Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Very Begali Christmas

Merry Christmas 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

Boy Scout - Field Day with Skeet & Radio Fun

I'm back home after a wet, wet weekend.  The weather guys all week long said, "Beautiful weather - upper 50's during the day and possible rain late Sunday afternoon."

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
 I made a few contacts during the day with folks around the US, Portugal, and heard quite a few from Europe, Canada, Australia, and Mexico - quite a variety.  I had about 8 - 10 scouts talk to other hams during the day; it was pretty fun for everybody involved!  When the day had about ended, I had the opportunity to share a bit of detail with 3 boys who seemed quite interested in obtaining their Tech license - I'll have to follow up with them later on and see if the interest remains.

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

6m Dipole is complete - I'm finally back in business.

I took some time, but I finally made my 6m dipole.  Since I work for a plumbing company, I decided to use copper pipe and fittings :)  Here are some pics:

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

ICOM IC-7000 Low Power Output RESOLVED!

I've recently been using my Icom IC-7000 inside my house as a convenient way to listen to W1AW Morse Code practice sessions.  One afternoon, I was on 40 meters and decided to have a QSO with a fellow ham. I went to key and noticed that my power output level was peaking around 60 watts +/- or so.  Since I had the power output set at 100% (or 100 watts), I was concerned.  I knew that my antenna was good, the auto tuner had been successfully initiated and was operational.

Hmm, had I managed to break something?  Time to search the Internet for help!

It would seem that I'm not the only person who has had this issue.  The first answer was very common, something along the lines of:  "The IC-7000 needs 13.8 volts; anything less will affect power output."  I was already familiar with that problem - mostly due to my operation in my vehicle.  The IC-7000 worked great when the car was running, but when the car was stopped (engine not running), power output > 50 watts caused the unit to cycle off and back on.  Apparently, the solution for that problem is a "voltage booster."

On to the next "most likely" cause - bad fuses.  Really?  Bad fuses; corrosion?  Well, guess what - yep, that was actually the problem.  I found a good article by AB4OJ - Link Here -> Check out the heading "Low Power Output on Transmit."

I checked the 30 Amp ATC fuses and take a look:
IC-7000 30 Amp ATC Fuses
Notice the nice dark corrosion line across them?  Yeah, I noticed them also.  I took a pocket knife and scratched some of the oxidation off the fuses, put the back in the fuse holders and yep, the IC-7000 went back to transmitting all of 100 watts.

Next step:  get out my dremel and buff the oxidation off the fuses.

73 de KJ4WLH