N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
As you have probably noticed, I have added a "Page Two" to the UPDATES pages. The first page was getting a little long. Some would say I don't know when to shut up. In any case, I decided to add the second page and this time I will add any new "updates" at the top of the page, so that one does not have to scroll all the way to the bottom to see if I added anything. I hope you like the new format for the "Updates" pages
May 29, 2016
I made the trek up to Pinellas Park on Saturday to try and sell a few of my little projects at the 2016 "Wormfest". This is a very enjoyable tailgate style hamfest put on by the "Glorious Society of The Wormhole" an amateur radio club in the aforesaid Pinellas Park. The day went better than I could have hoped. My Powerpole distribution blocks with the extra pigtail were a hit and I sold several of my headset adapters with the headsets. A very fun day for all and I was on my way home by 11am. Next is suspect I will be ordering more Powerpoles to make more of the blocks.
May 24, 2016
I have just completed another project that went surprisingly well. A portable unit using the 25 watt version of the JT-270 called the JT-270MH. A 7 AH SLA battery plus the radio and an old ammo can plus a few scraps of aluminum angle and some wire and powerpoles and the job was complete. I did have to order a dual band antenna which will arrive tomorrow. I have added a page to the web site about the project. Testing will have to wait for the arrival of the antenna.
May 21, 2016
The other day I came across another interesting item in the same Dollar Tree store where I got the USB chargers I have written about previously. The item in question is called a "self portrait button" by the people who make it (or at least import it). I looked at it and instantly thought that it just might be a good PTT switch. I purchased one or two and took them home to check it out. I tested the switch as built and discovered that it showed several hundred ohms across the contacts when the button was pushed. That made it not really suitable for PTT without some mods. The unit was disassembled with ease and a small PCB was found with a standard tactile switch at it's center with several surface mount components surrounding the switch. I determined that there was absolutely nothing on the reverse side of the PCB. The switch itself was de-soldered from the PCB which was then inverted. The switch was hot glued to the empty side of the board and the thin wires of the cord were re-attached to the switch terminals. Make sure you wear your reading glasses for this project, the parts are very small, Reassembling the switch in its tiny enclosure is at best a fiddely task. The hot glue must not elevate the switch off the board even a hairs breadth or the switch will be pressed by the enclosure ant the PTT will be stuck in Transmit. It has taken me a couple of tries with each unit. At the other end of the cord (about 48" long), I cut off the TRRS plug at the end and substituted a standard 3.5mm mono plug. Most of the headset adapters I use have a supplemental mono jack on the side to allow for a remote PTT switch. I am very satisfied with the results. The new switch is easy and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time and there does not appear to be any of the "bounce and momentary loss of connection" that seems to affect some other PTT switches. Time will tell, but I have already built a new adapter for the headset I use on my IC-706MkIIG. The new adapter has only a jack for the new PTT switch and no built in switch at all. I do not plan on eliminating the built in PTT switch for all the adapters but it does make for an interesting project. I have added a new page about it on the site. Did I mention the price ...... That's right $1.00
May 7, 2016
The latest little project here was to rebuild the power distribution box (PDB) that underpins two of my radios and their associated mic selector boxes. The old version of the PDB was about 1 inch too short so the mic selector boxes hung over on both sides of the PDB. I built a new front and top from 1/8" ABS plastic sheet (as were the old parts) and reassembled the PDB. All the same switches are still on the new version, the only item left off was the illuminated "ON AIR" sign that used to reside in the middle of the front panel. Of course, that "small" project resulted in having to take at least half of the connecting power wires out for repair and replacement. It took until the next day to get everything back together the way they should be. All this because a home-brewed box was 3/4 of an inch too short. Maybe one of these days I will learn to leave well enough alone, ya think.
May 2, 2016
I will be adding another page in a few days, as soon as I get the pictures taken. The new page will be about a portable power source for an HT or your cell phone. The source consists of 16 AA cells arranged in two banks of 8 each. The banks feed in parallel through an on/off switch to a single pair of Powerpoles and a 1 amp USB female jack. In addition there is a plug-in accessory that has two USB female jacks in an enclosure with a coil cord terminated with a matching set of Powerpoles to connect to the battery pack. The pack even has a belt clip for transport. I discovered that those little cigar lighter USB chargers that one can get at places like "Dollar Tree" for $1 each are very easy to adapt to any sort of battery power pack as long as it provides 12 volts to the USB circuitry. More on the new page to come.
April 27, 2016
I added a new page to the site today. It is called "An Easy Code Oscillator" and the link appears at the bottom of the nav panel on the left. This is a very easy project for anyone who wants to learn Morse Code The total cost for parts including the enclosure is less than $7.00. The J-38 key or an imitation J-38 will cost more but it will remain on the desk forever.
April 23, 2016
Today was a day of laziness for me. I did build two Powerpole Devices more as an exercise than for a specific need. Last year I purchased a 4 pair Powerpole power splitter and had a good experience with it in setting up the power distribution for my mobile installation. The only thing that I could even mildly carp about was that because one had to use one of the pairs to input power one rally only had 3 pairs available for power out. I realized that the 3/32" welding rod I have been using for antenna building was also ideal for soldering to the 30 amp contacts of a Powerpole connector. I cut 4 equal lengths about 2" long. The length is not critical but the fact that all four are exactly the same length is.Soldering a 30 amp contact to each end of each piece of welding rod was easy, remembering to have one contact facing in the opposite direction to the one on the other end of the same bit of welding rod took a bit more thought. Once all the contacts were soldered, the housings were assembled into groups of 4, two red and two black in the usual configuration. Making sure all of the contacts were shaped for easy insertion made the job of inserting and locking the contacts in place go smoothly. I then constructed a short flexible 12 gauge zip cord with a Powerpole pair at one end and the other end of each wire stripped about 1". Using my big soldering gun, I then soldered the stripped ends to the appropriate pairs of welding rods between the two sets of Powerpole pairs. This will take a good hot soldering tool and a bit of time to make sure that each wire contacts both welding rods on the respective sides. A sleeve of heat shrink (about 1" diameter) over the exposed wire and welding rod and covering the back ends of each of the housing assemblies was placed and shrunk into position using a heat gun. Comparing my little projects with the commercially made one I had on hand left me with a feeling that the handiwork would stand inspection. The advantage of having all four Powerpole sets available for output because input is handled by the connector on the end of the short wire section was worth the amount of time designing and building the device. Here is a photo of the two distribution blocks that were built today.
April 18, 2016
The latest project at N1GY is a rather neat antenna that offers 2 meter and 70 centimeter coverage in a end fed vertical dipole. The link to the article that I found on the Internet is: http://9amtalk.net/new2/sites/default/files/DualBand2.pdf I have constructed a test unit with materials I had laying around the radio room. I have yet to test the antenna with my antenna analyzer just because I have been a bit busy. Hopefully, this week I will find the time.
April 9, 2016
The other day, I purchased a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of 1/8" ABS plastic sheet material. It has a smooth finish on one side and what the manufacturer calls "hair cell" finish on the other. I have used this material for years to build enclosures and other items that are best made from an insulating material like ABS. As an example, the power distribution box that supports two of my radios and their associated microphone selectors along with the external speakers. I also used the same material to construct a base for the vertical dual band dipole that is connected to the radio on my mobility scooter. A few words are in order about this material. It can easily be scored with a utility knife and the required bit snapped off. The material also responds well to bending with heating to soften the material to form tabs and the like. The company I purchased the ABS from was nice enough to saw it into four 2' x 4' sections so I could transport it easily to my home. I also picked up some edging material that will make it much easier to build enclosures in the future. The owner was most kind and helpful and I can imagine doing business with his company well into the future.
April 3, 2016
Today I built a different version of the Audio Jack Tool. This time I used the same UG-176 but I paired that with a PC bolt (the kind that one uses to secure a board to the mainframe of the PC. Look at the back of any desktop and you will see the kind of bolt I am referring to.)I filed the flange of the bolt head down so the bolt would fit in between the two "ears" that I cut into the end of the UG-176. I then hammered the head of the bolt firmly into the body of the 176 and soldered it to said UG-176. Looking into the adapter, one can easily see the Phillips cross slots at the top of the bolt. If one needs more torque than just gripping the top of the adapter, just stick a Phillips screwdriver into the top and engage the top of the bolt with the screwdriver and turn the adapter as you need to. I did think about adding something to secure the UG-176 to the Phillips screwdriver, but I could not come up with a home brewed solution so I left it as is. I will add that I deliberately cut the "ears" quite a bit wider than the final dimension because the full size hacksaw I was using made that necessary. I then filed the ears down to the final dimension so they would fit the slots in the audio jack retaining ring. This evening, I received permission from Alan Kastner, a radio enthusiast from Japan to use his photo of the tool that started the Audio Jack Tool project. Said photo has been added to the "Home-brewed Audio Jack Tool" page along with a bit more text.
March 29, 2016
The new page I promised yesterday about the Audio Jack Tool, has been added, with photographs. This evening I even added a new photo showing the much nicer handle that I adapted to the "Earphone Jack Nut Driver" AKA "The Home-brewed Audio Jack Tool", I hope you will enjoy it and perhaps be encouraged to build one for yourself.
March 28, 2016
I have been looking for a very rare tool most of the day without success. A fellow ham who at one time resided in Japan has a picture on his web site of this tool which is used to tighten the small knurled nut or ring that secures a panel mount 3.5mm audio jack to the panel in which it is installed. Most of the time one just uses a pair of pliers of some sort, but the risk is always there of scratching the panel or otherwise making a hash of it. The ham from Japan used to frequent the small electronics shops in Tokyo and one day he found a source for this particular tool. It is built like a nut driver in a sense but the outer ring is shaped to interact with the small slots 180 degrees apart on the knurled ring while a 1/8" rod in the middle keeps the tool properly in line with the jack and the ring.
Since I could not find one to buy, I decided to take a shot at building one. Initially I was going to use a concentric series of brass tubes and brass rod to build the device, but in looking through my storehouse of parts I discovered that a UG-176 coax adapter is exactly the right size to make the tube with the small tabs that engage the slots in the audio jack nut. I also discovered that a pair of small nuts could be filed to slip inside the UG-176. The interior holes in the nuts were carefully drilled out with a 1/8" drill in my drill press to fit the 1/8" brass rod that I purchased at a local hobby shop. With the protruding length of the brass rod set by clamping it in a vise and sliding the UG-176 over it, I proceeded to heat the UG-176 and the brass rod with a small butane torch until the solder wicked between the nut and both the brass rod and the adapter. I then slid the second nut over the brass rod protruding from the back of the adapter until it was sitting on the adapter. I then used the same technique as before to solder the nut to the adapter and to the rod. After all the metals had cooled down (assisted by a little cold water), I set to designing a handle for the new tool. This after verifying that the business end worked just as I had hoped. I tried several solutions for a handle and eventually soldered 6 one inch chunks of the 1/8" rod around the upper end of the rod about 4 inches back from the working end. I first secured them with wire ties and then with copper wire. I then removed the wire ties and proceeded to apply flux and solder using a large soldering gun (140 watts). It took a few tries but eventually all six pieces were secured to the central rod. After the cool down, I slipped a length of rubber hose of the proper diameter over the assemblage at the handle end of the tool and tested it again. The handle is not overly big in diameter but it does give me enough of a grip to properly secure the audio jack to the panel or enclosure it is mounted on or in. I will be adding another page with drawings and photos for anyone who might like to create a duplicate.
March 26, 2016
Another major change has begun. I am finally fed up with AOL and their needless and irritating changes and malfunctions. I have begun to transfer over my favorites file to Internet Explorer in a gradual process. I am quite sure there is an easier way to do this but at the moment I do not know of it. Update on the changes at the work bench: Maybe it is just me working harder to keep it clean, but the work bench appears much neater since the changes mentioned below.
March 20, 2016
This weekend I spent a bit of time making some adjustments to my workbench. In order to lessen the mass of power cords at the back of the bench I shortened several power cords so that the bulk of the cords are gone. I have a new four-foot, ten outlet power strip coming on Monday and this will also neaten the space up considerably while only taking up about 3 inches from the back edge of the work surface. That area was always a catchall anyway. I also rebuilt the control and the wiring for the bench 12 volt power supply. The unit puts out a max of about 12 amps but that is plenty to work on most of the radios at the station. I also have a variable power supply which has a max of about 3-4 amps which I can vary from 0 volts to about 15 volts. Gradually, the work area will come together.
March 14, 2016
Jim, KE4INM came over today to assist me in figuring out what is going on with my West Mountain Radio Targetuner antenna controller for my Lil Tarheel II antenna. After a lot of messing about we discovered with a phone call to West Mountain that yes the IC-706MkIIG is a beast when it comes to antenna controllers and yes the only way to work with the system is to turn down the power to 10 watts, change to CW or RTTY and then hold down the PTT until the controller gets the antenna to where it is supposed to be. Wish I had been told that the first time. That means my Turbo Tuner II is also working properly so it will be put up for sale. After making so many changes to the set-up in the car to accommodate the Targetuner, I just don't feel like ripping it all out to accommodate the Turbo. I almost wonder if the simple old toggle switch the antenna came with would not be easier. Oh Well!!!
