Sunday, February 4, 2018


Its been 10 months since we've moved to our new home in NC (Long: 34.210293 Lat:-78.057048, FM04xf 30dl). And I finally got to find a path to our attic to install antennas. Not the best scenario of course, but necessary for my QTH. I'm in an HOA! I'm running QRP levels for now. I know, I know.... its 3 strikes against me, but not impossible! It'll all evolve. /p will also be a mode of operation, Plenty of outdoor spaces to choose frombeach, parks, and wooded trails near water.

Two antennas are now run to the attic. A J-Pole for 2 M, and a Norcal doublet for 40M - 10M. I may experiment with some Slinky's, I'll have for more power handling.

A loop is probably the next thing to make... To try indoors in the attic and on my back porch. It'll also serve for /p outdoors.  Lots of Internet sources for ideas. Copper pipe or cable, I haven't decided....

There's also the Ozzipole (homemade buddipole) I started. Once done, I'll be trying that too.

I'll probably make a copper pipe J pole for 1.25m  and 70 cm. I have a few repeaters on those bands near me.

I'd like to add a helical antenna later for satellite and weather freqs.  As you can see this is all homebrew. I like making my own stuff... antennas, radios and ancillary hardware - digi converter for digital modes, keyers, etc etc.

Then there's SDR radios. Those little USB things... Got a few of those. A few small antennas for UHF etc and can monitor air, rail, ship ops etc.

While I'm running all this, I'll also add a couple of CAT5 cables for networking and antenna steering, tuning and selection control. (Arduino, Rasbi, etc). Maybe even an antenna switch. It's all straight runs for now.

An interesting source for attic antennas... a whole farm!! try AC0C - Stealth antenna project! VERY sophisticated!

And I have over 200 ft of continuous aluminum gutter! Haven't decided to mess with that yet.

The fun of new homes is the attic space itself. Its not open but has trusses all over... Also I have 2 heat systems in the attic. (RFI sources!) and All my achievements ma be for naught if I reset micros in the units!!!

This all made for cable running and cable laying fun, hi hi.

Still, I have a nice small cozy shack... under a stairway... a closet actually... Just for radios and ops. My workbench is in the ad hoc man cave (garage)  I also have a separate station in another closet for SW listening. And then there's always the back porch, screened in and comfy.... Eventually a deck beyond and a few more hidden antennas!

The adventure continues!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A first - ordering and using a 3D manufactured item

A Mod for the FT-817nd

As you use the FT-817 (nd) you notice the tuning knob is quite sensitive. You can adjust the steps, but a slightest move of the dial and you're off frequency quite a bit!.... On other products I have, there might be a detent to step you thru. I guess just a matter of taste. One either likes or dislikes a tuning knob with a detent. I have a shortwave radio with a detent and there's a mod to take it out. It seems the preference for fine tuning is a knob without stepping.

So... How to control the tuning to a finer detail, you ask?.... Make a know or modify the knob you have in such a way that it gives you better control....

Such is what a fellow Ham did... A small knob such as this , is a great candidate for 3D printing technology. The latest tech craze, now that low cost 3D printers are being made.

Drawn up and 3D printed on Shapeways, its available and reasonably priced... I'm waiting for mine. Comes in red, green, yellow, blue, purple and orange!... Decisions ! Decisions!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The satellites are coming! The satellites are coming! Everybody get outside! Part 1

If one can remember a comedy from years gone by "The Russians Are Coming!", when they ultimately landed and tried to invade, the Russians soldier was heard to say... "The Russians are coming, everybody to get from street!"

THe new AmSat satellites are coming! Get out in the backyard! Our new generation of amateur satellites are being made with the hopes of being launched  (one this year) soon. As costs rose for everything so did the price of a launch....based on size!!! So it precipitated a new generation of small satellites... the CubeSat and none too soon! The Amateur  world is picking up on it too with the design and development of three CubeSats, the first SO-1, being 4 inches square.

