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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly RaDAR MeetUp, lessons learnt

Alpha Antenna loop Jr., 10W SSB, altitude 195m, USNG 15SWU523520

On 15m:

Copied G0SBW weak but readable to unreadable. I believe Thomas copied my call sign in its entirety. Heard several additional stations calling CQ RaDAR, but call signs unreadable except for VA3KOT who was strong and clear.

I then listened a lot for the other stations checking in and did not call CQ RaDAR too often, as I heard stations (but did not have clear copy on them) and did not wish to interfere. Oh, I did hear a female voice and guess it was Lucy?! But did not hear that female voice giving her call sign, copy was unreadable.

On 20m:

Then the time was up, 1700Z, and I tried to change to the 20m QRP frequency and ran into serious problems trying to tune up. Most significant problem was probably that I tried to tune with the help of my RigExpert AA54, with the batteries being low on power. I was just unable to get a SWR reading of under 10:1 with the AA54 connected directly (not tuning by noise floor via rig). Scanning the entire HAM HF band did not do the trick either. I then called Steven N0TES of AlphaAantennas, who was so kind to give me immediate and detailed assistance. He ran me through the trouble shooting with changing coax etc. until he advised that I should try to tune via noise floor first. Doing that (listening to where the noise was strongest while turning the loops tuning knob) I  turned it until I heard the strongest background noise on several bands, then just using my rigs internal tuner, not anymore trying to use the AA54 to fine tune, I got an SWR of under 1.8:1 on several bands.

By the time we had this worked out, it was 1810Z and lots of stations keyed up on the QRP frequencies, calling for the Minnesota QSO party. I tried for a few minutes to make another contact, but cutting through the QRO stations was to no avail. Also had to take off since family duties were awaiting me, I had my 2 hours plus of hamming outdoors for today... Tonight I will again key up as NCS for AHDNN.

Summary: had contact with G0SBW on 15m. Tuning with RigExpert AA54 with weak batteries did not allow me to properly tune for the 20m sched. With help from Steven N0TES, I worked out how I will tune up my (or should I say THEIR?!) loop in the future (listen for noise floor, then use internal tuner).  Thank you Steven for your immediate and patient help while trouble shooting! 

73 de Marcus NX5MK

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