Friday, April 30, 2010

A manual tuner for the FT-897

I have just fitted my MFJ manual tuner on the side of my FT897D. This is a small travel tuner rated at 150W that tunes almost anything.
I tried it with a short whip and also with a wire thrown over the bushes, using two radials as a counterpoise. I would also like to try it with an outbacker-type antenna.
Apparently the wire-over-the-bushes antenna is good for NVIS communications but I didn't know hw it would fare on 20m.
The result was outstanding. I made a QRP qso on 20m with Slovenian station S56P (operator: Bostjan) and I got a 55 signal report.
Now I would like to make a larger case for the tuner so that I can install different connectors for coax antennas and 3/8-24 whips, and perhaps also a 4:1 balun.
The larger case will also give more stability to the radio.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Finland: The country number 69 (OF50RR)

I have just received this eQSO from Finnish station OF50RR, which belongs to the Rautaruukki Radio Club. This QSO on the 15m band is my first validly confirmed QSO with Finland and makes the number 69 overall.
Rautaruukki Corporation (Finnish: Rautaruukki Oyj, using the marketing name Ruukki) is a Finnish company, headquartered in Helsinki, which manufactures and supplies metal-based components and systems to the construction and engineering industries.
The company was founded in 1960 by the Finnish Government to provide the steel supply needed by the nation's heavy industries. Since part-privatization in 1994, the state has gradually decreased its holding in Rautaruukki to 40% and the firm is now a constituent member of the OMX Helsinki 25 index.
The firm consists of three business areas: construction, engineering and metals. Rautaruukki produces a range of products for clients in various industries, including cabins and chassis for heavy vehicles, hot rolled steel plates and coils, roofing sheets and building and bridge structures.
The company employs around 11,500 people, which conducts business in wider Scandinavia, Central Europe, the Baltic countries and the Balkans.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Preparing the FT-897 for portable operations

This weekend I have been preparing the Yaesu FT-897D for portable operations, with the help of my friend Robi, who has also taken some pictures with his new mobile phone.
We built two handles out of some square aluminum bar and attached them to the FT-897 with the screws that are normally used for the mobile mounting bracket. The screws on the picture are provisional because we did not have any of the right length.
This is the third prototype so far, after having tried other configurations made of steel.
The result is promising, because it is rugged, compact, light and looks good. But we still have to find a solution for an antenna base.
This is part of a collaborative project with Alex (ON4FB) to build a custom manpack transceiver on the basis of amateur equipment.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Maritime mobile with Italy (IK8MDK)

This is the video of a QSO on the 20m band with Vito (IK8MDK) from Potenza, Italy.

Vito speaks perfect Spanish and the QSO was a pleasure.
Potenza , city (1990 pop. 65,714), is the capital of Basilicata and of Potenza province in Southern Italy, in the Apennines. It is an agricultural, commercial, and light industrial center. Founded in the 2nd century BC by the Romans, Potenza was later incorporated (847) into the principality of Salerno. Of note in the city is the Church of San Francesco (begun 1274).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Latvia on the 20m band (YL2CF)

This is a video of a QSO with Latvian station YL2CF (Benito) on the 20m band. As you will see on the video, Benito speaks perfect Spanish.
Benito started his ham band activities in 1966, having returned home from the service in the Soviet Army, and got the SWL call-sign of UQ 2-037-6, later he got the transmitting license of UQ2GCF, and at present he uses the YL2CF callsign, as he says on his entry, perhaps the last one... I hope we meet many more times in the future.
He is often on the 20 meter band SSB,looking for shorter or longer ragchew QSOs with hams around the globe. On the picture you can see a Soviet Army postcard of 1966.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Portable and maritime mobile with DK2NE

This is a video of a QSO with German station DK2NE (operator: Detlef) on the 20m band using my Clansman PRC-320.

And in this other video I am operating maritime mobile with the same German station:

When maritime mobile I use an 8m-long whip with an FC-40 autotuner. In this case, I was inside the port so there was a lot of noise form the city. Someday I will post some video operating the station away from the coast for you to see the difference.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lipari Island with the 320 (ID9/F4BKV)

In spite of bad propagation conditions, I managed to make some interesting QSOs with the PRC320 on the 20m band. One of them was with ID9/F4BKV, from the island of Lipari.
Lipari (Sicilian: Lìpari, Latin: Lipara, ancient Greek: Meligunis) is the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the north coast of Sicily, and the name of the island's main town. It has a permanent population of 11,000; during the May-September tourist season, its population may reach up to 20,000.
Lipari's position has made the harbor of strategic importance. In Neolithic times Lipari was, with Sardinia, one of the few centers of the commerce of obsidian, a hard black volcanic glass prized by Neolithic peoples for the sharp cutting edge it could produce.
This is the video of the QSO:

You can find more about F4BKV (Vincent) on his website

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two way PRC-320 on 40m USB

This is the final test I made with ON4FB on 40m USB on a Friday morning.

