Friday, September 3, 2010
Just a couple of weeks ago I purchased a new cell phone because the coverage in Dothan was not acceptable with AT&T. So I went with Sprint and got the HTC Hero. The first app I downloaded was the Echolink App. I did not know it was even out yet although I knew they were working on it due to the success of the iphone version of the app. So today I got to play with the new app and let me say it is awesome. I did not have to do anything but download the free app. I was able to connect to a repeater in Rowlett TX just outside of where I used to live and talk to my friend K5RXQ. Later I talked to my Dad N5ME in Memphis on the repeater there and directly using his computer. It worked great and I did not have to do anything with the settings. If you are familiar with Echolink for the PC, you know there is a lot of setting up to do just to make it work. I think they hit a home run with this app and really makes me want to play more with Echolink.
Posted by Johnson at 5:13 PM
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I decided to put up my Buddipole to see what I could do in the new home location. I have to say it wasn't too bad. I made the following contacts in just over an hour of operating:
* Guadalupe Island
* Italy (twice)
I also heard Israel, England, and Bosnia as well. So I guess it is working and working quite well. I think those long whips make a difference for good solid DX contacts.
Picture is of Buddipole Vertical with long whip with some stray clouds of Tropical Depression Bonnie in the background.
Posted by Johnson at 2:37 PM
Thursday, July 15, 2010
This is the big week for my big move with the family from Texas to Alabama. Of course I could not drive a moving truck 900 miles without having access to some 2 meter and 440 repeaters on the way. I put my dual band mag-mount on the truck with my HT to help pass the time. Two full days of driving will be tough, but looking forward to getting to Dothan and getting on the air ASAP.
Over the past weekend while visiting in-laws, I put my buddipole up with the psk31 setup just off Lake Whitney Texas. I made several psk31 contacts along with some ssb and cw contacts during the contest over the weekend. I put the Buddipole up in the vertical configuration using the settings my Dad and I came up with for long whips and it work perfectly and I did not even have to use my tuner. The SWR meter on my FT-857D did not register most of the time. I had to check to make sure it was still working right....it was.
Posted by Johnson at 1:05 PM
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Today was the Rockwall Amateur Radio Club's annual Field Day event. Always a good time to see the area Hams get together and operate on the radios for this event. Shortly before the contest started on the air, the club presented me with this plaque for the work I have done for the club this year. I was elected as an officer for the club and had to step down last month because my family and I are moving to Dothan, Alabama to start a new job there. I will miss the Hams in the local club here. I have really enjoyed being a part of the group and helping the club grow this year. As I was leaving tonight, Eric N5EBW even gave me a Tiny Trak 3 that he built. I know I will have fun playing with APRS and that unit. Thanks again to all the Hams in Rockwall making me feel welcomed and more importantly, needed this past year.
73 to you and I hope to see you on the air when I get to Alabama.
Posted by Johnson at 6:56 PM
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I have been experimenting with the new longer whips for my Buddipole Antenna. My Dad recently got a new Buddipole Antenna and purchased it with only the long whips. So yesterday evening, my Dad and I got the MFJ antenna analyzer out and decided to find the settings for a vertical using the longer whips. Below is what we came up with. We did 10-40 meter except for 12 meters which you can use the 10 meter settings with a tuner if you needed 12 meters.
*Note that these settings were found with 50' of coax and the Versatee at about 6' off the ground.
*Note that these settings were found with 50' of coax and the Versatee at about 6' off the ground.
Posted by Johnson at 4:42 PM
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
This afternoon it was such a nice day I decided to put the Buddipole up. Les (K5RXQ) let me borrow a long whip to try out so I tried the vertical with the long whip. Instead of telling how I think it worked, just look at the contacts I made on 20 meters this afternoon.
I would say it worked quite well. I noticed I was able to pick up weaker stations that I have not in the past and usually was able to make contact with them using just 50 watts. I guess I will need to buy some of the longer whips for my Buddipole.
