Tuesday, January 5, 2016

If you build it they will come

That is the radio signals and contacts will come.

For the new ham getting on HF, putting up an antenna can become an obstacle that stands in their way.  HF antennas take space and some bands taking lots of space. There are all sorts of opinions of what is best.  There are all sorts of technical detail such as insulators, wire type, baluns, feedline, etc.  And then there is the problem of where to put it and how to support it.

Often this can cause a sort of paralysis.

So where to start?

A good place to start is to recognize that there is no perfect antenna and that any antenna is better than none.  Also recognize that it can be fun to try something and change it for something else.  The basic construction materials for antennas (wire, feedline, rope) can always be re-purposed from one under performing antenna experiment into another hopefully better antenna.

Also recognize that for basic HF operation with 100 watts, there isn't a need to go overboard with insulators, baluns, etc.  A piece of wood or a PVC plumbing fitting with a couple holes will suffice for a center insulator.  A nylon rope will provide enough insulation at the ends. 

When looking at where to put the antenna keep in mind that dipoles are very tolerant of bends.  When running 100 watts, if you use insulated wire, the wire can be looped over tree branches.  There is no need to make it sit out in completely open space between supports and strait runs don't make much difference.  You will be amazed at what antennas will tolerate.

Don't worry about getting it in the best position getting it highest.  Get something, try it, and improve on it next time.  Inverted V antennas are a great alternative to dipoles as they only require one support.

Don't worry about making an antenna work for all bands.  Focus on one and like 40m which is a good band for some day operation and some night operation.  20m or 15m for more distance although more daytime oriented.  20m or 15m also can be easier because of their smaller size.

The ARRL Antenna book can be a great source of ideas as well as technical reference.

Commercial antennas, while perhaps not as much fun as building your own, can let you get started and some models are multi-band.

Those magic boxes called antenna tuners can also be helpful, but a word of caution here.  While they can match an antenna and make your rig happy, as well as being used in many circumstances without significant degradation, they can also be mis-used.  If used the wrong way such as correcting very high mismatch when using coax can result in most of your power ending dissipated in the tuner and feedline rather than radiated.  For the beginner it is best to use a tuner with commercial antennas designed to work with a tuner such as the (G5RV) or only use the tuner match to antennas that are mismatched no more than 5:1.

In the end though, you can't work them if you don't put up an antenna.  So don't angst over what is best, just put something up to start with, use it, and improve upon it.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Street Lamp QRM?

After many months with severe buzzing on the HF bands in the evenings it looks like there is a promising lead finally. 

The buzzing has been S6 to S9 with the worst being 40m.  It has been especially maddening as sometimes it would randomly stop and the clarity would be amazing.

But what was causing this?  Power lines someplace seemed like a culprit, but where?  Driving around trying to find noise peaks from the mobile wasn't to help as the antenna on the car just wasn't as sensitive as the big antennas at the house and the ignition noise was just as strong as the noise being hunted.

A friend then mentioned how he was having bad noise and found it to be the street lamps on his road.  That after getting the power company to service the lights the bands were once again quiet for him.

So what is up with the lights?  Apparently it is normal during turn on of those popular yellow/orange street lamps for them to make RF noise that lasts a short bit (20 or 40 seconds).

When these lights start to go bad they can sit in a perpetual turning-on state.  They can turn on and as soon as fully on  immediately turn off and then start turning on again.  Or they can sit in a half turned on state.  When neither fully off nor on fully on they make RF noise.

A few days later while listening to 20M in the afternoon with the band sounding clear, the buzzing suddenly started.  A quick look out the window shows it was starting to get dark out.  The street lamp in front of the house was still out but it was that time of day street lights would be turning on.  After 20 seconds or so the buzzing stopped.  Was that a street lamp turning on?  Not sure, none within view of the house are on.  The buzzing starts again, a quick look out the front window and the street lamp in front of the house is just starting to turn on.  Shortly thereafter the buzzing stops, another look at the street lamp and it looks fully on.

Back to the radio, more buzzing starts but is fainter, perhaps a lamp further away?  More listening and the pattern keeps repeating, sometimes stronger, sometime weaker, sometimes overlapping.  But it is a buzzing that occurs for a 10s of seconds and then goes away.  Yes it makes sense, it is the different street lamps coming on in the area. 

Eventually a buzz picks up and doesn't go away expect for the occasional few seconds.  Perhaps this is a faulty light?  It is now dark out, all lights should be on.  The street lamps that can see from the house are all fully on, but are there any in the area not working right?  Its time for a drive.

During a drive around the neighborhood reveals three street lamps stuck in a half on condition, one turning off every time it turns on and two completely off.  A total of 6 faulty lights within a mile.  One of the ones completely off is behind the house and if that is making noise that could be the biggest culprit.

With the pole number recorded for the problem lights and reported to the electric company now we just need to see how long it takes for them to get fixed and see if this resolves the nighttime buzz. 

