Enter The Shark RF openSPOT

SharkRF had a sale that was about fifty percent off, so I decided instead of another pi-star or whatever setup that I would jump on board the SharkRF train. Let me say this first and foremost even at full price this would be worth every penny. It is essentially turn key plug it in fill in a few pieces of critical information and you are up and running. In less than five minutes I was connected to the usual reflector I monitored previously with my pi-star.

Continue reading

Post 100 = DX 100

After sending out a new batch of email’s to folks I had worked during several contests since becoming licensed a few came thru with confirmations either via LOTW or QRZ and I finally can mark off DX 100 officially. I sat at 98 and 99 for quite some time but thanks to the confirmation from Bulgaria I’m not a member of the dx100.

The irony is that this also marks the 100th post for this Amateur radio blog by me. It was not planned but it worked out nicely. Significant only probably to myself and that is ok, but remember if you are struggling with your setup and trying to work that sweet DX never give up. I went from hf sticks and a magmount to a ground mounted tarheel 100a hp with 122 radials 22ft long to a 1/2 wave 40m invee at 45ft, and now as outlined in the previous post will have mono band antennas cut for each band at great heights for working CONUS and DX. Never give up and remember your antenna will always give you more up front gain that and poor antenna and an amplifier, but if space is an issue do what you have to.

Continue reading

Enter The Icom 7300

Well it is time to rebuild the HF part of the shack; and yes I know I have not yet finished the outside as far as entrance panel and ground rod plans go in relation to the VHF/UHF/CB stuff. Still awaiting all needed parts and accessories before that goes into motion. In the mean time it is sad to walk into the shack and see no HF rig for the first time since before I was ticketed as a tech. Enough is enough I say.

Initially I was thinking a 746pro great price point, great options and 2m with 100w. Then I was thinking 756proIII as people have come off the $1500+ prices and are now selling them for reasonable prices. Then I decided I should take a look at newer radios from the same company (i like whatever works but I tend to favor icom or yaesu for hf) This brings us to the 7610. I really don’t need to explain how great a receiver and transmitter that is. Besides the 7851 and the top shelf Flex. Flex still is not an option for a main radio as I like to be able to operate stand alone on battery back up. With as little draw as possible. Enter the 7300. By all accounts a very good design and very well supported in updates by icom. I feel like this radio has finally come into its own and has matured enough to be considered at its price point. HRO is having their Icom month discounts and Icom is offering a $200 mail in rebate. And that is all she wrote. It will arrive Monday. I will write a detailed post this week about the performance and specs and why ultimately I choose this radio over anything else available new or used.

Once she arrives I will figure out what microphone cabling I need and order a heil pr-781 to go on a suspension boom. I like to use a foot PTT. So I can operate and use the computer. I will likely have to get a new cable for the signalink as well for digital modes. And I am hoping that budget will allow for me to purchase a replacement ALS 600. I’d add 10m and the ad5x relay upgrade; as well as, upgrade the fans to high flow but quieter than stock, and make the PS fan DC instead of ac. As I did with my previous als 600 which allowed for 100% duty cycle with digital modes at 3-500w. I’ll have to add an ari 500 and correct cabling for keying and alc use. I also plan to run this als 600 at 220-240v and already have the breaker and line installed to do so. Should make the audio peaks much nicer at full power and not starve or surge the amplifier or power supply.

Continue reading

Obviously The Rain Did Not Listen

Hopefully all is well with those affected by the three touchdowns. Reports still coming in for damage and likely will be until daylight tomorrow. Meanwhile I’m really happy I did not put that mast up as I had no guy wire available yet. WHEW!

Severe weather season is off to a real start. Check out the images below for our early March start to the season.

Continue reading

Rain Go The F Away I Got Antennas To Put Up

My Face When It Wont Stop Raining

Seriously F-Off rain. I got antennas to get up masts to finish building, entrance panels to relocate and ground rods to sink. Not to mention about eleventy billion other things that require me not dying from pneumonia cause the rain is drunk and will not leave. Seriously rain. Fuck. Off. We get seven years of drought then a historic hurricane season and then a dryish winter, but wait no ITS TIME FOR MORE RAIN! Seriously though it is going to skip spring and go straight to hellish summer with the 115F+ heat indexes daily fast. I was really enjoying working in the not so humid mid 50’s to mid 60’s… BUT NO.