Posted by Johnson at 2:50 PM
Monday, April 5, 2010
This weekend, I went over to Les' house (K5RXQ) and we set up our Buddipoles and our portable HF stations. It was fun to compare how the two antennas worked in different configerations. Toward the end of the day with PSK31 not working as good as I had hoped. I started to tune around the CW band just to see what activity was on there. Then I heard a stations calling CQ so It thought I would try to make contact with my CW software in DM-780 and my signalink. This was not the first time I had tried this, but I was able to make contact with this station. He was in Brazil. The Tigertronics Signalink allows me to operate in modes I thought I could never do. With the use of my laptop and the free software, DM-780, it makes any station one that can operate just about any mode. If you have never operated CW or any of the new digital modes, you might be surprised how much fun it is. It is almost to the point I don't like to operate on SSB phone because of how easy it is to make contact to the USA and especially DX stations. If you have been thinking about jumping into these modes, I would recommend the Signalink for its size, ease of setup and ease of use.
Posted by Johnson at 6:48 AM
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I have only been operating with PSK31 for a couple of months. However, I am already doing a presentation about this mode to my club this coming Tuesday night. I plan to give a power point presentation on the history of the mode and some tips to getting started. In addition, I will bring my entire HF station, laptop, and Buddipole to the meeting in an attempt to do a live qso with the mode. I hope I can get a signal with the antenna as close to the building as it will be, but should be interesting to try.
Posted by Johnson at 6:18 AM
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Well the foot of snow melted finally here in the Dallas area and today was a nice warm day in the 60's. So this afternoon I decided to try my new Buddipole now that I have the needed extra coax to get the antenna away from the house. My first try was to put the Buddipole in a vertical dipole position. On PSK31 I made a quick contact to Ohio with a 599 report. I felt comparing the Buddipole and the Slinky dipole, the Buddipole was picking up stations better.
When I ordered the coax from Buddipole, I decided to order the counterpoise as well so I could try out verticals with the Buddipole. So after my PSK31 contact to Ohio, I put up the 20 meter vertical per the directions of the Buddipole user group website. As you can see from the pictures it is pretty tall. The mast goes up 16 feet, then with the whips and extra length poles I estimate it is up about 25 feet. You might be able to see the counterpoise dropping down toward my daughter swing set. I tested the antenna with my Dad's antenna analyzer and found it was resonate on 20 meter band and had a SWR of under 2.
So time for the test. Right away I noticed a major increase of stations on PSK31. I immediately made contact with Venezuela and Azores Island with only 50 watts. So then I thought I would tune around the SSB area on 20 meters and heard more stations than I have ever heard. Mostly stateside, but also a few DX stations including Trinidad and Venezuela. Then I listened around the 17 and 15 meters and heard phone stations there as well. I am a believer in the Buddipole, but more a believer in the vertical version. I will try to play with a 40 meter version as well tonight.
I put the buddipole back up today to see what I could do on a weekend. On 17 meters I got a 579 RST report from Northern Japan and 599 RST report from Mexico on 20 meters PSK31. This antenna is working great. Oh and I was only using 40 watts out put to contact both.
Posted by Johnson at 2:05 PM
Monday, February 15, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
This afternoon, I decided to play with my new Buddipole a little. I have not had a lot of opportunity to play with my new antenna because the coax is too short to run into my house and it has been too cold to take radio outside. So before the snow storm hits tomorrow, I thought I would try making some j-poles with the Buddipole. I have been reading on the Buddipole users group that you can make a j-pole for 2 meters and 6 meters. So I did. I had my Dad's antenna analyzer and found it works really well. On 2 meters I was able to get the antenna resonate at 146.3 MHz and an SWR under 2. Same was true with 6 meters as well. Resonate at 52.67 and SWR under 2. I even read you can have a 440 antenna with no attachments as well. I did try it and it worked ok, but I had no way to test SWR. I was able to hit many local repeaters on 2 meters and 440 with my HT.I also read that some have used cell phone antennas for 440 j-pole, but I was not able to try that. Pretty fun to play with. I should get more coax to try next week, so hopefully the weather will improve and I can play more with the antenna on HF.
2 meter J-Pole
6 meter J-Pole
Posted by Johnson at 3:09 PM
Sunday, February 7, 2010
I made my first official transatlantic contact with my slinky antennas this morning. I talked to ON7GB from Belgium on 17 meters and PSK31. I got a 559 report from him, but it was my first contact outside of North and South America. Above is the location of the station according to QRZ.com.
Posted by Johnson at 8:27 AM
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I put up a Facebook page for the Rockwall Amateur Radio Club. Many of our members expressed positive feedback when the question was put out on whether to put up a Facebook page about our club. I think it will be a positive thing once the word gets out about it.
