Last Thursday (May 18) I climbed the ladder and went on the roof to do the necessary actions on the HF antenna (random wire of 16,2 meters long). November last year I talked to Arie PA3A who gave me a few hints to improve the antenna. I added a counter poise wire of 7 meters to the 9:1 unun and connected a MFJ 915 RF isolator to the feedpoint of the antenna. The result was that the antenna now works 100% better than before. Not only are received signals much stronger coming in, but also my signal seems to propagate further than before. I’m so happy with these results!
This is a screenshot of PSKreporter.info of the received FT8 stations on 20 meters during the night of May 26. During my whole career as a radio amateur I never had such good results on HF! Not with the Yaesu ATAS-120 screw driver antenna in both by QTH’s in Sliedrecht and Hoogvliet or the previous version of my random wire which I only had here in Hoogvliet.
Stations were received with a signal strength between -3 dB to -23 dB. Previous signals were never this strong, even when they were more close by than now. I did also some testing with sending FT8 and the received reports on my signal were also much better. I’ve had more contacts in less time than before. Very happy with the results!
This was also very new for me: receiving VK-land with FT8 with a received strength of -13dB. Just hearing Australia was already a first!
Below a screenshot of my logbook with FT8 contacts after I improved the antenna:
And here a screenshot of FT8 contacts with the old situation:
But the thing I’m probably the most happy with is that it’s now possible to receive phone QSO’s. In the past, HF was always way too noisy. Maybe I could hear someone very faint in the background, but mostly it was just static. Yesterday evening I used wfview and spinned the dial on 80 and 40 meters. I heard several QSO’s. On 80 meters I heard to people from Flanders, Belgium and on 40 meters I listened to several QSO’s made by people from the UK. This was the first time I could actually hear what people were saying without being buried in the noise.
Because voice QSO’s were impossible before (with the ATAS 120 and the previous version of the random wire), I never did much with voice. But now probably I will try soon to get my toes wet and make a voice QSO.
This morning I listened to 40 meters again on my Icom IC7300 and heard several people from the UK, Germany and France. One OM said the conditions on 40 meter were not that good, so that gives me much hope for the future. And, also important: we have a solar panel installation on our roof (without any micro inverters). This seems not to be a problem, as the sun is shining now and I can still listen on the 40 meter band.
Last thing I want to mention. For my RSP-1A SDR receiver I placed a mini whip antenna on the roof. This didn’t work that great, so my receiver hasn’t seen much action the last couple of years. Arie PA3A told me about the AL-1 loop antenna. I’ve bought one and brought it last Thursday to the roof. Today I’m going to build the power inserter (it’s an active antenna) and try it out. I hope for good results here also.
73’s and hear you on the radio waves!