Tuesday, August 17, 2021

NEAR-Fest info, 160-6M OCF repaired and other stuff (SKED page audio work around)

 Well I guess it's time for another post.


Just reserved my spot for the Oct 15,16 NEAR-Fest . There are three of four of us that will man the table for the two days. If you come to NEAR-Fest, stop by to have your picture taken at the both and have it published in the Rag Chew.

By the way, I am looking for videos and picture that I can put on my laptop to display. If anyone has anything they want to share, I would appreciate it.

160-6M OCF repair:

After much back and forth with RadioWavz , I was finally able to order the coil that broke. I modified the connections a little to provide some strain relief to the connections. I am hoping between the strain relief, D rings and zip ties, it will hold up a little better. I will wait until sometime this fall to put it back up. Too many leaves on the trees right now.

Modified coil connections.


As always working on the next level of awards. I have several band awards waiting to be submitted but just haven't gotten around to sending them in.

I have about 50 more Ts I need for Sx6.  Hopefully I can finish that soon.

I also have 138/150 points for my 2xQRP award.

I hang around the SKED page most days to see if I can help out. Not many people that could use my number ask for a QSO. I use to be all over people for QSOs when I was working towards Tx8 and Senator. Go figure.

SKED page audio work around:

I have noticed several people complaining about their attempts to post or PM someone being ignored. If you are using Chrome or Edge, the audio alerts don't always seem to work. I have trouble with PMs. When someone PMs me for the first time, I do not get an audio alert and I miss them quite often.

What I do to somewhat solve this problem is to open a second SKED page tab and then select the PM tab. There is no need to select someone to PM just the PM tab. What this will do, is to enable the audio alerts in the "everyone" tab. So when anyone post in the everyone tab, an alert will sound. Unfortunately, any post will sound so at times, you might get a lot of dings. Also any PMing you get will also generate an alert. I then can go to the first SKED page and can hear the alerts and see the messages.

This is in the category of "who would of thought?":

 I was recently reading a book about the life of a B-52 pilot.

 The Sluggo Chronicles: Memoirs of an Old Bomber Pilot. He mention a movie that was produced  by the Air Force that he was a part of while he was in pilot training. The movie is called "The Year of 53 Weeks" and is about what they went through during pilot training. He mentioned it was on YouTube.  What I didn't realize until after the video was over, is that it was put there by the US National Archives. It turns out the US Archives offers quite a lot of material on line.

Go visit and poke around for a while.

For you new guys:

The SKCC for intellectually challenged

All for now 73

Thursday, June 10, 2021

20 Meter RFI problem solved, 160-6M antenna failure.

 20 Meter RFI problem solved

Since I moved into my shack above the garage, I have had RFI issues with my hard wired smoke detectors on 20 meters.

 Well, recently I put up a new OCF dipole antenna that was suppose to give me 160-6 meters. While I was checking it out, I gradually increased the power on all bands checking for bad things. When I got to 20 meters, I was able to increase the power to 100% (70 Watts) without the smoke detectors going off. My first thought was that the new antenna did a better job of containing the RFI issue. I don't think this is correct.

Unfortunately, or serendipitously, the 160-6 meter antenna broke (see below) and I put my old 80-6 meter OCF back up. I again slowly increased power on 20 meters waiting for the smoke detectors to go off, but again, they didn't.

What had changed? Then I realized that since my initial setup back in Oct of 2019, I had purchased three metal shelves and set them up against one of the walls in the storage area. The antenna coax is behind the shelves. I believe the shelves are shielding the smoke detector from my antenna wire. Hey, that's my story and I am sticking to it hi hi. Bottom line, I haven't had any problems since.

You can see my antenna coax on the floor behind the shelves. 

Antenna Failure
Well my 160-6M OCF did not hold up to the winds I get here. It broke where I thought it would, at the inductor. The wires are soldered into the terminal lugs, not crimped, and there is no strain relief on the terminals. Depending on a soldered joint for mechanical connection is not a good idea. For one thing, solder will deteriorate when exposed to the weather and for another, a cold solder joint could also compromise the connection.

Well it looks like I have another antenna repair project to look forward to, oh joy!

I am going to try and add some strain relief to these connections.

Terminal connection to inductor

Failed connection on inductor.

Poor solder connection on the antenna wire end that was soldered to the terminal lug.

Well, enough for now.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

More antenna fun, Field Day coming up!

 Repair of Antennas

I had two antennas that need some repair work done on them. My 80-10M EFHW had two breaks in the wire. My 160M sloper had a damaged end cap that needed to be replaced. Repairs have been make without too much difficulty.

Spliced wire in two placed and then heat shrink over the splices.

New end cap(white) on 160M sloper.

As you might remember, I only had one projectile left for my antenna launcher. Well, I ended up with none. I tried to shot another line higher up from the woods and got my last projectile stuck in a tree. So none left.

So I had to make up some more. That wasn't so difficult to do, except just finding the parts to do it was a little bit of a problem. It turns out 3/4" PVC pipe and end caps are popular for lawn irrigation system. Well this time of year a lot of places are sold out of end caps. It took me awhile to find some, but I did, and I made up 4 new projectiles. You can buy the 3/4" PVC in 2' sections which allows you to have four 6" sections. Just the right size.

Four new projectiles.

BTW, my antenna is not doing so good mechanically. With the rain and winds we've been getting lately, it keeps drooping more and more and I keep having to to raise it up a little. I have got to get a line over the trees up higher.

I ended up taking down my 160-10M OCF. It was just not up correctly. It has been raining the last couple of days here, so putting it back up will have to wait awhile.
Test of 160-6M OCF dipole
I did a SWR plot of my 160-6M OCF dipole. I am a little disappointed in the 160M band. I was hoping it would be better then what is shows. I am hoping that raising it up higher might help. We will see. 

SWR plot of short 160-6M OCF dipole

SWR plot for 80-6M OCF dipole

SWR for 160M (160-6M OCF)

Field Day
Some of the members of the local club, CAARA, are trying to setup a Field Day site. Field Day this year is June 26-27.  I don't usually do Field Day, but this year I think I will go so I can meet some of the local guys. Also I have quite a bit of spare antenna stuff that I can lend to the effort. Here is a list of of things I have available:

  1. 40-20-10M Fan dipole
  2. 80-6M OCF dipole
  3. 15M dipole
  4. 80-6M EFHW
  5. 100' Coax cable
  6. 80M sloper
  7. 160M sloper
  8. ~400' of rope
  9.  25' Coax cable
All for now. I will post again when I get my antenna back up.


P.S. this page had issues had to redo it a little.

Friday, May 21, 2021

New toy! RigExpert 230 stick, Antenna fun, more furniture for the shack

Hello again! Just bought myself a new toy. Always wanted an antenna analyzer and I saw Randy's (K7AGE) review of this little beauty and knew I had to have it.

I want to compare my OCF 80-10M antenna with a Short Pro Line DX 160-10M

Link to RegExpert Stick 230

Below is the plot of my 80-6m OCF dipole. Though it is hard to see, the SWR for 160M is over 10:1. The plot was done with the AntScope2 program available from the website here AntScope2 Download
This is freeware software, so it does have some ruff edges.

It is hard to see, but the SWR for 160M is higher the 10:1. Obviously it won't work on 160M.

Shack Furniture
A couple of pieces of new furniture for the shack. Two bookcases, which were about 50 bucks each and a four foot wooden table for about 130 bucks. The table I needed for my keys. The table I had before was a little rickety and shook when I tried to use my bug. The bookcases fit nicely under my windows. Really spruced the place up!

Antenna Fun

Got one antenna project done. I was able to get my 2M/70CM Slim Jim mounted to the back of the garage. I had it temporally attached to my deck. It worked OK there but, with summer time coming and leaves out now, I was not getting into some repeaters. Plus I don't think my wife liked looking at it.

One little side note: My wife won't let me climb a ladder anymore so I asked the guy that does my lawn to hang it up for me. COVID has hit him pretty hard financially this last year, so he was glad to get the extra work. And I was glad to help him.