March 12, 2016
Well, my Tarheel antenna arrived on schedule and has been reinstalled. That is the extent of the good news on that score. The antenna controller I purchased at Orlando last month still refuses to play nice with the antenna so I have resorted to the strictly manual toggle switch method of control for the present. I have put out an SOS for assistance with the problem. On a happier note, the photos I promised have been added to the newest page of the site (very bottom of the nav panel on the left.) about ground plane antennas.
March 10, 2016
My Tarheel antenna is supposed to arrive tomorrow so I hope I will have it reinstalled by tomorrow night. In other goings-on, I have added a new page to the site. It deals with the relatively easy construction of ground plane antennas using 3/32' welding rod and an SO-239. The major problem with this type of antenna is making the solder connection between the center pin of the SO-239 and the vertical radiator element strong enough to last. I think I have solved that problem by using a small brass "insert" that actually forms a ferrule connecting the center pin to the radiator. You can see on the new page how it is used and I plan to add pictures of the completed antenna and it's construction tomorrow. For now the line drawing will have to do.
March 7, 2016
The news about my wayward gear is much better today. My MFJ-266C arrived back from MFJ "un-repaired" but magically running on all cylinders again. It must have needed a vacation from sitting on my book shelf for so long. I just talked to the nice people at Tarheel Antennas and my Lil Tarheel II is on its way back to me with a new sensor and a new pigtail. Hopefully, with the new cable I built to connect it to the Targetuner controller, that should resolve the problems I was having with the tuning of the antenna.
February 27, 2016
Saturday was a better day. I was a speaker at the Second Annual Technical Conference in the West Central Florida Section of the ARRL. I gave a little talk on tools and testing gear for the amateur radio operator which by all accounts was well received. The star of the event was Ed Hare, W1RFI from the ARRL Lab in Wethersfield CT. Ed gave two talks, one on "Behind the Scenes at the ARRL HQ. Hilarious! and another later in the day on antenna modelling and propagation. There were about the same number of attendees as last year so I deem the event a success again. The Hillsborough County EOC was a good location with sufficient room for two parallel tracks of presentations going on at the same time both morning and afternoon. All in all, a good day.
February 25, 2016
Unfortunately, I had to send my screwdriver antenna back to Tarheel because after some diagnostic exercises we discovered that the sensors in the antenna are not sending any info to the new controller. Furthermore, I had a discussion with MFJ yesterday wherein they admitted that the 266C that I sent them in Mid December has not even been looked at because they have no way of repairing it. They re-badge another manufacturers device for the 266C and they do not have any way of fixing it if it breaks. The fact that it took them three whole months to admit this is absolutely ridiculous. The fact that they are selling a device with no way to repair it is unbelievable. I am going to search long and hard for someone who can repair my 266C. If I cannot find anyone, then I will not be buying anything more from MFJ. By the way, I found the original manufacturer of the 266C on Amazon for less than what MFJ charges. Give you any ideas?
February 22, 2016
Several of my ham friends came over last Friday and we discovered that the coax leading to the VHF/UHF antenna for the IC-706MkIIG had a serious short in the line. Ed, NI4MX went up on the roof and the entire run of coax was replaced. As it turned out, under certain conditions, that coax also had a dead short as well. The saving grace was that if I put a bit of tension on the coax at the lower pl-259, the short disappeared. I am awaiting a new shipment of crimp on connectors and will replace that connector when they come in.
On another, much more pleasant note, I was able to present Jon, KE8DEM with the ARRL First Contact Certificate. Jon and I communicated as his first ham radio contact a couple of weeks ago and so I asked the ARRL to send me the certificate to present to him. The very first contact that a new ham makes is a very significant milestone and it deserves to be memorialized.
Yet another update from here is that I purchased a new 25 watt dual band radio from R and L at Orlando Hamcation. That radio, the Jetstream JT-270MH has now been programmed and returned to its box. I plan on keeping it as a spare and/or as a loaner to be parceled out on a temporary basis for any club member who has need of it. A 25 watt dual band mobile rig for less than $100. How can you go wrong. I already have the 10 watt version mounted on my mobility scooter and it works great. I expect the high power version to do just as well.
February 17, 2016
At least part of my previously mentioned problem has been solved. Dave, KM4AJC came over today and between the two of us we managed to complete the pass-through in the back wall and reconnect all 4 antennas to the new pass-through. After Dave left I was able to put PL-259's on all four runs of cable and hook up all three radios. For some reason the VHF/UHF antenna connected to the IC-706MkIIG is showing me very low return signal from the repeaters but the one connected to the FT-7800R is showing full power return. It looks like more investigation is necessary. The caulking and protection for the outside portion of the pass through remains to be done.
February 16, 2016
A new problem has reared it's ugly head at N1GY of late. Some critter that got under the house has been chewing on my coax runs. Both of the runs to the two dual band (VHF/UHF) antennas have been savaged by this creature. It even bit one of the coax lines completely in half.I suspect that the other one is not far behind. Apparently they do not like the electrical field around the coax when I am transmitting and so they attack the coax. My pest control guy is coming to try and make the critters vacate the premises (the crawl space under the house) and when I can get some help to re-run new coax I am going to run it inside conduit for as long as it needs to be under the house. At my age, I will need help to replace the coax runs. Even I don't trust myself on a ladder or on the roof. I have redesigned the entry point into the house. It will bring 4 coax runs through the back wall of the radio room with four SO-239's on an enclosure outside and short coax runs going through the wall to the radios. The external portion is all made and I just have to get a long drill to drill 4 holes through the wall. The enclosure will be secured to the outside siding and caulked to avoid any leaks. I will put Pl-259's on the cables after they come into the radio room.
February 7, 2016
Today, I did a major cleanup of one of the pages here in the web site, Specifically, the page on the Headset Adapters for Yaesu Radios. I looked at the diagrams and they were all for the old wired headsets for cellphones which used a single 2.5mm stereo plug and jack. These types are getting very hard to find in the age of Bluetooth and smart phones. The smart phone type of wired headsets looked promising but ground loop problems have put that headset on the back burner so to speak. I went back to the design I have been using for several years very successfully. It uses PC or "Skype" style headsets which use two 3.5mm stereo plugs. The circuitry in the adapter is almost identical except for how specific wires attach to which jack. The new diagrams and text include colored coded wiring diagrams and details on the splicing of the external speaker connecting cable into the main cable from the radio to the adapter. I hope this helps in clarifying the project.
I have also done a general look around and I found several other pages in need of repair. In some cases text and images had slipped and now overlapped. In other cases, a new picture was taken to replace an older, fuzzier one. Some text was rewritten as well. Web site maintenance is not a "file it and forget it" deal. I find I spend several hours a month doing clean-up and editing of pages as the amateur radio field evolves and progresses.
January 31, 2016
Jim, KE4INM sent me an email via Facebook to let me know that one of my articles that appeared in QST back in 2013 was put to good use by another ham on the National Parks on The Air user group. The photo accompanying Jim's message showed a tilt mount built to the design that I published in QST and elsewhere here on the web site. Will, the ham who took inspiration from my article did an excellent job and substituted a metal panel where I had used an oak plank. A lot of ham projects are influenced by the materials that are available. Good job Will and thanks to KE4INM for passing it along.
January 24, 2016
The mess in the radio room is pretty much cleaned up. I was going to attempt a re-sorting of the stuff in the 2-drawer cabinet but difficulties with coming up with a better system have stalled that effort. The final stage will be to attack the two 4-drawer cabinets on the other side of the operating position. These have not been sorted or otherwise cleaned out in years. With that task done, (no, I do not have a deadline for that), the redesign of the radio room will be done, at least for a while.
January 17, 2016
Along with having to re-arrange the position of the printer, I got kind of gathered up in a "winter cleaning" phase. By the time the week was over, I had re-packaged and relabeled 18 years of QSTs, cleaned out and restocked all of the drawers in my desk, my workbench and most of the shelves around my radio room. I found some items that I had totally forgotten about, got rid of at least 75 pounds of junk that I know I will never need, and I really am enjoying being able to open a drawer and actually find what I am looking for without having to fight my way through all the stuff I don't need. This is not a New Year's Resolution, just a reaction to the mess I found once I started moving the new printer to a new location.
January 8, 2016
I had to buy a new printer yesterday and that has resulted in a major revamp of the operating position at least on the left side. The printer now resides on the desk so I can see the LCD display on the top of the printer. The "music stand" that used to reside there has been elevated on a shelf over the printer. Since I was doing all this remodeling, I thought it only fair that I should update the 'My Radio Room" page on the site.
January 3, 2016
Several projects have been accomplis hed today. First, the annoying source of the RFI caused "Beeping noise" has been identified and removed. It turned out to be a new battery powered horn that I had installed on my scooter. Apparently the Chinese manufacturer does not know about shielding his product from RFI. Second, the 4-conductor wiring harness that was required to switch from the screwdriver antenna controller to the IT-100 auto-tuner for an outside antenna has been installed and to all appearances works fine. I would have liked to use a 4PDT toggle switch but all I had were two DPDT mini toggles so I used them instead. I may yet convert to the 4PDT switch but I am in no rush. Third, the switching power supply and extension cord has been re-installed without a problem. That completes the current project list for the van. I can now switch from internal antennas to external ones with the flip of a few switches, rather than having to unhook multiple coax lines and control lines. I can also switch from battery power to 110 VAC also with the flip of a switch. That will make Field Days and public service events pretty much of a snap. Now I can concentrate on finishing the final few steps in constructing my Rocket 88 antenna. I just have to verify and lock in the actual lengths of the dipole legs and solder those joints. Then add some lengths of rope to each end insulator and we will be ready to go. In an unrelated decision, I have removed the page on headsets using the new "smart phone" TRRS plug standard until I can solve a serious ground loop problem with the design of the adapter. I have gone back to the "Skype"style headset that uses two 3.5 mm stereo plugs as there is no ground loop problem with this design.
December 31, 2015
Unfortunately, the cure for the RFI in my van did not last. As long as the new power supply is unplugged and the extension cord that powers it is removed, all is well. I suspect that the problem will be ultimately resolved by changing the location of the power supply to the rear of the van and using a 12 volt extension cord to connect to the radio system, I hope. On a different note, the IT-100 auto-tuner has arrived from HRO and I have made a short extension to allow the tuner to be mounted remotely from the main body of the 706. Since the LDG tuner and the controller for the screwdriver antenna use different ports on the 706, (the Turbo Tuner II uses the C-IV port and the LDG uses the AH-4 tuner port) I am hoping there will be no problems. The LDG tuner will be used to operate a wire dipole antenna mounted on a mast for events like Field Day and public service situations. I am about to admit that the complexity of the radio installation in the van has reached a "go no further" point. One of my older vehicles from my CAP days had 11 antennas and 6 different radios in the console but that was a 1980's SUV and they were much simpler then.
December 28, 2015
After I installed the power supply in the van, I was very surprised to get an RFI problem, specially since I have not had any RFI issues in the van before. After a hectic search for the problem, I asked my fellow ham, Steve if he had any suggestions. He replied "Have you checked the coax runs in the van?". I had not so that became my next step. Sure enough, the PL-259 on the end of the coax from the new dual band antenna had loosened up. A quick re-seat and all was well with the world. Just in case, I added ferrite chokes to the electrical cord that powers the new Power Supply and also to the extension for the cable that will connect to the new LDG tuner that should arrive on Wednesday. The tuner will allow the use of the new HF dipole antenna I just built for operations from fixed locations like Field Day and public service events. It has been a hectic day but hopefully the problems are in the past.
December 27, 2015
It was a complete surprise today when the postman delivered a package on a Sunday. The package was the items I ordered from Quicksilver Radio: a switching power supply and the new jaws for my crimping tool that will allow me to start crimping the PL-259s onto the coax when I need to do a repair or to make a new run of coax. It has taken me some time to come around to the idea of crimping coax connectors but having recently needed to replace a PL-259 outside in the weather has convinced me to at least try it. John Bee of Quicksilver has been doing it that way for years and I have never had one of his coax jumpers be bad so I will give it a go. The power supply has been mounted under the passenger seat in my van and it is connected to the radio system via a SPDT switch that allows me to switch from the van's battery to the power supply if 110 VAC is available from a gen set or an outside AC receptacle. Over the weekend I also built an antenna to the dimensions of Quicksilver's Rocket 88 antenna. I will have to get another autotuner from LDG for that antenna but it should work out well with the 22 foot telescopic mast that fits on the trailer hitch at the back of the van. I have added pictures and text to the "My Mobile Installation" page.
December 24, 2015
I got an email today from a ham in a foreign country asking about the Boom Mic article on the site. In answering his questions I realized that I had left the circuit diagram off of that particular page. That oversight has now been corrected.
It being Christmas Eve here in Florida, I want to sincerely wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 22, 2015
My Son-in Law, Mike and my grandson Jake came over today and they replaced both of the outside outlets that were problematic. Now I can plug the car in to charge my scooter with a short extension cord that I built from the left over cable that I had from adding a short extension cord to the interior of the van. This will simplify my situation greatly. The needed power supply has been ordered and is on it's way here, along with some other tools and parts that I ordered from my pal John at Quicksilver Radio. Now seems like the appropriate time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December 20, 2015
Well, it turned out that both of the two DPDT Center Off switches that I had on hand were bad. One side worked the other did not. I went out and purchased a new one only to find out I had bought a switch that was momentary only on both sides. DRAT!! I finally got a switch today that is a single pole double throw center off switch and tied the ground wires together with a bolt and plenty of heat shrink to insulate the grounds from everything else. That switch worked fine. Now I have it mounted in the grille that faces the passenger side of the console. Now when I want to work a public service event or a Field Day, I just have to plug the car into a gen set or an outside outlet and throw the switch to power the radios etc. from a switching power supply. The PS will reside under the passenger seat and the pigtail to connect to it is already run. Ditto for the AC power cord from the back of the van to the front under said passenger seat. Once the PS arrives from Quicksilver Radio I will secure it under the seat to prevent it from becoming a projectile in a crash.
