Nothing Beats A Good Antenna

I just got back from Hawaii and some QRP operating. The antenna that I wanted to bring with me never made it and I ended up running just a random wire with a tuner. Not the worst setup but definitely not the best. I figured that being close to the saltwater would make compromise antenna an ‘OK’ antenna. WRONG!

Result = only 6 contacts for 2 days of operating.

…. more details and a video to come soon.

Operating Portable from Hawaii

My wife and I are going to Hawaii for a week so I am going to bring along my QRP station and do some radio while away from home.

Hawaii presents an interesting challenge.  I’d love to take a full 100w rig and full size antenna along with me but weight and size make it an impossibility.  Besides, I am supposed to be on vacation and taking it easy… not struggling along with radio gear.

My portable setup is fairly simple. I’ll use my FT-817, Elecraft T1 tuner, some long spools of wire to setup either a dipole or an L, some coax, and extra NiMH batteries.  I am able to pack just about everything into a little carrying case I found at a discount store.Portable SetupI’ve used this setup before.  You can watch it here.  In fact, I am going to the exact same beach again.  With a little luck I’ll be able to make some nice DX contacts.  Hopefully the location will make it easier to get into the South Pacific or something exotic and beyond what my home QTH DX has turned up so far.

 

QRZ.COM unavailable

I know that websites go down but it has been quite often for QRZ.com lately.  It appears to me that the more features I see on QRZ.com the more I have noticed the website has been unavailable.  Not sure but I can tell you that the next time my subscription comes due I’ll be thinking a lot about using another site for call sign look-ups.

qrz_down

VHF FM Amp Repair

About three weeks ago while rummaging a junk box  at a local hamfest I saw a TPL PA3-1AE-2 amplifier in pieces in a box. I’m familiar with TPL products as I have a similar version of this amp so I knew exactly what it was.  I like them as they tend to be more commercial quality amps and are fairly easy to repair.

While it was in pieces it had a bag of screws and everything somewhat neatly stuffed together in the parts box. The box owner told me to make him an offer and while I stared the parts for a bit he blurted out, “How about $10?” The price sounded good to me so I bought it.  Worse case scenario… I can use the heat sink and box for something.

This amp if a VHF (130-174mhz), commercial quality amp.  FM service only as it’s a class C.  It takes 5-10 watts of drive to produce 80-120w of output.  The schematics are available online but you can email me (ad7c @ arrl . net) if you need them.

PROBLEM
While I didn’t expect the amp to be perfect as it was in pieces and you don’t take a working amp apart for fun… I was a little sad to find out it had a blown power transistor.  It took a while to diagnose.  I lifted (un-soldered) the emitter and base of all the transistors, there are four of them, and checked them with a multimeter.  This one below was bad.  Failed open.

MRF224 TransistorI ordered a new MRF224 from eBay and I was pretty worried.  RFparts.com, a very reputable transistor supplier, wanted almost $50 for the MRF224.  The one I found on eBay was $29 shipped.  I was nervous about buying from a China supplier on eBay because of the rampant fake parts problem they have but I took a chance.   About 8 days later my transistor arrived, I have installed it, and I now have a great VHF FM amp that I have $39 total investment.  I have an old Radio Shack HTX202 that outputs 7 watts and that yielded 110w from the amp.  Nice!

VHF FM Amp

Hacking the Baofeng Radio

I just read a great little article about hacking the Baofeng type Chinese built amateur radios.  You know those $30 throw-away 2M/70CM radios… we’ll someone took one apart and spent way to much time learning how it works.  If you have the time it’s worth the read.

Go here: http://hackaday.com/2013/02/28/hacking-a-ham-radio/ and while you are at it make sure to add www.hackaday.com to your favorites list.  Great website!

Baofend UVR-5