Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's all coming together

Since the last time I posted, I've ordered an ICOM IC-7100, with an upgraded HM-151 mic, Nifty Mini-manual, OPC-589 modular to 8 pin mic adapter, and a 16 GB memory card.  As well as RT Systems programming software.  The radio was practically new, and even still had the plastic on the touch screen.  This is one cherry radio, and at a price I couldn't beat.  Even though it's "used," I was able to save around 10% on the price of the radio, not pay tax or shipping, and I got a number of extras at a value of around $300.  What an excellent deal.

I also had to get a power supply and a tuner, if I was going to use this radio as I'm intending.  I'll be using this as a base radio, which will also allow me to take it on the go and work remotely in the field.  Once I get the radio, which should be in the next two days, I plan to write up a review on each of the products I've purchased.  So stay tuned for that!

It's with a bit of regret that I have to inform you that I won't be going to the Dayton Hamvention this year.  Unfortunately it conflicts with something else I've got scheduled.  Infact, what I'll be doing that Saturday, is far going to trump the Hamvention, which happens every year.  My wife and I will be traveling to Detroit for a comi-con up there, for my birthday, my amazing wife has gotten me tickets to meet with William Shatner, and get an item signed.  I'm still figuring out what that item will be, but whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be a great keep-sake.  So, although I don't get to go to the Hamvention, I still get to do something that's going to be amazing; plus, Dayton will be there next year.  AND, I've already got radio equipment to play with...

So, with that, I am going to say good bye until I write some reviews, of unless something else interesting happens between now and then.  Talk then!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Full Wave Loop Experiment

Well Saturday was a radio experimentation day.  I decided I'd try my hand at building a Full Wave Loop in my back yard.  I decided to go for a 40'  loop, which works out to around 144 feet of wire.  Took a trip to Menard's in the morning and picked up a reel of 500' THHN stranded copper #14 guage wire.  I brought that home and got started.

I measured it out in my living room, which was pretty difficult, and if I do this again, I'm going to see about taking the reel to Menard's or Lowe's and measure it out on one of their measuring stations. It'll be more precise that way anyhow.  I took my now ~144' mass of wire out to the back yard and attempted to get it as high as I could with my bum knee and what little available room I had.  I got it up between a tree, the shed, a garden trellis, and then back to the tree.  The highest spot in the loop is probably 12'.  Not the greatest in the world, considering it should be more like 35' in the air.  But, I figured for a weekend project, that was designed for learning, it would have to do.  I quickly soldered a SO-239 female adapter to the wire, pulled a 50' coax out of the basement and ran all of that in through the port in the wall.

Almost as soon as I turned the radio on, I heard signals on the 40m band.  I autotuned my IC-761, and the signals came in even clearer.  But, alas, it was dinner time.  Went upstairs and ate, knowing that as the sun went down, the band would get better.  Although, conditions weren't great on any of the bands other than 20, 17, and 15.  I did end up making multiple contacts last night, all of which were state-side, and most said I was coming in strong.

In the end, it was a successful project weekend, and I'm happy with the results I had, considering all of the factors that were working against me.  Next, I'd like to try either a 160m or 80m loop, strung up high.  Maybe we can do it as a club project soon and make a Saturday or Sunday of it.  Just waiting on the nice weather.

Matthew, K1BBB

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

QRZ.com - OGRES - Still Hurting

Hey everyone!  Or considering no one has commented, I'm more than likely talking to myself at this point, but hey it's supposed to be cathartic to get your thoughts out there right?  It's been another week or so, and I figured it was time to post.  I suppose I need to get better at this sort of thing, and make it more interesting...how else am I supposed to get a following right?  I expect you all to help pay for my retirement! heh.

Ok, so I'm laid up on the couch again.  My physical therapy seems to have re-injured my knee, so since Monday I've been home from work again, with my knee propped up, along with ice and pain killers.  However, I do go see the doctor this afternoon, though I'm not sure he'll say much more than keep it elevated and iced.  Hopefully I'll get more pain killers out of it, at least those help dull the pain so I can walk around with crutches.

Well that's the depressing stuff out of the way.

I recently changed my callsign from KC9ZFI to K1BBB - a smaller and much easier to remember call.  However, now all of the accounts that I've setup for KC9ZFI will need to be changed, and I also found out that you can't have a gmail account that is that short.  So, I seem to have heaped a pile of "ugh" onto myself.  So, as a note to all of you technicians out there who are thinking about changing your call, make sure you've thought everything through.  ALSO, I found out that if you have a QRZ.com account, with a nice profile page, pictures, and a log book.  This all gets completely wiped out when the FCC updates your call.  Automatically.  There is no back up, and QRZ.com's support team will be of no help.  In fact, they may send you an email with spelling mistakes in it, like I got.  Oh well, I still like my new call =)

I have some money coming in from taxes, and I'm thinking about spending a portion of it on radio equipment, and using the rest to pay off some bills.  I'm torn between keeping my current HF rig (IC-761) and getting a mobile 2m/7cm unit for my car, or a handheld HT 2m/7c for general use.  OR, forget all of that, and go with an IC-7100 - which does HF, +6, 2m and 70cm, as well as D-Star.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with this last option, and sell my current HF rig.  I believe with the IC-7100, I'll be able to operate as a full base station at home, but also be able to take it with me to field day, or other club activities that we might do.  Plus it does D-Star which is something I definitely want to play around with.  I'll keep you all updated with what I decide to do...

We had our OGRES club meeting on Sunday, and it was fairly productive.  We got some business out of the way, and discussed some events that we are going to do.  We'll be going as a group to the Dayton Hamvention, in Ohio.  That's probably going to turn out to be a one day event that we drive extra early in the morning to, and come back late in the evening.  And then we talked about doing field day, which after the discussion it sounds as though we'll end up partnering with Goshen ARC and go to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds for their field day.  I hope that we'll have some radios and antennas to take a long and setup, to help out.  We'll also be having a DIY project day on April 27th.  We'll be building a tape measure yagi, which will be used at a future fox hunt.  Now's the time to start inviting people!

Well I haven't been on the air much, other than 2m repeater stuff.  I feel like it's been so long since I've made a contact, although it's probably only been a couple weeks.  I should probably take some time tonight and hobble down to the basement for a few minutes to see if anything is going on...

Oh!  I've found a new interest in antennas.  I think I might try a Full Wave Loop.  I'm contemplating trying it with a 20m one first, which would be a relatively easy size to play around with.  I wouldn't mind a 160-10m version, but those are over 550' in length, and I'd like to try it out first before I commit to a project that big.  A 20m one is reasonable, and gets me on the air in a solid band.  The biggest trick will be to get it up in the air without it touching other objects, and have it not be too near a power line.  I'll have to think more on this, but will also have to wait till I can get up and around properly.

Ok, well I'm out of things to talk about for now.  Keep checking back and I'll hopefully have some more interesting stuff to talk about soon.  73!