I also discovered that the outside outlets at the front and back doors of the house are wired incorrectly although the CGFI outlet that supposedly feeds both of them is OK. I have put a call into my son-in-law Mike who is a journeyman electrician. Hopefully it will not take too long to get the problem resolved. When we do it will make charging the car up much easier as the run to the oulet will be about 5 feet. That is enough work for one day, I am going to watch some TV.
December 17, 2015
Today, I started work on a new project. My van is equipped with a 120 volt AC line that runs from the front of the van to a receptacle in the back. It was originally installed to remove the need to unload my mobility scooter in order to recharge it. As I configure the van to be able to be operated for events like field day, it occurred to me that adding a switching power supply to the system would avoid having to run the van's engine to keep the battery topped up. So I designed and built a harness which allows me to switch from the car battery to a 25-30 amp power supply when AC mains or generator power is available. I plan to keep the power supply stored until it is needed and then plug it into a leg of the harness. The harness has a DPDT center off switch which will select either the car battery or the power supply to power the radio system in the car. The switch will be mounted in one of the grilles that surround the radio enclosure in the center console. The harness is built, tomorrow I will install it in the van.
December 13, 2015
Today I rested up after spending Friday and Saturday at the Tampa Bay Hamfest in Plant City FL. The event was a good one. Jerry, AE4XW and I shared a table. He was selling off some of his surplus (to his needs) gear including an Icom IC-7100. He sold that and quite a bit more. I was selling my headset adapters for IC-703, 706, and 7000, FT-817,857,897 and FT-7800, 7900, 8800, and 8900. The FT-817 and 857 units were easily the stars of the event at my table, I sold 3 along with a mic selector and several items that were surplus to my needs. The new adapters use a much smaller enclosure and are built to use a smart-phone headset with the new TRRS plug. It looks like a stereo plug but with an extra ring, hence the T (tip) R (ring 1) R (ring 2) S (sleeve). Strangely enough, the sleeve is not ground, but mic+, Ring 2 is the ground and the tip and Ring 1 are Left and right audio. With the headsets that I supply, left and right are combined into a mono feed because the headset only has one earphone. They are extremely light, but provide excellent audio on both transmit and receive. I have already built two more to the FT-857 standard to replace some of the ones I sold at the Hamfest. I have placed a paragraph on the Home Page of the site announcing that I will supply these on a limited basis. If you are interested, email me via the Contact Page on this site.
December 10, 2015
I posted a picture of my new license plate on the Home Page of this site and also on my Facebook page. Glad to finally have the plate after all these years.
December 9, 2015
My new amateur radio license plate arrived yesterday from the Manatee County tax collector. I have installed it on my van with the ARRL license plate surround that I have had for several years. It looks great, even if the call sign is a little difficult to see because of the oranges and leaves in the background. Still, I am glad to finally have my call sign as my license plate after all these years. On another note, I am going to have company at my table at the Tampa Bay Hamfest. A friend from the local club will be sharing the table and selling some of his extraneous equipment.
December 3, 2015
As this week comes to a close in a day or two, I must admit it has been quite a week. I had my second cataract surgery, also successful. I now, at least for the present, no longer need glasses of any kind. On a different note, I am planning to have a table at the Tampa Bay Hamfest and try to sell a few goodies that I have accumulated over the years along with some headsets that I have built for various Icom and Yaesu radios. They work very well but some people still can't get used to using a cell phone sized headset with ham radio gear. I hope to change their minds. I have been using this type of headset for years. They are very light, have great audio and cost far less than the units produced by commercial companies. Time will tell.
November 24, 2015
It has been a very satisfactory day here at N1GY. A friend came over unexpectedly and assisted me in running the coax successfully outside. Later a neighbor assisted me in putting the home brewed antenna and short mast up on the back of the house. I was informed by park management today that my antennas are "grandfathered in" but any new antennas must not be visible from the road. That is fine, I really don't have any more space for radios and thus antennas anyway. The 220 antenna is the last for now and it is so small that even if I had not placed it out of site on the back wall, I doubt anyone would have noticed it anyway. I do need to get some caulk because we had to move the antenna mount up the wall about 2 inches to find a solid attachment point. The old holes are visible and will admit water until they are sealed. The report on the effectiveness of the new 220 radio is that on low power (5 watts) I can hit the local repeater full quieting. The audio is reported to be perfect at low power as well. Good week so far.
November 23, 2015
It has been an interesting day so far. I built the headset adapter for the JT222M (that has not arrived yet) after the folks at Jetstream were kind enough to send me an email with the pin=outs for the hand mic as an attachment. I built the adapter, but then I started thinking about several aspects of the addition of the new radio. An extra headset at the op position is going to create a certain level of complication more than there already is. The mic selector box is going to make a certain lack of continuity in how the array of radios line up now. I therefore have decided to eliminate the mic selector and the headset adapter for the JT-222M. I am putting them away in my "storage space". The JT-222M and speaker will now align with the scanner and it's speaker right next to it. The scanner has had all of the amateur frequencies deleted,(I hope) leaving only the aviation and military aviation frequencies in it. Thus no feedback and just the background noise of pilots and ATC going about the business of aviating. UPDATE: The JT222M arrived today and has already been programmed with the local frequencies on the 220 band. All that is left is to mount my home-brewed antenna as a standoff to one of the dual band antenna masts and run the coax into the radio room. That will be a chore as I will have to get under the desk and try to catch the coax with a grabber tool. The spot where the coax runs come into the house is difficult to access without dis-assembling half of the radio room. I will attempt it tomorrow but if I run into problems I will wait for assistance on Friday.
November 22, 2105
Today was a busy day. I had previously built a mic selector for the FT-7900R but when that radio wound up in the van, the selector was rendered superfluous. Thus I converted it from 6 pin RJ-12 to 8 pin RJ-45. As it turned out it was a longer job than intended because I found a few switch contacts that did not work so several lines had to be rerouted. After a lot of headscratching and a lot of solder smoke, I got the selector to work on all 10 lines. You might say "10, RJ-45's only have 8" Ah yes grasshopper but the extra two are to switch the external speaker to the headset phones. I will not be able to build the headset adapter until I see the pin-outs for the JT222M mic. All I know for sure is that it uses an RJ-45 as a mic connector.
November 21, 2015
Today, I ordered a second 220 radio from R&L. The new transceiver will be put into service at my home station. I have already cleared off a portion of a shelf above the operating position to accommodate both the 220 radio and the scanner I mentioned a few days ago. The real trick will be running coax for both units outside. Probably gonna need a little help with that one.
November 19, 2015
Today, I added a scanner to the radios in my radio room. I actually have had the scanner for quite a while but I just got around to erasing the frequencies that were programmed into it by the previous owner and punching in mostly aviation frequencies from SRQ to TPA and Albert Whited airports. I also included a bunch of military aviation freqs that were already in the scanner. While I am far from being a scanning geek, I do retain an interest in aviation from my days in Civil Air Patrol.
November 18, 2015
The FT-7900R that I purchased to be a temporary replacement while my IC-706MkIIG was in the repair shop has now been mounted as a third radio in my van. I constructed a mount that let me mount the control head directly above the control head for the 706. The two radio's main bodies reside together in the lower storage area of the center console and an antenna for the new radio is now mounted at the right rear of the van, opposite the screwdriver antenna. The installation allows me to monitor both the regional repeater NI4CE and also the local repeaters closer to my home. I built, with a couple of false starts, a short extension to move the jack for the microphone on the FT-7900R from the right side where it interfered with the 706 mic, also on the right side, to the left side of the control head so that all three mics are easy to grab without getting tangled up in each other's coil cords. In the near future, I may add a 220 radio to the home location to fully duplicate the mobile complement of radios.
November 15, 2015
It has been my pleasure to finally add a page about the new headset adapters I have been working on. With all of the wrinkles worked out, I can finally reveal the new adapters to the amateur community. With the advent of the smart phone, whether bu Apple or Samsung or whomever. The new phones come with a different type of connector for a headset or ear buds. This new connector looks sort of like a 3.5mm stereo plug but with an extra ring. THe new term appears to be TRRS standing for Tip, Ring 1, Ring 2, and Sleeve. UNder normal circumstances one might assume that the Sleeve would correspond to the Ground connection, but in this case one would be wrong. The i-phone/Samsung/Android pinout appears to be tip = left audio, ring 1 = right audio, ring 2 = ground, and sleeve = mic +. The new page, found at the bottom of the Navigation Panel on the left side of each page, contains simple diagrams and wire pinout color codes for three different series of amateur transceivers in common use today. The Icom IC-706, 706MkII, 706MkiiG, and the IC-7000 constitute the users of one circuit. The Yaesu FT-817ND, FT-857, and FT-897 use a different circuit and the Yaesu FT-7900R, 7900R, 8800R, and 8900R use yet a third circuit. The last series of radios also use a CAT-3 cable with 6 conductors whereas the Icom and Yaesu FT817ND etc use a CAT-5 cable with 8 conductors. I should point out as I also do on the new page, that Yaesu uses an opposite method of numbering the pins on the CAT-5 cable than Icom does. For Yaesu the brown wire would be pin 1 and the orange/white wire pin 8. For Icom it is exactly opposite. Orange/white is pin 1 and Brown is pin 8. If you are tempted to build one of these adapters, make sure you get the pin numbers correct.
November 11, 2015
First, let me remember for a moment , all the veterans who sacrificed to keep this country free. The headset adapter story just keeps getting crazier and crazier. I got my IC-706MkIIG back from Steve on Monday and re-installed it in the operating position in the radio room. That in itself was a nut job as I had to completely dismantle the entire set-up before I could put it all back together. Cables and wires kept dropping behind the desk, the power supply decided to destroy a connection and the power distribution panel joined in and yanked all the connections on the back of the switch that directs power from the battery or the power supply to the radios. When I got that all back together, the headset still did not work going through the mic selector.
It was at that point that inspiration hit. The problem was not in the headset adapter but in the mic selector. Of course I did not figure this out until after I had dismantled the headset adapter. All this occurred after I had returned from a meeting of the Bradenton Amateur Radio Club so I started all this around 8:30 PM. I set to work and tested the mic selector and found that while the hand mic position worked OK, the headset position was totally messed up. After the RJ-45 jack came apart in my hand, no help from me, it just dis-assembled itself, I found another data switch and set to work building an entirely new mic selector.
By the time it was completed, it was well after 3 AM. But a quick test showed that all was now well. The only problem was that having disassembled the new headset adapter, I was going to have to wait for a new supply of TRRS jacks to come in to build a new adapter.Finally, I went to bed. The next morning, (today) I discovered a couple of TRRS jacks on my work bench. These were the ones I disassembled from the adapters yesterday before I realized that the problem lay elsewhere. With careful perusal of the data sheet for the jacks, I was able to decipher the positions of each of the solder lugs. I sat down and built two adapters for the IC-706/703 series of radios. Much to my relief they both worked outstandingly well. I am awaiting the arrival of more jacks and other parts but that now makes three successful headset adapters that adapt the wired headsets used with smart phones to amateur radio equipment. If anyone wants the schematic just email me and I will be happy to send it to you via email.
November 8, 2015
Another good day at N1GY. Today I built a headset adapter for my IC-706MkIIG. I will not be able to test it until I get the 706 back (probably tomorrow) but I am confident it will work fine.
November 7, 2015
It has been a very good day. I built a mic selector for my new FT-7900R. Then I decided to try once more with the project I shelved a few weeks ago. With the new info about the TRRS jack in hand I set about building a headset adapter using the headsets intended for smart phones. This time it worked outstandingly well! The radio check using my FT-7800R was 599 in all respects. I will be building more of these as soon as I can order some more parts. The TRRS jacks are much more expensive than the stereo jacks I have been using so I will not be ordering a large quantity all at once. It is just great to finally have the project back on track.
November 6, 2015
Because the ARRL has indicated that it plans to increase dues next year, a decision I wholly support, since it is the first increase in dues for quite a number of years, I decided today to renew my membership before the prices went up. With the renewal for 3 years, my membership is now good through 2025. This puts it in line with my next license renewal which will also be in 2025. I did not get started in amateur radio early enough to make the life membership a valid option but I have probably donated and spent enough money on dues, books etc. that I probably shelled out just about as much as the life membership. Since I will be turning 73 this month, I suspect that 2025 will see me long gone, but stranger things have happened.
