RaDAR – Purpose driven amateur radio

Eddie is so right on this blog =)

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Getting ready for this weekend’s “DAM – JAM 2017 Bike Race” =)

The process of find and or make a working RF VHF APRS station for the bike race =)  There are not repeaters in the area of most of the race course and cell service in several areas of the race course.    So totally SINPLEX OPERATION as done each year =)    Good training for Techs to get them us to using SIMPLEX operations =)   So I have borrowed Two APRS RF stations …. they have both been on the shelf for ten years or more.      So at this point neither seem to be sending out recognizable data and one is not even transmitting =(     I think I’m going to take my good friend Julian OH8STN example a month or so back and use my tablet and the FT-847 VOX – Box sound-card interface =)      Now that I have the FT-847 is back up and running … it may be pressed into service =)      First I need to upgrade the power feeder cables to the truck’s cab are to power the radio =)     I’m hunting for a very good ( size GAUGE ) set of “Jumper Cables” ( with the clamps removed and using bolt-on Copper LUGS added ) as feeders ( with BIG BUSS FUSES at the battery ) to feed a buss in the cab of the truck ( to avoid 12 volt DC voltage drop problems at the current levels needed inside =)     This has been on the back burner for a while ….. but made itself a REALLY BIG PROBLEM during Field Day this year ( 2017 =)   I hope I have time to take pictures of everything during the process as time will allow =)   If I have time I will post that as another Blog Post of the wiring job and the Bike Race pictures / video as another Blog Post =)

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After Race Report =)

 

Well the bike race was a great get a way for me =)    Long day of travel to and from the race; but cleared the cobwebs out :-)))    APRS radio I had to get for the race was not working correctly =(    Luck the group the does this race every year had portable APRS units in Ammo can with a 5/8 wave mag mount antenna =)

Next problem was my camera did not record ( everything looked OK running ) from the passengers seat position in the PVC frame I made =(     I was too busy during the race to check the operation of the camera =)   When I got back home … the camera needed charging to turn on …. 10 hour of race on 6 hours of Micro SIM card capacity :-)))     The camera was completely locked up …. so the HARD RESET with a toothpick =(     Said FULL CARD … ok take it over to look at it ( the SIM CARD ) on the computer …… EMPTY …… 😯

 

Dam Jam 2017 route

Above is the race coarse for the 106 mile leg located between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Joplin, Missouri just south side along paralleling  I-44 =)

 

Had a great day with a great bunch of Hams and riders =)   It started at 7 AM an finished with the last rider at 5 PM Saturday =)    Driving day was 3 AM ( 2 hours and 15 minutes from home to the race ) until 8 PM Saturday evening ( longer route to take borrowed APRS gear that I did not use taken back to a friend’s house on the way home =)

 

Yea ……. progress and a nice day outdoors radioing =)

 

de N5VMO Pat

 

 

Another busy week and the weekend is planned a much needed outing =)

I have had to re-think home station setup the last several weeks 😯      In fact the location as well ….. so everything is in a different planning stage =(   Some good and some bad =)       I NEED OUTSIDE REAL ANTENNA at the home station to cover 6 meters to at-least 80 meters …. 160 meters would be nice but impractical real estate needed =)

The diversion this weekend will be a Regional 100+ mile Bike Race fund raiser that is held annual in a adjacent state =)    Nice group of Hams work it every year =)   That will be another post with pictures and maybe video =)      Now the logistic problems in getting up on time to drive that 150 miles over to the race :-)))       I have a newer VHF / UHF radio friends got me after losing my Yeasu FT-840 I used for QRP outings to a Newer TECH Ham that never honored paying arrangements for the radio that he now has =(

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I sure miss it =(     I was going to buy a FT-817ND with the proceeds =(

Oh well moving on …. looking forward to this weekends fun at the bike race =)      I will post pictures and maybe video on the race =)   Remind self MORE SIM CARDS and charge USB BULK CHARGING BATTERY :-)))    Mount  camera on a PVC frame in the truck’s passenger’s seat :-)))    Maybe give the camera a hat to wear and my RACE LOGO T SHIRT to look like my Co-pilot …. maybe he can hold my HF rig in his lap :-)))    Got to love PVC pipe to make things =)    Yes pictures of the camera frame too 😎

Well back to cleaning house and Ham Shack =(

 

De N5VMO Pat

I got the Yeasu FT-847 working 8-)

The radio has not worked from Field Day 2017 on =(   I checked voltages , fuses, power cables =(   I had LOW VOLTAGE at test points inside the radio … way below the recommended voltages in the service manual =(    So I decided to set the radio back and give it a look at again a few weeks later when the problem would be a FRESH START again =)      Lessons learned in the past with difficult problems of electronic Solid State and CMOS gear ( “STATIC buildup” ) with weird issues that do not make sense /-)

