Tuesday, September 25, 2012

6m loop problem - BIOLOGICAL!!!

Wow, I guess I just live and learn...

I few weeks, perhaps months now I suppose, my 6m loop stopped being resonant on 50.125.  Really weird - I mean, it looked fine and was hanging right where it had been for a while and I hadn't done ANYTHING with it except use it.  I really didn't understand what was going on.

So, last weekend I dropped the antenna and tried to re-adjust it so that it would be resonant (again!) on 50.125 +/-.  It was really strange; I'd tune/adjust it, raise it up 20' or so, think that I'd just about got it and then it would change on me.  It was really frustrating.  So, I adjusted it "one last time" and hauled it up into the air.

Wouldn't you know; it wouldn't tune on my 9100!  My 7600 would tune it up, but that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  I used my antenna analyzer and it was around 3:1 match!!!  WHAT??!!??  ARGHH!!

(In case you haven't followed my rants recently, I've have a bad run of radio luck...)

Time passes...  And now it's this afternoon - beautiful day and I have about an hour to kill until my next activity kicks up; sounds like a good time to take a look at the 6m loop problem.  So, I dropped the antenna again, got out the M2 6m loop PDF and adjusted all the parts to the specs in the PDF.  HOWEVER, when I was banging on the metal trying to shift parts around, ants started crawling out of the aluminum tubing!  A LOT of ANTS - I mean, tons!!!  How strange?  Anyway, I kept on making noise and gave them a little while to clear out.

I went back later and it seemed like they'd moved on - I guess most of them did anyway.  So I hauled the antenna back up in the air and guess what - 1.2:1 match :)

My "moral of the story is this", there is always a reason - it just might be stranger than what you think it is!

73 de KJ4WLH

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2m Stack Complete - Results, Hmmm...

Well, the 2m stack is hanging the back yard and I guess it's ok.  You know, I keep thinking that the effort will mean something substantial - though I know it isn't really.  So, here's what I figure out:

  1. 3db gain for a pair of loops +/- is a LOT of trouble for half an S-Unit.
  2. I think my 2m pre-amp is broken :(
  3. My LMR-400 N connector pins don't fit my LMR-400 coax...
  4. ARGHHH...
Sometimes I wonder why I do these things!  I'm super frustrated that the pre-amp isn't working.  I'm pretty much ready to stop purchasing anything used from folks I don't know.  I mean, it was working on the bench - so, one everything it cable'd up, tie wrapped in place, and hanging up in the air - it decides NOT to work?  What's up with that?

So, all the gear is done and I still hear the faint signals of N4MW's 2m beacon on 144.280.  Pre-amp doesn't help at all and I guess sometime I'll figure out what my "lesson learned" is.

All I know is that today, I'm really tired of failure...

73 de KJ4WLH

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2m HO Loop Rebuild Project

I had a really high SWR on my 6m loop which meant that I needed to drop it to see what was going on. Since the loop mounting system also holds my 2m and 70cm loops, I decided to rebuild my 2m stack.

I have a 2m pre-amp that I've wanted to get in action for a while. I also have a M2 2m cable phasing set, which would be really great if I had a 2nd loop. So, I placed my order with HEO and ordered the final piece.

My goal is to have a pair if M2 2m HO loops, with a pre-amp mounted and up in the air by the end of the weekend.

Wish me luck!

73de KJ4WLH

D-Star DVAP with laptop tether to cell - Amazing!

Last night I was sitting in my hotel room, thinking about how ridiculous it is that any hotel would charge $20/day for internet access.  $35 for "fast" service.  What a joke...

So, for the first time, I decided to tether my phone to my laptop and just use my cell data connection for my internet access.  Seemed to work OK, actually was better than I thought it would work.  In fact, I'm using it right now to update this page :)

Anyway, when I travel I always take my IC-92AD and my DVAP (red).  So, I got it out, plugged it in, and connected to the internet.  Wow, that was easy - it just worked (like I've grown to expect!)

My local club, Richmond Amateur Radio Club (RARC), located in Richmond, VA has a D-Star net that runs on Wednesday evening at 8pm (EDT).  I took a break from my Morse Code practice to join the net and it WORKED GREAT!

I've heard of folks using their cell connection in their car traveling all around the country staying in D-Star contact, but this is the first time that I'd ever done it.  It's more fun than it sounds.

So, no R2D2 during the net and it was awesome being able to chat with my buddies - just like I was local.

73 de KJ4WLH

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2m vertical antenna relocation worked!

I've been having difficulty over the past few months trying to hit my favorite D-Star repeater from my QTH.  It's weird, nothing in my "control" changed - but one day, out of the blue, I could no longer hit the repeater with 2-3 watts of power.

Anyway, over the past weekend, I just finally resolved to move "things" around and see how that might play out - and guess what!  Yeah, it worked.  I relocated my 2m/70cm vertical to another location in the back yard and I'm back to hitting the repeater with just a couple of watts of power.


Sometimes I wonder how any of this stuff works at all...

73 de KJ4WLH

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last D-Star net control for a while...

I ran my last D-Star Net for a while.  Since my oldest son has headed off to college, it seems that I'm back on taxi driver duty :(  My XYL and I still have 2 children left here at home and they both have weekly activities that require drop-off/pick-up's.  It sure was nice having my oldest son around to do that kind of work, I miss it!

Anyway, since I didn't believe that I could both drive and run a net, it seemed like one of those family vs. hobby conflicts that inevitably arise.

Here's to hoping my daughter learns to drive quickly!!!

73 de KJ4WLH

My IC-9100's cousin is back!

What seems like a really long time ago, but I guess it wasn't, I had an Icom IC-7600.  I sure loved that rig.  It was what I called my 1st really nice rig.  My previous were good, but I purchased them with the intent of just learning what I like and dislike; then selling them and moving along.

When Icom released the IC-9100, I knew that the rig was for me.  There are just so few VHF+ multi-mode (SSB/CW) rigs available and it also covered HF.  So, the IC-9100 came on home.  For a few months I didn't do anything with the IC-7600 and since there were a couple of problems with that:  1 - it's not cheap, and 2 - I can't abide having gear that I don't use; I put it up for sale.

Problem was, I missed it.  A lot!  As much as I like the IC-9100, I really, really liked the IC-7600.

A buddy of mine "upgraded" his QTH with a IC-7800 and now he had a IC-7600 just "sitting around."  I knew his pain :), though, not in quite the same manner - an IC-9100 is NOT a IC-7800!!!  So, he decided to put it up for sale a few months ago.  I have to say, I've thought about it almost any time I think about Ham radio.  His price was very reasonable and I know how he takes care of his gear - so that part was pretty easy; no concerns about equipment condition...

Well, last week while talking with him, I just decided to see if he still had the rig and Yep.  He still did...  Now he doesn't :)

So, I casually call the rigs "cousins" and the pair of them are working well in my shack.  I must say, I really do enjoy working HF & 6m on the IC-7600 - it's just a joy!

73 de KJ4WLH