This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.17   Leave a comment

I didn’t make many contacts this week, though I did check into the Albuquerque SCAT Net a few times on the UHF side.

Most importantly, I did help VE an amateur radio exam in Socorro.  Turn out was low, but we do have a new licensed ham out of it, so it was all worthwhile.

I also submitted my NM QSO Party Log and updated my log books.  I still need to update DX4Win.

However, it is getting close to storm chasing season.  I will probably switch gears and start working on APRS stuff and getting ready for storm chasing.

Thank you for reading my post.

This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.16   Leave a comment

I finally updated my logbook.  I had 40 voice recordings that I needed to transcribe, and that is finally complete.

This evening, I began my NM QSO Party paperwork.  As I mentioned last week, this year’s QSO Party was a disappointment for me, and I have procrastinated even filing the paperwork.

Yesterday was the last section of the Amateur Radio Licensure course.  Nobody showed up, so I think they thought the course was over.  All I had planned was a review, so perhaps they are all ready to go.

I checked into the Albuquerque SCAT Net a few times as well as checked into some 40 meter net early one morning.

I will order a 20 meter Hamstick and update my DX4Win logs, as well as submit my QSO Party paperwork by next week.

Thank you for reading my post.

 

This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.15   2 comments

This week has been unfortunately quiet on the radio for me.  I checked into the Albuqeurque SCAT Net once or twice on the UHF side.

The big disappointment was the NM QSO Party.  I had big plans to drive all over New Mexico and give out counties.  Instead, I never left Sandoval County.  I started out on 20 meters and did not hear a peep.  I suspected my antenna (there is a problem with the Hamstick I was using).  I switched to 40 meters and made a few contacts.  In almost two hours, I only made seven contacts, several of which were other NM stations that I was working on groundwave (Sandoval and Bernalillo Counties).  I did hear one of my contesting friends and he told me that 20 was totally dead in CA as well.  I guess conditions were just bad. I would call CQ for 15 minutes straight and get one response.

With so few contacts, and needing 15 per county for them to count, and finding out that my hours at work will be cut soon, I opted to not burn the gas and travel for the less-than-lucrative day.  I am sorry for anyone that was counting on me for those counties, but I simply wasn’t hearing many stations at all.

On Monday, my amateur radio license class finsihed constructing a 40 meter CW transceiver.  We were able to hear static, but weren’t able to hear any signals on 7.023 MHz.  I will set up a better test next week.

Thank you for reading my post.

This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.14   Leave a comment

I am still far behind on my logbooks, but I will get those caught up to date over the next few days.

This weekend is the New Mexico QSO Party, and I am going to take the same route as last year.  I will drive through Sandoval, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Mora, Colfax, Union, Harding and Quay counties, and more if I have time to do so.

This past weekend, I was in North Dakota.  I tried to make contact with both the NDSU and the UND college amateur radio clubs, but neither responded.  I also monitored the NDSU two meter repeater, but nobody responded there, either.

On Monday, I taught a section of my amateur radio license course.   This week was on operating activities (emergency communications, contesting, net operations, etc).

Other than that, it’s been a slow week for amateur radio.

Thank you for reading my post.

This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.13   Leave a comment

This week was a busy one for my amateur radio hobby.  First, I participated in the WPX contest, working between 25-30 stations.  I haven’t updated my logs to reflect this, so I don’t know the exact number at this time.

Second, I came up with an action plan for my radios:

Base Radio

  • Ground all radios together at station
  • Test Alinco DR-135TP at NMT
  • Test Alinco DR-605 at NMT
  • Replace connector on vertical antenna
  • Replace HF coax from antenna to barrel connector
  • Replace HF coax from barrel connector to radio
  • Replace VHF coax from antenna to barrel connector
  • Replace VHF coax from barrel connector to radio
  • Remove HF switch and test HF radio directly
  • Remove wattmeter and test line
  • Ground station at radios
  • New ground rod at antenna
  • Test Alinco DR-605 with dipole
  • Test Alinco DR-135TP with dipole

Crown Vic

  • Shorten power cable
  • Mount GPS
  • Choke at alternator cable
  • Drill ball mount on driver’s side
  • Place ball mount on driver’s side
  • Mount switch for VHF coax
  • Mount switch for HF coax
  • Hard mount VHF antenna for APRS (trunk?)
  • Program TinyTrak
  • Mount Icom 281H

Ranger

  • Program 707 for local repeaters
  • Add HF radio
  • Ferrite choke on alternator cables

Malibu

  • Program Icom 2100 for local repeaters
  • Add HF radio

Today, in accordance with this plan, I tested my Alinco DR-605 at the Tech Amateur Radio Association (TARA) station.  We have a service monitor there, and the transmit results are shown below:

VHF:  43W (high power), 4.86W (low power)
UHF:  29W (high power)

And the minimum threshold to break squelch was:
VHF:  -129 dB
UHF:  -126 dB

After taking the radio off the service monitor, we connected it to another antenna, and had no problems transmitting or receiving.  We switched power supplies, and it worked flawlessly.

