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I operate all bands 160m-33cm and operate 95% on sound card digital modes on most bands - though recently (since june 2014) have been operating some SSB on 15mtrs with my new 2el monoband Moxon beam. I primarily use Olivia and Contestia digital modes since they work out best for low profile stations who like to have real ham radio QSO's and NOT just quick contest like QSO's. I started using Olivia and Contestia in late 2007 and as of June 2014 I have had over 4,000 QSO's - mostly ragchews.

Check out my site at http://www.oliviamode.com

I started getting interested in SDR (Software Defined Radio) in 2009. I bought a Genesis Radio G3020 SDR Xcvr kit and slowly started working on it. It was the first KIT I had tackled since 1973 when I built a DX-60B Heathkit transmitter that used tubes. The G3020 was a real challenge for me and I finally finished assembling it in early 2010 and put it on the air. I made several hundred QSO's with it and was delighted with what it could do. It convinced me, without a doubt, that SDR was for me.

The G3020 is a duo band rig (30/20) that puts out 5 watts on SSB or CW. It requires a computer with a good sound card and I bought a E-MU 0202 external USB for it. It was a great experience to assemble the kit and put it on the air. I also Pre-Ordered a Flex 1500 from Flex Radio in January of 2010.

While I loved the G3020, the Flex 1500 offered all bands from 160-6m and many more features. I received my Flex 1500 in mid June 2010 and have been operating it continuously since then. It is an awesome rig and quite a value for it's price. It has become my main rig now and I use it with a small solid state amp that will get me 50-100w out on all bands. I really love SDR and I think, without a doubt, that in the near future SDR radios and/or hybrids will dominate the ham radio market.

I do admit, though, that SDR may not be for everyone. I think computer geeks like it more and I qualify for that too since computers are my 2nd hobby. I also program in 4 or 5 languages and like to tinker with Operating Systems, hardware, and all things computer - except games and social sites.

I also spend time on my 3rd hobby which is playing Irish Whistles. currently I have a small metal D whistle and a larger G whisle made from PVC which is my favorite. I play mostly Irish, English, Scottish, and celtic music.

I live in Ludlow Falls, Ohio which is 8 miles west of Troy and 20 miles north of Dayton (15 min to Hamfest!!)

I am married to Nancy, a NON ham, who "tolerates" my hobbies. No kids - but we currently raise a small herd of Cats. Brody James, Horatio, Mary mack, Ronan, Finbar, Biggie, and Fergus. We also feed numerous outside cats who visit our cat biestro on a regular basis. Currently Black Jack, Little one, and Allouette are regulars ...

 

2011/2012 Update!! We now have a 7th cat or I should say kitten. On September 14th 2011 my XYL came in through the back door and presented to me a small handful of fur that was screaming like a banshee. The poor thing was probably 3 weeks old - certainly no more than that. No sign of a mother OR a litter that he belonged too. The XYL mobilized while I "baby sit" with the distressed kitten and she procured some kitten formula. I am glad to say, that after many weeks of bottle feeding and nurturing, that he was officially added to the list of permanent occupants at this QTH. We named him Fergus - partially because I like the name and partially because of ZL2VF - also a Fergus - whom I have had many QSO's with on Olivia. Now, 6 months later, he is healthy and very active. He has grown tremendously and is extremely active and has earned the nickname "Piranah" because he is quite manic and likes to bite.

 

Nov. 28th 2012 update ....

Fergus is now over a year old and weighs 16 tons. Well it feels that way :-)

New outside strays that my XYL is feeding include Big Grey, Philomena, Fergle (looks like Fergus), and Florian.

And a NEW edition to the hamshack is an Easy-Digi digital interface which I bought as a fully assembled board on ebay for $17.95 - and can be bought as a kit for about half that. It is now hooked up to my Yaesu FT-2600M 2mtr FM rig and I use it on the NEW local digital emcomm net on the local 2mtr repeater in Miami County - 145.230. If you are interested in a simple but effective digital interface this IS a bargain. Can be set up with just about any rig.

My Flex 1500 SDR rig is now almost 2 1/2 years old and still running perfectly AND I still love it. Lots of hams do NOT like SDR but I would not trade it for ANY other rig on the market -- except maybe another Flex radio. My G3020 is now owned by my brother (WB8PMG) who will soon have it on the air at his QTH!

 

Feb. 28, 2013 update ...

A new toy for my hamshack!! I bought a used Elecraft XV144 Transverter so I could get back on 2 meter SSB and digital. It integrates extremely well with my Flex 1500 SDR - which has a dedicated transverter bnc output connector that puts out a whopping 1 milliwatt of power. The XV144 takes that and pumps it up to 20-25 watts. Later this year I plan to get a 100 watt amp to put in line for it also.

The XVTR integrates real well and switching bands and modes is very seamless. It feels almost like the transverter is "inside" the rig. The 1500 has separate bnc output connector for my HF antenna. So when I go from 20 meters (or any HF band) to 2 meters its just a matter of clicking on the band switch on the PowerSDR software. No antenna switching or anything else to to. Almost like it had 144mhz built into the rig.

