Friday, September 11, 2020

Dang, it's been almost 4 years since I last posted.

Over the past 5 years with the solar cycle on the downside, I haven't been able to do much with making contacts so there hasn't been much to report.

A couple of months ago I made the decision to tell my KXPA100 Amp since it wasn't being used and I can't really use it since I can only put out about 40 watts without messing with electronics in the house.

I was looking for something fun to play with, so I was watching a YouTube video from Ham Radio 2.0 who was doing a video on the best handhelds to 2020. He did a review of the Anytone AT-D878UV-Plus radio and decided I needed to have it. It's my first venture into DMR radio and it's been quite a learning curve.

I bought from Bridgecom Systems because the price was the same as HRO and they offer lifetime support as well as their University which is 100+ YouTube videos on DMR. I got it set up pretty easily (after a call with their support) and haven't really had much luck connecting.

I read about DMR Hotspots which are little mini repeaters that you can control, so I ordered the SkyBridge from Bridgecom and it should be here Monday. I also ordered MMDVM hats from China for building my own. You put that on a Raspberry Pi and can use them as hotspots.

I found I didn't like the repetitive nature of setting up DMR stations on the radio using the supplied software, so I spent a few hours writing an Excel spreadsheet to make it quicker. I still have more testing, but once completed, I'll post it in the download section.

I have been doing more UHF/VHF and bought a new new radios, so I'm going to update my station information here shortly.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Geez, I just looked and it's been over 18 months since I last posted.

Since W3FT shut down, I've lost my ability to work the HF bands for the most part. I can still work from home, but with the bands being the way they are, it' been difficult. I bought a BuddiStick at Dayton 2015, but honestly haven't tried it out that much. I need to make a New Yesr's Resolution for 2017 to get back on the air.

I have been doing more UHF/VHF and bought a new new radios, so I'm going to update my station information here shortly.

Friday, February 13, 2015

So far I've been able to work K1N on 20m and 10m SSB. For anyone not familiar with K1N, they are operating from Navassa Island which is located between Jamaica and Haiti. If is the #2 top wanted DX location in th world behind North Korea. The reason it's so rare is that no radio operators have been allowed there in 22 years and after this DXpedition, it'll be at least 10 years before they're allowed back. The island is controled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service who needs to approve anyone going to the island.

With only 1 1/2 months until the club closes, I'm still working on figuring out what to do with working the radio. I'm currently leaning towards building a dipole or buying a Buddipole. Power will more than likely be a 12v Marine Deep Cycle battery so I can run both the KX3 and KXPA100 in the field. I may run out to HRO tomorrow and see what they have for masts. I have a 33' fiberglass telescoping pole, but I'm concerned it may not hold up the dipole. I do realize I can only use the bottom 1/2 at most, but I'm going to play and see how it works. I should be able to set it up in the living room to see if it's too much weight.

I still think about getting a second radio like the Yaesu FT-450D. The problem is when you add on the external tuner since the internal ATU is limited, it quickly approaches $1,000. Not sure I can really justify that. I may just wait until Dayton and see what I can find in the fleamarket.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wow, I hadn't realized it has been over 3 months since I last updated the website.

I sitting here looking back on the past year in relation to my use of amateur radio. I participated in my first contest which was the Maryland QSO Party and came in second for my category. I also participated in the ARRL Centennial QSO Party which was a year long contest. I'm sure I'm going to have to wait and see who I did, but as of yesterday I placed about 53rd in the state. I had a good run the past couple of days so hopefully I'll move up.

In mid-November I set a goal to complete 1,500 QSOs by the end of the year. I ended up with 1,641 as of 12/31. With the club closing at the end of March, I'm sure I won't be able do as much, so I'm working out how to work out in the field more. My plan is to look at another radio, like the Yeasu FT-450D, which is more self contained than the KX3/KXPA100 combination.

Wedneday, August 13, 2014

I completed my first solo contest this past weekend. I wanted to participate in the Maryland OSO party and had planned to go in Saturday for 3-4 hours and do both my personal call and the club call sign. I stated at noon Saturday and went until 8:30 when I couldn't see straight. This is also the first time where I sat on a frequency and had people contacting me. I ended up going until about 8:30pm with only a few breaks. I had a total of 450 contacts before calling it a day.

I then decided to go back in on Sunday for a few hours. I got in at noon and ledt a little after 2 and got an additional 110 contacts for a total of 560! Not bad for my first contest.

Here's the breakout by state for US contacts:


In addition I worked Alaska, Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, England, Germany, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Italy, Puerto Rico, Scotland

The next big task is to get my log and summary sheet ready for submission to the people who run the contest. I'll find out how I placed with other people in my category.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I didn't realize it's been almost a month since my last post.

I can say I've been to my first Dayton Hamvention. Bruce and I made the 8 hour drive there and stayed near the Wright-Patterson Air Force base. I do have to admit the hamfest is huge. 2000+ tailgate spots and 800+ indoor commercial spaces. We walked about 1/3 of the tailgate spots and decided we weren't into it. The indoor arena was most confusing. It felt like the stairwells at Hogwarts. I swear the various halls keep moving and switching. I went with a long list of shopping items and got very little. Bruce and I split for an 80m dipole and put it up at his house. I got a few other things, but nothing really exciting. We spent maybe 6 hours the first day and 2 on the second before we called it quits. It weather didn't help since it was rainy and cold. We did visit the Air Force Museum and various loctions for the Wright brothers. I'm going to book rooms for next year just in case I decide to go.