It was a difficult test because there was much noise on his side, so he had a hard time to copy me.

Denmark with the 320 (OZ5BF)

This is a video of a QSO on the 20m band with Danish station OZ5BF (operator: Bent) using my PRC320 with a 4m whip antenna. The QSO was a little longer than usual so I have divided it into two parts.

The propagation conditions were very bad, and it was really difficult to listen to stations other than the ones with high power and directive beams. On this second part he was using a power amplifier and asked me to give him a signal report.

I told him that I did not have an S-meter but I would record the QSO and post it on the web for him to see by himself. Thanks to Bent for the nice QSO.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maritime Mobile with the Orkney Islands (MM0EAX)

I made this video yesterday on my father's sailing boat. It is a QSO on the 20m band with Scottish station MM0EAX (operator Dave) from the Orkney Islands. The transceiver is a Yaesu FT-897D and the antenna is an 8m marine whip with a Yaesu FC-40 autotuner.

Today I have also received the eQSL from Dave. It is one of the most beautiful eQSL cards I have received to date.
Thanks to Dave for the QSO and the eQSL, to EA1AQ for letting me use his station, and to YO8SOY for the recording.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The city of Varela (my surname) in Guinea-Bissau (J5UAP)

Looking at J5UAP's entry I just found out that his QTH in Guinea-Bissau is called Varela, exactly like my surname.
Varela, a prosperous holiday resort in the Portuguese colonial days, today is just a few ruins of the past splendor. The beach maybe even more beautiful, the noise level lower than in Senegal.
No wonder, since in Guinea-Bissau, including Bissau, the capital, there is no mains supply, the very few electric appliances are powered by small diesel generators or solar panels.
Though it was a flourishing seaside resort a few decades ago, today, there is only one campsite in Varela, hosting J5UAP's QTH as well. Fortunately, there is a cellphone relay station on the site, providing 230V mains supply 16 hours a day. For the eight remaining hours, they can run battery powered or use their own small generator. Compared to the noiseless bands, marvelous surroundings and last but not least the great Italian cuisine of their host, these are only marginal annoyances.
From Cap Skiring, there are two ways to reach Varela: on the road, through the town of Ziguinchor (capital of the Casamance region in Senegal), it's only about a hundred miles but takes more than 5 hours due to the border crossing and the difficult dirt road on the Bissau-Guinean side, or by crossing the border by boat, greatly reducing the distance and time needed to get there.
You can see very interesting pictures at J5UAP's website

Ukraine with the 320

This is the video of a QSO with Ukranian amateur station UY1IX (operator: Olexiy) on the 20m band.

It was recorded at Monte de San Pedro, overlooking the city of A Coruña. I hope you like it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guinea-Bissau (J5UAP)

I have just received this nice eQSL for a QSO I made last week on the 20m band with J5UAP from Guinea-Bissau.
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau is located in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north, and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west.
It covers nearly 37,000 square kilometres (14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000. Formerly the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea, upon independence, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country's name to prevent confusion with the Republic of Guinea. The country's per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.
Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, part of the Mali Empire; parts of this kingdom persisted until the eighteenth century, while others were part of the Portuguese Empire. Portuguese Guinea was known also, from its main economic activity, as the Slave Coast.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senegal: No. 21 with the PRC-320 and 68 overall

The Senegalese station 6V7T operated by Luc (F5RAV) has finally been awarded Authenticity Garanteed status by eQSL, so they now count for eQSL awards. This QSO makes the 21st country validly confirmed with my PRC-320 and the 68th country overall.
Luc was in La Somone, Senegal, from 18 February to 1 March, 2010, and will be back on the air again as 6V7T again at the end of October. At you can find information about lodging opportunities in Senegal that include the option to use an amateur radio shack that can accommodate several stations.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Malta with the 320 on 15m (9H5SN)

This is a video os a QSO on the 15m band with Maltese station 9H5SN (operator Marco) from Mosta.

Mosta (or Il-Mosta) is a town situated in the middle of the island of Malta, to the north-west of Valletta. It has a population of 19,018 people (Dec 2007).
Mosta boasts the third largest unsupported dome in the World [1] dedicated to the Assumption. The Feast of the Assumption is held on August 15 and it is a public holiday. The church is also known as the Rotunda of St Marija Assunta. On 9 April 1942, the church was nearly destroyed during World War 2. An Axis bomb pierced the dome of the church but failed to explode. The detonator was removed and a replica bomb is now displayed as a memorial.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Greece with the 320 (SV2CXI)

This is a video of a QSO with Greek station SV2CXI (Kostas) on the 15m band. I made this QSO immediately after the tests I made with Alex (ON4FB).

