What equipment are we using?

September 28th, 2011 | Posted by M0VFC in General - (0 Comments)

A few people have asked us what equipment we’re using here in FP, so here’s a quick run-down…

We’ve got up to four stations on the air at a time, so starting at the radio end of things:

  • Elecraft K3
  • Icom IC-7000
  • Icom IC-706
  • Yaesu FT-450

The K3 and FT-450 are connected to linear amplifiers to give them a little more power (typically about 300W), but the IC-7000 and IC-706 are barefoot at around 100W.

Next up, we use a set of DuneStar 300 series bandpass filters to reduce QRM between the stations. This is particularly important with the IC-7000, which generates a rather large amount of out-of-band noise. The DuneStars work very well, though being 3 pole filters, isolation between some of the WARC bands and the adjacent bands isn’t quite enough – typically 17m and 15m, for example.

For antennas, we’ve got a veritable farm of verticals out on the beach – quarter waves on 10m, 12m, 15m, 17m, 20m, 30m and 40m, and a dipole for 80m. The location adjacent to salt water gives us a definite advantage in the direction of Europe, but since Miquelon is relatively flat, the take-off in other directions is good as well. To keep weight down, these are fed with RG-58 and RG-8X coax – a little more loss than you’d have on a fixed station, but much friendier on airline luggage allowances.

Finally, some of the ancillary kit:

  • A combination of Sennheiser PC350 and Heil headsets and foot switches
  • A WinKey for CW operation
  • Win-Test networked on four laptops for logging
  • Lightweight switch-mode power supplies
  • Lots of UK / European mains adaptors!

How things sound from our side…

September 28th, 2011 | Posted by M0VFC in General - (1 Comments)

A quick clip of some of the (smalller) pile-ups as heard from our side!

CUWS in FP Update

September 27th, 2011 | Posted by M0VFC in General - (1 Comments)

It’s now nearly four days into the DX’pedition, and so far it’s been fantastic. Here’s a quick run-down of the story so far…

For G3ZAY, G4EAG, M0VFC and M1BXF, the trip started at London Heathrow Airport on Thursday morning. We nervously left the SpiderBeam fibreglass poles at check-in, hoping that they’d survive the trip intact, and made it through security with no problems, even if the linear did attract some quizical looks! The flight left on time, and we arrived at St John’s, Newfoundland that evening where we met Rick, VO1SA in the bar.

Friday gave us the chance to spend some time looking around St John’s, and we visited Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America, and Signal Hill, where Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signals.

Soon enough, we were back at the airport and met Dom, M0BLF, for the next flight on to Saint Pierre. We grew nervous as the fog descended, and indeed on arrival at Saint Pierre airport, the near-zero visibility meant that the final leg on to Miquelon itself was cancelled – Miquelon airport does not have instrument landing systems, and so good visibility is required. We stayed overnight on Saint Pierre, opting to take the morning boat to Miquelon-Langlade, the southern part of Miquelon. This turned out to be a wise decision, as visibility remained poor in the morning.

The harbour at Langlade is minimal – specifically, a piece of decking! We had to disembark from the main boat into a RIB for the landing, at which point we final became a full team, meeting up with Tom, M0TOC, who had arrived on schedule the previous day, and Patricia, the owner of the Motel de Miquelon where we would be staying.

On arrival at the Motel, we began assembling atennas, starting with verticals for 40m, 80m and 20m. Over the next few days, these were augmented with those for 10m, 12m, 17m and 30m. We were soon on the air, with an initial QSO with Pete, 2E0SQL, and the pile-ups started soon after!

The next few days have somewhat blurred together, often with four stations on air at once when the bands allowed, and some fantastic conditions on 10 and 12m. The pile-ups have been insane a lot of the time, and we’re now well past 11,000 QSOs to over 100 DXCCs.

If you’ve worked us already – thank you! It’s been great to hear so many people, many of them working us on several bands, and often several of us as well. You guys make it worth coming here!

If you haven’t worked us yet, here’s a few tips that make both your and our life much easier:

  1. The big one: if you’re trying to work us, and we have a pile-up, make sure you know our callsign before calling. We’re all giving our calls either every QSO, or every other one. In any case, it’s not going to be more than a few seconds until you hear it. It’s immensely frustrating to have to break the pile-up for someone who doesn’t even know who they’re calling.
  2. Use your full callsign, not just a couple of letters when you’re calling: if you’ve not been on the receiving end of a pile-up, you might not realise just how much better full callsigns are than partials. Trust us when we say it gives you a better chance of getting through, and speeds things up for everyone!
  3. If we’re sounding a lonely on the band, we’ll probably appreciate a brief chat to let us know the antennas hasn’t fallen over (again). However, if the pile-up is so big that we’re split over a range of frequencies, we don’t need your QTH, equipment, and life story! A quick signal report is just fine, and it gives everyone else a chance of working us.
  4. When we ask for someone with a partial callsign, only call if your callsign matches (or is very close to) the one we ask for. Note that “IZ1ABC” is not similar to “the Kilowatt Nine station again?”

If you’ve not seen it already, have a read of the DX Code of Conduct – amateurs everywhere will appreciate it!

Dom, M0BLF has also made a few great videos of the start of the week: