UPDATES From The Radio Room Page 4
N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
I have decided that the previous UPDATE page had gotten long enough so I have started page 4.
June 15, 2017
As I promised, a new page has been added detailing the changes to the headset system in my radio room. It has been a bit of a thrash to get it all done but it has worked out OK. My out-going audio is crisp and clear on both radios whether I use the hand mic or the headset and no unplugging and re-plugging is needed, just a flip of a rotary switch or two and it is done. I do still plan to do some more testing of the home-brewed headsets and adapters as time permits but with the number of nets that I participate in or run, I needed a solution ASAP and I have it.
June 11, 2017
I could not sleep last night as visions of a new gadget were spinning around my head, so I finally got up and worked through the night to complete it. The it is in effect a radio selector that allows me to have just one headset for two radios. Since I am now using my old Heil Traveller headset, I realized that the headset itself uses a Heil adapter cable to connect to each model and brand of radio. Since the connections to the adapter cable do not change, I could use a simple rotary switch as in my mic selectors to alternately connect the headset to the IC-706 cable or to a just ordered Yaesu FT-7800 cable. I built it last night and it apparently works fine, at least to the 706 side. Testing the 7800 side will have to wait until I get the cable I ordered from DX Engineering. I will add a page and photos as I get time. I will have to clean up the radio room first. What a mess.
June 10, 2017
I have temporarily replaced the home-brew headset on my IC-706MkIIG with my old Heil Traveler headset. The home-brew unit developed a nasty 60 cycle hum both on transmit and receive for no apparent reason. Until I discover and correct the problem I have switched back to the Heil unit. There is no apparent problem with the mic selector as the Heil is feeding through the same selector as the other unit did and there is no problem with RFI on it. This is very confusing since the r have been no changes at the operating position in some time. Time will, I am sure, reveal a solution down the road. I have been using these home-brewed headsets for at least 16 years with rare episodes of RFI. Usually they work great and so I am very puzzled
June 1, 2017
I have been unable to add material to the web site for a while simply because I had nothing to add to the site. Tonight however, on the Technical Net on the NI4CE repeater system the question of local repair facilities came up. I figured it was time to update and revise the list which had somehow fallen off the WCF Section web site when it was updated a few years ago. I have revised and updated the list (which is by no means complete) and so I added a new page to the site with that information. It will also get posted on the WCF web site in a few days. ADDENDUM: I had to remove one of the listings because I could not verify it via the Internet. The listing I had listed a web site but no such site currently exists.
March 4, 2017
I added a paragraph or two to my page on the 706 and it really is a bit of a rehash of the material in the Feb 15th message. I can report that both radios have arrived back at my home and both are working just fine. I have returned my 706MKiIg to the operating position and placed my son's radio on the shelf awaiting his arrival to pick it up. I have had some health issues of late so my updates to this site may be a bit less frequent than in the past. As is often said, getting old is not for the weak.
February 15, 2017
Well, the substitution of my son's radio for mine did not exactly go as planned. When I got it home I discovered, much to my chagrin, that it would not fire up at all. I sent it off to Mike Nadeau, N1EQ in Maine for repair and he was able to determine that the connector on the back of the control head was bad and so he replaced both sides of the connector and sent it back to me in good working order for a very reasonable fee. I then sent him my IC-706MkIIG, which had also decided to not work. On that one, Mike found that a plated through hole had corroded and while he was at it he revamped the HV trace that is a frequent source of problems although it was OK at that time. The revamp removes the problem from ever arising. That radio is now on it's way back to me as well. Many thanks to Mike for a job well done. His site is www.n1eq.com.
On another note, I have added a photo of the latest version of the Mic Selector Switch to that page elsewhere on this site. I also added it to my Facebook Page although that page is not really about ham radio.
