Saturday, December 8, 2018

#10m ARRL contest day 1 - time absorption

SFI:70 SN:16 A:10 K:3

Wish I could tell you all I had a fantastic day on 10m contesting. But it isn't true. Unfortunately there was no ES cloud in reach for my area, despite a lot of dx cluster reports that the band was "open", not here that was! Even several dutch stations didn't hear me. Though that's no surprise as I hear far more compared to what I can reach. Actually I only spend 2 hours on the radio in total I think. Just a matter of go upstairs, tune over the band, nothing heard? Going downstairs to do some other things. If I heard anything I tried to work it, not always with results. I worked 11 stations today. It was a struggle since N1MM+ does not support audio CW or MCW. This is for a reason of course. However I managed to make some contacts. Tomorrow can be completely different....

So, time was still a issue. I had put the 4 element LFA on the portable mast. And I did. But dismantled it as well again. I managed to test the antenna on 10m FM with PB7Z who is about 40km south of me. It had less strong signal compared to the HF5B. And the SWR was jumping around. The antenna was too low, and something was wrong. The weather was bad, storm, rain, but at least....we smiled. Just before it went dark I had everything stored in the garage again, better look at it later when time is no issue and the weather is much better.

Back on the radio I didn't hear anything, no signal at all. For the 3rd time N1MM+ had issues with FLdigi (communication lost, why?). I use FLdigi to generate audio CW. Last week I soldered a serial port CW keyer from a diagram I found on the internet. Made with a optocoupler to separate the computer from the radio. This one is keying with the RTS pin (yes my new computer still has a COM port). I have no experience with CW via a keyer or a key. So I really jumped into the unknown. But I thought I really should make it right now before the second day of the 10m contest. However, whatever I did....nothing happened on the RTS (pin 7). So back to soldering and trying the DTR (pin 4) as I found on another diagram. And yes the LED blinks now when I send morse and after connecting to the radio I hear morse out of the speaker. Though whatever I try, no HF is visible? Remember I have no experience whatsoever with CW on my radio, so all what I could do is guess and do some things by trail and error. After a half hour I finally found the BRK button in my menu which switch the radio "PTT" and HF on when the keyer is generating CW.
Hopefully this is doing the trick and it shure will be a lot easier tomorrow when making CW contacts.

The 4 element LFA. Not what I hoped for...


  1. What a shame about the LFA! I am sure it has a simple answer, as those are really good antennas. Maybe you did already, but aluminium grease is worth using.

    I heard nothing at all on 10m here (nor 12m) either.

    1. Hello John, it was a tough contest. Yes I found the problem with the LFA. One of the screws connecting the coax to the loop was not tight enough. I'm shure if I had it right and the LFA was at height in my mast it would be a better antenna. 73, Bas

  2. Hallo Bas,
    zo te lezen had je aardig wat tegenslag maar je heb je niet laten kennen en uiteindelijk de problemen opgelost. Mooi man!
    73 Hans, PE1BVQ


Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas