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K4UK - QRP in Europe - Keynote # 5/6, 2000

One of the things that is a bit frustrating about doing this column is having to delay using so much good material that I receive. Since the info I provide here is no more important than anything else in the Keynote, I try to limit myself to one full page of text each issue. If I used everything I received here, I could easily go to 3 or 4 pages per issue, but that wouldn't be fair to others, so I won't do it.

One case in particular that brought about that first paragraph is the following information I've had here for some time now. It's from the FISTS QSL Bureau manager - Stan, K4UK. Stan took a trip to Europe last year and did some QRP work while he was there. It contains some tips for those who may be doing something similar.

"John - K3WWP: Thought I'd let you know what I ended up doing as far as a Power Supply for my Ten-Tec 1320 QRP rig that I used as HB9/K4UK the first two weeks of May.

I went to Radio Shack and purchased their Cat. No. 22-503 Switching 3-amp regulated power supply. The specifications are:
Input Voltage 90 to 240 VAC
Nominal Input Frequency 50-60Hz
Output Voltage 13.8 VDC +/- 5%
Output Current 3 Amps DC Continuous (Max)

The Instruction Booklet contained the statement: This power supply has been tested and found to comply with all applicable UL standards and FCC requirements.

I tested the power supply here on 110 volt circuit with the 1320 and it worked fine.

Before I left, a neighbor found an old Archer Cat. No. 273-1401A unit which has European round plug pins and a U.S. socket built in. The nameplate says: "Converts 220/240 Volts AC to 110/120 Volts AC. For use with motorized or electronic appliances up to 50 watts maximum." Essentially, it's a plug-in transformer. I took it along, figuring I would use it to step the voltage down for the power supply. I did just that.

The first day of operation in Switzerland, I was perplexed by the loud "birdes" on a portion of the 20 Meter band. The birdies seem to arbitrarily move within the band. I thought I might be having some interference from a local TV set.

The second day, the birdies persisted and just by chance I took hold of the power supply to move it on the desk. When I did so, the frequency on which birdies occurred changed. I noticed that if I squeezed the case of the power supply I could move the location of the birdies on the band.

I made a couple contacts during which I had to squeeze the power supply during receive so I could read the station I was working. I finally decided this was not going to work. Luckily a friend had loaned me his Heath HW-9 and its power supply. I tried the Heath power supply on the Ten-Tec 1320 and there were no birdies!

The Heath Power Supply is the Model PSA-9 rated 120 VAC 60 Hz 38 Watts. It's much heavier than the Radio Shack Unit and probably is not a switching type unit. It worked fine on 50 Hz and never got more than warm. I operated the rest of the time with it. Using it alternately to power the Ten-Tec 1320 and the Heath HW-9.

The only thing I can deduce from the problem is that the 50 Hz frequency over there was chopped up differently by the switching power supply than it is on the 60 Hz frequency over here. I don't get birdies with it over here. Any ideas about the cause of the birdies?

Had a great time as HB9/K4UK. Made 107 QSO's in 36 different countries. Used the Ten-Tec 1320 almost exclusively on 20 Meters because the receiver in it was much superior to the HW-9. Had 61 QSO's on 20 Meters. Had 2 QSO's on 80 Meters, 13 on 40 Meters, 17 on 30 Meters, 11 on 15 Meters and 3 on 10 Meters.

And, boy we think we've got interference over here on the CW portion of 40 Meters. They really have it over there. The band is essentially useless from 7.030 and up.

I had a chance to have an "eye-ball" QSO with Claude, HB9OX at his home in Kerzers. He is FISTS #4849. I got him straightened away concerning the Century Award. He thought he had to have QSL cards confirming the QSO's. I told him that FISTS operates on the "honor system" and all he needed to do was send in the list of 100 points worth of FISTS contacts - which in his case was only 50 QSO's, because until he and I had a QSO on 80 Meters, all his FISTS QSO's were with members in another country. Hi!

I had mentioned to Claude the fact that some nights I had a lot of what appeared to be broadcast interference on the 20 Meter band. He asked me what the IF frequency of the 1320 was and I told him 6.144 MHz. He said that the band from 6.100 to 6.200 Mhz was a broadcast band in Europe and that could explain the apparent interference. He assured me that 20 Meters is "clean" in Europe - not like 40 Meters. Hi!

Well, John, I've rattled on long enough, but I did want to let you know the power supply problem I had in Europe. I'm really impressed with the Ten-Tec 1320. It worked great! In fact it often surprised me, especially when I could hear other stations calling the station I was calling and he came back to me. I even got I1HJT/OD5 on my first call in a pile-up. Now that's a real thrill!

Enjoy your monthly articles in the Keynote. Keep 'em coming. 73, Stan - K4UK"

Thanks Stan. With great info like that, I'll be able to keep 'em coming for some time to come.

And that brings me to the end of another column, and once again I must postpone some other information till a later issue. Thanks to all of you for the comments, info, etc. That's what makes writing this column so rewarding. Please visit my web site when you get a chance. If you missed any columns, all the previous columns are there. It's at home.windstream.net/johnshan/ Contact me via Email or for those who still use regular mail, that address is John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. 73 -30-