Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Bates family had a great 2012 Christmas; it was really nice to have the whole family sitting around the Christmas tree, laughing, smiling, and opening gifts.
The Ham Radio gifts this year were very nice: 2 Begali's - A Sculpture and a Blade. One for each type of CW - they are just beautiful, they look so much better than I can use them. I can only hope that one day I'll be worthy of them.
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Well, they were partially right - Saturday afternoon the temp did warm up to the upper 50's. However, around 1am on Sunday morning, the downpour that arrived was not very nice :( Eventually, the tent decided to perform the same function as a river and little rivers flowed through. There is just nothing like a wet sleeping back to ruin an otherwise pleasant sleep!
Anyway, Saturday was a really nice day - the Scouts had a great time shooting skeet; this year we only shot around 4,000 shells - down from 5,000 last year. My youngest son ended up shooting 250 shells, has a HUGE bruise on his right shoulder and completed the Shooting Merit Badge requirements by hitting 39/50 skeet! He (and I) was very excited.
I set up a radio station on Saturday morning and really had a great day! I took my Icom IC-7000 and Buddipole with me. The first thing I wanted to do was check in to the Central Virginia 6m Net (50.215) that run every day at 7am and 8am. The Buddipole aluminum tubing was pretty chilly in the AM as the temp was around 35 degrees or so. I managed to get the Buddipole set up with a 6m dipole configuration and I heard Ralph (WA4FEG) calling for check-in's to the net! I was very excited!
(A note on the Buddipole configuration - if you decide to pick on up - you MUST own a antenna analyzer of some sort. It's just not an option to try with your radio - there is so much variation in locations, coil tap locations, and antenna whip length that you start each band "excercise" in the "general ballpark" and spend a bit of time trying to find a good resonant config. Takes some time, but I can't imagine how'd I accomplish it with a analyzer!)
|Rig Setup at Scout Camp|
I used the battery power from the car as the power source. I had forgotten that I need to run the car when using the IC-7000 on full power - but remembered VERY quickly when I keyed up to check-in to the 6m net. My IC-7000 immediately power cycled, I jumped out of the chair and started the car, and then tried to check in again - this time success!!!
|Buddipole - Set up for 6m configuration|
|Field Day Setup|
My youngest son came on over to visit later in the morning.
|My Assistant - Will|
So, other than some crappy, late Sat night rain, and a cold - it was a great field day!
73 de KJ4WLH (reporting from a nice, dry QTH!)
Thursday, December 6, 2012
I did a bit of antenna modeling before I made this antenna. I was hoping that it would be as good as the model suggested - the 1/2" copper pipe really gave it a nice bandwidth!
Since I was trying to get it resonant for weak signal work, you can see that it's really matched quite well for 50.125 - I'm quite happy!!!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, December 2, 2012
|IC-7000 30 Amp ATC Fuses|
Saturday, November 24, 2012
I would really like to thank a couple of guys who have provided a LOT of encouragement and support: Dave Meier (N4MW) and Armand Hamel (WA1UQO). I would have abandoned CW long ago if it weren't for these 2 guys!
The 1st contact has been logged - onward and onward!!!
73 de KJ4WLH
Monday, November 19, 2012
- They are intimidating, obscure, and un-intelligible software programs somehow related to Amateur Radio.
- They each provide a means to use mathematical sets of formulas to simulate antennas in the "real world."
- Electrical Engineers, PhD's, Nerds, and the socially unacceptable are the only humans who know the "secret and arcane" art of antenna modeling using these software tools.
- These are very expensive software products, well out of the reach of a typical Ham.
No, the answer is not "3"; the correct answer is "2"! Yes, really - I'm not kidding…
One of my favorite things to do in Amateur Radio is trying to model the "perfect" antenna. I've "invested" (or wasted depending upon whom you ask!) a lot of time with EZNec (on Windows) and cocoaNEC (on Mac) and I really enjoy them a lot. I've often asked myself questions like:
- I wonder what that dipole would look like in my back yard?
- What does a 3 element, 2-meter yagi do at 8' above the ground?
- How does a j-pole really radiate?
- Can I make my own Buckmaster (and save a TON of $$)?
