Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interesting band cdx

I was on 40M this evening fooling around with my Alpha 78 amp. I usually run my AL-80B, but the Alpha has a feature that is very nice. It has some broad band output networks so all you do is switch the band switch and if your antenna is half way decent as far as a load, you are tuned. Its a little like my Acom 2K, but manual instead of automatic.

The Acom is finicky about line voltage, and I am out in the country and the line voltage is all over the place especially at night. If my line gets to 248V fergitaboutit as far as the Acom is concerned. The Alpha is not so finicky except for grid current. The grids in these 8874's are gold plated and if you run high grid current even for a few seconds you boil off the gold and you are in the market for new tubes, so you have to be anal, but being anal is my middle name so not a big deal. I work as an anesthesiologist so my anality comes naturally.

Any way the band was basically dead, so I was playing around with this amp checking the drive level sending an occasional dit and adjusting up the drive while hawkishly viweing the grid current and was called by Peter ZS1JX. I was floored. He was a good S9 or a little more the first time he called me and he is probably 2 1/2 hours into his daylight. We had a nice little QSO You can see the condition of the band for yourself by viewing the panadapter and Skimmer

This is why I was floored. No other signals to be seen. Here is a shot of the signal path between me and Peter on my DX view World Map

As the QSO continued Peter started to get watery and decrease in strength but still Q5

SFI was 72 A was 0 and K was 0 and the Propadex was -36 and there was quite a bit of noise coming out of the Gulf of Mexico tonight

I was able to maximize the SNR by adjusting the AGC-T in the RX, and using the diversity setup in the F5K. I now have 4 antennas that are full time hooked up to the F5K, and I can pick and choose virtually any pair just by changing my settings on the console. You can see my antenna choices in the above pic. This choice is my 40M half wave vertical, which was also my transmitting antenna, and a 1/4 wave 40M vertical about 100ft to the east. I don't have a great investment is stack matchers or fancy antenna systems and all that. I basically have 3 verticals and one horizontal, all of which can be made resonant, or are resonant on the bands I like to operate. 4 coaxes to the F5K and so much control through PSDR

It is mind blowing where ham radio has come in my lifetime. All of the information available like the propagation sites and the weather sites and the ability to steer your antenna like some kind of digital beam, adjusting not for peak signal on minimal noise, but with the ability to actually tune the signal to noise. Who knows where we go from hear.

You often read about the death of ham radio. In my mind it's more alive than ever!!