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I enjoy casual CW DXing and DX contesting. I also enjoy experimenting with simple antennas up here on the mountain, mostly verticals in the trees or on 33-foot MFJ poles (I have 7 of them). Being on the SW side of a mountain, I don't do great into Europe, but VK's and ZL's boom in. I have a 3-element parasitic array on 40m, in a triangle 33 feet on a side, where one element is driven and the other two are loaded with 1 uH to act as reflectors. Control is with +24V, 0V, or -24V over the coax, with relay boxes at each element, and lots of radials stapled to the ground. A center-off toggle switch in the shack selects one of three directions. I have a 160m inverted L pretty far from the house that also makes a good RX antenna for other bands. I have a 4-element 20m vertical Moxon pointed WSW hanging between the trees. Dimensions were optimized using the 4NEC2 optimizer function. I never could make one work manually. It works great when there happens to be someone in that direction (like K5P!). I also have a Hustler 4BTV that I modified (cut top pipe to 18" to replace 40m with 30m). I since added 17m and 12m outriggers to it, which work great, but pushed the 10m VSWR up to 3:1. I use a rotatable dipole on 10m.

The primary rig is a Yaesu FTDX-3000D with an Elecraft P3 panadapter. I also run an Ameritron AL-82 when needed. The backup rig is an FT-920. I built a box using a MikroElektronika "Ready for PIC" 18F25K22 board for the FTDX-3000D or FT-920 that allows the VFO-B dial to control my FT-100 for working splits. Another box handles RX RF and headphone audio. In RX, the FT-100 audio drives the right ear as RX-B. In TX, the FTDX-3000D or FT-920 audio drives both ears with CW sidetone. I recently added a feature that allows VFO-B of the FTDX-3000D to control marker-B of the P3, which is great for working split pile-ups. The P3 marker-B, RX-B frequency is what I hear in my right ear. The main receiver RX-A and marker-A are always at 0 Hz (center screen) on the P3.

The FT-920 has the Yaesu 500 Hz CW filter and the Inrad 250 Hz cascade filter mod, plus my own VCO loop compensation mods to reduce close-in noise sidebands that were causing reciprocal mixing problems. By increasing the PLL bandwidth, the noise sidebands are lower in amplitude and farther away from the LO frequency. I pulled out the FM unit and the AM bypass board, as those were contributors to CW and SSB filter blow-by through the filter switches on the main board. This is a simple mod that anyone can do. I wanted a great CW rig, not a do-everything rig. The Inrad cascade filter can't fix main board blow-by problems, only CW filter problems. The FT-920 has the potential to be a fine transceiver. Mine works much better now. I never hear signals on the wrong side of zero-beat anymore. The raspy sounding signals from reciprocal mixing off the VCO sidebands are much less common. I run with minimum preamp gain and/or maximum attenuation for the band, conditions, and antenna. Any rig can be miss-used. I try to center up whatever dynamic range I have for best performance.

See you in the pile-ups.

73! Bill Coleman N4ES

7027168 Last modified: 2016-01-22 18:28:02, 3201 bytes

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