Tag Archives: TH-D7A

Hamshack Hula

I have been steadily working at getting the hamshack into some sense of functionality. Back in June, everything was looking good. I’d moved everything from the old house to the new house and adjusted for the more “constrained” space that my shack now occupies. I was just about there… and then my household goods from Korea arrived. Lacking time to adequately put everything in its place, boxes ended up getting dumped in the hamshack.

The basement gameroom has been my primary focus for the last two months. We got the new couch, the arcade cabinet is working, the pinball machine needs a bit of work, and the cocktail arcade cabinet is doing great. Now that the gameroom is just about where I want it, I’ve turned my attention back to the hamshack.

Before I moved my workbench to the new house, I should have taken a photo of how I had the pegboard setup. Being gone for year and not using the bench, I had no idea of what I had hanging where. Today I was able to get the workbench in order after spending a few hours sorting through the boxes that had come from Korea.

I’ve also started parting with equipment I don’t need or will probably not doing anything with. The Kenwood TS-930S is now sold. Hopefully the Heathkit SB-220 will soon be sold. Also the Radio Shack HTX-242 that was in the XYL’s car until I upgraded her to a TM-D710A is sold. It is time to get rid of the FT-1500Ms as well. Being a proud ownder of the Yaesu VX-8GR, I can now part with my trusty Kenwood TH-D7A(G). I am continuing to rumage through the shack pulling out what I really don’t need. So far, Craigslist has been working well. I’ll use eBay as a last resort.

So with my efforts, I can actually reach my operating desk, turn on the computer, sit down.

…. now I need to get an antenna up, something more permanent than a Buddipole.

AvMap G5

My GPS of choice for the last two years has been the Garmin Nuvi 350. It interfaced nicely with the Kenwood TM-D710A using an Argent Data Systems cable. Everything was working great with the Nuvi up until I placed it in our washing machine. You are probably thinking that there is a better way to clean a GPS than to put it in a washing machine and I would absolutely agree with you. I took the Nuvi with me to Dayton and then packed it, safely wrapped in my clothes, for the return trip. Well – you can probably figure out what happen from there. Being newly GPSless, I decided to look into the AvMap G5 (which I had been drooling over for a while). Installation was super easy. The AvMap G5 comes with a hardcore suction mount, which I like much better than the beanbag mount that I had with the Nuvi. There is one connection to power the AvMap G5 via a 12v cigarette lighter and the other for data between the AvMap G5 and the TM-D710A (and all necessary cables are INCLUDED). With one or two settings completed on the AvMap G5, the GPS and TM-D710A were talking together perfectly. W6GPS has a series of YouTube videos touting the AvMap G5 and all it can do. The AvMap G5 is suppose to also work with the TH-D7A – I am interested to try and experiment with that. The benefits I have identified of the AvMap G5 over the Nuvi is (1) its plotting of APRS icons vs just a callsign and (2) the larger screen display. Another plus for the AvMap G5 is an active Yahoo Group. I am going to try to keep this GPS away from the washing machine.

Lots of little stuff going on…

I went to the HAMBASH in Kansas City this morning. Pretty big venue, most all of the tables were filled – also some quality vendors around the periphery. Lots of old-time rigs that looked like they were in good shape. Only saw one table were there was a guy selling DVDs (that had nothing to do with ham radio). They had an XYL Lounge upstairs, with coffee and cookies. There were a few city/county EOC radio shelters setup outside but by the time I got out there, my daughter had hit the meltdown stage and so we headed back home for her nap.

Did I buy anything? Of course. I got some antenna wire for a horizontal loop antenna project that I want to complete soon. Also some black Dacron line to use to help raise the loop. There was also a mini-hamfest near the parking lot were I found an old dummy load for $15 and a bunch of old Motorola gear that included these plastic wedge radio/phone stands that I think would be perfect for placing a mobile radio on when you are using as a base to better allow you to see the front of the rig (I bought two for $1 each). HAMBASH was quite crowded, despite the rainy weather outside.

Yesterday, the weather was great and I got a chance to take my daughter out on a bicycle ride again. Wanting to improve the TX capability of my bike-mounted TH-D7A for APRS, I built an HT Tigertail. I did notice significant improvement on my ability to get out on APRS when using the Tigertail (still with the power set at 500mW).

