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Top: Where I can be found if standing on the summit of Mt Tamalpais. Under that: Field Day 2016 -
2BSF Station on Mt Vision, Point Reyes National Seashore

Above: My current 'station on wheels'.   Due to kids and life, my "shack"
currently resides between my motorcycle and my tool box. Actually I've
added an IC-7300 since this photo.

Here's my previous station, built around the TS-850S my Dad lent me to get started. The TS-850S is now back in in my
Dad's shack and has been replaced with an Icom 756 Pro II rig.

1/10/2015 - After almost a solid month of learning about this stuff for a few hours a day (and some great elmering by
Charley, K4GBB), I finally have a Raspberry Pi with two TNC-Pi boards stacked on it, doing amazing things!


So what does this thinga-ma-bob do exactly? Well for starters it does just about everything a
Windows machine (without M$, thanks to Linux) and a Kantronics TNC can do. But that's just
for starters!  It runs on 5V / 1A DC and can be powered on 12V by about .65A.  It has 2 VHF
ports (so far), serving a packet node, full-service BBS with forwarding, and Winlink Gateways
on two VHF frequencies. It offers tunneling to distant nodes over FPAC using the ROSE routing
protocol. It can forward BBS messages and route them automatically over RF or the internet
when that's available. It allows users to upload and download files such as IC-213 forms,
weather maps, etc. I'm trying to navigate through a challenging coordination process to either
get on the 223.6 packet backbone or the 6M long-haul forwarding frequency the NCPA/PSNC
folks suggest for RF forwarding of BBS messages to most parts of Northern California and beyond.
I have serious reservations about the effectiveness of 6M for that application, and from what
I've heard so far it seems to be mostly untested - more soon!

In short, it does just about anything you can do with a computer and a few radios.
All this in something about the size of a bar of soap.

If you are connected to an FPAC node anywhere in the world, look up K6ETA. The ROSE address
is 3100,707780.  You can also auto-forward BBS mail to K6ETA.#NCA.CA.USA.NOAM.  If you
are anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area, you will see it on VHF Packet as ETABBS and
ETAND on either 144.910 or 145.630.

Next I plan to link it to other nearby HamGates using the whatever band turns out to be the best
(see above). After that, look for HF forwarding of both WL2K traffic and regular BBS messages
including NTS. Adding APRS will follow.

Linux is supremely finicky, poorly documented and frankly a pain. But once you have a
good build, it's rock solid!
The Raspberry Pi is like a Lego Set for the technical mind. I highly
recommend getting one and looking around at all the things it can do on 5V.

HERE'S A GIFT for any Linux novice who wants a jumpstart in setting up their own Raspberry
Pi Packet BBS, Node and Winlink station!

K6ETA operating at 2BSF field day station on Mt Vision, Point Reyes National Seashore


9/1/14 - Just set up a Winlink gateway using WINMOR 1600 on 80M, 40M, 30M and 20M. I hope they are well-used! I am also in the process of learning how to set up Ham Mesh nodes - I have configured and provisioned 10 of them so far and am experimenting with NZ6J, KK6AYC and K6RGI with attempting to send a video feed several miles.

My Dad (K6MLF) got me into this hobby - as a 40-something guy, it's a fun hobby!

My Ham-Shack is on full-time emergency power. It is run by solar-charged battery power - 240 AH.

For HF, I have a barefoot Icom IC-7200, an IC-7000 and my trusty Kenwood TS-850S and some home-spun antennas (a 40M dipole, a 75M inverted vee and other dipoles ready to deploy in the field). For the Kenwood, I have a pan adapter (LP-PAN2) and use NaP3 as an SDR with panafall display, etc. The IC-7200 is a remote control rig as well and does well with HDSDR. Fldigi and RMS Express work really well with this rig too. The RMS sysop software needed a little fine tuning, but I got it sorted out after a few days of having stations connect.

On solar powered batteries, I have logged SSB contacts from 115 cconfirmed countries so far.

I like building antennas... have constructed several dipoles, wound/soldered my own 1:1 and 4:1 current baluns, and constructed a 3-El 2M Yagi using welding rod and a wooden dowel. I like that antenna so much I made another one for KB6HOH to play with. so far he reports good performance with it.

Using an RTL2832 dongle and an upconverter, I have the capability to monitor bands using SDRSharp - so even when I'm away from my HF rigs I can be aware of band conditions if I want.

I have dual band mobile rigs in my car and motorcycle and I volunteer as a moto-marshal for local events in the hills of Sonoma and West Marin where cell phone coverage is poor. Our 2M repeaters tend to be better than the state troopers radio coverage out there, so we help out a lot during bicycle races, marathons, etc. My home 2M base station is 75W with a Diamond x200 and the 3 el yagi – so I can reach most of Northern California from Monterey and Fresno to Ukiah and Chico.

6/4/14 - Right now I am learning about Packet Radio, Digipeaters, etc., with a Kantronics TNC I recently set up. I have Winlink capability on HF, VHF and through packet node scripts. Check out my ETAND node (via SMRSND or K6ACS) and leave a message on my BBS!

These skills and technologies may come in handy if we ever have a regional disaster – if one comes, I hope to be able to help!  My dad and my sister (KI6TDG who is about 180 miles distant) are in contact every Tuesday - and thanks to this hobby, we know we will be able to continue that in almost any scenario.

NEW ANTENNA!  I call this the ETA 3L MKII antenna. It is a 2M 3el Yagi that breaks down to 20 inches, is super light and a great performer! Originally I made them out of welding rod and wooden dowels, but the MKII is upgraded to Schedule 80 PVC and aluminum arrow shafts. This lets the whole thing easily break down and fit into a small bag.

I am hand making these for $85 each plus shipping. Send me an email if you want one and let me know what frequency you want it centered on.

I can get these to a near-perfect 1:1 VSWR but the match is narrow and climbs quickly as the frequency shifts. You will LOVE the performance near the center though! MMGAL modeling gives this design a theoretical 11dBi gain, but real world is more likely to be 9dBi with about a 35 degree forward lobe. The arrow shafts are camouflaged, so paint the mast whatever color you see fit. Here is how the elements vanish against a backyard setting:

Try one out and let me know what you think!

73 - Steve

8138785 Last modified: 2017-06-05 06:00:13, 9495 bytes

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United States Counties Award#2133
Granted: 2016-07-20 05:20:02   (K6ETA)

  • 100 Counties Mixed
World Continents Award#14313
Granted: 2016-06-29 22:20:02   (K6ETA)

  • 10 Meters Mixed
  • 15 Meters Mixed
Grid Squared Award#12924
Granted: 2016-06-29 22:20:02   (K6ETA)

  • 15 Meters Mixed
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 15 Meters Phone
  • 20 Meters Phone
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