Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Using some antique telegraph keys to make morse code QSOs

I've had the great pleasure of borrowing several old morse keys from Pat EI2HX, who has quite an interesting and varied collection of antique telegraph keys of varying ages. The three videos below show me making QSOs with three of these keys. Thankfully, each time I made a CQ, someone came back to my call. The first video features a well-known model, the American World War II era J-38 telegraph key:

The second is this old GPO key. In this video, my CQ is answered by EB5GGB, who is also using a straight key to complete the QSO:

In the third video, I am using some form of old army key, but I don't know anything about it. Perhaps someone who knows a little bit about this key could comment below with information, or send me an email? Again, my CQ was answered immediately, this time by CT1CPP, who was also using a straight key, which was a great joy.

I have to admit to being a little bit heavy-handed with my keying. I don't have the best fine motor skills in the world, so can be a tiny bit awkward. However, I had great fun using these keys and I look forward to trying out more and making further videos.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A broken Acom amplifier, 256 QSOs with AN400, a platinum award and a fixed Acom, thanks to Oleg EI7KD

I haven't written a blog post in a while. That's not to say I haven't been busy! Life is always busy here, between family, work, music, photography, writing and all the other stuff that I squeeze in, including amateur radio!

After going through a bit of a summertime lull, my interest in ham radio seemed to hit a severe downer when my Acom 1000 linear amplifier stopped working. However, instead of giving up on HF and DXing, I was instead suddenly spurred into interest by a wonderful and comprehensive awards programme in the form of the Miguel de Cervantes AN400 awards. The AN400 stations were active across all the bands, using lots of modes - SSB, CW, RTTY, PSK63, PSK125 and even some PSK31!

My Miguel de Cervantes (AN400) platinum certificate.

For a couple of weeks I was working AN400 stations one after the other, on various bands and modes, using a maximum of 100 watts due to the inoperable Acom. While some of these QSOs required a fair bit of time and effort because getting through pile-ups with 100w is not as easy as with 400w, some of them were nice and handy. I made several contacts with the Spanish stations on 10m and 12m during fleeting openings. I even managed a few QSOs on top band (160m), which is a hell of a challenge from this QTH using my paltry antenna system.

I soon qualified for the silver and gold awards, but kept going until I had also received the platinum award (pictured). But, seeing how Declan EI6FR was top of the EI table for the number of QSOs, I set my sights on coming in second place, and as the days went by I managed to get further up the table until I was in second place. Then I was overtaken by Seamus EI3KE, but this put the fight on me so I gave it as much time and effort as possible and when the programme ended last Sunday, I had finished in second place (with 256 QSOs) behind my good radio friend and one of my mentors, Declan EI6FR. Hard luck but also well done to Seamus EI3KE on finishing third. There were over 300 EI stations in the AN400 log.

I'm delighted to say that I now have the Acom 1000 back in the shack, fully working, after a quick and expert repair by Oleg EI7KD. Oleg builds linear amplifiers and is a real genius when it comes to diagnosing and repairing such things. As it happens, the GU74b tube had gone. Oleg quickly sourced a (new) replacement and had it working again in a jiffy. I am greatly indebted to him for this repair.
The Acom 1000 linear amplifier back in the shack after repair by EI7KD.

The Acom has helped me work the S9YY Sao Tome dxpedition on a few bands, most significantly 40m (CW), on which I had never worked S9 before. I also put the AT2SL IOTA dxpedition (AS-176) in my log on both 17m RTTY and 20m CW. So thanks again Oleg. I first met Oleg through Thos EI2JD when we did some contesting together with the EI0W contest team in Clogherhead. Oleg is a CW wizard - able to run 40wpm runs in contests, all using the key and not with the aid of the computer. I am in awe of his abilities.

Anyway, I was hoping to track down the T31T Central Kiribati dxpedition as an all-time new one, but so far have been unable to hear them. Fingers crossed......

Monday, August 1, 2016

Some nice CW action captured in HD video

It's been a while since I wrote anything on the blog. Life is busy. There are many things keeping me occupied. Life is good. These things include family, work, music, photography, research, writing blogs and much more. But I am still finding time for radio of course. Just not as much as a few years ago!

Some time ago I bought a new lens for my Nikon cameras. It's a 17-55mm f2.8 lens and it's a thing of beauty. As well as helping me to capture some lovely photographs, it's also very nice for video work. So I set it up at the side of the bench here in the shack and decided to record some CW QSOs that I was making with my Scheunemann key. Take a look and see for yourselves:

Friday, June 17, 2016

EJ7NET Tory Island video 2016

EJ7NET Tory activation is QRT - stats

Our activation of Tory is now sadly ended and we have returned home. It was a fantastic five days, and although propagation was a bit hit and miss, the bands provided us with solid action, especially on 30m and 20m where we found good rates at times.

Gordon GM7WCO enjoys a walk along the cliffs during a break in activity.

This activation made history for the EJ7NET group. We made trans-Atlantic QSOs on 6 metres for the first time. We also activated more bands and modes than ever before. We had 9 QSOs on 160m CW and even one on SSB! We had activity on all bands from 1.8 Mhz through to 50 Mhz, and used a variety of modes, including LSB/USB, CW, RTTY, PSK31, PSK63 and JT65.

By the end of the dxpedition we had achieved over 5,000 QSOs, which is by far the best performance of the four years I have been on the islands with the Westnet DX Group.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Video - EJ7NET on 6 metres from Tory Island

This is a short video showing some CW operation on 6 metres (50 Mhz) during the EJ7NET activation of Tory Island, Co. Donegal. We managed over 350 QSOs on this band, including about ten into the United States, all using a two-element HB9CV beam.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rolf HB9DGV activating Tory lighthouse

On Monday, one member of the EJ7NET team, Rolf HB9DGV, went to the lighthouse on the island and activated it using his KX1. Rolf is a huge proponent of SOTA and portable activations, and while there are no registered SOTA peaks on the island, there is a lighthouse (ref IRE-075). You can see Rolf's photos of his various activations on his Flickr page here:

While at the lighthouse, he made eight QSOs using 5 watts and a portable wire dipole.