XE1MEX Satellite DXCC

dxcc-logoDuring this busy Field Day weekend, I received an email from Alex XE1MEX reporting that he has achieved DXCC via Satellite. This is quite an accomplishment since he made most (or all?) of the contacts via LEO satellites. It turns out that I have worked XE1MEX several times on the FM birds from home and from PJ4 (Bonaire) and HR3 (Honduras). Although I have not been on the OSCAR satellites lately, a few years ago it was a major focus of my ham radio activity…resulting in VUCC on Satellite. I made it a point to activate rare grids and countries whenever I could and it was tons of fun!

It is great to hear that Alex achieved his goal of DXCC. I really appreciate that he took the time to thank the hams that helped him get it done by activating the various countries. It brings back memories for me…maybe I should dust off that Arrow II antenna and go find an island to activate!

73, Bob K0NR

Dear friends,

Today, I am celebrating the submission of my application for my DXCC Satellite award !.
All of you made a great contribution to make my dream came true and I really appreciate your support to achieve one of my important goals as amateur satellite DX operator.

All of you were operating out of your home when we had our satellite contact. On most of the cases, I did not get any other contact with those DXCC entities afterwards; therefore without your cooperation I would be still far away of achieving my long awaited goal (almost 10 years working/confirming):

Ramón, XE1KK> HC8/XE1KK, KP2/W1RSV, PJ7/VE7RKK (and others…!)
Drew, KO4MA> FS/KO4MA, KG4MA, VP2EAG
Allen, N5AFV> VP2V/N5AFV, J79AFM (and others…!)
Bob, K0NR> PJ4/K0NR, HR3/KB0CY
Neil, VA7DX> 3DA0WC, 7P8NK
Yoshi, JF6BCC> T88IY, KH2GR
Vladi, LZ3XV> 5N0EVR
Rafael, XE1GRR> XF4DL
Dave, W2VV> VP5/W2VV
Wayne, W9AE> FG/W9AE
Jerry, K5OE> 9Y/K5OE
Neil, W6FOG> W6FOG/6Y5
Nori, JE1PLR> A22BP
Bill, N2COP> N2COP/C6A
Francisco, CT1EAT> CT3/CT1EAT
George, DU1KIR> DU1/GM4COK
Rolf, DK2ZF> EA6/DK2ZF
Wayne, N5WD> V31WD
John, N8QGC> N8QGC/VP9
Jean, F6CBC> FM/F6CBC
My appreciation too for the satellite operators of the DX-peditions:
GB4FUN, VP6DIA, TZ6RD, 5K0Z and K5D

THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO ALL OF YOU AND BEST 73 !!
Alex, XE1MEX

Summits On The Air Video

I’ve been thinking a bit about “Trail Friendly Radios” for VHF in preparing an article for QRP Quarterly. I came across this video about choosing radios for use in the Summits on the Air (SOTA) program. SOTA is a fun program from Europe that has found some interest in North America. The basic idea is an awards program that encourages operations from the various summits in a region. This has some similarity to the Colorado 14er Event and its associated awards.

Anyway, here is the video by Richard G3CWI:

This Spewed Out of the Internet #5

0511-0701-3118-0930Catching up on the fine material spewing out of the web. Remember, if it came from the internet it must be true.

Newsflash: The DTV transition has happened and the world has survived. It just doesn’t matter, because it is television. To quote Joey from Friends, “it is a moo point….a cow’s opinion.”

Brian Wood, W0DZ, has opened a ham radio store in Loveland, CO. Good luck with it, Brian.

The Fi-Ni Report says there is a movement to regulate the speed of Morse Code. Really funny. I am not sure who is writing this stuff but their mind is sufficiently warped….which I like.

Did you miss the ARRL June VHF QSO Party? It was a party. Excellent 6 Meter propagation from Colorado to most parts of North America.

In the What’s Up with That Department, Riley Hollingsworth K4ZDH is now on the QRZ staff. I guess qrz.com is serious about cleaning up its act….they brought in the enforcer. I am a fan of Riley’s and best of luck to qrz.com.

