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

 

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:

03/10/12

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:

430132_286881058048053_211581092244717_723197_176643007_n423970_286886148047544_211581092244717_723242_1376741348_n420743_286883128047846_211581092244717_723208_1439236473_n416967_286881458048013_211581092244717_723199_1299747354_n

02/19/12

Antenna Tuner

As stated previously; I’m new to the hobby of Ham Radio. I am a Tech right now, soon to be a General. Right now I’m slowly amassing gear to put together a shack/station that can operate HF freqs. I have bought a second hand ICOM IC-746 Pro with match ICOM power supply. Well I want to take care of my investment so I also have bought a in store display antenna tuner. The tuner I bought is the MFJ-945e tuner. It covers 1.8 mHz all the way through 6 meters, up to 200 or 300 watts. Which is prefect and plenty for me. MFJ I guess has it listed as a “mobile” tuner but they do mention, as do other users, it’s perfectly at home in the shack. I’m pretty excited! This coming weekend is the NC QSO Party and I’m really hoping I’ll have my station up and operating for it. As still being a Tech I’ve only got a portion of the 10meter band to work with but I’m still going to try. Should  I not be up and running I’ll be at the Battleship North Carolina(which if you take part is 50 point station) station operating, NI4BK.

MFJ-945e
02/18/12

Antenna Tuner

As stated previously; I’m new to the hobby of Ham Radio. I am a Tech right now, soon to be a General. Right now I’m slowly amassing gear to put together a shack/station that can operate HF freqs. I have bought a second hand ICOM IC-746 Pro with match ICOM power supply. Well I want to take care of my investment so I also have bought a in store display antenna tuner. The tuner I bought is the MFJ-945e tuner. It covers 1.8 mHz all the way through 6 meters, up to 200 or 300 watts. Which is prefect and plenty for me. MFJ I guess has it listed as a “mobile” tuner but they do mention, as do other users, it’s perfectly at home in the shack. I’m pretty excited! This coming weekend is the NC QSO Party and I’m really hoping I’ll have my station up and operating for it. As still being a Tech I’ve only got a portion of the 10meter band to work with but I’m still going to try. Should  I not be up and running I’ll be at the Battleship North Carolina(which if you take part is 50 point station) station operating, NI4BK.

MFJ - 945E

MFJ – 945E