UPDATES From The Radio Room Page 5
N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
September 15, 2017
Well, I am back at home, the power is back on and there was virtually no damage to the home. Others in my neighborhood were not so lucky. No complete destruction, but several carports gone and a few roofs damaged. A fair amount of trees down outside our area and I am sure cleanup will take time. I really think we dodged a bullet here on the coast. It could have been a lot worse. I did not even have a bent antenna.
September 9, 2017
Because of the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, I have decamped to my daughter's home in Sarasota. Irma's track has moved to the West coast of Florida and so it made sense to move to a more solid home than my manufactured home in Bradenton. Hopefully, after Monday night I will still have a home to go back to.
September 6 2017
I went for a drive today by myself. it was wonderful. My right hip was not subjected to any unusual stress and dinner out was absolutely great as usual. Hurricane Irma is heading for the East coast of Florida but as long as it stays over there, I have no plans to evacuate. The winds should not get higher than tropical storm strength and since we on the West coast have been through several of those in the last few weeks I am hopeful that we will be a-ok. As a member of our local ARES group I will probably be tasked as a Net Control Station should we be needed.
September 3, 2017
Today was a great day for me and my recovery. My daughter drove me to the bank to get some spending money and then we had dinner out at my favorite restaurant. My friends at the restaurant were very happy to see me out and about and I was just over the moon to get outside even just for an hour or two. One of my sons in law has gotten into electronics projects and has built some really nice projects. My other son in law has been outstanding at taking care of the various modifications that had to be made to my house post surgery. My daughters have been spectacular at taking care of old dad, even two of my granddaughters have piled in on keeping grandpa's house clean and neat. Outstanding help from all. I cannot thank them enough.
September 2, 2017
It has just occurred to me that the absence of updates to this page might have concerned some of my readers. By way of explanation let me say that I have undergone a major surgery (to me at least) and had my right hip replaced. My recovery is going well, if somewhat slowly but I expect to be back at full steam in a few weeks. The September issue of our club newsletter, of which I am editor was put out a bit early so as to free up time and by the time the October issue comes due I should be at full power. I am getting around fine with some assistance and while not driving yet I hope that the doctor will permit that soon.
August 6, 2017
After a few days of experience with my new headset and associated selector system which allows me to select which radio the headset connects to and the already existing mic selectors under each radio, I can say with a certain degree of confidence that the new headset from W2ENY, Bob up in New York state works like a charm. I am very happy with the performance and comfort. I used to want at least one ear uncovered so I generally used single sided headsets. Since I live alone, the need to keep an ear open for a call from a significant other is no longer a requirement. I have also added a page to the site detailing the adapter I constructed to connect the headset to my Yaesu FT-7800R. It is very similar to the circuit I have used for years differing only in the specific wiring of the mic jack and the use of inline jacks instead of panel mounted ones.
My next project is not really ham radio related, but looks to be a fun one anyway. I am going to add a wireless remote to the scooter lift in the back of my van so I can have the scooter on the ground before I step out of the vehicle. Right now, I can open the rear tailgate remotely but I have to get out and go stand by the back of the car to operate the corded remote that makes the lift go up and down. The new wireless remote has a sliding cover plate over the buttons so no movement can happen before the gate is open. At least, that is the plan. Time will tell.
August 3, 2017
Beta testing is done. The new headset system has passed with flying colors. Transmitted audio from the headset sounds a bit different than from the stock desk mic but is still full quieting and completely readable.
August 2, 2017
The headset from W2ENY arrived yesterday and was immediately put into service. I built an extension to bring the phones plug connection out even with the mic plug and PTT plug positions. Initially I had a great deal of trouble with my voice coming back through the earphones along with a lot of noise when I transmitted, however by reducing the setting of the in-line volume control on the headset cable and then raising the volume setting of the radio slightly that problem flat out disappeared. The headset is comfortable and only a small tweak to the mic gain in a downward direction was needed. The mic on the headset is quite "hot". When I tried to add a small box with jacks for the mic plug, the earphone plug and the PTT switch plug between the headset and the adapter that came with it I lost all audio from the mic. I could still hear the received audio fine and the PTT worked but no mic audio on transmit. I discussed this with Bob and his question was did I maybe use a mono jack instead of a stereo one. I checked and even constructed a new extension making sure to use stereo jacks and plugs at both ends. Still no audio from the mic. Plugged into the adapter that came with it, it works great, but put even a 6 inch extension on the mic line and no joy. Ah well, I will keep working on it and eventually I will figure it out. For now I just have to use it absolutely stock. Just not quite as neat as I like at the operating position with all these cables but it will have to do for now. It works great, just looks a bit fussy.