Tomorrow I want to try to launch my horizontal sky loop. I’ve got plenty of antenna wire and support line. I have ladderline for the feedline. I should be set. I hope the weather cooperates.

Rainy Sunday

It has been a cold, rainy Sunday. We are on short final for the delivery of child number two… about 12 more days. Spent part of the day finishing the fixes to the nursery. Despite the rain, I BBQ’d two excellent steaks for dinner. I spent a good amount of time at Fort Lewis, WA so BBQing in the rain is no big deal.

Yesterday I mounted a bike seat for my daughter (age 3) on the back of my underused Trek bicycle. The weather was pretty nice, sun and a little cool. I decided to take along my TH-D7A and mounted my Garmin eTrex on the handlebars… I was APRS bicycle mobile again (with a small passenger). I kept the power setting at EL (50mW) and had good luck getting digipeated by N7FTM, which is nearby. To get a little better coverage and maintain the low draw on the battery, I configured the home TM-D710A to digipeat only the packets from my TH-D7A. I hope the weather improves soon so I can do some more bicycle mobile testing. A speaker-mic would also be a great addition to the setup.

I have been doing a little more reading on APRS (when I should be working on homework). One item that I found very intriguing was CQSRVR. There is a good run down of that feature here and Bob “Mr. APRS” Bruninga’s, WB4APR, recent article in QST. What amazes me is that the CQSRVR feature is not used more often. I have also had a great time playing with aprs.fi. I am a long time user of findu.com, but aprs.fi is just a wonderful tool to use in looking at APRS data.

It is time to get ready for Field Day. The plan is to road trip out California and link up with my dad, KD6EUG, at his cabin in Mi-Wuk (near Sonora, up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We will be a 2A operation. My rig will consist of my resurrected ARSIB (Amateur Radio Station In a Box). The ARSIB is based around the FT-817ND. To give the FT-817ND a boost, I’ve paired it with a 100W Tokyo HyPower amplifier. The tuner remains the LDG Z-11 PRO. I would like to have both a rig control interface and control cable from the radio to the amp but the the FT-817 has only one ACC input. Enter the CAT MATE – I am hoping this will solve the ACC input limitation. For a logging program I think we will go with the N3FJP logging software. It offers the ability to have two (or more) seperate stations have a combined log. It also features a software-based voice and CW keyer, which may come in handy. The downside is it is a Windows only program and it does not have integrated PSK-31. This will require a manual work around to add PSK-31 QSOs. I need to get all the pieces and parts together and start testing everything out to make sure there are no surprises. We will be busy enough stringing antennas and I want to minimize any adjustments I need to make to my own equipment during actual operation.

Send these commands to UI-VIEW as a message

I’ve been having fun using my TH-D7A with the UI-View32 setup at the home QTH. The commands below allow me to send a message from my TH-D7A back to my home rig and get a specified response:

?APRSP – sends back a location beacon.
?APRSS – sends back the status text.
?APRSO – sends back your active objects.
?APRSD – sends back a list of stations that have been heard direct.
?APRST (or ?PING?) – sends back the route by which the query was received.
?APRSH – sends back information on when was last heard.
?VER? (not an APRS query, but some APRS software supports it) – sends back information on the software version in use.

With “Remote commands” enabled in UI-VIEW, you can send the following commands that are specific to UI-VIEW

QAS – causes your system (the Ui-VIEW station) to Query All Stations.
QWS – causes your system (the Ui-VIEW station)to Query WX Stations.
BCN – causes your system (the Ui-VIEW station)to send a beacon.
LGS (or LG1) – enables logging at (the Ui-VIEW station),
using a log file named according to the date.
(This command must come from the station callsign.)
LGX (or LG0) – disables logging at (the Ui-VIEW station). (This
command must come from the station callsign.)
DX – causes your system (the Ui-VIEW station) to send an abbreviated best DX report.
!program – when sent to (the Ui-VIEW station) runs a program in the RCOMMAND directory