We then took it and set it up in Skyler’s truck.  Sometimes, it transmitted fine.  The rest of the time, it would cycle the power to the radio when I pressed the PTT.  Other times, the transmitter would appear to get stuck on, though no RF was being transmitted.

Thinking it was the power supply (from the truck battery), we started the truck, and it made no difference.  Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.  We tried waiting differing lengths of time before transmitting, and tried both VHF and UHF, at high and low power, and it still cycled the power.  We tried transmitting into the same dummy load we had used with the service monitor.  No difference.

We took it back into the shack and powered it with the switching power supply, and it worked flawlessly.  We switched to the Astron.  It worked again.

We tried monitoring the voltage on all of these and saw very little change when we transmitted.

Right now, I think there must be a voltage regulator or anti-oscillation filter that is being triggered by the slightest change in input voltage (or current).

Any other suggestions???

Thank you for reading my post.

This Week In Amateur Radio: 2017.12   Leave a comment

The biggest accomplishment of this week was getting caught up on my logbooks and DX4Win logs.  Finally.   I had not done so for over a month.  I also sent off a few QSL cards, though I have a long ways to go there before I am caught up.

I made a few HF contacts on the 20 meter county hunter’s net and I also checked into the Albuquerque SCAT Net a few times over the past week.  I tried to check into the Caravan Club Net, but I am having all sorts of problems with my VHF/UHF radios.

I have an Alinco DR-605 and an Alinco DR-130TP.  The Alinco DR-605 powers down on transmit, regardless of power output or frequency.  The Alinco DR-130TP transmit audio was cutting out and had a loud hum (the net control reported this to me).  I replaced the microphone on the Alinco DR-130TP to try to fix this problem, but with the new microphone, the rig will not even power.  I am currently mapping out my entire radio system to develop a list of action items to try.  I will post my plan on this blog.

I taught another section of the amateur radio license class.  I basically showed off some useful websites including eham.net, qrz.com, gigaparts.com and arrl.org.  We also set the exam date, time and location.

I also finished the February issue of QST.  I am behind on my reading as well.  I will begin the April issue this week (and skip March for now).  In the February issue, I really appreciated several articles.

First, I really liked the article called, “6 Meter Halo Antenna for DX-ing,” by Jerry Clement, VE6AB.  I really like that this antenna is sturdy enough for mobile use, and I will try building this, once I finish up a few other radio projects.

I also really liked the article titled, “Rebuilding the West Point Cadet Amateur Radio Club – W2KGY” by Matthew SHerburne, KF4WZB.  As someone who has spent time rebuilding the Tech Amateur Radio Assocation at New Mexico Tech on several occasions, it was neat to read another article about rebuilding college clubs.  Also, this student was a former member of the Virginia Tech Amateur Radio Association (VTARA), as was I.

I also love reading articles about DXpeditions, so I appreciated, “Central African DX Adventure,” by Bernie McClenny, W3UR.  Some day, I will go on a DXPedition. I don’t know how or when or where, but I will do so in my lifetime.

Thank you for reading my post.

Sources:
1.  Clement, Jerry.  “6 Meter Halo Antenna for DX-ing.” QST, February 2017, pp. 30-33.

2.  Sherburne, Matthew.  “Rebuilding the West Point Cadet Amateur Radio Club – W2KGY,” QST, February 2017, pp. 79-81.

3.  McClenny, Bernie.  “Central African DX Adventure.”  QST, February 2017, pp. 100-101.

This Week In Amateur Radio: 2017.11   Leave a comment

I was a bit of a slacker this week.  I did not update my logbooks like I had planned, and I barely checked into any nets (if at all- I’ll have to check my voice recorder!).  I am way behind on reading my QST’s, and am most of the way through February’s issue, with March’s issue on my desk, and April’s having just arrived today.

I did, however, dig trenches for most of my ground radials.  I did not trench the southeastern radials, as my garden will likely extend through this area.  I’d rather plan that part out before digging trenches and cutting my radials later when I turn over the soil for a garden.

I also ordered a new microphone for my Alinco DR-135TP that keeps cutting out and disconnecting due to a bad connector.

Thank you for reading my post.  I promise I will be more active this week!