When I started on 50 MHz in April 1988, I build my own transverter and antennas. During the first 4 years I made a lot of QSO's with an old Yaesu FT301D and a transverter that gave me only 1 Watt output. Soon this was followed with many kinds of transistor PA's. Finally I build a reliable one with a MRF492. With max. voltage (17V), it supplied 80 Watt out.
When cycle 22 came to
life more and more and the challenge for the DXCC was obvious, I had quite a few
problems working split frequency.
This because of the FT301D had only one VFO. And a RIT offset of maximum 5 kHz. So I was looking for something else.
The old FT301D Icom IC736 IC756
My good friend Enno PA0ERA (now PF5X) told me about a new transceiver that Icom brought on the market. An Icom IC736 which had all the tools I needed for my demanding ambition. So with this one I carry on and worked a lot of DX. And it was nearly as good as my homebrew stuff. The filters are great and I used a DSP filter with it too. What I really like is the split control. Really an advantage to get on a DX-station RX frequency immediately. Only after some time I got my doubts on the NF on 50 MHz. I couldn't hear EME stations the way I did with my homebrew stuff. After some measurements I discovered the NF on 50 MHz was a little high. (up to 6 dB) So I build a preamp that is described on my homebrew page. With a BF981 and later a 3SK179 I got that performance back again. So now I am always using a preamp with a high quality coax relay. QSK will not be used so I do not really suffer doing so.
Some years ago I got an IC756. This rig is a very handy tool for a demanding 50MHz operator. As soon I started using it I saw the difference with the high technical standards with ham radio today. With itís very good DSP I experienced the same improvement as when I had with the change to the 736. So since 1999 I am qrv with this rig and it has never disappointed me. Especially the 250 Hz CW filter is a great help during strong inband video. But the NF on 50 MHz was even worse than with the 736 by 2 dB. So this baby also got something extra from me. A preamp!
go by. There was another surprise coming up. The year 2004 will be remembered for
some very nice things. In April we celebrate our 25 years marriage.
My wife accept my ambition unless she never understood my excitement working a
new country or my grief missing one. So I was baffled getting a new IC756PROII
as a present for those great 25 years.
This radio has even more high standard technology. The receiver is less nervous than all my
previous ones. And the DSP filters are of a great help. This is the very first time I am able to configure my own filters without the need of buying new filters in the shop. And because of the functionality is like the "old" 756, it was not very difficult to learn how one should use
this fine piece of equipment.
The antenna I used for some time was a 6 element home made Yagi with a seven meter long boom. It was designed with the help of CAD programs. It took me more than a week to get all the cutting and paste done. That Yagi had an extremely high return loss. Never have had one where I wasn't be able to measure the VSWR the normal way with a Bird or equivalent. For this one I needed my homebrew return loss meter. It came to a return loss >40 dB. With 100 Watt less than 10 mW came back. The Bird 43 elements are not that accurate measuring this exact.
And now I use a new design. It is a LFA Yagi, designed by G0KSC. It pick up less noise and birdies from the near environment. It is a 6 el. Yagi that replaced the former one.
For the HF bands I am using a 2x 11 meters open dipole at 10 meters above the ground, with a big balun, which is described on my homebrew page. The open wire feeder is matched with the use of a homemade symmetrical tuner. I also have a 3 band rotary dipole in the mast.
Further more I have an IC706mk2G to add to the fun like holidays and mobile work. It is not very often used, but the times that I do, it is what you can expect from a rig like this. And of course I am QRV on 144 & 432 MHz with it. The 144 MHz. Flexa 4 el. Yagi is for local work. I do remember those days when I had 4x 15el for moonbounce....I cannot compete with this. So you will not hear me very often on the 2 meters band.
As a real home brewer I collect quite some measuring equipment. Of course you will find a 100 Mhz oscilloscope in the shack, but I also have a Tektronix 2710 portable spectrum analyzer, some Bird power meters, dummy loads, all kinds of power supplies and a heavily loaded toolbox. My main interest is antennas and power amplifiers.
When I did a 6M contest once at the TU in Eindhoven I have seen the advantage of packet radio. For sure the DXcluster was very handy. I always hated the idea of having a computer in the shack. I tried it once in the Comodore 64 era, but it was much too noisy. So I guess I was one of the last DXers that get a PC in the shack. I bought two former ATF2 Siemens sets that I rebuilt to 432 MHz. Connected with a TNC3s it performed well on 1200 Baud for some time. But years go by. With the PC connected on an ADSL line to the internet it is much faster than packet radio. I now using the DXTelnet software for the world wide cluster system. And in my house I have a LAN working with PC's all over the places; from living room to attic. And yes, also very near the two hobby rooms...The shack and sleeping room! A good friend Alain, ON4KST decided some years ago to setup a chat page for the dedicated ham. Since than it is one of the most used source for propagation information. This is now the main page on most PC's in the house.
So whenever you will visit me by surprise, don't be surprised yourself finding me cutting chassis, drilling holes and fighting with PCB's. But now I think I am hearing some new DXCC's for #220 on 50 MHz.
CUL and 73,