I had to opportunity to "design" my own dipole. How tricky can that be you ask? As tricky as you want to make it. Since I knew how to use EZNec and cocoaNEC, I didn't just want a flattop dipole with it's 70+ Ohm feedpoint and 1.8+ SWR across the frequency band for 40m (see Figure 1). I used cocoaNEC to model a dipole, sized for 40m, about 45’ above the ground – which was very close to my QTH’s backyard setup – to see what a regular dipole would look like.
|Figure 1 - 40m Dipole "Flat Top"|
Since the 40m antenna is lower to the ground than the optimal height, I started changing my model by changing the legs of the dipole. I started off by slightly raising the legs by 10 degrees at the insulator and saw the feedpoint resistance drop a little. Eventually, I managed to find a nice combination of dipole leg “angle”, based upon the height over ground. I was also able to adjust the length of the legs to get the lowest SWR across the lower part of the 40m band. The SWR model is show in Figure 2.
|Figure 2 - 40m "V" Dipole|
During November of 2012, I managed to find some time to hang my 40m dipole based upon the calculations. I hung the wires and balun, trimmed, re-hung, trimmed, re-hung, etc. for a few hours. When I was finished, I used my analyzer to see just how close I was. Figure 3 shows the graph based upon the numbers my analyzer showed. The curve is about as close to a match (compare Figure 3 to Figure 2) as I could ever expect! I was so pleased – it has been a while since a project that I’m working on has turned out so well!
|Figure 3 - Actual Analyzer Measurements at my QTH|
As I’m writing this, I still can’t believe just how accurate the EZNec and cocoaNEC programs are. I know it’s not rocket science, but I was able to design an antenna based on my requirements, build the antenna, and finally, measure to see that it matches the antenna design.
Once all the measurements were complete, I got right on the air. The ARRL was having a Sweepstakes competition and the contacts were rolling in! Perhaps band conditions were great or my antenna worked even better than I’d dreamed ☺ Either way, there were many contacts to be made! It was a great way to end a weekend!
If you think that you’d be interested in trying to model your own antenna, RARC will be offering a 3 or 4 week “Introduction to EZNec Antenna Modeling” class in the late winter/early spring.
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, November 18, 2012
So, those thoughts as well as the desire to run a little bit of power in the future and CW, caused me to re-think my antenna situation. After much fun, deliberation, and consternation, I decided that I'd bite the bullet and build 1 - 40m dipole and 2 - 20m dipoles. I went to Balun Designs and picked up a couple of baluns: the 1116de (for 40m) and the 1115e (for 20m). Wireman got the call for some more #531 wire and I was in business.
I'd be doing quite a bit of antenna modeling and decided that I did not want a flat-top dipole, I wanted a V that I could "control" the angles a little bit. So, I came up with something of a compromise - I tied a 50' piece of rope between the insulators, hung the wire from the insulators, and the antenna balun hung down in the air between the wires. It sounds more complicated than it really is - the rope just let me accurately define the length of the legs of the dipole. It also meant that I could get the Impedance down to around 48 - 52 ohms or so :)
This afternoon I got to go outside and work on my latest adventure. I think I dropped and raised the balun and wires about 7 or 8 times, but at the end, it was certainly worth it! I was trying to get my lowest SWR around the 7.150 mark and was only just a little bit off. I guess I could have kept cutting, but after a while you're just in the right ball park and it's time to call it a day :)
I wired it up, connected to some LMR 400 and listened around for a little while. Perhaps conditions were just excellent today, but I had MANY, MANY stations around that were S9+40. I listened to a contest running and gave a shout out, immediate response with a "Hey, your 60+ over here in Annapolis" - I replied with a "Thanks for the station report, new dipole and I'm very pleased!" I'm also very pleased that my rig was pulling more amps than I'd ever seen - FINALLY, an antenna that is NOT a compromise - just works!
73 de KJ4WLH
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Link to Pictures:
The BS-JOTA was held on Saturday, October 20th from 8:30 a.m. until 5:15 p.m. at the Cub Adventure Camp, located in Maidens, VA. The BSA Heart of Virginia Council's Cardinal District held a Cub Scout "Cub Olympics" during the weekend of October 19th - 21st. Approximately 1,200 Cub Scouts and their families camped during the weekend.
