TS-870S Vox and Contesting

While doing some WW CQ contesting today -without a log buddy- I decided to give my transceiver’s “Vox” function a try for the first time, to get my hands free for the logging thing. At first, I was suprised about the audio delay on my headphones. But this is actually a clever feature of this old Kenwood that will avoid first syllables being discarded from transmission. After some fiddling with the “delay”control I found vox to be working really well in contesting circumstances, despite the weird delay in my headphones.. The 870 has turned out to be a fantastic  transceiver to work with since being licensed last March. It’s a joy to operate and it looks like new despite it’s age. Works really well with Ham Radio Deluxe and always compliments about the audio. It lacks 6 meters but I’m not supposed to be there anyway with my present band plan. Until my license is upgraded, I will hold on to this radio until it breaks. And then fix it!

Hex rotator trashed by high winds

The big storm of yesterday was a good durability test for my rebuilt Hex. The antenna itself survived the high winds without any problems. However, the 70 Euro cheap-ass rotator’s gears broke and we had to emergency-haul the antenna down to minimum height in the middle of the storm and heavy rains late last night to stop the antenna from spinning out of control. Today, I dedided to go for a brand new Yaesu G-450C rotator from local ham gear supplier GB Antennas. I understand these rotators are pretty durable and provide enough strength for an antenna like this. If weather permits, I will be back on air just in time for the upcoming CQ WW DX Contest next weekend…

Hexbeam V2.0 completed

Building your own antenna is fun and very rewarding when it really works!

Meet version 2 of the G3TXQ hex beam antenna I put up last May. One of the spreaders teared in high winds last weekend so I decided to completely rebuild the antenna before the windy winter season kicks in. Version 1 worked well but resonated some 500kHz below the desired frequencies.  So up to the rebuild. The spreaders were made from telescopic fishing poles, I decided to go for much more robust fiberglass rods with steel reinforced rings and compression clamps. The base of the rods now has steel tubing inside of the fiberglass to avoid cracks when tightening the u-bolts. I spent more time to details this time and it has a much better look. Electrical changes: Added 4 ferrite clamps to the existing 4. The original wires were stainless steel and I decided to go for stranded bare copper this time. I used the same wire lengths as before and resonant points are now spot on. The stranded copper wires also improved the SWR an Z-mag bandwidth. I can now turn off my tuner permanently because on all bands the SWR is below 1:1.5 or better. 20 meters is even below 1:1.3 on the entire band. First QSO this morning was Christchurch New Zealand and got a nice 5/9 from Jason ZL3JAS. It broke my max QRB (long path:13219.7 miles or 21275.1 km) and added a new DXCC (#96) to my log. So my sunday turned out well. I’m a big fan of the Hex Beam antenna. Its relatively compact, very broad band, low wind profile, easy to build and light-weight.

Extra thanks to Rico PA3BVK for his ever kind assistance!