Saturday, August 26, 2017

Local Tailgater Huge Success

Bright and early this morning, my grandson Alex and I loaded up and headed to the first AIMfest tailgater held at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance on the west side of Indianapolis.  This tailgater was done through the efforts of the Indiana Elmer Network, and the school.  Gates opened up at 7AM and the event ran until 11AM, I would estimate we had maybe a dozen guys selling stuff and maybe 50-60 people walking around shopping and socializing.  The weather was beautiful, sunny, low 70's and amost no humidity...which is very RARE for Indiana in August.  For a FREE tailgater they had some great prize giveaways, thanks to Radio Oddity and N3FJP.  They gave away two sets of R2 FRS radios, a GD-77 dual time slot DMR HT, and a set of the N3FJP logging software to four lucky hams.  Wayne AC9HP did a most excellent job of gathering donated prizes and his wife Mary was awesome running the Nacho and Hot Dog booth. 

One of the best parts was when the B-29 they call FIFI flew over at about 9:15AM.  It was a true sight to behold and is only one of TWO remaining B-29's still capable of flight. 

B-29 FIFI in Flight
Paul KD9IAO and I picked up a big honking air variable cap from Phil N9RKA and we are going to try and fashion a nice big magnetic loop antenna for 20, 30, and 40m....stay tuned for that.  Mike W9ODX brought his brand new radio, the mcHF SDR radio and man is it a beauty.  He is using his rain gutters as his antenna and I know he's going to have a blast with that rig. 

Great Hamfest! Great Food! Lot's of great folks there making it happen.  I had a great time and I look forward to next year! 

Hawaii QSO Party is on the air right now...and I need Hawaii.  Wish me luck!

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, August 25, 2017

First good QSO on the Alex Loop!

Tomorrow is the AIM Hamfest and free tailgator so tonight I was setting up my K2 and the Alexloop on the back patio, to see if I had everything ready to go for tomorrow.  At 8:30PM I worked Clark WU4B down in Marietta Georgia, on 7051 Khz and he gave me a 559.  The K2 was set to 10 watts, and I had him at 599 here in central Indiana.  Clark is an SKCC member so we exchanged numbers and I told him thanks for the QSO on my new loop antenna.   Clark has a great fist and was 599 all the way, made for some armchair copy. 

Clark is a QRPer from way back, licensed since 1961 and a big fan of trains.  He is a member of the QRP-ARCI club, SKCC, and  NoGA QRP Club.  His main radio is a Elecraft K3 and he has accumulated 163 DXCC contacts running QRP and 311 (WOW!!)  running QRO.  

This isn't new state and not even a HW8 QSO but it felt great to get it all working and putting one in the log book.  Tuning the loop is pretty simple once you get the hang of it, I look forward to many nights on the back patio with my setup now. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bird Watching on the Pi

I was QSOing with Paul KD9IAO on the way home tonight and we started talking about our Raspberry Pi's and what we were doing with them.  Paul has a couple of Pi 2B's and a 3B, and I have a trio of the 3B models.  Paul told me about a very interesting application he was running to track satellites so he knows when the ISS flies over and the time is right to try a QSO.   The program he is using is called Gnome Predict, or gpredict in the software library. 

You can add this application to your Raspberry Pi by clicking on the Raspberry, choosing Preferences, and then clicking on the Add/Remove Software option.  Type in gpredict and your Pi will go out on the internet and pull down version 1.3 of Gnome Predict.  

Once the software installs you open the preferences and input your location information and ASL altitude.

Now you are all set!

Give this app a try, I think you'll like it.  I have also been using my Raspberry Pi 3B as a Shortwave Receiver, thanks to and the online receiver community.  It's amazing what you can do with this little $35 small board computer! 

73 de KB9BVN

Monday, August 21, 2017

New rig from QRP Labs!

Saw this from Hans Summer G0UPL on the QRP-L list today. 

The new QRP Labs kit "QCX" is now available, a single-band 5W transceiver with high performance and packed with features, including a WSPR beacon, built-in test equipment, CW decoder, synthesized rotary-encoder VFO, etc. The kit price is $49 (equivalent to £38.06, 41.73€ at time of writing).

Order here: . Shipping is $6.30 to anywhere in the world and delivery is tax-free.

The 137-page assembly/operation manual can be downloaded here and includes circuit diagram and comprehensive description of circuit operation.

