CQ CQ CQ Dxpedition Station TX7G

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From the station QRZ Page – “Jared (N7SMI), Grant (KZ1W), Keith (VE7KW), and Don (VE7DS) will be active from Hatiheu Village, Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands (OC-027) as TX7G October 18-26, 2014. QRV on 80-10m, CW, SSB, and RTTY with high power to verticals right on the beach. We’ll also be on the air for the CQ WW SSB contest (Zone 31).”

During the past week or so, I had the pleasure of working my first DXpedition station and my first split DX station. There are some ham operators that will tell you that you need a large station with large antennas and amplifiers to make the best contacts. I am here to tell you that this statement is wrong, some of the time. I have a Kenwood TS-400 (100 Watts) and an Icom IC-756Pro (100 Watts) using an experimental fan dipole and and MFJ vertical. With 100 watts, I made the contact. All you need is patience and an ear to hear the pileup.

This was a great eperience and I look forward to more stations in the future. Thanks to Ray (K4RDE) helping me with some issues that I was having with my station and pointing me to trying this station. It took me about 1/2 hour to get through the pileup but I was able to make it.

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Here is the confirmation on their web site that I made it to their club log book….wooohoooo!!!!!!!

TX7G

KF4BZT has worked TX7G on 1 out of 19 band slots

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I took the following map from their web site to show where this station is working from.

QSO with:KF4BZT
Distance: 6181km [LP: 33819km]
Bearing: 233° [LP: 53°]

map

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To see what these guys are all about, you can visit their web site below.

http://tx7g.com/

Window Panel Release 1.1

Hey all,

This is a short posting as I did not take pictures of the Version 1.1 release of my Windows Panel. The additions to the panel included a ground connection to established a ground from inside and outside. This connects my radios and antenna tuner to my ground system outside. Much easier to connect and operate. The second item that was added, which I have not used yet are two lug connections for attaching a wire antenna to the panel which will connect to the Auto Antenna tuner. I have not used this portion yet but hoping to do it someday.

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Items Needed:

– Dremel

– A dremel router bit or a burr bit

– Package of 1/2″ threaded rod, located in most screw shelves in hardware stores

– Package of 1/2″ lock washers

– Package of 1/2″ flat washers

– Package of 1/2″ wing nuts (Makes for easy install and removal of ground cables and wiring)

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Each lug to include the wire antenna and ground include three sections of threaded rod, two lock washers for each threaded rod, two flat washers for each threaded rod, and two wing nuts, one on each side. This installation was done the same way as the coax feed throughs in Version 1.0 using the dremel tool and a dremel router bit or a burr bit to drill through and open the hole for each threaded rod. This was a fast and easy process. Once the holes were opened, I cut the rod to about 2 to 3 inches each and pushed each of them into place, securing them with a lock washer, flat washer, and nut on each side of the panel.

73,

Tim

KF4BZT

Icom to MFJ Antenna Tuner Cable

While at Belton Hamfest a year ago, I purchased an MFJ 994 Auto Antenna Tuner which is 600 Watts SSB and 600 CW and can be used with all HF equipment. There are two main ways to use this tuner, manual and auto. The manual way of using the antenna tuner can be a little bit of a pain but works just fine once you get used to how it works. The auto tuner side works real well if you use a cable between your radio and tuner.

From the manual – “The MFJ-5124I interface cable provides power and control signals between an most radios and the MFJ automatic tuner. For use with the Icom Radios, Push and hold the radio’s [TUNER] button for two seconds to start the tuning process. Push [TUNER] quickly to bypass the tuner.

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Below shows the parts and tools that I used to create this simple cable to allow the Icom IC-756Pro to control the MFJ-994. I was able to find the connector that I needed at Radio Shack (2740224) –  4-Position – Male Interlocking Connector. I had a 3.5 mm male stereo connector and female power connector at home. I brought out the meter to do ohm testing of the wires which came in handy.

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So I started with figuring out which wires need to go where and the manual shows which pins are used for which purpose.

Pin 1 (Key) connects to the Tip of 3.5 mm Stereo Phone Plug.
Pin 2 (Start) connects to the Ring of 3.5 mm Stereo Phone Plug.
Pin 3 (+13.8V) connects to the Center Pin of Power Plug.
Pin 4 (Ground) connects to the Sleeves of both 3.5 mm Stereo Phone Plug and Power Plug.

I stripped the two sets of wires and used the meter to find which ends went to which part of the plugs. The 4 pin plug came with four pins which can be crimped on the ends of the wires making the install much easier that I thought.

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The first set of wires that I added were for the power connection. Pin 3 – Center power plug and Pin 4 – Sleeve of power plug. All you need to do is crimp the pins to the wire and push them into the holes. You should feel a slight snap once the pins are in correctly. Once the power leads were in place, I added the Pin 1 – Connects to 3.5mm Tip and Pin 2 – Connects to 3.5mm Ring to the top two holes of the 4 pin connector. So from the arrow on top, the holes go in order from 1, 2, 3 to 4.

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Once the cable was built, it was time to test it out. Make sure that the Radio and the Auto Tuner are powered off. The black power cable plugs into the 12V power connector on the Auto Antenna Tuner and the grey cable plugs into the Radio interface Connector of the Auto Antenna Tuner. The 4 pin connector that we built plugs into the female connector on the back of the Icom Radio. Now, use the following to power up and use the new cabled Auto Tuner.