I'd like to thank the following individuals and sponsors:
- Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC)
- Sponsored the BS-JOTA station
- Provided HF equipment
- D-Star repeater access
- Richmond Amateur Telecommunication Society (RATS)
- UHF IRLP repeater access
- Cardinal District, Heart of Virginia Council
- Provided facilities for the BS-JOTA station
- Allowed the station to be part of the "Cub Olympics"
- Volunteers (in callsign order)
- KB4IQT - David Thomas - Troop 832
- KK4DWX - Bob Kendig
- N4CVA - Austin Thomas - Troop 832
- WA1UQO - Armand Hamel
- WA4SSG - Win Grant
- Mac McNeer(K4YEF)
- Use of the RARC Club callsign: W4ZA
The BS-JOTA team set up an HF station, D-Star station, VHF/UHF station, and IRLP station over the day. Contacts on HF were made all over the United States, Canada, and even over to Europe! Austin Thomas (N4CVA), a Boy Scout was instrumental in showing the Cub Scouts how to make the "correct" contact - and MANY boys did make HF contacts throughout the day! Austin did a fantastic job!
When large numbers of Cub Scouts showed up at the BS-JOTA station, Win Grant (WA4SSG) and David Thomas (KB4IQT) would take small groups a few dozen yards away from each other and they would use HT's to make contacts with each other. Needless to say, a LOT of "local" contacts were made as well!
Armand Hamel (WA1UQO) brought one of the most fun instruments of the day - a key and code practice oscillator! I believe Armand's key was the MOST USED piece of equipment - at least 100 scouts touched the key and the just LOVED making it squeak and squeal. One "lesson" shared with the boys was teaching them how to say "HI" in Morse Code: ". . . . . ." The best part of having the boys learn to key "HI" was telling them that they could use their flashlights and do the SAME THING with the light - they could "talk" to each other in "secret code"!! Big smiles, you could almost see the wheels turning in their heads as they figured out what they were going to do later that night.
The D-Star station was connected to the BS-JOTA reflector (REF033A) and occasionally to the Atlanta reflector (REF030C). D-Star contacts were light as most of the operators were VERY busy helping the scouts talk either on HF or HT's in the small groups. There were a lot of stations making contacts throughout the world on the BS-JOTA reflector: Argentina, UK, New Zealand, and many others. It was great hearing all the different countries and the accents of the stations were really interesting to the scouts as well.
As the afternoon wore on, the Scouts (and the operators) were getting tired! The HF station was shut down and we linked the RATS UHF IRLP node to the BS-JOTA node (9091). Scout after Scout after Scout made contacts primarily with other scouts in Canada and Texas. At least 20 Scouts made contacts with other Scouts; and an occasional Ham as well - all over IRLP!
The day went great! At least 50 - 60 Scouts made contacts with someone, mostly with other Scouts. The day was beautiful. The volunteers made the day go smoothly and were so generous with their time. My final thoughts are these - I really enjoy ham radio and I also sharing my passion for this great hobby of ours with people who are open to new ideas! We are the ones who make the entrance to our hobby "friendly" and "welcoming". Get out there and "welcome" someone into your hobby today!
73 de KJ4WLH
Jim Bates, Troop 876, RARC Member, RATS Member
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I few weeks, perhaps months now I suppose, my 6m loop stopped being resonant on 50.125. Really weird - I mean, it looked fine and was hanging right where it had been for a while and I hadn't done ANYTHING with it except use it. I really didn't understand what was going on.
So, last weekend I dropped the antenna and tried to re-adjust it so that it would be resonant (again!) on 50.125 +/-. It was really strange; I'd tune/adjust it, raise it up 20' or so, think that I'd just about got it and then it would change on me. It was really frustrating. So, I adjusted it "one last time" and hauled it up into the air.
Wouldn't you know; it wouldn't tune on my 9100! My 7600 would tune it up, but that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. I used my antenna analyzer and it was around 3:1 match!!! WHAT??!!?? ARGHH!!
(In case you haven't followed my rants recently, I've have a bad run of radio luck...)
Time passes... And now it's this afternoon - beautiful day and I have about an hour to kill until my next activity kicks up; sounds like a good time to take a look at the 6m loop problem. So, I dropped the antenna again, got out the M2 6m loop PDF and adjusted all the parts to the specs in the PDF. HOWEVER, when I was banging on the metal trying to shift parts around, ants started crawling out of the aluminum tubing! A LOT of ANTS - I mean, tons!!! How strange? Anyway, I kept on making noise and gave them a little while to clear out.
I went back later and it seemed like they'd moved on - I guess most of them did anyway. So I hauled the antenna back up in the air and guess what - 1.2:1 match :)
My "moral of the story is this", there is always a reason - it just might be stranger than what you think it is!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, September 16, 2012
- 3db gain for a pair of loops +/- is a LOT of trouble for half an S-Unit.
- I think my 2m pre-amp is broken :(
- My LMR-400 N connector pins don't fit my LMR-400 coax...