AmSat Fox-1

Not that amateurs haven't communicated by satellite before, even with an HT, but now its with a small CubeSat and a few hundred milliwats. Since I achieved the first level (Technician) back in Dec 2014, its been a plan in my mind to do satellite communications. Sure one can garner a Jigawatt radio and have at it... but we're not doing EME (not yet) it's QRP. And it's been done too many times, as seen here. (Thanks to AE6LX).

An HT and a homemade (or bought) VHF/UHF yagi can get you connected thru an Amsat satellite. A survey of antennas can be found here on YouTube (2011). The idea is to make a homemade satellite antenna and see what I can do. I've seen several designs about....maybe I'll try them all!  One that comes to mind is the tape measure Yagi. Its only a 2 meter antenna, but with a little inventiveness it can be turned into a VHF/UHF antenna. Satcomms with the new CubeSats will cover both  the 2M and 70cm bands at (435.180 uplink CTCSS 67Hz and 145.980 downlink). There's a nice paper on Tape Measure Yagi's here that will help in yagi design. A tape measure style is great for foxhunting.(Can't believe I threw out a broken tape measure about 2 years ago!)
Tape Measure Yagi

A better antenna would be a more permanent solution using stronger elements, coat hanger or welding rod elements. Many designs abound.

A quick search in the net yielded quite a few design ideas.
From WB5CXC - dual band antenna Check the rest of his site for lots of other antenna designs and projects.

Then there's the $4 dual band antenna, a true homemade do it yourself antenna. Parts scrounged, minimal investment... I have a nicely cut piece of PVC (approx 1"x2") looking for some hangers or welding wire. I want to make mine a bit more portable...

$4.00 Ham Radio Satellite Antenna
The $4 dual band satellite antenna

There's also the eggbeater antenna.... for a monoband satellite applications, permanent base or portable. An excellent site for plans and ideas... in English and French. This something for ISS communincations, being omnidirectional it doesn't need to be handheld. ON6WG has lots of antenna information and excellent ideas on portable operations.
The Eggbeater Antenna

A small handheld 70cm antenna for LEO (low earth orbit) satellites, much better than just a rubber duck antenna. Look here. IW5EDI has an excellent page of resources for many topics on ham radio.
70cm antenna

So what will it be, the $4 special, a tape measure yagi or a simple dual band rigid wire yagi? A look through my junk piles and what I might find along the way will dictate the goal. My bets are on a foldable rigid wire dual band design.

But the antenna and radio is only part of the setup. How to find a satellite? A computer will be needed.... Windows, Linux, Android? What's available (and free) That's the discussion saved for Part2!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Field Day June 2015

Not being part of any club at this point, I planned to see the activity from where I was this weekend. My family has a boys camping trip every June on the last weekend in June every year. We've been doing so for over 35 years! 40+ family members, 2-80 years old. This year it was WET! very WET!!

I was planed  to bring my HT (Baofeng UV82) and my FT 817nd to test out from the wilds of Neversink NY. I brought all my antennas to try out. The weather wasn't very cooperative. With the Sun doing its thing for the past two weeks I didn't expect the bands to be in the best of shape. I had no computer setup, everything came out of a small bag... Really portable.  For antennas I had the extended rubber duck to the HT, and my 2M JPole and mag mount dual band for the truck.

2M wasn't the best... Although there is a repeater in the area, I wasn't able to pick up anything. I was running Simplex but I think the HT wasn't setup for the repeater. I did hear one or two on 2M but too weak to make contacts.

I still haven't been able to hear anything on 2M on the 817... I'm suspecting a dead 2M band on the radio. So far Ive only been able to notice receive function that the is dead. This week Ill try to test the xmt output, to try and narrow down the issue. The other bands showed signs of reception, the S meter was. Still getting all the pieces needed to function portable. Before I mount the mag antenna on the roof and run the cable permanently I need to get a cap for the base for weather protection...

