Monday, November 25, 2013

Going Vertical & Breaking In A New Callsign

Hustler 5BTV unboxed (again)
As life continues, I finally had a bit of extra time to unpack my Hustler 5BTV. I still have a few boxes from the old shack to unpack but the end is in sight. I've been working on my QSL backlog of those cards I've received that are in need of a return QSL. The Alaska QSL Bureau sent me my last envelopes and told me they will be forwarding the remainder of my QSL cards to the 2land incoming QSL bureau. Since I'm not able to keep envelopes at the AK bureau, there will be even a longer delay for those responses. I've yet to investigate the 2land bureau but last I heard, they do things a bit different. As winter approaches, I will have time to investigate what I need to do to continue to receive my QSL cards with them. I'm sure I will be getting KL8DX QSL cards for several more years since I was pretty active. No matter how long it takes, I'm thankful for all of our bureau volunteers! 

Hustler 5BTV in the Yard
Since our holiday vacation plans took a unexpected turn, I'm spending a bit more time at home than planned. That allowed me to construct my Hustler 5BTV and place it in the yard today. My backyard is wide open and elevated and actually, a perfect setting for a ground mounted vertical. I need to only get my radials down before the snow arrives. But I wanted to take advantage of the sunny day and see what I could hear from this QTH. After putting up the vertical, I located two sections of feedline and ran it into the back door of our house which leads directly into our kitchen. I found my portable box of goodies and began unboxing my portable station on the kitchen table.

The AK2MA Temporary Ham Shack
Having not made any contacts with my new callsign, I normally try to get a few familiar callsigns in any new logbook first. My first CW QSO just has to be with my CW Elmer, K8QWY. My SSB QSO just has to be with KL1SF who is now in Arizona. I phoned Ed, K8QWY leaving him a message that I had my antenna up and wanted to see if we could make contact. In the mean time, I placed my antenna analyzer on the 5BTV and found I have a bit more work to do. All of the bands showed an unhealthy SWR with 20 meters being the best of the bunch. This could be for a few reasons. The first, I set up the vertical using the suggested measurements for one that had radials. I don't have them down yet. It could also be that I'm off in my measurements and I need to do some adjusting. The antenna was in great shape so I think it's more of a measurement / grounding issue than anything else. I'll continue to get the vertical tuned in as time and weather allows.

Feedline through the door
I had my coax run through the door which left for a slight breeze coming into the kitchen. Not bad for a summer day but with the temperatures in the 20's in late November, it did not take long for the kitchen to cool down. Once I got my Yaesu FT-857D out along with tuner and power supply, it was not long before I was hearing the sweet sound of CW (Morse Code) coming from my radio. Even my wife commented that was a sound she had not heard in a long while! I browsed over to the SKCC Sked Page and stuck around there eventually chatting with a few old straight key friends. But before I made any SKCC QSO's, Ed phoned me back! Ed recently put up a new antenna and he pointed his beam my way and we tuned to 20 meters. It was then that I was able to make my first QSO with Ed and he had a super signal into Eastern MA! One down and now only Sean to left to snag on SSB!

QSO's Continued
After working Ed on 20 meter CW, I then ended up with my next straight key QSO. There are several SKCC hams that I would call friends even though I have yet to personally meet any of them. On that list would be none other than Jim, KK7YJ. I was able to make a QSO with Jim, exchanging SKCC numbers on 15 meters. It was great to work Jim once again. Immediately after working Jim, I also worked fellow SKCC'ers KP4SJ and AE6DH on 15 meters. Success! That out of tune antenna was working, so I knew that once I got it tuned, it would work even better! I also realized that my noise level was tolerable living in a more populated area. I will have a much smaller station here than I've ever had. Something tells me I won't be nearly as active here as I was in Alaska. It's obvious being away from the key, my code speed has suffered some but as seen in previous breaks from the key, it does not take long to pick back up where I left off with practice.

I consider today a successful first run. My plan is for a few more antenna's (probably wire antennas) but I will be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Even though we are enjoying a much more mild fall / winter than we have encountered in many years, I'm losing time to get some crucial work done. Soon the ground will be frozen solid and I'm sure snow is not far away. Most of my spare time on the weekends were spent on our new Harley Davidson. Normally in November, I was plowing snow in temperatures well below zero in Alaska. So, do you blame me? Being in MA now is almost like being on vacation from winter. 

1 comment:

  1. Winters in Alaska will have you well prepared for winters in your new QTH. Will be looking for your new call on the SKCC Sked page and maybe get you in the log during the next WES. Have fun!

    73 de Jeff, KE9V
    SKCC 3383T