So as the saying goes: “if you can’t hear them, you can’t work them!” More on that in a moment …
Back from the honeymoon and getting settled in to our routines again has given me an opportunity to play radio.
A few days ago I met with Bob Sharp (VA3QV) who generously offered to let me test-drive a perfectly functional Yaesu FT-857D that he owns.
I have a couple of weeks to test the rig out to see if it is what I am comfortable using as my first modern HF rig (I own a FT-101EE in rather rough shape).
So today I managed to get out and string up my G5RV lite antenna that I purchased a couple of months ago, and hooked it up to the radio.
I pulled a fully-charged battery from my 1985 Suzuki Samurai off-road rig to power the radio whilst sitting blissfully in the shade, ready to make contacts left and right. Or so I thought.
So with everything hooked up, all levels checked and at appropriate values, I was not amused when all I heard was noise (S5-S7).
With my MFJ antenna tuner tweaked for maximum noise, I tuned around the 20m band looking to hear something, anything! Alas, radio silence.
Knowing full well that Bob tested the radio before loaning it out, I knew that the problem was after the SO-239 connector on the back of the radio.
I double checked all the cables and they were are secured as they should have been. Another quick listen and there was a faint signal!
Being a technician by trade, I thought – that’s odd … must be an intermittent problem, which suggests it is a cabling issue.
A quick check of my cables revealed that one end of my 50′ coaxial cable was not properly terminated in the PL-259 connection – this is a custom cable I purchased from a local retailer which is a pity. So with the antenna pig-tail just off the ground, I moved my whole setup closer to eliminate the length of defective coax (I did not have a replacement PL-259 to solder on).
Good news: I was hearing some extremely faint radio traffic!
Bad news: 1. what I did hear as intelligence was extremely weak, 2. the background noise was still very high as reported by the radio
I double checked all other patch-cables and everything was just fine, much to my chagrin.
After confirming that the antenna was in fact tuned for maximum noise / minimum SWR with an AM carrier, I felt defeated.
It looks like I will be making/buying a 4:1 balun to string up a purpose-cut 20m dipole to test with in the hopes that I just have a bum antenna.
.. so much for playing radio today. I was really hoping to make a few contacts before having to move on to other tasks. Maybe another day soon!