Thursday, August 31, 2017

QRP Dummy Load

There are quite a few choices one can make for a QRP dummy load kit. There are offerings from QRP Labs, QRP Guys, Oak Hills Research, etc. Sure you can buy a low power dummy load ready to go for $30 or so but there were two factors that fueled my decision. One, I really like putting things together. I find it relaxing to sit at my bench listening to the radio and soldering things up. I never did this type of stuff in the past so it is pretty exciting for me when you are done and the moment of truth comes and you power it up or run the test and things are as they should be. The second factor that made me decide to purchase a kit was the cost. $30 plus shipping or $14 to my door. Well, that is not a decision that takes long for me. You see, I am a self proclaimed cheapskate. Well, I guess not so self proclaimed as my wife and kids would probably tell you the same thing about me.

So, I looked all over the internet and settled on a 10 watt dummy load kit from Oak Hills Research (OHR). This particular dummy load is actually a joint venture between OHR and the Colorado QRP Club (CQC). It consists of two 5w 100ᘯ metal oxide resistors, an SO-239 connector, and two adapters. You get both a UHF to UHF adapter and a UHF to BNC adapter. This is the perfect size to throw in a backpack or go kit for when you find that perfect operating position. The best part? It takes longer for the soldering iron to heat up than it does to make it. After I got my soldering done I performed the obligatory check and it read a perfectly acceptable 50.1Ω.

There were many other kits available that I really liked the look of but some, with a piece of PCB attached, seemed a little less "combat ready" than this all metal offering. The other thing I found is that the customer service is second to none from OHR. Marshall, N1FN, was excellent at communicating with me throughout the order and shipping process and we had a nice conversation about some of the other products that are offered. Check out what they have to offer by going to Milestone Technologies, which seems to be the mothership for OHR, Morse Express, and Ameco. Make sure you tell Marshall that Steve McQueen, W9BRI, sent you. After all, who could forget a name like that?

Until next time.....

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

USS Indianapolis

Perhaps my most rewarding experience in amateur radio so far occurred the first weekend in June of this year. The annual Museum Ships on the Air event took place June 3rd and 4th and a few friends and I decided to accept an invitation to operate from the mock station located inside the Indiana War Memorial.

As some of you may know, the USS Indianapolis was hit by a Japanese torpedo at 0014 on 30 July 1945. At 0026 the ship was fully submerged and on the way to the bottom of the Phillipine sea. The ship's crew, 1,196 men either went down with the ship or were left floating in shark infested water. It is estimated that 900+ were floating in the water, hoping for rescue. Because this was a top secret mission with no escort the ship was not missed and the men were not discovered for four days, and then by accident. When discovered, the survivors of the shark infested water numbered 316. This top secret mission, which cost an extraordinary amount in human life, let alone the cost of the ship, was to deliver key components of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima one week later. The USS Indianapolis accomplished her mission.

So, it was with great honor to operate as WW2IND for the Ships on the Air event. I spent about 3 hours on the air running SSB making 71 contacts from all over the US. My vantage point was behind this fine rig, the Icom IC-756 Pro III and we pushed the 40m signal out through a dipole mounted at 110 feet. Power was supplied with an Ameritron AL-80B pushing 450 watts.

The other amateurs that operated split the time on CW working 20m. Both of these guys are extremely proficient CW operators and you may remember them from my post about the very low power WAS contest they decided to have. You can get an update on their progress by clicking on their blogs to the right. On the left is Brian, KB9BVN, and on the right at the controls is Ivin, W9ILF. Both of these guys are great elmers and really love for people to learn morse code.

I decided to write this post for two reasons. One, the USS Indianapolis wreckage was discovered this week after 72 years. And, two, to bring this yearly event to your attention and encourage you to get involved next year and volunteer to operate. I want to leave you with a couple of pictures inside the mock radio room. I decided to watch the movie, "USS Indianapolis" last night and I was shocked to see that it looked so close to the actual. If you get a chance, check the movie out and definitely watch for the next Museum Ships on the Air event.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Antenna Test

You can't blame a guy for trying. Tried to get my Yaesu FT-60R to work inside my office. Hung the N9TAX 2m/440 ladder line antenna outside my office on an air line about 15' up so I could get reception. My office is a normal wood and drywall structure but sits inside an all metal walled building. Unfortunately I did not hit any repeater on either band but when keying up I did make the intercom pop. Looks like I am going to have to get an antenna outside if I want to listen in.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Winning the Battle

So, last night I was tuning around and tried to pull in the Ohio slow code net. They hold muster every evening at 2200 UTC on 3535.35. I did not have much luck and when I did QSB quickly took the signal away so I did not stick around long. Not finding much else going on in the cw area that I could even hope to copy at my current skill level and the fact I needed to complete some paperwork for the Harley class I just taught I decided to just move to voice and tune around and listen while I worked.

