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LA1KHA's PP3/MN1604 Challenge


#281

10-Aug-12
Battery: #1. Activation: #20
Summit: G/SP-013. Band: 30m
Radio: Rockmite 30
Antenna: Inverted V Dipole @ 6m agl
Battery: Duracell Pro-Life
Finish Voltage at room temp: Not a clue
New DXCCs: 0
Cumulative DXCCs: 19 (9A, DL, G, GM, HA, HB, I, LA, LZ, OE, OK, OM, OZ, PA, RA, S5, SM, SP, SV)
QSOs: 2. Cumulative QSOs: 70

There was a DX chasing pile-up somewhere on the 30m band, so on the Rockmite I heard it all the time! Managed to get two QSOs through though.

Tom MO1EYP


#282

Battery: #1 Philips Extreme Life (Best Before April 2012!)
Activation #17
Date: 11/08/12
Summit: G/NP-008
Bands: 40m,30m,20m,17m
Finish Voltage: 7.67
Rig: RockMite based rigs for 40,30,20 and 17 (2 home brew, 2 SWL kits)
Ant: Inv. Vee dipole at 6m above ground
QSOs: 14 (7 on 40m, 2 on 30m, 5 on 20m, nil on 17m)
New DXCCs:2 both on 20m - N and CT
Cumulative QSOs: 132
Cumulative DXCC: 20
CT,DL,EA,F,G,GI,GM,GW,HA,HB9,LA,N,OE,OK,OM,ON,OZ,PA,S5,SP
WX: Overcast, breezy, some sun later on

The aim of my activation was to try out my newly built RockMite 20 and celebrate a year using CW to qualify SOTA summits. My new RockMite 20 had never been connected to an antenna before, only test equipment. Connecting the antenna at the summit and all seemed good - the right noises were being emitted. I sent an SMS spot for myself and then started calling CQ - within seconds I was called by Barry, N1EU! Talk about a smile on my face - not only having my first contact on my rig, but also crossing the Atlantic with 100mW! Easily my best ever contact!

Fantastic day out!

73
Colin
M0CGH


#283

In reply to M0CGH:

within seconds I was called by Barry, N1EU! Talk
about a smile on my face - not only having my first contact on my rig,
but also crossing the Atlantic with 100mW! Easily my best ever
contact!

Fantastic day out!

73
Colin
M0CGH

Where’s the “Like” button!


#284

Awesome results Colin. An RM20 is clearly a “must have” piece of kit.

Tom M1EYP


#285

In reply to M0CGH:
Colin,

Superb. During a contest too! Well done to Barry aswell.

73
Ian.


#286

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

Congratulations with your 100mW RM20 QSO with Barry N1EU.

I also have a recently completed RM20 just waiting for it’s first outing. Mine seems be resonant at 14.058Mhz even though it has a 14.060Mhz crystal fitted, I presume the other components are causing the freq to be pulled.

I just need to box it, then it’ll be ready to go.

I wonder if yours has been modified to vary it’s freq slightly ?

73 and well done.

Robert
G0PEB


#287

In reply to G0PEB:

Hi Robert,

All RockMites tend to run lower in frequency than marked on the crystal, although in some cases they can run higher! The crystal expects a certain capacitance in order to oscillate at the marked frequency. The oscillator circuit of the RockMite tends to not present enough capacitance to the crystal to achieve it’s calibrated frequency and thus the oscillator runs about 1 to 2kHz lower than that marked. Some crystals expect different capacitive loading and run higher in RockMite - this seems to happen with certain 7MHz crystals (7.114MHz?).

20m RockMites do indeed run at about 14.058 MHz, so your rig sounds to running great! Good luck with your RockMite adventures - a VK contact would be awesome :wink: My RockMite is modified to run from low voltage and has a modified PA, but other than that it is standard.

73
Colin
M0CGH


#288

In reply to M0CGH:

Very nice when such things happen. A 100mW to Barry N1EU beats my 4.5W to Texas or Kazahkstan hands down.

Andy
MM0FMF


#289

Thanks for the congratulations guys :slight_smile:

In reply to MM0FMF:

Andy, I’ve now had the chance to measure the RF power output - this morning using the exact same set up, my rig is measuring 89mW!

Wow! -All I can say!

73

Colin
M0CGH


#290

14-Aug-12
Battery: #1. Activation: #21
Summit: G/SP-015. Band: 30m
Radio: Rockmite 30
Antenna: Inverted V Dipole @ 6m agl
Battery: Duracell Pro-Life
Finish Voltage at room temp: Not a clue
New DXCCs: 0
Cumulative DXCCs: 19 (9A, DL, G, GM, HA, HB, I, LA, LZ, OE, OK, OM, OZ, PA, RA, S5, SM, SP, SV)
QSOs: 1. Cumulative QSOs: 71

It was HB9BIN, who came back to my very first CQ call. After that, another 20 minutes of calling did not produce even one more contact. On arrival at the summit I realised that my phone was out of charge, so I went on 2m FM first in order that I could request a spot from a chaser. It took me quite a few contacts before getting a chaser with SOTAwatch to hand (MNI TNX G4BLH).