And I'm pleasantly surprised to see that there is a fair amount of SSB activity locally on the weekends and some during the week too. Not hearing much in the way of digital yet - BUT presently only using a 5 element horizontal yagi at 25 feet high. Hope to swap the 5 element yagi (which is a compromise 144/440 duo bander) for a 11 el monoband 2 meter yagi later this year too.

 

June 12, 2014 update

Another new "toy" at the QTH! I put up a 2 el Moxon Beam (MFJ) and have decided to spend a lot of time on 15mtrs the next few years while there are a few sunspots! My 2 el 20mtr yagi was damaged and I had taken it down last year BUT I had really wanted to get a little gain back on the rooftop at 25ft or so.

I am really pleased how well the moxon works and have actually been having both SSB and digital contacts on 15mtrs. I was a 15mtr diehard in the 1970's so it's like "Deja Vu all over again" hihi!! Really love being back on 15mtrs and it will be my primary band as long as conditions are reasonable. My brother, WB8PMG, actually helped me put up the Moxon since I do NOT climb. 2 minutes after it was up and he came down off the roof, I went into the shack, fired up the Flex 1500 + HLA-150V amplifier (max 100w) - and worked ZL1SW on 21.087 on Olivia 32/1000 ... what more can I say?

I also added a Peaberry V2 SDR rig to my list of equipment! A great little SDR rig, 1 watt out, and looks cool in it's clear plastic case! I got the 80/60/40 meter version and, of course, use HDSDR software with it. Besides needing a backup rig (if my Flex 1500 would ever go down), I just think its a super cool inexpensive rig and lots of fun to operate.

 

June 24th 2 el Moxon Beam update

After 17 days playing with the Moxon I have made a total of 81 QSO's on 15mtrs in 26 countries.  Mostly on SSB though I have made 16 on Olivia modes.  Digital activity on 15mtr seems light at this point.  Perhaps this Fall and Winter it will increase.  However, over all I am really pleased by how the Moxon works and have had many many enjoyable SSB ragchews runing 100w.  Including ragchews with stations in Wales, South Africa, Finland, Australia, and many states in the west and south.  Quality QSO's are my goal on any mode!

 

September 26, 2014 update

I continue to have loads of fun on 15mtrs SSB.  June and July had tremendous openings on 15 to most areas of the world.  August not so good BUT September (the last half) has picked up a lot.  Since June 7th, I have had several hundred QSO's on 15mtrs.  Approximately 48 countries and all over the U.S.  Mostly ragchews.  I don' t spend much time actively hunting DX stations and NOT interesting in collecting cards, chasing paper, and contests.  I might try a pile up now and then but mostly that bores me.  Still operate digital (mostly Olivia) on all other bands but mostly SSB on 15mtrs where I have a little gain with my Moxon.

Several new cats have shown up at my XYL's outside kitty cat "Bistro" ... And one of them, Mary Mack (all black), has "weaseled" herself inside and now is one of the permanent inhabitants.  Another, Moriarity (all black), has filled out an "application" ...  :-) 

I am now thinking about getting into ham radio "Mesh Networking" as soon as I can scrape up some extra cash!  Its a great idea thas has started gaining some momentum in this area recently.  Using wi-fi routers on the lower 2.4ghz channels (which we hams are the "primary" user as noted in part 97 of the F.C.C. regulations.  It's a neat way of having an "emergency" data (which can also use voip as well) network during an emergency when the internet may be down OR just unsuable.  The main information website for Broadband-Hamnet has lots of useful interesting information : http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/

 

November 1, 2014 update

Continue to make many QSO's on 15mtrs SSB!  I had a Collins 30L-1 for 2 weeks and was running 600w PEP which made SSB a lot more fun BUT the old Collins croaked on me.  Not sure it is easily reparable.

I have had over 300 SSB QSO's since June 7th in 85 different countries.  Many of those QSO's were ragchews and I would prefer more ragchews but these days a lot of the SSB operators are not really into the art of conversation.  Perhaps that applies to all ham modes.  

I also do casual DXing.  I really don't collect QSL cards, awards, or do much in contests.  And I don't spend hours trying to get through a pileup to work a station in an obscure ARRL "country".  But I might try for a few minutes :-)

More cats seem to be showing up lately for a free meal.  Moriarity (Moey), Bridget, Bernadett, Dot, Grump, Scruff, and others showing up for my XYL's kitty cat bistro ... 

 

July 6, 2015 update

After 2 years of struggling economically - things have finally straightened out and life is returning to a "new" normal.  In mid May I acquired a NEW rig - A Flex 6300 SDR rig.   And a SB-200 amplifier (with all the latest mods) that works well with it.   15mtrs was doing pretty well up to mid April and then the sunspots started diving ..... May, June, and earlyh July have found the upper bands (including 15mtr) to be very poor most of the time.  So, I have been mostly getting on Olivia mode down on 20mtrs.  I had worked 117 countries on my 15mtr moxon and a ton of ragchews  so it was worth a year of fun to put it up.  15mtrs may perk up in the fall and winter though - but just how much depends on old SOL.