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I have a 2m pre-amp that I've wanted to get in action for a while. I also have a M2 2m cable phasing set, which would be really great if I had a 2nd loop. So, I placed my order with HEO and ordered the final piece.
My goal is to have a pair if M2 2m HO loops, with a pre-amp mounted and up in the air by the end of the weekend.
Wish me luck!
So, for the first time, I decided to tether my phone to my laptop and just use my cell data connection for my internet access. Seemed to work OK, actually was better than I thought it would work. In fact, I'm using it right now to update this page :)
Anyway, when I travel I always take my IC-92AD and my DVAP (red). So, I got it out, plugged it in, and connected to the internet. Wow, that was easy - it just worked (like I've grown to expect!)
My local club, Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC), located in Richmond, VA has a D-Star net that runs on Wednesday evening at 8pm (EDT). I took a break from my Morse Code practice to join the net and it WORKED GREAT!
I've heard of folks using their cell connection in their car traveling all around the country staying in D-Star contact, but this is the first time that I'd ever done it. It's more fun than it sounds.
So, no R2D2 during the net and it was awesome being able to chat with my buddies - just like I was local.
73 de KJ4WLH
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Anyway, over the past weekend, I just finally resolved to move "things" around and see how that might play out - and guess what! Yeah, it worked. I relocated my 2m/70cm vertical to another location in the back yard and I'm back to hitting the repeater with just a couple of watts of power.
Sometimes I wonder how any of this stuff works at all...
73 de KJ4WLH
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Anyway, since I didn't believe that I could both drive and run a net, it seemed like one of those family vs. hobby conflicts that inevitably arise.
Here's to hoping my daughter learns to drive quickly!!!
73 de KJ4WLH
When Icom released the IC-9100, I knew that the rig was for me. There are just so few VHF+ multi-mode (SSB/CW) rigs available and it also covered HF. So, the IC-9100 came on home. For a few months I didn't do anything with the IC-7600 and since there were a couple of problems with that: 1 - it's not cheap, and 2 - I can't abide having gear that I don't use; I put it up for sale.
Problem was, I missed it. A lot! As much as I like the IC-9100, I really, really liked the IC-7600.
A buddy of mine "upgraded" his QTH with a IC-7800 and now he had a IC-7600 just "sitting around." I knew his pain :), though, not in quite the same manner - an IC-9100 is NOT a IC-7800!!! So, he decided to put it up for sale a few months ago. I have to say, I've thought about it almost any time I think about Ham radio. His price was very reasonable and I know how he takes care of his gear - so that part was pretty easy; no concerns about equipment condition...
Well, last week while talking with him, I just decided to see if he still had the rig and Yep. He still did... Now he doesn't :)
So, I casually call the rigs "cousins" and the pair of them are working well in my shack. I must say, I really do enjoy working HF & 6m on the IC-7600 - it's just a joy!
73 de KJ4WLH
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Anyway, last night I found a group of people who, like me, share the same feeling. They almost universally shared exactly what I was feeling. It's just that feeling of failure, mostly (and not maliciously) as "kind advice & support" - "Hey, just keep trying, it's easy."; "I learned it when I was a Boy Scout at 9 years old, simple!" and on and on and on...
For me, it's not easy. It's hard, very hard. Like I just mentioned, there are few things that I have tried that require this level of concentration and continuous effort to see very poor results.
NOW, for the good news...
I AM making progress. I do finally believe that I have the ability to learn morse code. I also no longer think that it'll just be "20 quick hours to memorize the code and then get on the air - it's easy!" I know that it'll take a while for me; but that's actually OK! I know that I'm "slowly" getting there and that my pace will be MY pace.
I guess the "discouraging" reassurance of others has really made a difference for me. I appreciate the honesty.
73 de KJ4WLH
Saturday, August 11, 2012
The group was very civil, though I was nervous, and the presentation went along fairly smoothly. I suppose one might say it even went well, but I still know there are some things that I would have done differently (and therefore better!)
Two buddies of mine, Armand (WA1UQO) and Tom (KC4CMK), and I re-installed a 20 meter antenna that had fallen a few years previously at the church where the RARC meetings are held. That was really nice, part of my demonstration was receiving PSK31 on 20 meters while the club members filed in and chit chatted before the meeting started.
Anyway, I enjoyed discussing my experience with Icom's RS-BA1 software package and how I use it around the house and travelling. There was quite a bit of Q&A and the presentation was very interactive - I guess that's the kind I like best, it keeps folks engaged in the conversation.
