Month: July 2017

IOTA 2017

IOTA 2017 once again provides a great opportunity to work some big DX. This year we decided to run two separate stations, and just work as many as we could while having some fun on the bands. The weather forecast on Saturday afternoon was not good, and so we concentrated on getting the operating tent and antenna setup first thing before the rain.

George M1GEO operated his Icom 7700 and Expert 1.3K FA while I operated my  Icom 7600 and Expert 1.3K FA. Both stations were capable of operating at full legal power. We setup the following antenna for the weekend.

3e beam 10/15/20m bands

1/4 wave vertical 40m

Dipole for 80m

Here you can see John M0IDA (operating) and Peter G0IAP.

Band conditions have been somewhat variable, but by the evening’s things have usually improved. The tri band beam performed well, providing some good DX on all bands, and it was nice to see some openings on 10m.

We shut the stations down overnight, as this was more of a fun event with an opportunity to work some stations. In the morning the weather improved, the mostly sunny conditions dried out the tents and made the pack down quite pleasurable. We also had a nice visit from Geoff G0DDX and Linda G0TPX who both assisted with the pack down.

In total George worked 500, and I worked 400, with some nice DX.

Most notable being CV7S Uruguay, YB5BOY Indonesia, PW7I Brazil, PJ4DX Bonaire, YW450ARV Venezuela, 8P2K Barbados and KH7XS Hawaii.

You can view the KML file for my QSO here.

Thanks to everyone we worked, the preferred method of QSL is via LoTW but via the RSGB bureau is also available if required.

Suffolk RED Sunday Radio and BBQ Social

Sunday 23rd July was a Suffolk RED outdoor event, a chance to play some radio and put on the special event call GB0RED. The team at Suffolk RED had a nice gas BBQ and kindly provided a selection of healthy and not so healthy snacks (Chocolate cake was lovely BTW)

The Camb-Hams were in attendance with Flossie the CRG shack complete with 20m mast. The team came equipped with a selection of antenna to cover the HF bands on both phone and CW.

The field was large enough to support a number of station, Peter G0DZB was active on 10 MHz CW.

Steve M1ACB was active on satellites, giving a demonstration and working Rob M0VFC on a narrow boat!

We also had time for a chat, it was nice to meet a selection of amateurs from around Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex. I had a chance to operate GB0RED from Flossie.

I also had a chance to fly the drone, and captures some panoramic views in between the odd rain shower.

A special thanks to Sarah 2E0ISJ for pulling the event together and looking after everyone on the day.

70 MHz Trophy Cup

The RSGB 70 MHz Trophy Cup ran from 11 till 5 on Sunday,  Team SNBCG assembled at the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker. The contest promotes activity on 70 MHz, but it just one of many contests run by the RSGB to promote activity on the amateur bands.

The beam was homemade, 6 elements on 70 MHz using a 4m boom.

Setting up

Checking the antenna

We used John M0UKD newly acquired Icom 7300 and George M1GEO Expert 1.3K-FA amplifier to provide 160w PEP. The contest exchange was a little more involved than some and included signal, serial, locator and first two letters of your postcode.

A 12m push-up mast provided the support for a homebrew 6e beam. The beam had recently been reworked with some new insulators and the boom has been split into 2 parts to facilitate easy transportation in the car.

We operated alfresco using a 2Kw Honda generator to provide the power for both the amplifier and radio.

The screen on the Icom 7300 looked very nice, and the waterfall was helpful in finding band activity.

The band had a fair level of activity, with a number of the regular contest stations evident on the bands. We managed to work 74 stations in 7 countries. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Gurnsey and the Netherlands.

Audio clip from working Alex GM4NFC (518KM)

Audio clip from working David GI4SNA (524 KM)

You can view the claimed scores online

A map of the QSO can be seen below.

MFJ Versa Tuner III MFJ-962C review

The MFJ-962C is a high power 1.5kW manual ATU capable of matching balanced or unbalanced antennas typically from 1.8 to 30 MHz. It uses a T matching network, and the ARRL has provided an interesting article on “Getting the most out of your T match without snap crackle and pop


The ATU has a rating of 1.5kW, but this power rating must be taken as a guide, for example, try matching a 1/2 wave on 80m using 800w. The power rating will depend on the suitability of the antenna, and working on the principle that a poor antenna matched is still a poor antenna.





You have the possibility of 2 antenna positions, and a coax direct option allowing you to connect 3 antennae to your transceiver.The inductor in common with most ATU is switchable from A to L allowing you to select progressively larger {or smaller} inductance.

The capacitors are large enough to cope with the high voltages often found in a QRO ATU, and should with care provide many years of service. The internal quality of my ATU looks good, although I have found the level of finish does vary quite a lot of MFJ products. If you purchasing a similar product I would suggest you give it the shake test and listen for rattles.

The ATU is quite large, 27cm wide, 38cm long and 12cm deep.

The capacitors used are 12cm long by 6cm wide.





The case is made from aluminium and uses 12 screws to provide a rigid construction. I have used the ATU with a selection of doublet antenna, using my own 1:1 balun on many of the HF bands, power has often been at the UK maximum 400w without an issue.


The ATU has a cross needle VSWR and power meter, wth low and high power settings. The power meter can be adjusted with the pots inside the ATU, although I have found mine to be accurate. You also have an average or peak hold setting on the meter, this is helpful for SSB when trying to read the PEP.




12v can be used on the rear to provide a light in the metering, but otherwise, the unit can run without power.

The ATU was recommended to me from John M0UKD and purchased second hand, and its performed very well over the years.

These are no longer produced new but do come up for sale on Ebay or your local amateur radio store.

Here is a look at the high power 1:1 balun I use with this ATU.

You can download the manual for the ATU online.

QRO portable from Cromer North Norfolk

I have always enjoyed operating portable HF as you can put up antenna and work bands not possible at home. This coupled with finding an RF quiet location can make HF portable very enjoyable.

Using a 12m spider beam roach pole, an 80m doublet fed with 300 Ohm ribbon cable and Icom 7100 I parked in a rural country lane surrounded by fields. The doublet was cable tied to the roach pole at around 11m, and the pole secured to a farmers fence.



The Icom, Expert 1.3KFA linear and ATU was placed in the boot of the car, and power was provided by an EU20 Honda generator. I started operating at 19:26 with the first call in the log G4JXC Bob from Bristol, signals seemed very good with reports usually over s9, sometimes s9+40.

At times I had a pile-up, really hard to pick out any calls, I did try and pull out a few QRP stations some running just 3 and 4w.

The amplifier definitely helped, but getting a large antenna in the air inverted V means a lot of the RF goes up in the air. Over the next couple of hours, I worked 57 stations in 10 countries. As darkness descended the skip did lengthen out a little, with stations calling me from Sweden, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.


I was also able to monitor my own signal on my KiwiSDR located some 100 miles away. It was fun to work some stations that had also used my SDR, and also catch up with some people on twitter.


A enjoyable was to spend an evening, thanks to everyone who called.