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I wanted to try out the new ft8 digital mode this weekend, but things just did not go my way.

First, I accidentally put 24 volts into my star wars bitx. I popped a few capacitors and burnt a few resistors, but it looks like the boards themselves are okay. I then rigged up the module itself on the bench with my signal generator acting as the vfo, but I wasn’t getting anything. After an hour or so of troubleshooting, I hooked up another radio and it was deaf too. It turns out that the antenna wasn’t working.

Saturday morning, I pulled out the ladder and went to check on the antenna. Well, there was a wasp’s nest behind the center point of the dipole and apparently I pissed them off. I got a good sting and almost fell off the ladder, but I somehow turned it into a controlled jump.

After a trip to the store for some wasp spray and donning long sleeve shirt, I found that a solder joint had broken between the center coax connection and one of the dipole arms. I repaired it with a butane soldering iron and got it back together. I verified that the antenna was working right as a storm blew in, so I didn’t get to test it out much.

Sunday, during the day, 40 meters was completely dead. It started picking up in the afternoon and I fired up the bitx on the bench and rigged a push button on a breadboard to act as the ptt. I started picking up ft8 and sending out a few CQs, but another storm blew through.

I never did get any ft8 QSOs, but pskreporter did pick me up, so at least I know everything was finally working.

Here is what my bench looked like. It gets pretty messy when I’ve got a few projects going, but it was so bad this weekend, that my computer ended up in the floor.

Here is the bitx module. I soldered to 3.5mm sockets to the mic and speaker connections and ran aux cables into my computer. The signal generator ran straight into the dds port and I connected the ptt to a push button on the breadboard.

Its not the prettiest, but it does work. I’ll try to get an actual QSO with it tonght if the weather holds.

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