UPDATES From The Radio Room, Page 11
N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
The other day, I modified the radio setup that I mounted on my mobility scooter. I replaced a plastic panel on which I had mounted the antenna with a piece of aluminum angle. Because there were several items that also figured in this project like the antenna itself and the external speaker, this was somewhat laborious but eventually it was done. When I was all finished I tried turning the radio on, with no success. It simply would not respond the the position of the switch at all. Naturally, my thoughts turned to a replacement radio. However, the next day I was about to remove the radio setup from the scooter when I decided to give it one more try. This time it did in fact fire up and work like it was supposed to. I think that the next time I buy a radio it will not be one of those cheap Chinese radios. The radios from the "big three" are more expensive but they seem to be unencumbered with the problems of the other guys. What I would really like to find is a Yaesu FT-90R. It is very small and as long as you keep the output power down to 25 watts, they are almost indestructible. If anyone has one they would like to get rid of please send me an email with price including shipping and condition. I will be happy to take it off your hands.
June 28, 2019
In the past I have built several 1 amp USB chargers using the internals from cheap cigarette lighter USB chargers available from so called "dollar" stores. These work well enough but are slow to recharge a phone. An upgrade was in order. I ordered two 2.1 amp charger units, each with two 2.1 amp USB ports from Amazon. when they arrived I mounted both side by side in a plastic enclosure and wired them in parallel, via a 10 amp fuse (the same size fuse they were delivered with) to a PowerPole connector. They can thus be used with my 30 amp power supply or my battery boxes. They will charge cell phones relatively quickly and do up to 4 at once. A handy little gadget to have around when a disaster comes calling.
June 26, 2019
An update is in order. A couple of weeks ago I had a medical emergency and spent several days in the Hospital. The upshot was that several of my medications were changed and a diet more suitable for Type !! Diabetes was enforced. I am better now, just a step slower and eating much better than I used too. Isn't getting old fun? Not!!!
First a thought for the greatest generation, those men and women who got us through World War II and made the world, for a while at least safe for democracy. Recently, I had to replace the little "net book" that I was using to provide a clear view of the frequency that my IC-706MkIIG was set to. Then one day I got the blue screen of death. My friend Ed who had provided the first net book found another one in his stash and the problem was solved. Actually it wasn't quite that easy but it is now running Commander softwware like it should and all is well with that project. However, I was now left with three Li-Ion battery sets and no where to put them to use. I discovered with a little research that these batteries were 12 volts at 5200 mA. The more or less cylindrical shape of the batteries made me think of using them to power an HT. Using some shim brass I was able to fabricate a connection to the batteries that terminated in PowerPole connectors. A few bits of ABS plastic, a set of brass tabs for each battery and a bunch of good old hot glue and the job was done. I scrounged up some low current wall warts and did some research on what these batteries require for charging. I am probably going to get proper Li-Ion chargers for each of the batteries but for the moment the low current wall warts will do. The exhibit no overheating while connected to the wall warts and the voltage appears to be OK. These batteries will fit n a safety vest pocket
and provide more than twice the duration of the standard HT battery. I just thought that someone who has a similar dead net book might be wondering what to do with the spare batteries for these things.
MaY 27, 2019
A new page has been added to the site. I constructed a 30 amp power supply that is housed in a plastic ammo can. The whole thing is about the same size as a normal power supply and it even has a handle on the top to make hauling it around a bit easier. All this in preparation for a new Go-Kit that I will be using to give a presentation to my club on Go-Kits in general. Hurricane season starts in about 1 week after all.
May 10, 2019
In my previous life, I spent 20 some odd years in Civil Air Patrol and enjoyed every minute of it. So, imagine my surprise when a fellow ham mentioned that he too was in CAP and needed some help with some of his CAP gear. Among other things we built a 121.5 specific antenna and added SMA connectors to two air band radios so that the antenna would have something to connect to. He uses a small Radio Shack air band radio to track ELTs and EPIRBs for the last 100 yards with great success. We also built a couple of "rig savers" to connect the antenna (the coax of which ends in a PL-259) The rig savers are very handy when connecting a small HT to a mobile or base station antenna. It cosists of 18 inches or so of RG-316 coax with a male SMA connector on one end and an in line SO-239 on the other. This removes any stress on the SMA connector on the HT from the much stiffer RG-58 or RG-8X coax coming from the antenna.
May 6, 2019
I took delivery of a new soldering iron yesterday. My 200 watt soldering gun went belly up so I purchased a 200 watt soldering iron from Amazon instead. Boy is this thing big! With a warmed up temp of 900 degrees this thing could burn my house down. My first job was to build a storage stand to keep it from turning my workbench into a pile of smoking embers. I am quite sure it will be able to handle the heavy duty tasks I brought it for.
