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WA4ZKO USA flag USA

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QSL: DIRECT, SASE APPRECIATED.

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Ham Member Lookups: 18576

 

EMAILS:  I no longer monitor my Yahoo address. My new hobby email address is listed above. FYI - Unless I'm expecting something it is NOT checked very often and all "forwards" are auto-filtered right to the trash can as I get enough junk and dupes in there as is.

 

INTERESTS & BACKGROUND:

Working with the VHF/UHF Weak Signal modes and bands is hands down my favorite facet of the hobby. I normally operate from EM78 in Northern Kentucky, but also Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Idaho, Wyoming (DN43) or portable wherever work or play takes me. I tend to hang out in the 6m DX window and the usual 6m AM/FM simplex hangouts while mobile, especially during the Spring/Summer and Winter eskip seasons.

6 meters is my favorite band. VHF operators don't refer to it as the "Magic Band" for no reason. While I have yet to get around to the VUCC paperwork, I easily have the 100+ grids confirmed and probably have 350+ 6m grids and dozens of countries in the logs. That said, I'm not much on chasing wallpaper beyond QSL cards.

NOTE: Due to my limited and sporadic operating times, I generally don't do "schedules" on VHF/UHF anymore. The best time to catch me on VHF/UHF would be late afternoon/evening hours of a VHF contest weekend, the spring/fall sprints, or on Field Day weekend.

HF? Outside of some digital modes/needs, I don't operate much HF voice. I prefer the challenges of the VHF/UHF Weak signal bands/modes. The "VHF bug" bit me over 25 years ago and lever let go. Not dissing HF per se, but to each their own and pursue whatever facet(s) of this great hobby you enjoy. I also enjoy packet radio, APRS, shortwave listening, and mediumwave DXing. My non-radio interests include hunting, fishing, shooting, reloading, and backcountry camping/hiking.

I am part Seneca Indian, originally from Georgia, come from an Air Force family, and have lived in various parts of the country. By day I am a self-employed IT and Wireless Communications Consultant with a diverse background in Public Safety communications (LE/FD), IT security, land mobile radio, and satellite communication systems. I am one of those lucky guys blessed to have a job I enjoy and I get paid to play with lots of neat radios LOL.

 

QSL INFO:

I QSL direct. A SASE is appreciated, but NOT mandatory for stateside contacts. QSL requests that include a SASE get priority on turn-around. QSL's without a SASE will be attended to when I have the time AND spare postage.

Foreign QSL Requests - Please QSL me direct. A pre-addressed return envelope really helps and is much appreciated. There is no need to include stamps (green or otherwise) as I am glad to cover the return postage.

I don't do any of the eQSL/LOTW stuff. Guess I am old fashioned when it comes to that stuff.

 

DRY RIDGE 440 REPEATER, VHF APRS DIGI, 2M BEACON:

July 2016 - After 25+ years of providing voice/data infrastructure to the Northern Kentucky area I have decided to decommission most of it. This is due to a variety of reasons ranging from changes in life priorities, changes in work obligations, area ham radio activity has declined to nada, and my plans to retire out west soon.

Note that unless it directly pertains to the operations of my systems or the K4KPN club systems I no longer provide any packet radio support.  If you have such questions then please see the support/questions section down below.

The K4KPN club has a portable UHF repeater on a 441 MHz pair that can be deployed if/when/where needed. Depending upon availability it may be ran from the Jonesville (medium profile) or Williamstown (low profile) sites during the Fall/Winter months. Do note that this is a low power (5 watts) repeater.  It will be disconnected once Spring weather arrives as we are not going to risk it to a lightning strike. A 2nd portable repeater in P25 digital mode (NAC 293) may be in use at times, but is generally kept out at my 7-land QTH.

 

APRS:

I'm sporadically active on 2m and HF Robust Packet APRS, mostly the HF side of it now.  When operating portable HF Robust Packet APRS I typically use either WA4ZKO (messaging available) or WA4ZKO-8 (tracker only). I'm often just using QRP from a FT-817 and amazed at what the RP modems can do with just a few watts.

Our local packet club sponsors a high profile HF Robust Packet APRS I-Gate/Digi located near Dry Ridge. We are looking at eventually moving it out west and possibly sponsoring another one in KL7.

 

PACKET:

The most current updates will usually be found on the K4KPN club entry and the KYPN Blog.

As of the summer of 2017 the only* remaining fulltime packet radio activity (non-APRS) in Northern Kentucky is a 6 meter packet mailbox/node located out west of Dry Ridge near Jonesville. Most KYPN packet systems were shut down during the summer of 2016. A local non-club related area 2m mailbox was shut down in early 2017 and several area repeaters have shut down in just the past few years so there's not much left locally.

The Dry Ridge/Jonesville 6m packet station primarily serves as a propagation tool. The WA4ZKO-1 mailbox/node is normally 24x7 with 90 watts to a gain vertical. It can be found on 50.7300 MHz using AFSK 1200 baud packet mode. This is just a KPC3+ TNC based mailbox and heavy duty radio with automatic backup power on it at a rural site with a very low local noise floor.

This system beacons an APRS compatible beacon every 5 minutes for propagation test purposes and has been heard in TX, NE, WY, ID, NH, VE3, & KP4 via e-skip openings. It also supports WIDEn-n digipeating if needed. Due to lack of any 24x7 6m propagation beacons in this part of Kentucky this provides a good 6m band indicator to listen for even if you don't have packet gear.

While the above 6m packet mailbox/node is open to appropriate usage it should NOT be considered a full-service packet BBS. The KYPN group has a UHF 9600 baud packet based portable BBS package that is better suited to EMCOMM use if we really need it. The 6m stuff is more "experimental" in nature, but could be handy in certain emergency situations.

With nearly 200 watts ERP via a gain vertical at 121' AHAAT this system provides good coverage of the NKY area, parts of SE IN and SW OH. Barring noise floor challenges** on the other end of a link, 6 meter packet offers excellent range and rough terrain penetration which is handy in Kentucky’s terrain. System has been worked over 40-50+ mile groundwave paths several times. I’ve worked it as far out as a hilltop site near Morehead (70 miles) and an old VHF-low array on top of Black Mtn (156 miles). Obviously during the late Spring/early Summer and end of year eSkip seasons you never know what stateside/non-stateside DX paths may be in there.

KI4WEF intermittently runs a low profile mailbox as his QTH on the above QRG. Its callsign is KI4WEF-1 and is also a TNC based mailbox. His QTH suffers from a high noise floor on 6m so you'll need a good signal to get into it when it's running.

* To the best of my knowledge, but nowadays I’m out of the area more and more. As such I don’t follow local changes as closely as I used to.

 ** Your local noise floor can often be the biggest challenge to using 6 or 2 meter AFSK packet radio. Noise from nearby utility lines and consumer electronics can do a number on standard packet signals. It is what it is.

 

PACKET SUPPORT & QUESTIONS:

I often get support/info requests from hams trying to get started in the various facets of packet radio. Unfortunately I no longer have the time to provide such support. I'm not trying to be a jerk here, but I'm bi-coastal now, running my own business, often on the road, and dealing with the challenges of an elderly parent. Sorry but ham radio stuff is currently very low on my priority list for now.

Fret not though as there are plenty of answers available via your favorite search engine and the various mailing lists. Most of the questions I've seen in the inbox have already been addressed in existing documentation and/or asked and addressed on the various searchable mailing lists. Please make use of those resources and ask your questions there so that others may benefit from the discussion.

Questions regarding BPQ32 should be directed to the BPQ32 Yahoo Group or the considerable documentation provided with it. Questions regarding Robust Packet Radio should be directed to the Robust Packet Yahoo Group. Questions regarding APRS in Kentucky should be directed to the Kentucky APRS Yahoo Group. All these groups have searchable archive sections, please utilize them.

 

OTHER HOBBY RELATED TIDBITS & AWARDS (brag & rant wall, LOL):

Recipient of the John E. McCutchan Memorial Award for Red Cross work.

