Sunday, 29 January 2012

SOTA expeditions G/NP-028 and G/NP-010

After work on Friday I thought I would try for a late afternoon activation of Rombald's Moor, G/NP-028. I'd been watching the weather forecast most of the day and decided that I would probably miss the worst of the weather. As it turned out, some snow had just settled on the moors as I arrived. I experienced occasional snow flurries during my operation. I worked only 3 stations, for some reason I was really struggling with the CW. Maybe I was tired. I packed up and headed for home just as it was starting to get dark.

Saturday 28th January

I had intended to activate Helvellyn (G/LD-003) for SOTA, but after researching the weather conditions, I decided it would be better to activate this summit on a later date. I decided to activate Pen Y Ghent (G/NP-010) instead, this summit being not that far from my QTH and still worth a good number of points. The drive to Stainforth was uneventful, but I soon discovered the country lane towards the parking place was very icy! I managed to get my car stuck at one point on an incline. Ten minutes of chipping away at the ice with a rock I picked up managed to get my car free again. I thought about turning around and heading back home, but whilst looking for a suitable place to turn the car around, I realised I was nearly at the parking place!

I got my 'phone out of my pocket to take a picture of my car in the snow and I found it was totally dead! I had wanted to let my wife know that all was OK, but all I could think to do was to try and hit the local repeater, GB3TP and see if someone could let my wife know what had happened. I was not able to get into the repeater, so I set off up the hill with hopes of contacting someone later on.

Eventually I managed to open up the repeater, but after several calls I received no response. The path to the summit was covered with snow all the way. I had deployed my APRS system with hopes that my wife would at least know my location and progress.

The summit had about 25cms of lying snow. There was very little wind and the sun was shining. There wasn't a cloud in the sky - a perfect day to be on a summit. I first called on 2m FM, as I didn't have a working 'phone, I was hoping to get a 'spot' arranged on SOTAwatch for my QRPp 30m operation. I worked quite a few stations on 2FM from my handheld transceiver and set top quarter wave antenna, including Mike, G4BLH in Nelson, Lancashire, who kindly not only spotted me on SOTAwatch, but also let my wife know I was OK by telephone. Hams really are nice folks!

I worked 10 stations on 30m CW using a RockMite 30 from Small Wonder Labs and my challenge battery. This was a good result I thought. I then tried my 17m Manhattan style RockMite into my linked inverted vee dipole. I didn't manage to score any QSO's, but on my return home, I discovered something nice on the Reverse Beacon Network site -

 I'd been picked up about 1000 miles away by OH6BG! I think that is pretty good for less than 100mW!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

17m RockMite complete!

Yesterday I finished building my RockMite for 17m.

The circuit was finished on Monday evening, passing it's 'smoke test' with flying colours, RF power was measured at 115mW from the 9V battery.

 I finished putting the circuit into it's case and testing yesterday, with the reverse supply protection diode in circuit, I'm now measuring around 100mW. I removed the trimmer capacitor and inductor as I am still trying to get the RX/TX shift to work correctly. I will probably put the VXO circuit back in at a later date.

I am quite pleased with my project, there a few issues to solve at the moment, but the rig is up and running, and I think it is ready for a QSO. The output is very clean indeed, the second and third harmonics are very low. My rig is not the neatest looking thing, but it compares well to the 'commercial' RockMite I built last month.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

17m RockMite build continues....slowly!

Due to suffering back pain, not a lot of radio stuff has been happening this week :-(

I did manage to add a few more components to my 17m Manhattan style transceiver yesterday. I think the build should go a little bit faster now that most of the RX section is complete.

I had hoped to activate my local SOTA summit yesterday afternoon, but I had to cancel due to my back problems.

Monday, 16 January 2012

RockMite 17 Build Begins!

I started work on my 17m Manhattan RockMite today. I managed to get the mixer chip and op-amp in place, along with a few capacitors. I used some MePads from Rex, W1REX, ( to mount the ICs.

I hope to get this rig on the air very quickly, I have a SOTA summit in mind!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

SOTA activation Pendle Hill G/SP-005

I activated Pendle Hill today for Summits On The Air. I built a special rig, based on the Rockmite 30 by Dave Benson, K1SWL, in order to take part in Kjell, LA1KHA's PP3 challenge. The challenge is a fun competiton open to all SOTA activators. The aim is to make as many contacts as possible for a single PP3 battery.

I had high hopes that today would get lots of stations in the log, but this was not to be. The 10MHz band seemed very busy today, my QRPp signal was obviously getting lost among higher powered stations. I stayed at the summit for quite a while in very cold conditions, but only five stations made it into the log today.

I hope to start work on another RockMite type rig in the next few days, this time it will be modified to run on 17 meters. I purchased the parts that my junk box couldn't supply yesterday, so I'm all ready to go.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Small Wonder Labs SW20+

I've had my Small Wonder Labs SW20+ kit from Dave Benson, K1SWL, for a few month's now. I haven't really been inspired to build it for some reason, but from reviews, it is supposed to be a great radio. I stuffed the circuit board a few weeks ago.

At one point, Dave, K1SWL, offered a silk screened case for the kit, but sadly this is no longer available. I thought I would have a go at reproducing the original case using bare printed circuit board stock. I am guessing the dimensions using a photo that somebody uploaded to the Internet.

So far, I think the build is going great. I intend to use my Brother labelling machine to label the controls on the bare case. Later, when the weather improves, I will paint the case with black enamel and use Letraset dry transfer lettering to make the rig look a lot nicer.

I think the completed rig will be a great companion for SOTA activations.