May 4, 2019
Happy Star Wars day to all. I had a great honking mess on my hands today. The receive audio was not coming through to my earphone on my headset, and this on the radio that I most frequently use when running a net. Oh Dear!!!!. After a lot of dead ends I finally discovered that the extension that runs from the mic selector to the headphone had a broken wire. Repairs made and the IC-706MkIIG is back in operation. I also switched the mic selector from one with four positions to one with only two. Therefore, my boom mic is currently relegated to a display only status. I took one look inside the four position mic selector and decided that there were way too many wires in there to be reliable. Once I get some time, I am going to build a new four postion selector and neat up the wiring a lot. I also re-arranged the headsets so that they are on thre same sides as the radios they serve. There is always something to do at N1GY.
April 30, 2019
Some further modifications were made to the PowerPole power distribution blocks in the past few days. I purchased some 1/4" x 36" brass strips and used pieces of that to connect the welding rod tying the PowerPole contacts together I then crimped and soldered the pigtail of wire connecting them to the PowerPoles that connect to the power source. In this iteration the assembly is still insulated by heat shrink tubing but the overall effect is much neater. The brass strip has a surface area much larger than the wire or thew welding rod so I am confident in it's ability to carry 30 t0 40 amps of 12 volt power.
April 20, 2019
Today I built a couple of Jigs to improve the construction of the PowerPole Power distribution blocks. A cutting jig makes ensuring that all the copper clad steel rods are cut to exactly the same length. A soldering jig makes sure that all of the contacts are soldered in the correct orientation and to the correct length. I built an 8 +1 and a 6 +1 powerblock and the new jigs made the job much easier. On another note, our VE group held another VE testing session today and we now have 2 more Technician class hams in the group. The other applicant apparently just did not study. There are extenuating circumstances in that person's situation, however, so maybe when the demands of school are a bit less the results will be different.
April 17, 2019
Today I tried to buy more welding rod from my usual supplier but they no longer carry it. I checked the Internet and found a welding supplier locally who had the same material in stock. Since the 10 pound size was actually less expensive than two 3 pound boxes, I of course bought the `10 pound box. The new rods are a bit different in that they have a part number stamped into each rod at both ends. This will cost me about 4 or 5 inches of each rod, but given the excellent price of the 10 pound box, I am not worried. I am going to build a couple of new jigs so that the small piecesof the welding rod will all be exactly the same length and the Powerpole contacts will all be soldered on in the proper orientation. This will take a few days and maybe a trip to the parts store but in due time another run of PowerPole power distribution blocks will be available. The fun continues!!
April 14, 2019
I have temporarily run out of my favorite 3/32" copper clad steel welding rod, so for the moment I am unable to build any more PowerPole distribution blocks. I plan on restocking the material this coming week so the soldering guns will be heating up again around Thursday. On another note a friend dropped off a slew of antique electronic parts that , I am sure, will be of much use to those hams who like to restore "boatanchors" otherwise known as classic radios.
March 31, 2019
Things are back to the usual today. My sister flew home to Ottawa, I had a great dinner with a friend of mine and a fellow ham came over this afternoon for a check-up of his radio (working perfectly) and some headscratching over the unusual static and RFI that he was experiencing at his base station. We decided that someone near his station was using a power tool with a very RF-noisy motor and he plans to search it out as time permits. We decided that because the day before his radio was working fine and the next day it was almost unreadable due to the RFI surrounding his signal. At my house the radio worked perfectly on the same day.
March 29, 2019
There is not much to report on the Amateur Radio side of things. For the past week or so I have been hosting my sister on her pilgrimage to Florida to get away from the several feet of snow still sitting on her front lawn. She seems to be enjoying herself sitting out in the sun and going shopping with her niece. The Tech net last night was almost an hour long and the attendees fielded several questions ranging from grounding to battery backup to Baofengs and even to D-Star. One participant was looking for a source for thyristors. The participants were able to either provide answers or at least point the operator with the query in the right direction. Speaking just as an operator and not as the Technical Coordinator, I think that the Tech net fills a definite need here in the WCF section of ARRL. There are lots of brand new hams who need answers to the most basic of questions, lots of upgrading hams who have questions about their new privileges on HF and about the equipment needed, and finally, plenty of older hams who need help with new modes like software defined radios and new digital modes like FT-8 and others. Some just need help finding a source for a specific part. All are invited to join in the fun on Thursday evening at 2100 Hours Local on the NI4CE linked repeater system that covers all of the West Central Florida Section.
March 23, 2019
It is time for a report on the Sarasota Emergency Radio Club Hamfest. They put on one of the best small hamfests I have been to in years. The volunteers knew exactly where to place the vendors, the food was provided by a BBQ food truck and an Icecream truck, both of which had excellent offerings and the turnout of hams was huge. I was a vendor at this one and after what I thought was a slow start I cleared a very nice chunk of cash. If they run it again next year, I will be absolutely sure to attend.