Here's a link to the Remote Operations presentation.
73 de KJ4WLH
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I was messing around in my shack and got around to doing a side by side comparison of my IC-7000 and IC-9100. I was curious as to how well or different each transceiver was - the video showed it pretty well.
I was listening to a simplex conversation, the IC-7000 showed no s-meter reading and the IC-9100 show S5 +/-. Unbelievable!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, July 29, 2012
I received a phone call from a young man, who explained that his grandfather - WZ0T, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He said that he and his father had travelled to Newport News, Virginia to be with his grandfather. The father and son were planning on packing up all of home furnishings and they had no idea how to "take down" the 40' tower in the back yard. "Did I know someone who could help?"
Wow - talking about feeling responsible for helping, "Of course I can try to find someone to help!" I offered to try and find someone who might be able to help.
I thought of a few people and a good friend of my immediately came to mind - N4MW, Dave. Dave is a well "traveled" tower climber and I had all the confidence in the world that he'd be able to help these guys with at least some answers. I called Dave and he graciously agreed to talk with the family. Dave called back later, let me know that he'd be heading down on Sunday afternoon to help take the beam and tower down, "Would I like to help?" OF COURSE!!!!
A little bit of a side note here; my wife and daughter left this morning for a week long mission trip to New York City - they'll be serving the homeless throughout Brooklyn, please pray for them :) Selfishly, that also meant that I didn't have much of a timeline for the afternoon and could play radio!
I meet up with Dave on Sunday afternoon and we head off with all his tools of destruction and mayhem - I mean he had a LOT of tools, very specialized tools tailored for just the kind of work we were heading off to do.
We arrived and after a bit of "negotiation" agreed that the beam and rotor would stay with the family and the tower would go home with Dave. This was great, I was going to see a pro at work!
Dave climbed the tower and fixed the broken/jammed "Hazer" and managed to slowly lower the beam down to the ground. Well, not quite the ground but about 5' off the ground, which was perfect for working on getting the bolts off the mast. We removed the beam and positioned it around the yard so it would be out of the way of any potential damage. After removal of miscellaneous cables, coax, ropes, etc. we then began the work of dropping the tower to the ground.
Dave tied a rope 2/3 of the way to the top of the tower and tied it to his truck; he tied a 2nd rope to the other side of the tower and I hauled it over to the opposite side of the yard. He cut the 1st tower leg and then cut the 2nd and 3rd legs partially through. Dave got into his truck and gave me the go-ahead to start pulling. Pull I did and the tower began to tilt my way; Dave started moving his truck forward a little bit and the tower was coming down! It made it's way to the ground and that part of the job was complete!
We disassembled the tower legs, cleaned up the tools and packed the tower parts into the truck. We said goodbye to the family and headed on back to Dave's QTH.
All in all, a very good afternoon!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, July 15, 2012
|Geek-A-Thon 2012 "Field Day" setup|
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
MacLoggerDX and cocoaModem
Mac Logger DX does what you think it does - it does logging. You know what else it does? It interfaces DIRECTLY to my IC-9100 through the USB cable using the native "serial" interface provided by the transceiver :) That makes me VERY happy! Oh, it also has the 9100 CAT command set built in, which means it knows how to address and read the data from the transceiver without ANY effort on my part. Lazy, Impatience, and Hubris - 3 of my favorite traits...
cocoaModem does the "other" thing that I use a computer to do with a transceiver - PSK31 :) Oh, and guess what - IT ALSO found the IC-9100 sound card and uses the MacLoggerDX for keying (PTT)! That's right, between both of those programs, I don't need a single 3rd party piece of hardware or software - they just work together...
Now, I just need to figure out how to use them efficiently and I'll be good to go!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, July 1, 2012
(See "rules" here - Radio Run Rules)
So, yes! I did manage to complete the "Radio Run" successfully. Mostly the guilt and imagining the amount of greif that I would get if I didn't finish really helped me keep it going!
Ok, on a serious note - it was a lot of fun. The challenge really made me think of ways to incorporate radio into my daily activity; even when it wasn't so easy to do. (Like traveling on a business trip! - Long live the D-Star DVAP!!!)
Friday, June 22, 2012
I just went back to trying the same old thing about a week later and guess what? Yep, no changes :( Still couldn't get into the repeater with anything less than 50 > watts... I ran the net again and afterwards performed some more testing. I swapped the coax for both the antenna's (again) and still, no change.