January 14, 2017
I was away for a few days to attend a family celebration and while I was there my son offered to loan me back the IC-706kIIG that I had given him when he got his ham radio license. This will come in very handy because in spite of my efforts the unit I have has demonstrated that it needs an expert's touch. Once I get the units swapped out, my radio will be headed to an expert who, hopefully, will set things right. Then I can return my son's rig to him and all will be right with the world. One must realize I am talking about the ham radio world only. The rest of the place is headed for the dumpster at a horrifying pace.
January 1, 2017
The totals are in for the year and I am awed at the number of visitors my site had last year. The grand Total for 2016 was 86,044 with the best month being November with 10,966 visitors. They appear to be a varied lot with Beijing China, Tampa Florida, Mountain View, California, London, England and Ottawa, Canada all pegging in at 2 %. My host only gives me the top 5 locations and they vary day by day. Still, I am astounded that my simple little site draws this many people from all over the world. I am encouraged that the art of home-brewing the little gadgets that add to the enjoyment of amateur radio is alive and well in the new millennium. As long as people keep coming I will keep writing about said gadgets.
December 22, 2016
As the year draws to a close, and at this holiday season, I just want to wish one and all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I have also begun a new page about the maintenance of the IC-706 MkIIG after some very strange happening with one of my 706s. I will be adding to that page as the need arises.
December 13, 2016
I got a wonderful surprise today. A good friend, Dave Sheneman, KM4AJC, stopped by and in only a few minutes had the under sod trench for my HF antenna's coax dug and the cable buried. It only took a few minutes more to run the cable to the back of the house and connect it to the pass through to the radio. I now have my HF back in operation. Yahoo!!! Dave is a great friend and constantly demonstrates why the Manatee Amateur Radio Club was right to name Dave the 2016 Ham of The Year. Outstanding worker and a fine person to boot.
December 12, 2016
This afternoon I gave a talk to the Kings Point Amateur Radio Club about antennas for small spaces and HOA situations; both of some interest to the membership since most of them live in areas that have to deal with both of these conditions. The talk was well received and I enjoyed meeting the members and renewing friendships with some of the hams that I have known for years. Great group and a fun afternoon.
December 7, 2016
Last night was our ham radio club's annual Christmas Dinner. Many awards were given out along with door prizes galore. The food was great, the company was cheerful and a fun time was had by all. Even I got a trophy although I am not sure exactly why. My dad always told me not to look a gift horse in the mouth so I figured I would accept it and smile broadly. I am still building stuff as I mentioned below, The next trick is to find a suitable enclosure to hold the new distribution blocks. I'm workin' on it.
December 5, 2016
I saw a different PowerPole distribution block the other day on a web site. The main difference compared to the ones I wrote about on this web site is that the PowerPole connectors are arranged vertically. Analyzing the package I determined that I could use my favorite conductor, 3/32" copper clad steel welding rod. I assembled a total of seven sets with one set having the welding rod conductors almost 2 1/2" long to act as the feed to the other six sets. The main problem was finding a suitable enclosure. The pro model uses a specific housing specially made for it. My prototype uses an Altoids tin and lots of insulation around the welding rod. Soldering all those connections (12 in all) was not difficult with a 200 watt soldering gun. I am looking at various plastic enclosures in the 1"x 2"x 3" range for any salable version. The main attribute I am looking for is flanges so the distribution block can be mounted on a wall or other surface. I plan on building them with an extra set of connectors so that if one buys say a six outlet block, one gets six outlets and one input. These will not be ready for hamfests until next year as there is quite a bit of development work yet to do.
ecember 1, 2016
My web site has hit another milestone. I thought October's numbers were pretty great at 8444 visits, but November absolutely wiped it out with 10, 966 visits. WOW! I am beyond humbled to think that people in as diverse places as New York City and Bucharest Romania are visiting my site as often as they are. The visitors are from all over the map, Ottawa, Canada to Phoenix, Arizona, to Russia,etc. I guess ham radio operators all over the world are looking for easy to build, simple projects like the ones on my web site. That is so cool. I am very thankful for the hobby of amateur Radio. It has given me so much over the years. On another note, the spare IC706MkIIG that I just put up in my radio room is going to a new home, I think and hopefully I will have some spending money come Orlando Hamcation in February.
