Next on the air

Now that the HF radio is on the air, the next things I need to get set up are the VHF radio, the OpenBeacon and the Softrock receiver.
I’ll need to get/make suitable antennas and get coax for each of them.
The OpenBeacon needs to be reprogrammed, but it works. I can plug in a USB cable and watch it blink out slow Morse code (which is still almost too fast for me to copy). I can also hear it on the HF radio at 10.130 MHz. I’ll need to make up a suitable antenna for it.
The VHF radio should be all set to go once I get an antenna set up and hooked up to it.
Just need to get around to putting the last transformer on the Softrock receiver and make up the external connections to get it on the air.
I’ll need to make up a shopping list for the hamfest next week.

First contest

Operated for the last few hours of the North American QSO party last night. First contest I’ve participated in under my own call sign. There was a pretty good amount of activity on 40m when I was on and I added 17 more contacts to my log. I even managed to make one contact at 5W because I forgot to turn the power up on the radio after tuning it.
Didn’t hear much activity on any of the other bands, although I wasn’t listening too hard.
Had fun tuning around the bands making contacts. It was interesting seeing where my signal was reaching out to.

Almost invisible

From the street, the antenna is practically invisible against the trees, aside from the white rope used to secure one of the wires (and sometimes even that’s hard to spot).
Invisible antenna
Both ends of the antenna float, with tension provided by a couple of surplus weights
Coax goes up the house to the eaves where it meets up with the ladder feedline of the antenna
From the other side, the antenna and ropes are a little more visible against the sky

Securing the antenna

After a week of being temporarily tied to trees and bushes, I finally got around to anchoring the antenna a little more securely using some eye screws. In the process I was able to raise the center of the antenna up another couple of meters which might help things.
One arm of the antenna is weighted down with a 2lb weight and floats up and down so that it can move with the trees. The center and other leg are tied down with enough slack to handle windy days. I may change them so that they’re just weighted down as well rather than tied off.
The coax got routed through the crawl space so I won’t have to worry about running over it with the lawn mower. It runs up the side of the house through another eye screw to the antenna feed line. When the radios get moved into their permanent location in the office/shack, I’ll look at some floor or wall connections for the coax.

First contacts

I was tuning around the radio last night while waiting for Fedora 18 beta to install on the computer and heard 9A9A from Croatia calling loud and clear. He had quite the pileup going and it was interesting listening to him work everyone. A little while later after the pile up cleared away, I called him and managed to get him on the first attempt. First contact with the new antenna and it was a DX from almost 7900 km away! His signal was easily 59+ like he was next door, and I got a 59 back from him.
About 40 minutes later, I heard UT2IJ in the Ukraine calling and working a pileup too. Rather than wait, I responded and managed to work him on the first try too from 9100 km away! His signal was pretty good, a 58 and I got a 57 back.
Looks like the antenna is working pretty well.