Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Homebrew Hexbeam at the Shelby Hamfest

I sold a couple of my Hexagonal beam instruction manuals, a Timewave DSP and a Hexbeam Spreader Kit.  For those that want to purchase my Hexagonal beam instruction manual in PDF form, send me an email (to and I will provide payment details.  Those that want a hardbound version will be $25 which includes shipping to CONUS   For an electronic PDF version send me $15 through Paypal   Those that do purchase will be entitled to any updates that I will make to it in electronic form as a PDF file.  The Hexagonal beam was flawless as I worked the Colorado QSO Party with good reports.  SWR at 14.000 MHz was 1.6, 14.200 was at 1.1 and 14.400 MHz was 1.3.  I probably could have lowered the SWR another tenth if I had raised the antenna another 4 feet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homebrew Hexbeam Center Post with Coax Inside PVC Tube

With a little patience this can be done and the photos are here to prove it.  This is for my second hex beam.  The first photo has most of the daisy chained coax inside.  This the connection for 17m.

The second photo shows the long tube ready to be cemented.

The third photo shows the finished 20 meter connection as well as the PL259 to install the feed line.

Here is the assembled centerpost.  The only thing missing is the cap with the eyebolt.  A little silicone caulk to make sure all joints are sealed and this assembly is watertight.

Monday, August 18, 2014

New Confirmations for DXCC All Time New List

#236 A25CE Botswana - Card
#237 ZL7AAA Chatham Islands - Card
#238 NH0J Marianas Islands - LOTW
#239 S01WS Western Sahara - Card
#240 8Q7TS Maldives - Card

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Postman was Good Today

Nice to get 4 pieces of good mail this morning.  After close to a year, I finally got my WPX Certificate shown below:

Also confirmations arrived for Botswana A25CE and Chatham Islands bring my DXCC confirmations to 237.  This also earns me another sticker for CW for 225.  Also in the image below is the confirmation for Sierra Leone 9L1A on 80m.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Confirmation #235 St Helena ZD7VC finally arrived

This was a contact made in October of 2013 when I made my first QSO combining the Hexbeam and the Drake L4B.  As I recall, WM4AA was at home with me helping me raise the Hexbeam.  We saw St. Helena in the cluster and decided to give him a call on SSB.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

234 DXCC Entities Confirmed in LOTW and 5 Band DXCC Status

American Samoa is the latest to confirm for my all time new list.  I still need to ask for confirmation cards for Ghana 9G5ZZ, Maldives, and Taiwan which can bring the total to 237 of the 245 entities I have worked.  The others just seem to refuse to send confirmations despite my having paid money through the OQRS system or by sending green stamps

Among these are Benin, Indonesia, St Helena, Nepal, 

5 band DXCC is also now in sight with 105 entities worked on 80 meters.  Here is how I stand on confirmations

80 meters - 84 confirmed
40 meters - 132 confirmed
20 meters - 140 confirmed
15 meters - 103 confirmed
10 meters - 99 confirmed

Now it is just a matter of waiting for 16 or so more cards to arrive in the mail 

Heavy Duty Heat Sink installed into my KX3

The heavy duty heat sink allows for full power key down for between 300-400% longer time than the standard heat sink before the rig folds back power because of PA over temperature.  This will allow long ragchews on PSK 31 and reduces the drift seen when operating on JT65.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hex Beam at Work Portable for the IARU HF Championship

The G3TXQ design broadband Hexbeam did yeomans work during the 2014 IARU HF Championship.

Here KK4ZJH is posing with my Hexbeam.  We were on a 150 foot high ridge with steep drop offs on either side of the ridge giving us a higher effective height above ground.  Our elevation was 3500 feet.  We were able to work over 480 stations.  Four of the 6 were not experienced contesters.  


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

IARU Contest Summary

Operator             Total CW LSB USB
APJ 147 135 0 12 NY4G
BC 59 0 10 49 KK4PGC
PLC 36 26 10 0 AC4Q
RST 70 0 21 49 KK4HXA
SAC 48 0 39 9 KK4ZJH
WLC 121 121 0 0 N4IQ
TOTAL 481 282 80 119 481

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Two Americas - Lou Holtz Commentary - So Good I Had to Repost It

Subject: Two Americas - Lou Holtz nails it.

The Democrats are right, there are two Americas. The America that works, and
the America that doesn't. The America that contributes, and the America that
doesn't. It's not the haves and the have not's, it's the dos and the don'ts.
Some people do their duty as Americans, obey the law, support themselves,
contribute to society, and others don't.  That's the divide in America.
It's not about income inequality, it's about civic irresponsibility. It's
about a political party that preaches hatred, greed and victimization in
order to win elective office.   It's about a political party that loves
power more than it loves its country.  That's not invective, that's truth,
and it's about time someone said it.

