N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
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February 2, 2014
With the iminent demise of Windows XP as a viable OS due to the withdrawal of support from Microsoft, I have decided that I will convert my back-up laptop that uses XP to a Linux OS. The advice from fellow hams so far has been to use the latest version of Umbutu with either Firefox or Chrome as the browser. Since I am not an experienced user of Linux of any flavor and since my brief forays into fixing my computers usually results in a disaster of minor or major proportions, I am going to depend on the kindness of a couple of fellow hams to get this accomplished. Wish me luck, I suspect this is going to be a bit of a wild ride for me.
February 4, 2014
The ARRL 100th Anniversary Convention Registration opened today and, of course, I signed up immediately. The cost is a bit more than your usual hamfest, but then this is no ordinary hamfest. My cost included at least two meals and registration for a number of activities. It also includes a new Centennial Badge and shirt. There are plenty of activities in and around Hartford CT to keep one occupied in the evening and besides, I will be staying with my son and his family for the duration. This sounds like a real good event for 2014 and I am quite sure I will enjoy my time there.
February 4, 2014
I just got back home after attending the monthly meeting of our local amateur radio club. I was struck by the realization that, here in Florida, there is a sizeable group of hams that we have not considered in our desire to provide information to "new" hams. That group is the many amateur radio ops who join us in Florida each winter. Some of them have been coming to our fair state every year, but a fairly large group every year are here for the first time. They may be very familiar with the repeater lists up North, and probably regularly attend meetings and hamfests during the summer when they are home. However, I have not yet seen any information disseminated for them while they are here in Florida. Over the next few days I plan on adding a few pages to this site with local repeater lists, meeting schedules and hamfest dates. I know this info is available elsewhere so some of my info will be links to the pages on other sites where that info is available. If you read this and know of a visiting ham near you, please pass the URL of this web site along to them so they can find this material easily. ADDENDUM: I couldn't wait so the page is already up and posted. You will find it at the bottom of the Navigation Panel on the left side. I hope it is of help.
February 5, 2014
I have added a link to the links page about coaxial cable. This was suggested by Steve, KG4LGB. A very good overview of most of the popular types of coax.
It has been a pretty exciting weekend around here. First I went to Orlando Hamcation and worked a day for my friend John Bee who owns Quicksilver Radio. I made it back home with lots of new goodies from the hamfest and promptly suffered a heart attack because a stent in my heart decided to choose that moment to plug up. Thankfully, the EMTs were there in a moment and a few nights in ther hospital resulted in a new stent and the complete resolution of all of my symptoms. It will take a few days to get back to normal, but I am up and about and my daughters, both of whom live relatively close by have been taking good care of me since I came home. Be careful about what you eat and drink and/or smoke. One of these days it could come back to bite.
February 12, 2014
I just finished my first duty as NCS since I got back from my stint in the hospital and all went well. The expressions of concern from my fellow operators were most appreciated. I plan on going out to do some shopping tomorrow. My next big job is to find a spot for the new 220 radio I purchased at Orlando. I still have not decided on installing it at home or in the car. Either way, I will have to find or build an antenna and design the final installation. It probably will mean a major re-fit either way.
February 17, 2014
This past weekend went either very well, or very poorly, depending on ones point of view. My family that lives in Florida came over Saturday and did all of the gardening that I have not been able to get to or simply unable to do. Unfortunately, I spent most of Friday in the Emergency Room as I had an episode of very high blood pressure. Even though the BP had dropped to relatively normal levels by the time I drove to the ER, they kept me a long time while they double checked all my lab work.
On a different subject, I have decided that the 220 radio I purchased in Orlando will be mounted in the car. Now I just have to design a mounting system such that the 220 radio, the FT-7900R, the GPS and the power control box can all live in harmony in what is probably one of the worst passenger compartments for mounting radios. Since I no longer smoke (post MI, you know) I think a complete rethink is in order. The ashtray is no longer part of the design and cup holders can become mounting points for radios. I can't wait to see what I come up with this time. Hi!
