Megan (jehoshabeath) wrote,

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My radio is not broken

My radio gave me a mighty big scare this evening. I was sending out distress calls and emails in every direction and had even started making mental plans to ship the radio back for repair. Here's what happened:

I decided to do a little listening to the HF bands this evening and maybe even talk to somebody. Yesterday I had prepared the radio for a return to HF operation by removing the batteries and setting it back on the shelf. I connected the power, antenna tuner, and key, tuned my antenna for 20 meters, and then tapped out some dits to see how badly my SWR rated.

The meter on the antenna tuner did not move at all.

"Oh no! Something must have happened to the antenna tuner," I thought. "Well, maybe the coax just went bad." I replaced the coax and tried again. The meter didn't even flinch.

I panicked and called Bill for assistance. He reminded me that my radio had an internal power meter and that I should check that to see if the radio was outputting any power. I did and it read P0. That's not good... We changed the power level and it still read P0. We tried inputting the key directly into the radio, bypassing the external keyer. Nothing. Yes, it was in CW mode. I tried going to the voice portion of the band and switched over to USB. P0 when I keyed the mic. I got a big lump in my throat at that point...

Next, I went up to 2 meters, the repeater frequencies, and I tried getting a signal into the repeater. Low and behold, I did, even with the short rubber duckie antenna that came with the rig hastily connected to the front of the radio.

So, HF does not transmit and has a 0 power output, but VHF does transmit with normal output power...?

Well, we tried going back down into HF, but nothing. We checked to see if there were different finals for HF and VHF, but they are one and the same in the FT-817nd. So I didn't blow out the finals. Next, we tried resetting the radio to the default, factory settings. I put it back in CW mode back in the CW portion of the 20 meter band and tapped the key. I heard the side tone, but the power output still said nothing. At this point, we ran out of ideas and I got really worried.

A while later, after emailing everyone I could think of for help, I sat down with the radio, disconnected and reconnected the tuner and tried again. No power...but, man, that key is acting funny. Why does it hold so very long. *Taps the dit paddle* Di-------t. "I must have CW delay on." Di----------t. "Wait, did I see one tiny power level bar next to the P0 appear? I wonder..."

I turned the power up all the way to 5 Watts (heh...) and to my surprise, it showed some power being output on the meter! The reset of the CPU to default settings had done the trick, after all! I just didn't know it because I was transmitting under a Watt of power and neither the antenna tuner nor the radio power meters even read the power output when it was that low. They probably would have if I had turned on the external keyer tuning function and held it there a while, but I am used to tapping out a short tone on the key first just to make sure the SWR is reasonable before utilizing the external keyer tuning. In any case, it did work!

..--.. (?)

Uhoh, I transmitted a couple dits on somebody's frequency. SRI, I am going to run away now! Eeep.

So the radio works after all. *Big sigh of relief* I apparently changed some setting when I went over to operate on 2 meters and that was preventing me from transmitting on HF. I read the manual before I went to work on 2 meters, but I must have missed something. My Pack-It reference manual will be arriving shortly and I will look it up there. Maybe they have some pointers. I sure don't want to have to go through that again! What a day. Radio, don't scare me like that!

I am going to bed now. That was far too stressful!
Tags: radio equipment

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