Antenna or Leaky Dummy Load?   December 19th, 2014

I never cease to be amazed at how many hams neglect their antenna system. Newcomers in particular often;t seem to overlook the importance of antennas. CB verticals are often used, or short verticals that promise all band operation. Frankly such systems are so poor in performance that it is a wonder they produce contacts at all. Somebody once described them as leaky dummy loads. Not too far from the truth, particularly on the lower bands!

The antenna is the most important part of the station and no matter how much you pay for your transceiver, the antenna is the deciding factor on your station’s performance. There are many examples of expensive transceivers feeding poor antennas. It really is necessary in many cases for the owners of such stations to spend a little more time on their antenna systems.

Yes, small gardens are limiting factors, but that really should underline the need to makes sure that the antenna you use really is designed for the job. In fact there are arguments sometimes for operating on just one band and optimising the antenna for that particular band. You can always change bands later. The difference between a good antenna and a poor one can be really dramatic. Maybe band conditions are not really as bad as some would believe. By all means spend money on the transceiver, but also consider how much money you have spent on your antenna! Peter G3OJV.

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Elecraft K3 Sales Soar!   December 19th, 2014

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The UK Elecraft K3 sales have hit new heights and is now outselling every other base HF transceiver we sell by a very large factor. We are even receiving much more expensive radios in part exchange. A good proportion of K3s are ready built but there is no shortage of those who want to build their own.

There is no getting away from the fact that the K3 is a most remarkable transceiver and offers so much more than its competitors in many areas. The designers are active hams, some with really big antenna systems and they know exactly what is needed for top performance. And the K3 is so versatile. It enables owners to specify and buy just the specification that they need. A K3 can cost as little as£1500, but can cost up to £4,000. But the good news is that at any time you can upgrade your K3 as and when you can afford it. How many other transceivers offer this? And if you are thinking of buying a used one, you may have a problem. Few come back on the market! Peter G3OJV.

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We are pleased to announce that we are now taking orders for the new Yaesu FT-991 transceiver. This is a great new design offering 100W on HF-6m and 50W on VHF/UHF.

Our price will be honoured even if Yaesu fix a higher price and if it is lower, then that lower price is the price you will pay. To get your order in, just place an order by paying£100 deposit. You have nothing to lose and possibly something to gain.

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Here is your Christmas Holiday opportunity to purchase a brand new transceiver at an amazing price. This is brand new UK stock with 24 month UK warranty.

This offer expires on 31st December 2014 and is subject to stock availability. So don’t delay. Phone 01702 203353 now to take advantage of this offer.

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Icom Add Another Mobile IC-2730   December 18th, 2014


The Icom IC-2730, a practical dual bander with optional Bluetooth headset!

W&S are pleased to announce details of the new IC-2730E dual band mobile transceiver which will be available in early 2015. This stunning new VHF/UHF dual band mobi… See More

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Icom Launch IC-7851   December 17th, 2014

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It is perhaps a little surprising that even before Icom have delivered the IC-7850 “special edition,” they now announce the launch of the IC-7851. Both radios are very much based around the IC-7800, and with so little detail, it is difficult to know how far apart the IC7850 and the IC-7851 actually are in terms of the specification. The model numbers would suggest that their specification is relatively close, but that may well prove not to be the case.

At this pint in time all we know is that coverage is HF to 6m and the price is going to be sub £10,000. We expect to see them available towards the end of Sprong 2015. Start saving up now! Peter G3OJV

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Yaesu Launch the FT-2D   December 12th, 2014

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Yaesu are ramping up their digital line of ham radio gear. This last week we have sold 5 repeaters to Scottish customers. And the new FT-2D looks really exciting with a display that is getting closer to Smart Phone designs. No games yet though! Peter G3OJV.

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Every transceiver and receiver is fitted with an automatic gain control that continuously adjusts the RF/IF gain in order to try and maintain a level signal in the headphone or loudspeaker. It also prevents overload distortion. This is a very comfortable arrangement and some of the current circuit design is very advanced. But it was not always like this.

Early receivers, did not employ this technology, the gain through the receiver was totally manually controlled and any overload was dealt with by manual adjustment of theRF gain control or the attenuator. But there were some merits in this form of operation. AGC is well known for its pumping action and the time constant for attack and decay are usually offered as alternatives for CW and SSB. But on today’s crowded bands the AGC has to work hard and can be a contributory factor to noisy reception. For those who have an experimental inclination, it is interesting to try operation without AGC. A few radios have an AGC switch that allows it to be turned off. In such designs you will find that as soon as the radio’s AGC is turned off, severe distortion may result. The solution here is to back off the RF gain until the distortion stops. You will then be left with a signal that sounds somewhat clearer and more peasant to listen to, than with the AGC in operation. If you have no AGC switch, you can experience the same benefit simply by backing of the RF gain control to the point where the audio just starts to reduce.

Using this method of operation, you will find that you end up using the RF gain control almost as an AF control, but with a much quieter receiver background, particularly on medium to strong signals. The RF gain control is one of the least used adjustments made by many of today’s operators, yet can make a big difference in reception. Peter G3OJV.

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Elecraft KX3 Update to Firmware   December 3rd, 2014

All owners that are using the 2m or 4m transporters (sorry still waiting for 4m modules!) should immediately update to: MCU 2.29 / DSP 1.30, 12-1-2014.

This fixes power issues on 2m and direct frequency entry from the keypad which in some cases was not working correctly on 4m.

Peter G3OJV.

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Many newcomers to ham radio make the assumption that height above sea level is important. Well so it is on VHF, but that is by no means true for HF. How can that be?

Well let us look first at VHF. The important part of radiation from a VHF antenna is the part that is horizontal or near horizontal. In other words, the part that runs parallel to the Earth’s surface. For maximum distance your antenna needs to be as high as possible and likewise your location needs to be high above surrounding ground. That way your horizontal signals will travel furthest. This is the most common mode of propagation used for normal VHF contacts. In fact all VHF antennas also radiate energy at higher angles, but this energy usually travels out into space to be lost forever. There are rare occasions when some of this energy is reflected back to Earth. But by and large, the most successful operators have high antennas on high ground.

When it comes to HF propagation, almost the reverse is true. The horizontal signals are quite quickly attenuated, whilst the signals travelling at angles upwards from the Earth are, for most of the time, reflected back to earth at significant distances away, frequently thousands of miles. This kind of propagation benefits little from antennas on tops of hills. Stations on lower ground are not disadvantage, and in many cases there may be a benefit. Low ground frequently means moist ground and this gives better ground reflection and stronger signals. So on HF a low sited station is certainly not a disadvantage.

But, do not confuse this with antenna height above the immediate ground beneath it. The higher the antenna above the local ground, the better the performance because the angle of radiation is lower as antenna support height is increased, and therefore there is a longer skip distance before the signal is bounced back to Earth.

These are somewhat simplistic explanations, but hopefully helps to encourage those potential HF operators who thought they were not likely to achieve good performance because they were not located high enough above sea level. Peter G3OJV

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