From the This is Stupid Department, I came across this blog posting about teaching Fortran as a programming language in college. This is totally nuts. Maybe criminal.

I’ve been trying out Verizon’s broadband internet service, using my tethered mobile phone. I have to say this is pretty sweet, even if it costs $50/month. I was looking for a way to get internet up at the cabin in the mountains. No DSL or cable there, so the choices are limited. The Verizon signal is acceptable (could be better) but actually seems more usable for data than voice. (I guess we are more tolerant of dropouts on data feeds than on voice.)

73, Bob K0NR

Flag Pole Radio Tower

img_23341I have gotten into the habit of taking photos of interesting radio sites. This all started as part of my general tendency to visit mountain summits to play ham radio. It turns out that for some reason, there are quite a few radio installations in high spots. Hmmm, imagine that.

So I started taking photos of the more interesting ones. One thing lead to another and I now have a photo collection of lots of different towers, antennas and radio sites. Fortunately, my spouse thinks this behavior is cute…other people find it a bit crazy.

So I am driving west on Highway 24 and I see this really big flag pole at Lake George, CO. It just doesn’t look quite right— a bit too fat. I drive closer to get a better look and, sure enough, it is really a cell site with an antenna disguised as a flag pole. (This is at the US Forest Service work camp. )

Clever design, I think.

73, Bob K0NR

Jeep Wrangler Radio Install

One of my toys these days is a Jeep Wrangler (TJ) which we use for playing in the mountains. I finally got around to installing some ham radio equipment in it a few weeks ago. I mostly wanted to have good old 2 Meter FM – the amateur radio utility mode - in the vehicle. These days, it makes sense to include 70 cm (440 MHz) as well.

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The Jeep Wrangler

The first priority was to pull the old AM/FM receiver and put in a new Sony CDX-GT430. Crutchfield supplied excellent installation instructions and soon I had the center portion of the Jeep dash pulled out and the receiver installed. This work gave me valuable experience in pulling the Jeep’s dashboard apart. Not surprisingly, the Wrangler disassembles quite nicely with just a few screws here and there and a handful of those snap-in-place trim fittings to undo.

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Sony AM/FM/CD Receiver installed

The next job was to get a dual-band Yaesu FT-7800R 2M/70 cm transceiver installed. This is a one-frequency-at-a-time dualbander, very easy to use with all the required FM features. Originally, I thought I would just bolt the unit down in a convenient spot and call it good. As I surveyed the Jeep, I realized that I could do much better using the detachable control head approach (using YSK-7800 separation kit). The control head was mounted to the main plastic piece that covers the center of the dash using a pair of angle brackets from the hardware store. The radio box went under the back seat… somewhat protected from weather when the top is down and definitely not in the lower part of the Jeep floor. With the hardtop off, a hard rain can cause a small lake to accumulate inside the Wrangler. (I know from experience.)

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Yaesu FT-7800R control head

The most challenging decision turned out to be what antenna to use and where to put it. Mobile antennas are always a trade off between radiating effectiveness, ease of installation and overhead clearance. The Wrangler has a removable hardtop, made of fiberglass. This presents two problems: the fiberglass makes for a lousy ground plane and there will be times when we go topless. So a roof mount was not looking very attractive. Another choice was on the spare tire mount, which hangs off the back of the vehicle.  I’ve seen a few installations like this that look good. It looked like a more complicated installation and I was not sure how well the antenna would radiate off the back of the vehicle.

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Side view of FT-7800 control head with microphone installed

In the end, I chose to mount a short dual-band antenna on the hood near the driver’s side, using an NMO-style mount with one of the L-shaped trunk mount brackets. This is not the best location for antenna efficiency but it would be “good enough” for most use. The antenna is a 1/4-wave on 2 Meters, about 19 inches long, also tunes to 70 cm. The low profile has the added advantage of not getting pounded down by tree branches on the back roads. And I can take the hard top off without changing the antenna configuration. Did you spot the antenna in the first photo?

