02/20/13

My Resources

Some of the resources I use.

I make and fabricate a lot of the things I use. I make most all of my antennas, at least my none mobile antennas. All my wire antennas and a couple yagi’s. I’ve not made a lot of yagi’s. I made a 2 meter to get into a repeater well and a 6 meter antenna. The rest have been some kind wire antenna. Dipoles and Inverted V’s. I enjoy the challenge and learning aspect of making. As well most of my creations are a little cheaper than commercially available units.

» Ham radio band plan via ARRL
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf

» I use this site to calc my dipoles. I know the formula but I don’t always have a calculator on me.
http://www.kwarc.org/ant-calc.html

» After my fan-dipole project is over my next is a Delta Loop for twenty.
http://w5sdc.net/delta_loop_for_hf.html

» Where I buy most of the commercially built products is Gigaparts. At one time I lived in Huntsville, where they are located, so I feel I should help out the home town folks.
http://www.gigaparts.com/radioindex.php

» Ham Radio Practice Tests, this is where I prep before a test. You can choose individual parts to focus on or take an entire test. The feedback it gives on your test is useful in instructing you on what to study.
http://www.w8mhb.com/exam/

» QRZ.com, the goto site for ham stuff. Callsign lookups, forums, and just generally a lot of ham stuff.
http://www.qrz.com/

03/7/12

What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur Radio (or “ham radio”) provides the broadest and most powerful wireless communications capability available to any private citizen anywhere in the world. This worldwide community of ham radio operators use their radios for emergencies, experimentation, and fun!

02/27/12

No Mic Included…

My radio came Thursday of last week but due to my excitement I missed the fact that it did not come with a mic. Of any kind. I tried to rig something together but it just didn’t work. So right now I’m in limbo. Ugh, its killing because I could at least work some of 10 meters, 6 meters and 2 meter cause it operates VHF as well as HF.
Good weekend at the Battleship, more to come about that. BB55 or NI4BK.
***updated via Droid phone***

Icom HM-36

02/18/12

My Actual First HF Rig…ICOM IC-746 Pro

In the previous post I discussed about wanting to pass the General License exam and getting my first HF radio transceiver. In the article I talked heavily about the Yaesu FT-950, well I did not buy one. It’s a great great rig but I was about to get a little better deal for what I got. I got a ICOM IC-746 Pro. It’s like the predecessor to the ICOM IC-7100, that’s a beast of a rig. Basically what it came down to was the Yaesu was out of the budget. So after that I started looking into the ICOM IC-718 but I just wasn’t into that radio; there’s no 6 meter or VHF. Which the 746Pro has both plus, of course, the HF bands.The 746Pro also has IF digital filtering, so no need to fill up my radio with expensive filters. All I have to do is go through the bands, select the operating mode and adjust the bandwidth of the filter to my liking. Pretty cool. But listen I just bought the radio yesterday and haven’t even got it yet, so I do begin to know where to start explaining it. So I’m going to leave you with some pictures and links to reviews and info of my new cool radio!


eham.net Review – ICOM IC-746PRO

universal-radio.com – Icom IC-746 Pro

02/1/12

My HT and it’s new Case

So I have not really covered it yet, but I own a HT, handheld ham radio. And I’ve found a basic, good and useful storage case for it. First, let me tell you, briefly, about rig I have a Yaesu VX-8DR and I love it! It has multiple features; operates 6 & 2 meters and 440mhz, supports APRS with GPS dongle, tough as nails and compact. I run the stock battery just for slim-ness of it, I have the shoulder mic and a upgraded antenna. Normally when I carry, which with it’s size is a lot. Most of my backpacks are molle compatible, so I normally carry it in a 5.11 Tactical Radio Pouch. Some times when all I have is my side bag I’ll tuck it in a side pocket of that.

But on occasion I do pack it in something, it might be luggage or it just might be, actually, inside my backpack. And that’s what I’ve got today. A little back-story first. With this school semester I am transitioning back and forth between 3 bags. Well when I carry a bag, whether it’s one of my 2 backpacks or my messenger bag, there’s a certain set of tools and things I like to carry. No matter what. So after switching 3 times a week for 3 weeks now I’m tired of it and I have been researching smaller bags to keep the actual things in. So instead of moving 20 things, I move 5 to 6 pouches. Much better.

Well I picked up the Zeikos IR-NEO36 Black Neoprene Carrying Case. It’s a nice little case and when I ever pack my little HT in something I will use this little case for it’s protection. It’s got a nice padded feeling to it, the inside is lined with a nylon fabric, the outside is neoprene and it has a solid feeling zipper. The best part is that the total with tax and shipping, out there door to mine cost me $1.09. I will b buying more. I will probably buy several more for other radio parts, cables, and etc.

At a later date I’ll do a more detailed review of the radio and case but for now info can be found at the links above.

12/16/11

Pearl Harbor Day and Ham Radio…

This is a shot of the USS North Carolina right
after she arrived in the 60’s

If there is anyone, beside me, reading this you know I’m a new Ham Radio(Amateur Radio) operator. I’m only at the first, of 3, levels in which you can be at in the US. With that said I am still, over all, getting my feet wet in what is out there. There are a 1000+ ways to go at the hobby. I am a hands on kind of guy, so I like building things. Particularly circuits and antennas. Nothing to crazy, but I have built myself a very well tuned ground plain antenna for 2 meters. One of the other things I am doing is trying to be active in the ham community locally. I have attended several functions the club has put on over the past 2 months and also joined the local ARES chapter. One of the functions I took part in was the Pearl Harbor Day radio ops the local club put on.

Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club is the club here in town. Several of the members have over many years restored and worked with the USS North Carolina Battleship here in town. These folks have gone in and explored the battleship, restored rigs, and operated on them. Plus all the gear surrounding the radio operations; generators, wiring, etc.. So every year for the past several they have radio events on the battleship. This year I took part in one and it was awesome!

Sitting probably in the Cape River in Wilmington, NC

This all went down on the 6th and 7th of December 2011. On the 6th we went in and tested the waters, so to speak. Course the night of the 6th the airwaves were basically silent for us. Three contacts were made and that’s it, no more. Now with that said some guys had met the previous Sunday afternoon to this and managed many contacts, plus they contacted a station at Pearl Harbor and another ship in San Diego, CA. On the 7th we met on at a fine local eating establishment for breakfast and then proceeded to the ship. There are several radio rooms on the ship but for our activities the guys doing CW/morse code worked 4 decks down in Radio II(I believe) and my group worked SSB voice on 20meters in Radio Central(I believe).

At sea in the 1940’s

Working this day on 20meters was awesome! Probably one of the coolest things I’ve done! I was the 3rd operator to take a 30 minute shift. It was nerve racking and absolutely awesome all at the same time. I have no, nil, nada experience on the HF bands and the etiquette down there is very specific and, for me at least, difficult to grasp that day. There’s all this verbal short hand and jargon, that in passing I’ve heard, but had no clue how to implement it. But with that said the guys in the room were super nice and patience with this noob. I made roughly about thirty contacts. Including 2 from Canadian, 1 UK and even another museum ship, my fav, in Tampa, FL. It was the USS American Victory, W4AVM. During the operation we logged roughly 140 – 150 contacts. To my knowledge we had 5 to 7 countries, 25ish states, and 2 museum ships. During that time we also talk to one ham whose father was on the USS North Carolina during it’s tour and one ham who was a chief engineer in the yard in which the ship was built.

Over all this was a day that I hold high, not only did I get to operate my first HF comms, but I did it to help celebrate the memory of the USS North Carolina and Pearl Harbor Day.

The USS North Carolina sitting in the Cape River across from Wilmington, NC


12/5/11

My Travels…

So this past weekend I traveled to central Virginia. On my way I decided to field test a little system I had thrown together for keeping track of repeaters. Now to preface this; my system I going to describe to you was completely free to me using tools and software in which I already owned. I’m sure there’s probably commercially available products to do this for you.

To start let me give a short description of what I was actually doing. Using Microsoft Streets and Trips mapping software I imports a CSV file, actually a couple, into one map of my route I take to Lynchburg. What was in this data I imported you ask? Well, repeaters, all the repeaters I would remotely be able to pass on my route.

Here is my list of tools:
Microsoft Streets and Trips(what I had)
ASUS Laptop
GlobalSat BU-353 Waterproof USB GPS ReceiverUSB extension cable

To start off I searched the web for repeater data and found several sites that allowed me to pick and choose areas of which to export. There were a couple formats I cold have exported but I chose a simple CSV, comma separate value. Very simple and lots of software understands that format. Next I opened up all those CSV’s in excel, but most any spread sheet program would work. The data given from the sites was to much. I purged some columns of data. What I kept was the; Lat&Long, Freq, PL Tone, and callsign/name or club affiliation.

Now what I’m working with is two spreadsheets for North Carolina and two for Virginia, I merged the two sheets per state together but kept the two states separate, felt like it was just a good idea for future development.

Now the following steps are pretty easy and straight forward. With that said if you use software that’s not Microsoft Streets and Trips it may not be. Using the import wizard in the software I imported them as I believe point or way-points. But they were added to the open map I had as a addition of some kind which gave me a little ability to edit them. So all I did next was create a new icon in the “.GIF” format. The gif allows for transparent background. So I created a very small little tower icon that dots each place on the map to where a repeater is. Each little tower can be clicked to display the repeater info respectively.

Side note of two things. First during importation of the data you have to ability to go in and label what each column of data actually is telling S&T’s that Lat actually is Lat and there’s 3 available user data slots in which you can put the repeater specific data, Freq, PL and etc…

Now after all that work here’s what I came up with 68 contacts over 5 hours(while driving). Plus one club-net check-in(South Wake ARC). All on 2 meters, 144 – 148mhz. Really all of that didn’t span anymore than 2 or 2.5 mhz of the band. I didn’t go very low, really. I’ve never took part in any contests in ham radio and nor am I a pro or expert in any way. But for me I am very pleased with my results!!

Keeping safety in mind I really wasn’t able to record contacts and wasn’t really even thinking about it till like halfway back riding home but here’s a few:

kk4eqp
kk4bvu
kk4dbm
South Wake ARC – net check-in
W4WC
AJ4HK

KK4EQM

11/6/11

First Post…

So I’m a relativity new ham radio operator. My callsign is KK4EQM. I’m active on 2 meter and 70cm and I would be active on 6 meters but eastern north Carolina is basically silent down in the 50 mhz area.

I’ve got an ICOM mobile rig in my truck, dual bander, that my dad gave me (KA4HOT) and a  Yaesu VX-8DR, a handy talky, that I picked yup. I also am very active on EchoLink and have an APRS becon APP on my Droid cell phone. My HT can do APRS but I haven’t been able to buy the GPS unit for it  yet. I really like my Yaesu HT! It works 6m, 2m and 70 cm. According to the booklet it will do 1.25m, 220 mhz I think, with an output of 1 watt but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it.

I also am a big fan of building antennas. I’ve built a few dipoles and an awesome ground plane antenna out of nothing but a SO-239 connector and some 14 gauge copper wire. Works great at 16 feet on my painters pole mast!

For now I’ve gone on enough, but check back often as I hope to write as I continue to learn. My next step is to get my general.