During these tests, in addition to just hearing the odd noise in my headset, and on the radio speaker when I disconnected the headset, I was attempting to call some stations that I had been hearing all afternoon. The location that I had now moved
to was even better than my previous location, as there was water on 3 sides, which means I had an especially good path to Europe, South America, and the southwest US. Some of the stations that I'd tried to contact were extremely strong and should not have been difficult at all to contact. I was finally able to make a contact with S55OO so I knew that the radio was actually transmitting, though he was in the middle of working many other stations so I didn't have a chance to ask him for a signal report. At that point, I was confused and frustrated at not being able to locate the source of the problem, and given that it was getting late in the afternoon, I decided to break down and shut down for the evening.
After heading back home (well, not to NJ, to where we were saying), I sent an email the Buddipole Users Group to see if anyone there had any ideas what the problem might be. I got back responses from a number of folks within a few hours, most of them suggesting that I try most of the things I'd already tried (which of course they didn't know I'd done). A couple of folks suggested trying to use some ferrite beads in various places on power cable, microphone cable, and power cables. Unfortunately, I didn't have any with me, and they aren't the kind of thing that are stocked in a local hardware store or even Radio Shack. Budd, W3FF, and Scott, NE1RD pointed out that since I'd made one contact that the radio must be transmitting, but it did seem that there was still some problem.
The Old Salty Dog on nearby Siesta Key. I was still frustrated that I hadn't figured out what the problem was, but things always seem better after a beer and a fried Grouper sandwich. They probably would have seemed even better after two or three beers, but since I still had to drive back to the operating site I decided to stop after one.
When I arrived at South Lido Park, I found an even better location than on the previous day, where the operating position was under trees for shade and I was able to set up the antenna on a different table from the operating position, putting even more distance between the antenna, the radio, and the car. I made sure to have the RF choke in place as close as possible to the feedpoint, and wound up as much of the excess feedline into that choke to try to eliminate as much of the unwanted RF on the outside of the feedline as possible.
I was still hearing what I thought was RF in my headset (or from the radio speaker when I switched to the hand microphone), but I decided to call CQ anyway, hoping that perhaps someone would be able to hear me and perhaps let me know what my on-air signal sounded like. I finally got an answer back from Larry, KH6ITY who, as it turns out, was a technology teacher in Texas and was in the middle of demonstrating ham radio to his class. As it turned out, meeting Larry on the air was a wonderful stroke of luck.
Click here for Part III.