But the weekend was wet... VERY wet... rained Sat and Sun... so my first field day effort was all of a half hour. Next year if I reach my goals... I'll be doing HF and morse... at least SSB...  So the TO DO list grows for my Ham Radio hobby.... more antennas, finish the manual tuner kit I just got, install the mag mount 2M/70cm antenna. Think about a mobile antenna for HF, setup a portable HF longwire, make a 70cm jpole, this time with twin lead, get a laptop or UDOO/Raspi running Linux for field use. I have an old Osborne 1 waiting to be converted into a field box for all sorts of radio use. I have all sorts of ideas for antennas..I Want to keep it light for the beginning so I can also backpack to a location of choice. Then a transportable for the truck... using a tire base plate to mount a vertical (screwdriver like antenna) or a better longwire arrangement.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A new "old" radio

I'm not one for spending LOTS of money in a hobby...where I need a second mortgage to run... So me being cheeeep... I got the used route... at least for now... So what does one look for that can serve as a base station AND portable operation as a SOTA op, backpacking anywhere type scheme, vacations to the beach, mountains, is small, battery operated and covers all bands! QRP output...120M to 70cms... cover all modes AM, FM, CW, data, satellite comms, weather...even EME etc etc etc.... Hey throw in the broadcast bands AM/FM and even LF. And if it can wash dishes and do the laundry so much the better. A tall order.... not for rolling your own or bread-boarding Manhatten-style. Well... not me anyway...

I'll do kits and small projects along the way, I'm not afraid of the old soldering iron. QRP is still my goal. But I want to get up to operation quickly. There's so much to experience. And so little time.

I attended a club lecture on EME, portable and low power too... Lots of roll your own stuff of course. What intrigued me was the fact that you really didn't need a super large array or a Jigawatt of power...  Well it helps but these days with the fantastic digital modes and things like WSPR the possibilities are endless.

I was sold. A little research and perusing the net for possibilities I found lots.. But it was what the speaker pulled out of his bag that convinced me... A Yaesu FT-817. Sure its older... discontinued even. It has a new and better follower but its popular, reasonable and has all I wanted and more. Versatile it is. A large following, lots of accessories and support.

And as luck would have it there were a few on Ebay. I was just getting used to spending $25 maybe $50 on a product online.. Ive never bought anything  do pricey... I would never had bought it new....but the radio gods were with me.... I managed to find one, well taken care of. I put in a bid at the last minute and won! It came across the US quickly and in my hands last Friday... It even has some interesting history.
Yaesu FT 817nd

 I haven't put an antenna to it yet. No transit yet.. I have a manual tuner kit on order and some long wire waiting....  I need the CAT cable to interface to a computer for programming and operation..... I have a Ni-MH battery already but want to get or make a 3 amp power supply.I didn't get the default 3 piece antenna that would get me coverage for 6M, 2M, and 70cms.... I may get one just to have for quick portable use. I have a J Pole for 2M and a 2M/70cms yagi in the works. Once I get the tuner finshed (Ill do manual to start) and some wire, I'll be ready to go.

Emtech ZM-2

This will cover 80-10M. And any kind of wire or metal you connect it to... My kind of tuner.

I'll make something for 6M.

With what I found on the net for support, between Yahoo and Facebook there's plenty of support.  I'm happy with this acquisition to my shack. It will keep me busy for quite a while...The QRP rigs will have to wait....

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Changed the blog title and changed it back

A temporary change for now....

Took the General exam tonight...... passed!... on to morse code. And get those QRP rigs built....

Wow... so much change so quickly... in one week... I snagged a BY-1 Bencher key and a Yaesu FT-817nd qrp transceiver. The opportunities came and I grabbed them.... Now for an antenna or two and tuner...

One little disappointment though, I got my notice from the FCC and I have the same callsign.. I was looking forward to a shorter callsign.... Somewhere along the line in filling out those forms during the test, the box wasn't checked for a reissue of the callsign!!! So for now I'll wait.... and stay KD2HTN...

Maybe look into a vanity call later... Guess I should warm up for the Extra exam !

J pole update

Took long enough... But I finally got it done.... Made a quick portable mount from a photo light stand and a few pieces of PVC.... Used hose clamps to secure the coax for now...(initial try soldering a pl259 - failed)

Added a few turns of the coax and about 30 ft of cable... This will also be used in the attic... Until my swr/power meter comes in to test it out, I'll leave it be. There should be enough gain to compensate for the losses.... we'll see.

Next a hand held VHF/UHF yagi for satellite comms.