36 Days and Counting – Final Equipment Shakedown begins

36 Days and Counting – Final Equipment Shakedown begins

Final planning for the equipment transport to Niue has begun. I am currently sourcing suitable cases as some of the gear will end up as checked luggage, and I having watched the baggage handlers at Sydney airport last week, well lets say I will be ensuring the gear going underneath has lots of padding.

What did we achieve this weekend?

  1. Collected the antenna from Steve VK5SFA – as well as a tuner that may allow me to load it up on 80 and 160m! I’m making no promises on those bands but will at least give it a try, although it wont be very efficient. Might be a JT65 or CW only effort there. I will be using the antenna next weekend during the WIA’s Remembrance Day Contest portable from a location on the eastern shores of Spencer Gulf so will get a feel for how it could react in Niue hopefully.
  2. Obtained the packaging for the antenna transport bag as well. Looks like the entire system including the tuner will come in at under 20kg and at a size that the airlines will accept – so looking good to have the complete antenna system in one bag.
  3. Spent a lot of time this weekend also trying to complete the integration of the software systems for running full digital modes and logging. I have worked out most of the bugs in N1MM+ for FSK RTTY (managed some marginal contacts to Europe tonight – including OE17BEACH, R6AZ, HA5AQ and SP7SP – some tweaking on macros and we should be good there). I have also gotten the CW Keyer integration done. (While I am no wizz at CW, I will at least be able to do computer generated CW on the trip for if the conditions turn bad – not as good as a well trained ear but hopefully good enough if I need to use it.) The only thing I dont think I can easily integrate is WSJT-X into N1MM. That one might need to be a manual ADIF import/export job. If you do have a trick for interfacing N1MM and WSJT I would love to hear from you!

Next Weekend is a full shakedown of the station portable so we will have a good idea of exactly what needs to be packaged and how much it all weighs. With luck, everything will fit under the luggage allowance with room to spare. We will know within the next week – then we can plan what backup radios and gear we can take (I am hoping to also take my IC706MK2G with me as a radio of last resort). Look out for me calling CQ on 160-15m as VK5GR/P next week!

N1MM Digital logging setup with 3 RTTY decoders.
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