The magic of radio....continued

The Easter holidays are here and my preparations to try to work VK0EK are continuing.

I don’t have fancy equipment with spectrum displays / panadapters etc, so it was suggested to me to obtain a SoftRock SDR. I finished building the SDR kit a week or so ago but I’m still fighting with the software and settings and I hadn’t tried the radio with a ‘proper’ antenna before.

I had a spare couple of hours this morning so I took a whole load of gear (laptops, batteries etc) into the garden and set up my SOTA inverted vee. The SDR seems to work OK but I don’t see it being my favourite piece of gear. I’d probably like a radio type SDR eg KX3 or IC7300 but I’m not enthralled by clicking a mouse!

I’d had my fill of the SDR so I checked my phone for SOTA spots. I saw a spot for Andy MM0FMF/P on 7MHz SSB GM/SS-234. The SDR was quickly thrown to one side and I changed the dipole links to 40m and connected up the FT817.

Andy was just kicking off his operation on 40m when I dropped my call in just once, I was amazed when Andy came straight back to me with a 59 report “big signal”. I was running 5watts from my vintage ft817 to my dipole just squeezed into my small garden with apex angle a bit more acute than it should be! I don’t think I’ve ever worked Andy using SSB before. It’s nothing out of the ordinary but this contact just seemed magic to me, even after being licenced for the thick of 19 years.

After the contact with Andy, I followed the spot for EA4MZ/P. Again just one call, on 14MHz CW , Moises responded with 599 from EA4/MD-025.

I hope that I manage similar success when I start to call VK0EK next weekend during my 2day ‘work VK0EK’ party!

Nothing special here, but today’s contacts made me smile, this hobby never gets old!

73, Colin


Nice job on the SoftRock Colin! Looks fb.

I’m not a big fan of mouse clicking myself, even with the two high-end SDRs in the shack.

73, Barry N1EU

For those that prefer a tradition user interface, there is always the Elad kit - the FDM-DUO can be directly controlled by software or you can use the knobs!

I have an FDM-S2 receive only box in my shack


The Elad is nice. I’m curious how the upcoming LNR LD-11 will be.

73, Barry N1EU

Then there’s the Pocket SDR. I haven’t really been following progress, but I have seen it mentioned a few times.

I think that is pretty much vapour-ware.

The mcHF on the other hand seems to be going well, a group of local hams have built a pile of them and they seem to be working okay.

Hi Colin,

My pleasure to contact you from EA4/MD-025 Cancho de la Cabeza, yesterday.
Your signal was really strong there, I was using a K2, pwr abt 10w, and Norcal Doublet.

73 Moises “Mo”. EA4MZ

Thank you Mo.

I’m practising all I can with the Yaesu keyer, I usually use an MTR and the timing is ever so slightly different. I need to use a borrowed FT857D to attempt to chase VK0EK because all of my own rigs are 5w or less.

I was very impressed that picked up my call on the first go! I don’t think we’ve ever worked before so it’s not even as though you have my call in your memory.

I genuinely was very pleased to have made the contact, I remember the first time I saw amateur radio in action when a teacher at my school (G0WGC) had a QRP SSB contact with an Italian ham, I was amazed! I still am amazed that we can make such contacts with such simple gear.

73, Colin

You were as loud as the other loud callers at the time and the voice stood out clearly. Nice to get you in the log on SSB.

For anyone else wanting a magic contact, I’m happy to take skeds for any of my future summit activations. :wink:

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The wait, what? I want one!