Showing posts from 2010

Mini Cooper ham radio install

Here's more details on installing ham radios in Mini Coopers.
On my R56 I used the heavy-duty Comet lip mount on the edge of the back hatch and had an ATAS 120 antenna on it. It worked well, and I could get into parking garages. When I was looking at trading the R56 for my Clubman, I assumed I could use the same mount on the center of the back doors. But I've spent days messing with it, and it just doesn't work well. The coax is just enough to bother the proper closing of the door.

So at the moment, I'm confined to 2 meters and 440. I used a small lip mount on the club door -- I think that's what it's called, and it works OK. It isn't real pretty, but it isn't too obtrusive. Nobody has ever noticed it when looking at the car. Next summer I may try removing the AM antenna and putting a simple quarter-wave in its place. For the radio, I'm using a Yaesu 7900 with the radio mounted in the back cubbyhole under the false floor, and the control head attache…

Timewave ANC-4 works

I've been battling very bad line noise, and made the jump to buying a noise reduction device from Timewave, the model ANC-4. It uses a second antenna, picks up the noise, moves it 180 degrees out of phase, and removes the noise before it hits your radio.It sounded too good to be true, but it does work. It's not simple, and not 100 percent. After reading reviews, I saw a lot of positive, but also saw people who said it did nothing and they returned it. For the first couple days I was in the did nothing category, but I kept experimenting with different receive antennas, until I found a combination that worked. If you aren't picking up the noise on the second antenna, you can't use it to phase out the other noise. So that's the key. Now I'm using the dipole as my main antenna, and the vertical as the noise antenna. I have it set up so I can switch antennas quickly, using the vertical as main and dipole as receive. Meanwhile, my noise has gotten worse, so this is the …

Sweepstakes results -- clean sweep

For years my goal has been to complete a clean sweep in the CW ARRL Sweepstakes. A clean sweep is working all 80 sections in the US and Canada, which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Several years I've been close with 78 or 79 sections, but I never managed to get the Northwest Territory in Canada.
This year I was fighting high line noise, and wondered whether to even take part. But I started out and started getting some of the rare sections -- North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota -- right off, so I got hooked.
The contest started at 4 p.m. local time, and by the time I went to bed at 1 a.m. I was close to 400 contacts and had 76 sections. I was missing Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Newfoundland and Northwest Territory.
So I thought I had a real chance for the sweep. On Sunday, I started out with a good run on 40 meters, and after it got light moved to 20 and 15 to look for my three missing multipliers. I didn't spend full time at the radio, just checking the spo…

Illinois QSO party

I had a great time last weekend working the Illinois QSO party. I wound up with about 375 contacts, and a good number of multipliers, so I should end up with a respectable final score. But what's more important, I had a great time doing it.Everything seemed to work -- I spent most of my time running frequencies (calling CQ and having people call me) on 40 and 20 cw, and when things were slow, I moved up to 40 SSB and did about 120 contacts, and picked up a bunch of new multipliers in counties that just weren't on CW. One of the highlights was having a European station call me on 40 cw at 3:30 in the afternoon. Working Europe at night on 40 is no big deal, but I've never worked Europe on 40 that time of day. In the end, I worked about 10 different Europeans on 20 and 40, which was nice and gave me six additional multipliers. The Illinois QSO party is always about three weeks before cw Sweepstakes, and gives me a good warm-up for it. I'm ready.

Radio for sale

My trusy Icom 765 is for sale on Here's a better photo than you can see there.