  • Easy to build, single-board design, 10 x 8cm, all controls are board-mounted
  • Professional quality double-sided, through-hole plated, silk-screenprinted PCB
  • Choice of single band, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20 or 17m
  • Approximately 3-5W CW output (depending on supply voltage)
  • 7-16V recommended supply voltage
  • Class E power amplifier, transistors run cool… even with no heatsinks
  • 7-element Low Pass Filter ensures regulatory compliance
  • CW envelope shaping to remove key clicks
  • High performance receiver with at least 50dB of unwanted sideband cancellation
  • 200Hz CW filter with no ringing
  • Si5351A Synthesized VFO with rotary encoder tuning
  • 16 x 2 blue backlight LCD screen
  • Iambic keyer or straight key option included in the firmware
  • Simple Digital Signal Processing assisted CW decoder, displayed real-time on-screen
  • On-screen S-meter
  • Full or semi QSK operation using fast solid-state transmit/receive switching
  • Frequency presets, VFO A/B Split operation, RIT, configurable CW Offset
  • Configurable sidetone frequency and volume
  • Connectors: Power, 3.5mm keyer jack, 3.5mm stereo earphone jack, BNC RF output
  • Onboard microswitch can be used as a simple straight Morse key
  • Built-in test signal generator and alignment tools to complete simple set-up adjustments
  • Built-in test equipment: voltmeter, RF power meter, frequency counter, signal generator
  • Beacon mode, supporting automatic CW or WSPR operation
  • GPS interface for reference frequency calibration and time-keeping (for WSPR beacon)

WOW!!   What a rig for the money spent!!  

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Went to Kansas tonight!

Got on the air at about 7PM local time (23:00Z) and started listening around and was very happy to hear more signals tonight than I have heard in a week or two.  I heard John K0JVX calling CQ around 7050 Khz and I threw him a few replies before he finally heard me.  Band conditions were noisy with lots of QRN and QSB going on but he's a 73 year old ham with 60 years experience.  He pulled me up out of the bottom like he was pulling a big catfish out of the Mississippi River.  John was running 80w from a Ten Tec Omni D and a dipole.  

Ten Tec Omni D - a great rig! 
I gave him an honest 599 and he gave me a 339 with QSB and QRN.  We traded info and the QSO lasted about 6 minutes.  It was great to make a contact again with the HW8 and my attic dipole.   80w vs 2w and we got the job done, THANKS JOHN!  John lives in Olathe Kansas, not a new state for this year but a good QSO nevertheless.

Also on Saturday this weekend I was able to get out on the back patio with my new Alex Loop.  Did not make any contacts during the day but I had a great time.

KB9BVN with K2 and Alex Loop

Until next time! 

73 de KB9BVN

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Alex Loop has Landed

Got home from work today and found the Alex Loop I bought from my friend Jay AJ4AY sitting in my office.  So of course I shoved my dinner down my throat and headed out to the back patio with the new antenna and assorted goodies. 

I got it put together pretty quickly...not to self: YOU NEED TO MAKE A STAND FOR IT

Anyway...hooked the batteries up to the K2 and then connected the antenna, and like magic I was hearing stations from 40m to 12m (10m was dead).  That got me excited so back into the house for my Parkwood Paddles. 

I managed to work AC4FZ down in North Carolina on 10.120 Mhz (30m) he was very loud but he could barely hear me...and I was running  five whole watts.  Regardless, I did a happy dance and logged my RST of 229 and moved around. 

All in all I am happy with the small loop antenna.  I will finish the stand for it tomorrow and drag my SWR meter out with me to make sure I have optimal output.  The tuning cap is very sharp on getting locked in...most bands I had about 15 Khz of wiggle room before needing to slightly re-tune. 

WX for this weekend is looking good, and I can see me and the loop heading to the park on Saturday afternoon.  Thanks Jay! 

Tomorrow night I have to teach a class on the Raspberry Pi SBC.  So no radio. 

Best 73 de KB9BVN

Friday, August 4, 2017

40m is Working Tonight!

It has been a long dry spell around here for QSOs lately. I have just been too busy to get on the air and when I do the band is in pretty bad shape.  The poor little HW-8 and it's two watts have not been really successful lately.

My friend Mike W9ODX over at the "Adventures in CW" blog has been having success with his rain gutter antenna and waiting to get on the 40m band until after 9PM, and he's been making a lot of contacts. 

So tonight I took his advice and I waited until about 10PM EDT and fired up the HW-8 on about 7120 Khz and started calling CQ, I think I sent my CQ's out about 4 maybe 5 times, when I was answered by Gary K9NSS over in Marion Illinois, about 210 miles from here.  Interesting to note that in 1982 F4 tornadoes hit the city and caused extensive damage killing 10 and sending over 200 to the hospital.  Marion is located in the deep southern tip of Illinois.  Gary was running his Icom 765 at 75 watts and we traded 599 RST reports. 

Here's the city in 1910, thanks to Wikipedia. 

It was really great to QSO again!   I just bought a Alex Loop and I am anxious to try it with the HW-8 from my back patio.  Stay tuned! 

Best 73 de KB9BVN