Holiday activities … getting things done

Img_5734It’s been a while since my last blog entry. Reason is simple: I am on holiday 700 km away from home in JO73, about a hundred kilometers north-east of Berlin, where we have our contest station. Have been busy doing several station upgrade projects with focus on remote usage capabilities. Weather permitting (we had some ugly rainy days overhere) I upgraded the VHF remote antenna mast last week. I added 2 platforms to the mast to take away load from the rotator so mounted it on the lower platform now with a thrust bearing on the upper platform instead of just the rotator on the mast top. Installed a new 2 m antenna, too, and extended the mast another meter. Yes, not that much but hey, every meter counts! 😉 Many thanks to Heiko, DG1BHA, who assisted whenever I needed a helping hand!

Img_5722Last weekend saw me putting together the new all Elecraft remote station consisting of a K3/K144XV + KPA500 + KAT500 together with the homebrew 10×2 antenna controller to access all of our antennas remotely, too. The control side has the Elecraft “front panel” K3/0 mini. Remote & control side are connected through Microbit’s RRC’s (Remote Rig Controllers). Also put a dedicated bandpass filter set inbetween to minimize station interference when somebody else is QRV locally. So we are now able to run remote and locally in parallel choosing all available antennas fully automatically, same as we do when two of us are local for the bigger contests. Have been using the station quasi-remotely during the last few days having the front panel in the same room to make sure everything’s working properly before being 700 km away again next week. 😉

Also put together some additional ERC-M rotator interfaces by Rene, DF9GR, as well as relay cards and installed everything in the HF rotators. They work very reliably, have been using them for a few years already and no problems at all, highly recommended! I now also use the LAN option with the Lantronix modules, they work like a charm, too. All four rotators are turning remotely now although the one with the 15 m beam gave some trouble. It’s a quite old KR-2000 which got a relay card but was not turning through the controller. Turned out the pre-owner modified it and put the brake fuse into the common line instead of the brake line as the schematics said. Thus not only the break current but also the motor current flowing through the fuse so it blew after a few seconds. After that was corrected it is now turning fine, too. 😉

Last not least installed 2 additional IP (web-based) power switches to switch rotators and interfaces in the different rooms on & off remotely as well as enabling the local operators to do so, too, without needing to open a webpage first. 😉 The new NETIO-230C models are well suited for the task as they have dedicated power buttons for local switching. The old NETIO-230A which I was using until now had a more complicated method that was not easy enough for every local OP. 😉

All in all quite a bit of stuff done so did not spent too much time on the radio itself. Nevertheless managed to work 9K2MU on 6 m for DXCC #129 as well as a few new grid squares. Sorrily I missed the 2 m Sporadic E opening on May 23, just arrived about an hour too late from the 700 km trip up here. A pity, as the band has not opened again the last days. But maybe I will be lucky during the remaining few days of holidays, still keeping fingers crossed. 😉

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