11/27/13

Blogging

I hope to start updating again with more orginal content. I have been mostly sharing articles from my RSS feed that i really like. Now that I have my usable mobile blogging platform back and going I plan to get on it. I do not have plans for a specific topic, it will mostly just be awesome stuff. Of course still sharing awesome articles I come across as well.

I have several physical projects going that I would like to share as well. Between here and k4eqm.com. Some electronics stuff and some stuff that is specifically ham radio related.

Anyways I do not have a particularly profound update for you today, just this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

05/21/13

A really cool setup…

This is a picture I came across on Pinterest. It is of a beastly tech-ed out setup. There is a Motorola Mobile Computer framed with a GPS, scanner, vehicle lighting control, radio transceivers and a few radio accessories. All mounted on a niece center console. Based on the dial cluster looks like in a Ford SUV. This is what I imagine as a perfect setup. I just love this system.

I have a Kenwood Dual band radio, a Yaesu HF 50mhz – 160m and a Motorola Mobile Computer. I just need a nice center console.

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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

10/8/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 3 – Mounting and Assembly

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What I decided to do. The remote control head would be velcro-ed the a ledge on the dash. This ledge is slightly angled so that the display is angled upward for best viewing. I also have it rotated ever so slightly to even further improve the viewing angle.(Figure 5 & 6)

Next, where to mount the body of the radio? What I came up with is under the front passenger seat, towards the back. With the contours in the floor pan and the rear bench seat the way it is, this is really, I think my best option. One day if I feel adventurous I may mount it under that bench, but not today.

IMG_20121005_155925IMG_20120920_172933The radio mounting bracket started life as a small piece of 22 gauge steel I found on the side of the road. 22 gauge, how do I know? The sticker was still on it. This was crudely bent by hand to mostly mate up with the curves and contours of the floor. It mostly does. To attach my bracket in a permanent manner I left enough metal to drill a hole and use a seat bolt to hold it down.(Figure 7, 8 & 9) The pressure of the seat holds it firmly.


Now running the wire out from the radio over to the center console, which can be seen in figure 7 & 8. I then ran it through the center console all the way to the front. Up behind the dash and out where the knee panel meets the speed cluster surround.(figure 5 & 6, at the top)Using the factory Kenwood radio mount as a guide, I drilled 4 holes in the sheet metal. Then I bolted it together.

Basically this is all to my mobile installation. There’s a few extra pictures I’ll share here at the bottom.

I’ll write up my external speaker setup later.

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10/5/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 2 – Disassembly

To continue with with my previous post about my mobile installation of my Kenwood TM-V71A dualband. So we are done figuring out the logistics of actually setup up the remote head. Now on to my method of mounting.

As mentioned I’m driving a Dodge Nitro SUV. I initially thought that this mobile install was going to be a pain. Actually it’s not remotely difficult. Getting power into the cabin from the battery is super easy, opening up the dash is super easy, as is the center console and mounting both parts is easy.
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Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see a picture of a Dodge Nitro dash. With the battery of the SUV being on the left side, drivers side, that is where I focused my efforts in wiring.

Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see the speedo cluster, the knee panel, radio area and center console.
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1. I failed to snap a picture of the removal of the speed cluster dash area. But it is as follows. Lower the steering wheel all the way down. Firmly grasp the top most forward plastic and pull back towards yourself.

2. Two remove the knee panel that is below the steering wheel. The the top plastic edge of the knee panel exposed, firmly grasp and pull down with even force. Doesn’t take much at all. Only two clip hold up the hinged panel. Once it has hinged down as far as it will, slide the panel 3 inches to the left and it comes off.
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3. If you look at the shifter there in the front middle off the console.(Figure 3) You see the frame that looks like brushed metal. It is plastic so go easy. If you are in this truck looking down at it, you notice a gap between the shift base and this faux metal area. Insert  tips of your fingers and pull up gently. It helps to engage the ebreak.

4. Next if your sitting in the back seat looking a the rear of the center console near the floor you’ll see that the back cover is one piece. Very easy, just grasp it and pull slightly. I’ve included a picture with it removed as I don’t have one from before. (Figure 4)
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5. Lastly after popping the hood move to the drivers side, near the brake master cylinder. Look on the firewall under the brake master cylinder and to the right near the fender. In this area there are two pass troughs on the firewall. On my vehicle one is fully in use from the factory but the over merely looks like a rubber plug. Pull the out the plug. No tools needed, it just pulls out. Don’t those it.

Disassembly Complete.
To be continued…

Continued in Post 3: Mounting and Assembly

10/4/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in a Dodge Nitro

This write up is on an installation of a Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band VHF & UHF mobile amateur radio into a Dodge Nitro SUV. The Kenwood TM-V71A radio is a modern radio with remote control head capability. Technically a remote head kit available from Kenwood is required to take advantage of this feature, but in reality this isn’t true. The remote kit certainly will make your installation easier. The kit would include a adapter and bracket to attach the head to and the specialized cables to hook the head to the body. The basic remote kit only includes an extended cable for the head to radio, no extension for mic to radio. There is an extended remote kit available that I believe has the basics, plus a extended mic and power cable adapters.

