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Quick note: I currently report received JT65 CQ calls on PSK Reporter but have only a few photos and no QSL cards. I'm experimenting with different log books but am starting to use LOTW and Eqsl as a main reporting system. 
Hoping to eventually have some good photos and real SQL cards but that's still also a future project.

Note that this page is currently still evolving, check back every few weeks and I'll post once it gets (more or less) finalized
 

Quick shack stats:
- Icom IC7100 (HF/UHF/VHF 100W Transceiver, portable from home to car, mostly at home)
- MFJ-1868 Discone Antenna 
- LDG IT100 Autotuner
- OCF Dipole hung from chimney to corners of lot roughly 80m to 6m depending on rain
- RSP2 Receiver using a long piece of random length wire in attic (or the discone)
- Baofeng BF-F9V2+ two band, 8 (claimed) watt handheld (first radio)
- MFJ 2m/70cm magnet mount antenna
- Radio Shack Pro 164 scanner (programming requires at least a masters degree :-) )

 

Old guy (re-) learning (old &) new tricks!

My first experience with ham radios was in in the military, stationed in Germany in the early 80's, where I became aware of the MARS station. I finagled a job there (seemed better than "going camping" with the rest of my unit) and spent long late hours performing phone patches and sending teletype MARS-grams.
I wanted to get my ham license back then but the code requirements were just too daunting.

Following new training, my next job had me on a remote site, again in Germany, supporting microwave direct line-of-sight and tropo-scatter radios connected to a special digital switch and audio FD multiplexer.

A reassignment back to the USA had me working on a field mobile, HF, full duplex, multi-teletype-channel system for a few years.  

Fast forward to late 2016, years after the last time I had been involved in communications, and I'm talking with a friend who I see using a Baofeng radio for some local work. I was of course aware of the 2M ham frequencies and I asked him about being a ham.
He suggested I look into it. (Found out later he is not a ham.)
When I found out the code requirements had been dropped I became very interested. After a few weeks of studying I passed all three levels of the test on the same evening - 2 Dec 2016.

Before the year was over I had a Baofeng radio, several antennas an RSP2 receiver and an IC-7100 (HF/50/2M/70cm transceiver) on order. I also managed to hear a bunch of SSB contacts from the USA on the receiver but the first foreign station I heard was on JT65 from Cuba! Of course I also delved into RTTY, CW and whatever else I could hear on the receiver, and got on to APRS and EchoLink.   
 
Wow how things have changed since the early 80's.

Another really positive side effect of this hobby; my wife has been bugging me to get rid of some of the "trash/treasure" I've collected over the years. Hah! A chunk of that scrap military field wire is now a random length receive antenna in my attic, and that old satellite dish is going to help me get into space communications. smiley

I'm looking forward to a fun and exciting ham radio career!
Mark

Moving ahead ... slowly

Here we are at nearly the end of January 2017 and progress has been made: 
I have an HF antenna, an off center fed dipole, with which I was able to make my first DX contact with the IC7100. At the same time I managed a local contact - into my wife's headphones. Looks like I Need to do some work on the antenna mounting ...

I'm also working on moving the discone from the attic to the roof. Seems that wet roofs can dampen Dstar signals on 400Mhz pretty well. 

I've rigged the power cables in the car for the IC-7100. They work but now I need to hide them. I also need to work on the antenna. The SWR starts climbing mid 70cm band and is close to 3:1 at the upper end.

Did someone say "Blogography?"

Yipee a photo (from 28 Jan 2017)!
I managed to move the discone antenna from the attic to the chimney today. I also put the cables through a hole I made in the roof (hope that wasn't a mistake). The discone seems to be working pretty well out there as I was able to make a good contact over the repeater and through the woods to ... um ... somebody's house in, um, Texas(?).

I used the IC7100 last night for some successful JT65 contacts and it took me probably over an hour to figure out that the settings I used for the PC connection caused me to send no audio and give horrible feedback when I finally figured the first one out.

But tonight was much better. Managed a few more JT65 contacts - even managed to monitor and report two different bands simultaneously. If you're using JT65 and haven't seen www.pskreporter.info, you're missing out.

Another issue that popped up is my power supply. Hoping to save a dollar I used a cheap 12V garden tractor battery and two low current car battery chargers I had laying around. Worked well except ... with either of the chargers working, I lose about half of all signals on both receivers; no specific tones or certain noises, just a much higher noise floor that wipes out most of the weaker signals. Live and learn I guess.
The battery also sags pretty badly when I key the transmitter. I can drop the IC7100 into low power and that helps but I sure wish it would keep a solid 13.8V. Oh well, may have to bite the bullet for a 12V 30A power supply - unless you have one you can donate to me? :-)

Was able to get LOTW working today after it gave me strange errors yesterday and after I forgot the certificate password. I finally remembered that it's ********* - at least that what it said when I typed it in.

Still have to work on the car antenna and tuck the wires more neatly into the door moldings but one day at a time. 

PSK31 receive and power supply issue

4 Feb 2017: After skimming through a YouTube video on PSK31 I finally figured out how to make it work - in receive at least. I have finally been able to receive a bunch of transmissions using HamScope. (That reverse polarity box helped).
I haven't transmitted yet but brief tests suggest it won't be difficult. I haven't figured out how to make the software key the radio so I may be stuck holding the MIC button to transmit but I should be able to get it to work.

Also solved the power supply issue. I have a points system somewhere and was scrolling through what they offered and there was a 35A linear power supply for which I had enough points so I ordered it. Should be here tomorrow but I will be out of town so I'll have to wait a few days to hook it up and try it out. 

Haven't been in the car much recently so the wires and antenna are still waiting ...
Update next day - Got the antenna tuned. Had to file some millimeters off of the end that goes into the magnet base.
Started off with SWR around 2.0:1 on 448mhz and ended with it under 1.5 through the entire band.

Antenna tip before filingSWR BeforeAntenna tip after filing 
 

Mobile 2m/70cm antenna woes continued anyway - and now solved. Other news.

13 March 2017: The great work I did filing down the end of that antenna was wasted. The antenna worked well again for a while and then started exhibiting randomly and intermittently high SWR again. 
I finally returned it to HRO for factory disposition/repair (it was past the direct refund period) and also added a Diamond antenna with a glue-on mount for the car. The replacement MFJ will be a spare or for my hand held. People will think I'm a cop car now :-).

The Pyramid 30 A power supply arrived and it works as expected. The comments I've seen about it are correct; no lights on the meters and the fans are loud. However, in contrast to some of the reviews, the power transistors are well coated with thermal paste, and the fans actually wind up louder when it's been under load for some time. It's irritating but I can live with it considering the effort I'd need to expend trying to move it somewhere else or put in quieter fans.
But then again, ... one of the fans has started making a bearing squeal noise on startup. Two or three stiff slaps on the top of the housing make it go back to quiet until it is power cycled so maybe it will get new fans after all.

I also cleaned up the wiring in the vehicle so that I can fairly easily and quickly move the IC-7100 from house to car.
I've also received the cheap GPS module I ordered and that's lots of fun. But I had a period of time when it stopped working. I still don't know why but it wasn't getting the 13V from the accessory connector. I metered it out and found the voltage on the connector and when I tried it again, it suddenly worked and has since. We'll see if that keeps going. 


 

 

 

7964610 Last modified: 2017-03-13 22:26:16, 13818 bytes

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