Contest season is back

Contest season is starting up, so I'll be more active, and share more here on the blog. I added the Elecraft P3 Panadapter a couple weeks ago, and I've been happy with it. This weekend was the California QSO party, so I used it as a good chance to see if I have all the software and radios working together. So far, it is. I can even run the P3 Panadapter and the LP-Pan Panadapter on the computer at the same time, so I have band scope both on the computer and on the screen next to the radio. The attached video gives a quick demo.

iPad radio control

I've spent a lot of time trying to control the K3 from the iPad, and I'm so close I can taste it, but never have succeeded. I'm using an iPad App called Jump, that streams the audio back to the iPad, as well as controlling the remote computer.
It works very well, except I can't get it to stream audio from the computer's sound card output. I know I'm missing a small setting somewhere, but I've been through every menu I can think of, and I haven't found it.
I can stream other audio from the computer back to the iPad. I can hear the sounds, play a Youtube video, etc, and hear it on iPad. But I can't get the audio out from the sound card.
I did have it running the other night where I controlled the radio with the iPad, and used Skype to send audio back to my iPhone, but then I'm using two devices. If the iPad would multi-task, I'd be there.
I'm running Vista on my comptuer, by the way. Anyone have any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them. For the…

Random new country

I was doing my usual Saturday morning routine of tuning around 40 meters CW when I heard Zl7LH calling CQ. I replied, and worked him on the first call. ZL7 is Chatham Islands off the coast of New Zealand, not a bad Saturday morning QSO on 40, and a new country for me. That was a good way to start Saturday.

Last night I had a good high-speed CW contact with Neal, N4HAF in Raleigh, NC. It's nice to get back on CW and get the CW muscles working again.

Slow summer

Looking in the log a couple weeks ago, I realized I had nearly been off the air this summer. So I tried to get on the air for some simple cw QSOs a couple weekends ago, and it was nice to hear CW again.Last weekend I ran the North American QSO party for a few hours. I did a couple hundred contacts, mostly on 40. 80 meters was just too noisy to deal with. This weekend I messed with the Worked All Europe DX contest on Saturday night on 40. I could hear a few EU stations, between all the US stations calling CQ Test. I managed to squeak out 25 contacts on 40 meters last night, but that's less than an hour on good band. As the weather changes, I'll get more active on the radio and more active on the blog, I promise.

Lack of activity

This has been a slow summer for ham radio. I made a couple of contacts running mobile the last week on 40 CW, but really haven't been on the air in the past month. I even missed Field Day, for the first time in 10 years. A wedding of an old friend's daughter took precedence. Hopefully, I'll get back on the air the next month, and have some things to post about.

I did pick up a software defined receiver at a Hamfest a couple weeks ago, but haven't gotten it out of the box to mess with yet. Stay tuned.

Dayton Hamvention

I spent Saturday at the Dayton Hamvention and had a good time at the contest forum and at the hospitality suite of the SMC (SOciety of Midwest Contesters) on Saturday night. It was a great chance to talk contesting and station building with other contesters

My only purchase was another keyer, plus some odds and ends. More on that keyed and a couple other things when I get home.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

SteppIR update

Ok, I got outside and worked on the STeppIR vertical this morning. As I suspected, the problem was with the coax connection to the antenna. As I kept trying different coax and radio combinations, suddenly everything worked again. In plugging and unplugging the coax and trying different combinations, I evidently cleaned the connector on the antenna. After it started working again, I went back and cleaned everything with Deoxit, and hopefully it will solve the problem. All I know is it's nice to have the vertical back.

I did open the antenna, and will post some pictures shortly.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

SteppIR vertical problems

I've been using the SteppIR big vertical for about three years with 20 radials under it. It works great, but over the last winter an intermittent problem has shown up.It seems I'm somehow losing connection with the antenna. All of a sudden, the antenna goes deaf and won't tune. I can recalibrate it a few times, and sometimes it comes back. This happened again this week, and for the life of me I can't get it to come back. Last fall i opened the antenna up and did continuity checks, and suddenly it started working again. I guess that's what I'll do tomorrow. I may take some pictures and post here on my progress. So far, I've removed the coax from the antenna and attached it to a dummy load at the antenna base. I get a nice flat SWR reading when I do that, so it's not the coax. I also hook my Yaesu FT-817 directly to the antenna with about a 3 foot run of coax, and get nothing buy high SWR and no signal. So I know the problem is with the antenna. I suspect …

Minis on the Dragon

Took the Mini to Minis on the Dragon last weekend. Not much radio time, but did meet two other hams at the event. There were over 600 Mini Coopers there, by the way. Here's a nice shot of the car and antenna. I'm thinking of heading to Dayton next weekend. Not much radio time with all this travel.