I finally gave up and decided that I had one final option. I took my "portable" Comet GP-3 dual band and my speaker stand out to the middle of my back yard. 20+ feet of coax connected to my antenna switch and viola! 2 watts of power and I was successfully communicating with the repeater. I thought to myself, "Self - you have got to be kidding..." Both the VHF antennas are 20+ feet apart from each other hanging in the air at least 40+ feet up in the air...
So, my station is working just fine. I just live in a "D-Star 2m Free Zone"...
I sure am glad my DVAP works well!
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I had tried using my LDG IT-100 (I think that's the right model), but the auto-tuner would not get close to what the Palstar could tune. In fact, it performed so poorly with my awful configuration, I was VERY concerned that ANY auto-tuner (with the exception of the Palstar and Alpha auto-tuners!) would not perform. A concern that I will tell you is now a distant memory!
I had read a few articles about people using the AH-4 tuner in a "non-supported" configuration. In short, they were using it as a tuner SPECIFICALLY for doublet work. Here is a link to a really good website dedicated to it's purpose: K9EQ's AH-4 General Information
The picture (from the previous website) shows pretty much how my connection is configured as well:
Instead of using the "Ground" connection, you simply connect the "other" side of the twin-lead and you are in business :)
I would really encourage you to read the technical details listed in the website earlier - the author (K9EQ) has done a very nice job describing his setup and how he made his situation work for himself.
Anyway, I did the very same thing in my shack. I removed my Palstar and my Baluan which left me with an ICom 9100, AH-4, and some twin-lead coming into the shack. Coax run from the 9100 to the AH-4, control cable run from the 9100 to the AH-4, and twin-lead connected from the doublet to "both sides" of the AH4-4 and I was done.
I switched the tuning mode to the coax with the AH-4 connected and the 9100 immediately showed a connection to an "External" antenna. Pressed the tune button and heard a bunch of clicking and clacking and then the magic letter appeared on the display - "Tune" (meaning a match had been made)!
I tried every band I could and the only place I could not get it to tune was at the very bottom of 160m. Everywhere else, I can get a match. That's great news - this means that I can really use my remote setup to the best of it's ability. I can remotely control the power level, the operating frequency, and tuning the antenna.
I short, it works very well and I can now stop dreaming about the Palstar and Alpha auto-tuners! This little ICom does the trick nicely.
73 de KJ4WLH
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I also was just messing around with 6m PSK and started talking for the very 1st time with another local ham - that was pretty good fun as well.
You know, there are just so many different ways to make a contact in the hobby. So many folks with different preferences - it's just great! I've got my buddies who like their 2m repeaters, others who love CW (and QRP at that!), some who just like working PSK and other digital modes, even some who are into VH packet! That's what I call variety!
Though I don't work HF all the time, I do like PSK contacts there. Since my station is a "barefoot" config, I know I can't compete with legal-limit folks for breaking pileups. It's just good to work someone, somewhere.
Which brings me to the current status of the Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC) June - contact a day challenge. So far, I have managed to make a contact every day and am really hopeful that the trend will continue! It's kind of fun and there is more pressure to it than I thought there might be. Making a contact is one of the first things I'm concerned about every morning until the contact is made. Then I can concentrate on other things. Until then, however, I am constantly thinking of how I can just get a quick QSO "in the log" :) PSK is a good friend for that, there is ALWAYS someone on 20m giving out a CQ.
73 de KJ4WLH
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Every green wire is a ground and goes directly to my ground bus. In fact, every piece of equipment in my shack is grounded to the same ground bus - no loops for me!
73 de KJ4WLH
|Alpha Delta Switches|
|Gear, Switches, and misc stuff...|
Thursday, May 24, 2012
You would have thought that a kind XYL would have let her hubby know that a SERIOUSLY large and heavy package had made it to the front door - but NO!
Oh well, I'm planning on getting it out to the shack for the test run tomorrow (Friday) sometime.
Oh, no lighting damage (or customer damage!) - "replaced defective RL501 on CTRL unit" - whatever that means...
Thank you Paul!
I ran the RARC D-Star net last night from my hotel room in Maryland and it went very well.
I brought my DVAP with me and had a REALLY poor wireless network connection in the room. I am very pleased with how well the DVAP performs, it just continues to make my HT a wonderful transceiver.
I only had 1 person who wished to check in that I wasn't able to hear (RPT2 setting issue). It just worked great.
The D-Star digital packet requirements are very forgiving, I am much more pleased with its operation as I've learned it's pros and cons.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
I hooked up my IC-92AD to my 2m vertical out in the shack last night. Wednesday night is my dstar net and I needed some way to run it...