Temporary position

permanent position.

My other antenna project was to replace my 80-6M OCF Windom dipole with a short 160-6M OCF Windom dipole.

This project had some issues. First I wanted to add two extra ropes to each end. The first would be a backup/safety rope in case the primary rope broke. The second rope was in case the antenna broke at the end, I would have a way to pull the rope that was attached to the end of the antenna back down. 

Well when I tried to pull the two ropes up over the tree using the existing rope, the existing rope broke. So I lost my original rope. So now I had to try and get a new rope over the tree.

So I got out the old JARC antenna launcher pumped it up to 45 lbs. and shot a line over the tree. Well, I think 45 lbs. was a little too much. The damn thing went so far I couldn't find the projectile anywhere and ended up losing it.

Since I only had one projectile left, I had to pick a safer target. I stood in the woods, picked a reasonably clear spot. I pumped up to 35 lbs. this time. It turns out even 35 lbs. is a lot, I almost hit the house. Next time I think I will try less, maybe even 25 lbs.

Well anyways, I got a line up and raised to antenna. Not as high as I would like, but will have to do for now. I am so sore from all the back and forth and up and down the stairs. I am not use to it anymore.

Well long story short, I got the antenna up and it tunes up on all bands. Next step to gradually increase my power and hope my smoke detectors won't go off.

Next step will be to try and get the end higher. I need to make myself a few more projectiles though be fore I try that.

Center point. Maybe 35 feet high

chock at the end of the vertical radiator. Maybe 10 feet up

The in line inductor. The little blob next to the leaves.

closer view of inductor

This end is up about 40 feet.

The other end in a tree about 30-35 feet maybe.

Another view of the center

The inductor is about 10-15 from end on antenna.

Well, that is all for now. As soon as I make up some projectiles I will try and shot a new line.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

K3Y QSL cards arrive, Two meter rig finally on the air again

Hello again. I will try to publish more posts. Winter is ending and a nice Spring is shaping up. We did have snow last Friday which was very late in the season for this area. 

Maybe I will get the new antenna put up soon. The antenna I am speaking of is a reduced length 160-10 meter OCF dipole from RadioWavz.  It is 147 feet long as apposed to 246 feet for a full size 160M OCF. My 80M OCF dipole is 137 feet, so the extra 10 feet shouldn't be a problem here. It doesn't say it will work on 6 meters, but if it tunes up, it will be good enough. I got to get back on 160 meters!! 
Here is a link to the web site: Short 160m OCF dipole  

I also bought 500 feet of cord from DX Engineering to replace the cord that is there now. The cord has been up for over 2 years now and should probable be replaced. Plus I got some ideas about how to mitigate the problem of a broken antenna and or cord. I will let you know how that works out.

BTW I am vaccinated and good to go!! 

K3Y QSL Cards.

I received three K3Y QSL cards. I didn't expect the 2019 or the 2020 card because I didn't send in an envelope to the QSL bureau for these two years. I guess they must have been sitting there waiting for me. oops!!

2019 and 2020 I only got 18 of 19 regions so I didn't bother sending in an envelope. I guess I will have to change that. I also got an additional QSL from the bureau. I think I should keep a couple of envelopes there JIC. Here is a link to SKCC QSL Bureau.

Here are pictures of the K3Y QSL cards that I received. See my last post for more info on my K3Y activity. K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!

Two Meter Rig

Only took me a year and a half to run a piece of Coax. No tree or roof climbing, just connect the wire to both ends. I don't really use two meters that much any more, but that will change. I have checked-in to a couple of nets lately so that's a good start. Plus made contact with a couple of old friends.

I would like to relocate my 2m antenna form the deck to the back of the garage. It kind of looks "trailer parkish" where it is now. Plus I hope it gets a little better coverage if it is up higher.

What my 2 meter antenna looks like at the moment.


My activity has slowed down some lately. I bought a Kindle so I have been reading up a storm lately. I have read a lot about WWII lately, mostly about the Philippines. Some very interesting and moving accounts of those early times in the war.

