Friday, March 1, 2013

Going Mobile!

I'm getting ready to take my youngest son to an all day Boy Scout Merit badge workshop in Charlottesville, VA tomorrow.  We have to be there at 8:00am and he's there until 6:00pm.  That means that I have the entire middle of the day to head west to the mountains and play radio!!!

I'll be traveling over to Afton Mountain and then I'll head up Skyline Drive for a few miles to a "scenic overlook" named Beagle Gap - it's about mile marker 100 on the map.  Here is a link to the map.

I'm taking a bunch of gear - maybe too much ;)

6m vertical for SSB/CW
2m/70cm vertical for FM/D-Star (car transceiver)
2m yagi for SSB/CW
70cm yagi for SSB/CW
33cm yagi for FM/P25
23cm yagi for SSB/CW

I'm hoping the weather holds out and is nice.

73 de KJ4WLH

Friday, February 22, 2013

P25 vs FM on 900Mhz

Since I've been using P25 with some 900Mhz gear, I thought it might be nice for those without the gear to hear the difference.  Check out the link to YouTube

Thanks to Dave (N4MW) and Fred (WB4KXS) for the great QSO :)

73 de KJ4WLH

Friday, February 15, 2013

Interesting Observations

Last summer I posted a YouTube video of a comparison between my IC-7000 and IC-9100.  Just listening to some VHF FM chatting going on; I thought I'd see what the difference between the 2 rigs would be - I re-cabled the antenna's to an Alpha Delta switch and was able to switch between them.  That's it, pretty simple.

YouTube Video

When I switched between the 2 rigs, I was pleased with the apparent sensitivity of the 9100 compared to the 7000.  The night was somewhat quiet and there was very little background noise anyway; but still - the 9100 S-Meter was reading S-5 or so with the 7000 having no S-Meter movement.

The interesting thing is that I received a number of comments/e-mails/suggestions that I turn the 7000's pre-amp ON in order to have a "fair comparison" between the 2 rigs.  Adam Farson (AB4OJ) has a FAQ which mentions the S-Meter is calibrated accurately when the Pre-Amp is ON.  Page 148 of the 7000 manual states "Sensitivity (at pre-amp ON)" - which I never noticed at all before this event occurred...

Anyway, I suppose I need to give it a try and see what the difference is - I'm also wondering if the 7000 actually has a 2m/70cm pre-amp built in.  It's on thing to turn on a setting, but it's another for the setting to do something useful.  The 2m/70cm/1.2ghz pre-amp setting for the 9100 is designed to power an external pre-amp - doesn't do anything for the VHF+ bands at all.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My 1st circuit design and implementation :)

I've decided to build a GPS receiver for my ICOM IC-9100.  No particular reason other than I was looking for an electronics project and this one seemed to have enough complexity (which would be VERY little to others, but a LOT for me!) to make it interesting and fun.

I created an account on Circuit Lab and designed my 1st circuit.  Actually, I really designed it on a sheet of paper and after editing, and editing, and editing...  I decided to look for an online way of designing a circuit - I Googled circuit design and Circuit Lab popped up - I created an account and started.  It seems pretty simple, which is exactly what I'm looking for right now.

Here is the schematic of my 1st design:

I needed a circuit that would take a 12 - 14vDC source and transform it to 5vDC.  I'm planning on using a Garmin 18x LVC, which needs about 100mA @ 5vDC.  Since I had most of the components already figured out, I thought that I'd add an LED - you know, just for fun!  So, I did :)

Here's my breadboard pic:

As you can see, the LED is lit and the voltages are all pretty much right where they are supposed to be!  I'm pretty excited - this is the first time that I actually designed a circuit with a voltage regulator, couple of capacitors, and an LED.  AND it WORKS!!!  Woo Hoo!!!

73 de KJ4WLH

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