I was unable to make it out to Dayton but am enjoying seeing the onsite action through various mediums:
(1) w5kub.com – live streaming. It has been a bit hit and miss on the quality and coverage, but the feed is quite popular and it is a lot of fun seeing all the hams walking around the outdoor market. Lots of hams in front of the live feed cam seem to stand there, stare at the camera, and call home (or a buddy) to have them get on the website to see them on the live feed. At certain times the live feed appears to be an actual video version of hamsexy.com. The best part about amateur radio is the people and it is always great to see what an amazing variety of folks who share a common interest.
(2) Jeff, KE9V, is on the grounds of the Hara Arena and is frequently Tweeting and posting pictures. Jeff had an interesting picture of a vendor called Horse Fence Antennas. The product appears to be a dipole antenna that is built into what we in the Army call a cargo strap. The antenna looks a bit bizzare, but the eHam reviews are 5.0.
(3) D-STARS! I have not hooked up my DVAP and IC-92AD since I returned for Korea, but did so yesterday so I could monitor REF038C. Lots of great hamvention chatter on the reflector.
(4) I am going to look for any HF stations operating from the Hamvention. Often W1AW will setup up a special event station – those are always fun to work.
Hopefully I will be able to go next year…. 2013, Dayton or bust!
Out here in Kansas, on the eastern edge of the prarie, the leaves are turning and the first frost is upon us. The time is NOW to get the hamshack in order.
(1) My VHF/UHF antenna and Davis weather station NEEDS to get mounted up on the chimney. I have the mounting brackets – thin aluminium straps that circumnavigate the chiminey. However, the roof at the new QTH is basically three stories high and the roof itself is pretty steep. Too steep for me. The solution? I am trying to get a local roofing company to give me an estimate for the job.
(2) The HF antenna. In the course of sorting through all the hamshack flotsam, I’ve started to identify “stuff” I can part with. Already I’ve said goodbye to some old MFJ TNCs, the Kenwood TS-930S, and my old TinyTrak (thank you Craigslist!). There’s more to part with and I’m still in the process of identfying them (… like an ICOM PCR-1000, TenTec RX-320, and a D-STAR DV Dongle for starters). More importantly (and back on topic), I unearthed two in-the-package wire antennas. The first is an 80M OCF dipole from RadioWavz and the second is a G5RV+ from RadioWorks. Now I need to dust off the CSV19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher and let the tennis balls fly.
(3) Once I have my antenna situation under control, I can take the hamshack innards to the next level.
Questions to ponder:
Do I retain the hardcopy collection of QST magazines I’ve been carting around since 2005ish? Starting for the late 40′s, it is a solid collection up to 2000. It takes up a great deal of space and I have the same issues on CD. I’d like to find the collection a new (local) home, if possible.
My new job has me on the road – it would be great to take some gear on the road with me. What to take? Needs to have a small footprint. Sounds like a job for the KX1. What to use for an antenna?
Here is a a re-cap of my amateur radio activities during my past twelve months in Korea:
(1) DX – I enjoyed working a good bit of DX, enjoying most QSOs with stateside contacts as well as Pacific exotics. The greatest limitation I had was my operation location and resulting inability to ideally situate an HF antenna. Living in the barracks (the ultimate in CC&R) restricted any type of permanent antenna installation, further limiting my options. I solely used a Buddipole (which after many additional accessory purchases, became two Buddipoles). Despite the antennas being positioned next to a three story building, I was able to make contacts to North America, South America, Europe, and even Africa. I credit this to improved band conditions over the past months and also the Buddipole… it’s a keeper.
(2) EchoIRLP node – I brought my embedded EchoIRLP node to Korea and interfaced it with a Kenwood VHF/UHF rig. Again, with my poor location and inability, I could not have an antenna installed outdoors. Instead, I kept the Kenwood rig at its minimum wattage setting and used a roll-up J-Pole made from ladder line. With my HT also set on minimum power, I was able to make effective use of the EchoIRLP node. My primary contacts via the node were with the XYL back in Kansas. She has a mobile VHF rig, to include APRS. I could check to see when she was on the road for her morning or afternoon commutes, connect through my EchoIRLP node here in Korea to our EchoIRLP node back in Kansas. With the XYL’s rig set to the frequency of the Kansas node, I could frequently ride along with the XYL and harmonics as they moved about. Additionally, the Echolink capability of the embedded node allowed me to regularly talk to my dad, KD6EUG, while he connected to my node via an app on his cell phone. Another great enjoyment was the ability to monitor the different IRLP reflectors and sometimes participate in ongoing nets. I am sold on the flexability of the embedded EchoIRLP node and will take it with me again when I get deployed for a long duration.
