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/

01/22/13

My First Ham Contest

If you read previous posts, you know this past weekend I took part in my first ham radio contest. It was the North American QSO Party. I was also trying to take part in the ARRL VHF January contest but that was fruitless, completely. Saturday afternoon about 12pm CST I started my setup. I gathered up my antenna supplies, a 20 meter home made wire dipole with a DX Engineering Alpha Delta Antenna kit. Basically it’s just a feed point and two insulators. This was going up into two tree’s outside the radio room’s window, so I also used rubber bands to lash the various pieces in place. Then I just opened the windows a smudge and feed in the coaxial feed line it’s self. This all worked really well!

By this point it’s about 12:40pm on Saturday, 20 minutes to go. I now grab my laptop put it on the desk, turn on the PS and finally radio. I’m using the NAQP program by N3FJP as my logging software. It’s simple, easy-to-use and this program is specifically made for this contest. N3FJP has a whole suite of programs for popular various contests. I had tried to get my radio to interface with Ham Radio Deluxe, but it just wasn’t having it. O well.

It’s now 15 till start time. Everything is on and charged. I tune up the antenna just to tighten everything up. Since I had extra time I tuned around and called CQ for about 13 minutes and 6 contacts so I was feeling pretty good about it. First hour 20 contacts right out of the gate. All over the north, north east, south and south eastern side of the USA and I think one Canada contact. So I take a lunch break and sit with the wife for a few and then get back at it. 26 more contacts in about an hour and a half.

This is awesome, I mean I don’t have a pile up of people looking to talk to me when I’m working CQ, but every single station that I come to that’s calling CQ I get through to. Including a pile up or two that I make it through. Remember home made antenna in a tree that’s not near as high as it should have been. I’m having a ball!

At this point I’m 4 hours into the contest, I’ve stepped away to do something for the wife. I come back and turn the radio back on and my for whatever reason my power supply takes a dump. The fan inside revs up to full speed, as does the voltage read out. It maxs! As quickly as I can I turn it off and unplug my radio from it. I put a voltmeter on the PS and 31.6 volts. AGH! So pissed.

Power Supply is a MFJ-4245MV

My nice, beautiful, expensive, new Yaesu FT-950 was over volted! Then I’m taking another reading and the POS power supply shocks me. I’m touch the metal chassis of the case and the negative terminal. I then, after my arm stops hurting, take a measurement on the chassis. 186.9 volts. At this point I go, pull out my antenna and bring it in. My contest day is over. Tomorrow, tuesday 23rd, I’m calling MFJ.

I’ve always heard the MFJ isn’t the best but I really was trying to buy from an American company. Astron

ft-950 338422

 

01/17/13

Radioactive Once Again, Contest Time

I’m radioactive or soon will be this weekend with 2 contests. ARRL VHF and North American QSO Party. As you saw in my previous post my QTH has changed. I am now an Indianapolis, Indiana resident. I’ve got my power supply plugged in and my FT-950 hooked up to it. Which the timing is prefect cause I’m planning my first ever, on my own, ham radio contests this weekend. ARRL VHF January contest and the North American QSO party.

ARRL VHF Contest

Rules
This is a contest hosted by the ARRL and runs through the entire weekend. Begins 1900 UTC Saturday, ends 0359 UTC Monday (January 19-21, 2013). Basically in easy to read script it runs, 2pm Saturday January the 19th 2013 through 10:59pm January 21st 2013. I hope, UTC is confusing to me. I’m pretty sure being in Eastern Time Zone I subtract 12 + (-5) from UTC to get local time. If not and you read this, sorry!

Anyways that’s my first contest. Contest number two is the…

 

North American QSO Party

Rules

Technically NAQP is a 3 weekend event spread throughout the year. But luckily for me, some who doesn’t do CW or digital, the SSB or Single Side Band portion is this particular weekend. This contest runs from 1800 UTC January 19 to 0559 through UTC January 20, 2013 (third full weekend in January). Meaning 1pm January 19th, 2013 through 12:59am January 20th, 2013. Once again word to the wise, do your own UTC calcs.

11/21/12

Second Operating Positon

Following my experience from Field Day 2012 I’ve been thinking. What can I do? I did help as much as I could with setup and operating, but I did not really contribute anything. So between now and the ARRL 2013 Field Day I’m trying to get things together. Being I am now a General Class operator with plenty of operating privileges I will be acquiring a HF capable transceiver. I’ve also recently gotten a mobile dual band rig. As written about previously.

What I did today was wire in a second operating position in my SUV. Version one of what I did was to simply run 2 CAT6 cables from the radio mounted area to the back of the SUV and crimped on RJ-45 connectors. I then used f-f couplers to hook everything together. This worked just fine, but had 2 flopping cables in the back. You know, flopping around. Well that was version one.


Version 2 is a little more buttoned up. I’ve maintained the same cables running to the back from the radio. Now, instead of 2 RJ-45 connectors at

 

the end of these two cables, there are two keystone sockets. One to plug microphone and one for the control head. This way the look i cleaner and a little more flexible interface. To house all this I picked up a slim electrical box. I put some 3M Velcro strips to hold it in place. And finally I simply mounted my keystones in a 6 port face plate. See the keystones you buy with various sockets and plugs are a universal square snap in fit.

Why go through the trouble you ask? Well as I mentioned I’m doing this in preparation for Field Day. I imagine myself sitting in a chair working my radios from the car. This is so I can go flip the two cables and plug up to setup a station in the back. That simple. I don’t have to un-mount the radio, find power in the back, plug everything in and then be on the air. 1 minute and I’m going. I would love to find some switching device that would let me jump back and forth without having to go to the radio and switch cables.

What do I have left? Well not much if I’m honest. Directly for this project I need audio in the back. 2 speakers. Specifically the MFJ 281 ClearTone Speaker. What I’m planning on doing is fabbing up a bracket to mount the speaker right inside the SUV to the roof. I’ll setup an audio switch of some kind to send it to the back and I’ll have either 1/8 jack keystones or

06/20/12

2012 ARRL Field Day – (6/23/12 – 6/24/12)

Field Day is this weekend. If your a ham radio operator you probably have at least a little idea of what this means. But if your not do know this, Field Day is an event your everyone. It’s technically an event for hams to practice emergency communications but really Field Day is only half about that and half displaying our trade to the public. There’s a station called GOTA, Get on the Air. That’s all about getting newly licensed, unlicensed and formally licensed on the air. There’s normally a radio coach to help and instruct on the process.

If your in or near Near Hanover County, North Carolina come out to Ogden Park near the shelters. If you can find the shelters you can find us. We’ll be starting up at 2:30pm Saturday and going going solid through 2:30 pm Sunday.

10/1/11

What is Ham Radio?

Ham Radio, also known as Amateur Radio is a popular hobby and a service in which licensed participants operate communications equipment with a deep appreciation of the radio art. The unique hobby of Amateur Radio is a mix of fun, public service, and convenience. Although hams get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by hams at intervals from just above the AM broadcast band all the way up into extremely high microwave frequencies.

From the ARRL.org Website