Adventures in radio - August 2023
2023-08-09 troubleshooting and testing.
The Hustler antenna was up and from a hardware standpoint looked good even though it does have a slght northerly lean. The measured SWR was excellent on 40M, 20M, 15M, and 10M - all the bands that were supposed to work. My addition of the 6M/2M dipole antenna also tested well on both bands, both separately and when connected through the diplexer to the main coax cable run to the shack. Everything tested well again inside the shack before connecting the coax to the IC-705. Again, the expectation was that the IC-705 running all bands from 70cm to 160m through that single BNC connector, should now seamlessly be able to use 2M through 40M without switching anything.
My tests worked on FT8 flawlessly and even saw some 6M QSO's the furthest being Florida, but most in Connecticut. I even tested my 2M hotspot and 70CM clearnode and they worked perfectly. To be fair the Clearnode is so close to the IC-705 that earlier tests showed it working even when I was transmitting into a dummy load. I don't do any 2M comms other than the weekly ragchew on the repeater that the local group runs. However, I could not get connected to the weekly repeater net. Each week that I tried I could either hear them depending on what I tried or or not hear them at all. They never heard me (from the IC-705) but every time I tried, heard me just fine from my HT. Clearly something was not working with my new antenna setup even if it appeared to work with everything else was good.
I even took a look at my Diplexer configuration and thought that maybe I do need a second Diplexer inside the shack to decouple the HF and VHF bands back onto separate coax connections. I spent another $70.00 on a second diplexer which did nothing - well it split the bands just fine as later testing proved, but it was not needed and just added to the complexity and probably some signal loss.
Okay some of you guys are probably out there shaking your heads and maybe even laughing - but it finally sunk in that maybe I should check my HT repeater configuration against the IC-705 repeater configuration since the HT clearly worked.
The receive and transmit frequencies were reversed on the IC-705
I had factory reset the IC-705 a few weeks ago and in rebuilding my configuration I went to the club web site, looked up the repeater settings and programmed them into the IC-705. The club's website had incorrect repeater settings published - strangely enough the repeater settings on repeaterbook.com were the correct values so if i had gone there instead of the club web site I would have been fine. Bottom line, nearly a month of "wasted" testing to fix this problem as the repeater seems pretty dead outside of the weekly ragchew with no traffic to listen to, or test against, other than during the weekly net.
2023-08-10 Using a studio microphone.
I think that my IC-705 connection is working now as I can now hear myself on the HT located in another room when it is tuned into the repeater and vice-versa when I go into the other room and transmit to the repeater (I can hear it on the IC-705). So now, the last piece of equipment to get working is to use my studio mic with the IC-705 and I think I may have that mostly working now as well. I wrote that up as a radio adventures note over here.
2023-08-13 A use case for Slack.
I had read a couple of blog posts about ham radio clubs using Slack and they also pointed out a couple of Slack ham radio groups to check out. I'm not a Slack user and in fact thought it was only used and useful for companies. AnywayI setup the group, posted the details to some of the club members and I'll see how it works out. If nothing else, with some takeup by members it would be great to just say hey I'm on the repeater anyone else want to join?
2023-08-15 Kevin Mitnick Silent Key.
I'm not a Mitnick fan boy but yes he's probably the face (maybe next to Snowden) of what most folks consider to be a hacker. I think he was somewhat railroaded by the government after he was convicted and yes, he was a convicted criminal but the "superpowers" the government at that time, thought he posessed, like being able to "whistle up" nuclear launch codes if he had access to a computer and or just a phone line were to put it mildly, overblown. Kevin Mitnick, post release from prison turned his incarceration from lemons into lemonade. At the time when there was no $35.00 FCC license fee, he spent about $16,000 to challenge the FCC [https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-02D-02A1.pdf] to get his ham license back. That was dedication to ham radio and being a ham, far more than most of us are ever called on to do. Kevin also started a succesful company, KNOWBE4 to help other companies train employees to NOT fall victims to BEC attacks (Business Email Compromise) anyway a Silent Key at 59 is way too young and Kevin, NGNHG, RIP!
RULINGS: Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the Application of Kevin David Mitnick for Renewal of License of Station NGNHG in the Amateur Radio Service, and the Application of Kevin David Mitnick for renewal of Amateur Radio General Class Operator License (File No. 00000-58498), ARE GRANTED.11
2023-08-17 My ICOM IC-705 preset values.
I'm putting up Icom IC-705 Operation: Preset Values for my benefit but maybe someone else will benefit from this as a starting point for their experiments. I found having a VHF setting useful as bringing up VHF to a repeater in USB mode usually results in a head-scratching session until I figure out duh FM not USB. I personlly don't change the default NORMAL and FT8 presets so that there is a baseline that I can fall back on when I screw something up. Lastly usb (the cable, not sideband) connections have been widely documented as a good source of QRM so I use WIFI/WLAN which means changing the usb centric FT8 preset that ICOM provides.
2023-08-19 A bucketload of toroids!
A bucket full of toroids - let the choking fun begin!
Recycling in action - otherwise they were headed for the dump or time permitting metal scrapyard.
Now lets see wall warts, USB cables, LED lights .....
2023-08-23 OpenQSO.com - 2m simplex nets
I just created another sibling site to this blog OpenQSO.com. Instead of moaning about the lack of simplex activity on Long Island. I'm going to try and do something about it. I'll consider it to be successful when folks yell at me (on the air of course) to move to something other than a calling frequency :-)
2023-08-28 Going Solar
I have just signed up to get solar installed on the house. I'm using a local company, Long Island Power Solutions, and am hoping to have it completed by the end of the year.
2023-08-31 Club Meeting: NanoVNA and Q-meter
Always be learning! The scheduled RCARC meeting was a presentation on "Nano-VNA: Getting Started" by club member, Bob, WB2ICQ. Informally it was also about the Q meter and what it can tell us about unknown toroids, of which I had quite a few that I promised to bring to the meeting.
I brought maybe a 15-pound box full of the same, unknown, toroids so that Bill, AB2EW, another club member, could good bring his 40-pound vintage Q meter to demonstrate figuring out what they were. I don't think that I had ever heard of a Q-meter before Bill said he would bring his, so game on!
Apologies Bob, we kind of stole some time from your presentation to do some toroid spelunking but it did make for an interesting, interactive meeting. The end result on the toroids were they have a very low "Q" value (does 20 sound right?) and I'm going to play around with my NanoVNA some more after listening to Bob's presentation and tips.
The toroids will be wrapping anything with an electrical cord that stands still around the house (something about when you have a hammer in hand everything looks like a nail comes to mind). My NanoVNA will not be replacing my RigExpert stick for antenna SWR analysis but can stay in the toolbox. The RigExpert replaced the NanoVNA when I bought it and I have used it out in the field, in the shack and at ham flea markets so it's in no danger of being replaced (unless it's with another RigExpert).