(3) D-STAR – starting with a D-STAR Dongle, I moved to a DV Access Point and got an ICOM D-STAR HT. I enjoyed playing with D-STAR and the ease of having the Access Point as well as the IC-92AD (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/5092.html) made using D-STAR pretty straight forward. There is no aruging that the audio quality for D-STARS is poor. The complicated nature of setting up a rig at home for the XYL would also make D-STAR a poor choice to replace the EchoIRLP node. However, I enjoyed having the flexibility of having the ability of getting on D-STAR.
(4) Linux – all my radio operations here were supported by using the Ubuntu distrobution of Linux. After toying with CQRlog, I have settled on fldigi as my primary interface to my HF rig.
(5) APRS – although my APRS operations here were limited to the internet (Korea has virtually no APRS traffic), I used xastir (www.xastir.org) to show where my operating location was and also advertised my EchoIRLP node.
(6) WX station – never happen. I could not find a good location to place the collector, so it is still in the box. More importantly, wgoohat I didn’t get the opportunity to learn was how to interface a weather station to the APRS application xastir.
(7) Stars & Stripes article – I was able to discuss my amateur radio experiences with a reporter from Stars & Stripes.
Christmas has come and gone – we had a great time here in Kansas. We had friends over Christmas Eve for dinner. The XYL made a huge feast and I took advantage of the home cooking. Meanwhile, we tracked Santa via the NORAD/Google Earth website. At 7pm, we were actually able to raise Santa via EchoLink and the USA Reflector. The kids enjoyed talking to Santa and where able to get in their last minute requests. After the guests left, I helped the 5 year-old put out milk and cookies for Santa. Then it was upstairs for a bedtime reading of The Night Before Christmas. Once the harmonics were snug in their beds (… not sure about the dancing sugar plums, more like dancing Zhu Zhu hamsters), the elves went into overtime setting up for the following morning (to include hanging the stockings with care). With the work finally complete, I was able to watch the last 30 minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life. I have seen it a million times, but always enjoy the sappy ending.
Christmas morning finally arrived. With a flurry of discarded (and ever growing pile of) wrapping paper – treasures were revealed. Lots of toys for the girls – to include an astronaut Barbie doll for the 5 year old (oddly enough, they don’t make a ham radio Barbie). I received an excellent book: Array of Light: Straight Talk About Antennas and Related Subjects (Third Edition) by Tom Schiller, N6BT. My dad picked the book up for me at Pacificon and I was quite surprised when I opened it. Mr. Schiller is a prolific author of antenna articles, co-founder of Force 12, and the dad of one of my good high school friends. Little did I know back then that my friend’s dad was a ham radio guru.
Next out of Santa’s sack with my name on it was the DVAP.
The DV Access Point Dongle is a neat device that plugs into an internet-connected computer’s USB port and allows you to access the D-Star network without having to go through a local D-Star enabled repeater. With my Icom IC-92AD, the DVAP is a perfect solution to access D-Stars. With the IC-92ADs ability to monitor two frequencies simultaneously allows me to connect and monitor a D-Star reflector or repeater while also listening to my embedded EchoIRLP node. It is a veritable cornucopia of ham radio VOIP.
Yet again, more success with Ubuntu and ham radio. I purchased a D-Star DV Dongle earlier this year and never had much time to play with it. I do not own an actual D-Star radio and the only time I have really ever seen D-Stars in action was at this year’s Hamvention. I am a fan of Echolink and IRLP – the DV Dongle seemed like a good way to dip my toe in the D-Stars pool without a big cash investment. Additionally, I haven’t been living near any existing D-Star repeaters (either back in Kansas or here in Korea).
Installing the DV Dongle on the hamputer went smoothly. Great instructions are located here or here. For support, there is a Yahoo Group which is active and brings quick response in troubleshooting problems.
Once I had the DV Dongle up and running, NJ6N has a webpage that provides a live look at who is active on which D-Star repeaters and reflectors.
There are plenty of resources out there, which could indicate the growing popularity of D-Stars.
If you are interested in having a D-Stars QSO, let me know.