November 26, 2016
Well, the expansion space I mentioned yesterday has been used up. I installed my spare IC-706MkIIG next to my 220 rig on the shelf above my operating position after moving the scanner to a different location. Still having a little problem with crosstalk between the two 706's but as long as I keep one of them turned off, the other one works fine. No HF on the second 706 as I do not have space for a second HF antenna.
November 25, 2016
November has been a very interesting month. According to my domain provider, November is already my site's busiest month ever. Today I also installed a new entry point for the coax runs from my various antennas and even added a fifth coax run from the entry point into the house in case of a future expansion in the number of radios. I have my spare IC-706MkIIG just in case but it does not seem to like being next to my primary radio even when it is on a totally different band. I might sell it off or I may just keep it as a spare for the day when my primary 706 decides to go belly up. Tomorrow I will caulk around the entry point box to weatherproof it. The box was designed to be impervious to weather but that was before I drilled ten holes in it to run the coaxes in and out of the box. I am also waiting for an order of barrel connectors with flanges to come in. When they do, the flangeless barrel connectors in the box now will be replaced. Just when I thought I had everything under control my battery backup refused to show any voltage to the radios. Everything had to come apart again. It turned out to be a simple fix. The negative line from the battery to the switch had come adrift. With it refastened I turned my efforts to simplifying the DC power buss to the station. I substituted one of my 8 + 1 power pole power distribution blocks for the rats nest of wires and buss bars I had been using and the result is considerably neater. I even had one port left empty so I filled that with one of my 4 + 1 blocks to give me some expansion room. My setup is purely one operator oriented and since it is pretty difficult to be on more than one transmitter at a time, there is little threat of a wiring overload. Until the next disaster or bit of news then.
November 23, 2016
Well, the answer was fairly easy to find to my problem of yesterday. It turned out after much investigation with my MFJ-266C that it was one of the pass-through cables that was bad. The hard part came when I replaced it. I had to rip my home-brewed box off the wall outside and cut off the bad cable. While I was at it I decided to replace all of the pass-through cables on the general principle that if one went bad the rest are not far behind. Besides my little box had to be pretty much destroyed in the process anyway. I am off to the electric supply to see if I can find a suitable weatherproof box there.
November 22, 2016
Sometimes it seems like every time I get a new radio, something goes wrong with the older ones. Last night, my FT-7800R decided that it would not talk to anyone and the only thing I could hear was static. After the net, for which I used my IC-706MkIIG, I swapped the 7800 out for my spare 706. It did the same exact thing. OK it appears not to be the radio. Today, I checked the Arrow dual band Jpole antenna and it appeared fine as well. The coax looks undamaged. My next step will be to disassemble the pass-through I built to run the 4 coax runs through the wall. I did plug an analyzer onto the coax coming to the radio and got less than ideal SWRs on both 2 meters and 440. The primary 706 uses an identical antenna and ha no problem. I am perplexed. My next step today will be to plug in a mag mount dual bander inside the house and see if that gets out. Ain't ham radio fun?
November 19, 2016
My new handheld arrived yesterday and I am somewhat impressed. It is a tri-bander built by Wouxon, 2meters, 1.25 meters and 70 centimeters. The one handheld has almost everything I have in the radio room or the car. I guess there wasn't room to add HF to the mix. It programmed up easily with the free software and the optional cable. Before the HT arrived I built a new cabled PTT switch for the radio room. I was not happy with my last attempt as it turned out not to be very ergonomic in use. I tried to buy just the enclosure for their HS-2 from Heil but that would have cost as much as the switch itself. So I built my own using some scrap 1x3 and some small pieces of my favorite material, 1/8" thick ABS rigid plastic sheet. After a bit of design work and a fair bit of sanding, filing and painting, the result works fine, even if it does still look a bit rough. The concept is similar to Heil's HS-2 but with a coiled instead of straight cord and a 1/8" mono plug instead of their 1/4" version. I will be posting a picture of it soon.
