On the air from the new place!

The many other projects here slowed down a bit last weekend and I got the urge to play radio. Luckily, as part of negotiations, the seller had agreed to leave behind the antennas. To our surprise, he also left behind his radios, tuners, scanners, spare tubes, coax, lightning arrestors, and a number of other goodies. So although my modern equipment remains packed, I had some recourse to operate.

In what was a first for me, I used a radio with tube finals! We hastily moved the TS-830S left behind by the seller into the living room — it just happened to be the room with the easiest window access to the antenna — and hooked it up. The antenna is a GAP Titan, located way (way) too close to the side of the house, and the feedline is, well, pretty crappy 75 ohm stuff. But I got on the air!


I have never felt so deaf on RX and weak on TX. Surrounded here by 100+ foot pines, it’s a wonder the previous owner never put up a high dipole! Even a low dipole would have blown this paltry vertical out of the water. I struggled to hear loud regulars like I2VRN and MI0SAI. I even tried in vain to call a W3 ragchewer on 20 meters, but he couldn’t hear me. I don’t dare try 80 or 160.

Those of us with towers, beams, or even high wires can forget how daunting this hobby is to someone with a compromise vertical. Maybe some of the fault lies with the manufacturers of these “one-antenna-quiver” multi-band verticals that, frankly, suck. I can’t blame GAP in this case, because the antenna is most certainly located close to the house, but it’s not hard to imagine a situation where that placement was someone’s only choice.

Yesterday, Bob K1YO stopped by to drop off an SDR setup. We’ll be conducting a noise study experiment on the new QTH. My plan is to canvass the six contest bands in 24 hour periods, both on weekdays and weekends. I’ll be sure to post our findings here as we go, along with any write ups that the experiment produces.



What does a plasma TV sound like?

I’m a member of a few internet forums where the dreaded “what noise is this?” -question gets asked and I almost always link to this video. It’s one I took a few years ago of the plasma TV in my own home. It also served as a decent close-in test of my (new at the time) switchable beverage-on-ground. One direction is the beverage towards the house (EU) and the other direction is the beverage away (SW).

What kind of ham buys a plasma TV for his own home? Well, it looked the best out of all the TV’s in the store. I’ve heard real horror stories, and this video does most of them justice. I also heard, however, that the noise wouldn’t go away even when the TV was off. This is false; at least in my case, I’d turn it off during contest weekends and have no problem. Hopefully this video will help some of you diagnose your own noise source!