I am still doing brags and WES, but not as aggressively as in the past. I am still working on the 2xQRP award. I now has 128 points and working towards Sx6.

 Well all for now CUL

- 73

Thursday, March 18, 2021

K3Y 2016-2021, Weird key failure, VOAProp fail, odd email from the ARRL and more!!

Well, back again. It has been interesting times.  

I remember a story a college history professor told us on our first day of class: 

"The old king had died and his son, who was not well like by one of the old kings advisor was to be crowned. At the ceremony Each person present was to say a few "flattering" remarks to the new king. The old advisor couldn't think of anything nice to say about the new king. So he thought about it for awhile and realized that the most interesting times in history were those of great turmoil. So when it came time for the old advisor to speak, he said "May you live in the most interesting of times".

For myself, I rather live in boring times, thank you very much!!

K3Y Events

Here it is February and the K3Y event has been over for about 2 weeks now. I ended up doing pretty good this year. I got the grand sweep and had 91 band slots with over 100 K3Y operators worked. My best year so far. The only thing I would have liked to do was to work 160M. But I have been too lazy in putting up an antenna for160M.

The below link is a google spreadsheet of my K3Y band map for the years 2016-2020.  I was actually able to use the skcc_skimmer to generate the band map for each year. Since my SKCCLogger file has all my contacts since Jan of 2015, all I had to do was set the K3Y_YEAR parameter to the year I wanted and relaunch skimmer. I then cut and pasted the chart into a text file and then imported the text file to Open Office spreadsheet. Pretty cool!

Click here -> K3Y 2016-2020 

Below is the band map for 2021 K3Y. Already sent in my SASE for my QSL card!

Key Failure
Had a very strange key failure recently. One morning I was all set to answer a CQ, but no transmit. I was able to narrow it down to my VibroPlex key, very strange. So I got out the old Ohm meter and started poking around, looking for a broken wire or loose connection. Plug was good, had continuity from the contacts all the way to the plug, except for the ground terminal, which tied to the base/paddles. So no contact between the paddle and the terminal post. So how can this happen?? What it turn out to be, was the screws that secure the paddle assemble to the base were loose. All I had to do was tighten the screws and all was good. Go figure!!

The two screws on the left had to be tightened

Log File corrected for K3Y
Back in 2016 and 2017, I missed logged all of my K3Y contacts. I erroneously put K3Y as the call instead of using the operators call. This royally screwed up my log. Fortunately, the comment block had the operators call along with the SKCC number, so I was able to set things right. It probable took about  an hour to fix, so all is good now.

Since I moved back to MA in 2018, I started to work on another LoTW CW WAS award. I finally got it last month. NV was my last holdout. Thanks to Tom W4FLL!!

I also have  received my Tx25 award.

Email from ARRL
So I received this email from the ARRL on Jan 17. I thought it was odd, especial the last paragraph. That is until I watch "60 minutes" on Feb 14 and there it was. Enough said.

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio


ARRL Web site

Jan 17, 2021, 2:42 PM
 to me

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill. Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio

For over 100 years amateur radio and ARRL — the National Association for 

Amateur Radio® — have stood for the development of the science and art of

 communications, public service, and the enhancement of international goodwill.

 Amateur Radio’s long history and service to the public has solidified the

 well-earned reputation that “Amateur Radio saves lives.”

Amateur Radio Operators, due to their history of public service, their training,

 and the requirement that they be licensed by the FCC have earned their status 

as a component of critical communications infrastructure and as a reliable 

resource “when all else fails."

Amateur Radio is about development of communications and responsible 

public service. Its misuse is inconsistent with its history of service and its 

statutory charter. ARRL does not support its misuse for purposes inconsistent 

with these values and purposes.


VOAProp fail
Twice now when Windows does an update, VOAProp kind of disappears. It is there on the tool bar, but does not display. It turns out I have to uninstall VOAProp and delete all the remaining files manually and then reinstall. A nuisance but at least it is back.

All for now see you soon 73!!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

New 160M sloper, K3Y event(2020), More RFI woes with hard Wired Smoke Detectors

Note: This post was started June 22 2020. I just couldn't bring myself to post at that time. I am finishing it now.