November 2, 2015
While I was looking for a missing book of checks today, no I have not found them yet, but I did find the data sheet on the TRRS Jacks that I bought. To my total shock, I discovered that the numbers on the solder lugs do not run in the expected order. I had assumed that the numbers 1. 2. 3. 4 meant tip, ring 1, ring 2 and sleeve. WRONG!! Tip is actually 2, ring 1 is 3, ring 2 is 4, and sleeve is 1. I have rebuilt the adapter with this new info and usually the next move would be to test the revised wiring. Unfortunately, the 706 MkIIG that usually resides here in the radio room has been moved to the car, and the unit from the car is at my pal's shop for repair. The repair may be as simple as a total reset, wiping out all the programming, or there may be one or more components that need to be replaced. My pal Steve is a genius when it comes to repairing electronics but I know that repairing 706's is not his favorite pastime. They are a beast to work on because they have so many super small components. I told him not to rush, I am not in a hurry and when it does return to the radio room I will be mounting it in the room so I will only need to program about 30 frequencies. When it gets back I will test the headset adapter.
October 30, 2015
My new FT-7900R arrived this morning and I have already programmed in 90 some odd frequencies by hand. It actually does not take that long if you have a list of frequencies and the programming steps in front of you. Before I mounted it in the van to temporarily replace the 7062G I decided to give just swapping out the main body of the 706 with the main body of the one in the house. Wonder of wonders, the problem was cured. I can now hear the 443.875 repeater in the car. Armed with that info I mounted the 7900 in the house to temporarily replace that 706 and I will now take the ailing 706 to my pal to see if he can fix it. Steve is a real pro and has already done wonders for me in fixing other radios. He said it may be a while before he can get to it but that is OK I still have plenty of working radios to fill the gap.
October 28, 2015
If you read my update from October 16, I have more bad news. Another order of similar headsets from a different supplier had better audio at the earphone but no output from the mic at all. Then I tried a different headset from a third supplier and it also was bad on both transmit and receive. I did try one of the earlier headsets with my smart phone and it worked fine there. The project has been officially retired until I can figure out what is different about these headsets than the ones I used to get years ago from cell phone stores that worked great with exactly the same circuit. This has been very frustrating since this was a project that had worked extremely well for many years. Life goes on.
October 18, 2015
I discovered something interesting today. I was just kind of fiddling around with the Go Daddy editor for my site and decided to look at the statistics it keeps about my web site. Strangely enough, the hit counter that Go Daddy uses shows considerably more hits than the one I installed on the home page of my site. In fact today it shows 40,420 hits just for 2015 alone, and the year still has about two and a half months to go. When I transferred my site over from Verizon to Go Daddy I already had 35,000 hits on Verizon in about 8 years. I am not sure which hit counter to believe, but I will be keeping track of the Go Daddy counter a little more frequently than I have in the past.
October 16, 2015
All of the parts I was waiting for arrived today so I went ahead and finished constructing the headset adapter using the TRRS jacks that arrived in the mail. Unfortunately, even after modifying the wiring a bit, things are not as I would like them to be. The headsets that I purchased on Ebay turned out to have great microphones but absolutely lousy earphones. The receive audio is so bad that between the static and the low volume, the headsets are completely unusable. I have ordered more from a different supplier in hopes that they will be better. I imagine I will just have to wait and see. Coming from California they will probably take a week to get here. On a brighter note the adapter worked as it should, the only problem is the earphone on the headset. Ah well.
October 13, 2015
Since even the usual "Skype" type headsets are growing less easy to procure, I have decided to try building an adapter to make use of several headsets that are designed to work with the various smart phones that seem to be the only kind of phone sold nowadays. These headsets are not of the Bluetooth variety, they are wired headsets but they make use of the ubuquitous TRRS plug. This plug is similar to a 1/8" stereo plug except it has an extra ring on it making for 4 contacts. The matching jacks are not cheap. I purchased 5 of them from a dealer on Ebay for about $35 including shipping. I will not be offering these for sale as I did with the older adapter that connected via two stereo jacks. I just wanted to try the new headsets out and see if a viable unit could be done. The headsets and jacks are at least 1 week away so I will update when I have more data to share.
October 9, 2015
Finally, I have applied for a License plate with my call sign on it. The procedure was not much different than applying for a new normal plate but I am told that it will take an appreciable amount of time for the "N1GY" plate to arrive. When it does, however, it will already have the sticker on it for the same time period as the plate I just renewed. It will also come with a new proof of reg. with the new plate "N1GY" on it. Finally!!
October 1, 2015
I added another picture to the page on the latest mobile installation showing the new mount I constructed for the GPS on the dashboard of the van.
September 30, 2015
Today, I added two photos and captions to the page showing the latest installation of radios in my van. Just a couple of updates to keep the page current.
September 29, 2015
I have updated the articles list to include the two I wrote in the past months and also added a page on 3-D printing and amateur radio. This is the first time I have heard of using 3-D printing to make an enclosure (or anything else, for that matter) so I have submitted it to QST. No word yet on whether they accepted it for publication or not. I remain hopeful. In the meantime you can read about it here on my site.
September 25, 2015
I was asked by the current Section Manager for West Central Florida, Darrell, KT4WX to rejoin my previous duties as Assistant Section Manager. I have accepted the position in addition to my duties as Technical Coordinator. I will be attempting to visit as many clubs on the Gulf Coast as I can in the next few months. I have also added a new page to the site after seeing that several other authors with works in QST have also provided a similar page on their web sites. Not boasting but some hams find that my writings are of some small amount of help so I wanted to make it easier to find the articles. The grilles that I have mentioned in the recent past have been fabricated using a laser cutting CNC machine. They have been painted black on the back side of each grille so that the paint will not wear since the side facing out is clear acrylic. The grilles will be mounted on either side of the lower storage area of the center console in my Dodge Grand Caravan tomorrow when the paint will be fully dry.
September 22, 2015
The days go by and each one seems to bring a further refinement of the Van and it's communications suite. I have added the coax jumpers to the IC-706MkIIG to bring the connection points out the back end of the center console. When I get home to Bradenton, the barrel connectors will be replaced with 2 position coax switches. One side of each switch will go to the normal mobile antennas and the other will be used for the coax runs to the top of the mast when it is erected for a public service event or a disaster. I also plan on painting the tilt mount to match the trailer hitch receiver. I may even add my call sign to the mechanism. The antenna for the scooter radio has also been modified so that the antenna elements can be easily removed and stored along with the rest of the antenna array. This makes it much easier to store until it is needed.
September 16, 2015
It only took one day. The pictures have been added to the latest page on the site, "A Tilt Mount For a Trailer Hitch" You will find it at the bottom of the Navigation Panel on the left side of any page on the site. Hope it gives you some ideas.
September 15, 2015
Today, I put the tilt assembly together with the remaining part of the adjustable ball mount using a pair of 2" square U-bolts. I did have to grind off a small amount of each side of the u-bolts because they were just about 1/8" too long when installed. Removing this small amount of the threaded portion allows the tilt mount (see the article elsewhere on this web site) to function normally. I tested the mast in the mount and it sits very nicely about 20 feet above ground level. It is also quite stable since it has the entire weight of the van at the base. I plan to create a new page on the site about the assembly just as soon as I take a few pictures.
September 14, 2015
My latest project is kind of a re-run. A coup[le of vehicles ago I had a Chevy Blazer that had a Converta-ball mount on the rear bumper. I combined a light bulb changing pole and some PVC pipe and aluminum tubing into a quick set up 21 foot mast that attached to said Converta-ball mount and two tie-down points on the roof rack. The Blazer is long gone but the idea has come back. My current ride is a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan to which we just added a trailer hitch receiver. I began plotting how to get my quick mast back in operation. I spotted a project on line that I swiped part of and the other part I took from the tilt mount elsewhere in the pages of this site. An adjustable ball mount from Harbor Freight is being combined with the gutted and modified tilt away trailer jack from the tilt mount on this site to create a temporary tilt mount that connects to the van via the trailer hitch. Unless I use a mast taller than 20 feet, I will not even require guy straps. I will be making use of a VHF/UHF dual band antenna that I originally built to go with my Buddi-Pole antenna by placing a simple stud mount at the top of the telescopic mast. The mast will also have provision for an NVIS dipole for HF. More to follow as the project comes together. UPDATE: I will not have to use the VHF?UHF antenna from the Buddi-Pole kit as my son found the Off Center-fed Sleeve Dipole that I had left here last year. We did modify the antenna mounting system to make the system less prone to bowing when raising a dipole antenna for HF.
September 9, 2015
I have added a new page to the web site detailing the mobile installation in the Dodge van I now own. The photos show the radio installation and the HF screwdriver antenna mount that had to be custom made ($120) They do not show the last bit of the project which is to hide the 706 main body and all the wires behind laser cut grilles that will mount on both sides of the center console.
September 6, 2015
As if to prove the point that Radio Shack has fallen far from what they once were, the new switch box I talked about yesterday has already had to have one switch replaced. Long ago, I standardized on Radio Shack 30 amp illuminated rocker switches for any mobile installation. They look good, they are illuminated just right for my purposes and they used to be just about indestructible. Unfortunately, it took less than 24 hours for one of the brand new switches I installed to burn out it's little light. I replaced it today so things are looking up, but I must admit that I am looking for a new and better standard switch if this is going to keep happening.
September 5, 2015
I have been up in CT for a few days and with my son's help, I finally got my mobile installation where I want it. We were able to hide 95% of the wiring inside the center console and added a switch module that he 3-d printed at work. I now have the software to create suitable files so if I ever get a 3-D printer I can create things myself. The software takes some getting used to but in time I hope to get it down pat. My son had to help me out with the first project but it came out perfect so all is well. I will add pictures as soon as I can find my camera.
August 14, 2015
I got an email from my son today. He lives in Connecticut and has a great wife and two lovely children. The youngest of the girls has just been featured in an online e-zine called Woody Boater. Steve, my son wrote a great article about Bridget's project restoring a 1950's wooden boat called "Snazzy". I know this has nothing to do with amateur radio but I just had to brag about my grandkids, all 6 of them. Right now it's Bridget's turn. This is the link to the article http://www.woodyboater.com/blog/2015/08/14/just-when-you-thought-kids-these-days-just-want-to-play-on-their-iphones-meet-snazzy/.
The boat was entered in it's first boat show in July and came away with two awards. Second place in the outboard class (only missed first because the outboard motor was newer than the boat) and the Judges Choice award. Not bad for a 15 year old gal. Her parents helped, mainly by teaching her what had to be done and then standing back and letting her get on with the job. Can you tell, I am so proud.
August 8, 2015
On Wednesday, the hitch mentioned in my last post arrived. Of course, I set right to work installing it on the bracket that holds the antenna for my scooter. I did make a few changes from the manufacturer's plan. He had originally proposed that the hitch would be simply bolted around the upright leg of the bracket while I decided to through bolt it through the horizontal leg of said bracket. I will post some pictures of the new set up to the page on the JT-270M where I describe mounting the radio on the scooter. That page seems to have morphed to be more about the scooter than the radio. Oh well..... Addendum: I have added three new photos and captions to the JT-270M page. That page is getting to be more about the scooter than the radio, but since one is always with the other, I guess it is OK. I tried expanding the page name in the navigation menu on the left side to no avail. Guess I am just not smart enough for the computer age.
August 1, 2015
The modifications to the beach wagon have been completed and the manufacturer of the hitch that I purchased on-line has sent me pictures of the item fresh from the paint shop. I am told it will be here Wednesday. Sounds like I will be in the workshop on Wednesday.
July 31, 2015
i purchased a slightly unusual device today, a collapsible beach wagon. You may wonder why? Here was my thinking on this purchase. I am the proud owner of a Yaesu FT-817ND and a Buddipole antenna system. To this I have added an LDG Tuner, a VHF/UHF antenna that mounts to the unused connection on the Buddipole and at least one other long wire antenna. In addition I have assorted batteries for external power and a solar array to charge the batteries. The upshot of all this equipment is that I cannot carry it all on my scooter,or by hand. Thus the need for some kind of wheeled carriage to carry all this stuff. It fulfills two scenarios. If it is a short distance from car to operating site, I can just pull the wagon by hand. If the distance is to far for that, I can hook it up to my mobility scooter and tow it to the site. I ran a short test this evening and the wagon tows very easily behind my scooter. Backing up is a different story. The connection between the scooter and the wagon is not a rigid one. It consists of 3 pieces of hardware from Lowe's, a snap carabiner, a quick link to put the carabiner in the proper plane and a third device that clamps loosely around the handle of the wagon and the quick link. This means there is plenty of slack in the connection which makes backing up a real chore. I intend to keep working on the problem to see if I can devise a workable solution.
UPDATE: This evening I was able to remove the plastic T-handle on the beach wagon and find enough parts in the voluminous space I call my junque box to almost complete the upgrade. I will have to wait for the hitch adapter to arrive,(purchased on-line) but the conversion of the handle of the wagon is almost complete. I used part of an old antenna mirror mount for the angle bracket. It is made of 1/4" aluminum so it should be strong enough. I am going to keep the original T-handle on the wagon and mount the eye-bolt underneath it. I also had to cut away a couple of tabs on the mounting system for the handle to allow the handle to drop down far enough to be reasonable as a tow bar. A couple of quick passes with a hacksaw and the mod was done. Tomorrow I will visit my favorite hardware store and get the needed bolts, eye bolt and lock nuts to complete the modification of the wagon. When the hitch arrives I am going to have to enlist the help of a welder to add the hitch to the square tubing L-bracket that holds the antenna on the back of the scooter. The only other option is to add a second hitch receiver under the current one, which would bring its own set of complications. The hitch receiver will only stick out a few inches so I do not think it will be a problem.
