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Author Topic: First radio, first antenna,...no contacts  (Read 3341 times)
KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« on: February 15, 2012, 08:10:51 PM »

Today was my first day on the airwaves, though I'm not sure if I was really on or being heard.  Kenwood TS-530SP - first rig, antenna chosen based on rec's made here: 40m 1/2 wave dipole inverted vee approx. 40' up, 100' of RG-8X to radio.  Yes, this was my first night listening, and trying to talk.

I can hear others great! GA, NC, VA, RI, MI, AL, later FL, KY, Nassau Bahamas, OH, PA..Venezuela!  But, I don't think they can hear me anywhere.  I don't know if I'm doing this right, though I followed K4EAA's tuning instructions to a T.  Later on I heard Cuba, British Columbia, Nevada,.. I tried several times answering CQ's to folks w/ no reply..am I doing something wrong?  No I don't have a tuner/amplifier/anything else besides radio & antenna.  I called CQ many, many times on different freqs with no reply.

Questions:
1) When there are ongoing conversations on what seem like every frequency, how does one ever get into the conversation?

2) More important - how do I check I'm actually getting "out"? 

A little frustrated and disappointed,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ
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K4RVN
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Posts: 775




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« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2012, 08:52:38 PM »

Robert,
You should have a watt meter in  the coax line sitting on top of the radio or where you can see it. It will let you know how much power is going out to the antenna. I am near Atlanta, Ga and would make a schedule to listen for you on 40 meters ,if interested, to help you. Look me up on QRZ.com and send me an email if you would like to arrange a schedule. I am retired so available most days and nights. I use an inexpensive radio shack swr power meter on 40 meters. I also use about 100 ft of RG8x going out to my antenna. That's all I use for coax now running up to 1000 watts on HF. Let me know if I can be of help. I can run about 500 watts on 40 meters ssb so you can probably hear me when propagation is good.


Frank
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K2OWK
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Posts: 1064




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« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2012, 09:09:59 PM »

Hello Robert, I have a question, does the internal wattmeter on your radio show an output? What does the radios internal VSWR meter say? If the antenna you built is not tuned properly and has a high VSWR the radio's internal protection circuit will lower the power to just about "0". I would also tell you that the 40 meter inverted "V" will also operate on 15 meters if tuned properly. Have you checked it on this frequency? Like was mentioned you need to invest in an SWR/power meter to keep tabs on the operation of your antenna. If I was to guess at the problem you are having it would be a non resonant high VSWR antenna.

Hope this helps.

I will listen for you on 40 meters as I have the same set up as you do, and can talk to just about anyone I can hear. I run 100 watts using a Yaesu FT-450AT.

73s

K2OWK
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K4RVN
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Posts: 775




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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2012, 10:20:17 PM »

Robert,
I see you have an older transceiver with the tube finals. You can find a manual on line if you don't have one. I would suggest that you get someone in your area with experience to tune the transceiver as it is important to do it right with tubes and probably a pi network output. Maybe you know someone who is familiar with the radio as it is a little more of a task than a no tune solid state radio. Be sure your heater switch is on for the tube filaments and let it warm up a few minutes before tuning. Get someone to help you tune it in person if possible.
I looked at the manual and it takes a little experience to get it tuned properly, so don't feel you are the lone ranger.

Frank
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2012, 04:11:06 AM »

Thanks for the encouragement.  I'll try to get watt meter soon.  As to transmitting, the meter reads about 225mA when tuned, but when I transmit with the mike, the meter goes to 0.  I don't know if this is normal behavior or not.  I'm on the Kenwood mailing list, I will post there also.  THanks

73,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ
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K8AC
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Posts: 1475




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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2012, 05:58:42 AM »

We tend to make things a bit complicated these days.  Without a wattmeter, here's a way you can tell something about your output power.  Connect a piece of coax to a regular 100W incandescent light bulb.  You'll be able to solder to the tip terminal, but you'll have to clamp the coax braid to the threaded portion of the bulb base.  The Kenwood can be tuned to match the impedance of the light bulb - it isn't 50 ohms, but that won't make any difference in this case.  With the transceiver transmitting in CW mode, you should be able to tune the final so that the light bulb is quite bright.  If the bulb glows bright, your output is fine.  After you verify output on CW, then move on to SSB and see if you have output there when you speak into the mic.  If not, check mic, mic cable connections, mic gain setting, etc.  On SSB, you should see no output to the bulb unless you're speaking.

One thing to beware of - the light bulb will radiate a surprising amount of signal, even on 40 meters.  It is NOT a dummy load!

73, Floyd - K8AC
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2012, 06:18:50 AM »

Someone else told me the lightbulb trick also, but the 830 manual has the statement in it:

Quote
Random length wire antennas or light bulb dummy loads cannot be used.

Being new to this, I don't know whether to go by the manual or the advice of others that have done this stuff a long time!
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K8AC
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Posts: 1475




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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 06:43:38 AM »

Their advice is probably based on the fact that the resistance of the light bulb will change as it heats up.  So, the pi net tuning would change accordingly.  At this point, you're objective is to find out if you have output or not.  The bulb will tell you that.  If the bulb presented a very high impedance as a random length antenna (without tuner) might, then there would be a possibility of arcing PA components, but that's just not the case here. 
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2012, 06:45:22 AM »

Ok, I'll try this until I get a SWR/wattmeter.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20603




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« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2012, 08:22:58 AM »

Thanks for the encouragement.  I'll try to get watt meter soon.  As to transmitting, the meter reads about 225mA when tuned, but when I transmit with the mike, the meter goes to 0.  I don't know if this is normal behavior or not.  I'm on the Kenwood mailing list, I will post there also.  THanks

73,
Robert Opalko
KD5NDQ

If you're monitoring plate current (Ip) and it's 225mA in CW when tuned and you switch to SSB and key the mike, the meter should definitely NOT drop to "0."  It should drop to about 60mA, which is the correct idling current for that rig.  That is adjustable with a BIAS control.  Of course I hope you realize that until you speak (modulate), you'll have zero output, that's normal.  There's no output on SSB unless you're speaking and have the mike gain turned up so it can modulate the transmitter.

But if the Ip meter reads "0" when you key the transmitter in the SSB mode, something's wrong.
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 08:38:54 AM »

Hmmm..ok.  I'm not at the radio now so I can't check any of the things detailed to me so far.  But I know it does go to 0 when keying the mic.  I hope I didn't break it somehow...!
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2012, 09:33:09 AM »

Do you have the manual?  It tells you pretty clearly exactly how to set the idling current...
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KD5NDQ
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 11:50:06 AM »

Yes I have the manual, thanks.
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NO2A
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Posts: 786




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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2012, 12:38:34 PM »

The 225ma reading is perfectly normal plate current,indicating about 100 watts output. At least on cw the rig seems to be operating at proper output. If the rig loads easily that would indicate a lower swr,still hard to tell without a meter. Kenwood reccomends tuning for max power out in relative power output meter position.
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K4RVN
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Posts: 775




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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 12:52:11 PM »

Robert,
Here is a you tube for tuning the 520 that might interest you. Good luck

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4S4mKDySqvo

Frank
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