Recently I’ve been slowly but surely upgrading my HF base station at home. After deciding an ICOM 7300 was more than enough for my operating needs and that any new shiny radio would NOT help me work any more stations, I turned my attention to the other things I could improve.
The first thing was clearly the antenna, after sticking with a simple Western HF-10 wire antenna for a few years, it was clear this was a compromise. Covering everything from 80m up to 6m is a push. I found this antenna to best perform on 30m and 80m, but elsewhere it was hard work!
I initially used an old run of RG58 coax, which is clearly not the best and also with my eyes on an amplifier, absolutely not suitable for QRO! I instead made up a new run of Messi & Paloni Ultraflex 7, complete with quality QRO ferrite toroids (FT240-43) at each end.
At this point it was time to bring my second hand ACOM 1000 amplifier inline, so I connected everything up, including the keying line from the ICOM 7300 to the amplifier. Now up until this point I’ve been mostly a QRP man, so amplifiers are new territory (outside of contest groups and field day). The ACOM 1000 can output up to a maximum of 1.2kW, so clearly it’s only going to loaf along at UK legal limit of 400w. This gives me a lot of headroom to run data modes at 400w and not push the amp too hard, I can also be sure it remains linear, as I’m only running it at a third of its total output.
I’ve done tests with a local amateur (thanks Malcolm G3ZNU) to make sure my FT8 signal is as clean as possible and at 400w it caused them no issue (other than it being very strong)!
The results have been a sharp increase in DX worked on HF, with several all time new ones in the log, including Seychelles, New Zealand, South Africa, St Lucia and Korea. It’s also been a new experience to work pileups of JA and west coast North American stations on 20m FT8…
So in conclusion, it’s safe to say the upgrade was worth the effort, I’m now finally working some DX on HF and have almost reached DXCC. I’m still very much interested in QRP, but QRO has added another dimension to my operating and opened up a world of DX for me.