N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio

and My Model Railroad Hobby


UPDATES From The Radio Room Page 9

November 21, 2018

               After a few days with the speakers in my van repositioned I find that it was a very good move. The three radios speakers are now positioned aproximately 120 degrees from each other with the speaker for the IC-706MkIIG closest to my left ear, the speaker for the FT-7900R closest to my right ear and the built in speaker for the Jetstream 220 rig aimed at me (more or less) from the front end of the center console. It is now very easy to differentiate which radio the sound is coming from and thus pick the correct mic to pick up to reply. I soundly recommend this placement if you have more than one two-way radio in your vehicle. It eliminates completely having to take one's eyes off the road to see which radio is receiving a signal. Since I also have the three mics distributed around the driver's position I can reach for the right one with reasonable assurance that I am picking the right one. Whish I had done this sooner. 


November 15, 2018

                My son arrived this morning on his annual visit for my birthday. When I go to visit him in the summer, he usually has a series of simple things for me to do (mainly because he doen't want me to get bored, I think). So I figured thjat turn-about was fair play so I had a short list of stuff for him to help me with when he came down. Most of them are already done and he only arrived about 10 am this morning. The speakers in my van have been moved around to further separate the sound from each radio so I can better figure out which radio is doing the talking without having to take my eyes off the road ahead. Several light switches around the house have been replaced along with the surrounding covers. There are a couple more chores for tomorrow. But the list is not long at all. The rest of the family will be joining us tomorrow for a celebration at my favorite restaurant. I will be 76 on Friday. On another note, my trip up to  Pinellas Park this past weekend was very nice with a number of items sold and a good time had by all That I talked to.

November 8, 2018

               I am planning on going to the SPARCFEST in Pinellas Park on Saturday from 8 am to noon. Not just to look around, I will be bringing some of my little projects to sell as well. PTT foot switches, Morse Code Oscillators, power distribution blocks in various sizes from 4+1, 6+1 and 8+1. Headset adapters, speakers, all in one separation cables for FT-7800,7900, 8800, 8900 etc. These include the audio extension built into the control head extension, one cable instead of two. I also have PowerPole polarity checkers, and some other odds and ends. See you there!


November 1, 2018,

             My Frontier equipment was returned this morning without incident. The buzzers that I ordered from All Electronics arrived in the mail also. So far I have constructed 3 of the CW practice oscillators that I set up originally as kits. Unfortunately, in the kit, the item I thought was a buzzer turned out to be a transducer. OOPS!  The two items look identical except for the part number. Once the problem was identified, I placed another order for the correct part and I am going to build the remaining 4 kits that I have and sell them as completed units including the cable that connects the key to the oscillator. The only  parts that the purchaser will have to supply are a 9 volt battery and a key. Keys are available fromMFJ and usually at any hamfest, usually in the tailgating area.


October 31, 2018

           My replacement FT-7900R arrived today and was quickly programmed and put into service in the "Large Go-Kit". This time I left off the programming of repeaters in Connecticut because it is unlikely that I will be taking the Go-Kit anywhere out of state. I have also completed the changover from Frontier to Spectrum and will be returning their equipment tomorrow morning. I have also removed the coax switches from the multiradio install in my vehicle. I am also going to reposition the speakers for two of the radios to try to improve the spatial awareness for me of which radio is active. The way the speakers are placed now it is difficult for me to determine which radio is active without taking my eyes off the road. I think my son will have to assist me with that task as digging into the innards of the center console is getting more difficult as I age.


October 26, 2018

                     Today I built four 4-port +1 powerpole distribution blocks for a dear friend who needed them for some Coast Guard Auxiliary go-kit radios. Each kit contains two radios and a power supply for use when the Coast Guard's own radio system goes awry. The CG normal radios are connected to the various antenna towers via the Internet. So if for some reason they lose the Internet at either end, they cannot use their radios. (Yes I know) At that point the Coast Guard Auxiliary steps in and places a go-kit setup at a location near the tower that has gone belly up and monitors the frequency for the Coast Guard. Neat deal; almost makes me wish I was young enough to join them. Healthy enough would be nice too, now that I think about it.               