With that said, here is how I did it. If you take a look at the small cable that hooks the remote head to the body when they are hooked together you will see that one end is a RJ-45connector(standard ethernet connection) and the other end is a slim RJ-12 connector. Similar to a telephone line(same wiring), but about 1/4 thinner. Then at the termination of the mic cable you’ll see that the connection is also a RJ-45 connector. These two RJ-45 connections are standard size. So to extend this to connections I acquired two RJ-45 male to male couplers, as scene in figure 1.

I should mention I looked for a couple days for this special RJ-12 cable with no luck. I could have fabricated something up, but my method is easier.

To complete all these extended connections here’s what you will need:

  1. 2x RJ-45 couplers
  2. 2x Ethernet Cables(for efficiency’s sake, short as possible)
  3. 2x Ferrite Choke(Optional)

Step 1. Plug a coupler onto each ethernet cable
Step 2. Plug an ethernet cable into the head and into the microphone plug
Step 3. Plug the appropriate end of the include head wire into your extension
Step 4. Make your mic connections

Now this is an optional step but in the kit you can see that cable has a ferrite choke to keep RF emissions traveling down your remote cable. I ordered two from Mouser. I’m going to do it.

***Found these specifically fitted for CAT5 cable***
http://www.iautomate.com/products/Ferrite-Chokes-for-RFID-CAT5-Installations.html

Continued in Post 2:Disassembly

03/11/12

Review of: The 2012 Charlotte Hamfest & ARRL Roanoke Division Convention

One of the things since I passed the Technician I’ve most been looking forward to is going to my first Ham Fest, licensed. I’ve been to HamFests before, more than a couple but less than several. I’ve been to the Huntsville Hamfest multiple times and possibly MemFest a couple. But either way I was looking forward to it. Well my dream came true, today March 10th 2012 was the Charlotte Hamfest in Concord, NC. I got up extra early this morning travel to it from Wilmington, 4 hours and I was there. I went to this by myself but hope to drag the fiance to one sometime. I tell you, I walked in bought my ticket went through admission area and looked forward and I was like wow. I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way. I guess it’s different when you are taking it in by yourself and this time I understand most everything I see in front of me.

I proceeded to the flea market first. If your not familiar with a HamFest all the ones I’ve been to have manufactures and large ham stores in an area, then kind of small business like name plates, shirt, small antenna builders in the next section of the arena. And then segregated together, normally either to one side or the back, is the flea market. And the flea is one word “everything.” Seriously, there are resellers of hard components, connectors, electronics gear, radios, tubes(there’s always at least one person with 4 tables of vacuum tubes), old computer, cameras, and anything you as a consumer of electronics might be interested in or previously owned. I bought a good set of alligator clips and odds and ends connector. Specifically I got a set of SO-239 panel mount connecters with a very thick flange. Those will go to an antenna project.

Long story short. The Charlotte Hamfest 2012 was a very nice hamfest and I had a very nice time. They had great programs planned(I caught most of a D-Star program), nice flea market, and great vendors area. It was in a comfortable heated and cooled arena. It was very well accessible to get into and parking. And was very well attended. I was also told it appeared that attendance was up which is great! I look forward to it next year!

Here’s some pics I stole from MFJ’s Facebook, props to MFJ for these:

03/8/12

Ham Radio & EDC…Part 1

Ham Radio is now my biggest hobby, definitely spend the most money on it, but it’s not my only one.  Let me preface a little. I am a person the has a particular mindset; it lightly paranoid, very prepared, willing and strong mindset. While yes, that all does sound like I’m really tooting my own horn and maybe I’ve got a “hero” complex or something, it’s all true. I have no complex. I guess it’s hard to be 100% definitive until those things are really tested but I’m can say that I am 100% willing. With all that said, I a person who believes in being prepared, but not in a weird way like “dooms-day-preppers” or anything.

EDC = Everyday Carry, all the stuff you have set aside to carry on a very consistent basis. I believe in being prepared like I said and I do have a very consistent and defined EDC. I actually would say I have 3 versions that sometimes I must alternate through. Just because of school obviously being gun free and I can’t carry into work either. So here’s how it breaks down:

  1. Full EDC – Lethal and Non-Lethal + food, backpack and pocket carry
  2. Work EDC – Non-Lethal + food, backpack and pocket carry; **Lethal in truck** 
  3. School EDC – Partial/Non-Lethal + food, backpack and pocket carry

That probably seems like a lot and it might sound to be difficult to control and deploy, but it’s not. Over time my kit/s have evolved. I’ve added and weeded out plenty, gone through several bags and improved quality of the tools I carry.  Quality improvement meaning that I started with, lets say a, Maglite LED flashlight, but a while back I upgraded my primary torch to a higher-end 4Sevens Maelstrom X7; which is a beast of a light. Things like that, I didn’t through out $1000 dollars at once to put together my EDC, over time I’ve built a nice kit.

I’ve also segregated gear easy to access micro kits inside the pack. Zippered bags, clam-shell kits and organizers. This way transferring stuff from bag to bag is easy and quick. The prime essentials; pens, weapons, navigation, hydration, knives, flashlights and things of that nature are always mounted in the bags, there’s a set in each full time.

This a multi part series…

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!