Updates from the Radio Room Page 6
N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
March 4, 2018
A further update on the speaker mic mentioned back on Feb 27. The RG-316 cable that I mentioned came in and I attempted the conversion. Multiple attempts to secure the fitting to the mic body came to naught and in the process the fitting came adrift from the cable. I checked with the vendor to see if he had any suggestions and he did not have the part he suggested in stock. This morning it finally occurred to me that I could make my own. I placed a thru-hole SMA of the proper gender into a small piece of pipe strapping that I had cut down and bent to the proper shape to match the mic body. After threading the cable through the mic coil cord and bolting the two halves if the mic body back together I secured the piece of strapping to the body with a very short sheet metal screw. Testing assured me that the cable was properly connecting the antenna to the radio. Problem solved. On another note, I am getting more comfortable with the installing of SMA connectors. In a sense they are similar to BNC connectors only a lot smaller. I am no expert but I am beginning to feel more sure of myself with these really tiny fittings. Time will tell.
February 27, 2018
While I was up at Orlando for Hamcation this month, I picked up an interesting speaker mic for my Wouxon KG-UV8T. This radio is a neat little tri-bander that does 2 meters, 1.25 meters and 70 centimeters. The speaker mic has provision for the antenna to be mounted on the speaker mic instead of the radio. The difficulty comes when you consider that the mic is wired correctly for the radio but Wouxon has made an apparent running change with regard to the antenna connections and gone to the same standard as used by the Big Three. This means that the antenna connections are backwards to the other Wouxon radios. Initially, I used two SMA adapters (or gender changers) to hook everything up. The adapter at the radio end placed what I considered to be too much stress on the radio's antenna connection, in no small part because the manufacturer of the mic used what appears to be RG-58 cable which is very stiff in this application. I contacted a vendor on EBay who agreed to supply an RG-316 cable with the correct SMA fittings at both ends. This will relieve the stress and look much better as well. Pictures will follow when the conversion is complete.
February 22, 2018
After my experience on top of the 9th Street Bridge which I mentioned in my Feb. 13th entry, I decided to get a new safety vest. I ordered it from Amazon because it had many more pockets than the ARRL vest and because it had a zipper closure rather than a Velcro one. When it arrived, I took the liberty of adding a few patches (ARES, ARECC, and the Manatee ARC. Then I took it to a sports uniform shop to have the "AMATEUR RADIO EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS" lettering added along with my call sign. Here are a couple of pictures of the vest. With a total of 8 pockets the vest has plenty of room for a hand-held and any paperwork that might be required.
February 20, 2018
A new project was on the bench today. I ordered a small circuit board already populated with it's components from Amazon. I spent a few minutes Sunday preparing an enclosure and peripherals for the board pending its arrival today. Unfortunately while the device did pass the audio from the radio to my headphones it did NOT amplify it in any way shape or form. Since it was described as a audio amplifier and even had a volume control built in the board, you can imagine my disappointment. At this I consider it a $10 learning experience but I am sorely disappointed in the product. Ah well, on to the next project whatever that will be.
February 13, 2018
February has been a strange month this year. Working the top of the bridge for communications for a 5K run put on as a prelude to the Manatee River Regatta, which featured formula 2 power boats among other fun viewing spectacles. Almost froze because of the wind, and I had many layers on. Then The Orlando Hamcation which seemed a little smaller this year, mostly due to a much smaller turnout of tailgaters outside. I arrived early (very early) did much of my shopping before the gates even opened (thanks to a pal who gave me a vendor badge) and was back in Bradenton and fast asleep on my couch by 1 PM. Coming up is a VE session this coming weekend and the Annual Tech-Con the next weekend where a number of speakers, myself included will endeavor to light the flame of enthusiasm for various technical topics. Where amateur operators are concerned, we will be "preaching to the choir" as they are pretty much solidly in that camp already. Already starting to plan for my annual excursion to New England to see my son and his family. Field day is coming up. Yes I know June seems a long way off, but believe me, It will be here before you know it and you will wonder where all that time went.