UPDATE: This evening I figured out the problem. Bob Langston reminded me that the mic circuit only uses the tip and ground of the stereo plug and jack. There is no connection anywhere to the ring position of either the plug or the jack. Once I rewired the small box mentioned above it worked just fine. So, having solved the problem of the mic audio, I figured I might as well go ahead and construct the headset to radio selector box that determines which radio has the headset connected to it. Again I used an A-B Data Switch that was originally meant for a VGA circuit. Each plug has 15 circuits. I only needed 6. 2 wires for the Mic circuit, 2 wires for the Phones circuit and 2 wires for the PTT line. The reason I only used 2 wires for the Phones circuit is that the radio only puts out mono sound so the change to a stereo jack is just a matter of wiring the wire from the tip of the plug going to the extension from the headset audio jack to both sides of the stereo jack that the headset phones plug into. I did not want to share grounds between the radios so the PTT contacts in the selector box switch both the PTT line and the ground from radio to radio. The MIc circuit only uses the tip and ground so there only 2 positions are used as well. Building the "radio selector" that is fed by the headset was an evening's work. Tedious soldering and heat-shrinking each solder joint but the work was relatively simple. The only major difference from the selector box I built for the Heil Traveler Headset is that the connections for the headset are on the front of the box next to the selector knob. On the Heil setup it was a pigtail with a Foster 8 pin inline connector out the back of the box. Once I am satisfied that everything is cranking away OK I will probably add a picture or two to the web site. For now we are still in the Beta test phase,
UPDATE 2: I decided to add a couple of pictures and a bit of text to the Page entitled New Headset System at N1GY. Really just a picture of the new headset from W2ENY and a shot of the new "Radio Selector Switch that determines which of the two radios gets the output from the headset and which radio has the PTT switch attached to it. So far it is working fine. Time will tell.
July 29, 2017
It is my unfortunate duty to report that my Heil Traveler headset has died. I went to do the Technical Net the other night and was told that my transmitted audio was very muddy and almost unreadable. Thus I had to run the net using my hand mic. I was planning to use my home-brewed boom mic but it went belly up too. I was able to fix the boom mic by cleaning off the mic selector switch after the net. So it is back to operational status. I have ordered a new headset from W2ENY, Bob in NY and I have already built an accessory for it that will bring all the connections out to the left side of the computer monitor on the desk. You can Google up Bob's web site or just use www.w2eny.com Bob also has a bunch of other devices for hams who use amps or computer control etc.
July 21, 2017
A fellow ham asked me for a bit of help yesterday. He wanted to add a foot switch to his Kenwood MC-90 desk mic. He also wanted to replace the coil cord that the MC-90 comes with with, for his particular situation, with a 7 foot straight cord. I wired two female 8 pin Foster plugs pin for pin which took care of the mic cable. Originally, I had planned on adding a mono jack to the back of the MC-90 for the foot PTT switch until I realized that I could add it to the cable just as easily and thus no mods to the stock mic. My only problem came when, after completing the additional cable and in line jack for the foot switch, I realized that the Foster plugs I have, use pins that are numbered in reverse order from what the MC-90 manual indicates. Thus I had to redo the wiring for the PTT jack and put the PTT plus wire on the number 6 position instead of the number 2 position on my Foster plugs. I do hope this will function properly, otherwise I see another soldering session in my future. In any case it was a simple but fun little project that occupied less than 60 minutes including the rework. We will find out tomorrow.
July 14, 2017
I am going to deliver a bit of a gripe today, aimed at my fellow amateur radio operators, who are otherwise wonderful people. As amateur operators we tend to also be volunteers for things like ARES and Skywarn. We take the time and make the effort to take all the required courses and get certified. Why then does it seem that far too many of us simply cannot spare the few minutes required to check into our local ARES or Skywarn Net. This past Thursday, I ran the Skywarn Net and had a total, including myself, of three stations checking in. Our ARES group, which has some 40 or so listed members, struggles to get more than 10 checkins on their night. Not to mention that finding someone willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes being the net control operator is almost as difficult as finding Atlantis. Come on people, man (or lady) up and make it a point to support your ARES group and your Skywarn program. Take the time to check in. Put the time and date on your cell phone and set a reminder message. We would do the same to get the oil changed in our cars, and checking into a local net costs no money, just a few moments of time. Make that training function.
July 8, 2017,
A very pleasant email arrived in my in basket today, from a fellow ham operator in Portugal. Joao (John) CT1DOV, thanked me for my simple projects which he plans to use to keep the boys occupied in his Boy Scout Troop. It is very encouraging to receive messages like this because they reinforce my determination to keep the site up to date and expanding. As new projects come up I will be sure to add them to the site. If anyone needs more information about a given project, please do not hesitate to email me via the contact page.
On another note, I have been building a few of the Power Pole Polarity testers featured elsewhere on this site, this time using bi-color LEDs to simplify the construction. They glow green if the unknown circuit is properly constructed and red if it has reversed polarity. I will be happy to send one to anyone who requests one and sends along a $5 bill plus a return address.