I really love my new Flex 6300.  It is awesome being able to watch 2 bands at the same time.  It has made it a lot easier to catch some 6mtr openings while operating on 20mtrs.  The receiver is fantastic and the rig is easy to use.  Flex has a SDK (software development kit) for the 6000 series radios and I have already made myself a companion application that further enhances the rig's operation.  Flex Radio continues to make ham radio fun and interesting for me!  I sold my old Flex 1500 to my brother (WB8PMG) and he is excited to play with it as soon as he can find some time between all his work and other persuits.

We lost one of our older kitties on March 8th.  Horatio was around 17 years old.  My XYL found him as a very young kitten under a neighbors car one day long ago.  He was never a real social cat as far as getting along with the other felines in the house BUT he was very lovable to the XYL and myself.  He seldom caused any problems and he will be missed for a long long time.

One of our outside kitties, Moriarity, dislocated his hip in late May and had to go to the vet for some medical attention.  His hip has been "relocated" but he still favors the right hind leg and hip quite a bit.  He is slowly getting better and has joined the household as a perminent inside resident.  He is a handful even if he is delightful and loveable :-)

No movement on Mesh Networking yet I but have been playing a little with a new digital mode called FSQ which looks promising.  It is a chat mode and the creator of the mode has a program called FSQCall which anyone can find with a Google search on the internet.  The latest FLDigi Alpha versions also have FSQ mode in it - as well as a related new mode called IFKP.

 

October 25, 2015 update

I have been playing around with an add-on to my Flex 6300.  I added the NW Digital DV-3000 USB dongle that plugs into the back of the Flex 6300 and with the latest firmware update - and after installing the DStar waveform file - Voila!  I am on  DStar.  I can't see where it's going to replace my Olivia/Contestia HF operation BUT it is interesting and I have had a dozen or so QSO's through the 2 local repeaters in Dayton.  I have also had a few HF and VHF direct (simplex) QSO's.  It certainly is better quality audio than other DV modes I have tried in the last 5 years but, again, not exactly a replacement for SSB hihi.

The HF bands have not been anything to cheer about lately but I am still having NO problem finding quality QSO's on Olivia and Contestia on 20/40mtrs.  Some SSB on 15mtr with my Moxon but the 15mtr band has been hit and miss the last month or so.  Cycle 24 seems to be rapidly diminishing.  

The kitty cats are doing well though we have a couple "oldsters" who are showing their age.  Moey (Moriarity) has been doing real well and has recovered from his dislocated hip.  He will never be quite as good jumping as he was BUT he is extremely active and jumps a lot.  His "gate" is different - but his quality of life is excellent and he is a maniac kitty with an attitude. 

 

June 2, 2016 update

My latest obsession is DMR radio.  I bought a Tytera MD-380 at Fort Wayne, Indiana hamfest back in November (2015) and later bought a CS-800.  Both are Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) and also do regular FM as well as the DMR digital voice.  Very interesting and lots of fun.  DMR is different than DStar and more to my liking.  There is a local repeater (12.5 miles north east) in Piqua, Ohio and several in the Dayton area.  I operate on the local talk group which has 4 repeaters linked in Cincinnati, Dayton, Kettering, and Piqua Ohio.  Really great audio and quiet.  No beeps, squelch tails, etc.  I have almost given up using local FM repeaters.

Still mostly on HF though - working Olivia and Contestia on 80/40/20 meters depending on propagation.  Bands are not so hot but still plenty of ragchews to be had stateside.  Still using my favorite rig of all time - the Flex 6300.  The software just keeps getting better all the time and I also have made a few companion programs (in C#) for it that I use regularly.  Not using my 15 meter moxon much lately with 15 being pretty quiet.  I am sure the band is open more than it sounds but many, if not most, operators have migrated to 20 meters.  Mostly using my 115ft doublet which is fed with 300ohm twin lead into a balanced line tuner.

Just recently put up a new ham radio mesh network node on 2.4ghz.  Using an Ubiquiti Nanostation nsm2 ($85) with AREDN ham radio firmware on it.  AREDN (Amateur Radio Emergency Network) has replaced the BBHN (Broadband Hamnet) group locally and around most of the country.  Ham radio mesh efforts have largely migrated to the Ubiquiti hardware which is a bit more expensive than the wrt54g routers stuff BUT so much more effective.  Still NOBODY to connect to from my QTH, though.  But I am an optimist in that regard :-)  The local Miami Valley Mesh Alliance tells me a node will be going up 8 miles from me on a water tower in the next few months and topographical maps show I should be able to connect with it.  

The kitties are all doing as well as they can.  Several of the boys - Punky (AKA Brody James), Biggie, and Finbar are in the 15-16 year old range so they all have their 'old age' issues but hanging in there.  Moey (Moriarity) is great and has adjusted to his tricky hip.  Still jumping and running and crazy as ever!  The rest doing fine and the whole bunch eating us out of house and home hihi  Especially Fergus who takes after me as far as being rather stout ...

 

 

7356272 Last modified: 2016-06-02 19:32:20, 17495 bytes

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