the main signal at its nominal power of 30W, then the spurious signal would be in the range of 3mW. If we are thinking in terms of signal strength, 40 dB represent between 6 and 7 s-meter units.
But we were mainly concerned about the modulation in USB so we analyzed the output in that mode, and the result is presented in the second picture. We used the FM noise from a TV set as an AF generator. We were mainly concerned about the peak that was there, very pronounced, even when we covered the mic. What do you think about it?
One of therese days I will take the PRC-320 to a mountain top near the city and ask some fellow hams to make recordings of the received signal.

Alexandroupolis, Greece (SV7LWV)

Today I had a QSO on the 20-meter band with SV7LWV (George), who was operating from his uncle's station (SV7CFP) in Alexandroupolis. I still have some RFI in my car when I operate at full power (100W) on the 20m band.
Alexandroupoli is about 14.5 km (9 miles) west of the delta of the river Evros, 40 km from the border with Turkey, 300 km (186 mi) from Thessaloniki on the newly constructed Egnatia highway, and 750 km (466 mi) from Athens. Around the city one finds small fishing villages like Makri and Dikela to the west, and suburban Antheia, Aristino, Nipsa, Loutra to the east, while north of the city are the ever closing Palagia, Abantas, Aissymi and Kirkas. At the 2001 census, the main city had a population of 48,885 and the municipality had a population of 52,720.
The city's history only goes back to the 19th century. Long used as a landing ground for fishermen from the coast of Samothrace opposite, the location was known as Dedeagatch, meaning "tree of the grandfather" (the word dede means "grandfather" and the word ağaç means "tree" in Turkish). The name was based on a local tradition of a wise dervish having spent much of his time in the shade of a local tree and being eventually buried beside it.
A small settlement developed in the area during the construction of a railway line connecting Istanbul to the major cities of Macedonia from Kuleliburgaz. The work was part of an effort to modernise the Ottoman Empire, and was assigned to engineers from Austria-Hungary. The settlement soon grew into a fishing village, which also used the name Dedeagatch.

International Naval Contest 2009

December 12th and 13th are the dates for the International Naval Contest 2009 - sponsored by the Portuguese Navy Hamradio Club - NRA. This Great Naval Contest takes place every year on the second weekend of December. This year, NRA (Portuguese Navy Hamradio Club) will be organising the International Naval Contest. When: Saturday 12 Dec. 2009 16:00 UTC until Sunday 13 Dec. 2009 15:59 UTC.
Bands: 3.5 - 7 - 14 - 21 - 28 MHz.
Mode: CW-SSB-Mixed.
1. Naval Club Member: RST + CLUB + MEMBERSHIP NUMBER (eg. "599 PN007").
2. Non Naval Club Member: RST + NUMBER (eg. "599 001").
1. Naval Club Members: 10 Points.
2. Non Naval Club Members: 1 Point.
1. Every contacted and logged member of a participating Naval Club.
2. Every Naval station only counted once as multiplier during the contest regardless of the number of bands you work them on.
Note: Participation in contest only as member of one club, do not use different club membership numbers.
Score: Total QSO points x Multipliers.
Classes: A = All band mixed mode (single op); B = All band CW (single op); C = All band SSB (single op); D = All band SWL; E = Naval-Club-Station (multi op); F = Non Naval.
Trophys and awards: First winner of each class plus one more special trophy to the winner of most participated category. The goal of this trophy is to increase participation. A Special Award will be presented tothe first five classified stations of each class.
Logs: All electronic Logs are to use formats: Cabrillo, Word or Excel. Each Log is to be titled with the Contest Station Call Sign.
Having into consideration that there could be a large number of Old Men who don't use computers, we will accept handwritten paper Logs.
The summary sheet is to have "FAIR PLAY STATEMENT" stating that contest rules and general amateur rules have been applied during operation. All handwritten paper Logs are to be forwarded to:NRA - Núcleo Radioamadores da ArmadaInternational Naval ContestATTN: Contest ManagerETNA - Base Naval de Lisboa - ALFEITE 2810-001 Almada PORTUGAL Electronic Logs are to be addressed to:E-Mail: February 1st, 2010 is the deadline to receive either electronic or handwritten Contest Logs.
Participant Clubs:
ANARS Australian Naval Amateur Radio Society AX
BMARS Belgian Maritime Amateur Radio Society BM
MFCA Marine Funker Club Austria CA
FNARS Finish Naval Amateur Radio Society FN
INORC Italian Navy Old Rhythmers Club IN
MARAC Marine Amateur Radio Club Netherlands MA
MF Marinefunker-Runde e.V. MF
ARMI Associazione Radioamatori Marinai Italiani MI
RNARS Royal Naval Amateur Radio Society RN
YO-MARC Romanian Marine Radio Amateur Club YO
NRA Núcleo de Radio Amadores da Armada Portugal PN

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tinny sound on a PRC-320?

In the tests I have done with the PRC-320 so far, I have got repports of weird modulation as if the audio sounded tinny.
I have consulted this issue with the fellows at the hfpack yahoo group and I got very interesting replies. I will quote a brief extract of the reply by Mark Francis (KIoPF), who is an authority in military radio equipment:

The human male voice develops audio energy from nearly zero cps in the bass to way up there in the multi-thousand cps region in the sibilants ("S"-sounds).
But audio engineers long ago determined that the most important range for effective communication was around 300 - 3000 cps. The initial research was done for telephone lines, but it was quickly found that the same specs were good for AM voice transmission, then SSB.
Furthermore, it has been demonstrated over and over that in really noisy, bad propo conditions on the HF bands (like what we have now, although it's getting better), pretty much any audio energy developed below 500-600 cps is wasted - it gets lost in the noise.
On a packset you have two big strikes against you to start with -- low power and often marginal antenna systems. You need every advantage you can get! Modern military packset designers have realized this and have usually designed their audio to really light up in the 600-3000cps region, then on top of that have included heavy-duty speech processing to enhance the mids and highs even more.
You PRC-2000 owners will know what I'm talking about. That set has the best audio for cutting through noise I've ever heard. But it'll drive the so-called "hi-fi SSBers" absolutely bonkers.
On my PRC-1099s I know to be working to spec, I've had people tell me my filters are bad, the audio is kaput, or I'm off-frequency. This last is because they erroneously interpret the "tinny" sound, as you call it, to the radio being off-frequency, instead of actually listening for the real indications of an off-freek SSB signal.

Mark Francis (KI0PF) is the author of Mil Spec Radio Gear Volume 2 available direct from the author (signed, on request) and from Universal Radio, Fair Radio and Electric Radio. $29 cash/check/M.O. or $30.17 via Paypal, when ordereddirect from KI0PF & shipped to the U.S. (foreign buyers please contact him). See: Volume 1 is still available from CQ, Universal Radio, and Amazon.

Asiatic Russia (RX9FM)

I have just received the eQSL from RX9FM (Vlad from Perm, Russia) for the QSO I made last week with a 4-meter-long verical antenna in my car.
Today I have discussing with a colleague (EA3YK) about the convenience of the eQSL system. The fear we have is based on the personalim of the project, and what would happen if the author was no longer able or willing to continue with it. I told him that eQSL has such a magnitude nowadays that there would be some serious firm willing to buy the existing databases to continue the business, but my colleague was not so optimistic.