July 1, 2017,
Todsay, I accomplished a task which had been put off for way too long. The page on my mobile installation shows a switch panel with three switches, one each for Radios, Auxiliary, and GPS. Unfortunately, several months ago, the switch for the GPS began to act up. It still fed power to the GPS but it wouldn't always light up like it should and sometimes it only lit up if a different switch was moved. With my physical limitations I held off, hoping that someone would come to my rescue. Either I forgot to ask or the person was not available. So, today I armed myself with a Phillips screwdriver and went out to see if I could do battle with the errant switch. I was actually surprised at how easy it was. I did blow the main fuse but I kind of expected that and it was easy to replace. So was the switch. The hardest part of the job was getting the switch enclosure screwed down after the replacement was done. Now all three switches light up when they should. I should point out that I use lighted switches to remind me to shut everything off when I leave the car. If I didn't, sometime I would come back to a car with a dead battery. It does feel great to finally have that job done.
On another note, I had to use my FT7800R for the Technical Net the other night because my headset would not work with my IC-7062G. The problem turned out to be a bad contact in the radio selector that chooses which radio the headset connects to. The set of contacts worked on the 7800 side but not on the 706 side. I moved all three wires to another set of contacts and now everything is copacetic, at least for now. Amateur Radio is always a work in progress. Nothing ever works forever although my Heil Traveler headset is now 14 years old and still cranking away.
June 29, 2017
A new page has been added to the web site. An article by Dick Knadle, KR2RIW about the unfair reputation of the PL-259 connector which I paraphrased years ago for a presentation on our regional Technical Net. The net exists to provide answers, feedback and assistance to any amateur operator in the West Central Florida Section or anyone able to get into the NI4CE repeater system, which actually covers considerably more than just the WCF section, especially to the North and East. There is a lot of "old wives tales" out there about the PL-259. From HF to 440 it is a perfectly good connector. The approximately less than 1 inch of a PL-259 mated to an SO-239 is at 35 ohms. Read the new page to find out how much difference that actually makes to your signal at 440 MHz.
June 28, 2017
I was going to swap out the 10 watt dual bander in my scooter basket for the 25 watt unit that shares the same case size. However, once I got the 25 watt radio out of the ammo can where it resides, I discovered that there were too many devices actually attached to the 10 watt radio. The swap was instantly made more complex by several magnitudes, so I put everything back where it used to be and canned that project for a while.
On another note, I enjoyed my time at Field Day this year. The club/group had a great time, the weather held out and the food was great. I didn't do any operating, but that has never been my big thing on Field Day. I prefer to try to make sure that the food and potables are in sufficient supply along with stuff like ice etc. I actually went home in the middle of the afternoon to catch a bit of a nap, but wound up working on an old Azden PCS-5000 that I purchased from our host for FD. It does need some work, mainly to replace a bad pot in the squelch circuit so it got sent off to fellow club member Steve, KG4LGB who is going to look at it after he finishes the other 8 radios he has on the bench right now. Even if it winds up being a paperweight, it just reminds me of my time in Civil Air Patrol where at one time I had a matched pair of PCS-4000's. The radio looks identical (in my memory) to the 4000, so it will be a neat display piece. If a miracle comes about and Steve manages to fix the problem, I will keep it as a backup or loaner rig. I already have a spare mag-mount antenna for it and since it only puts out 25 watts max, and only draws about 7 amps even then, it can easily be run on a battery for temporary use.
June 22, 2017
Just noodling around on the web today, I came across the W2ENY web site. I remembered him as a supplier of audio adjusting gear for the ham operator but I discovered he has now got a line of Headsets with a set up that is similar to the ones I designed years ago. That is using PC or "Skype" type headsets and adapting them to amateur radio equipment. Since I have always published my designs without any concerns of them being the basis for someone else's design, I have no problem with his system. I n fact I just dashed off an email to him to see if he still offered a single sided headset as opposed to the dual ear cup style on his web site. I prefer the one ear design because there is no one else in the house and with both ears covered I might miss someone at the door or on the phone.
On another note, I am still looking for a source for A-B Data switches with at least 9 poles since the usual sources appear to have dried up. I use these Data switches to build mic selectors and radio selectors. I talked to someone at the Arcadia Hamfest in February this year but never heard back from him. If you are out there please get in touch. I will be happy to purchase a fair number of these if we can agree on a decent price. See my contact page to reply. The same goes for anyone else who might have some of the data switches tucked away somewhere. I will buy them from you as long as the price is fair.
June 20, 2017
I have decided to add a 5th page to the Updates section as the 4th page was getting pretty long. As usual, the latest entry or update will be at the top of the page.