FLASH!! The new page and pictures have been added. Plus I have also added photos of version two which was carved/sanded/cut out from the same pine I used before. This time there are no ABS plates on the sides just the small one that holds the switch. There is a lot more sanding and finishing to do yet but I added several pictures that show the progress so far.
UPDATE: Sanding is done and two coats of stain have been added. Tomorrow the gloss finish goes on.
November 16, 2016
My birthday arrived today and along with all the well-wishers, my son Steve came down from CT for a few days and did so many things around my house that I am just in awe. My ceiling was neatened up, the outside of the house had some messy spots left over from my late wife's gardening efforts cleaned out and returned to grass, he even helped my get my HF antenna repaired. I have ordered new "Buryflex" coax from Quicksilver Radio Products to replace the coax that was damaged beyond repair by a recent flood when the retention pond across the street backed up. That was not helped when a line under my house let go and kept the lot under water for 3 more days. All has been repaired and when the new coax arrives in a few days I will be back on HF. Happy holidays to all, The end of the year is getting ever closer.
November 12, 2016
The Special Event Station that our local group put together to celebrate a WWII re-enactment that was held at the Florida Railroad Museum today was an unqualified success. Although the propagation was less than great we managed to pull down 21 contacts and more importantly, entertained several young people and families on the subject of Amateur Radio. They were very interested and surprised to learn that getting a license is relatively easy and that it is not an expensive hobby to get started in. The demonstration of Morse Code operating by Phil, N8IPS and digital modes by Ed, NI4MX was eyeopening to many of our frequent guests. As a final filip, the sights and sounds of the reenactment were great fun to witness. All in all, a great day.
November 6, 2016
After looking at the mods I had to make to the 25 watt portable dual-bander overnight, I was not satisfied at all. I went to Harbor Freight and purchased a nice new ,50 cal ammo can. The extra space allowed a second battery, a voltmeter, an extra Power Pole connector and space for for the mic, the manual, the antenna and wonder of wonders, the battery charger. When it goes on the railroad next weekend, I will add a mag mount antenna that we will place on the metal roof of the railroad car. The radio has been tested in the new enclosure and all works well.
November 5, 2016
Tonight I added a photo and some extra text to the page about the 25 watt portable dual band radio. Because of the noise problem in an open railroad car, I have added an earphone jack to the set-up. In order to do that I had to add an external speaker and add the earphone jack to the speaker. Not the most "aerodynamic" of mods but it works and that was the point.
November 1, 2016
Well, last month was quite a surprise. The site had more visitors than ever before, ending up with 8, 444 specific visits from all over the world. I am humbled that my little site, started several years ago to provide others with information about amateur radio and simple, easy to build projects has developed such an audience.
October 27, 2016
This evening the meters that I ordered from Marlin P. Jones and Associates were installed in the boxes and they went in without any problems. Each meter is controlled by a small toggle switch so that the meter can be turned off until the voltage needs to be read. I added a couple of photos to the page showing the new meters.
October 24, 2016
I have added another page to the site about the battery backup or portable battery power that I talked about on the 19th and the 22nd. I wanted to add the photos of one of the batteries (they are identical) but adding them to this column is a pain because as I add more comments I have to move the photos each time. Thus I simply added a new page to the bottom of the Navigation Panel to the left. I also wrote this up for our local club newsletter so it was an easy copy and lock including the pictures.
October 22, 2016
The batteries I mentioned on the 19th have now been ensconced in a pair of nice new battery boxes and new 2 amp battery chargers have been assigned to each. I also built custom Power Pole blocks for each so that there are 2 sets of Power Pole connectors on each battery. I plan to install the connectors on the lids of the battery boxes so there are no dangling bits to snag on. I am tempted to try installing the chargers inside the boxes as well but I doubt there is enough room. The new chargers were able to get a good charge into the batteries and they are now both sitting on a float charge.