This Weekend…

Joseph Sheehan Bicycle Road Race: Today I helped support a 52.9 mile bicycle race between Leavenworth and Atchison, KS. The weather was miserable. A cold morning to begin with. Then rain… and sleet. Even snow. I was positioned at a intersection that crossed the highway which served as about the 10 mile mark and then 40 mile mark on the route back. 52 cyclist made it to the 10 mile point and not more than 20 went on to finish the race. I couldn’t believe that many of the guys hung with it. Those were some dedicated folks.
There were four of us supporting the race, positioned at key spots along the route (inside our nice, warm vehicles). I was able to have several “lessons learned” for this event. I had a distinct lack of planning and preparation.
(1) I didn’t fully check my rig prior to the event. I was at the event site trying to do a radio check with net control with no results.
(2) When it is time to troubleshoot, you have to use logic. When time is short (because of lack of preparation) and problems come up, you have to keep your head. Troubleshooting a radio system is pretty basic. Start from one end and work to the other. Finding that the antenna feedline isn’t properly connected to the rig should be an easy fix.
(3) Having an HT as backup is good. Knowing how to change the settings on it is critical. One of those Nifty manuals or smart cards does the trick.

That being said, thanks to the quick thinking of the net control I was able to initially talk to him on my HT using a repeater that didn’t require a tone (I’d forgotten how to change the tone setting on my Kenwood TH-D7A). I eventually figured out how to set the tone and was on the repeater with the other folks. Then with a bit more thought and troubleshooting, I discovered my feedline connection to the rig had come loose and with that fixed I was back in business. Part of the problem is that I have a relatively new rig in the truck, the Kenwood TM-D710A. It is a very complicated rig and I have only scratched the surface on how to operate it. I was able to interface it with the Garmin Nuvi 350 thanks to a cable from Argent Data Systems. The cable allows the D710A to pass APRS data to the Nuvi and the Nuvi plots the data as waypoints. It works pretty well.

Big week ahead. I mentioned before that I have some specific graduation requirements for the course I am in at Fort Leavenworth. This week I should be able to complete another of the requirements: speak to a community group, school, or other organized gathering of citizens. I have put together a presentation concerning my operations of both amateur radio and MARS station while in Iraq and will be giving the presentation to one of the local amateur radio clubs. The presentation, in addition to my operations, covers the history of the US Army and amateur radio while deployed overseas. It has been fascinating researching the operations of previous Army hams from WWII (Germany and Japan), Korea, Vietnam,

Spec/5 Dennis Vernacchia operating MARS Radio Station AB8AY, out of relocated radio station in quonset hut, puts radio-telephone calls through to the states for the troops stationed at LZ Betty and to co-ordinate Operation Vietnam Merry Christmas
Spec/5 Dennis Vernacchia operating MARS Radio Station AB8AY, out of relocated radio station in quonset hut, puts radio-telephone calls through to the states for the troops stationed at LZ Betty and to co-ordinate "Operation Vietnam Merry Christmas"
Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. I also cover the history of amateur radio in Iraq from the early days in the 1920s through the Saddam period and then today. Once I get my slides spiffied up a bit more and add some notes, I will post a link here so those who are interested can take a look. My final requirement is: write professionally by submitting a letter to the editor, Op-Ed piece, or article for publication. My intent is to turn the presentation into an article and then send it to ARRL’s QST. Most of the article is done – I hope to get it completed this week as well.

Items of interest

Interesting post on W2LJ’s blog about his PDA. I have an assortment of PDAs:

- Palm Pilot Pro that I got an upgrade kit for to make it a Palm III (new chip along with IR sync capability)

- Palm IIIxe which I bought on eBay. It works well except that it eats up batteries even when it is turned off. I have used this PDA with my Kenwood TH-D7 to do mobile 2m packet and PocketAPRS.

- Palm m130. This was the first PDA I had that allowed you to use an SD card. I have used this to program my TinyTrack APRS device.

- Palm Tungsten 3 (or T3). First PDA with wireless connectivity, in this case Bluetooth. Also has a slot for an SD card. I used this PDA for mobile logging, mainly taking advantage of the voice recording function… I’d have a mobile QSO, pick up the Palm T3 and record a voice memo of the time, freq, callsign, and any other significant info. At a later point I used that to update my primary log.

- Some variant of an HP PDA that has WiFi and an SD card slot.

Also have an assortment of keyboards, cameras, and other doo-dads that go with these.

I have the Palm T3 with me now… I’m guessing it needs to be charged.