As I tuned around 40m and heard the usual evening nets and ragchewers I stumbled across a Spanish station calling DX and requesting North America stations. There were some big power players in there with booming audio and he could not hear me. His signal faded in and out over the twenty minutes or so that I listened and called and finally I heard it. "W9B station, come again." My heart jumped up in speed as I repeated my call sign. "W9BRZ you are 58 into Barcelona, QSL?" W9BRZ? The old heart dropped a bit as I quickly responded with "Correction on the call. Whiskey 9 Bravo Romeo India India India."  "Copy W9BR India." I returned his signal report with a 59+ into Indianapolis and we finished our call. It was a great feeling to put my first SSB DX into the books. I have had JT65 DX but never a voice contact. 100 watts and a wire to Spain. Felt pretty good about that one.

EA3JE Spain flag Spain
Lluís Parellada Roig
Puignovell, 39
08221 Terrassa
Ham Member Lookups: 302592 
Lookups302592 (377700)
QRZ Record#1000999
Last Update2011-07-24 06:55:44
Latitude41.564589 (41° 33' 52'' N)
Longitude2.006955 (2° 0' 25'' E)
Grid SquareJN11an
Geo SourceUser supplied
Bearing56.3° ENE (from W9BRI)
Distance4418.3 mi (7110.5 km)
Long Path20438.6 mi (32892.7 km)
Sunrise05:03:03 UTC
Sunset18:48:56 UTC
ITU Zone37
CQ Zone14
QSL by Mail?No (e.g. Will this ham QSL by Postal Mail?)
QSL by eQSL?No (e.g. Will this ham QSL with eQSL?)
Uses LOTW?No (e.g. Does this ham use ARRL's LOTW ?)
Admin For(1) EA3JE
Map data ©2017 Google, Inst. Geogr. Nacional
Explore on HamGrid Maps

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Are You a Fanboy? (Or Fangirl)

We, as humans, all have different interests. We find those things that bring us pleasure and we pursue those things. We believe in those things and we tend to be happy to promote and share with others. Sometimes we become very passionate about the things we enjoy. Our hobbies help us to find peace and relaxation away from the everyday work load and daily stresses of living. My chosen hobbies involve amateur radio, motorcycling, firearms, and chasing my daughter around while she plays fastpitch softball.

Whatever your chosen hobbies are they, most times, involve tools or products that you use to participate in your interest. Radios, tuners, amps, motorcycles, riding gear, guns, calibers, etc. I could go on and on with the choices available to me in any one of my hobbies. When we become truly passionate about something we are sometimes referred to as fanboys. I have become pretty much exclusive Yaesu for the main gear and LDG for tuners. But, I also know many hams who just like good equipment and have multiple rigs in the shack from all the big producers.

I am curious who you are a fanboy, or fangirl, for. Icom? Elecraft? Kenwood? Yaesu? Begali?  Those are the big ones. Have some "off the beaten path" manufacturer you are a fanboy of? Throw it in the comments and let us all know about your favorite gear, who makes it, and why you give it the thumbs up.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Follow Me

Good Morning All.

If you enjoy reading about my Ham Adventures I have made an easy way for you to get an email whenever a new post is published. If you would like a notification please look to your right and drop your email address in the space provided. Blogger will notify you the next time I hit the publish button. Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Off To the Emergency Room

So, my return from the paradise of California has brought me challenges.On the HF side I knew I had a problem before I ever left and, as you know, I traced that back to a feedline that was either hacked by a lawnmower or a weed eater. I picked up the necessary connectors to put that back together again and will work on that this evening.

But, on the VHF / UHF side I thought everything was "just peachy" as the saying goes. So Monday, I jumped in the car to make the trek to work and catch up with my favorite amateurs on the local repeater. We were getting a little rag chewing in and as I sat back and listened it happened.

I know you can't hear through a picture! But, I was sitting right inside the car and the audio came to a tragic end. As I looked down I still saw that the scale was indicating that both were receiving signal I just could not hear anything. I shut the radio off and powered back up. No luck. I made it to work and went inside. Twice before lunch I cycled the power again hoping to get audio again. When I went to lunch I got the idea to throw some earbuds at it. It was working! Positive step, right?

Wrong. Pull the earbuds out and no audio. I shut the radio off again and fired it back up. Radio had audio but it sounded like a twenty year old speaker cone rattling like the paper was deteriorating. And, it only lasted about twenty seconds. I have not been able to get any audio out since other than by wearing earbuds. So, the FTM-400XDR will be boxed up and sent to the ER at Yaesu Community Hospital in Cypress, CA.

The only thing that sucks is that I was only fifteen minutes or so from there during my stay in Cali. Just my luck.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What is Your Go To Store?

After writing the HRO Anaheim post I got curious about a couple things. The first thing was if the locations of the various stores were based on the amateur operator population in the states they were in. So I went to Google and checked it out. My research is only based on stores everyone hears about. HRO, DX Engineering, Gigaparts, R and L, Universal Radio, and Main Trading Co. I am sure there are plenty more but these are the ones that we all hear about. Here is what I found.