It was a lovely warm sunny day, and the summit was busy with families and some very friendly dogs. I was disappointed not to add to the PP3 tally, especially after HB9BIN was worked so quickly and easily, but come 2.35pm local, it was time to pick Liam up from his youth club activity (Jiu-Jitsu) in Congleton.

Tom MO1EYP/P


#291

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

Many thanks for the info about the characteristics of the Rockmites, hopefully once my RM20 has been boxed it should be ready for a trial run. I might just add a NESCAF (capacitive audio filter) to it’s audio output at a later stage and see if it improves the ‘performance’ … :wink:

Yes a VK contact using a RM would be the ultimate, some chance eh! :slight_smile:

I’ve had some success with it’s big brother the SW20+, with about 1.5W o/p, no problems into the US and Europe. Pity it’s recently been made obsolete by SWL.

Good luck and thanks again.

Robert
G0PEB


#292

17-Aug-12
Battery: #1. Activation: #22
Summit: G/SP-015. Band: 30m
Radio: Rockmite 30
Antenna: Inverted V Dipole @ 6m agl
Battery: Duracell Pro-Life
Finish Voltage at room temp: Not a clue
New DXCCs: 0
Cumulative DXCCs: 19 (9A, DL, G, GM, HA, HB, I, LA, LZ, OE, OK, OM, OZ, PA, RA, S5, SM, SP, SV)
QSOs: 3. Cumulative QSOs: 74

Little trip up The Cloud this morning. Very first CQ call was answered by DF5WA, swiftly tail-ended by OM7DX and DL3HXX - 3 QSOs inside a minute! Seven more minutes of CQ calling produced no more contacts, so I packed away and descended.

Tom MO1EYP/P


#293

Stats:17/10/2012
Battery: #5
Activation: #53
Summit: LA/TM-049
Band: 30m
Radio:Rockmite 10Mc
Finish Voltage:7.60v@7c
Antenna:Dipole @ 6m agl
QSOs: 7
DXCCs:2 DL,OM NEW DXCC:0
Cumulative QSOs: 575
Cumulative DXCC: 27
DL,EA,ES,EW,F,G,GM,GW,HA,HB9,I,LA,LY,LX,OE,OH,ON,OM,OK,OZ,PA,SM,SP,S5,YO,UA,
UR )

Today up on Holtankollen with XYL Ingrid and my oldest son Arnkjell.
10.120 was in use so I attended to them and made a fire to fry hot dogs.
My rockmite and PP3 are still going strong.

Tnx all for qso.
73 de LA1KHA Kjell


#294

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

I finally managed to finish off and box up the RM20.

Yesterday from my home QTH I called CQ, to be answered by a S57 followed by an I3. The RBN showed that my signal had reached OH,SK,HA,S50,LA and SE. I was quite surprised at what was achievable with such a small rig.

I noticed that using the hi-tone rx freq, the operational freq was 14.0581.
Am I able to use the lower freq of 14.0575 as a second operational freq ?

Hopefully will be able to try the rig out on a summit this coming weekend.

73

Robert
G0PEB


#295

In reply to G0PEB:

Hi Robert,

Good to hear your RockMite is now ready for action! Yes, low power CW goes a surprisingly long way. 20m seems a bit off at the moment too, with the higher bands seemingly performing better.

Does your RockMite have the MVAM109 for D6 or does it have the MV1662? If your rig is using the MVAM109, I strongly suggest changing the value of D5 from 4V7 to 5V1. This will give more TX/RX shift to something nearer to the nominal 600-800 Hz range. Your ‘channel’ difference will then be more useful.

So in answer, yes, you can use whichever ‘channel’ you like, whichever gives you the clearest reception.

Good luck with trying out the rig this weekend. I have just had my RM-30 in bits this morning (not the LA1KHA challenge rig), I’ve swapped out the PicoKeyer which I didn’t like and I’m trying different PA transistors to get more juice out, I only have one QSO notched up on it so far, so I’m hoping to use it for a SOTA activation in the coming weeks.

73
Colin
M0CGH


#296

Battery: #2 Panasonic Evolta
Activation #1
Date: 01/12/12
Summit: G/LD-017 Red Screes
Bands: 40m,30m
Finish Voltage: N/A
Rig: RockMite 40 and homebrew RockMite 30
Ant: Inv. Vee dipole at 6m above ground
QSOs: 14 (6 on 30m, 8 on 40m)
DXCC - 5 - DL, G, GI, GM, GW and PA
Cumulative QSOs:14
Cumulative DXCC: 5
DL,G,GI,GM,GW,PA
WX: Sunny, cold, shallow covering of snow, path very icy.