K3OQ has a post about his upcoming trip to the Outer Banks. He also plans to activate The Bodie Island Lighthouse (USA-067). I had the opportunity to activate that light back in June of 2006. Beautiful area out there – very relaxing. One of the highlights of any hams visit to the Outer Banks is using the Outer Banks Repeater Association’s 2m and 70cm repeaters. I had a few great exchanges with Jack, W2EHD who lives in the area year around. The repeater system also allowed me to stay in contact with the XYL while I was off activating lighthouses.

N9IK’s Radio Blog has a new post about his completion of the Rock-Mite 40 transceiver kit. He’s got some great pics of his work. I hope to develop my building skills to that level. Very nice work. I look forward to hearing about the contacts he makes with it.

K9ZW tries to solve the age old question of the best way to organize QSL cards with his latest post. I’m curious to see how others keep their cards organized. I don’t have a ton of cards yet, but I would like a solid method of keeping my cards organized that will last for years and allow me to access them as needed.

As always – I enjoy reading your blogs. It keeps my interest in amateur radio strong even if I don’t get on the air as often as I’d like.

Hampton, VA to Cleveland, OH

I left yesterday at about 10:20am, having done a poor job packing and generally having any semblance of organization. I ended up dumping a lot of extra stuff in a footlocker, piled everything in the backseat of the truck and headed out. Not more than a few feet out of the driveway I answered a CQ from Andy, W2QIQ. Andy has been a ham for 66 years (as opposed to my 6 years). He served in the Army during WWII in Europe, starting in Egland, making his way through France and ending up in Berlin.

My radio started acting up on 40M. I was using my Workman Hamstick tuned for the 40M phone band. The Icom AT-180 gets a good match right away bringing the SWR down to a 1:1. But then after I’m transmitting for about a minute, the Tune light flashes for about 10 or 15 seconds and then the Tune light shuts off and the power drops and SWR goes up. My first guess is that the radio and tuner need to have a better ground. But the matching impedance range for the AT-180 is only between 16 and 150 ohms, so that could be the problem. This is only a problem on 40M.

My TH-D7A APRS kludge seems to be working well when there is a digipeater. When I was on I-77N coming across the West Virginia/Ohio border, I accidentally pulled one of the power leads. I didn’t really notice it because all through the Smoky Mountains the APRS coverage was nonexistent. I got a few hits through Charleston, WV and then it (maybe) tapered off after Charleston or maybe I had pulled the power. When I was approaching Canton, OH, I knew something had to be wrong, because it was such a large area it would have to have a digipeater. That’s when I noticed the power was disconnected. I reattached the power and there was tons of APRS traffic.

Had some nice QSOs along the way: KL7GKY, EB7xx, YU1XA, and KB5YAY.

APRS in the Toyota Tundra

I’ve played around with APRS in the Toyota Tundra before. Now I’m upgrading the setup a bit. Instead of using the ICOM IC-T81A I switched to the Kenwood TH-D7A(G). To bump up the 5 watt output, I tossed in a Mirage 30 watt amp that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for the last five years. I’m still using my Garmin’s eTrex Vista, but now have the combo data/power cable. No longer do I need to worry about swapping out the 2x AA batteries.

Tomorrow I’m going to try to integrate one of my old Palm Pilots (Palm m125) to run Pocket APRS.

I also have to do some massaging with all the cables.

Go here to track me while mobile.

Weekend wrap up

Got to see a bit of the air show today from a nearby park that has a good view of Langley Air Force Base. Had my Bearcat Scanner (BC245XLT) with the Radio Shack antenna and was able to monitor the Air Boss as well as the air/ground communications for the Golden Knights parachute team.

Tired to contact the special events station at Fort Knox (W2P), but the propagation just wasn’t there. I was able to make two other SSB contacts while trying as well as a PSK31 contact with a Swedish amateur radio operator on St. Martin.

Worked on cleaning the radio room.

Started looking at using my TH-D7A for accessing a DX packet cluster… but I’m not sure if we have any packet clusters in the area. We’ll see.

I’m looking at getting an amp for my FT-817 so I can use it for portable operations without having to pull the IC-706 out of the shack.

Finished about 30 QSL cards to be sent out tomorrow.

Weather Display works on Ubuntu!! I need to transition my weather station from the radio room to the linux box out in the garage. I need to figure out how to do do the FTP upload and webcam.

Started working on a webpage for Old Point Comfort Lighthouse activations: http://www.ad7mi.com/monroe/monroe.html