July 27, 2015
The new jack boxes were delivered to my daughter along with 16 head phones or ear buds on the occasion of her birthday celebration this past Sunday. She was very elated to get the jack boxes because they will make presenting new music to her students without distraction much easier. In the meantime I designed a way of installing PowerPoles into the power panels and power pods sold by my pal, John, through his company Quicksilver Radio Products. I showed him the way I had done it and he informed me that the molds are already done and the powerpole sets will soon be in production. I was too late with my idea but I should have known that John would have figured out a way to install Powerpole connectors into the panels and pods. I will certainly be purchasing several of them when I get up to CT later this year.
July 17, 2015
This week I worked on a project for one of my daughters. She needed an audio distribution panel for the strings class she teaches. This would allow several students to listen to a new piece of music via earphones while keeping the general din of the classroom at bay. Unfortunately, I failed to do the due diligence I have preached for many years. Namely, is it cheaper to buy or to build. After spending a fair amount of money on the parts I managed to screw up the construction to a fare thee well. A pro tech pal of mine took a look at what I had built and pronounced it dead. His advice was to start over again from scratch.
This time I did a bit more research and found a device called a jack box that did everything we wanted and it cost 1/3 of what I had spent on parts. Sometimes it is not only easier to buy than to build, but one gets a working device instead of a pile of junk. Lesson learned!!
July 12, 2015
I have added pictures with captions to the latest photos of the scooter radio set-up. Hopefully this will be the last update for a bit on that particular page.
July 8, 2015
I have made some significant changes to the set-up for the mobility scooter. A new antenna mast has been relocated to behind the seat and completely redesigned into a much more easily stored format. The updates on the JT-270M page are now up to 9 and this may turn into the never-ending project. Ah well, it will keep me busy in my dotage.
July 7, 2015
"Big News" I finally broke down and joined Facebook. Already it is more confusing than I could have imagined. I joined for really only one reason.The Amateur Radio club I belong to announced tonight that they have a Facebook page, so I felt a bit of pressure to be able to use that aspect of the club. I do not want nor will I even answer most "friend requests". Family and true friends are of course excepted.
July 3, 2015
Well, there is another new project in the pages of N1GY.com. I have added a page about the two portable battery boxes I constructed recently. The circuit diagram only shows the 14 AH version but the 18 AH unit just adds one more output and subtracts one battery. They are otherwise pretty much the same. These will work very well for the FT-817ND or other QRP radios. The recently available JT-270M from Jetstream is another good candidate to use battery power as I have written about on a different page. If you have or can get a supply cable for your HT you can run it for days on a 14 AH SLA battery.
My latest project, just completed this morning was to build a headset adaptor for my Jetstream JT-270M. The radio is mounted in a basket that attaches to the front of my mobility scooter and is powered by two 7AH SLA batteries connected in parallel for 14 AH. Since the radio draws a maximum of 1.8 amps on transmit and 78 milliamps on receive, the batteries should last for at least a day. The headset adaptor was built with information supplied by the Leixen factory in China via email.
On another note, I had to replace the RJ-45 plug on the hand mic for the JT-270M because the locking clip broke off on the original. This was the first time I have been successful at replacing an RJ-45 because of the difficulty in getting all 8 wires into the proper channels in the connector. RJ-12's go much easier because the cable itself is flat and the wires go in with no problem. On the RJ-45 I followed the advice of Ed, NI4MX who is very experienced in CAT-5 cables and connectors, being an IT guy in private life, and twisted each pair back and forth to relax the twist of the wires inside the cable and eventually got all 8 wires to lay flat in the proper order. For a number of reasons, I was unable to put the connector shield back on. That is the little black frammis that surrounds the back of the RJ-45 and makes it look neater. I substituted a short length of heat shrink and some hot glue to ensure that the connector stays where it belongs on the cable.
June 23, 2015
Well, my medical issues turned out to be caused by the "supplements" that a nutritionist advised me to take. Turned out that three of the four "supplements" caused a major increase in my blood thinning. I stopped taking the offenders and after some extra blood and iron, I am now doing much better. My planned trip up north is back on, albeit shorter in duration.
I have been feeling so much better that I have actually been on a building kick.I built a battery pack using two 7 AH SLA batteries in a plastic ammo container that I bought at Harbor Freight. Together with the 18 AH SLA battery I built in April that gives me 32 AH of power for off the grid operations like Field Day. Allowing for the fact that one cannot actually run the battery to 0 volts it still gives me plenty of juice for my FT-817ND or my Jetstream JT-270M. Field Day is this weekend so hopefully we will see some action.
June 4, 2015
With regret, I have had to postpone my trip north, at least for a few weeks. The medical issues that I mentioned in my previous post are taking a bit longer to resolve than I had previously thought. Field Day will see me still in Florida. My family, both in Connecticut and Florida, have been very understanding and helpful during this stressful time. Hopefully the future holds happier times than the recent past.
June 1, 2015
Obviously, it has been a long time since my last update. No particular reason other than some company in May, my son and then my sister. That plus a couple of medical problems currently in the process of being solved, I hope. My annual trip to Connecticut is coming up soon and I will be doing Field Day from Wallingford CT if all goes well. Since my son is a ham I will not be taking much gear with me. My daughters, both of whom live here in Florida will be watching my home while I am away along with the staff of the mobile home park where I reside. Since I now have full HF capability in my vehicle I do plan on at least attempting some HF contacts back here in Florida. Keep an ear out for my call on the HF bands this summer.
April 21, 2015
Last evening I was invited to give a short talk to the Highlands Amateur Radio Club. They were great hosts, took me out to dinner and the talk went off without a hitch. The topic was "What I learned from Hurricane Charlie" and was basically about the things I learned when I deployed down to Punta Gorda several years ago. Some of those lessons are valid today as they were immediately after Charlie. Things I wish I had taken with me, things I could have left at home, etc. I enjoyed my time with the club immensely. Over the years I have prepared several presentations that would be suitable for a club meeting. The subjects include homebrewing equipment, the NTS traffic System, Hurricane Preparations, Mobile Installations, and others. If your club is anywhere in West Central Florida and you would like me to make a presentation for your club meeting, just email me via the contact page elsewhere on this site. If you are further away than the WCF section, I would be happy to email you a Powerpoint file of the presentation along with the accompanying script so that you could do the presentation instead of me. Again, just email me via the contact page and I will be happy to assist in any way I can.
April 16, 2015
When I purchased the solar array from Harbor freight some time ago, I made some changes to the total package. I got rid of the heavy PVC frame and built individual supports for the three panels out of aluminum angle. I also purchased an 18 AH SLA battery to serve as a load for the solar array and provide power during the nighttime hours. I began looking for a way to package the battery somehow. It is heavy and clumsy for me to lug around. I decided on an enclosure called the BM-4 from Pac Tec. Its dimensions are roughly 4 x 10 x 8 inches and it fit the battery neatly. The enclosure left enough room at one end to install a neat bit of kit that I got from Quicksilver Radio Products which had a digital voltmeter plus 2 USB ports 1 amp and 2 amp, plus a cigar lighter socket into which one could plug anything needing that type connector. All this and marine grade as well. I added an ON/OFF switch and two PowerPole connections since virtually all of my gear uses those connectors. I can still connect the battery to the solar array and also run my gear off eitehr the controller or the battery. I will attempt to add a page to the site in due time showing the construction and materials used.
April 14, 2015
Today, I returned from a short trip to Connecticut for a family celebration. One of my 5 granddaughters turned 18 and a surprise birthday celebration was in order. All went very well and I even got to run over to Quicksilver Radio Products to see my friend John Bee and make a few purchases. I came home with a panel that includes a voltmeter, a 2 amp USB port, a 1 amp USB port and a cigarette lighter style power port. After I got home I added 2 Power Pole connections and a switch to turn the battery on and off so that the voltmeter is not on all the time. I now have to find a battery box of the right size so that the panel, the Power Poles and the switch can all be accommodated in the same box with the battery. The battery is heavy enough without the added weight of the box so I feel some real detective work coming on.
April 5, 2015
Yesterday, I participated in a Technical Conference set up by our Section Manager, Darrell Davis, KT4WX. By all accounts the conference was a total success. The speakers were excellent, Darrell had door prizes to give out in between each speaker and there were enough speakers to actually run two sets of presentations going on at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed the day even though the coax on my radio equipped scooter decided to part company with the antenna at some point during the day. I have already rebuilt another antenna for the scooter, so it only remains to actually try it out and make some minor changes.
March 31, 2015
Big doin's at N1GY today. I purchased a new Dell tower and back-up external HD. The tower is orders of magnitude faster than my laptop and I still have my laptop which will be wiped and reloaded this summer while I am in CT. While Windows 8.1 takes a bit of getting used to, I appear to be surviving the changes quite well. My son was and is a great help to me when it comes to computers and I thank him profusely for shepherding me through the switch.
March 30, 2015
I just updated the page on the "latest" mobile install to indicate that it is no more. Since I wrote that I have changed cars and done a completely different mobile install that includes a 220 rig and an Icom IC-706 MK II G feeding a Lil Tarheel II screwdriver antenna. It is unique in some ways, the mount for the Tarheel antenna cost me $120 because I had to have it custom made out of stainless steel by a local craftsman. The recommended mount simply would not fit on the car due to interference from a plastic body part. Explanations will follow as soon as I find some time.
March 22, 2015
As I write this the VEC component of our local club has given tests to seven people this weekend. The ARRL listing for our VE session was off by one day so after testing two people for their Technician License on Saturday, we suddenly discovered that we had five people waiting to take an exam on Sunday. There were three Tech applicants, one upgrade to General and one to Extra. I am proud to say that all of them passed their tests. In one weekend we added five new Techs, one new General and one new Extra. Congratulations to all seven, well done!
March 15, 2015
Yesterday was the Lakewood Ranch Walk for MS event, and I and several others from The Manatee ARC provided communication support for the event. There were a great many participants ranging in age from a toddler in a baby stroller powered by his mom to several people who appeared to be older than I. The event went off without any major hitches and we were on our way home by about 10 AM. Since *I did not get much sleep the night before I slept all afternoon. (I am writing this at about 5:20 AM. As usual my circadian rhythm is all messed up, but I will get it back on track soon.
March 12, 2015
It has been a relatively quiet week since last week's Tech Net. The Lakewood Ranch MS Walk is this weekend so maybe I will have more to write about after that. In the meantime I am keeping busy setting up a playlist of music to put into the minivan. My wife, bless her soul, always had a selection of CD's in the car because she didn't like what was available on the radio. I liked her choices in music and tonight after dinner I purchased two CDs by a favorite artist of mine, Dan Mobely. He plays twice a week at a restaurant that I like. I also really like the music he plays because it reminds me of my younger years. In a change of my mind, I am going to put a pack of CDs in the van since I am not fond of the current offerings on the radio either.
March 5, 2015
During the Technical Net tonight, the subject of the WIRES function on Yaesu Radios came up again when someone with a Yaesu radio attempted to check in. Unfortunately, he had accidentally set the WIRES function on, and considerable time was spent getting it shut off. I Googled my way through the Internet until I found KB6OT's excellent material on how to eliminate that problem in a semi-permanent way. One can still reverse this change quite easily should the WIRES function ever gain a foothold ion this part of the world. Richard KB6OT has kindly given his permission for me to add his information to my web site, for which I thank him profusely.
March 5, 2015
Ever since our SM, Darrell, KT4WX put the report forms on the ARRLWCF web site, I have been getting far more monthly reports than I used to get. This is great! On the other side of the coin, however, many of the Technical Specialists I used to have on my roster have not reapplied for their appointment. I realize that some may have left the hobby and perhaps a few may have passed on or moved out of the section, but it surprises me that the rest have largely not reapplied. I am quite sure it is not my "management style" as I have largely been a "hands off" type. Some, I am afraid, simply do not take their duties as seriously as others do.
Anyone who has been or wants to be a Technical Specialist in the West Central Florida Section of the ARRL, please fill out the form on the ARRLWCF web site. It will come to my attention as well as the attention of the Section Manager immediately and you will recieve a notification automatically that your application has been recieved. Your only duties as a Tech Spec. are to assist your fellow hams who are experiencing difficulties with the area of expertise you signed up with. Attendance on the Technical Net on Thursday evenings at 9:00 PM on the NI4CE repeater system are encouraged but not required on a constant basis. In this era of increased concern about safety, being a TS is one of the few ways left to mentor newcomers to amateur radio. Be an ELMER, become a Technical Specialist.
March 1, 2015
I just filled out the monthly reports that Darrell, KT4WX, our Section Manager has asked all of the section appointees to do. I thought it was going to be a pain in the You know what, but I was totally mistaken. It took me less than 10 minutes to fill out the report forms that Darrell has provided right on the section web page. Well done, Darrell!
February 26, 2015
My editorial duties are done for another month. The March issue of "Radiowaves", the monthly newsletter of The Manatee Amateur Radio Club Inc. http://www.manatee-arc.org/ has been posted to the website. The Spring issue of "The WCF Experimenter" has been sent to the WCF Section Manager to be posted to the WCF Section web site as well, so maybe now I can try to get onto the HF bands for a little DX.
February 20, 2015
I am off to another hamfest this weekend. This time in Sebring, Florida, about 90 minutes away. This, in contrast to The Orlando Hamcation, is a small, local hamfest. This year it is being held in the parking lot of a local church. I imagine I will see a number of hams that I talk to over the air all the time. Should be a fun day.