The airwaves have been pretty dead lately. Everytime I'm at the club, I don't hear much. For some reason I'm also getting a bunch of noise on 20m at home, but I'm thinking this is because the tress are filling in with leaves.

Monday, May 5, 2014

I had a really good time one the radio. I worked the 7QP and New England QSO parties. Hopefully at least one person from each of the worked states will either send a QSL card or do LOTW. Bill (N3WD) also showed me how to work a net. I ended up with 28 conacts from just that.

As usual W1AW was a pain. I got Nevada without a problem, but when you have a state like Connecticut which is close, it's hard to work them unless you get them on 40m+ bands. I heard them loud and clear on 80m, but they were in a range that I don't have previledges. I saw they were on 40m yesterday, so I went up to the club and got them.

My total for the weekend was 80 contacts. 28 states and 9 contries.

The W1AW QSO party moves to Nebraska this week. Only one state and far away, so hopefully it'll be easy to get.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I had a really good weekend on the radio. I went into the club to kill a few hour before meeting friends for dinner, and found Florida has their QSO party. All I had to do is start at the bottom of the 20m band, make a contact, move up a little to the next. Switzerland also had a contact going, so I worked a few there. Trying to get W1AW in NJ and NH was a pain, but I worked them as well on 40m. It's amazing how working stations further away is so much easier than the close one. It's all in propagation.

This coming weekend brings 15-20 QSO parties all at once, so it'll be a long weekend while I try to work as many states as possibl. I'm going to try and complete the ARRL's Worked All States (WAS). The problem is you need to have confirmed contacts. This means you have to get the other station to either update LOTW or respond with the QSL card.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

First off I'll start by wishing Ally Nisenoff a happy 15th birthday

The past week has been a bit frustrating on the radio side. The bands have been tough. I had some friends stop in the club on Saturday and I couldn't bring much up. Normally you can get Europe, but nada. Even with the NM and GA QSO parties, they were tough to hear. I did complete the Trifecta of MA, VA and PR for the W1AW QSO party. It seemed the only way to get them was on 40m. Hopefully this week will be better.

Monday, April 6, 2014

The 2014 Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest is in the bag. I helped out on Friday night for about 7 hours and went back on Saturday with friends to look around. I only bought a few things. Not too much new stuff floating around the hamfest. I did see someone trying to sell a TRS-80 5.25" floppy drive. I was tempted to buy it for the memories since the TRS-80 was the first computer I ever owned.

Starting tomorrow at 8PM, the ARRL Centennial QSO party moves to Massachusetts and Virginia. I will say that Virginia will be a challenge since they're so close. I had a heck of a time trying to get Pennsylvania yesterday. Somehow I lucked out on the 40m band and head them loud and clear.

Friday, April 4, 2014

This weeks ARRL Centennial QSO party states are Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The Greater Baltimore Hamboree and Computerfest is this Saturday at the Maryland State Fairgounds in Timonium. I'll be there tonight to help with the set up then again tomorrow to walk through.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I've been a bit remiss in updated the blog... Sorry

I finally got my radio room access for W3FT, so I can use their radios and antennas. I'm still not comfortable running the amp/manual tuner, so I'm just using the 100w radio by itself. They just purchased a Yaesu FTDX-3000 so that should be interesting to use. I also plan to take the KX3 with me one day and run it off either the 80m dipole or beam antenna.

With access to the radio room, I've been able to reach into Europe for contacts. I got Russia, England, Slovinia, Kuwait and Bahrain to name a few. I like the nice quick contact where you exchange call signs and sign strengths. I'm not into the chit-chat type contacts.

Once interesting contact was using the KX3 I managed an RTTY contact in Poland. I don't really hear much from Europe at home because of the antenna, but it worked pretty well. I'm not sure if the fact it was snowing at the time had anything to do with it.

As I mentioned earlier, I've had issues with RF screwing around with the computer and blowing UPSs. I installed a 1:1 Balun outside and so far no more issues. Now hopefully I didn't just jinx myself.

This week's states for the ARRL Centennial QSO party are Iowa and Vermont.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Not a whole lot going on in the radio world this past week. I was rearranging the radio setup this afternoon and noticed that one of the wires on the power cable between the radio and amp pulled out. I sent an e-mail off you Elecraft to see if they're repair or replace the cable. In the meantime, I went back to using the original cable that came with the radio.

As usual, I try to work the ARRL Centennial stations. I tried Arizona Wednesday and never got through. I think I screwed up. They were running split mode (separate freq. for TX and RX), and I had the radio set to run that way. I think I may have reset the radio and knocked it out of split mode which means I was transmitting on the wrong frequency. I did get through to Ohio on RTTY this evening.