DX Engineering
Ohio - 27,965

Alabama - 12,002
Nevada -  7,594
**Interesting to find out that there is a Gigaparts distribution center less than 10 miles away.

Arizona - 19,950
California - 104,950
Colorado - 17,008
Delaware - 1,704
Georgia - 18,507
New Hampshire - 5,399
Oregon - 18,662
Texas - 52,141
Virginia - 19,671
Wisconsin - 11,136

Main Trading Co.
Texas - 52,141

R and L
Ohio - 27,965

Universal Radio
Ohio - 27,965

To me, it is quite obvious that most locations are located in states that have a higher amount of licensed operators than others but I do not understand how the NE area gets stores when they are in the bottom tier of licensed operators. HRO has two stores in that area. The area east of the Mississippi River that is lacking covers a large area such as KY, IN, TN, MO, and MI. The only state with less than 10,000 hams in this area is Kentucky so why do we not have a store there? I am lucky that I can drive 2 hours and get to a store but there are alot of people who can't. (You can see the numbers for yourself by clicking here.)

The second thing that I was curious about is what your favorite store is. Let us all know by commenting on this post. You may reveal a smaller store we do not know about. I am sure they would appreciate it!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Answer to Tuning Problem

The rain stopped earlier today and I decided to go and look at my antenna to see if I had the opportunity for a quick fix so I could get on the air today. If you recall I picked up the Yaesu FT-991A recently and have not had the opportunity to transmit on it due to the fact that I could not get it to tune. I dropped one end of the antenna down as I did not have the balun supported and I am going to pull it back into a tree for support. When I got it down I decided to trace the entire length of the coax to check connections and the integrity of the coax itself.

It did not take long to locate what my problem might be. I am going out on a limb and guessing that this is the cause of all my problems. Ha, who am I trying to kid? I guarantee I found my problem.
What do you think? The only explanation for this is that my stepson cut the coax mowing the yard. Guess I need to bury it as soon as I get it fixed.

Unfortunately, even though my investigation found the problem I did not have any connectors at the house to make the necessary repair to the coax to get me on the air this evening so it is going to have the wait a few days. I am going to run right now and place my order for the items I need and fix the coax on Tuesday or Wednesday when the parts arrive. You all have a great time on the air and I will join you all soon.


Visiting HRO - Anaheim

One of the biggest drawbacks in amateur radio is the fact that the places to put your hands on equipment are few and far between. In the past I have visited HRO Milwaukee and R and L in Hamilton, OH. I totally prefer to put my hands on gear before I buy it but I do not have a place in any major city in Indiana to do so. R and L is my closest chance and it is around two hours away in the Cincinnati area. The hams in Ohio are pretty lucky as they have a few stores to choose from with R and L in the southwest corner, Universal Radio in the west central region, and DX Engineering in the north east portion of the state.

So, imagine my excitement when I found out that the Anaheim Ham Radio Outlet store was only twelve miles away from the house we rented in Santa Ana. We were in town for my daughter's softball tournament and I was hoping to find some free time to make it to the store. Of course 12 miles in Southern California means at least a 25 minute drive for the most part but we did have a break where the others had beach plans and I did not want to sit in the sand. So, I made my way over one afternoon.

This location made a comeback of sorts as it was destroyed by a fire in 2000 and had to be rebuilt.

In the store there is a reminder of the fire and a tribute to the employees who worked hard to get the store back together again. The owl in the following picture was, from the explanation, a lone survivor.

When I first entered the store the staff seemed a little stand offish, although they did greet me, but I came to realize that they were in the middle of trying to do inventory while running across the room to answer the phones and take orders. I walked around the store and browsed and was taken aback at their vast inventory.

There was so much more that can not be seen in just these pictures but this was just the accessory items. They also had some old equipment for sale and I thought this old Heathkit linear amp was pretty neat and was in great shape too.

But, the really impressive display was the wall of HF and VHF/UHF transceivers that took up most of one entire wall of the store. Milwaukee had a similar wall but did not seem to have but  about 2/3 the amount of radios on display.

As I walked the line of transceivers my eyes spotted every transceiver I have owned and currently own. But there was one that really stood out and it was the first time that I ever saw it in person. I heard the trumpets blare and the lighting seemed to intensify. There it was in all its glory. The Kenwood TS-990S.

What an awesome rig. I am sure it is as fun to operate as it is easy on the eyes. So, after browsing for a few the guys got an opening in their busy day and told me to help myself to some coffee that was brewing in the corner. I got into a conversation with one of them about learning morse code and he provided some good advice. My stay was coming to an end and I felt I could not leave without making a purchase. Since I was about $6500 short for the Kenwood I decided to buy a clock that I had been looking at for the shack.

That pretty much ended my visit. I completed this post here in cool, overcast Indiana. We arrived back this morning around 1 a.m. and my hopes were to work on my antenna so that I could get the 991 on the air today. Looking like a little rain so that is out. I may just sit down at the bench and solder up the 4 State QRP tuner I purchased awhile back. 

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