Friday, August 3, 2012

Tropo the day before the contest!

This weekend is the UHF contest, and of course, we had a bit of tropo the nigh before! I missed most of it, even after N1ZZN texted me. I was busy watching "All the President's Men".

Anyhow, I ran downstairs and worked three stations: N4HB, KD8UD and KD4AA, all in FM17. I didn't hear any of the beacons, so this seemed like a very narrow path. The APRS map isn't detailed enough, but gives and ok representation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Massive Es 2M opening on 7/24/2012

I got home from work Tuesday, 7/24/2012, to an email from Bart, W9JJ, saying there was a 2M Sporadic E opening on 2M. I literally leapt from the couch and flew down the stairs to the shack. I turned the rig on and immediately heard AG4V in Tennessee, grid square EM55! I quickly worked him, just as he faded. That QSO was 1060 miles on 2M!

There were reports of guys working from New England all over the Memphis, TN area. The last two stations I heard were WB5AFY in TX and another station in AK. I wasn't able to work the Texas station, he was just too weak and he was saying the W2/W3's were S9+. He was about 4x2 here.

The best DX I've heard so far was Dave, K1WHS, working Al Ward, W5LUA in TX (FN43 to EM13, roughly 1500 miles).

I did manage to grab a screen shot of the APRS map before it faded into history:

Friday, July 20, 2012

CQ VHF WW Contest this weekend!

This weekend is the CQ VHF WW contest. Contest start is 1800 UTC (2pm EDT), end time is 2100 UTC Sunday (5pm EDT). This contest is 50MHz and 144MHz only, the rules can be found here.

I plan on operating a good portion of the weekend.

Dick Bean, K1HC, and his son Kevin, KB1EAN, will be roving up into some rare grids up in Maine. Here is the email he sent to the Morning 205 report:

I am planning a Rover effort up to Maine for the CQ WW VHF 
contest with my son, Kevin, KB1EAN.  
7/21: FN53 (Pemaquid Point), FN54 (overnight in Bangor)
7/22:  FN 54 (Bangor), FN64 (lunch at Helen's in Machias - 
can't miss that), FN 66 (Houlton), FN56 (Oakley), FN55 (just 
south of Patten), then overnight again in Bangor before we 
head back to MA. 
I will have 100 watts on 6 and 2 meters (SSB/CW) with my 
Kenwood TSB-2000/RC-2000 and loop antennas so we will 
operate while in motion with one of us driving and the other 
operating.  It's our first Rover attempt so I'm sure we'll learn a 
lot and eat some great lobster as well!
Dick, K1HC

See you on the air!

Video from 2012 NEWS BBQ

Last saturday I attended the Northeast Weak Signal Group annual BBQ and Microwave MDS test session. It's a great time, we almost always have great weather and the location is perfect. Lots of goodies for sale, I picked up a number of Items.

Here is a quick video I took of the microwave setups that people brought to test. I almost got irradiated by some 24GHz signals :)

Edit:  I also did a similar video back in 2007, that video is a bit longer and shows more of the setup and operation of the MDS testing. That video can be found here:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

2M Aurora to the Midwest

I worked a few stations on 2M CW via Aurora today. I heard many stations, but only ended up working three in grids EN60, EN70 and FN46. Here is a video of N9XG in EN60.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Upcoming VHF/UHF/Microwave Events

Upcoming VHF/UHF/Microwave events:

7/21-22/2012:  CQ WW VHF Contest - I'll be operating from the home QTH in FN42la

8/4-5/2013: ARRL UHF Contest - I'll be up at K1WHS in Maine

8/18-19/2012:  ARRL 10GHz cumulative contest - first weekend

9/8-9/2012:  ARRL September VHF QSO Party - I'll be up at K1WHS in Maine

9/15-16-2012: ARRL 10GHz cumulative contest - second weekend

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Being too reliant on technology...

