Finally, after months of toiling, I have an Indian callsign, VU3DCY. Thanks to the hams at the National Institute of Amateur Radio (NIAR) (OM Ram Mohan, VU2MYH and OM Jose Jacob, VU2JOS) and my dear friend, Sanjay Nekkanti, VU3ISS/AB3OE for working on this.
I have been dabbling into Shortwave (SW) radio on and off from the time I bought a Grundig radio while studying at GW. When I bought the ICOM IC-7000, I sold the Grundig as the ICOM could do SW frequencies but then got into HF on the amateur bands and forgot about SW. This interest in SW was recently kindled when I attended a build session organized by the University of Michigan ham radio club, W8UM, where we built a regenerative radio for the 40 meter band (7 MHz). It was great to turn on the radio and hear SW stations coming through. But my ultimate goal of hearing All India Radio (AIR) still remained elusive.
This afternoon I set out to try the regenerative radio again and was looking at the Shortwave schedules at http://shortwaveschedule.com and saw that AIR was transmitting on quite a few frequencies but I was not sure how accurate the times and frequencies were. So I turned to the webpage of fellow ham and friend Jose Jacob, VU2JOS, who has been an avid SWL since the 1970s and maintains a database of AIR transmitting stations, schedules and links to AIR pages. Looking through I found a page with schedules and saw that AIR was transmitting on 11670 KHz from Bangalore with a power of 500KW aimed to service UK and Western Europe region.
I ditched the regen radio, turned on my IC-7000 and tuned to 11670 KHz (25 meter band) secretly hoping for the propagation to be in my favor and that I should hear something. Lo and behold I was greeted by some classical Indian music followed by the customary “This is All India Radio”. I was elated!!!
I was hearing an Indian station all the way in Michigan being transmitted from Bangalore. That’s a distance of 13,600 km (8450 miles). For me to hear this transmission and considering short-path the signal should be coming over from the north. Plugging in some numbers into VOACAP we can in fact see that between 1700 and 2100 UTC the signal reception on 20 meter band ranges between 10% and 40%.
Initially, when I started hearing I was getting S4 – S5 on the signal meter and as time passed by the conditions improved to S9.
After the Indian classical music couple of songs from the movie Taal were played followed by the News in English and a program on International Mother Language Day.
A reception report is on the way to AIR Spectrum Manager and hopefully I will soon see a QSL card.
Here is a short video:
A new open Echolink connected repeater has popped up in Hyderabad, India in the last couple of months operating at a frequency of 145.600 MHz (-) with a call sign of VU2LHR. The repeater is located at Lamakaan in Banjara Hills and is operated by the Lamakaan Amateur Radio Club.
Yesterday me and Sanjay, AB3OE went there to attend the Club meeting and check out the repeater system. Although the meeting was canceled we took a look at the antenna system and were surprised to find a very simple setup at a very low height given the fact that I was able to hit the repeater from a distance of 10 km with high rise buildings and a hill in between.
I can now talk to fellow hams in Hyderabad from Ann Arbor using Echolink and even try to connect UofM’s W8UM Echolink node to the VU2LHR node. Another experiment to try is to connect 3 Echolink nodes such that me in Ann Arbor, AB3OE in Hyderabad and Sushant Jha, KC2YQI/VE in Edmonton, Canada can talk to each other.
For quite some time I have been on the lookout to get a 100W rig and sell my Yaesu FT-817ND QRP rig. Although I did love the Yaesu, lack of space to setup a permanent antenna discouraged me from getting on the air. And every time I got on the air using a buddipole antenna no one could hear me with just 5 watts of power.
I finally got an Icom IC-7000 on eBay for a very good price along with an LDG IT-100 autouner and an Icom SM-20 desk mike. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the IC-7000 was almost brand new with no signs of use. I have had some experience using N3RDX’s IC-706 back when I was at GW and I simply loved the radio. Now to see something very similar made me very happy. In fact, I was contemplating to get a Kenwood but my dear friend and fellow ham, AB3OE, insisted that I get an Icom radio and boy was he right.
Currently, I just have my VHF antenna connected to the radio and researching into what would be the best option for a permanent HF antenna that fits in my balcony.
I guess I have put this off for quite some time now and finally decided that I need to setup an antenna in my balcony before the winter sets in. My plan was to have at least VHF/UHF capability for RACES and other emergency purposes. While looking for options, I came across the KB9VBR J-Pole antenna. The 2M breakaway J-Pole antenna for $37 felt like it was worth the money and can get me on the air quickly if I could figure out how to set it up and run the coax into my apartment from the balcony.
The antenna arrived rather quickly and in the meanwhile I looked around to find the most conspicuous way to mount the antenna so that it does not bother the neighbors. I initially thought that I would be able to mount it on a hard PVC pipe which is 18ft high so that it would clear my roof and headed to Home Depot and quickly realized that was a bad idea. While I was there, I saw the Mr. Longarm adjustable 23ft fiberglass painter’s pole which looked like it would do the job.
I came back home and did some research and decided that it was the best option I have and bought Mr. Longarm a few days later. I mounted the J-Pole using pipe clamps to the mast and used 50ft of RG-213 ultra low loss cable that I ordered from BUXCOMM for $50 with connectors.
The mast was then secured to the balcony railing using 2 additional pipe clamps. To keep the mast sturdy, I extended the pole to only 18ft but still the mast was not strong enough to sustain wind gusts and would shake violently and this is a chance I decided to take.
To run the RG-213 coax into the house, I drilled a hole into the wooden panel of the air conditioning room door which is part of the balcony and routed the cable along with the TV coax.
With everything setup and the coax connected to the FT-2900R I was able to hit repeaters more than 100 miles away in Canada.