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The following came from the MFJ AutoTuner manual:

Connections
1. Insert the 3.5 mm stereo phone plug into the tuner’s RADIO INTERFACE jack.
2. Insert the 2.1 x 5.5 mm coaxial power plug into the tuner’s POWER jack.
3. Important: Make sure the DC power to the radio has been turned off. The radio does not fuse the DC power to the tuner, and damage to the radio can occur if the interface’s power connection comes in contact with ground.
4. Connect the 4-pin molex connector to the mating 4-pin molex connector, marked as TUNER, on the back of the Icom radio.
5. Push the [POWER] button on the tuner to the in position and then power on the radio.
6. Some Icom radios, such as the IC-706, automatically check to see if an external antenna tuner is connected during power on. For other Icom radios, such as the IC-718, the Tuner Type menu in the radio menu system must be enabled. Refer to your radio’s operating manual for accessing the menu system and preparing the AH-4 antenna tuner operation. Use IC-718 as an example:
a. Push [PWR] for 1 second to turn power off.
b. While pushing and holding [SET], push [PWR] to turn power on.
c. Push [UP] or [DN] one or more times to select TUNER.
d. Rotate the Main Dial to select “4” for AH-4 antenna tuner.
e. Push [PWR] for one second to turn power off.
f. Push [PWR] to turn power on again.
Operation
The operation of the MFJ-5124I radio interface is similar to the operation of the AH-3 or AH-4 described in the Icom radio’s operating manual.
1. Push and hold the [TUNER] button on the radio for one or two seconds to initiate automatic tuning process. The radio will automatically switch to CW mode, transmit a 10-watt carrier, and start the tuning process. When the tuning process is completed, the radio will stop transmitting, return to its previous mode and power setting.
2. Push the [TUNER] button on the radio quickly to bypass the tuner or to cancel tuning in progress. Note the [TUNE] button on the tuner will also key the Icom radio interface.

Window Panel version 1.0

When we moved into our house, I was trying to figure out a way to get my radio gear on the air without drilling through the walls are causing any damage to the house. I remember when I lived in Florida I had a panel that I bought, which had four coax feedthrough adapters. This worked for adding HF and VHF antennas to the shack without doing any drilling. Since I can not find the one that I had, I decided that it is time to build one myself. So here we go!!!

In order to make this work, there are some supplies that were needed. Since I am working with Plexiglass or Flexiglass depending on the product, I picked up a scoring knife which is used to cut through this type of material by scoring an edge a few times then cracking the material from the edge of a table or bench. I added silicone sealant to this project to keep water out of the sections and of course the plexiglass sheet was needed as well. One other item that I picked up at a local ham radio store (Grumpy’s here in San Antonio) were the coax feed through connectors shown below to pull this project together.

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Items Needed:

–  30″ x 36″ .080″ Acrylic Plexiglass Sheet

– 100% Silicone Sealant

– Plastic Cutter

– Something straight like a yard stick, laser level, square, etc.

– Dremel

– Sanding bands to debur and level edges

– A dremel router bit or a burr bit

– In this project small sections of wood for trim

– Tape Measure to measure window for proper fit

– Package of feed through coax connectors

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The first steps that I took were to measure and score the sheet of plexiglass before breaking the section. I came up with a measurement that seemed to work for my needs and you can do this for any size. I was try to make sure that I kept this as low profile as possible and still have access to the ports needed. As shown below, I used the edge of my level to score the sheet of plexiglass as I do not have a straight edge. Keep in mind that this is dangerous and you can cut yourself if not careful. This helped in giving me an edge to work with. As you can see in the second picture I started by slowly scoring the line a little furhter until it was deep enough to break the plexiglass cleanly. You will want to take you time in doing this part of the build to keep the lines straight. I did the same measuring and scoring of the material for three separate sections.

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Here you can see that I moved the scored section to the edge of the table and gently pushed down to separate the new section from the main plexiglass.  This is where the scoring came in handy because it will pull the material out of the groove being made enough to the break it. Once I finish with the first section of plexiglass, I went ahead and tried a temp fit in the window to see how much I needed to take off. This seemed to fit pretty well, for now.

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I took the first one and used it as a template to make the other two. Below, you can see that I placed the first one on top of the sheet and scored the initial lines for the second and third one.

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Once I got each section cut and separated, it was time to make sure that the edges were even so that they are would fit into the window more evenly. I took my dremel and used a sanding band to sand down one side to make it even. By doing one side only, I was able to make this more even quicker without any issues to the sections.


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In the following, it is time to bring the three sections together as one and seal out any potential water issues that may occur. So in order to do this, I ran a bead of sealant down and across each edge as well as adding three even sections down the middle. This will help in sealing this up and keeping each section together better as the plexiglass material is flexible. I did this on each section with about 5 minutes between adding another on top. All of this sat over night to dry.

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IMG_20140925_184241  20140924_174115  20140924_174149

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Now it is time to add the coax feed through connectors to our plexiglass. This part did not take long, but I would recommend having some washers big enough to fit over those connectors in order to hide any discrepancies in the plexiglass. I used the dremel tool and a dremel router bit or a burr bit to drill through and open the hole for each connector. This was a fast and easy process. Once the holes were opened, I pushed each connector into place and used the nuts that came with them to attach them to the panel.

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IMG_20140925_184719 IMG_20140925_192250 IMG_20140925_192259         IMG_20140924_180345

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Once the panel was complete, I placed it in the window and was able to hook up my HF station to it. This was a cheap way to add feed through connectors without drilling through the walls or doing any other damage, especially when you are renting. If you need any information on this project, by all means, let me know.

73,

Tim

KF4BZT