October 24, 2018

                A redesign of an old project was completed in very short order (for me) yesterday. I was looking at my Go Kit Radio mounted in  a 50 cal ammo can and wanted to make it lighter. It is a bit of a job just to carry it around. Some doodling on my ubiquitous quadrille pads (quarter inch graph paper) and a plan was hatched. A trip to a local aluminum contractor resulted in a very kind donation of a scrap piece of "cee channel" aluminum 3" wide with sides abut 2" on one side and almost 3"  on the other. Making careful cuts of 90 degree angles at the corners a rectangle was made that could hold one 7 AH SLA battery within. A number of openings were cut into the frame to mount the radio, a voltmeter, an on/off switch, a PowerPole double port for recharging and the possible addition of accessories, and the antenna mount. An external speaker was mounted within one of the side openings and two panels of ABS plastic sheet covered the sides of the box. A series of holes were drilled in the side with the speaker to allow the audio to get out and a pair of loops were formed out of welding rod and secured to the narrow sides of the box to allow a strap to be mounted for carrying. Tests revealed good audio out and relative ease of carry so I am pleased with the outcome. Pictures will follow soon.


October 21, 2018

                An update was in order for the page on the Polarity Tester. I added a new photo of the current iteration which uses a bi-color LED and also made note of the fact that I seal the back of the PowerPole connector with hot glue to prevent anything gaining contact with the leads of the LED from the back.

October 19, 2018

                 I did a bit of housekeeping on the web site today. The main thing was to properly update the page on the 25 watt portable radio (Radio In A Box III). The first iteration of this rig lasted only a few days after it was built and so I rebuilt the page with much less reference to the original setup and added a lot more text on the new version which worked out much, much better.

                I also moved a bunch of stuff around on the Navigation Panel because I wanted to group the pages into similar types of information. Thus most if not all of the articles that are intended for new hams are grouped together. Articles about various Go-Kit packages are next to one another. Links and Newsletter editor pages are grouped with the articles list and so on. Most of the pages that are about projects are all together in one group further down the Nav Panel. Just trying to make the stuff easier to find.


October 18, 2018

                Today was chores of a different sort. First I had to return a light bulb adapter that I purchased on line from Home Depot. I returned it to my local store and they were very helpful, not only with the return but the gentleman in electrical found me the correct socket and attachment hardware right away. The lack of a suitable adapter meant that I had to replace the entire socket on the fan. Getting up on a ladder, even a short one, is a bit of  an exercise but all went well and the new socket was soon in place. Not having to use an adapter meant that I was even able to reinstall the original globe so the fan looks just the same as it did before. The difference is that I now have 100 watts of LED bulb lighting the room instead of 60 watts from a CFL bulb. Much better, especially around the work bench. I do find that as I grow older I need more light to be able to see what I am working on clearly. Of course I also need my reading glasses for any kind of close up work like soldering. Isn't getting older just peachy. NOT!!!!

              On another subject, I am still looking for a suitable enclosure for that Motorola speaker that has no back. Last night I came across a video on welding plastic and since I have a decent amount of 1/8" ABS sheet on hand I did some testing last night with somewhat iffy results. Since I do not have the proper tool for plastic welding as yet, I tried using a soldering gun that came with a flat spade tip that was intended for sealing plastic bags. The device worked after a fashion but the joint created was quite weak. I suspect that the results will better with the proper tool which I will purchase soon. As I gain experience with the tool I can see building entire enclosures out of the ABS plastic. The fun continues...


October 17, 2018

                 Great News!!! I got a call today from Andy Romero of MFJ letting me know that they had reconsidered their position and are now going to put wording into their advertising for their Octopus Antenna stating that it is based on my "award winning" article in the December 2007 issue of QST and including my name and call sign. That was really all I wanted them to do. Sometimes persistence does pay off. 

                 On another note I got a container of potato salad from the grocer today and thought that the container looked about right for the other Motorola speaker. I was wrong. It was too small by about 1/2" in both directions. Then I went and destroyed the container by trying to soften it up to fit around the speaker rim. One should note that I transfered the potato salad to a different container and washed the now empty container thoroughly. Sometimes the project has to wait for as better fit.


October 16, 2018

                 While scrounging through one of my filing cabinets today, I came across a couple of Motorola Mobile Speakers that had only the front grill and the speaker itself. There was no back of the enclosure to be had. A quick look around the kitchen cabinets and I found a square food container that was just a bit too wide in both dimensions. I thought nothing ventured nothing gained and set to work with a utility knife to fix the problem. The food container, like all of it's stackable brethren is quite tapered top to boittom and a check with my calipers (cheap plastic ones) revealed that if I cut about 1/2" off the open top, the container would slide right into the back of the speaker grille. I added about 4 feet of RG-174 as two conductor speaker cable and attached a strain relief to the bottom of the container. A 3.5mm mono plug completed the parts list and a liberal application of hot glue in the corners of the back of the grille secured the container/enclosure. So far I have left the container bare (translucent), however one could easily paint it in whatever color seemed appropriate. I used some small bolts from my stash of "PC screws" to secure the speaker itself to the front grille. I do have another of the Motorola Speakers but for the moment I do not have any food containers of the right size or shape yet. I thjink that the containers that deli salads come in at the grocery store might just do the trick. Off to the store in the morning.


