Arrived and Setup
Hello and welcome from Niue! We arrived safely with the gear and managed to put the first signals to air on Tuesday 12th (Niue time) in the evening after flying in from Auckland that afternoon. After managing to cram the family and all of the luggage into a Subaru (one more bag and it wouldnt have fit) we arrived at Kaliki lodge and unpacked. Then we headed back into Alofi to pick up supplies from the Supermarket and then my license from Niue Telecom.
After finding dinner and settling the family in for the first night I set to work setting up the equipment. The station went together nicely and ran faultlessly for the first 36 hours or so. More on that in a moment. I set up in the spare bedroom and was putting out my first calls to some unsuspecting VKs around 9.30pm Niue time.
I then joined the 7130DX net for a while and worked a few more VKs as I settled everything in and finalised my operating position. Then we QSY’ed up the band and put out our first calls.
Activity to date
So far I have managed some SSB on 40m and 20m and FT8 on those bands as well. I have also had a WSPR beacon running at 1W when I am not manning the station to help assess when the paths are open from here. The first round of logs have been uploaded to Clublog and are available for seaching through the logs page.
The Tale of the Amplifier
Unfortunately tonight things took a left turn. The one item I didn’t have a spare for, namely the linear, has developed a TR switching fault that intermittently kicks the system with high VSWR and deafens the receive chain. A had seen a similar problem with it several months ago (partially induced by my own hand at the time) but some surgery had appeared to cure it. It had been soak tested on RTTY, FT8 and in Contest conditions at my QTH since and had not shown any sign of trouble – until now. So, now that I have gotten over my disappointment it is back to it – albeit scaled back to 100W. I may not run SSB as much as planned but will definitely focus more now on digital modes and will crank up some CW for an experiment as well.
I will post another update in the next day or so. Internet here is rather slow, so I have been having problems maintaining access to the clusters and posting to the blog/facebook. Email is also difficult at times. Then again, considering where we are the fact that we have Internet on tap at all is impressive!
73 de Grant E6AG / VK5GR
UPDATE: Thursday Morning – it’s Alive (for now!)
Pulled the covers off the amplifier this morning to give it a visual cable wiggle lest anything had jiggled loose during the flights to get here. Low and behold, the HT line driving the TR switch appeared a little loose. So, after reseating it and putting the covers back on we reassembled the station and fired it up. Joy was had when the amp was again passing Rx signals to the rig.
Not sure just how long it will hold together but for now I am running FT8 on 15m today!
Problems then Finally Cured!
It has been an interesting 24 hours in radio land. After bypassing the amp the problem appeared to go away, but then it began to emerge again. Next I wondered if the tuner had been damaged in transit, but bypassing it didnt resolve the problem. Next I wondered if the radio itself was at fault. It was then I had the chance to talk to Gary VK5ZK on 20m about the problem when he mentioned problems with QRO and intermittent antennas. I proceeded to have an “Ah HA!” moment, and made a mod to the antenna, and after some poking around discovered one of the coax connectors had gone faulty.
So, after replacing the faulty antenna parts we are 100% back in business and ready for the next set of radio challenges, and also some time exploring this beautiful island of Niue.
73 de Grant E6AG