I stopped into BARC last night and helped them get ready for the Hamfest coming up next month. I also check and found out that my key fob for the building will now open the radio room which means I can now use their radios/antennas. I did promise not to use the amp/tuner until I'm sure I know what the heck I'm doing.

I got a very strange call this evening. The phone rang about 8pm and the person said they were a ham radio operator in Owings Mills and he had a radiogram for me. A radiogram is a message the is sent over the airwaves and then a local operator will deliver the message to the end recipient. It was from Patricia (WB5NKD) in Oklahoma basically encouraging radio operators to become part of the radio rely. This is used in times of emergency and where regular communications may not be available. I'm sort of torn between this being informative or spam.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I received my KXPA100 amp last week. Pretty easy to set up with the KX3 and I can now push up to 100w output. Realistically I can't do more than 50w because of proximity of people to the antenna.

(click to enlarge)
Here's a picture of my radio set up.
Equipment from left to right:
- Elecraft KX3 Multiband Radio
- MFJ-260C Dummy Load
- Elecraft KXPA100 amplifier
- Alinco 35amp Power Supply

Monday, March 3, 2014

I made a few contacts this weekend during the ARRL DXCC SSB contest. With only 12 watts it's just not worth trying to get through the pile up. I made contacts with Costa Rica, Curacao (2), Montserrat, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Barbados (2) and the Bahamas.

To try and get out there more, I ordered the KXPA100 100w amplifier which should be here tomorrow. Because of FCC regulations that require you to do a RF study if you exceed 50w PEP, I'm not going to push it above 50w. I also managed to blow up my second UPS. Even though I didn't have the radio plugged into it, the second I hit transmit on the 10m band, it made a loud pop and died. I'm guessing it was RF that got into it. I need to get farrite beads before I bother replacing it. Luckily it was purchased from Costco so I was able to return it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I submitted my log online for the NAQP RTTY contest this past weekend. They allow you to upload it in a format online, but HRD doesn't provide the right information, so I had to use Access and manually massage the file into the correct format.

Starting tonight at 6:00PM EST, the ARRL Centenial QSO stations will be Washington and Kansas.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I was finally able to score the W1AW/8 station in Michigan using CW (morse code).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

I completed my first contest which was the North American QSO Party (RTTY). Overall I was impressed with the contacts I was able to make. I did learn I need to be more careful when I enter the log information since I screwed up two of the call signs. I used the Elecraft utility to send/receive the RTTY and Ham Radio Deluxe for logging. It's a pain since I had to manually enter the frequency information. I need to get DM-780 up and running once I get a sound card for the computer.

Longest Contact: 5,110 miles
Shortest Contact: 443 miles
Total Contacts: 26
Farthest Worked (West): Las Vegas, NV
Farthest Worked (South): San Fernando, Chile
Farthest Worked (North): Ontario, Canada

Here are my results for the contest:
CE4SFG Chile 2014/02/23 02:23 20m 14101900 RTTY
AI6YL/7 United States 2014/02/23 02:09 20m 14100400 RTTY
N2BJ United States 2014/02/23 01:45 40m 7064600 RTTY
WA7LNW United States 2014/02/23 01:30 20m 14104000 RTTY
KP4JRS Puerto Rico 2014/02/23 01:10 20m 14080400 RTTY
N0TA United States 2014/02/23 00:51 20m 14095800 RTTY
AD5XD United States 2014/02/23 00:48 20m 14101500 RTTY
AB5K United States 2014/02/23 00:34 20m 14089500 RTTY
KN5O United States 2014/02/23 00:31 20m 14089200 RTTY
N5ZM United States 2014/02/22 22:20 20m 14093200 RTTY
VE3CX Canada 2014/02/22 22:16 20m 14092700 RTTY
W7CT United States 2014/02/22 22:01 20m 14084500 RTTY
N4ZZ United States 2014/02/22 21:53 20m 14080000 RTTY
W4HOD United States 2014/02/22 21:30 20m 14095400 RTTY
N9TF United States 2014/02/22 20:29 20m 14093300 RTTY
WW4LL United States 2014/02/22 20:25 20m 14089200 RTTY
***A5AU*** Bhutan 2014/02/22 20:19 20m 14081600 RTTY
N0EKM United States 2014/02/22 20:14 20m 14088000 RTTY
KU5B United States 2014/02/22 20:11 20m 14088400 RTTY
NX5O United States 2014/02/22 19:38 20m 14086300 RTTY
W5UE United States 2014/02/22 19:34 20m 14085100 RTTY
K9WX United States 2014/02/22 19:25 20m 14099600 RTTY
KK4DSD United States 2014/02/22 19:19 20m 14091700 RTTY
KB5JC United States 2014/02/22 19:00 20m 14082500 RTTY
WB4YDL United States 2014/02/22 18:45 20m 14093700 RTTY
W1AW/4 United States 2014/02/22 18:31 17m 18106000 RTTY

Wednesday, February 18, 2014

This week's ARRL Centennial QSO states are Florida and Michigan (my home state). I managed to pick up Florida on 20m SSB and RTTY, but haven't been able to hear Michigan yet.
© 2015, Leonard Nisenoff - N3AEG