Yeah, I have a DVAP - but using the DVAP means that everyone who wishes to participate in the net must have a properly configured RPT2 field. If not, then I would not be able to hear them when they transmit. I planned on using my DVAP as a last resort!
What I was REALLY hoping was I could consistently hit the 2m dstar repeater with 5 watts from my HT. I was also somewhat concerned about the temperature of the HT when transmitting at full power for the duration of the net.
It worked out great! I ran the net using only the HT, 5 watts of power, and no DVAP :) The HT did get pretty warm, but certainly not smoking hot! I now know that I have a good way to run the net using other gear.
73 de KJ4WLH
The RATS club meets in the West End of Richmond which puts it about 15 minutes further away from me than the RARC club - so, RARC became the "default" club for me to attend. It is also the club that I passed my Tech, General, and Extra exams through - well, I guess in reality it was the ARRL VEC relationship with RARC that did the testing.
I have, for all the time I've been in the hobby, wishing to attend a RATS meeting and visit the "other" radio brethren in the Richmond area. I could go on and on (and on and on) about time commitments and other excuses - but I made them and just never took the time to go.
Last night I made it; it was great! I was so glad to meet guys I've talked to many times and put a name to the Callsign :) The other thing I (knew) but only really realized is that I already knew some of the guys at the meeting! I looks like I'm not the only Richmond Ham to have dual membership in the local clubs :)
What a nice way to support the hobby!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
While I might not purchase Mirage/MFJ gear again, I will DEFINITELY purchase from HRO again. No doubt about it :)
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Well, I got my Mirage in the mail today. It didn't work. I don't mean it didn't hit the repeater as I needed - I mean it didn't power on. :(
I have been nervous about purchasing products from MFJ, I'm not nervous anymore. I am just not purchasing ANY products from MFJ.
Monday, May 14, 2012
Since the 9100 has to visit the doctor, that leaves my shack without D-Star capability. Hmm, what to do? It would seem that choices are plentiful!!!
After reflection - meaning that I really thought that a new 2820 would be nice, I realized that the price of such a piece of gear was just excessive for this temporary situation. As much as I would like one, it just didn't "feel" like the right time for something like that. What I'd REALLY like would be a new product announcement from Icom which would be a 7000 with d-star capability - I'd purchase that rig in a heartbeat...
Since I have not heard such an announcement (or even rumors!) it's time for "Plan B." I have 92AD that just isn't able to hit the local D-Star repeater(s) with any reliability. It's just not able to use the rubber ducky and make the distance. I do, however, have a Diamond X50 (dual VHF/UHF) antenna that I can use. Since I also want to have a bit more reliability for the Wednesday night Richmond Amatuer Radio Club D-Star net at 20:00 - I thought it might be prudent to pick up a small VHF/UHF amplifier. I placed the order with HRO for a Mirage BD-35 I'm hoping that it will provide just enough UMPHH along with a "real" antenna to make the distance.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Very disapointing... My loop is fine, my Icom 9100 isn't :(
The 9100 has 2 different HF inputs, input #1 is connected to my Palstar AT2K and input #2 is connected directly to my m2 6m ho loop.
I swapped the antenna and was able to tune it just fine. That was bad news..
I got out my Bird wattmeter and got 100+ watts from #1 and NO watts from input #2.
I guess I will pack it up and ship it to Icom on Monday.
On a positive note, I have my 7000 setup in the shack and it's working pretty well. No dstar, but such is life!
