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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Report from South Africa

Hi Bill

Africa "field QRP station"
Thanks for another great episode of your experiences - I'm tuning in from Africa while on my vacation Each December I make the trek from San Diego to Cape Town.
Then, my Dad (zs1xd) and I take the family out to a remote
location - and setup a field station. Around the camp-fire, under the Milky Way and no rf-pollution is a great way to hunt some dx and spend vacation time. This year
we selected a cabin located in a beautiful mountainous region about 100 miles north of Cape Town. 2 wheel vehicle will get you there and "just in case" , we
also took a capable 4x4 with.
I posted some pics and QRP HF operating notes here: http://k6wh.blogspot.com/

I'm following your Softrock SMT construction comments with keen interest and am glad you're finding the challenge - well - "not so much of a challenge"
I think it's so great that you're encouraging hams to jump into SMT.
I chuckled at your comment about "desoldering smt's" - Try de-soldering the Si570 SMT chip. I had the good fortune of measuring messing up the
"measure 10 x then cut once" when soldering this IC on the rxtx kit. Well - we know a mistake will happen, and when it happens, murphy's law will ensure
that it involves the most sensitive and tricky smt component on the board - hi.

It's a real trick, due to the contacts being under the chip (no pins like the other smts)
Well - try de-soldering that piece. And of course one realizes the mistake, only once the last solder joint has dried. Determined to correct the mistake there and then,
at 9pm while busy with the kit, I rushed off to the nearest radio shack to get some de-solder wick. Took me about 1 hr of patience, and careful "wicking" to suck
up all the solder underneath the chip - one contact at a time, (each desolder attempt, hoping the chip pops loose) - no easy task. I don't know of another easy way
than lots of patience, and a good magnifying glass.

I agree there is no greater reward than "homebrew" and with the advances in SDR tech, we're surely living in a wonderful age.

Once you get the SDR on-air, I'm sure you'll be blown away by the reception quality - sensitivity and especially the almost non-existent noise-floor.
(I'm not sure which model you're building, but I think all of Tony's designs are utilize the same Tayloe detector design which is very quiet)

I still can't believe the performance I get with the Softrock's kit - It's now become an antenna measuring instrument - While having fun with PSK QSO's and WSPR.
Of course, with the SDR one can adjust the output (via soundcard drive) to basically uW levels.

As we know, at these levels, each little bit of antenna optimization helps, and SDR+WSPR/PSK has become my "far field antenna measurement tool" of choice.

WSPR from Africa
Not too many stations active on WSPR on the African continent - Now that I've setup my Dad on DSL, I assisted him in activating his WSPR station in
Cape Town (ZS1XD). His antenna is a 20m homebrew 2 el yagi. I'm pointing it north during the evenings to see if n2cqr pops up in the log. Nothing yet, but I'm sure
one of these days, you may just be surprised. Keep watching for the Africa report :)

thank you again for such a great entertaining and educational program ...
73 - best wishes to you and the family from the tip of Africa.
de deon (k6wh)/zs


  1. Roberto
    Checkout http://www.kb9yig.com/
    Tony's www site.
    73 - de Deon (k6wh)


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