Recipient of the Kentucky ARES Technical Achievement Award.

Received a variety of formal commendations for disaster relief work (ham & non-ham) during several disaster responses over the last 20+ years. Some of this under ARES, but now I wear more of an AuxComm/COM-T hat.

When it comes to EMCOMM I believe in wearing the boots, not just the hat. Talk is cheap and there's far too much of it in the EMCOMM side of ham radio today and it's getting worse not better. Doubt me? Just look at the disaster that 2017 was for the ARRL ARES program stateside during several big disasters. Best anyone can tell, NTS in/out of KP4 was the only thing close to a success story for ham radio EMCOMM lately.

Pro Tip:  If you want to sell ham radio as "the folks to call when it all else fails, then you best be ready to function effectively in an it's all down environment." Otherwise my 5-land EM friend sadly nailed it with his "ARES....when all else fails, we will fail you too" joke. Hint, there is a big difference between a ham operator and an effective emergency communicator. It takes a lot more than just fancy radios and go-boxes.

Food for thought...  Can you or your group deliver results that match your hype? Are you fully equipped and well trained to do so? Can you talk further than the next town over if the repeaters are down and HF is unusable? Are you working on RF based systems or just playing on the internet? Do you train alongside the agencies you wish to serve by passing realistic messages for them? Do your "nets" accomplish anything useful or are they just check-in and do nothing nets? Can you actually function in a "it's all down" off-the-grid enviroment? Do you actually train in a manner consistent with the above? Stop and think about those questions. I often find that while uncomfortable for some, these questions reveal answers as to why so many ham radio EMCOMM groups (ARES, RACES, etc) perform so poorly when tossed under the bus of real life scenarios.    Hint: "You fight like you train" General Patton

 

I've held several "unofficial" Robust Packet APRS long distance reception (1-way) records at 8,505 miles or 13,687 km. All done with modest antennas, no beams, and no amplifiers.  NOTE:  As of July 2014 N1ZZZ now holds the 1-way record at 9,127 miles (14,688 km) for 30m APRS reception of N0KQX while Jeremy was /MM off the coast of Somalia.

October 2013:  Hold the "unofficial" robust packet 2-way connected link (not just a lucky packet or two) distance record for a 10 meter robust packet connection with N1ZZZ /MM while he was off the coast of Mozambique Africa at 8,659 miles (13,935 km). Yeah that and a $1 might get me a cold drink, but it was some cool packet radio DXing. All done with modest antennas, no beams, and no amplifiers.

 

Founder and President of the Northern KY DX Enthusiasts "NKDXE" group. A local VHF/UHF Weak Signal DX Group formed in the mid-1990s to promote VHF+ Weak Signal activity in the Northern Kentucky area.

Co-founder and Trustee for the KY Packet Network "KYPN" (K4KPN).

 

Social Media?  I don't do Facebook, never have, never will. IMHO Zuck is an epic douchebag. I have a life philosophy of trying to avoid knowingly (not easy anymore LOL) supporting douchebags like him and many of his crew there at FB.

Twitter?  Well my old account got mangled in late 2017 and I took the opportunity to just start anew with a fresh one: twitter.com/wa4zko2   For now it's mainly a news feed for me and I've yet to add everyone back in. Hams, friends, professional freinds, etc are welcome to add me. Note that I can tolerate some politics here and opposing views in my feed but if all you do is tweet/retweet political stuff all day long every day then I'm just going to mute you.

Sorry SM SJW folks, but both parties in DC suck. Both parties are full of crooks and hypocrits. Please stop letting them and our joke of a national news media push your buttons so effectively. Good lord social media anymore is like watching a bunch of 6 year olds all thinking they are smarter than the other side all while being played like puppets. Many need to turn the damn news off, get outdoors more, and try enjoying life for a change LOL.  Hint:  We're a country of over 320 million people. So unless you have millions of real followers you are NOT changing any minds/votes that need to be changed to your side LOL.

73 & good DXing!

8592425 Last modified: 2018-01-20 04:55:41, 14570 bytes

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