CQ CQ CQ de W9ZEB

Tales from the Hamshack

New Antenna Project

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Thanks to a post on an Amateur Radio Facebook page I am going to start building a K4KI0 wideband hexbeam antenna. I’ve been looking at both the Hex-Beam and Spiderbeam antennas for a number of years now.

Based on where we live, I’m finally in a place where building and raising one of these antennas is a possibility. Over the next few weeks I’m going to start collecting the parts to construct my own.

73!

Just a Photo

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I still have a lot of work to do before I’ll be proud of my shack.  At the same time I thought it might be fun to post a teaser shot.

I need to get the rest of my office / shack cleaned up and organized.  Once that’s done I’ll snap a few photos of the whole room.  I also need to get at least one more set of antennas up for the FT-847.  I was thinking a set of four Linenblad antennas, in addition to another VHF/UHF vertical.

 

73!

Motorcycle Mobile

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On my list of things to do since I started riding my motorcycle was find a way to attach a radio to the bike.  If I rode one of the big touring bikes this would have been a trivial process.  Half of those bikes come with antennas, and radio mounts built into them from the factory.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I ride a Kawasaki Ninja 500r Sport Bike.  This means space in general is at a premium, and locations for mounting radio bits are hard, if not impossible to come by.  I managed to come up with a workable solution though.

It started by buying a spare top tail fairing.  This was $12 from someone on the Ninja 500 forums.  Next I took a sma window clip antenna mount apart to steal both the coax, and the bulkhead connector.  I drilled a hole in the spare fairing, and mounted the bulkhead.

Diamond HT Antenna MountedNext I had to find a good way to mount the HT on the bike.  I decided that my Yaesu VX-7R was the perfect radio for the job as it’s water resistant to 3 meters.  This means if it rains I’m unlikely to destroy an expensive piece of hardware.  I also already owned a throat vibration mic for this radio which should eliminate any wind or engine noise while riding.  I settled on replacing the swivel belt clip with a 2″ square piece of plastic that is screwed into the back of the radio.  I then attached six ½″ Neodymium magnets to the plastic square.  This holds the radio quite firmly to the steel tank.

The final piece of the puzzle was powering the VX-7R.  I have one of the filtered Yaesu E-DC-5B Power Adapters for the car.  The motorcycle doesn’t have an accessory outlet, however I do have a battery tender connection.  A quick trip to the auto parts store, lead me to one of these Battery Tender to Female Cigarette Adapters.   With the bike running I have plenty of power to keep the VX-7R fully charged.

I took the bike for a short ride, intending to head all the way into work, but high winds sent me back home for the car.  No problems at all with the installation.  The radio stayed exactly where I put it, and I couldn’t be happier with the overall performance.

If any of you are Motorcycle Mobile, I’d love to see your installations as well!  Drop me a line via the comment link at the top of this post.

73!

 

ZEBLOG – a New Software Project

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I have the personal goal of becoming a better programmer.  As a result I’ve decided on a first software project.  I’m calling it zeblog (subject to change) which will be a python & curses based amateur radio logging software.  I have set up a software repository in in git for this project, which you can view by clicking HERE

Currently the only thing there is a user story, license, and readme.    I have the goal of using a MySQL database as the back end so that later I can write web modules that show near realtime log status.  I’d like to eventually show things like “35 of 50 states worked” and “23 of 100 unique countries worked for DXCC”  I’ve talked about perhaps writing a restful API so an Android/iOS front end could be written for mobile operations.   In general I have a lot of goals for zeblog.  In the short term I would settle for basic logging functionality with an easy “Export to LOTW” function.

If you are interested in helping with this project please contact me at “My first name” dot “My call sign” dot ORG.

73!

Ham Radio Logging

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I decided to use yfklog written by DJ1YFK as my ham radio logging software.  It is a small perl script, with a curses front end.  The  interface is simple but that works great because I can host my logs on a remote server that’s in a datacenter.  I’ve also finally gone through the process of getting my Log Book Of The World account set up.   Thinking it would be nice to use that to maybe work towards DXCC and WAS awards.

yfklog in action
In an effort to simplify the process of sending my logs to LOTW, I think I’m going to work on building a Jenkins job that will export my logs from yfklog once a week in the proper format.  Then take that export and sign it using the Linux command line build of LOTW to sign and send my logs to the ARRL.

Have any of you done anything similar?

73!

First Contacts Since 2007

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Yesterday I managed to get my antenna in the air.  It’s not a perfect straight shot inverted V like I planned but it’s closer to that then not.  In any case I started tuning up and down the bands and managed to make a pair of contacts.

The first was W1AW P0 — Operating just outside of Lincoln Nebraska.  I got a 59 signal report from that station.

The second was AK0AK — Operating from Macon Missouri.  In this case I got a 55 signal report.

Both contacts were on 40m LSB.  I spent a bunch of time yesterday listening to a few nets, while researching digitial audio interfaces for my TS-850, and CAT control cables.

73!

Antenna Raising Day

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I finally picked up some of the tools of the trade needed to raise a wire antenna into the trees.  I tried to use some kite string with a socket tied to the end of it, but ended up just losing two sockets in the process.

Tools of the trade
So yesterday I picked up a sling shot, several 1oz. sinkers (which I won’t be heart broken to lose) and some 25lb fishing line.  My thought is to launch the sinkers with the fishing line through the trees.  Then pull the heavier line up.  Finally use that heavier line to pull the antenna up.

More photos to come once I actually start working on raising the antenna.

73 for now!

ARRL Field Day 2014

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This year I’m in charge of investigating the Bastrop County Amateur Radio Club’s Field Day location.  I’m currently looking at parks with meeting halls that was can setup and operate from inside with Air Conditioning.
At the same time I’m trying to track down Boy Scout Troops that might want to get involved.  We could use help launching Antennas into trees, and I hear during the summer months the Boy Scouts are regularly hurting for things to do.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions please drop me a line by hitting the comment button.

73!

Volunteering for Emergency Service

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Just a quick update.  I have submitted all of my paperwork to the Emergency Coordinator for my section to join RACES.  Hopefully my application is accepted and I can give a little back to my community.

For those interested in perhaps volunteering I would like to recommend going over to FEMA.gov // Independent Study Program.  Specifically to take the following NIMS (National Incident Management System) training classes and Certifications.

Certs
All of these programs are independent study, and self testing.  All Volunteers should get at least IS-100 and IS-700, these are required.

73 for now!