The politics of envy was on proud display a couple weeks ago when President
Obama pledged the rest of his term to fighting "income inequality."  He
noted that some people make more than other people, that some people have
higher incomes than others, and he say that's not just.  That is the
rationale of thievery. The other guy has it, you want it, Obama will take it
for you. Vote Democrat. That is the philosophy that produced Detroit.  It is
the electoral philosophy that is destroying America.  It conceals a
fundamental deviation from American values and common sense because it ends
up not benefiting the people who support it, but a betrayal.  The Democrats
have not empowered their followers, they have enslaved them in a culture of
dependence and entitlement, of victim-hood and anger instead of ability and
hope. The president' premise -that you reduce income inequality by debasing
the successful -seeks to deny the successful the consequences of their
choices and spare the unsuccessful the consequences of their choices.
Because, by and large, income variations in society is a result of different
choices leading to different consequences. Those who choose wisely and
responsibility have a far greater likelihood of success, while those who
choose foolishly and irresponsibly have a far greater likelihood of failure.
Success and failure usually manifest themselves in personal and family
income.  You choose to drop out of high school or to skip college - and you
are apt to have a different outcome than someone who gets a diploma and
pushes on with purposeful education. You have your children out of wedlock
and life is apt to take one course; you have them within a marriage and life
is apt to take another course. Most often in life our destination is
determined by the course we take.

My doctor, for example, makes far more than I do. There is significant
income inequality between us. Our lives have had an inequality of outcome,
but, our lives also have had an in equality of effort.  While my doctor went
to college and then devoted his young adulthood to medical school and
residency, I got a job in a restaurant.  He made a choice, I made a choice,
and our choices led us to different outcomes.  His outcome pays a lot better
than mine. Does that mean he cheated and Barack Obama needs to take away his
wealth?  No, it means we are both free men in a free society where free
choices lead to different outcomes.   It is not inequality Barack Obama
intends to take away, it is freedom. The freedom to succeed, and the freedom
to fail. There is no true option for success if there is no true option for
failure. The pursuit of happiness means a whole lot less when you face the
punitive hand of government if your pursuit brings you more happiness than
the other guy.   Even if the other guy sat on his arse and did nothing.
Even if the other guy made a lifetime's worth of asinine and short sighted

Barack Obama and the Democrats preach equality of outcome as a right, while
completely ignoring inequality of effort. The simple Law of the Harvest - as
ye sow, so shall ye reap - is sometimes applied as, "The harder you work,
the more you get."  Obama would turn that upside down. Those who achieve are
to be punished as enemies of society and those who fail are to be rewarded
as wards of society. Entitlement will replace effort as the key to upward
mobility in American society if Barack Obama gets his way. He seeks a lowest
common denominator society in which the government besieges the successful
and productive to foster equality through mediocrity. He and his party speak
of two Americas, and their grip on power is based on using the votes of one
to sap the productivity of the other.  America is not divided by the
differences in our outcomes, it is divided by the differences in our

It is a false philosophy to say one man's success comes about unavoidably as
the result of another man's victimization. What Obama offered was not a
solution, but a separatism. He fomented division and strife, pitted one set
of Americans against another for his own political benefit.  That's what
socialists offer.  Marxist class warfare wrapped up with a bow. Two
Americas, coming closer each day to proving the truth to Lincoln's maxim
that a house divided against itself cannot stand.   "Life is ten percent
what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it."

Lou Holtz

Leo "Lou" Holtz (born January 6, 1937) is a retired American football coach,
and active sportscaster, author, and motivational speaker.

Boone NC Field Day and IARU Contest

The Field Day style excursion to Boone NC was a great success.  Nothing documents it better than photos.  Main living room below.  We did not spend much time there.

We did spend most of our time in the basement which we turned into a big ham shack.  All in all we had 9 antennas to 7 stations.  Phil Chartier AC4Q in the foreground with Larry KK4QOB and Rod KK4HXA in the background.

Here is a rundown on all our operators

KK4PGC Bob is the head honcho and organizer of the group
N4IQ Bill was the most experienced contester and brought his Windoms
AC4Q Phil is Bill's twin brother and brought his supercharged Mustang and his rigs
KK4QOB Larry brought his 40 foot crank up mast mounted on a trailer 
KK4HXA Rod - Blue Ridge net controller brough his slinky dipoles
KK4ZJH Scott - was the new one to the group and a friend of Larry's

Here is a view from the ridge.  The house is nestled up on about 150 foot ridge in the clear in all directions.

Here is a view from the bottom of the hill looking up to the house

Here is a photo showing my hexbeam mounted on my trailer hitch.  the beam is up around 24 feet.