The last few days I've been watching the APRS VHF Propagation map only to see the bands completely dead. Usually when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is grab my iPad and look at propagation. This morning at 6am I did, saw the band dead, and decided not to get out of bed just yet. Just then, I heard a voice coming from my basement. I realized I never shut off my K3 the previous day, and when I went to investigate I found Joh, W1XX, calling a station down south, the band was open! I jumped on and made a few contacts with W4CLJ in FM18 and KD4AA in FM17. I then came to my senses and put the coffee on!
After the first cup I then ran with a number of stations. At one point, there were 4-5 frequencies in us, and it almost looked like 20m! The WA1ZMS beacon was pounding in at S8 and I was even hearing the W3CCX beacon, which is a first for this location.

The point is, I was relying on the APRS map to tell me if the band was open and I just assumed it was working! I should have been sitting in front of the radio, regardless of what the map was telling me.

I managed to get in contact with the fine gentleman who managed the map and he was able to get it fixed immediately.

I continued to work a number of other stations over the course of a few hours. This is the final log:

W4CLJ  FM18     394 miles
KD4AA  FM17    441 miles
KG4HOT FM07   522 miles
K1DQV  FM19    354 miles
K2DZM  FN20     228 miles
N4HB   FM17uu   400 miles
N3RG   FM29ki    282 miles
KO4YC  FM17fm  464 miles

Three new grids for me!

N3RG came on frequency and was very loud, here is a quick video of my QSO with him:

My only regret for today was that I'm still employed and my boss expects me to show up to work!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer 2012 2M tropo continues

I arrived home Friday evening around 8:30 from my weeks long vacation to discover that 2M was open, and apparently, was open all day. I turned on the station and within a few minutes worked N3MK in FM27 and K3CNH in FM28. Both were loud, S7, and fairly consistent. The band was building as the evening went on, finally both N3MK and K3CNH were S9+10 by around 10:30pm. Here is a video of N3MK calling:

I had SpectraVue running with my SDR-IQ on the IF output of the K3. Here you can see how loud N3MK, K3CNH and the K4MHZ beacon were:

And finally, this is what the APRS map looked like.

My only regret was that there weren't more stations to work.

de N1JFU

Thursday, June 28, 2012

6M opening to Newfoundland

I worked VO1NM up in Newfoundland this evening. There was a larger opening to Europe earlier in the day, but by the time I got home from work it was already starting to fade. I heard an HA3 (Hungary), but he was very weak.

I took a quick video of my QSO with VO1NM, he was S9+20 at times. He sounded as loud as a local. After me, you can barely hear WZ1V work him as well. Ron was off the back of the beam, so not as loud as he normally would have been.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday 6M opening into Europe

This past Friday, the 22nd of June, there was a fantastic opening into Europe during the evening hours. It seemed to be favoring the British Isles, as I have never worked so many G's in my life! A fair amount of them were CW, as sloppy as my skill are.

Here is the final tally:


I also heard an F8 towards the end, but never managed to work him. The Eu openings seem to favor EA and CT from this location, so it was quite a nice surprise to hear that far north.

Monday, June 18, 2012

K4MHZ 2M beacon heard in FN42la

At around 10pm local time, I started hearing the K4MHZ/B in FM25 in Hatteras, NC on 144.300. This is somewhat of an amazing feat for me, since I have such a relatively small antenna system. I'm only running 12 elements up around 25 feet. This beacon is nearly 800km from my location in FN42la.

Here is a short Youtube video that I took of the audio.

