Winter Field Day 2019

Participated in my first Winter Field Day this weekend with WA4USN (also the first one for the club), 1O SC. The event made for a good excuse to check out the HF capabilities of the CARS communications trailer (which I suppose is the whole point of Field Day). It’s a much more casual and far less involved day than Summer Field Day (no food, fewer operators, no overnight shift).

Started off Saturday (January 26) getting the trailer set up. By the time I got to the site, the trailer had already been pulled out of the building and the radios were getting set up. Apparently there was supposed to be an HF dipole in the trailer, but it couldn’t be found so we went with the Tarheel antenna that had been mounted to the roof of the trailer.

The Tarheel is an OK mobile antenna but for long distance HF, we found our signal just wasn’t getting out very well. We managed about a dozen contacts over the three hours or so that we were out.

The next day (January 27), I brought out my ZS6BKW antenna. By the time I got there, the others had already set up the trailer with a 20 m dipole hanging on the trailer’s pneumatic mast. We switched out the 20m dipole for my antenna and got back on the air.

The dipoles worked much better than the Tarheel, and with the ZS6BKW, we were able to operate on 40 m and 20 m.

Weather was fairly decent (especially compared to other sites further north). Sunday was a good bit colder than Saturday was though, and I was starting to get a bit on the stiff side by the time we wrapped things up.

Ended up the event with 69 contacts on 40 m and 20 m, mostly phone but a few digital (PSK) in there as well. It was a good exercise for myself and everybody else who came out on getting the trailer set up and operating from it.

I also think I want a pneumatic mast for the house like the one on the trailer.

Antenna and filter books

Two new additions to the library arrived in the mail this week thanks to the 2018 ARRL auction.

In this year’s auction, I managed to score a copy of Antenna Theory: Analysis and Design 2nd ed by Constantine Balanis, and Rapid Practical Designs of Active Filters by DE Johnson and JL Hilburn.

Both books are in pretty good condition, especially the Filter book considering that it was published in 1975.  The Antenna Theory textbook still has the 3.5″ disk in the back unopened.

I was hoping to get at least one of the Vibroplex bugs that were also in the auction, but a flurry of last minute bidding drove the price higher than I wanted to pay for them.  Oh well.

Happy with the books I managed to get though.  They’ll be good additions to the library.

Quadruple QSO party weekend

There hasn’t been a whole lot of radio activity going on here lately since Field Day.

There were four state QSO parties going on this weekend (AZ, NV, PA, SD).  After getting a SD station (W0SD), I decided to try to get at least one contact in the other three.  I wasn’t able to find any more SD stations, but I did manage three contacts in AZ, three in NV, and eight in PA.

While tuning around the other bands (there wasn’t a whole lot), I scored contacts with hams in the Dominican Republic and Slovenia.  There was also someone in Spain, but he had a bit of a pileup going that I wasn’t able to get through.

Also came across the AMSAT International net that I listened to for a little bit.

Good weekend to be on the air.

Power supply: Needs more work

The power supply that I thought was fixed is going to need a little more troubleshooting and work.

In its first load test this weekend powering the radio, the power supply was having issues maintaining voltage after transmitting a couple times.

Not sure what the issue might be.  Maybe something overheating perhaps.  Looks like I’ll have to open it up and dive back in.

Heathkit IG-102 capacitor replacement

Replacing the DC blocking disc capacitor (C20, 0.01 μF)  just before the Fine Atten pot helped clean up the output signal quite a bit.  I didn’t get a picture of the wave form before, but it was pretty ugly looking and not very stable.

IG-102 wave form, about 500 kHz
IG-102 wave form, about 500 kHz

Much better looking now, and much more stable.

Heathkit IG-102 schematic from https://www.vintage-radio.info/
Heathkit IG-102 schematic from https://www.vintage-radio.info/