Mobile cw

I had a couple of good cw mobile contacts yesterday. Look for me on 40 cw all day today and Sunday.

More on iPad

Still trying to get the iPad to control the radio. I was hoping my next post would be a step by step description of how I did it, but still missing the last step. I can't get the audio to output a from the right port on the computer. Sometimes I wonder why I derive myself nuts with this stuff.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

IPad post

Ok, this is the first post I've tried to make by actually typing on the iPad. It works, but is going to take some getting used to the keyboard. The iPad is an interesting toy, and I've almost got it sete to where I can control a radio remotely and stream audio back to the iPad. I don't have the audio part working yet, but I'll figure out my mistake soon.
This morning I made a nice QSO with Pete K4BKD, who I've talked to multiple times. It was a good saturday morning cw chat, we talked about weather, radio, dogs, radios, cars, and pollen counts, all at 25 words per minute using Morse code. Fun.

Location:Lincoln Ave,Lisle,United States

QRP fun

This morning I spent some time running the QRPARCI QSO party. I had a great time and remembered why I like qrp so much. More details tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Just a nice conversation

I had a co-worker over to the house the other day and he saw the radios and started asking questions. Unfortunately, over a three-hour drive, he kept asking questions and never understood what ham radio was, or why I would have all that stuff. He kept relating it to CB radio, and never could get out of that mode.
This morning's activity is a good example of a nice contact, or QSO. I called a CQ, which is a general call saying I'm looking to talk to anyone. I was answered by K2AOP, John, in Phoenix, AZ. We traded names, locations, and started experimenting with comparing signal strenths with different antennas. We both had both a vertical and dipole antenna, and we tried vertical to vertical, vertical to dipole, dipole to dipole, etc. It was ineteresting. Then we started talking about jobs, and he asked me for more detail on what I did. I went into some detail, and he had good comments. It was just a nice, randon QSO with a nice guy in the other side of the country -- all done a…

Power SDR working again

I went to the Power SDR group on yahoo and kept reading the posts. Thanks to Larry, N8LP, the guy who designs, makes and sells, the LP-Pan pandadpter for the K3, I did find a solution. He had posted a procedure to run through for removing the program, removing all files and folders and reinstalling the software.
I followed his instructions and no luck. I did it a second time, still no luck. The third magically worked and I have Power SDR/IF stage version running 100 percenct again.
It's an amazing system, and the tinkering to make this stuff work is half the fun. I've learned a lot about computers, drivers, software, etc, in the process of getting this all running. But this isn't for the computer novice, easily discouraged or faint of heart.

Power SDR issues

After crowing about my computer prowess in getting the new version of PowerSDR to work with the K3 and LP Pan, it appears a Windows update caused the software to quit working. Yes, I know I shouldn't have automatic updates on on that machine, but they were.So now I'm toying with the software, reading the notes on the LP Pan users group, and trying to figure out how to get it running again. The computerized radios are nice when it all works, but sometimes...

ZK3OU, new country on Saturday morning

I had a nice start to the weekend. I turned the radio on 40 meters and heard a bunch of people calling someone around 7030. I tuned down a little and heard ZK3OU. I assumed it was South Pacific because of the ZK call, since New Zealand is ZL. I set the K3 to split and watched the action on the panadapter and listed with my transmitting frequency in the right ear, and ZK3OU in my left ear.
I soon figured out where he was listening, and listened to him work a W3. I called immediately on that frequency, he came back to K9OG (a common mistake as he missed the last dit on the Z) so I sent K9OZ again and his report. He came back to K9OZ, and I had him the the log.
Then I looked him up. ZK3OU is a mini-dxpedition, tw guys from the West Coast operating down there for a few weeks. They were operating from the Tokelau Islands, which are a territory of New Zealand. It is also a new one for me, a DX entity I've never worked before.
So that was a nice start to a Saturday morning. It all happened…