Battery: #2 Panasonic Evolta
Activation #2
Date: 01/12/12
Summit: G/LD-018 Stony Cove Pike
Bands: 30m
Finish Voltage: 8.95
Rig: Homebrew RockMite 30
Ant: Inv. Vee dipole at 6m above ground
QSOs: 0 (6 on 30m, 8 on 40m)
DXCC - 0
Cumulative QSOs:14
Cumulative DXCC: 5
DL,G,GI,GM,GW,PA
WX: Sunny, cold, shallow covering of snow. Breezy

I decided to retire my original challenge battery and begin the winter bonus period with a fresh Panasonic Evolta battery. The Panasonic Evolta range includes a product that is recognised by the Guiness Book of Records as the World’s longest lasting Alkaline battery. http://www.panasonic.com/evolta/

The 30m and 40m bands were very busy, stations replying to my CQ’s were often sending ‘QRM’ along with my report.

I ran out of time before I ran out of chasers on 40m on the first summit. 40m seems to a more productive band for numbers of QSO’s for this challenge. 30m promotes longer distance contacts, useful for gaining new DXCCs.

There was simply far too much band activity on both 30m and 40m whilst on the second summit, daylight was running out, so I dug out the MTR which I had taken along as a back - up. A pile up was soon created on 14.063MHz, allowing me to at least collect the points from the summit, if not qualify it using QRPp, which was my aim.

Colin, M0CGH


#297

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

Today I activated NW-022 Moel Eilio using my RM20. The weather conditions were quite rough with horizontal rain at times.
I noticed that there was plenty of contest activity on the band, so I decided to use the NESCAF (New England Switched Capacative Audio Filter)unit to try and improve my chances of getting QSO’s. It made a big difference to the RM20.
I ended up with 18 qso’s from OM, DF,S51, 9A1,HA, LY, SP, HB, DL, CT1, IK3 and OE.

I had intended to use 18mhz and 21Mhz SSB with the ft817, but I got carried away with the RM20.

I’ve not tried the RM as part of the LA1KHA PP3 Challenge just yet. I will look into what needs to be done for optimising the unit for 9v use.

The fun factor with this minimalist rig is amazing.

73

Robert
G0PEB


#298

In reply to G0PEB:

Congratulations using the RM20 during a contest - you’re a braver man than I! I sought refuge on 80m and 30m yesterday.

Yes, the fun factor making contacts with such a simple rig is immense.

Standard RockMites seem to be very much on the edge when running from a 9 Volt battery. I tend to find that a new PP3 measures around 9.65V unloaded, this rapidly drops off to just under 9 Volts with use.

You will probably find some strange receiver characteristics when running a RM20 with low voltage, they do tend to buzz a bit.

The main area to look into is the Zener / Resistor regulators for the PIC and Mixer chips, these are configured for a larger voltage than 9 Volts, so the 1K resistors (R1 and R8 IIRC) need reducing in value to keep the current at the correct level.

The Zener/Resistor regulators actually waste a lot of current, a much better solution is to use a low drop out regulator IC and feed both the PIC and the Mixer (602/612) from this. A 5 Volt regulator will work fine - the mixer seems quite happy at 14MHz using 5 Volts.

Some brief details are on my blog, but if you require more info, please get in touch.

http://m0cgh.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/rockmite-40-low-current-mod.html

73,
Colin, M0CGH


#299

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

Thanks for the advice. Your Blog site looks excellent, and full of
useful information.

73

Robert
G0PEB


#300

In reply to G0PEB:

In reply to M0CGH:

Hi Colin,

Thanks for the advice. Your Blog site looks excellent, and full of
useful information.

No problem Robert, I’m pleased that other people are interested in this QRPp stuff, it’s not just me!

I’ve uploaded some photos to Flickr showing a RockMite 30 that I’m currently building. I bought an RM20 kit as a source of components for another project, it worked out cheaper at the time. As you can probably tell, I’m addicted to building kits, especially RockMites, so I couldn’t resist building up the RockMite PCB. I don’t have an ‘Altoids’ RM-30, but I do have ‘Altoids’ RM-40 and RM-20, so this board is destined for an Altoids tin as soon as I find one! I’m hoping for some Christmas money to buy some 10.116 crystals, I’m a Yorkshireman and the cost of crystals seems excessive! :wink:

Anyway, this picture shows the underneath of the board, showing the jumper wire connecting the PIC and mixer +V rails. You can see the regulator and stability capacitor poking out from beneath the board -

This picture shows the top of the board, note the low drop out regulator top right with red capacitor above the mixer chip -

The mixer chip is run at 6V normally in the RM-20, maybe to provide a little bit more gain for the higher frequency, but this is just a guess. All other flavours of RockMite run the mixer at 5.1V.

The RockMite seems to work very well for the PP3 challenge, I actually think that the PP3’s are lasting too long! I think boredom sets in before the battery has run out! AAA challenge anyone? CR2032? :slight_smile:

73, Colin, M0CGH