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Dualband 2M/70 cm NMO antenna

The Jeep had a obvious rubber plug that I poked through to get the DC power and antenna connections through the engine firewall. Per the usual guidance from the transceiver manufacturer, I connected the power cable directly to the 12-volt battery (with fuses in line).  The antenna seems to pick up a bit of ignition noise due to the close proximity to the engine, but it is tolerable.

Off to the mountains to have fun.

73, Bob K0NR

Recovering from Hamcon Colorado

hamcon_logo_09It has been a few days since I left Hamcon Colorado at Estes Park, but the glow hasn’t worn off yet! What a great event!

Joyce K0JJW and I drove up to Estes on Thursday night so we could help with the final setup on Friday morning. Brian N5ZGT (ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director) gave a fine keynote address on Friday night. This was followed by Harold Kramer WJ1B, COO of the ARRL. Harold gave a Powerpoint tour of ARRL headquarters, which I found interesting.

The real show started on Saturday with tons of excellent technical and operating forums. I admit to some bias here as I did a presentation on Test Equipment for Amateur Radio and did a team presentation on the Colorado 14er Event. I attended a presentation by Mike Higgins K6AER on Lightning Safety. Mike did a great job of explaining proper grounding of an amateur station based on his commercial experience. Virgil Leenerts W0INK talked about switching power supplies, also an interesting presentation. Mike Gruber W1MG (EMC Engineer at ARRL HQ) covered powerline noise…a topic that has gotten quite a bit of my attention lately. Mike (W1MG) and I (plus a handful Technical Specialists in the section) staffed the Doctor is IN booth, answering any and all questions from the convention attendees.  There were plenty of other forums that I could not attend based on other obligations but the feedback I heard was all positive. The only negative comment received was that we should have had a forum or two on contesting (valid feedback).

In between activities, I managed to chat with a number of hams I had not seen in quite a while. It is always good to connect up with old friends. W1AW/0 Special Event station was active…I did not get a chance to operate the station but I did make it a point to work them on 2 Meters with my HT.

We attended the banquet on Saturday night, also a great affair. Yes, it did go a little long but don’t they always? The breakfast on Sunday morning featured Gordon Harman W0RUN speaking about the Desecheo Island DXpedition. Gordon did a fine job mixing in a few tales from Peter I Island.

The attendance of Hamcon was 499, so the size pales in comparison to Dayton (duh). But I think the quality of the venue, the program and the people involved is far superior.

73, Bob

Managing the Social Network

0511-0701-3118-0930I’ve been playing the “social networking” game online for a while now, primarily on linkedin, twitter and facebook. Linkedin has turned out to be quite useful from a work/professional point of view as it has enabled me to connect with people I have worked with in the past and lost contact with. I try to keep it professional and not let much personal and hobby stuff leak onto the site. See my linkedin profile here.

I’ve commented on twitter in a previous post. These little tweets of 140 characters seem to have some usefulness but it has to be carefully managed. Mostly, I follow people that tweet interesting technology or ham radio comments, and I try to do the same in return. I don’t think very many people care to hear about the minutia of my day such as when I leave for work and when I do lunch. You can follow me at www.twitter.com/k0nr , if you’d like.

I had registered on facebook a while ago but pretty much avoided it until recently. I was concerned that my college-aged daughters would accuse me of stalking them. And they did :-)  Lately, though it is clear that facebook has migrated from being a college kid thing to being a mainstream tool. Heck, even my mom is on facebook now.  I use this mostly for family and close friends and try to keep the ham radio stuff from bleeding over there…otherwise I run the risk of all of my family blocking me :-).

I tend to think that facebook has the right formula, since its “status update”  is about the same as a tweet from twitter. But facebook also threads status updates and comments from other users and has a more robust set of privacy options. Also, you can share photos and other applications on facebook. You can do some of this with twitter but it seems like more of a pain to do. Facebook does have some annoying advertisements but they are generally tolerable.

Anyway, that’s how I am handling these super whizzy social networking things. How about you?

73, Bob

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