Friday, June 22, 2012

The latest "Challenge" in a growing list of "Challenges!"


So, I sit down to run the D-Star net a couple of weeks ago; got on the right VHF frequency, adjusted power to a couple of watts and keyed up to make sure all was well with the D-Star world.  "CQ Test KJ4WLH, CQ Test KJ4WLH, CQ Test KJ4WLH" - nothing.  Huh?  I checked all my settings for the 2nd time and did my test again.  Still nothing…

I bumped the power up to about 25 watts or so, nothing…  50 watts - Hey!  The repeater kicked back with an acknowledgment - finally, but why in the world do I need 50 watts to talk to this repeater?  I normally use about 3-5 watts and can have a non-R2D2 conversation just fine.  I hadn't changed anything, yes - I know that's hard to believe :)  But still, I haven't messed with the VHF vertical that I'd been using for many months…

I ran the net and learned that I had a LOT of R2D2, dropouts and just generally cruddy quality.  Do you ever just get tired of things not working for a "while in a row?"  I'm that way right now.  I just want my VHF stuff to work, I don't want to play with it every month and see what's wrong now.  It would be great to be able to walk out to the shack and just key up and things work as they should.  Perhaps I'm just a dreamer...

Anyway, since I have 2 VHF antennas hanging in the air, I thought that I'd go ahead and swap them around and see if I had a multi-pathing problem.  Switched them and nope, no multi-path issue.  There is a repeater located in Williamsburg that I use a bit to ensure my VHF stuff is working, so I keyed up a test and had a full quieting QSO with a HAM with all of about 25 watts of power.  I was quite convinced that my station was operating as well as could be expected.

Did the repeater have a problem?  Nope, EVERYONE else was able to get into the repeater just fine.  What does that mean?  Do I really live in an anti-VHF zone?  Have aliens put a "Cone of Silence" (as I hearken back to the "Get Smart" TV show) around my shack?

I just went back to trying the same old thing about a week later and guess what?  Yep, no changes :(  Still couldn't get into the repeater with anything less than 50 > watts...  I ran the net again and afterwards performed some more testing.  I swapped the coax for both the antenna's (again) and still, no change.

I finally gave up and decided that I had one final option.  I took my "portable" Comet GP-3 dual band and my speaker stand out to the middle of my back yard.  20+ feet of coax connected to my antenna switch and viola!  2 watts of power and I was successfully communicating with the repeater.  I thought to myself, "Self - you have got to be kidding..."  Both the VHF antennas are 20+ feet apart from each other hanging in the air at least 40+ feet up in the air...

So, my station is working just fine.  I just live in a "D-Star 2m Free Zone"...

I sure am glad my DVAP works well!

73 de KJ4WLH

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