Author Topic: My other hobby, ham radio  (Read 17286 times)

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dnix71

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #54 on: February 25, 2016, 07:28:34 PM »
We used to have a bad grid here in south Florida, but after Hurricane Wilma knocked out power for 3 weeks, FP&L was ordered to stop being cheap and stupid. There are tall cross feed towers all over now. If a feed gets knocked down by a tornado there is a way to reroute power. We don't have the use it 'til it blows up problems anymore for the same reason. Half the 'hood across the street got knocked out one day many years ago when a pack of transformer detonated over a bus stop. That set off others because the redundant routing wasn't available.

ChrisOlson's link to an exploding transformer was one in Doral (Miami).

The weak link here in south Florida is that Turkey Point powers pretty much everything south of Lake Okeechobee. TP is the 6th largest power station in the US, half nuke and half nat gas. 3300 MW total capacity. In 2008 a substation fire offsite knocked out nearly half the state when it forced TP to go offline.

Mary B

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #55 on: February 26, 2016, 06:17:01 PM »
Xcel was out and replaced one cross tree, while he was up there he noticed another that is rotted and about to break. It one pole west and he looked over and noticed the insulators have pulled out of the tree... The entire run of poles needs replacing to do it right...

PNW_Steve

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #56 on: March 04, 2016, 10:00:50 AM »

Steve, I would check out the digital mode portions of the HF bands because that has really become popular since you last operated, and has taken over from the old Western Union Model 28 Radio Teletype Machines.

You'll also find some really good ragchew groups on 40 and 75 meters on the SSB phone portions of the band, and as a General you can operate CW on just about all but the lower portions of some bands.  When you get on 75 meters on the ragchew groups and the "new breed" wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am electronic logbook filler jammers and tuner-uppers get on there and try to disrupt the whole group, you just have to take it in stride and don't let them win.  They enjoy disrupting a net until it can't operate and if you continue to operate and just crank up the amp to overpower 'em eventually they go away.

The Extra test is ridiculously simple and basic and if I was you I'd just go take that one and then you can join in on the more advanced technical discussion nets that we run in the lower portions of the low frequency 40 and 75 meter bands.

Thanks Chris,

I am more inclined to the ragchew end of the spectrum. I will have to revisit the Extra license. I stopped at Advanced because the 13wpm nearly kicked my behind. I took my first CW class in 1980 and got my Novice in 1991 and, as I recall, sat for General and Advanced in 1993. Zero to thirteen words per minute in thirteen years.... Not exactly a CW master....

Thanks again.

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #57 on: March 04, 2016, 10:34:00 AM »
I am more inclined to the ragchew end of the spectrum. I will have to revisit the Extra license. I stopped at Advanced because the 13wpm nearly kicked my behind. I took my first CW class in 1980 and got my Novice in 1991 and, as I recall, sat for General and Advanced in 1993. Zero to thirteen words per minute in thirteen years.... Not exactly a CW master....

I don't think they have the CW requirement anymore, Steve.  The digital modes have pretty much taken over and the US Armed Forces discontinued use of CW on July 12, 1999 with the final transmission being Samuel Morse's original 1844 message, what hath god wrought sk.  The French Navy discontinued use of it a year before on January 31, 1997.  The final message transmitted was "calling all. this is our last cry before our eternal silence."  Thousands of us monitored those final code transmissions and recorded them in our logs because it was kind of the passing of an era.

Amateur Radio is pretty much the last holdout still using code.  But as time goes on I suspect it will die out there too.  Even the USCG no longer monitors any frequencies for code transmissions, including the international maritime distress frequency of 500 KHz.  I still enjoy operating CW and a bunch of us were on 10 meters a couple nights ago hammering out code at 20+ wpm on 28.600 using QRP at 1 watt, and we had about half dozen stations in on it for almost 2 hours in a 100 mile radius.

The nice thing is that you can do what you enjoy in ham radio.  If you're not proficient at code, then definitely check out the digi modes, especially PSK31.  Thousands and thousands of operators enjoy that mode these days and it's a lot of fun.

madlabs

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #58 on: March 04, 2016, 04:19:44 PM »
No CW requirementfor Extra in the US these days. I just took mine.

The YL and I finished the Softrock SDR kit. Really fun to build and works very well! I'm going to buy their RX/TX combo and build that too.

Jonathan

tanner0441

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #59 on: March 04, 2016, 04:46:23 PM »
Hi

There is no requirement in the UK either but it is still used, recently when someone was dropping a carrier on top of a 2mrt simplex QSO the one guy asked if the other still had his key handy. they then carried on without much problem on CW. The idiot with the carrier only gave them the beat note.

Brian

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #60 on: March 06, 2016, 09:44:47 AM »
We are enjoying nicer warmer weather in the Midwest here. So I took the opportunity yesterday to convert one of my elevated ground plane verticals into a 40m 1/4 wave



It works really good. The elevated ground plane verticals have just about zero ground losses compared to a ground-mount with in-ground radials.  Provided you can come up with a suitable mounting system to hold a big antenna, they are pretty fun to play with. The antenna pictured has shortened ground plane radials, but it still tunes up fine on 40.  It is built almost entirely of EMT conduit at a cost of about $22.  The one on the other end of the shack has been converted to a 15m 5/8 wave, built specifically for the Pacific Maritime Mobile Service Net.  The two antennas can operate simultaneously on two different HF bands with no problems with RF coupling, with the ground plane placed at slightly different heights.

