Friday, October 20, 2017

Where did he go???

Hi all, just a quick note to let you know I'm still around. I've just not been doing anything new on the farm or on radio for a while. Family, work (both main job and side jobs), and other life have kept me away from the hobbies I normally blog about.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I made it to YouTube!

So I'm just a few weeks into learning my new Flex 6500. I had sold my old Bencher iambic paddle a few years back when I got the KX3 and its attached keyer. When the Flex arrived, I quickly realized I was missing a paddle except for an old straight key that WA9EIC had given me. My struggles with the straight key are a story for another day. So off to my favorite online swapmeet places...QRZ and QTH.com. I found an ARRL 100 year anniversary Vibroplex! This one only had the serial number engraved and not a callsign, so it was perfect purchase, and a great match with the 6500.

I had played on 40M CW on and off. With the KX3, I'm ashamed to say that I became dependent on the CW decoder. Part of it was my newness to CW, but part of it was that it was so darn easy to use...and pretty darn accurate. With the Flex, there isn't a built-in decoder. You could use any number of digital programs or a skimmer if you wanted. For now, I've sworn those off so I've been back to doing CW decoding the old way...with my head.  With the Flex, 40M CW is joy. You get on, look around, and you can SEE people calling CQ just by watching the regular pattern of their signals.

It was a quiet night at the Brown household, and I was up in the shacking playing with the Vibroplex and the 6500. Up around 7.105 was an interesting signal. It wasn't the purest CQ I'd ever heard, but a nice fist and an interesting chirp. I answered and had a short QSO. I remember it well as the transmitter the ham was using drifted after our second round. The thing went outside my filter....I figured it was QSB, but when I looked up at the panadapter I found him about 500kHz south of where we started! Being new to the Flex, it took me a few seconds to find the RIT. I got him tuned back in and found him on top of another QSO.  I kinda panicked and figured the safest thing to do was tell him he drifted a bit and then sign off  and move to another. No big deal. No harm, no foul!

Well today I get a phone call from my buddy Dennis, KE9UA. Dennis asked if I knew I was on YouTube. What??? Yep, seems that N6TLU had done a video on operating a Lysco 600, and little ole KG9DW was on the other side of his QSO! Well, now I'm famous. Or should I say infamous....

Terry is truly an interesting character, both on the air and in his videos. Here it is, my YouTube CW debut, in a supporting role in "Hammered Ham!"

Friday, April 7, 2017

Welcome to the world of Flex Radio

As I said in my last post, I sold my HF radios and bought a Flex. My 6500 arrived the day before the CQ WW WPX SSB Contest. Being a bit of a computer nerd, and a total radio nerd, I had the thing up and running in under 30 minutes. Welcome to the wonderful world of SDR!

I ended up making about 40 contacts that weekend in between other family activities and chores. It was a BLAST! If you've never worked a contest with multiple panadapters and multiple slices (receivers) then you are missing out. I was jumping around bands and busting pileups left and right!

Since then, I've setup profiles so I can switch between SSB, PSK, FreeDV, and CW setups with the click of a menu selection. I've made some audio adjustments to suit my voice and my hearing. And of course, with every new piece of equipment that enters the shack, I've redone my wiring and coax jumpers...again.

I've joined in on the Flex Radio online forums (the community) reading about tips and tricks, and a few known issues. I've also been asking my local elmers about some ideas and improvements. I'm seeing a long TODO list coming for early summer!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The day I sold my HF radios

Yesterday I sold all of my HF radios. At this moment, I have zero radios capable of transmitting below 2 meters.

It started off because of an advertisement in QST, and then a visit to AC9S to see his Flex 6700. I became obsessed with SDR, reading everything I could and watching youtube videos of hams around the world. I had to have a panadapter...wait, I need 4 panadapters!

I settled down a bit and got busy with other hobbies for a couple of weeks. A few contacts on PSK31 and CW, and I was back to being hot and heavy on a new radio - and one with all the whiz bang features. So on Friday I emailed Flex Radio with a list of my current HF rigs. Matt got back with me Monday morning with a quote for trading them in that wasn't too far off the used market value. Well rats...time to get serious or drop this fantasy.

A little back and forth, and then a search of the online swapmeets led me to list my radios for sale online Monday night. By Tuesday morning they all were sold! Yikes! I ended up getting 25% more than the trade-in offer by selling myself, even when I took shipping and PayPal fees into account. So Tuesday afternoon while at the gym I took a break and called up Matt at Flex. I placed my order, and a new rig will be headed my way in the coming days. My old radios went out by UPS this afternoon. I'm currently a VHF/UHF only ham!

I'm hearing of hams that are giving up on HF, or even ham radio entirely due to the band conditions. Not me...I'm doubling down on this hobby by consolidating my HF capabilities into a Flex. I'll let you know how that works out!

Friday, September 9, 2016

AREDN Mesh Weather Camera

PTZ HD weather cam on the mesh!

Last week Randy (KD9FGO) and I mounted a pan-tilt-zoom (ptz) camera up on a grain elevator. At 250 feet, the view is great. The purpose of the camera is to be able to watch the weather roll into the area. We do send out weather spottters occasionally, but there are few locations where you get such a great view as from 250 feet above the surrounding terrain! We used a Sunba 1080p HD IP camera, sold for $330 on Amazon. A single shielded CAT5 line runs from the camera to a Power Over Ethernet+ (POE+) injector, and then on to an ethernet switch where the AREDN mesh 5GHz node is connected.

We've added another AREDN node at the fire station (EOC) so that the camera can be viewed from there. And of course, it can be viewed from other nodes on the mesh. Right now, that means at the home of another ham and my shack as well. (Our other mesh sites are un-manned repeater sites.)

The picture above was taken with a cell phone, taking a picture of a laptop at the EOC. The actual picture quality is HD - it is absolutely amazing.

The next step is to add another ptz camera 5 miles north of town at another grain elevator. This site has a better view to the north and north west, while the first site has a great view from south to north west. We are also planning to showcase this solution to a couple of the other area emergency managers. Now that we have a solid mesh backbone established, adding additional sites is as easy as adding a $100 mesh node and a $330 camera.