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Bimini, Binary and Logistics

We arrived in Bimini (NA-048) on Monday after an uneventful crossing from the Florida Keys. We’ve had to check into a marina since the weather was forecast to be pretty bad – sadly, the cold front passed with a whimper but the result is that we will shortly have prolonged easterly winds that will prevent us from travelling for some days. It does get windy here in Bimini!

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The benefit is that I will be on the air for longer or is have longer to be on the air…

I’ve had a few glitches… In the summer, I decided I would get better coax since I’d been using some RG-58 which has pretty spectacular losses even although I only have 100ft or so. Since I got the K3 which puts out 1/2 the power of the TS-480HX, I decided I needed to optimise the signal path as much as possible so I purchased a nice new coil of Aircell 7 and put in the “Bahamas” pile at home. Unfortunately it didn’t make it to the Bahamas…

So this morning, plan B – use the RG-58. So up went the Spiderpole and the 10m vertical dipole with a lovely 1:1.4 SWR. Attach the coax and check again 10:1 😳 – expletives deleted.

So I have a bad length of coax – the only length I have… So I ummed and arred and scrutinised it to find no problems – after all, how could there be? I had just replaced the plugs to ensure there was no corrosion in there…

To cut a long story short, having read a few articles about how to detect faults in coax, I decided to apply a binary ‘sort’ to the coax so cut it in half and tested each length and one was good and one was bad. The result is that I now have to be closer to the antenna but at least I can get going!

I made a few test calls – nice to bust the HC2RAT/8 pile up in the Galapagos on first call so I was getting out ok but I has S5 QRM locally so it wasn’t as productive as it could have been.

I also made the classic mistake of not going split straight away but to be honest, it would have made little difference since the QSB and the QRM were making life pretty difficult.

Tomorrow, I’m going to find a better QTH that hopefully has less QRM and a better overall takeoff for Europe.

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