Sunday, July 26, 2009

First contacts

I made the first actual contacts using the G4ILO Wonder Loop today. I hooked it up to the 1 watt MFJ Cub on 20 metres. The Wonder Loop is actually the only antenna I can use now with my QRP rigs on 20m due to the extremely high noise I get on that band. It has a very sharp null at right angles to the plane of the loop, which can be used to reduce the QRN to an acceptable level.

I was very happy with these first contacts. Onno, PA1AP calling CQ near the QRP frequency 14.060MHz came back to my call on the second attempt. Perhaps he would have come back the first time but I called a bit off frequency. He gave me 519 and struggled a bit to hear me but he was actually using 100W at his end. Manuel ON/DL9EBG then called me when I signed off with PA1AP. With my style of operating that almost constitutes a pile-up! He gave me 529 but later amended the report to 579 with QSB. He was running 5W from an IC-703 and was a good signal - I gave him 599 which is what it sounded like in the little Cub receiver.

I think this shows that the Wonder Loop is an effective antenna that will get you contacts even when used indoors with only 1 watt of power. I was going to try using the FT-817 or K2 and a bit more power but found that my QRP keys were incorrectly wired for those radios. I'd wired the ring of the stereo jack to the shield thinking that this was more like the mono jack you'd expect to use with straight keys. But both rigs went key down when I plugged in the jack, so I had to rewire them so there was no connection to the ring.

After I had done that I noticed that there was a good Sporadic-E opening on 6 metres favouring eastern Germany and Poland, so I cleared the QRP gear away and fired up the K3. I made several contacts into Berlin and the surrounding area and one into Poland. I didn't hear many DX stations calling but a fairly local GM was working strings of stations at good strength, so I parked near his frequency and called CQ. This netted a few extra contacts, including the one with SQ5AXS, and Peter DL2FI who called me on CW! I was a bit surprised to be called on CW while working SSB. Peter's call rang a bell but I didn't remember why (he is a fellow Elecraft user and runs the German QRP Club) until after the contact. Sorry, Peter. I'm getting a bit slow in my old age!

Postscript: I just noticed while checking the stats in my KComm logger that I have now made 200 contacts on 6 metres with more than 100 different grid squares. That is the greatest number of contacts I have made on any band except 20 metres. I would never have believed it.

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