This is what the APRS propagation logger looked like at the time. The beacon is basically at the very tip of the large red lobe.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

June VHF Contest 2012

This past weekend I operated up at K1WHS in FN43mj. We decided that it would be a laid back weekend and we would do a few repair jobs and take it easy operating. The weather was absolutely perfect the whole weekend and we had a great time. We several cocktail hours and did some pretty good damage on a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. It was a small crew, just 4-5 of us. Dave, KM3T, came up for his first time on Saturday and had a lot of fun working 2m and a big part of the 6m opening. 6 was open for a long period on Saturday and we were working guys all over. We called it quits early (11pm) and some of them started back up around 6am. I decided to sleep it and didn't wake up 'till 8am. We started right back into relaxation mode, only sitting in front of the 222 and 432 positions for 20-30 minutes at a time. 6 would open up for a little bit here and there, and then we ended up working a really nice opening to Europe. Art, K1BX, worked over 60 stations and numerous grids well into eastern europe. When that died down, 6 was really slow, so we decided to go out to lunch. We got back around 2:30pm and 6 was still dead, but soon opened up in a big way.

At the end of the day we had 1200+ Q's and 305 grids on 6m alone. Our score was somewhere north of 750k.

The only downer for the weekend was that we didn't have any microwaves. The rotor for the microwave stack self-destructed sometime last year and Dave had to take it down off the tower on Saturday. He thinks it can be rebuilt, we'll be back on the microwaves for September.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dayton 2012

I just got back from my annual pilgrimage to Dayton, Ohio, for Hamvention 2012. I flew in on Thursday and spent the afternoon with a few friends at the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. If you have never been, this museum is fantastic and never gets old. This year they added some recently declassified spy satellites!

We were blessed with good weather this year, if not almost too hot! Not a single cloud either Friday or Saturday, both days were in the upper 80's.

There was lots of good junk for sale, but the only major purchase I made was a Tektronix 2465 scope. I happen to be hanging out with a scope aficionado and he gave me the pros and cons of the 2465. It sounded well within my level of risk and I managed to find one for fairly short money. I have to give a lot of credit to Alan, W2AEW, for influencing me on making this purchase. I've been watching his Youtube channel, he has some really great videos on how to use your scope. He has a 2465 and I've fallen in love with it while watching his demos.  

Stay tuned for another update on my PCB design.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A new project is born

In 2011 I bought a new Elecraft K3 HF/6m rig. I had a great time using it on 6m last year during the Sporadic E season. Over the course of the last year I started thinking about interfacing transverters for 2m and above to the K3. I noticed that Elecraft sold an external switching box that would allow me to control an IF relay for switching the transverters per-band. The issue with using this box (KRC-2) is that you end up having to sacrifice the ability to switch external relays for the HF bands. I thought it would be interesting to to see if I could use 1 HF radio for all bands, 160m-10GHz.

More to come...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Almost a whole year....

I just noticed that it's been close to a year since I last made a post, and the last post was noting that I hadn't made any posts in a long time :)

I'll aim to correct that in 2012. I'm working on a workshop/shack rebuild, I should have lots of pictures to post soon.

Yaesu Vertex FTL-7011 information

(This post is really for the archive, for anyone searching for info on the FTL-7011 FTL-2011 and FTL-1011)

Recently I dug up an old FTL-7011 UHF commercial radio to use with a ClearCom Radio interface box. This allows the UHF handhelds we use on productions shoots to talk to the production intercom. Anyone on the Intercom system just needs to hit the call button to key the external radio.

I started looking for information on the pinout of the microphone jack and found a forum posting that ended up being false information. I think I know how it happened. There is a schematic floating around the internet for an FTL-2011. One of the main board connectors had 8 pins, and looked to be like RJ-45 mic pinout. It wasn't, that was just a main board connector. Here is what I found:

Pin 8 is the hook indicator line, attached to the metal mic hook.
Pin 6 is 5v
Pin 5 is the Mic+
Pin 4 is the Mic-
Pin 3 is 9v, presumably for the pre-amp circuit for the desk mic (it wasn't connected on my hand mic)

Pins 6 and 4 need to be shorted to PTT.

For power adjustments I found that the schematic was also wrong for the FTL-7011. The low power adjustment ended up being VR2002 and the high power adjustment was VR2003.

I set low to 5w and high to 10w. The radio measured a max of 21W, but it's old and most likely abused.