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Friday, January 2, 2015

A Thatched Roof, Some Palm Trees, A Dipole, and a Homebrew Rig

 

Look at the drawing above.  That is the banner logo of Rod Newkirk's column in QST magazine.  For many years Rod regaled us with exciting reports on the activities of intrepid foreign radio amateurs, transmitting from exotic locations using ingeniously devised homebrew radio equipment.  Look at the picture on the left side.  See the palm trees?  See the thatched roof shack with the dipole antenna?  Well, that's pretty close to what it was like for me out on the Samana Peninsula in the Dominican Republic last month. 


I set up the station under the thatched roof in this picture:


The red pins mark the spot:



Here I am, tuning the rig while looking across Bahia Rincon: 


The rig was my Azores-built, oft-modified, NE602-based, ceramic resonator DSB transceiver with a recently added India-designed BITX IRF510 RF amplifier chain.  A little article I wrote about the ceramic resonator VXO was featured in SPRAT 127.  My antenna was a half wave dipole strung up in the thatched roof. Power came from 10 AA Batteries.  So this was the Double A, Double Sideband, Dipole DX-pedition.   

I had given some thought to building an SSB rig for this trip, but because of the efforts of Peter Parker, VK3YE, I felt compelled to take a DOUBLE Sideband rig with me to the beach. 

Here is an old (2006) video on the rig.  The power amplifier has been significantly modified: 




Here is some more information on the rig, including a schematic for the receiver and the SPRAT article on the Variable Ceramic Oscillator:

http://www.gadgeteer.us/PORTABLE.html
 
Here is the log book for my contacts.   

17 DECEMBER 2014
W1JPR PAUL MT. DESERT ISLAND MAINE
8P6AE (BARBADOS) COULD BARELY HEAR ME, BUT GOOD QSO

18 DECEMBER 2014
N4USA DAVE IN FLOYD, VA. FAIRS NET. (KK4WW.COM)
KE4UGF DON ALSO FAIRS, NICE GUYS. FUN CONTACTS!
KA4ROG ROGER NORTH OF ORLANDO

19 DECEMBER 2014
WB2HPV GUIDO TALKING TO ITALIANS EVERY MORNING FROM WAYNE NJ.  HE HAD TROUBLE HEARING ME.   
CONDITIONS SEEMED POOR, BUT I WAS HEARING AUSTRALIAN STATIONS
W8GEO GEORGE IN THE INTERCON NET.  HEARD ME.  ALSO ON INTERCON: KA4AOQ AND 6Y5MP (JAMAICA) ALSO HEARD ME.
N4PD PAUL
W3JXY/4 NAT IN KEY WEST
N1FM TOM, NORTH OF MIAMI SOLID QSO.
KM4MA PAUL IN ORLANDO WITH MARITIME MOBILE NET.

20 DECEMBER 2014
NA2LF LLOYD IN NY
WB8YWR JIM IN DALLAS 
KM4MA.
W1AW/3 IN MARYLAND (TOOK ME A WHILE TO GET HIM)

21 DECEMBER 2014   NICE 4 WAY SPANISH LANGUAGE QSO:
KI4PZE MIGUEL
CO8OT JUAN IN SANTIAGO DE CUBA
WA4RME RAFA IN CHARLESTON S.C.
C08KB MARCO IN CUBA


Here is a short video showing the station and the location.  Note the little birds (Golondrinas or Swallows) flying by.  They nest in the thatched roof.   They often got confused and flew inside the house.  Billy and Maria rescued many of them.  Whales breed in this bay in January and February.  There are also  manatees.  It is really a beautiful place. 



There were obviously other attractions (!) so I didn't spend a lot of time on the radio -- just a half hour or so every now and then.  But it was really very satisfying to carry this little homebrew device with me, set it up in this amazing place, and use it to send my voice across mountains and hundreds of miles of ocean.   I built this rig in the Azores and have used it in the UK, France, Italy and the Dominican Republic.  It contains circuits devised by members of the British QRP club and by my friend Farhan in India.  The ceramic resonator circuit is something I cooked up on my own.  The microphone is from my old Sony Walkman and the pen that serves as its support is from that wonderful magazine "Electric Radio."  In short, there is a lot of soul in this little machine.  And it was a lot of fun to take it to the beach.  

Thanks to Elisa for finding us this wonderful place.  And to Rod Newkirk and QST for the DX inspiration. 


Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics" http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm Our coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmoke Our Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

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