Well the day ( well really the night / early morning 1:00 AM ) I got the radio and set it up and powered the radio up hooked to an antenna =)    IT WORKED ! ! ! ! !      “It IS ALIVE !”; as said in “Young Frankenstein” movie by Gene Wielder =)    So I’m letting the radio burn – in to see if the problem reoccurs =)      I have had other TTY and CMOS gear have issues like that several times over the years ( static charge ) to cause problems ……. so wait and see after it sets in a closet a few weeks =)   IT WORKED THIS TIME 😎   So as of this time of writing it has been ON for 11 hours NON STOP with out issues =)

 

de N5VMO Pat

Field Day 2017 with W5MAG at Mt. Magazine State Park, Arkansas =)

It was a great day to have a Field Day on the highest point in Arkansas =)  My day started out picking up a fellow Ham to take to our local breakfast on Saturday mornings =)    Then driving from his house about 26 miles to breakfast at 9 A.M. CDT at Natural Dam , AR at the Sunshine Cafe on the east side of the ARK-59 Hwy.     There where a few in attendance as for FD, health issues and family events.       We shared previously attended FD’s, local events and projects.

Everyone there finishing up and heading to other places; I headed back to my Ham buddy’s home to drop him off.     Then I decided to head out to FD site with my equipment in two boxes in the passenger’s seat in the truck =)   After about a 45 mile drive to the FD site I checked where and what I was to setup and run.      I dug out the antenna …. ops …. forgot to load the bag of elements for 10 -15 – 30- 20 – 40 -60 – 80 -160 meters ….. but I had a fresh 500 foot spool of #14 ga. insulated house wire for wire antennas ( that was my emergency back – up antenna wire ).     I did have a tape measure; but I did not use it.   I use the old Finger – tip to Finger – tip measurement method ( 18 of these lengths one side = 90 feet and 9 Finger – tip to Finger – tip the other side element = 45 feet ).   I needed about 88 feet on one side and 44 feet on the other side.    I folded back 2 feet on the 90 foot side element and 1 foot on the 45 foot side element side to make 88 feet and 44 feet to attach to the 4:1 balun / feed-line.    I took the MFJ-269 and measured the resonance frequency with the antenna on the ground ( I know everything changes; but it worked in the past ) …. not addition tuning was needed on the antenna on the ground.    I hoisted the antenna 4:1 balun with elements attached into the air about 35 feet ( the club had a crank – up tower on wheels on site.   With the help of the fellow Hams spread and positioned the antenna elements in a more or less North – South orientation on the FD site.   Then I checked the antenna again with the analyzer … 1.2 VSWR at 50 ohms in the air.    Now setup radio and laptop / logging.     Everything was working great without any tuner needed.  I ran 40 meter PSK-31 on 7.070Mhz USB.   At first it was a little touchy as the 40m SSB phone did rarely lock-up my touchpad on my laptop.   I just deal with it as the 20 meter SSB phone did as well.   The 2 meter SSB phone was working in his trailer and mentioned nothing about interference.

I was working along for an hour and decided to start the truck engine to build the battery up ( I was only running 10 watts digital ).     Everything was ok and the battery built up after about 30 minutes running time.    I work another hour and did the same … everything was ok then.     The third time I tried to start the engine on the truck … that awful “Clicking sound” and the engine would not start.    Well I stopped transmitting and and got a jump – start to let the engine run for an hour to see if the battery would recover ….. NOT.    Well that ended my 40m Digital work as there was not enough batteries or power to run my station.   So I just move on over to 40m SSB phone an assisted to let other take a break and rest ( it was already dark as the sun had set.   Everyone’s energy ran out about 4 A.M. Sunday morning.    I got back up from sleeping in the truck for about four hours.   Breakfast was already cooking as I made a YouTube video as everyone worked and cooked a morning meal ( YouTube link: look up YouTube for the preverbal http://     youtube.com/watch?v=zsEhzorNx-c&feature=youtu.be ) as you will have to put the two parts together without the space after the //: to view,

The break down of the station on Sunday was simple and much easier than in previous years.    Then the realization of driving 45 miles home with a dead truck battery in a manual shift truck with three gallons of gas in the tank ( up and down hills ).    I made it back to home town safely.

My first stop was at the local auto parts store for a new cable clamps and a jump start to get to the gas station for gas.     I barely made it to fill up the tank … then a jump start to get home after a battery built – up drive.    The next morning I removed the old dead battery from the truck ( no it never charged up; even with the new clamps and three hours driving to build the battery back up).  Then take dead battery back to the same store I got the clamps to get a replacement battery ……. WOW as I nearly had heart failure at the cost of a new battery … and I did not see gold platting anywhere on the battery.

Every FD is an adventure and FUN !

de N5VMO Pat