February 14, 2015
I have returned from my annual trek to the Orlando Hamcation and as usual I brought back mostly stuff to replentish my various parts bins with Power Pole connectors and PL-259's. Along with a 100' hank of LMR-240 coax (fancy RG-8X) and a different antenna to try with my FT-817ND, I also picked up a new flashlight that not only is super bright but also makes a pretty good weapon in a pinch. At my age I need all the advantages I can find.
February 12, 2015
In getting ready for the annual trek to Orlando, I have been quite busy writing up "to buy lists" and making sure that my scooter is fully charged. I also have a few items to drop off at my daughter's house on the way back and give my grandaughters some Valentines Day goodies. My shopping list is long this year on restocking stuff for the work bench and actually very short on Transceivers and the like. Of course, that is before I actually get there and see some wonder of the age that I just gotta have, Hi Hi. I am hopeful that this year goes better than last year. As you may remember, I came home from Orlando last year just in time to have a significant cardiac event that landed me in the hospital for a few days. Hopefully history will not repeat itself this year.
February 7, 2015
I have just returned from a public service event in my town. A local school sponsored a 5K run in conjunction with a powerboat regatta on the Braden River. I am happy to say that all my gear worked perfectly. My position was about 1/3 of the way over the Rt. 41 bridge and my only problem of note was the temperature at 7 AM. Not exactly the weather I had dressed for. Once things got underway, the weather warmed up quickly and the run was all over by 10 AM. It was a good rehearsal for more disaster -like public service events that may come up in the future. Back to more mundane activities like washing dishes and taking out the rubbish.
January 29, 2015
I added a new page to the site tonight on the subject of Powerpole connectors. I had planned on adding a few pictures to visualize what I was writing about. Unfortunately, either my PC or my web site builder refused to cooperate so the pictures will be added later when I can get these infernal machines to cooperate.
January 23, 2015
I am very pleased to report that this little web site has reached 35,000 hits. I do not usually brag or toot my own horn as it were, so I report this milestone with a healthy degree of humility. I am amazed that a very ordinary person like myself can build a web site that over the years has attracted fellow amateur radio operators 35,000 times. I bow humbly and thank my lucky stars that I am still here in 2015.
January 14, 2015
I got an email from a ham today who was asking about the pin outs in my latest article for QST. (The February 2015 issue). I took another look at the article and realized that we had not identified the radio the circuit was attached to in figure 2 of the article. Just to make it clear, the radio in question is an Icom IC-706MkIIG. This circuit with minor changes, mostly in the pin positions and occasionally in the component values, can be used on a number of different radios. See the pages on this web site about headset adaptors for various radios. The basic circuit is the same for all with slight changes in component values or the addition of one more component (a resistor in the PTT line for some of the Yaesu Radios. (7800 thru 8900)
January 8, 2015
I got a very pleasant surprise in the mail today. My renewed amateur radio license arrived in the post. I go through the ARRL program that renews ones license for free for ARRL members, the only fees involved are the ones from the FCC for a Vanity License, I think. Check with the ARRL about the program, I think it is run by their VEC section, but I am not 100% sure. In any case, an email to the ARRL will certainly get you all the particulars on the subject, so there you are. In my case, 100% painless, except for the fees and once done, I never had to think about it again.
January 1, 2015
Since I do not imbibe, I was up early this morning and ready for a new project. I should point out that I have nothing against distilled spirits, I just have never developed a taste for them. The project was to somehow install a Christmas present from my son and his family, a small digital meter that alternately displays voltage and amperage. Since the JT-270M in my scooter basket uses the on/off switch of the radio I had to install a switch in the line from the meter that connects to the battery, otherwise the display would be on constantly and drain the battery unnecessarily. With the need for a switch came the need for a container. The enclosure would not have to be very big, just enough room for a switch, the meter, and the wires that connect to the battery and the load via Power Pole connectors. A recently purchased roll of 3M electrical tape gave up its container and the project was on. I drilled a 1/4" hole to mount the switch. Since the container is almost transparent, I simply secured the digital readout in place with some hot glue and attached the toggle switch through the drilled hole.
To hide the messy bits (the wires inside the enclosure) I printed a carefully designed label on adhesive backed paper with my printer with the indicators for ON, OFF, BATT.(ery) and LOAD. I cut out the portion of the label so the display would be visible and stuck the label to the surface of the enclosure. I sealed the enclosure with a couple of turns of electrical tape. The unit was connected in between the battery system and the radio. I can now turn the radio on and off with the meter switch and since the switch controls the power to and through the meter, it does not drain any energy when the radio is turned off. The display and switch are clearly sewen and easy to operate in the basket of the scooter. I have added another picture to the "Jetstream JT-270M page to show the new meter and ON/OFF switch. Just another little project that anyone can do that adds to ones enjoyment of the hobby by being able to say "and I built it myself".
December 29, 2014
As we close out the old year 2014, and prepare to attack the new year 2015, I did complete a task I usually find intolerable. Reloading AOL 9.7 onto my PC. This time it seemed to work much better than when AOL tech support did it last week. How long it lasts remains to be seen. Many people have told me I should drop AOL, including my own son, but call me an old fogie, I have been using AOL since 1997 and I am so used to it, I just couldn't imagine using anything else. That is not to say I have not tried. Even AOL has changed. It now uses Google Chrome instead of IE because of problems AOL had with IE. So far it seems to be working OK.
December 24, 2014
On the Eve of Christmas 2014, I wish any and all who may view these simple pages a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous and Happy New Year.
December 22, 2014
Lately I have become concerned about the obstruction to my rearward vision that is caused by the presence of the solar array behind the front seats in my van. In addition, the weight of the array was a bit more than I was comfortable with. I thought about a solution and decided to eliminate the heavy frame of PVC. I constructed three simple aluminum frames 11" x 22" and added a pair of bolts on two sides of each one. This gave me a total of 3 positions for each solar panel, flat, with one end elevated by 11" or one end elevated by 22". The frames were constructed of 1" x 1" x 1/16" aluminum angle and took about 90 minutes to build. The bolts are held to the frames with the use of a "nylock" nut and the frames are secured to the solar panels with wing nuts. It was probably unecessary but I also replaced the stock bolts and wing nuts with shorter versions.
Now the solar panels and frames store flat on the floor behind the front seats in the van and I have full view out the back window. I originally planned on triangulating each frame with a crossbar of the same aluminum angle, and I yet may do that, but for now the frames seem rigid enough. Time will tell.
December 13, 2014
Today, I attended the Tampa Bay Hamfest in Plant City Florida. I was confirmed as the Technical Coordinator for the West Central Florida Section of ARRL for another two years at the Section Forum this afternoon. I also picked up a few "toys" during the day. I purchased a Radio Shack Pro-160 scanner and restocked my supply of 30 amp Anderson Power Pole connectors. I also grabbed a 3/8" x24 stud mount while I was at it. I wound up having to make the 45 mile (each way) trip twice. Once for the hamfest and once to recover my wallet which I had apparently dropped during the ARRL forum. Maybe I need a trucker style wallet with a chain that attaches to my belt. I'm just sayin.....
Everyone I met at the hamfest was intrigued by the JT-270M 10 watt dual band mobile rig I had mounted in the basket of my mobility scooter. My biggest problem was remembering that the antenna (a vertical dipole dual band antenna) was about one foot ahead of the scooter itself. I didn't poke anyone with the antenna but it sure wasn't for lack of opportunity. I have already put in a request to Midland Radios for the pinouts for a couple of small headsets I found on a club table. They were marked at $8 but I offered the guy$1 and he said "deal" so I got two headsets for $1. I have already figured out the receive audio pinout by experimentation, now I just need to know what each contact on the 2.5 mm stereo plug is attached to since the headset has a PTT switch built into the cord. These headsets apparently were compatible with a large number of Midland GMRS and FRS radios so getting a straight answer out of Midland may not be easy. We will prevail eventually, even if I have to sacrifice one of the two units to disection to figure the circuit out.
With a little deductive reasoning and a simple continuity tester I have figured out that the mic ground is the base contact of the 2.5 mm stereo plug, (gee thanks Captain Obvious) There is no connection between the ring and the base even with the PTT switch depressed. Testing between the ring and the tip of the stereo plug showed a resistance short when in recieve mode and a dead short when the PTT switch was depressed. I am not sure what all this means yet but I do know that the mic element is always "hot" because the headset is secified as being suitable for VOX without any changes. The PTT switch is there for a few radios that do not have VOX capability. I will ask a buddy of mine on Monday to see if he can shed any light on the subject.
Sorry to rattle on about this inconsequential bit of gear, but I was doing some of the tests at the same time as I was typing this entry. You now have a sorta idea of how my warped mind works
December 10, 2014
I purchased a new "toy" the other day. A 45 watt solar panel array now resides in the back of the van along with the usual charge controller and SLA battery. This will allow me to run a station "alfresco" (outside) without the noise of a generator. There is plenty of capability in a solar array of this size to keep the battery topped up while running a QRP rig like the FT-817. The only problem right now is keeping everything in the back of the van from wandering about while I am driving. The array was on sale with a greater than 50% discount so the time was right and I took the plunge. I can't wait to try the system out when the weather gets a bit warmer. I have assembled all the components of a nice QRP system, now it just remains to get out there and use it.
On another note, I got an email from QST today saying they were going to publish my article on a home-brewed Boom Microphone in the February issue. They sent along a tear sheet of the article which is a simulation of how the article will look in the pages of QST. It looked fine to me except for one small change which I passed along to the editors. So, in a month or so, we should see the "Boom Mic" in print. BTW I just got the January issue of QST today. Lots of good articles and info as usual.
December 2, 2014
I got an email from a ham in Great Britain last night who raised some interesting ideas about ham radio and mobility scooters. I wrote him a lengthy reply with some ideas but every time I try to send it back to him I get an error message from AOL, saying the problem seems to be in the network whatever that means. So, Mike, M3EMB, I did get your email and I tried to answer it with some suggestions but AOL can't seem to find British Telecom. Basically my sugestion boiled down to looking at garden tractor trailers as an alternative to bike trailers and then design from there. The hookup point is lower with the garden trailer than with the bike unit making designing a hitch somewhat easier. The other idea was to use a loop antenna as opposed to a vertical since it would operate better at low altitudes and be much more compact. Mike, if you don't get my email, please try again as I have been having intermittent problems with the AOL email network.
November 30, 2014
The weekend has been fairly quiet. I spent some time this afternoon replacing the adhesive strips under the mic clips or holders on the dashboard. I really don't want to drill holes in the dash. The car hasn't even had it's first oil change yet. I also added a convex small mirror to the right hand exterior mirror so I can see cars that are close to my right hand side. I have used these on aalmost every car I have owned. The interior of the van does not lend itself to a "Wink" mirror and in truth, I am not sure they are even still in production. I am also working on a method to keep the 220 radio from moving around as much as it does now. That project is still in process as I doubt that the first attempt will work well. Life goes on....
November 28, 2014
Today I received my second Arrow Dual Band J-pole antenna in the mail. It has been assembled and now only awaits the arrival of some kind hearted club members to assist in placing the new antenna on it's mast. I am also going to replace most of the coax run to that antenna at the same time as I have had intermittent problems with the current antenna. I am sorely tempted to replace the "Octopus" antenna on the flagpole out front with a GAP Titan antenna. I always had good results with the GAP Eagle antenna I had at the old QTH so I may return to the GAP for my HF antenna. No descision has been made as yet, but it will be made one way or the other in the near future.
November 25, 2014
The IC-706MkIIG that I mentioned in my last update arrived and has been installed in the Radio Room. As expected, the radio fired right up and after clearing the previous memories and programming the frequencies that I need for my operations into the radio, the only thing I had to do was back off on the Mic Gain. Somehow it got set to 10 during transit. I backed it off to about 5 and everyone who heard me said the audio sounded great. Many thanks to Gary, AG0N in Nebraska who sold me a great 706. I was able to find a replacement mic hanger "button" to replace the loop on the stock mic and it looks like everything is back to normal in my radio room.
November 20, 2014
There are some major adjustments coming to the radio room at N1GY. The IC-706MkIIG that I purchased from a ham in Nebraska should arrive on Monday. This evening we discovered a problem with the dual band antenna for the FT-7800R and so I have temporarily switched it over to the antenna normally used by the IC-706. I have already ordered an Arrow Antenna dual band J-Pole to replace the homebrewed antenna that has apparently gone out of calibration (probably H2O contamination) On another note, the Lil' Tarheel II antenna and the Turbo 2 controller apear to be working just fine although I have not had too much time to devote to HF Mobile just yet. That will do it for now.
November 16, 2014
My son arrived yesterday from his home in Conn. to celebrate my birthday. He also took care of a number of little chores for me around the house, not the least of which was properly grounding my new screwdriver antenna to the chassis of my van. Now the antenna works as it should. I was surprised to learn that the antenna mechanism is as slow as it is. Steve also tucked the coax and control cable neatly away. This meant removing and replacing several pieces of trim, a job which I am simply not able to do anymore. I am writing thisd at about 2 am on Sunday and since there will be at least two carloads of grand children and their parents at my humble abode by 11 am, I had probably best put the keyboard away and get some shuteye.