160M Sloper:
Sort of got my 160M sloper up and it doesn't work very well yet. The reason, I believe,  is that it is not very high. Only about 20 feet at the feed point and really doesn't slope much. I need to get it higher and a little more of a slope. I think I will wait for warmer weather. I need a longer feed line for one thing and more rope for another.

One side benefit, my OCF 80-6M Windom now tunes on 160M. I am going to say the reason for this there is about 40 foot stretch where both feed lines are parallel and next to each other.

Update: Well I tried to raise the slopper higher but met with disaster! The feed point end was tied high in a tree in front of my garage and the other end was tied to a tree trunk out back of the house. We had a pretty good wind storm one night and the line tied to the feed end broke and the whole thing came crashing down and busted. It also put a big dent in the side of the garage door. Not good at all, the XYL was not pleased!!!

So, I have bought a 160M to 6M OCF from RadioWavz . Hasn't gone up yet. I am waiting for some warmer weather. It is about 20 F today BTW. (Jan 24, 2021)

Flex 6300:
Discovered something about SmartSDR that I didn't know. Last week I put up a 160 meter sloper. I have connected it to the Ant2 input to my Flex 6300. So this means that when I am on the 160 meter band, I want Ant2 active.

At first I was a little confused how to do this. If all else fails, RTFM! It turns out, if you use the Band select button on the left of the display, and select your bands that way, and if you have already setup a receiver for that band, SmartSDR will use that receivers parameters. Otherwise, you will have to create one.

For almost since I started using my 6300, I have just been type in a frequency in the receiver window. Early on the band select would not keep my settings and I would have set it up again. This was fixed a long time ago, but I keep changing bands by typing in the frequency I wanted.

BTW Flex finally came out with a fix for all the DAX issues when Windows upgrades it software. New version is: I found out by accident via an email from the flex forum. There was no notification sent out but Flex. So it is a good thing to monitor the Flex forum.

RFI Woes:
Still have a problem with my hardwired smoke detectors and 20M. So for now I am only outputing 50 Watts on 20M. All other bands are fine.

K3Y Event:
Well, did OK this year in the K3Y, but failed to get AS this year. Below are some screens shots. Things of note: Worked 160-6 meters for region 1. This is more of a stunt, because I have several SKCC members who are very close to me. So the upper bands are basically line of sight or ground wave. Max, KH6ZM from HI was very strong and I got him on 6 bands including 10M!!

My layout for operating

Log results for K3Y. Only missed AS this year.

OK will post this now. Hope to post again after the 2021 K3Y.


Saturday, January 2, 2021

Chasing K3Y made easier

 Every year the SKCC has an anniversary in January called K3Y . There are several tools available to make it easier to find K3Y operators.

1) skcc_skimmer

2) SKCC Sked Page 

3) Your favorite logging program that has a comment field. I use the SKCCLogger by Ron AC2C.

For skcc_skimmer. There are several things you have to do to display K3Y spots.

1) K3Y has to be a goal.

2) K3Y_YEAR parameter has to be set to the correct year.

3) make sure skimmer is using the correct log file (*.adi)

When you log a K3Y, DO NOT  put K3Y as the call!! Use the operators call. Most K3Y operators will send their call when they send their name (for instance, Dave/KB1WOD) . If not, you can asked them for it or use the number they sent to look up their call. 

In the comment field of your log, put the K3Y call that was sent, for instance K3Y/0. 

On the sked page, K3Y operators can put "K3Y/X FREQ" in their status. This will show up in skimmer as a K3Y goal.

One thing that these tools can't do, is look for different operators for the same K3Y/X. Which is a category in the K3Y event.  Also, sometime someone on the sked page puts some like "Looking for K3Y/0 15M" in their status. Unfortunately, this will show up as a bogus goal if you are need the same thing.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Near-Fest Fall 2019, Strange electrical problem, more tinkering and the 160 meter antenna is up finally!!

