N4DDP and Shack

N4DDP and Shack
N4DDP in native habitat

Monday, March 3, 2014

ARRL DX Phone Contest

In a prior life  I became interested in contests and Dx' ing. This weekend was a big one. With my new stealth antenna I managed 27 contacts. What a confidence builder! This was with the help of my five year old tuning the radio, the antenna tuner, pressing the PTT for me. what a blast! The antenna worked fairly well as I made all those contacts in about 2 hours of casual operating.

The most interesting aspect is propagation. I can recall years ago that 10 meters would be dead after sundown . . . except during the 10 meter contest, then paths no one had any idea were there opened. Still my favorite band (10 meters) because it seems very much true that if you can
hear them, you can work them regardless of power or antenna.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another Stealth Antenna

Still looking for the killer antenna which will stay under the RADAR. My current one is a three band trap vertical to replace my single wire up the palm tree. I used 1/2" copper pipe, 1/2" sch 40 pvc pipe for the insulators and coax traps. One for 10 meters and one for 15 meters. I am planing on installing a 20 meter trap and adding a wire to the top for 30 or 40 meters. The whole thing is about 12 feet tall. When I painted it black, it all but disappeared. Only been using it for a couple of days. I am finally getting some responses to my calls. 
I am a little wary of posting photos as who knows who may be looking at this site!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old Gear.

I was working on my Yeasu FT-707 (yes, 707!) it's not even one of the famous 101's which I remember so well. Anyway as I was struggling with it, I complained to my wife that it seemed that all my equipment was getting old. She laughed and pointed out that it was old when we met (we've been married 12 years!) .

I suppose she is right, the Heathkit SB104 I built in 1980, right after I got out of the navy and I acquired the Yaesu in 1992, it was old then. Still, my HK does not seem like a 30+ yea old radio, it has been solid. I have needed to clean the switch contacts and a bit of care for the potentiometers and it keeps humming along. I suppose that someday I will get a radio which is not middle-aged. The HW7 and HW-8 are about as old as the SB104. ,but I did not build those, so although they are fun, they're more of the order of stuff I wanted when I was younger.
2 meters around here is almost dead compared to Southern California, I miss the QSOs I used to listen in on and take part in. I am sure that is part of the difference in living in a 600,000 population vs 10 million. It's OK, I'll take the smaller crowds. But my old Kenwood TM201 is more than I need and stays off most of the time. I did have fun building a tone board for it.
Anyway, as so many have already said elsewhere, older rigs are easier to work on. The Yeasu is probably about as complicated as I really want to work on. . . although you do what you have to do when it comes to staying on the air.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Has it really been so long since my last post? Yea it has!
Seems that like so many others, I have not had a lot of new things to add here. My palm tree vertical still working OK. I would like to add some matching tuning to the base, but I am too cheep to buy a remote or auto-tuner to do the job right. SO perhaps an UNUN? Some say a 9:1 or 4:1 would be right and would help decrease my feed-line loss (50 feet of low loss coax.)  The problem is that it now works well enough on 40, 10 and 20  meters for the occasional QSO and in general I seem to have 10 minutes here and there to listen and less time to actually operate. As my (now 4 years old) gets older, In some ways the workload goes down, but in others it goes up!.
No progress on my smd bitx20, but I did get my workbench cleaned up. . . . I can do two sided pc boards fairly well now, although I do not try to register anything smaller than about .2 inches, so through the pins dips routing is out. However, it does replace a lot of wire jumpers on my boards.
The HMO police still are not on to me. I am planning a flagpole and Martin house to be up this spring . .. that should help my signal a bit.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nothing lika an open band

Have you ever watched static on the analog television after the broadcaster off the air? How about listening to 10 meters on the down side of teh sunspot cycle . . .you know just listening to white nose. I can recall doing that a while back (way back!) when I decided to check my SWR. Instead of going into tune mode, i simply did "aaahhhhhhh" sort of thing. Out the dead band, comes back " You can at least identify your self!"
  Turned out to be a station in Colorado.  I wonder how often a band is "dead" just because no one is trying. Sort of profound?

Friday, April 22, 2011

My HW-8 and other delights

I moved my beloved SB-104 (Heathkit) into the closet and have placed my HW-8 into the main position. Darn thing works. As so many others have commented, a DC receiver really does sound like you are closer to the RF itself. No mushiness, just "crisp" signals. I suppose it is the group delay in the if filter and the myriad of other devices the signal must get through in the Yeasu,  the HW-8 is more  pleasant to listen to. . . until the QRM picks up, then I miss the 400 hz filter on the SB104.
My bitx also has a crisp and clear quality to the sound, maybe it is not group delay in the filter, but AGC that gives the mushiness? Perhaps it goes back to the fewer the stages, the less distortion that gets added.

Still trying to figure out how to multi-band the palm-tree so I can get on 40 and 10. . . I am still pondering putting a 40 loop on the roof and if it is too noisy (QRN) use the vertical for receive and the loop to txmit on. Got the PA and filter board laid out for the Bitx, when I etch and stuff it, I should be close to actually using the darn thing.

Still trying to work a QSO a night, haven't gotten far with that, although I have been getting some practice in on the keyer, I may be ready next time I get into a QSO.

Oh, here's a story: When I was building my power meter, I used a LM324 (quad op amp) for only one amplifier (what I knew I had on hand.) Brilliant self, I used a TSSOP instead of the SOIC package I had on had. No problem, I only need the first four pins and ground.  . . only my LM324s had 16 pins instead of 14! After I looked at the data sheet, I looked at the part numbers on the chips and figured out that Digi-key sent me the wrong parts 18 months ago! So I designed my board for a chip I never had! I will just use some TL084 (still SOIC.)
That's all for now.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chugging along -- or is it QRMing?

Boy am I rusty on the keyer. I am using the Norcal keyer chip as my keyer now and it is much better than what I was using. However, I still seem to struggle. I can remember a few (many few!) when my Bencher paddles seemed to do all the work for me. Now I stumble over my own QTH! I need to consider this the next time I move. Perhaps a city with a five letter name would be nice.

I did work a station in Columbia (the country, not the SC capital!) and a few more local ones. I am quite impressed with the palm-tree vertical.  I still would like to add 40 and 10 meters.

Finally got the rest of the parts for my Bitx-20 (my own SMD design.) so I can resume work on that. I also am about to get my Rock-mite  finished, although I still need a portable antenna to use it (or my HW-8 for that matter.)

All seems in slow motion, I know, but progress is progress. As my kids get older, I should have more time. I still am looking at how I can operate during my compute, but the drive may be a bit too intense to focus on ham radio.

Well, 73' s for now. Hope to see you on 20 meters.