RD Contest 2021

So by accident I came across a note in the VK1 SOTA Group emails advising that the Remembrance Day Contest was on this weekend;  there was a time when I’d make sure it wasn’t to be missed… but it’s been so many years since I’d participated, I’d lost track.

And after sending out the note to PARG members about it last week, I hoped we’d get a few members giving it a go, but I decided that there was too many other things on the go this weekend, and I’d give it a miss…. but I’ll have a quick look at the rules anyway!

Then on Saturday I thought I’d have a quick listen to see how much CW there was… you can I’m sure guess the result…. half an hour later, I was calling CQ RD on CW.

Boy what a variety of operators.  
  • There were the few inevitable 30+ words-per-minute folks who were probably engrossed in maximising contacts and rudely wouldn’t slow down for slow CW replies - tough titties…. "PLS QRS ES RPT RST ES SER” again and again until the info got through - fix their little red wagons!
  • I didn’t even bother with the machine-generated ones at 40+ WPM ones… good luck finding more than a few who’d bother responding. 
  • There were also the automated CW callers. Easy, just start transmitting and they’ll stop to listen.
  • There was a category this year for historic equipment - fantastic idea… and great fun chasing the drifting CW tones around.
  • And then there were plenty of folks like me who were very happy to struggle along with our sad-sounding transmissions, and even sadder receiving skills… but we were the ones having fun!

It’s been a while since I read the RD Contest rules, but this year (and probably years before) instead of sending RST and a sequential serial number, the exchange was RST then three digits, which indicated the number of years you’ve been licensed plus 1 (so a first-year amateur would sent 599001 for instance).  Well that turned out to make it really interesting - seeing how many years people had been on air.  So here’s a sample of the first hand-full of numbers I received:  

599063
599037
599032
599038
599056
599070
599051
599054
559051
559063
559055
579074
599051
588028
599036
599052
599045
599039
599040
599025
599025
599038
599055
599003
599035
599036
599061
599037

I reckon the median was around 40-50 years (and I thought I was a gre-beard);  one was licensed for 70 years (I had to ask him to repeat because I thought I’d mis-heard his number!).

In the end, I had a great time - what fun - 56 CW contacts - mainly on 40, some on 80 and one or two on 20.  There were also lots of people giving me higher RSTs than I was giving out (makes a change from my FT-817 portable) - so I figure there were lots of people operating QRP for the contest - or too busy to check the S-meter and change the electronic log entries.

On Sunday over lunch when it was all over, I was telling Elizabeth that I should have got up earlier that morning and had a go - triple points between 0100 and 0600 Eastern time!  I got up at 6am - just too late d’oh!  

Elizabeth’s response was “Well then, we’ll just have to take the FT-817 with us to bed next year”!



I know Maurice, the cartoon is of a TS-520, not an 817 - HI :)

So after hours of listening to my lousy CW, I decided after the contest that the CW side-tone was too loud. Checked the menus… nope, so side-tone level.  Ok find the manual (good luck…. turned out after turning the house upside down, it was on my desk right in front of me all the time) - sure enough, trimpot inside.  So opened the box to turn it down - easy.  Oh, and while I’m there, I’ll quickly adjust the reference oscillator to put the display on the right frequency (it was off by about 50-100Hz which had annoyed me for a while).  

Hmmm, while I’ve got it apart, perhaps I’ll finally fix the display illumination fault (the display back light, On Air and AT Tune LEDs all weren’t working).

Now… where’s the TS-50 Service Manual?  Hunt, hunt… guess what…. again, right in front of me on the desk (better clean up eh?).

 
Ok, all five LEDs not working… sounds like a systematic problem - for instance, in the red-coloured wire between the inverter IC5 the resistors on the anodes of the two indicator LEDs and Q3.

Check the internet… ah ha, looks like it’s a common problem with the TS-50 - one plated-through hole gets corroded out when a nearby electrolytic starts to vent.  Some people recommend returning the transceiver to a service agent, or throwing the transceiver away if it happens because the repair can be tricky!  Hey, if you have one, throw it in my direction - these are a beautifully basic little transceiver… this one has done me well for many years.

 
Ok, it’s apart now!  Scary! The resistors are on the front panel side of the display board - neatly tucked in behind the front panel.

You-Tube check - sure enough, the fix isn’t too hard… as long as you’re willing to sacrifice the radio if you break something when pulling it apart.  

Scrape the enamel off the track, drill out the hole with a 0.4mm drill, pass a few strands of copper wire through and solder carefully with a 1/16” soldering iron bit.  The video recommended replacing the electrolytic - but I didn’t have a soldering rework station… the YouTube clearly warns agains trying to remove the electrolytic with a soldering iron… the tracks lift off the circuit board.  So I left it in place… until I shout myself a hot-air soldering tool.

  
Repaired plated-through hole next to the S on the S11 label.
 
  The other side - between the R on the R29 label and the 47uF SMD electrolytic capacitor.

Sooo…. smoke test!
Sorry to disappoint you Terry… no smoke! Woo hoo!


Back in place… all’s forgiven after a hard weekend of CW…. now to do something about the S9+ of SMPS hash.

Cheers all.

Mark Bosma
VK2KI / VK6QI