Keeping our fingers crossed on this one. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

What is in your GO KIT?



University of Pittsburgh has an online disaster preparedness https://www.coursera.org/learn/d​isaster-preparedness

candles, medicine, flashlight, paper , pen

what else do you have?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

QST - YL on front cover KM4HFY

This is wonderful that a YL is on the front cover of QST.

KM4HFY = Megan Brown via W4MSA - Martha Muir

send W4MSA email congratulating Megan and Martha

Let's get more YL's on the front cover of QST.

QRV - we are ready

Friday, June 26, 2015

EME net

for those of you just getting interested in EME - Moonbounce operation,
there is a net operation every weekend where you can obtain additional
information or make schedules. The net starts aprox 1500 GMT on 14.345 Mhz
with 432 and above EME. It is followed by the 2 mtr EME net at aprox 1600/1700 GMT.
EME scheduling from the nets is done with the SKD program. SKD is freeware
developed by W9HLY, N1BUG and AF9Y. Here's the latest version: skd87a.zip (181K Bytes)

The data files for SKD87a are updated every Monday Evening by Brian Manns, W3EME.
You can contact him at w3eme@mtwirefree.net for automatic emailing each week or
you can download it here: vhfsched.skd (aprox 90K Bytes)

taken from af9y.com

Thursday, June 11, 2015

YL - M0HZT net 7.175 BYLARA net

Wednesday, Jenni M0HZT is starting new nets on 40m on 7.175 +/- QRM

from 07.00 – 0900, 11.00 – 13.00 and 20.00 – 2200, using callsign M0BYL

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Raspberry Pi and Amateur Radio (Apps and more)

have a raspberry Pi or want a raspberry PI?

this is the best thing going for now. it is a full blown computer on a 2x2 board
HD audio
HD Video

1GB of memory and FAST

and very little $$$ compared to what you are used to!

here is a link to check it out:rasp pi

software list for ham radio is XXXXXXX

then i will point you to what you can do with it with Ham radio

here are some I found on dxzone
Hamnet on a Raspberry Pi - Initial set up of Broadband Hamnet on a Raspberry Pi....
GNU Radio on Raspberry Pi 2 - Taking the Raspberry Pi 2 for a Test Drive with GNU Radio. Installing ...
ADS-B flight tracker with Raspberry Pi - Build and run your own ADS-B receiver for 100 USD with a Raspberry Pi...
Raspberry Pi SDR Receiver - Get started with SDR using a Raspberry Pi and inexpensive RTL-SDR tune...
D-Star radio access point with Raspberry Pi - Getting your Raspberry PI up and running your D-Star radio kit. This w...
FM broadcast transmitter Raspberry Pi - This simple hack turns your Raspberry Pi into a powerful FM transmitte...
Raspberry Pi WSPR beacon - How to build a simple WSPR beacon using the Raspberry Pi for the trans...
RemoteQTH with Raspberry - Software running on the Raspberry PI, Control up to 8 arduino rotators...
SDR Server with Raspberry Pi - Setting up a Raspberry Pi as a SDR Server with RTL-2832U USB dongle ...
WSPR beacon on Raspberry Pi - Settng up a 40 meter WSPR beacon based on Raspberry Pi by VA3PAW.

ham radio/raspberrey pi>hamradioscience

to get a raspberry pi to work with linux (raspbian) the drivers were already there for many ham radio apps

to get the audio working for raspberry pi and linux:

install alsa a mp3 tool and wav to mp3 conversion:

> sudo apt-get install alsa-utils
> sudo apt-get install mpg321
> sudo apt-get install lame

enable sound module, then reboot
> lsmod snd-bcm2835
> sudo modprobe snd-bcm2835

then just use
>aplay xxxx.wav

there are a few Ham Radio Linux distributions for Raspberry pi:

1. KB1OIQ Andy ham radio for linux>KB1OIQ
2. raspberryconnect>RASPBERRYCONNECT
3. raspberrypi.org>RASPBERRYPI
4. ubuntumate> ubuntumate
5. linux.org.au>australian linux group

for digital modes ham radio and linux you need a new radio or some type of tnc or analog to digital converter.

so there are a few: Rigblaster - by west mountain radio or signlalink by www.tigertronics.com/slusbmain.htm

Ham radio deluxe is only for windows you CAN run wine but good luck people say it works ok
but I prefer not to run wine ( I might as well run windows)
so programs i would suggest:
FLDIGI for most digital modes CW, rtty, psk
ECHOLINK echolink
FREEDV>that allows any SSB radio to be used for low bit rate digital voice.
MMTTY > rtty
MMSSTV> slow scan tv
WSTOOLS>Linux version of the JT44 and FSK441 communications protocols, usually described together as WSJT.
ICOM> This program controls ICOM radio transceivers and receivers with the CI-V option.

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