I wish I could say similar things about my little foray into special event stations. Over two hours of calling for stations and not one completed QSO. I heard one mobile unit that was too far away to be logged and he indicated that he would call back when he got closer but he never did. Since I was already tired after the hamfest in the morning, I closed up shop after two hours and went home after adding a suitable donation to the fundraiser's coffers. Ah well, better luck next time.
March 20, 2019
There is not much going on in the workshop this week. I am preparing for a visit from some of my family and for a new hamfest this weekend. The Sarasota Emergency Radio Club is holding a first tailgate and swap meet for the area and I will be there to support it and also to sell a few things that have made it out of the workshop lately. On the same day, Saturday the 23rd, I will, at least for a while, be doing a special event station at a fundraiser for St Judes Children's Research Hospital that will take place on Egret Lane in Bradenton, FL.
March 14, 2019,
The new Battery Project is done. The 12 AH 12 VDC SLA battery fits perfectly between the side walls of the container. THe battery and the charger unit are held in place using double sided tape of a type used by trophy and award shops. The tape holds very well, although I would not reccomend holding the case upside down. At first I was going to separate the charging and load circuits with a DPDT switch but in the end I simply connected everything on one circuit. The one big change was to place the charger inside the case with the battery. The AC power cord for the charger has been run through the lid using different colored Powerpoles (green and black). The external cord can be stored inside the case so there is nothing else to carry about other than the radio that is to be powered by the battery. A new Page has been added to the web site to explain the new battery package as well as show an older unit of somewhat higher capacity
March 11, 2019
I am in the middle of a new little project, mainly because the two main ingredients will not get here until the 13th. This is really a simple thing to build, a battery box with a built in charger. Pictures will follow along with some text. It can be used as a primary power source for a radio like the FT-817ND or a hand held unit like an FT-60. The battery is a 12 AH 12 VDC unit and the built in charger is specifically designed for SLA batteries. Everything is ready for the battery and charger to get here. Even the brackets to secure the battery into the box are done. More later.
March 5, 2019
I have sold the 25 watt dual band radio featured elsewhere on this site. As I am trying to gradually withdraw myself from the demands of ARES deployment, I find myself with equipment that is no longer suitable for my current situation. I am also gradually sorting the chaf from the wheat in my workshop, a process which is fairly well along.
February 12, 2019
An update is in order about the scooter radio installation. After a discussion with the people at Batteries Plus I discovered that a small well behind and under the back of the seat was just the right size for a single 7 AH SLA battery. A metal strap covered in heat shrink secures the battery in place and a spliced in Anderson Power Pole port allows for recharging the battery without having to remove it from the scooter. Another extension cord looks to be in the offing. On another note, I took the antenna I built for use on a sailboat to the weekly "Burger Day" at a local restaurant. The individual for whom it was intended was blown away and now definitley intends to use it on his sailing excursion. Pictures of both projects will follow in due time.
February 10, 2019
A couple of new projects have been initiated at N1GY. The first is a dual band vertical dipole that was intended for a fellow ham's sailing experience. I would not call it an adventure, he is only sailing locally and only for a few days. I spent about $70.00 on the project but now it appears that he may use something else instead. I will show my design to him on Monday and see what his thoughts are then. The other project was a total redesign of the scooter radio set-up. I had a couple of minor collisions at Orlando Hamcation between the radio battery box and the various non-ADA compliant doors at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. The upshot was that the mounting bolts for the battery box got bent and left the box hanging even further off to my right. I decided, once I had the unit disassembled to separate the radio from the battery box, build a new battery box and mount it somewhere within the space occupied by the scooter rather than off to one sidex. That part of the project is still in the design stage, I will have more on the whole thing when I get that finished.
February 8, 2019
I have just returned from the opening day of Orlando Hamcation 2019. This major hamfest grows bigger every year. It has become almost as big as The National Hamvention in Xenia Ohio (used to be called Dayton).I have even heard that some vendors would rather come to Orlando in February than "Dayton/Xenia" in May. Time will tell who gets the top spot. In any case I did not have to buy much this year, just a few antenna mounts and some dual band whips for a soon to start project. I spent most of the day at the ARRL booth where myself and others answered questions, gave away new ARRL Calendars and pointed people in the right direction depending on what they were looking for. Lunch was nice if a bit pricy but then everything is getting more expensive all the time. The turnout of hams was outstanding for a Friday and I expect that Saturday will be even busier.
January 23, 2019
Once again it has become necessary to add another page for Updates from the Radio Room since the previous page has filled up to the bottom of the navigation panel on the left side of the page. Anything longer than that and it becomes unwieldy for the reader. I added the last entry to Page 10 today and then observed that Page 10 had hit the self imposed limit. Thus Page 11 was created. I decided to go ahead and do it now rather than wait for the next update.