South Carolina QSO Party 2018

This year, my plan for the South Carolina QSO party was to head on over to the club station on the USS Yorktown to activate WA4USN for a few hours, then come back home and finish off the rest of the day playing under my own call sign.

On the Yorktown, I was joined by Tom,AJ4UQ, and we operated WA4USN for about 5 hours (I was there for 4) and had a pretty good time making a bunch of QSO in the contest. The first couple of hours were pretty slow. On 20m, there were lots of rag chews, the French REF contest going on, but not much activity for the QSO party. Found some more activity down on 40m, but it wasn’t until after noon that things really picked up. Band conditions seemed pretty decent on 20m and 40m, with stations across the country in WA and CA coming in loud and clear. We ended up the day with 167 contacts and a score of 15088 points. A fun time operating on the ship.

After getting back home, I got the antenna and the radio set up outside on the back patio and started tuning around the bands. My first contact was on 40m with OM2VL in the Slovak Republic calling for SCQP. Happy I was able to give him a new multiplier for his day.

Found an open frequency on 40m and called for a while, making a few more contacts, then took a break to tend to the dogs. Noticed the house was feeling pretty cool, and found that the AC was running even though the Nest thermostat was saying it was Off. After futzing around with the Nest a while and resetting breakers, I decided the Nest was borked and set about switching it out with the original thermostat that came with the house. That pretty much derailed my plans for the rest of the QSO party.

So, I finished off the SC QSO party with 5 contacts. Didn’t get to play nearly as long as I was hoping to. Guess I’ll have to try again next year.

Not sure what caused the Nest to fail (actually, the base of the Nest). I’ve had a previous Nest base fail on me a few years ago so it could have been a coincidence. Can’t rule out the possibility that the Nest base got zapped by some RF while I was playing on the radio. It’s not the first time I’ve been on the air here though, and none of those times seemed to have bothered the Nest.

RCA Senior Voltohmyst

The RCA WV-98C Senior Voltohmyst (SN 201001 1104)I picked up at the hamfest yesterday looks to be in pretty good working order.

RCA WV-98C Senior VoltOhmyst
RCA WV-98C Senior VoltOhmyst

No smoke, popping or other unusual sounds/odours when I plugged it in. Some initial testing with batteries and some resistors suggests a bit of recalibration or maybe a bit of repair might be needed though.

Fortunately I was able to find a manual for it at the Boat Anchor Manual Archive.

Removing four screws from the back lets you take the back cover off (a fairly substantial chunk of cast aluminum) revealing the innards of the meter.

Back of the RCA Voltohmyst
Back of the RCA Voltohmyst
Voltohmyst circuit board
Voltohmyst circuit board

The blue adjustment screws are trim pots used for adjusting the meter calibration.

One thing that surprised me was the presence of a soldered in D cell.

Top part of the Voltohmyst. Badly corroded 1.5V D cell and transformer
Top part of the Voltohmyst. Badly corroded 1.5V D cell and transformer
1.5V Battery
1.5V Battery

No idea what vintage the battery is or what it’s used for (at the moment), but my multi-meter showed it still had 1.4 V across it. The battery has definitely seen better days. I think I’ll see about replacing the battery with a battery holder so it can be removed and replaced in the future. Fortunately it looks like the wires have enough slack to work with.

The rest of the meter looks to be in pretty decent shape, and pretty clean. Without taking off the face of the meter, it’s a little hard to get in there to check out the middle. There are two tubes in the unit, a 12AU7 and 6AL5.

Lots of colourful wires at the range selector and mode selector switches.

Range selector switch
Range selector switch
Mode selector switch
Mode selector switch

The probe for the meter is a big chunky thing, about the size of a Sharpie marker.

Voltohmyst probe
Voltohmyst probe

Next step will be to go through the manual and read a bit more about the meter works before I try to dive in  and replace things.

WA4USN QSL cards

One of the club‘s older members was clearing out some old stuff and offered up a stack of WA4USN QSL cards to anybody who wanted them, so I grabbed a couple of them.

Years ago he had been given a stack of postcards and information cards by the USS Yorktown Association, so he turned them into QSL cards.

One card features a drawing of the USS Yorktown from before it was modified to enclose the bow portion of the ship. The reverse side lists some interesting statistics about the Yorktown during WW II.

The other card (formerly a USS Yorktown Association “Pay your dues” reminder postcard) has a Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat on the flight deck of the Yorktown, in front of the island.

While they aren’t old cards, I think they are a nice use of some cards that probably would have ended up in the dumpster.

Approved for 630 m and 2200 m

Got an email yesterday clearing me for operating on the new US 630 m and 2200 m bands.

Dear Eugene Mah (AB4UG),

This notice is being provided to Approve your proposed amateur radio station in the 135.7 – 137.8 | 472.0 – 479.0 band(s) at the following coordinates:  XXXXXXXXXXXXX.   UTC has determined that your proposed amateur radio station would not operate within a horizontal distance of one kilometer from a transmission line that conducts a power line carrier (PLC) signal in the 135.7 – 137.8 | 472.0 – 479.0 bands.

An amateur operator must not operate an amateur station if UTC responds that the proposed amateur station is located within 1 km of a transmission line with a PLC system that operates on the same frequency or frequency range.  Amateur operators are advised that their operations within 1 km of a PLC system could cause interference to PLC systems that are used by electric utilities to protect their electric transmission systems against faults and electrical outages.  Interference from amateur operations could affect the operation of PLC systems, thereby affecting the reliability of electric utility operations.  As such, amateur operators are advised not to operate any amateur stations within 1 km of a transmission line with a PLC system that operates on the same frequency or frequency range, and amateur operators will be subject to FCC enforcement for unauthorized operations, as well as potential legal liability for damages that result from interference caused by amateur operations to PLC systems.

Still need to learn about how to get on the new bands.

2m dipole performance

The 2m dipole attachment I made for my monopod seems to be working well. It’s a definite improvement over the Diamond SRH77CA and SRH999 antennas (which already work fairly well) when it comes to receive. I can receive a pretty clear signal from the repeaters from inside the house, whereas with the Diamond antennas, the repeater signal was on the scratchy and noisy side. When I’m outside, all of the antennas perform pretty well.

The two repeaters closest to the house that I can reach (and use) are about 7-8 miles away, so they’re a bit of a reach to hit standing on the ground with a 5W HT. The repeater beeps at me after I transmit, so I think I’m hitting the repeater with the dipole attachment, although I’m not sure how well I’m getting in. The repeater has a voice playback function, but I still need to learn how to use it.

In any case, the dipole attachment seems to be a success, and I can at least monitor some of the repeater activity more easily.

Time to start planning for a dual band VHF/UHF radio for the house.