November 10, 2014
Today, the custom made mount for my Tarheel II was completed and installed on the Dodge. Made of Stainless steel and using stainless steel screws, the install went well with only a small hitch in the works. The antenna has been installed and the coax and control cables run. Both cables have split ferrite cores on them. and the connector for the motor leads was filled as directed with silicon dilectric to prevent water from entering the connection. The Turbo Tuner II screwdriver antenna controller has been connected to the antenna and we now await the arrival of the IC-706 MkIIG that I purchased (as noted below) The FT-7900R that is currently mounted in the car will be used elsewhere once the 706 arrives. Still to be done is running power direct from the battery to the radios since the current method of powering the rigs will be inadequate for the 706. I will probably take that job to a stereo installer here in town.
November 8, 2014
One half of my next project arrived this afternoon from Gigaparts. A Lil Tarheel II antenna and a Turbo Tuner II to control it. I am going to be waiting for a few days for the other half to arrive: an IC-706MkIIG that I have purchased from a ham in Nebraska. I am having a mount of my own design fabricated locally because of a design peculiarity of the Dodge Grand Caravan tailgate. There is a spoiler on the top of the tailgate that prevents the use of the usual trunk lip mount as on other minivans. The custom mount is being constructed of stainless steel and will attach with several countersunk screws to the fixed area next to the tailgate on the driver's side of the vehicle. I will post pictures as soon as I have it all installed and working. Changing from the FT-7900R to the 706MkIIG will also require running power direct from the battery, a job I am going to leave to the professionals at a local stereo shop. More info as the project progresses.
November 4, 2014
I have decided to purchase another IC-706MkIIG to replace the one I gave to my son this past summer. I will be sending the check off tomorrow and hopefully will have the radio soon. I plan on replacing the FT-7900R in the van with the new 706 and adding a screwdriver type antenna and an automatic antenna controller so that the antenna will respond to a frequency or band change without me having to do anything. I know, it sounds like I am just soooo0 lazy, but at my age I will take all the help I can get. I have also finished a kind of semi-enclosure for the frequency counter board that I bought from Quicksilver Radio. It just needed a 9-volt battery for power and an antenna for the SMA connector on the board. I built the enclosure out of small scraps of ABS plastic sheet. THis stuff is about 1/8" thick and scores easily with a utility knife, at which point one can easily snap the pieces off. I assembled the enc;losure with hot glue. I left the back open so that I can replace the 9-volt battery when necessary. I also installed a new switch in the + line from the battery rather than use the one that is on the circuit board. I just leave that switch in the on position and turn the unit on and off with the new one mounted on the face of the enclosure. I will add pictures as I have time.
November 2, 2014
I have just returned from the Stone Mountain Hamfest held near Atlanta, GA. I picked up a number of cool little goodies from my good friend John Bee, N1GNV. John, as you may know, is the proprieter of Quicksilver Radio Products. I am going to repackage one of them, a 0-500 MHz Frequency Counter, in a suitable enclosure. The unit is sold without an enclosure, uses a standard 9 volt battery for power and has a standard SMA antenna connection. I purchased a generic SMA antenna for it and I added a 9-volt battery to test it out and it works great. No fancy adjustments, jusy on and off. The other major purchase was a device made by Hardened Power Systems, here is the URL for those who may want to know: www.portableuniversalpower.com (I would have made that a hyperlink but I seem to have a bit of a problem with that trick in my site builder program. I purchased two of them and another 7AH battery so the "radio in a basket'" that some saw atthe last ares meeting now has 14 AH capability. Since the radio, a JT-270M, uses only 1.8 Amps on transmit and a measly 58 miliamps on recieve, the battery power should last a long time.
October 28, 2014
The painters finished the job this afternoon. The house is now a lovely shade of yellow, with white trim around the windows. I will consider the posibility of painting the shutters the same white as the trim, rather than the original gray that they are now. Plenty of time to decide, I just couldn't stand the ugly gray color of the siding any more. I know, this has nothing to do with ham radio, I just had to vent.
October 27, 2014
Well, my little web site has passed another milestone. 34,000 visits and counting. I am very happy the site is well received, I had an email from an Australian Ham just a few days ago. In other thoughts, I plan on attending several hamfests over the next few months, so if you see me at such an event, feel free to say hello and have a face to face QSO.
October 24, 2014
I have added another update to the JT-270M page. An improved design was used to construct a new vertical dipole and now the SWR's and the performance are greatly improved. While the design is a little more cumbersome, it can be easily separated into two parts for transport either by hand or in a vehicle. I intend to use mine primarily on my mobility scooter but it can be used as Go-Kit radio on it's own.
October 18, 2014
The JT-270M is back in business! The vendor, John Bee, sent me a repair file that was in John's words a download from a "virgin" JT-270M radio. I uploaded it into the radio and then uploaded the file that I had saved with all of the frequencies that I had initially programmed into the unit. While the software still has a few oddities in it, the radio now works just fine. I have added a page on the site, detailing the construction of the radio in a basket. While it is intended primarily to add comms capability to my mobility scooter, it would also work well as a go-kit radio since I suspect a 7 AH gel-cell battery will probably power it all day long and the basket is easily removed from the scooter and even has a carrying handle.
October 13, 2014
Some bad news to report I am afraid. The JT-270M has, for some unknown and unfathomable reason, turned itself into a peculiar form of a brick. Discussions are ongoing with the vendor who has reported similar effects from a few other customers. He assures me that the parent company of Jetstream is aware of the problem and working hard to effect a cure for the problem. I have already tried several different attempts at a partial and full resets with no good effect. Even a reload of the original file, while initially working properly, soon devolved into another problem when the reload would not finish, but just sat there continuing the reload even though it was already at 100 %. I am sure the vendor will solve the problem. It may take a bit of time. Ah well, the setup is fairly neat and if nothing else can be done, it will work equally well with a different radio.
October 12, 2014
My newest radio arrived, much to my surprise, Needless to say, it was unpacked and assembled for testing and programming right away. The JT-270M comes complete with a mini CD-ROM and programming cable (USB to RJ-45). Unfortunately, it does not come with any instructions for the software. The first thing tyhe programming asks for is a user name and password. I had neither. A quick email to the vendor got me a user name and password. (Note to Jetstream: it would have been nice to include that in the packaging. The software is not bad. It does everything I wanted, just not quite as intuitively as I would like. The entry of the tone required for most repeaters is not where you would think, but upon reflection it does make some sense. The programmer put the tone encode next to the transmit frequency and the tone decode next to the recieve frequency. There are no automatic offsets, one must enter the recieve frequency, and then the transmit frequency and then the tone (if required). If you want tone decode, that is the squelch does not open until it hears the correct tone, that gets set after the receive frequency. There are several other oddities in the programming software that one should be aware of including the fact that the radio comes from the factory with the transmit timeer set to 30 seconds. It can be turned off or set to a longer time but it does come as a bit of a shock to have the radio stop transmitting in the middle of your conversation. This is easily rectified but it does mean one more trip reprogramming the radio.
The unit itself is very small for a mobile rig, 4.5" wide, 3.5" deep and 1.5" high. It comes with a decent sized hand mic and includes a mic hanger as well as a mounting bracket for the radio and the software and cable for programming. Make sure to get the user name and password from your vendor at the time of purchase.
I mounted my unit on the inside of the plastic basket that came with my mobility scooter. The basket also holds a 7 AH gel-cell battery and a mount made of steel mending plates that is used to carry a small mag-mount dual band antenna. The basket came with a sturdy folding handle that makes it easy to carry and install on the scooter. I was warned by the vendor of the scooter that radio transmissions might affect the operation of the scooter. What he did not tell me was that the RFI from the scooter motor would prohibit any inteligible radio reception until the scooter was at a dead stop. On the other hand this little transceiver looks like a great option for a go-kit radio. Even with the radio the battery and the antenna, there is still plenty of room for other go-kit gear. The base for the mag mount antenna provides sufficient ground plane for the rig to work well.
I plan to write this unit up and post some pictures on the web site as soon as I get a little more experience with it. In the meantime, I welcome questions from any other puchasers of the JT-270M and perhaps if there is enough interest, someone will start a Yahoo Group for the JT-270M
October 9, 2014
I went and did it. I bought a new radio. Like I don't have enough radios already. This one is a little different. Imported from China by Jetstream it is a 10 watt dual band VHF/UHF mobile rig. The vendor that I purchased it from is a personal friend and he had very good things to say about it. John has always played it straight with me in the past so I have no reason to doubt him. I plan to set this one up as a self contained radio system with battery power and home brewed antenna. The whole package will fit in the basket for the front of the mobility scooter that I use at hamfests and the like. I have great difficulty walking long distances and the scooter works wonders for me. After I get it programmed (a task made much easier by the included cable and software CD-ROM) I will write about it on these pages as I gain experience. I am still trying to decide what form of antenna to put on it. If I come up with a new design, I will publish it here.
October 3, 2014
It occured to me tonight that the site has several buttons to the left of the navigation panel and some viewers might decide to use them. The buttons are for things like Facebook, Twitter and other sites and also for things like printing the page, etc.; Unfortunately, NONE OF THEM WORK. I admit freely that I am no computer expert. Those buttons came with the site building program supplied by the host service and I have no idea how to activate them. It probably would not be of any use anyway because I have no presence on Facebook or twitter or any other so called social network. It is my humble opinion that sites like Twitter and Facebook are actually anti-social sites because they replace face to face contact with more button twiddling. My suggestion would be to shut the damn phone off and actually talk to someone one on one instead of inane texting endlessly. Don't mind the dinosaur, I just have to rant every once in a while as I see civilisation plunging into the abyss.
September 24, 2014
It has been an up and down week here at N1GY. My medical "adventures" seem to be settling down a bit but QST declined my article about the VHF/UHF addition to the Buddipole antenna system. Since it is already posted to my web site it is not that big a loss. On a better note, I now am the proud possessor of a working lab quality frequency counter. I swapped a fellow member of the Manatee ARC a Linux OS Laptop for the frequency counter. As time passes I am assembling a rather complete set of instrumentation for my electronics work bench. This is also the way I would suggest anyone do it. Trying to assemble all the tools and instruments in one go is not only too expensive for most pocket books but would also leave the amateur operator with a very steep learning curve to become proficient with all of them. Much better to master one tool or instrument at a time and spread the expense over several years. In a couple of months Hurricane season will be over and I can get back to operating in the open air at the beach with my new FT-817 and Buddipole Antenna. This will be my first real exposure to QRP operations and I am ready to give it a good shot.
September 10, 2014
I suddenly realized that I have not posted anything to this page since the middle of August. Have no fear, N1GY is still here, just have not been doing much in amateur radio lately. On the medical side of things not much to report either. Slowly getting my energy back and everyone from my kids to the management of the mobile home park I reside in have all been outstanding in their support. Here in FL fall is not really the best time for hamfests sdo not much to report there at all.
August 14, 2014
Some good news to report. The install of the FT-7900R in my Dodge Grand Caravan was completed successfully yesterday with the help of Steve Senft, KG4LJB. Steve has been a great help to me and many other hams in the Bradenton , FL area. He has repaired some of my radios and has assisted other hams with often quite sizeable projects such as rebuilding an entire tower and rotator and triband yagi combo which took multiple visits and the help of several other members of our local club. Interestingly enough, we broke a second star drive socket (brand new) and had to get a much more expensive socket to get the job done correctly. We were able to return the broken socket for a refund since we were still in the parking lot of the store. On another note, the 2004 Mercury Grand Marquis that I used to drive is now sold and I am back down to one car.
August 12, 2014
Today I had the scooter and lift for the scooter installed in my new vehicle. The install went very smoothly and the vendor was done in about 2 hours. I also attempted to install the new mount I purchased from AES over the weekend since it also arrived today. That install did not go nearly as well. I used the correct size star drive socket in the seat bolt in an attempt to loosen it enough to slip the foot of the mount under the bolt, just as the instructions said. Naturally, the star drive socket broke off in the head of the bolt. A friend is coming over later to see if he can get the remains of the socket out of the bolt, but I am not overly enthusiastic about his chances. One lesson learned: don't buy star drive sockets from Harbour Freight. If my pal cannot get the problem solved and the mount installed, I will probably have to expend a fair amount of cash having a mechanic do the job. And life goes on.
August 8, 2014
Major doings today! I have purchased a new vehicle for my personal use. The reliable "old" Mercury Grand Marquis that served my late wife and myself for almost 10 years will be sold off in the next few days and the driveway will be the home of a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan. There are several modifications planned for the Dodge, not the least of which is the addition of a scooter lift and ythe installation of a redesigned radio transceiver package over the next few weeks. When it is all done, I plan on posting some photos and text of the new setup, mainly because I am quite sure I am not the only ham operator with a "minivan". Right now I am just enjoying the "new car smell" and the happy task of figuring out how everything works and what new gadgets the auto business has come up with in the last 10 years.
August 4, 2014
Home again! My son and I arrived at my home in Florida after a reasonably easy trip from Connecticut. We actually got here on Sunday and spent most of Monday taking care of a few necessary details before he flew back tonight. I actually even got to do my usual Sunday Night Net Control duties on our regional information net. The next few days will be a round of reconnecting with various people here in Florida on both a personal and professional basis. I will also be woking out the final details on the use of my new Yaesu FT-817ND and Buddipole antenna system. I have already posted the details of my addition to the Buddipole system here on the web site and once I finalize the particulars of the final configuration I will post them as well.
