Compton Dundon

WAB ST43
Grid IO81pc

We have now moved on to land and have a fixed QTH in Somerset. I will probably miss travelling around the country but I should have more time to play with the radio, it is strange operating from a chair rather than the back step of the narrowboat.

We moved in a few days before Christmas so we are still finding our way around. It took a couple of weeks before I managed to throw an aerial out of the window, (this is literally what I did), I did cut it to 84 feet and tuned it against the central heating as a sort of W3EDP. It was not a great success being only three feet off the ground at the far end, I did manage 20 countries with my 5 watts but it was hard work.

I am now in the process of erecting the Butternut HF9V which I used at my last QTH for about 12 years. I have put down sixteen 30 foot radials, they still need to be buried and I was amazed that the aerial was still more or less tuned to all the bands 6 – 80 metres. I will do the final tuning when I have positioned and buried the radials and routed the feeder cable through the garden. In the meantime I am using it as is until the weather warms up.

Crofton

Crofton on the Kennet and Avon
LOC: IO91ie

Not much activity of late as we have been driving south west into Somerset and Dorset in search of a new QTH. It is proving difficult to find a suitable location with Aerial Farm potential. Oh well I can see a compromise arising and it will be out with the loading coils.

I did get on the air today and managed to work T32C on 17 metres but found 15 metres impossible to break with my 5 watts, I still get such a thrill from hearing my callsign from a dx station with all the high power stations around.

1700 – 1800 GMT seems to be a good time to raise T32C on 15 and 17 metres.

I am still here

Great Bedwyn on the Kennet and Avon
LOC: IO91ej
WAB SU26

We have moved down to the Kennet and Avon as we are looking for a new QTH in and around the borders of Somerset, Whiltshire and Dorset. So far we must have looked at about 50 houses and have two possibilities but still looking. Estate agents don’t understand big gardens means putting up at least an 80 metre dipole and not a half sized G5RV.

I have not been getting on the air much of late and when I was going on I was having a lot of trouble raising any stations. My fishing pole position has been usurped by the washing line so I resorted to the standby antenna which is a lengthened CB aerial on a magnetic mount. Called one station on 10 metres and he came straight back, I think I may have a problem with my original setup, must investigate.

I can hear T32C on a number of bands but have not attempted a call through the resultant pile up.

Still Cropredy

Cropredy on the Oxford Canal
WAB SP44
Grid IO92ic

We have moved the boat down through Cropredy on to a 14 day mooring and will probably stay here for the 14 days.

I am still struggling with finding time to address the 80/40 metre antenna solution. Still there has been plenty of activity on the opther bands. I have managed New Zealand and Australia on 17 metres, in fact 17 metres seems to be the most interesting band for me at the present time. I have now worked 78 countries with my 5 watts since May.

Don’t you just love it when you bag a dx station in a pile up with only 5 watts. The night before last I worked Guadeloupe with my first call. I do think that a 57 foot metal boat makes an excellent ground plane.

Cropredy

Cropredy on the Oxford Canal
WAB SP44
Grid IO92ic

I haven’t blogged for a while as we have been racing through the country side (on the canal) to get to Cropredy for the Fairport convention music festival in a couple of weeks. Mooring spots are a premium and you have to get here early.

So radio took a back seat as we spent most of the day travelling and doing lots of Locks.

I am still struggling with an adequate 80/40 metre antenna. I have just put up a resonant quarterwave for 40 and that seems to be getting out ok.

This weekend sees the kick off of BiWota (British waterways on the air) there are about 50 members operating from or near the canal system. You can find out about it here

On the move again

My current location Stafford and Worcester Canal
WAB SO89 grid IO82vn

I did not do too well on yesterdays QRP contest, I only managed 33 contacts with my 1 watt. I put it down to the toroid it needs more turns to operate down at 3.5 Mhz and possibly even 7MHz. I really struggled and must thank a number of stations for their patience.

I have no problem on the higher frequency bands as around 22:00 GMT I worked on 17 metres in quick succession with attendant pile ups:-

ZF2UQ Cayman Islands
OX3XR Greenland
H77REX Nicaragua

Mind you I was running QRO with 5 watts.

Brewood Shropshire Union Canal

Location
WAB SJ80
Grid IO82vq

I am setting up a new antenna on 80 so that I can hopefully operate on the qrp contest tomorrow. It is not a pleasant experience with heavy rain and water being blown into my radio room (engine room).

I have managed to tune up on all bands 80 down to 10 metres but I am having to use a home made PI aerial tuner.

I started off with a loaded vertical on 80 and this worked well with a good match on the cw section but I also needed 40 metres and another problem I had was noise, on the higher HF bands I could eliminate the noise with a counterpoise, but on 80 with heavy rain (which lends itself to a certain unwillingness to venture outside) I was unable to remove the static, so I have reverted to a longer version of my 40 to 10 metre vertical.

The antenna is based on this design.

By the way, the source of the static noise turned out to be from our boat inverters, not so much the primary mains inverter but the multitude of smaller inverters for the computer and radio etc. Turning off the AC circuits and running the radio from a battery eliminated this as did the Un-Un toroidal design.

I made contact with GB2GM in Cornwall receiving a 579 report so hopefully I will get on ok tomorrow.

On a recent visit home I found a QSL card from 9M8SYA, not bad for 5 watts

G3TZA in Knighton

Location IO82tu WAB SJ72
Near Bridge 50 Shropshire Union Canal

Market Drayton

Location IO82sv WAB SJ63
I was very lucky with the mounting of the mobile antenna, I used my old boot mount which I screwed on to the back hatch. It was not in too good a condition and I only considered it a temporary fixing while I tested the band conditions. This installation was brought to an abrupt halt when the mooring rope snagged and forced the frayed coax to part company with the connector. Now I know I could have probably repaired it in some way but it was not a good solution so I bought a magnetic mount from Maplin.
When I connected up the antenna I had S9 noise on 20, 30 and 40 metres. Hardly a good state of affairs. To resolve this I had to add a counterpoise attached to the chassis of the radio, and by moving it around the back deck I could tune the noise down to about S0. I managed to get my country total up to 40 but I wasn’t very happy with having to go outside every time I needed to change bands so I decided I needed another aerial.
More on this tomorrow.

Getting Started

This blog will be about my Ham Radio activities aboard our narrowboat Lazy Days. I have an FT817 running up to 5 watts output.  I generally only operate CW.

I have been carrying the equipment for three years now but never got around to doing much operating  primarily because my antenna system consisted of a set of dipoles. The problem was that I had not developed a simple strategy for erecting them and in fact I only managed to do this once at Devils garden on the river Weaver.

While on a recent visit home I had remembered that I had an old Mobile aerial and brought it back with me.  I spotted that I could apply for a special call sign for the Royal Wedding and this gave me the motivation to get up and running.  The mobile antenna proved to be quite successful despite its small size.

Mobile antenna

I made 21 contacts and 17 countries with the special call sign. America and Japan being the most distant but I was most pleased with Albania and Svalbard on 30 metres both with the usual pile up.  It was only when the call sign expired that I discovered I had only been running 2.5 watts so not bad for such an un efficient aerial.

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