Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Too many distractions

My bureau-workshop
I have sometimes seen comments to this blog that are disparaging towards the idea of stealth operation. I don't for a moment accept that stealth antennas are worse than the modest wire antennas many hams in the UK who don't have deep pockets, large gardens and amazingly tolerant neighbours use. RF doesn't care whether an antenna is visible or not, it's what you do to make the antenna invisible that might compromise performance and with the small gardens without trees that so many of us in the UK have, most of us have to live with compromise.

But the real test of a ham radio station is whether it allows you to pursue enough activities to maintain interest in the hobby. And based on that criterion I think G4ILO does very well. One of the best additions to the shack was to make a dedicated work area for construction in a bureau unit whose door drops down to make a work surface and which can be closed when I have done enough without having to put everything away. I have a greater interest in building stuff now that I have somewhere to do it.

In fact there are more things I would like to do, radio-wise, than I have time to do. Last weekend, for example, I would like to have tried making some contacts in the worldwide RTTY contest but of all the radio things I did that weekend, giving away some contest points was something I didn't get around to.

Today I was trying to finish up my homebrew SignaLink USB clone, but I made the mistake of turning the K3 on and leaving JT65-HF running and I kept on being distracted by seeing CQ calls from DX stations. In between work on the interface I made contacts with YV6BFE, N8ABY, AA1CZ and KD0AGX plus a couple of Europeans, all using 25W to the attic dipole. My signals were spotted in Japan and far eastern Russia, though I didn't hear anyone that far east. DU1GM, whom I worked a few days ago, was calling for most of the afternoon with no takers.

The SignaLink USB clone is just about finished and does work. After I made up an interface cable between it and the FT-817ND I made one solid PSK31 contact with F5TTI on 30m with it on the test bench. So now it just has to be put into its case and it will be completed.
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