Here is Bill N4IQ helping Scott KK4ZJH work the IARU HF contest on phone

Here is Bob KK4PGC working the contest on phone 


Here is Scott at his own station

Here is Larry KK4QOB at his station

Here are both Phil AC4Q and Bob KK4PGC at their stations

Here is Bill N4IQ at his station

Here is Rod Taylor KK4HXA.  Sadly, Rod became a silent key the day after he arrived at his home the next day.  He was a nice man and a good ham.  He will be missed.

Here is Larry's crank up mast being erected.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Thirteen Colonies - Special Event - Clean Sweep Complete

With less than 4 hours and 30 minutes left in the event - I was able to pick up the last bonus station.  This is the first time I have ever attempted to do a clean sweep.  It was nice to be able to get two bonus stations.  I was pleasantly surprised to see WM3PEN on 40m SSB.

  DATE      UTC    FREQ          RST MODE
K2A-NY 6-Jul-14 4:11 14.327 59 SSB
K2B-VA 6-Jul-14 4:52 7.213 59 SSB
K2C-RI 6-Jul-14 4:21 7.225 59 SSB
k2D-CT 6-Jul-14 19:48 14.083 599 RTTY
k2E-DE 6-Jul-14 3:40 3.804 59 SSB
K2F-MD 2-Jul-14 2:06 14.061 599 CW
k2G-GA 2-Jul-14 1:51 7.031 599 CW
K2H-MA 6-Jul-14 4:36 21.305 59 SSB
K2I-NJ 6-Jul-14 4:13 7.203 59 SSB
K2J-NC 6-Jul-14 4:18 7.037 599 CW
K2K-NH 6-Jul-14 19:48 21.37 59 SSB
K2L-SC 6-Jul-14 10:41 7.083 599 RTTY
K2M-PA 6-Jul-14 4:09 7.283 59 SSB
WM3PEN 6-Jul-14 23:33 7.185 59 SSB
W3FT 6-Jul-14 10:29 14.259 59 SSB

Field Day 2014

This  Field Day is perhaps more in line with the true spirit of "Field Day" in that it was more about what to do when the power goes out and one has to make do with what is available and about experimentation to see what works and what does not.

We experimented with a Buddipole and a magnetic loop antenna.  The mag loop can be very good as a receiving antenna.  Transmitting requires that it be in the vertical orientation.

We had 166 QSOs which is not too bad for about 7 hours of operation.

Most of our QSOs were with the full size antennas.  The antenna farm consisted of the ZS6BKW, a vertical inverted L with a ground system and a hex beam at 28 feet.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Comparison of Loop Antenna and ZS6BKW on receive

Working a W1AW/3 Station in MD.  Transmit power was 1000 watts - Amplifier is a Drake L4B.  Transceiver is a K2/100

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How Long Can One Operate on Emergency Power

I have seen many a set-up in YouTube and other SHTF Preparedness web sites of amateur radio gear, with go boxes, batteries, solar power backup, but I have seen very little of what I think is a well thought out set-up which addresses maximum utilization of meager energy resources should such a situation arise.  For example, I have seen go boxes which employ high current draw rigs – even on receive.  For an objective look at the comparison between various rigs, I have collected data over the years on how HF and VHF radios consume  power on receive and transmit. Based  on this data, one can put together a set of expectations on how long such a set-up will be operable on back-up or emergency power.

Several variable are at play
Receive current draw – the amount of current a system consumes in amperes or milliamperes while just listening
Transmit current draw – the amount of current a system consumes in amperes or milliamperes while transmitting – key down carrier
Duty cycle – the percentage of time the mode is in full key-down (100% duty)

Let us consider some common modes of transmission
SSB – 25% Duty Cycle (Source QST)
CW – 33% Duty Cycle (Source QST)
PSK31 – 100% Duty Cycle
RTTY – 100% Duty Cycle

What one needs is an instrument that measures current draw during receive only and during key-down (100% duty cycle).  I have put together operating time expectations using a 14 ampere-hour depletion to 50% capacity – the maximum depletion one would want to push a deep cycle battery to without severely affecting longevity of the battery.

As one can plainly see, operation at 20 watts greatly reduces the operating time.  Not all rig / amplifier combinations are ideal.  Some are quite power hogs.  The most miserly of the transceivers are also amongst the most limited in terms of operating mode - but the rigs can practically operate "forever" with solar power.  For example, the Elecraft KX1 only consumes 55 milliamps on receive and less than 1 amp on TX.   It is a CW only rig and the version I had was a 4 bander 10,20,30 and 40m.  There are now several of this type of radio on the market.   This will just about double the operating time at 30% duty cycle to 11 hours.  The most versatile ones are the Elecraft K2, KX3, and Yaesu FT817.  The power output on the latter is limited to 5 watts.  Operation of the Elecraft rigs greater than 10W will require an external amplifier.  External amplifiers for QRP radios are manufactured by several sources and can be purchased as kits,

Elecraft KXPA100 and KPA100 (K2 only)
Juma PA100 
Ten Tec Model 418