Archive for the ‘Contesting’ Category

Amateur Radio This Week: 2017.26   Leave a comment

This has been a busy week for amateur radio. I finally updated my logbook from our grand adventure to the east coast. I haven’t totaled up the number of contacts or new counties yet, but just know that it was a lot. I have updated my counties graphic.

I have operated from enough counties that I have given out the last county in the state for one operator or another 25 times. In fact, MARAC sent me this nifty plaque commemorating the occasion:
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This weekend was also ARRL’s Field Day. I participated with several other ham radio operators from the Datil Wells Campground, using the call NM5FD. I added 160 SSB QSOs on 20 meters during my shift. I had quite a pileup going, and had a great time working them all. Here is a view of the sky through the antenna:

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This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.25   Leave a comment

I have been on the road for the last two weeks, and I had some time to play on the radio.  I am still catching up on logging my contacts.

Two weekends ago, I ran some counties on the 20 meter SSB county hunters net, which has mostly disappeared.  I ran three in PA, two in WV, and two in OH.  On that Sunday, I drove to VA, and played in the VHF contest as a rover, and I made six meter and two meter contacts along the way.

I also drove to the Delmarva Peninsula, and operated from several new counties in MD and VA.

Last weekend, we drove from WV to AR, and I made contacts in KY, TN, MO, and AR.  I haven’t even aeverdded up how many new counties I operated from.

I will post new graphics on this website, soon.

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This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.23   Leave a comment

I borrowed the NMT Tech Amateur Radio Association (TARA) Yaesu FT-857D to compare against my own.  While mine has S9 +20dB noise on all bands, all of the time, theirs hovers between S3-S7.  I am currently borrowing their rig for this particular road trip.

With TARA’s radio, I was able to make a few contacts this weekend, in both a shipboard contest and the Alabama QSO Party, though I have not yet updated my logs.

I spoke with Yaesu customer service and they said to send mine in for a repair, which I will do as soon as I have time to go to a post office.

I’m currently on the road to the east coast, but one of these mornings, I will have some extra time and can send it off.

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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.

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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???

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This Week in Amateur Radio: 2017.10   Leave a comment

This weekend, I was active on 20 meters during the ARRL DX Contest.  I haven’t added up all of my scores yet, or even tallied the number of contacts, but I made quite a few in the Caribbean.  I know I worked Brazil, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Columbia, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii, and there were likely others.

I checked into a Bible study on 20 meters this morning as well.

This weekend was the Adventist Radio Association contest, though I heard no stations participating.

I was not as active on VHF/UHF over this past week.  I left my HT in a lab (I was using the receiver to see if our ultrasonic equipment was switching “on”).  I also messed up the repeater programming on the Icom IC-2100H, which lives in the Malibu.

Also, March 1 marked 25 years of amateur radio for me.  I was licensed on 3/1/92, at the age of 10 years old.  I passed the Novice class license exam and the 5 WPM Morse code exam, earning the call KA3ZWS.  A month later, I earned my Technician class license, and traded in my callsign for N3MRA, which I still use to this day.

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