I want to say hi to Judy, KE6MHX and Dave out in CA. I worked with them (remotely) for many years. They read my blog from time to time. I had a chance to have lunch with Judy recently. She still works for Kollmorgen and was out here for work, so we got together for lunch. Really enjoyed visiting with her. Hope to CUAGN Judy 88/73

Near-Fest Fall 2019:
Wasn't going to go to Near-Fest in October because there was a Nor'Easter that weekend and I didn't want to be driving in the pouring rain. But Larry N1FG ask me if I was going and it turned out the storm was further out to sea then expected and the weather was rather nice.

I saw a lot of  70's ham gear for sale this year. Most were in the $200 to $300 range. Most of these radios were pre-WARC.

I was surprises to see several Kenwood MC-50 Mic stands for sale. I was looking for one several years ago but couldn't find one.  I pick one up, with the mic for $50. It works great!

MC-50 with Mic that I bought at Near-Fest
Met up with Larry, N1FG by the Community Church food pavilion (where else? hihi). Larry took a road trip across the country this last summer and made several stops to visit some SKCC members along the the way, Including Bert, F6HKA, who was at Dayton and Tony, K6ELQ out in CA among others Please read about his road trip in the Sept 2019 Rag Chew .

Larry N1FG and me met at my favorite spot at Near-Fest. 

New England Vintage Electronics Club:
Usually I don't get into the antique radio items at Near-Fest, but this radio caught my eye. It is an Apex radio, which I never heard of. Two features of this radio are: Tubes are shock mounted and the user has to supply all the DC voltage to run it. 

From what I understand, early on not a lot of houses were wired with electricity, radio manufacturers would have to provide terminals for the DC voltages and the customer would have to supply these voltages.  Deriving them form what power source they could get there hands on. Visit their web site here

Apex radio

The tubes are shock mounted to reduce micro-phonics. Notice the DC terminals

Met Bill Holly at Near-Fest. Bill has a nice collection of keys, mostly VibroPlex. He has written a book the history of the VibroPlex company, but, unfortunately, I don't think you can get it anymore.
Edit: Bill's email is

He had some copies of another book he wrote called "Love Letters to Spike". See photo below. I thought I had an email address for Bill, but damned if I can remember it.

Meet Bill Holly, K1BH. He has quite the collection of telegraph keys. Has written a book on VibroPlex keys

I bought this book from Bill K1BH. Interesting read about a telegraph operators love letters to his girl.

No explanation necessary.

Strange Electrically Problem:
I started having some strange electrical problems. When I keyed my radio just once, the floor lamp started to flicker very randomly. Very annoying to say the least. I got the electrician over that did the wiring to look at the problem. What he did to solve the problem was to short the neutral to ground at the box in the garage.  That seems to have solved the problem. He also replaced the arc fault circuit breakers in the box. Everyone knows they suck, right?

DG-5 repair:

My Kenwood DG-5 digital display had some more issues. First off, the display was real dim. This turned out to be a bad feed through on the PCB at the base of 2SD235 transistor.

Second, the upper two digits were acting flaky. And guess what? more bad vias.

Not entirely surprising, it turns out the DG-5 was plagued with bad vias. There are about 82 on the main PCB. I think I fixed about 20.

Some people just heat up and apply a little solder to the via. A much better fix is to pass a 24 or 30 gauge single strand wire through the via and solder on both sides of the PCB. This provides a mechanical as well as an electrical connection.

It still has some flakiness, but better then before. I will probable have to do all the vias, but not today.

My Kenwood TS-520S with the DG-5 digital display.
160 meter Sloper:

Finally was able to put up my 160 meter sloper. I have had this antenna for about three years now. I got it when I was still living in VT. Had a lot of trouble trying to get it up in a pine tree but was never successful.

However, it was not that difficult to put up here at my Georgetown home. I actually got the line over the tree in the front of the house the first try. A first for me hihi. It took me two days to finish only because I am having issues with my knees lately and didn't want to go up and down stairs too many times in one day. Getting old sucks!!

The picture is a little dark, but my 160m sloper is up. You can see my 80-10M OCF Windom dipole just above and to the right.