February 18, 2014
After consulting with my physician, I have decided to pull back from some of my duties in amateur radio. I will officially retire from the Eagle NTS Net tomorrow evening and our section manager, Dee Turner, N4GD, has agreed to decrease my duties as one of our Assistant Section Managers through the end of his term as SM. I will retain my post as Technical Coordinator for now since most of that duty can be done from my home. This scaling back is to provide more time for my cardiovascular rehabilitation and hopefully I can ramp up my activities soon. I will continue to keep this web site current and hopefully add new material as it becomes available.
February 19, 2014
I did my last stint (at least for a while) as a Net Control Station for the Eagle Net earlier tonight. I was of two minds really. On the one hand, I have been doing this bit for over ten years, and not doing it any more does leave a bit of a hole. On the other hand, there have been times when I wanted to be able to do something else on a Wednesday evening. The main reason for the change was stated in my last comment on the 18th. I will still be doing my thing with the Technical Net on Thursday evenings at 9 PM for the forseeable future, since I only have to be the NCS every third week. Phil, N8IPS and Darrell, KT4WX have been stellar in assisting me with the net duties and I trust that they will continue to do so.
February 26, 2014
Over the past week, I have gotten a few things done. I designed and built a new mobile installation since I am adding a 1.25 Meter radio to the FT-7900R that has been in the car for several years. I used two aftermarket cup holder devices that are intended to slide between the bench seats of my car. I put the two of them back to back and screwed then together. I then modified the tops of them so that I could mount both the 1.25 M radio and the control head for the 7900 on top, along with the external speakers for each and the power control switches that feed the radios and the GPS on the dash. The only remaining task, which my son will take care of over the weekend, is to feed the coax runs from the new antennas on the trunk lid to the radios in the passenger compartment. The 1.25 Meter transceiver has already been programmed with all of the 220 frequencies available in my area. Importent to note is that some of these are LISTEN ONLY because they are used for repeater linking rather than as stand alone repeaters. I also programmed an equal number of frequencies for the Connecticut area as I spend some time up there every year. I am feeling quite a bit better after my cardiac problems earlier in the month and hopefully that will continue.
A few days ago, someone reminded me that the updates are now in descending order, unlike the old web site where they were in ascending order. By that I mean that the newest update was at the top on the old site, now it is at the bottom of the page. I attempted to change this tonight (Feb. 2nd, 2014) but I ran into some problems, mostly of my own making. Thus, the new format will have to be maintained for the present time. Sorry for the change but at least the updates will still be here.
January 6, 2014
As I begin to rebuild the web site with a new host and new web site builder program I will make "updates" to this page as time goes on. My old "Updates" will probably be lost when the changeover officially happens so I decided to make a fresh start with the UPDATES blog as well. On the old site it was an integral part of the home page, but here it will be on a page of it's own. I hope visitors will take the time to read the UPDATES page when they visit the site.
January 10, 2014
All of the material that I had planned to move over from the old web site has now been safely secured to the new site. The only thing left to do is add a visitor counter which my son and I will do this weekend. This has been a major thrash to both move stuff to the new web site and to decide what not to bother moving. If you have visited the old site in the past and find that the page you were interested in no longer exixts, by all means send me an email via the contact page and I will try to send you the information that you require.
January 12, 2014
The visitor counter has been added, after a little finageling, and so Monday, which will be tomorrow, I will call my host and turn the web site loose on the world. Wish me luck!
January 13, 2014
The new web site is now up and live. It took a couple of tries, but we got it done. I really hope that the new look will be OK for those used to the old site.