Ok, I've taken enough grief about my YouTube video... Here is a link to version 2http://youtu.be/MgaTY0tVLkQ I hope that the "real world" test is accepted by the Amatuer Radio Community :)
I have grown QUITE comfortable using my RS-BA1 software remotely. I've created a virtual machine (VM) based upon Windows XP that I run on my laptop - the XP VM is built to run the Icom RS-BA1 software, HRD, EZ-Nec, and a couple of other ham based software applications. Works great! I can sit pretty much anywhere I want around the house, plug in my Heil Proset media headset, and have a QSO. Or if I'm interested, I can check out some psk with DM780 and of course, it's all logged with HRD Log... I mean, EVERYTHING, just works! QRZ auto lookups, LOTW uploads, eQSL, hamlog, Oh, but I really have a new "problem" :)
I suppose it's been a busy week since the last update. I now have all 6 of my antennas in the air AND they are all connected to a transceiver of some sort :) 1.2GHz vertical, 900MHz vertical, 2m/70cm vertical, 70cm loop, 2m loop, 6m loop, and my 40m doublet! I am so happy I made the move to the "shed"
Geez, it's been a long time since I've had an update... So, I've been "kicked out" of the house as my XYL decided that those "ropes" (coax) hanging from the 2nd story window needed to go... I have a shed out back that I ran power to several years ago - it's now got a heater and in the spring will have a window air conditioner :) Here is a link to some pics of where I'm now sitting:https://picasaweb.google.com/jlbates4/HamShackV10?authuser=0&feat=directlink
Rig Update. Out with the old 7600, in with the new 9100. I've got a buddy, N4MW, who is really, REALLY into VHF+ weak signal stuff. I went and visited; big mistake! I've been bitten hard with the weak signal VHF bug - so much that I picked up a used 910H (with the 1.2GHz module). However, the deal was a big mistake (the 1st time I'd ever been ripped off by someone) and I was so disappointed that I gave up looking at the used market. I subsequently convinced myself that a 9100 would cure me of my ills. It did (at least for now!)
I think I might have figured out why my Buckmaster is causing me a TON of RFI on 80m & 40m... I changed my station location from one side of my room to the other side of the room and managed to run my coax through my backyard window; that cut my coax run from 200' to about 35'... I didn't need all of the 200' of coax, which was coiled nicely in my attic - coiled huh... I suspect that I had created my own form of choke balun when I was using the 200' run of coax, which now is no longer the case! I've also had to learn much more about the sources of RFI and what you can do to reduce it's impact.
Last night I performed my 1st Net Control duty for the Richmond D-Star net. It was both nerve racking and fun; I hoping that this net will become a technical forum for those interested in the D-Star technology and I'll do I best to keep it so.
On the down side, I've been working on hanging my 7 band Buckmaster OCF in the back yard. It would seem that it is now picking up all kinds of interference from everywhere. VERY frustrating... I have also noticed a couple of "strange" side-effects, the primary being that I can no longer receive a good signal from the Richmond D-Star repeater. During the net, my S-Meter was 0 (zero) - nothing! However, I was able to communicate PERFECTLY with the repeater, very strange. No R2D2 garble, perfect copy... I suppose I must have done something with cable routing or antenna placement.
Well, I did some testing of a new 2m/70cm antenna over the weekend. The improvement is fantastic - from an S5 to S9+20 :) I did a little bit of a story and if you'd like, you're more than welcome to read about it... The Mis-Adventures of a Backyard Antenna Hanger Pictures of the "Knuckle Buster."
OK, I admit it. I like rag-chewing. I like PSK31. I like 80m. I like rag-chewing on 80m. I like rag-chewing on PSK31 on 80m. The part I've realized that I like best, is getting to know folks within the state of VA (and nearby states as well.) Being able to hold a conversation with someone that you've gotten to know a little bit is nice.
I just submitted my application for becoming an ARRL VE. Since I just don't have the radio background, I figure I can offer to help my radio club (RARC) with the test sessions - I DO know how to make coffee and chit-chat! I've also decided to represent/participate with the club during next year's Boy Scout JOTA (Jamboree Over The Air) - I've been a Cubmaster for a while and now that my youngest is moving up to Boy Scouts; my time with Cubs is at an end (yea!). It is really tough trying to figure out where my VERY limited skills can be of help when I'm around folks who have decades of experience.
I passed my Extra exam last night! Finally, I can choose to study and follow those parts of the hobby that I really prefer - instead of learning about digital circuit design perhaps I'll start spending time learning things like code :)
I've been working with HRD and more specifically, the Log program part of HRD. I need to create a good looking QSL card too! eQSL.cc is now part of my logging, BUT, I'm stuck using an ugly, default card until I can get off my butt and make sometime that actually looks nice :)
Installed a Buckmaster 4-Band antenna over the weekend :) Antenna comparison between my attic fan dipole and the Buckmaster are located at the bottom of this page. The Buckmaster is set up in a flat top config around 50' high.
No more /AG - the FCC updated my record to General Class
Update - I passed my General exam over the past weekend :) Put updated pics of my HF antenna system.
Hmm, where to begin...
I used to have all my HAM Radio blog info located in the QRZ home page, but I've decided that it's time to move it out. Not that I have anything but respect for QRZ, I do! It's just that I use my bio page for blogging and updates much more than just static content. As time goes on, I'll have to find a way to move all that content over here...
Wish me luck - 73 de KJ4WLH