January 24, 2018
Well, after 4 days without TV, Phone and Internet, I am finally back in touch. I survived by doing crossword puzzles and sleeping a lot. Apparently the Cable provider who was working on the house behind mine accidentally cut the fiber-optic cable to my house. Different company but of course no one is going to accept the blame. To cap it all off my provider mysteriously cancelled the first appointment I had for Tuesday without explanation and had to reschedule for Wednesday and the tech finally showed up at 1:30 PM. All is apparently well now except for the fiber-optic cable running around my lot. The tech says that "someone" will be out to bury the cable sometime within the next two weeks! As soon as my contract runs out I am going to switch providers ASAP
January 11, 2018
Speaking of foot switch PTT's I have taken delivery of and modified a new supply of foot switches. They come with an eight foot cord terminated in a 3.5 mm Mono plug. For those who need a 1/4" plug to fit their particular circumstance, 3.5 mm to 1/4" adapters are readily available at any electronics retailer. The foot switches are priced at $15 plus shipping.
January 7, 2018
A new page has been added to the site. You will find the link at the bottom of the Nav Panel on the left side of each page. The title "An Easy Foot Switch PTT" pretty much tells the whole story. The source for the switch is detailed and the conversion to a PTT switch from a motor control is very simple.
January 2, 2018
The UPS man just came to the door with a bunch of goodies for my new FT-70DR. A better antenna, a speaker mic, fast charger, spare battery and power cord for the car. It turns out that this radio, although it runs on a 7.2 volt battery will accept anything from 8 to 15 volts to power it. I guess that the reason one cannot charge the battery separately is because the charging circuitry is built into the radio. Looks like the folks at Yaesu could use a little refresher on pre-planning. It would have been so nice to be able to use one battery on the radio while charging the other one in the fast charger. Just proves that engineers are not infallible.
January 1, 2018
I just ran the statistics on this site for 2017 and quite frankly, I am astounded. In 2017 this little site has seen 172,360 visitors over the course of 12 months. WOW! I honestly thought, when I started this site a number of years ago that it would be wonderful if I got 1 visit per day. Simply amazing.
December 31, 2017
It is the last day of 2017 so I wish everyone a Happy New Year and a fruitful 2018. The projects continue here at N1GY. I got tired of the fact that the mic selector for my 706MkIIG was quite a bit longer that the similar unit for the FT-7800R which sits right next to it as you can see from the pictures of my operating position. Today I decided to do something about that. I modified another ABCD data switch that I had built to be sold and replaced the bigger unit with one that exactly matches the mic selector beside it except that the one under the 706 has 4 positions (Headset, Hand Mic, Boom Mic, and Auxiliary) wheree the unit for the FT7800R only has 2 positions, (Headset and Hand Mic). Otherwise they look almost identical. I made the change because I am slowly conceptualizing and thus designing a whole new look for the operating position, mainly to simplify and improve access to the back of the radios. As it is now, if I need to get at the back of a radio in the lower stack, I basically have to dis-assemble the stack, even for something as simple as checking the tightness of a coax connector. I made a major mistake in designing the radio room the first time and have been paying for it ever since. Since I cannot re-position the desk I will have to redesign the stack to be more movable and turn-able.
December 27, 2017
An Author List has been added to the new newsletter editor resource page I mentioned yesterday. So far it contains only me. As the site grows I am sure we will be adding others in alphabetical order. That is the hope anyway. This is a very complex project and I am sure there will be stumbling blocks along the way. Just try to bear with us as we add to and modify the project as we go.
December 26, 2017
I have begun adding a new page to my site. You can find it at the very bottom of the Navigation Panel on the left. This page is intended to grow and become a resource for newsletter editors everywhere. We intend to collect articles and other material from newsletter editors all over the country and make those articles available to those same editors so that each editor will have an easier time filling the pages of their newsletter and authors will see their work published in multiple places around the country. This project is it's very early days yet, so please be patient while we try to get this off the ground.
December 26, 2017
A slightly belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the readers of my humble little web site. The Christmas doings are done, I am not much for the antics of New Years Eve so I guess it is back to business for the nonce. I have ordered a slew of accessories for my FT-70DR from Universal Radio and they tell me they should be going out within the next day or so. My family was very generous with the Christmas Cash so I am set for Orlando in February. The new headset (single sided from Office Depot<$20) is working great with the adapters from W2ENY and myself. The headset from W2ENY is now the backup unit unless someone makes a reasonable offer, in which case it will go to a new home. I may yet try my cellphone "earset" with the setup just for grins and giggles. That's all for now.