As you can see, the weather was not as good as the propagation. These days we have just the opposite phenomenon: good weather and awful propagation.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Testing the PRC-320 on 40m USB

Here you have some videos of the tests I made with a colleague from Belgium on 40m USB last Friday. As you can see on the following video, we also tried 20m but without success.

Then we decided to go back to 40m USB and test his PRC-320. First we used the 100W power amplifier and then we tried the standard 30W output.

We also tried different antennas for the PRC-320. All in all it was a difficult test because there was strong QRM from other stations.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Testing a PRC2000 on 40m USB

Last Friday a colleague from Belgium and I tested some manpack radios, among which was the PRC-2000. The PRC-2000 (also known as Callpack RT-2000) was built in Great Britain by M.E.L./Philips. It is a fully transistorized radio for portable and vehicle use from the late 80s.
The PRC-2000 is a versatile microprocessor controlled HF transceiver for use in tactical field operations. Within the 1.6 Mhz to 30 Mhz HF frequency band , the transceiver can operate on any of 284.000 cannels spaced at 100Hz intervals, to provide single side band LSB/USB voice or data communication, or continuous wave CW Morse communication. In addition to manual channel selection, frequency and mode data for up to 10 channels can be preset in non-volatile memory for immediate recall as necessary.
Here you can hear it in action on the 40m amateur band:

The PRC-2000 operating modes are USB / LSB / CW / DATA. Antenna tuning is fully automatic. The output is 20 watts on high power and 4 watts on low power. As options, there are solar and hand generators, as well as an amplifier.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sardinia (IW0UII) with the 320

This is a video of another QSO with Sardinian station IW0UII (operator Alex). I made this QSO about one week ago, immediately after having made some tests with Alex (ON4FB).

Sardinia (Italian: Sardegna, [sarˈdeɲɲa]; Sardinian: Sardigna or Sardinnya [sarˈdinja]) is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily).
In 1479, as a result of the marriage of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel of Castile, the "kingdom of Sardinia" (which was separated from Corsica) became Spanish, with the state symbol of the Four Moors. Following the failure of the military ventures against the Muslims of Tunis (1535) and Algiers (1541), Charles V of Spain, in order to defend his Mediterranean territories from pirate raids by the African Berbers, fortified the Sardinian shores with a system of coastal lookout towers.
The kingdom of Sardinia remained Spanish for approximately 400 years, from 1323 to 1720, assimilating a number of Spanish traditions, customs, and linguistic expressions, nowadays vividly portrayed in the folklore parades of Saint Efisio in Cagliari (May 1), the Cavalcade on Sassari (last but one Sunday in May), and the Redeemer in Nuoro (August 28).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Canary Islands: No. 20 with the PRC-320

Yesterday I made another QSO with the Canary Islands and I have already received the eQSL. It was a QSO on the 20m band with EA8DO (Manolo) from the island of La Palma, also known as La Isla Bonita. I got a signal report of 59.
This makes the 20th entity confirmed by eQSL so I am closer now to my 25-country target. Here you can see the video of the so much awaited QSO that would provide me with the new DXCC entity confirmation:

La Palma, like the other islands of the Canary Island archipelago, is a volcanic ocean island. The volcano rises almost 7 km (4 mi) above the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. There is road access from sea level to the summit at 2,423 m (7,949 ft), which is marked by an outcrop of rocks called Los Muchachos ("The Lads"). This is the site of the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, one of the world's premier astronomical observatories.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Clansman 2.4m whip and counterpoise system in action (EA1AQ/P)

On this video you can see the standard 2.4m whip in action together with the Clansman counterpoise kit. EA1AQ/P (Juan) makes a QSO with Swiss station HB9ESA (operator: Rico).

We only used 3 out of the 4 radials available in this kit (you can see the unused spool on top of the table. Despite the very strong QRM from some digital transmission, the PRC-320 did the job. The 1.1Ah battery you see on this video is also more than enough for a day of operation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Finland (OH6AC) on 15m (Spanish)

This is the video of a QSO with Finnish station OH6AC (operator Jyrki) on the 15m band, using my Yaesu FT-857D transceiver, a 4m whip and the FC-40 autotuner. As will be able to see on the video, Jyrki speaks Spanish very well.

The OH6AC callsign belongs to the Lapua Radio Club. The Club was founded in 1962 by members of Lapua High School Physics Club. There are nowadays 41 members in the club from Lapua and the nearby district.
OH6AC is located high on the top of Hill Simpsiö at 130 meters which provides ideal circumstances for amateur radio activities on UHF, VHF and HF-bands. Besides an HF-amateur radio station the club maintains two FM-repeaters.
The club is also very active in contests. You can find more information about it at