This is the kind of stuff I enjoy in ham radio - building and experimenting.

madlabs

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #61 on: March 07, 2016, 05:03:15 PM »
Chris,

Nice looking vertical. Is that EMT conduit on the entire vertical part? What are the radials made of? They look quite rigid. How is it fed?

On the ham front here, the YL and I finished up the Softrock SDR kit and it works quite well! Very fun to build and both the YL and I learned a lot. Among other things that I need a new 'scope. We are going to buy the TX kit they sell and then see how many states we can work with it.

Jonathan

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #62 on: March 07, 2016, 06:04:09 PM »
LOL!  That should be fun seeing how many states you can work with that SDR.

Yes, it is all made of EMT conduit except for the base.  You can get that EMT for like $1.92 for a 10 foot section of 1/2".  This is a photo of the base of the 40m antenna.



It has a base capacitor made of a piece of 1 1/4" Schedule 40 pipe 9" long.  I put two layers of big heat shrink tubing over the base of the vertical radiator and shunk them onto it for an insulator.  Then that barely slides into the piece of pipe.  And in the bottom of the pipe there is a piece of 1" Schedule 80 PVC tubing that keeps the vertical radiator from sliding in anymore, or shorting out.  That piece of PVC is held by a self-tapping screw that goes thru the base and into the PVC.  Then I expoxied the top of the vertical element in place with JB-Qwik Weld.

The base capacitor allows me to run a full 33 foot vertical radiator, as the VF of the EMT is about .92.  The capacitor cancels the inductance of what would be otherwise be a too-long antenna due to VF in the tubing.  So it resonates at 7100 kHz with a full 33 foot radiator.  The radiator is made of 1" EMT (1.363" OD) at the base, telescoping up to 1/2" EMT at the top.

The ground plane radials are made of 1/2" EMT with a 3/8" flange nut welded into the end of the tube.  There is three 3/8" bolts welded to the 1 1/4" pipe and the ground plane radials screw onto those bolts.  They are 10 feet long.

The ring is a shunt transformer that goes from the grounded part of the antenna to the vertical radiator, so the vertical radiator is also DC grounded.  By selecting a tap point on the ring, it transforms the impedance to match your feeder.  I am feeding it with RG-6 TV coax, 75 ohm.  Then I use a 1/12th wavelength section of RG-8 on each end of the RG-6 as transformer matching sections to make the 75 ohm "look" like 50 ohm at both the antenna and transmitter.  It tuned 1:1 VSWR at 7100 KHz and is useable without the tuner from 7000-7200 KHz before SWR goes over 1.5.  Using the amplifier with tube finals I can run the entire 40m band with it without using the tuner by changing the loading on the amplifier.  The amp doesn't care about 3:1 VSWR as long you load and dip it so the finals are happy.

It is way stronger than any aluminum antenna, but it is somewhat heavier.  All the telescoped sections of EMT in the vertical radiator are screwed with self-tapping stainless steel screws so the electrical connection between the pieces of the element will never go bad with age.

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #63 on: March 07, 2016, 06:23:03 PM »
BTW mad, if you or Mary want to try that 40m vertical out, tune in on 7091.3 signal center with PSK63.  It's on that just about 24/7 and I got a QRP beacon that comes out once an hour at 2 watts.  I try to keep the beacon as close to the top of the hour as possible, but I see the last one just went out at 0113Z here.  If I'm not in the shack you can leave a screen message with Fldigi, or whatever with PSK63 if you see my beacon on there.

For Mary, it would probably be better on 40m during the day on NVIS.  For Mad it would be at night when 40 is propagating.

madlabs

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #64 on: March 07, 2016, 10:19:21 PM »
Chris,

Many thanks for the detailed information on your antenna build! I might have room up on a shipping container but my solar panels would be within oh sh...oot range. I see you have some panels that look like they might be in range. I am interested in antenna with radials, my soil is really bad.

At work for 48 hours but I'll listen for the beacon when I get home. Where is your qth again?

Jonathan

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #65 on: March 07, 2016, 10:26:47 PM »
Many thanks for the detailed information on your antenna build! I might have room up on a shipping container but my solar panels would be within oh sh...oot range. I see you have some panels that look like they might be in range. I am interested in antenna with radials, my soil is really bad.

At work for 48 hours but I'll listen for the beacon when I get home. Where is your qth again?

Mad, I am in northern Wisconsin.  I checked into the 75m net tonight with that 33 foot vertical and talked to a station in Arkansas with it running barefoot at 100 watts.  And that was thru the static crashes from the impending weather that's moving in.  It works pretty good.

Mary B

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #66 on: March 08, 2016, 05:13:56 PM »
Yeah I may be in to close to hear it on my vertical...

ChrisOlson

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Re: My other hobby, ham radio
« Reply #67 on: March 09, 2016, 07:11:00 AM »
Yeah I may be in to close to hear it on my vertical...

Shouldn't be too close.  At 2 watts it puts a pretty decent signal into the Great Lakes Listening Post during the day, which is about the same distance from here to you, except to the southeast.  All they got for an antenna at that station is one of those little PA0RDT Mini Whips, which is basically a powered antenna in a PVC can and it's no bigger than a ball point pen.  Otherwise there's 7-8 of us (depending on the day) on that frequency exchanging messages back and forth during the day at distances anywhere from 7 miles to 250 miles away up in the Michigan UP, and one in Ontario, Canada.  All of us are using verticals of one type or another, except for the closest station to me that's 7 miles away is using an inverted V 40m dipole.