December 15, 2017
Our local amateur radio club (The Manatee Amateur Radio Club Inc.) held it's annual Christmas Party at its usual time and place at the beginning of December. A good time was had by all and your humble servant went home with a very nice award and a brand new Yaesu FT-70DR which was one of many door prizes at the event. This is my first radio capable of digital operation (Yaesu's Fusion system) and once I got the hang of it, programming it manually was a snap. I still have not gotten the programming cable to talk to the PC but for now manually doing it is not hard at all. Nice little HT with more memory slots than I will ever use.
December 3, 2017
It has been a while since my last post. I will blame it on the fact that I turned 75 in November and I had family visiting from both Canada and Connecticut. Then Christmas shopping began in earnest right after Thanksgiving, etc, etc. In any case I rebuilt my home station just a few days ago after another RFI incident. I discovered that somehow the cables and wires behind my operating position had turned into a rats nest. I don't know how it happens but it always does. Anyway, after about 3 hours of hard work I got everything working again without any RFI. Only time will tell how long this condition will last. It did bring up a good point about designing the radio room. Always have a way of accessing the back of the operating position so that one is not working blind trying to sort out cables, wires and the other stuff that lurks back there. I did not follow my own advice and now I am paying the piper.
October 22, 2017
This past Saturday a friend and I drove down to the Camp Miles Boy Scout Camp near Punta Gorda Florida. We were asked to provide an JOTA (Jamboree On The Air) amateur radio station capability for a Cub Scout event where 1700 cub scouts and 400 staff were encamped. I and Tony, KB9A comprised one team and Jim, KE4INM also brought his gear down as well. That was a very good thing as I had problems with my VHF/UHF setup so Jim provided all the opportunities for the Cub Scouts to actually get on the air and talk to ham operators in other parts of Florida. Also in attendance were Ken, WW4KS and Ben, KM4GPL an Eagle Scout. Both were part of the staff at the event as well as coordinating the JOTA station. To be fair Camp Miles is really pretty remote from the repeaters we had planned on using but Jim found a local repeater and a couple of hams Stan, NW3Q, and Popeye, (who's call sign escapes me for the moment) who were truly vital to the whole show. Jim and Ben were supremely patient at showing the youngsters how to use the PTT switch on the mic and coaching them to answer questions posed by the hams at the other end of the contact. Stan was outstanding at getting the cubs to ask and answer questions over the air, Popeye did a great job sending each cub the cub's name in Morse Code which delighted everyone.
Unfortunately, propagation was not playing nice this day as we could hear stations as far away as Scotland but the return trip was not in the cards. Approximately 400 Cub Scouts were able to talk to hams via radio. (That estimate is very rough. It could be less)
Tony was absolutely fantastic at explaining amateur radio and it's possibilities to the cubs that came through the station. He patiently explained things like moon bounce (also known as EME) and the various layers of the atmosphere that allow our signals to go around the world.
Ken, WW4KS was the coordinator for the JOTA station, using a public address system to invite cubs over to the station setup to participate in the activity. Since we were not the only demonstration at the event, we were competing in a way with such disparate displays as Indian dancing and Search and Rescue demos using drones and dogs, jump houses and boating on the lake, He did a tremendous job.
All in all, it was a great day for the Ham Operators in attendance and hopefully, for the Cub Scouts in attendance. I think I can speak for all involved to say thank you for the opportunity to participate in this event.
November 6, 2017
Well, my base IC-706MkIIG has taken ill, it would appear. Last Thursday as I went to start the Technical Net, the output of the radio decreased from 50 watts on 2 meters to about maybe 10. The audio was also very scratchy and difficult to comprehend. For the duration I switched over to the FT-7800R which was fine and the net continued. Because my son-in-law and I had taken down the dual band antenna the previous day to effect some repairs to the house and then put it back up again once the repairs were completed, I made sure the next day to attach the MFJ antenna analyzer to the VHF/UHF coax and test. The coax and antenna tested fine with SWR's between 1:1 and 1:2 throughout the 2 meter and 440 bands. My son has volunteered the use of his 706 until I can get mine repaired. He will arrive in about 9 days so until he gets here I will be down to two transceivers, my FTR-7800R and my JT-222M 220 radio. Instead of mailing the sick 706 off to Maine I plan on taking it personally to one of the local repair facilities listed elsewhere on this web site. In the meantime, life goes on.