Ground line to ground rod.

Not the best picture but the view from the back yard.
There has been a couple of interesting discussions on the news/user group about head copying code and also using a computer to decode CW. If you get a chance, or haven't already done so, you might want to read through these treads. Also one on "My winter time QRN is back"started by Russ K1RWT. Russ lives in the next town over from me. I pass by his house when we do our grocery shopping. Nice house, almost downtown Groveland. Quite a few business around him. I suspect a heating system in one of them is what is causing his problem.
Month count overall QRO
Oct        51       63        51
Nov       33      129      90
Month count place
Oct        70      16

As you know we are at the minimum of the Sunspot cycle. But you can still get some DX in. Last month I was able to get Australia, Argentina  and Israel. Not bad for less then 100 Watts and a flat lander to boot!!

Well, I think I should stop this here. It has already taken me almost two months to just write this small bit.

All for now!

-73 Dave KB1WOD

Thursday, October 10, 2019

NearFest, Shack DONE, OCF Windom back up and some RFI issues solved!!

Well, it has been awhile. I guess it is time to do an update on things. Actually it has been a really long time. I started this post in the spring and it is now October. Gee, do I procrastinate.

Near-Fest (spring 2019)
Was not bad weather this Spring at Near-Fest. However, it seems vendors and the flea market have thinned out. I am not sure why. Maybe the fact that Boxborough Ham Fest is every year now is impacting Near-Fest.

I did buy three stereo cable with 1/4 inch plugs for my TKA key project. I am waiting for my shack to be complete to finish the project.

I did see Larry,  N1FG and of course he took some pictures for the "Rag Chew". Always nice to meet up with Larry.

The real tragedy was the church concession was not open. So no apple pie this year.

OCF Windom
Well I was able to put up my OCF Windom dipole. I took the EFHW antenna down. It had broken several times and needed to be retired. Glad I was able to get my OCF back up.

I think the root cause of the EFHW failure was because one end was tied to the porch, which did not allow any give when there was some wind. We had some 50 mph winds which put a lot of strain on the antenna. So I shouldn't be surprises it broke.

I am hoping since the OCF dipole is anchored in two trees, it will not be as prone to breakage.

OCF dipole

Closeup of OCF

Temporary mount for my Slim Jim 2m/70cm antenna. I hope to get it mounted  to the back of the garage when my ham shack is completed.

Toilet flange used as antenna wire input to ham shack.

Nothing too shattering form the Flex front. I did have a DAX issue that was caused by a Windows update. So I submitted a bug report and within a day Tim had the problem fixed. For some reason some of the DAX drivers got named wrong and Tim just had to rename them.

I must say Flex service is great. Never had an issue they could not solve.

Shack Update
The shack is finally complete and I have moved in!

Below are some pictures of the ham shack being built.

Since the room above the garage was never intended to be used, the contractor needed to add a beam down the middle of the floor because the span was too long for the joist. They also needed two beams across the width of the garage. One over the garage door and one in the back of the garage.
floor beam

This was the Faux door on the front of the garage.

Window to replace the Faux door.

Wall between shack and storage area

Storage area

Stairs and platform.
Open for business

The new shack!!

Of course setting up the shack was not without problems. When I was setting up, I started setting off the smoke/heat detectors in the garage, mostly 40M and 20M. If I reduced power, the problem would go away. My solution was to route the lead in coax from the antenna completely around  the back of the storage room and the shack. I also rearranged my layout so the radio is now towards the front of the garage and further away from the smoke/heat detectors. This solved my RFI issues with the smoke detectors and also greatly reduced the RFI into my speakers.

Here are my WES results. I didn't submit a May or June WES.

Month   count overall   QRO
April       42      86          57
July        55       27         17
Aug        29      72          52
Sept       13       172       123

Here are my Brag results for April to September. Not getting the 90+ brags that I was trying for every month. Kind of fell of the wagon.

Month    count     placed
April        21           42
May         59           26   I was bonus brag this month
June         28           24
July          48           21
Aug         36           16
Sept         36           21

That is it for now.

73 - Dave KB1WOD