October 15, 2018

               This morning I was looking at the page on the JT-270M and realized that I had spent a lot of time and effort on the "Scooter Radio" aspect and very little on the Go-Kit aspect of the radio. I have added a paragraph at the bottom of the page to address this and if I can find a used  example of this radio at a decent price. I will detail the build as an over the shoulder portable rig. I also cleaned up a couple of portions of the text which were accidentally double spaced in the original setup. They are now single spaced like all the other text on the page.


October 13, 2018

               This evening I was looking over the page on the JT-270M and realized that much of a very long page was out of date and indeed redundant. So I removed a fair amount of material, both text and pictures. I did leave some material on the original "radio in a basket" material but most of the stuff on antennas that did not work was removed. I will be adding a couple more pictures in the near future.


October 12, 2018

              More slight changes today and last night. I rebuilt the mounting system for the JT-270M. I used the  same basic concept but made it out of better looking 1/8" ABS Plastic sheet and aluminum angle. The mic holder, or clip if you prefer, was moved up onto the same panel as the radio to make it easier to get hold of. The antenna was moved to a new mount at the aft end of the box and secured to the box lid. A slight change to the wiring added a pigtail that exits the box so that recharging can be done without having to open the box. I also built a small digital voltmeter that can be plugged into the pigtail to check on the battery voltage. The voltmeter is stored in the pocket on the back of the scooter seat along with the antenna radiator when not in use. THe only "fly in the ointment" is that I can no longer drive the scooter off the lift forwards. If I try the radio box smacks into the lift arm. I guess I will get used to backing off the lift in due time. Brief testing demonstrated little to no change in the operation of the radio. I can still hit the same repeaters I could with the radio in the scooter basket. This set up frees the basket(s) up to carry purchases either at a hamfest or grocery shopping. Oddly enough, I took the scooter food shopping this morning and as far as I could tell, no one even noticed the radio on the scooters right side. 

              On another note, MFJ still refuses to admit that they essentially stole the design for the "Octopus Antenna" from the pages of QST. I have decided that since legal remedies are apparently unavailable, I will simply remind everyone I talk to about the apparent lack of ethics on the part of MFJ. Since I am the Technical Coordinator of my ARRL section, I talk to many hams over the course of a year both at hamfests and technical conferences. At each venue I will simply tell my story and relate what MFJ's response has been. Ethics does not seem to be big in the minds of many companies in this day and age but I would have expected better from a company that relies on a somewhat niche customer base as their only customers. Too Bad.


October 11, 2018

            Today I made a major change to one of my earlier projects. The Scooter Radio project which is detailed on the "The New Jetstream JT-270M as a self contained Go-Kit Radio" page has been altered in what I consider a major way. One of the problems I have always had with the radio mounted in the front basket was that it took up all the storage capacity of the scooter. When I went to any large hamfest, which was one of thereasons I bought the scooter in the first place, all of the purchases and freebies and literature would wind up in a bag between my feet since the basket was full of batteries and radio gear. 

              I have removed the radio and batteries from the basket and installed them into and on a small "ammo" container that has been residing in the radio room for several years. The radio and external speaker are mounted on the top of the box and the batteries are positioned inside. The same antenna set up is used but now mounted on the far side of the box from the operator. Right now it is a bit rough and ready but everything works as in the past. This frees up the basket on the front of the scooter to carry other stuff at hamfests and other venues. As changes are made to the design I will, of course, keep you all posted here on the Web site.


October 8, 2018

           As you can see, I have added another page to the UPDATES. This is page 9 and it actually should have been started a few days ago. I have been adding material and writing about it but I failed to notice that Page 8 had gone well past the usual cutoff that I deem time to start another page. Keeping the pages to a certain length makes it easier to find a specific update, at least that is how I look at it. I have also re-arranged some pages on the Navigation Panel on the left side of every page to try to group similar pages closer together. As an example, most of the material on the Yaesu FT-7900  series of radios are now in close proximity. Most of the article pages like "why you should join a local ham radio club are also grouped together. As new pages get posted I will try to place them appropriately.