Even without personal experience, we all know that QRO is more high-maintenance than the 100 watt world. I knew going into this that my old (but new to me) AL-811 might not handle the duty cycle of a 48-hour contest – my plan was to back it down to 300 watts at the first sign of excessive heat.
Little did I know that it would be my 600-watt autotuner that would fill the room with that acrid aroma of overheated electronics.
Up to now my only use of the amp has been in pile-ups, ie brief inputs of my dot-filled callsign. No sweat – easy on the amp and the tuner. Except for a brief 20-minute run of JA’s on 40 meters this morning, I operated Search-n-Pounce for the duration of my activity in the contest.
It was that 20 minute exception that smoked a torroid in the tuner.
Opening the tuner revealed what you see in the photo. Tests showed that L3 gets too hot to touch, even at 100 watts. A few CQs at 500 watts has it hotter than a $3 pistol, yet the adjacent torroids are as cool as cukes. Three of the relays also get pretty warm – too warm to simply be convection heating from L3.
What to do…? I’ll email LDG tomorrow. Reviews on eHam and elsewhere give high ratings to their customer service. The solution may simply be for me to add a few feet of feedline to change the impedance seen by the tuner on 40 meters, however, that might just move the problem to another band.
I’m thinking that if the tuner is rated for 600 watts, and 500 watts smokes a component, then the tuner has a problem. I’m also thinking that a simple replacement of the tuner (with no other changes) will result in the same problem…
On to the contest:
Apart from the inductor smoke, operating at 500 watts makes things so much easier and certain.
Most of the DX stations used a kilowatt. Before, with 100 watts on my end, I would often be asked “AGN?, AGN?” after sending my part of the exchange, particularly if the DX was weak on my end. In this contest, there was very little of that – I was heard just fine, first time around on the weakest stations that I called.
That was the Big Difference in this contest for me from all prior efforts. I got through…quickly, easily and with no fuss. Then on to the next guy.
My main worry – okay, “worry” is too strong a word – going in to this was that, somehow, even with a QRO power level, I’d fail to top my last years’ score and end up feeling like an idjit. Particularly with the recent sunspot party going on in the ionosphere.
I needn’t have worried about that. With the exception of 10 meters, there was plenty of activity from all continents. Even 10 meters was better than fair.
- Being called by VP8NO in the Falklands. Yeah, he called me!
- Getting Honduras (HQ9R) on 160. T’ain’t far, but I don’t have an antenna for 160. My 31st country on that antenna-less band.
- Getting DU on 40 meters; KH0 on 80 meters.
- JH1ARZ on 40m and NP4Z on 10m – both were QRP
The contest ends in two hours but, as for me, stick a fork in me – I’m done.
Here’s the numbers:
(Last year: 138,159 points)
1722 QSO points X 242 mults = Total Score of 416, 724
K3, AL-811, 80m dipole
See you in 2012…