New PowerSDR software

I had experimented with PowerSDR/IFStage software last year with the K3, but the old version didn't support a 64-bit computer, which I'm running. So I let it alone for a few months and checked the web site Sunday and there is a new version,, that supports the bigger computer, so I downloaded it. As with all software upgrades, it didn't work right at first, but that's half the fun of this stuff. I soon figured out I'd have up upgrade the LP Bridge software as well, and after I did that, it still didn't work. Then came an hour of trying different combinations, and looking carefully at all the setup fields, and suddenly, I saw the problem. I checked the right box, and it works great. The PowerSDR, combined with the LP-Pan Panadapter, gives me a nice panadapter and computer. Here's a short video of it in action.

ARRL DX contest

I had a good time this wekend with the ARRL DX contest. We've had sunspots the last month, so it appears propogation is finally improving.
I managed to make contacts on 15, 20, 40, 80 and even three on 160 last night. As a result, I wound up with over 400 contacts in about 10 hours of operating. I had a great time.
With a DX contest such as this, you work different parts of the world on different bands at different times. There is enough activity, that you can really hear the propogation changing and get a better understanding of where in the world a band is open to at a particular time. You use your knowledge of how the bands are, to pick the right bands at the right time. If it all works, it's great.
The contest also sold me on the K3. It is just the nicest contest and DX radio I've ever used. I switched to the Icom 756 Pro III for a short period last night, but soon went back to the K3.
On another note, the line noise that has plauged me most of the winter seems to have sub…

Fighting line noise

This weekend was the CQ 160 meter cw contest. I ran it a little Saturday night and early Saturday and Sunday mornings, finishing with about 170 contacts. Unfortunately, my S9 line noise has not gone away, and even though both the K3 and Icom 756 ProIII have very good filtering and noise reduction that takes most of it out, it is still just a pain in the ear to work through that type of noise. Yesterday three Commonweath Edison trucks pulled up in front of the house, and the workers made their way through my back yard to the power lines. One told me that a "neighbor was having a problem," but that's all I could get out of him. I told him I'd been experiencing very high noise levels the last few weeks, but that didn't seem to register with him. The four workers spent a couple hours working in the area, and I was hoping my neighbor's problem would solve mine. From what I could see and overhear, they didnt' discover or resolve anything, and my line noise is s…

Winter contests, winter noise

Last weekend was the winter North American QSO Party, CW. I usually operate this contest, but came down and discovered S9 (that's very high for you lay-people out there) line noise on all bands. I've had this intermittent noise since I moved to this house, generally when there is snow and ice on the electric lines, like last weekend.

I have good enough radios that I can filter much of it out, but it's still bothersome and keeps you from really hearing well, which is a real disadvantage in a contest. Despite that, I made 388 contacts on 20, 40, 80, and 160 meters, and had a good time.

The SSB version of the contest was this weekend, but the line noise is still here, despite the weather warming and ice melting off the lines. I didn't want to battle the noise, so took a pass on the contest.

I hope the noise goes away. Otherwise I have to start fighting with Commonwealth Edison again. I've had them even come out here a couple times, but of course, when they come, there is…

Ham radio I phone apps

My resolution for the new year, be a better blogger.

I took some time off over the holidays and spent a lot of time playing with the radios. Mostly, it was nice rag chews on 40 and 80 meters, but I spent some time on the Stew Perry Distance Challenge -- a 160 meter contest -- and running mobile on 40 adn 20 meters over New Year's while driving to Memphis.

I enjoyed getting back on CW mobile, but I'm afraid my trusty old Yaeseu FT 857 is seeing its last legs on HF. During a contact on the drive south, I unfortunately had stuffed a coat over the radio while packing the car, and the radio overheated and quit operating. It later cooled down and I got back on the air, but it died on me again part way through a contact. I should have known better, and broke one of the basic rules of mobile operation -- watch the ventilation around your radio.

I've been discovering a bunch of IPhone apps for Ham radio. Some are very useful, some I wonder about. I can now practice sending CW with my …