Posted by Johnson at 7:06 AM
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I did something this week that I never thought I would. That was to purchase a portable antenna. I was blessed this past Christmas with some extra money and I decided I would try to complete my ham set up. At least get close to what I envisioned several months ago. Over the past several weeks, I have been looking for a used Buddipole for sale. I did not have enough to buy one new, but thought I could find a used one with what I had left over with my Christmas money. After searching several sites daily, I had the thought of putting my own ad on QTH.com. So last Saturday afternoon, I put an ad out stating I was looking for a Buddipole deluxe and the long version. Within an hour of putting that ad out, I got an email from a ham in the Georgetown Texas area that had one. After emailing back and forth, I purchased it from him and since I was already planning to be in Georgetown the next weekend, it was too perfect. I met him and several other Hams at McDonalds in Round Rock Friday morning. I had a good time meeting some other Hams from the area. I bought the Buddipole and got it back to my in-laws house. I put the new antenna up and made a PSK31 contact to UTAH on my first try. Soon after, all the bands died and there was nothing to be done with HF after that. However, I am excited about my new antenna. I am anxious to try it out on camping trips and Ham Radio in the Park. No it has not replaced my Slinky antennas in my attic, but I will see how it works in my attic in the up coming days.
Before I left town, I played with APRS using my new Signalink USB. All I had to do was download AWG software from the Tigertronics website and I was up and going. It was fun to play with. Using the Signalink for a base station APRS works really well. It doesn't appear with the way the signalink is designed, that mobile APRS would be very easy.
Posted by Johnson at 7:52 AM
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Well I have had fun today. About 11:30am, my Tigertornics Signalink USB came in the mail. I have looked at these units for over a year thinking it might be fun to try. After getting some Christmas money, I decided to buy one. Set up was not real difficult, I had to put in some wires for the jumpers specific for my radio. They nice thing was they sent me a cable pre-made for my radio. After plugging it in I had to make some setting changes to the sound card on the computer, not hard with the detail instructions that came with it. Then I just fired up the software. I started with Digipan software first and made my first contact after several cq attempts. I had a qso with a station in West Virgina on PSK31, 20 meters. Then I wanted to set up the Ham Radio Deluxe software. After a few attempts, I got it working. Not long I was hearing a station in Cuba on 20 meters. I called him and made contact. Now that was fun. So that is working I thought why not try to see how CW works. I was able to decode a W1AW bulletin on 20 meters at about 75% copy.
So success with the signalink. I have some more playing to do but they set up with my slinky antenna in the attic seems to work really well on the digital HF mode.
Posted by Johnson at 2:13 PM
Thursday, January 14, 2010
This Friday and Saturday is the first swapfest of the year in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. Cowtown Hamfest starts tomorrow. This will be the second year I will be out to this swapfest. I was able to pick up a lot of "needs" for my ham station last year. Looking forward to seeing what all is out there this year.
Signalink Update: I will get my new Signalink USB digital unit Tuesday. Woo Hoo!!!!
Update to Cowtown - I had a good time at the swap fest. I was able to pick up a couple of items for my Dad that he had been looking for. I only went out Friday, but had a good time. Look forward to the swap fest in San Antonio next weekend.
Posted by Johnson at 11:16 AM
Monday, January 4, 2010
Over the Christmas Holidays, my family and I went on a big road trip. We drove over 2000 miles and visited family in Tennessee and Alabama. The weather did not allow me to do any portable HF work even though I took my radio and some Slinky's along. All is not lost because just outside of Hope Arkansas, I saw this billboard and I couldn't help but take a picture and put it up. Enjoy.
I received the January issue of QST as I was leaving town two weeks ago. I was interested in the PSK31 article in there. A simple free download of digipan will allow you to receive digital transmissions. So one afternoon I found time to download the program and tune in to the PSK31 frequency on 40 meters. Using my Dad's Slinky antenna that he has in his attic I was able to hear PSK31 immediately. I was excited that it was that easy. Then I heard the station that made me want to do digital. I heard a station in Kiev Ukraine.... on 40 meters.... with a Slinky antenna. I'm hooked. I ordered a Signalink USB unit that I have heard a lot about with Christmas money and now I am waiting to receive it and try out my Slinky antenna. I am anxious to transmit on digital HF with my Slinky antenna to see what I can do. Stay tuned for updates on my new endeavor.
Posted by Johnson at 3:55 PM