July 31, 2014
I want to thank all of my readers for another milestone in the history of N1GY.com. This morning the site passed 33,000 visits. The number is particularly satisfying since back in January 2014 I had to move the site from Verizon to Go Daddy since Verizon decided to stop hosting web sites.
On another note, it is time for me to head back to Florida. It has been an eventful two months here in CT, but I have things to take care of back in Florida and they will not wait forever. My son will accompany me back to my home and my daughters, both of whom live in Florida, have been taking care of my house since I left. The trip should not take more than a couple of days with two drivers so I will be home soon.
July 28, 2014
This past weekend, my son and his family took their 1967 Lyman "Cruisette" 26 foot wooden boat to a wooden boat show at Mystic Seaport here in CT. To no ones surprise, we came back with another trophy. I am never adverse to bragging about any of my kids and their accomplishments but this boat wins a trophy every time it is entered in a show. They are gonna need a bigger shelf for the hardware. My time up here in CT is coming to a close, at the end of this week we will be driving back to Florida. It certainly has not been dull up here. Two hospital stays, the ARRL Centenial Convention, Field Day, two boat shows, new radios, new antennas, another article submitted to QST. It is going to seem like a vacation going home.
July 22, 2014
While we were at the ARRL Centenial Convention this past weekend, my son Steve purchased a Yaesu FT-7900R. Over the last two evenings we have installed it and a Yaesu FT-90R in two of his vehicles. I say we, but Steve did all the work, I just handed him tools or held stuff while he did all the heavy lifting. Both installations look very professional and Steve even had to make a custom bracket to fit the control head of the FT-90 on the dash of his Ford Crown Victoria. The pickup truck got the FT-7900 and both installations have the control heads mounted remotely from the main body of each radio. I congratulate him on a job very well done. Now he just has to program the rigs with more than 146.520 and the task will truly be finished.
July 19, 2014
The ARRL Centennial Convention is now history and all I can say is WOW!!!! The ARRL Staff and Volunteers went all out to make this an outstanding event and boy, did they succeed! The Connecticut Convention Center Staff likewise were truly outstanding. I mentioned in my last post that I was going to use a "mobility scooter" to get around the site. The staff of the center instantly found me a spot to store the scooter and recharge it every day. The location was locked up and it never took more than a couple of minutes for the staff to arrive at the room, unlock it for me, assist with connecting and disconnecting the charger as needed and were outstandingly pleasant and courteous every single time. I must have talked to every major official from the ARRL at the convention, from Kay Craigie, N3KN, the President , David Sumner, K1ZZ, the Chief Executive Officer, to Mary Hobart, K1MMH, the Chief Development Officer and down to the individual volunteers who staffed various booths at the event. All were unfailingly polite and eager to assist me, just a pretty typical ARRL member. I was simply blown away by the expertise everyone displayed at this event. I never saw a glitch in the entire proceeding. I am sure there were a few, there always are, but they were expertly handled and did not in the least affect the event. This was ARRL's centenary. When they hold the bicentenial event 100 years from now the staff and volunteers then will be hard put to exceed the handling shown here in 2014.
I am usually pretty frugal with my money. I like to build stuff instead of buy it where I can, and requests for money from most organizations fall on sceptical ears. After seeing the outstanding result of the ARRL's efforts here, I was moved to make (for me) a substantial donation to the 2nd Century Campaign. I am asking others to do the same as they are able. The ARRL is simply so important to the avocation of Amateur Radio that it cannot be allowed to be constrained by budgetary limitations in the future. We, as hams, have an unbelievably fantastic organization doing its best to advance and protect our interests. We must see that it likewise receives our support and protection.
July 17, 2014
Today was the official start of the ARRL 100th Anniversary Convention in Hartford CT. I went to collect my badge and attend the luncheon that was put on for the full 3 day registered participants. The meal was not bad all things considered and just as I finished my meal, I got a phone call from the convention center staff letting me know that the mobility scooter I rented had been delivered. I have pretty bad pain in both hips if I stay on my feet too l9ong so the scooter made a bunch of sense. The staff of the convention center have been outstanding and very accomodating about the scooter. They accepted it on their loading dock, delivered it to me outside the banquet hall and arranged for the use of a cloak room where I can charge the scooter overnight. I am really looking forward to tomorrow as the vendors will be open and all of the booths will be manned. My son will be joining me in the afternoon and we hope to find him a new radio for his pick-up truck. My medical problems appear to be taking a vacation for the present, so I am ready to really enjoy the event. More about the Convention tomorrow.
July 10, 2014
Having survived my latest brush with the cardiology gurus I figured it was high time I added our latest priject to these pages. That has been accomplished, complete with pictures and tomorrow we will send it off to the Editors at QST to see if they would like to publish it. The 100th anniversary of the ARRL with its Convention in Hartford CT is about one week away and my son and I have made plans and arrangements to attend. I will be making use of a rented mobility scooter to get around the convention because of my recent medical problems and some more chronic ones as well. I promise that I will run over as few toes as I can manage but I make no guarantees. See you at the convention.
July 4, 2014
It has been a bit of a hectic week here. Right after my return from the Field ay event (where we successfully tested my new FT-817ND, The Buddipole antenna system and my new addition to the system wheich adds 2 meter and 440 coverage simulataneously with HF) I suffered another heart attack. Thats right, two in less than 5 months. This time it cost me 6 days in the hospital I used to work at before I retired. It has also made my treatment a lot more complex for a number of reasons. Luckily, we hope, the doctors were also able to come up with a solution to the problem that probably caused the latest attack. Have no fear, I am back at my son's home and still chugging along just as before. I still plan to remain here until late July at least. Lots of stuff to do, including the 100th Anniversary Convention of the ARRL later in July and a couple of wooden boat shows where my son's boat is almost guaranteed to win a prize or two. All is now well here so lets just keep on keeping on.
June 25, 2014
Last night my son and I started a new project. I wanted to add VHF and UHF capability to my Buddipole antenna system while still retaining the HF capability. The "Versatee" of the Buddipole system allows for a vertical antenna array to be mounted in the top 3/8 x 24 threaded opening. We chose to build two 18" sections out of 1/2" PVC that could be screwed together to make a 36" mast. On top of the mast we mounted a dual band antenna that uses two different lengths of radials and a dual band antenna from a mobile set up. As soon as I get the photos taken and the article fully written up I will be submitting it to QST and posting it on this web site. The testing of the antenna went very well with the SWR relatively flat across the entire 2 meter band and the 440 to 450 section of the 70 centimeter spectrum. This testing, by the way, was carried out with the same radio that will be the only user of this antenna, my new FT-817ND. Keep an eye on this site to catch the article when I get it posted.
June 21, 2014
Today, I got a chance to program the first few frequencies into my new FT-817ND. While the process was a bit tedious, it was by no means difficult and in fairly short order I had seven memory slots filled with local (in Connecticut) repeaters and a simplex calling frequency. As I get more comfortable with my new radio and the Buddipole system I am sure my activity will increase. My son and I also gathered up the needed supplies for the installation of the FT-90R into his car. While we were at it, we also got the materials to install a radio in his truck. Now we just need a radio for the truck. With the coming centennial convention in Hartford for the ARRL, we are assured there will be plenty of good dual band radios for sale at that time. We plan on having the wiring and antenna already installed so the only thing to add will be the transceiver itself. Sounds like a plan to me.
June 15, 2014
I have been on a bit of a trek since last week. I am presently at my son's home in CT and plan to remain here through the ARRL Centennial Convention in the middle of July. That is not to say that I have been idle. I have decided to leave my "Radio in a Box" here with my son. He now has his Technician license and is planning on upgrading to General this coming winter. Since my heart attack in February my ability to handle heavy gear has been severely curtailed so I am about to purchase a Yaesu FT-817 ND and a Buddipole antenna system. This will make a "radio in a bag" set up that is much lighter and easier to use. With the Buddipole and my existing MFJ-266C it will be relatively easy to adjust the antenna and the power for the radio is either self-contained or a small SLA battery will do fine. I hope to have the gear here before Field Day so I can try it out with my old club here in CT.
Another project we have planned is to install Steve's FT-90R into his vehicle. We are awaiting the return of John Bee from Quicksilver Radio to purchase some 10 gauge zip cord and a few parts, plus a new dual band antenna for his car. The install should go fairly easy with the hardest part being the running of the power lines to the trunk area. He plans on keeping the power level down to about 25 watts to avoid the overheating problems that plagued the FT-90 when it was introduced.
June 4, 2014
After the monthly meeting of our local amateur radio club last night, I got together with a couple of relatively new ham operators who had requested a "new ham session". I present these sessions occasionally when requested or if we have a large number of new Technician licensees. I prepared a small booklet of information including net lists, explanations of ham lingo, local frequencies, discussions on setting up a first station and mounting a radio in ones car, among other information. As it turned out, both of the gentlemen who attended were General licensees, but they were certainly newish to ham radio and appreciated the info. Because they both had already been "on the air", we did not bother with another aspect of the session that is usually vital. With the assistance of other club members, the session usually concentrates on getting the new hams through their first on air experience. This, we have found, eases the so-called "mic fright" that some new hams experience. Both gentlemen were appreciative of the information and all of us enjoyed the session. Anything that will ease the new licensee's entry into our hobby will certainly bear benefits both to the individuals and to the club that sponsors such sessions. Just a thought.
May 31, 2014
It has been a bit of a busy week. The July issue of "Radiowaves" is well along. It just requires the club president's column to make it ready for publication. I also have designed and built a variation on the headset adaptor series, this time for the Yaesu FT-90. The only real change there was the size of the resistor in the PTT line. According to the wiring diagram I have for the hand mic for that radio, it requires a 27 K resistor. Otherwise the circuit is very similar to the circuit for the 7800/7900/8800/8900 series of Yaesu radios. One reservation, I will be unable to verify that it works properly until it gets to my son's home in CT as that is where the FT-90 resides. Thus I will not post a circuit here on the web site until I have completed successful testing in CT.
May 14, 2014
I have a new project! In a slight variation of the plan, it does not involve the electronic work bench. Rather it is a bit of electronic publishing. The local radio club has decided in their infinite? wisdom? that I should be the new editor of our monthly newsletter called "Radiowaves" The first issue under my editorship will be the June issue. July and August issues will be a bit different because I will be playing editor via the internet from CT where I will be attending the 100th Anniversary of the ARRL. This will not be a major problem since the creation of the newsletter is done completely via the Internet anyway. In any case the June issue of "Radiowaves" is complete and mertely awaits the proper moment to send it out to the membership. I hope that my efforts will be well received.
May 10, 2014
A friend of mine came up for a visit the other day and took home a new headset and mic selector box for his FT-857D. Today he sent me a photo of the new gear in use at his station and was kind enough to relay the great audio reports he has been getting for the new headset. I am very happy that he is so pleased with the new gear. It just goes to show that one need not spend large amounts of money to get excellent audio quality in amateur radio. On another note, I am still looking for suggestions on a new project for the workbench here at N1GY. Any ideas that do not involve anatomically impossible moves are welcomed.
April 2, 2014
The web site has passed another milestone this week with over 32000 "hits". I appreciate the many visitors to my little site and I want you to know that I will be posting new projects to the site as soon as I can. If anyone has an idea for a project they would like to see, please email me and let me know. I might be able to assist.
March 22, 2014
This is my first post after my second visit to an intensive care unit in less than a month and a half. I had a fairly bad reaction to some of the meds I have been taking since my last episode and had to have several units of blood inserted into me to make things go straight. I am now back home and doing well but it will be a while before I am fully back up to speed. My kids have been great about helping out and I really appreciate their help. Lisa, who lives the closest to me, has really helped a lot in the last few days and I am eternally grateful for her help.
March 11, 2014
I got an email from ther ARRL Bookstore today announcing a new book titled "Your First Ham Radio Station". A very laudable topic, I am sure. Considering I have had a page on my web site of the same name for several years now, I welcome the ARRL's efforts to cover the subject in more detail. Life goes on...
March 8, 2014
I have added the new page I promised about the latest version of the mobile installation in my car. There is not much to say that is not covered by the photos. The setup works very well for me since I adjusted the angles of the radio control heads to improve the sight lines. This in not a major project and in fact could be completed in one afternoon in most vehicles. I hope you find the information useful.
March 3, 2014
A couple of projects have been completed over the past few days. The new mobile setup in my car has been completed and I will be posting a new page and pictures soon. I also converted a project I had done some months ago. This was a little tester that I built as a continuity tester. Originally, the test probes were hard wired into the enclosure. I have now converted that setup to banana plugs and jacks so that the test probes can be replaced without any fuss when necessary. I doubt that I will add a page for the continuity tester, but I may post a picture of it here in the future.
March 2, 2014
Yesterday was a big day for me. It was the first time since my recent medical issues that I have been able to participate in a local charity event. Our ARES group was providing comms support for a local MS walkathon and my son and I were part of the team. A good time was had by all.
Then, in the afternoon, Steve installed two new antennas on my car to complete a complete revision of the radio installation. I now have two radios in the vehicle, the FT-7900R dual bander and a new Jetstream 220 radio. Both have been tested and are working great. I really appreciate all the help I get from all my kids. Without that help from all three of them, I would be in a heap of trouble.