January 14, 2014
The old web site, which was hosted by Verizon, has been permanently deleted this morning. I regret having to take this action but it appeared that many visitors were still being directed to the old site by their browsers as the hit count was still climbing on the old site and not on the new one. The old URL "mysite.verizon.net/cpthaines/" is no longer valid. All traces of that site are now gone forever. This new site "n1gy.com" contains almost all of the content from the old site.
January 18, 2014
Well, the new site has been up for a week now and seems to be doing ok. One problem that I did not think of when I deleted the old site, was that it created a bit of difficulty for people who used a search application like Google or Bing to find my new site. I found that if I searched for "n1gy" almost all of the results pointed to the Verizon url for the old site. I have been placing messages on some of the sites that I visit regularly like Yahoo Groups to inform readers that the site has moved. Even though I have had the www.n1gy.com domain name for several years, most search engines save the underlying url which used to be with Verizon.
Oh well, the notifications that I have placed seem to be having some effect as the visitor counter on the new site seems to be moving up more rapidly than it did at the start. I am sure it will take a while for the search engines to get used to the new url.
January 23, 2014
It encourages me that in the 10 days that the new web site has been up and running, the vistor count now shows that 500 people have paid the site a visit. One of the problems with moving any site is that visitors who have not been to the site in a while often have a bit of trouble finding the new site. It would appear that is no longer a problem. I am very appreciative of every visitor that comes to my simple little web site as it means that there are others out there who enjoy building accessories and antennas as much as I do. Keep on building, that is one of the things that makes amateur radio so much fun.
January 27, 2014
The shipment of 100 ATL-307 headsets arrived from my supplier today. I have already tested several of the new units and the transmit and receive audio quality is excellent. I suspect that the 100 units will last me for a while. These are what I refer to as "earsets" because they are small enough that they simply hook over ones ear like a cellular headset. They are wired for use with a standard PC and can be used for Skype without any modification. The headset adaptor that I build and occasionally sell provides connection to a number of different transceivers from Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood, as well as Wouxun and Baofeng. I have used this design exclusively at my operating position for several years because they are extremely light and the audio quality is excellent. When the adaptors that I have in hand are delivered, I will be ordering more enclosures so I can build another batch. If anyone wants to try these units out, just email me at email@example.com for a quote and delivery time estimate.
January 29, 2014
Today, I tried a new technique for me. I constructed a small enclosure from double-sided circuit board material. It really was not my intention to go this route, but my local Radio Shack did not have any small metal enclosures (as usual). They did have a plain double-sided copper clad circuit board so a snap decision was made to try a different construction. Cutting the board into the 6 small rectangles for the enclosure was relatively easy, if slightly tedious.
I clamped the circuit board between a piece of plywood and an aluminum plate with the edge of the aluminum right on a line I had previously drawn on the circuit board. I then scribed the line with a utility knife on both sides of the board and simply snapped the board in two. Repeating this for each line drawn on the material took some time, but with careful measuring and attention to detail, I managed to create 6 small rectangles with the holes for the connectors and switches predrilled to the needed sizes. Unlimbering the "big" soldering gun, I soldered one end and one side panel together at a 90 degree angle. I then soldered the two "l-shaped assemblies into a reasonably sqared up box with open sides. I completed the wiring of the circuit and then applied the sides, cut slightly oversize, so that I could solder them onto the box from the outside of the enclosure. completely shielding the circuit inside.
What was I building, you may ask? It is a simple step attenuator for use with my "fox hunting" or RDF antenna. It uses only two DPDT switches and six resistors plus the two connectors. The circuit is available at several site online so I will not duplicate it here. The circuit is easy to construct and the instructions I found on line were easy to follow. The reason I mention the project at all is because the technique of constructing an enclosure using double-sided circuit board is new to me. I found it to be a very viable method of making a custom enclosure when a manufactured metal enclosure is not available or is not the right size for a project. If enough interest is expressed, I will add a picture of the enclosure in the near future.
I just wanted to let you know that making your own custom enclosures is not all that difficult. I figure if I can do it, then so can anybody else.