October 19, 2016
The batteries on my scooter were replaced yesterday, many thanks to Batteries + who did a fine job. I took the old batteries home with me since there was no core charge. I plan to use them, assuming they will charge up, to provide portable power for some of my radios that are at least semi-portable like the new IC-706MkIIG that I wrote about recently. Time will tell if they are actually usable but first I have to get them recharged. Since my available chargers are really trickle charge maintainers it may take a few days.
October 17, 2016
Yesterday I made a major change here. I have finally dumped AOL and am now semi-comfortably ensconced on Chrome and Gmail. My new email address is email@example.com. I may create a shorter one for this site but for the moment this will do. AOL was getting so full of malware and 3rd party adware that my computers security program was unable to clear because AOL allows them to use its signature thus making the security screen think it was part of AOL (a trusted? signature). A friend put me onto Malwarebytes and it found 48 malicious or unnecessary bits of junk on my PC. Needless to say, I will not be returning to AOL. The changeover was not as difficult as I thought it would be. Most of my favorites I was able to import from IE and the rest were added as I thought of them. Probably a lot more to add in the near future but I got all the ones I have to log into, I think.
October 3, 2016,
I just took a look at the statistics that my web site host gathers about my web site. The month of September was the busiest month in the history of my web site with almost 7400 visitors. Thank you to all who have taken the time to pop onto my humble little site and I promise to do my best to provide you with accurate and up to date information and projects.
September 24, 2016
I have added a couple of photos to the page about "My Radio Room". I added a small but, I think, sleek illuminated sign above the operating position. It says simply "ON AIR" and it goes on when the radios are turned on. Living alone, I know it is just a bit of fluff but I have some background in commercial radio and I just like having the sign. It took only a couple of hours to build and most of that was cutting the rectangular hole in the enclosure for the sign. It is illuminated with 3 "Grain of wheat" 12 volt incandescent bulbs. I know LEDs use less power but I had these on hand and the wiring was super simple.
September 23, 2016
A new page has been added about the new soldering station on my workbench. Nothing too fancy but it is the result of several weeks of using the previous set up and thinking there must be a better way.
September 18, 2016
I went to the TAPR Conference in St. Petersburg, Fl yesterday and I was most impressed. The devices and techniques in the Demonstration room at the hotel were varied and all were very interesting technically. More info will be found on the TAPR web site: https://www.tapr.org/ On another note the para-cord for my new antenna has arrived and been stored with the antenna. Preparations are ongoing for the WWII reenactment in November where the new radio will get its "baptism of fire".
September 12, 2016
Sometimes the work at N1GY comes in a rush, probably because I have been laid up a bit for the last few days. I sit in my radio room/office/workshop and ideas occur to me. This happened today and my new fume extractor was redesigned and rebuilt into a much more compact unit. The page has been updated and new pictures added.
September 11, 2016
The End fed antenna has been completed. The toroid was relatively easy to wrap in the windings and that was the hardest part of the build. I wrapped the toroid in teflon tape from the plumbing aisle to reduce the possibility of arcing at high power (100 watts). I have added a couple of pictures and some text at the bottom of the page on the IC-706MkIIG AS A PORTABLE STATION. Completed, the UN-UN looks neat and it is relatively light if it needs to be raised to a higher level than I initially planned on. UPDATE: I added another paragraph or so because in my haste to build a new HF antenna, I forgot to provide for VHF and UHF. That has now been resolved with a dual band antenna and sufficient coax runs to get both HF and VHF/UHF up and running, just not at the same time. The IC-706MkIIG is a great radio, but even it has it's limits.
September 7, 2016
One of the remaining items to be completed is the 9:1 UN-UN for the antenna. End fed antennas have a very high impedance at the end of the wire so in order to decrease that impedance to a level that an antenna tuner can handle one must use a device that matches one unbalanced item, the coax to another unbalanced item, the wire. Thus the UN-UN. The wiring is slightly different than a BAL-UN which matches a Balanced antenna to Unbalanced coax. Everything is ready for the toroids to get here. The enclosure, the winding, the connections etc. Time will tell how good an antenna it is but the general consensus is that they work pretty well.