So in honor of “The Rain” that is ruining my plans (poor me I know) how about some music about rain! YEA!

Continue reading

Lag Bolt Special Edition Multi Use 4×4 Mast

Testing the idea (Before)

Yes those are various pieces of the 4×4’s I used for the four legs of my 80m sky loop. Somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 as I had a fifth but it was only a partial, and one of the 4×4’s I cut for a bird feeder setup. In any case the wood is still good. Warped yes. Heavy… not as bad as I thought it would be. I have eight guying spots to guy it mostly away from the house for safety. I used eye hole lag bolts for that. I’m going to get some 1/2″ dacron rope from kf7p which has a snap strength of 7050lbs. I plan to band this several times as well just for safeties sake. Then it will be time to rattle can it od green. I may toss a second color in randomly but I think just the od green will be enough.

I am going to move the 70cm beam up to right above the last 4×4 for a little more height above ground. It performs very well for the single repeater I use it for so it is likely it will work better. I may not even need it with the tip of the 5.5 foot antenna bringing it to almost 40 feet of height. If my coverage map was good at 18 feet. I can’t wait to calculate and post the new predicted results and then confirm/modify with testing.

Continue reading

The Good, The Bad, The Ground Rod

I swore I would never put another ground rod in manually but there I went not listening to myself. Mr. 22oz claw hammer and I got reacquainted again and after a couple of hours it was as sunk as it is going to get. Now thanks to the drastic swings in weather and pushing myself far beyond what I should be considering health and other issues I’ve managed to get a really bad chest cold that started out as a nasal drip and sore throat (its almost that time of year so I figured it was pollen). Nah full blown coughing stuff up and not sleeping all while not healing from all the project work the past few weeks. Luckily my wife takes good care of me and I am on the mend.

After everything drys out and I’m back at fully operational status the next step is to drop a couple of inches of gravel down the concrete form for drainage sake. And then mix up the concrete drop the assembled mast into the form and fill her up. Next step will be quickly leveling the mast and then bracing it while I anchor a couple of guys for safety overkill sake. From there we let it set till cured.  In the mean time relocating my entrance panel box and maintaining the integrity of my already installed ground system will occur along with extending it to this mast. I plan to pass the coax shield thru a bulkhead to ground at the base and then direct burial to the entrance panel where it will connect to an A/D lightning arrestor before coming up thru floor and entering the shack at the kf7p ground bus bar that I cut which will have 3 a/d switch to ground modules installed.

Continue reading

Ft-2980 80 Whiskeys Vroom Vroom!

My dedicated 2 meter radio arrived thanks to he quick shipping at HRO. 80 watt edition. Woot. It is built like a tank and the heat sinking on this is not a joke it will take every bit of abuse you can throw at it no doubt. Using the same microphone as the ft 100 dr/de the transmission quality is great and sensitivity is as good as any of the other radios currently installed. This will likely be a dedicated radio on the vertical while the ft 100 dr/de works the 70cm beam. I also managed to get back an Icom 800h I sold a couple of years ago so I’m sort of back in the dstar game. Debating what to do with that situation and I have it narrowed down to a small beam pointed to a local area state Ares connected repeater or pretty much a dummy load (ht antenna) and a gateway with he ability to switch it onto the 2m vertical. We shall see. 80w being a 2dB gain over 50w I figured what the hell right?

As of now it is in its permanent home on the IKEA hack stack.

Continue reading

Falcon Heavy & Starman Spacex Cut

Spacex dropped a new super cut with Bowie high lining the Heavy Launch and Starman piloted Tesla Roadster.

When Falcon Heavy lifted off, it became the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Following liftoff, the two side boosters separated from the center core and returned to landing site for future reuse. Falcon Heavy put a Tesla Roadster and its passenger, Starman, into orbit around the sun. At max velocity Starman and the Roadster will travel 11 km/s (7mi/s) and travel 400 million km (250 million mi) from Earth.

If you can’t find inspiration for something in this company and ceo’s achievements well then I’m sorry I can’t help ya. It feels like the Voyager years again. What is next!?!?

Continue reading