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. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Bug in my ICOM ID-31



I've had my ID-31 for a few years. It has been an excellent handheld for me...a little analog FM and a whole lot of D-Star. But this Spring it developed a bug...not a software bug, an actual bug in the display.

I take the radio along with me around the farm a lot. It seems a pesky ant decided to crawl into the radio and make the display its final resting place. I imagine it crawled in through the speaker holes. I had put up with it for a while, but bugs need to be either outside or connected to a radio (CW bug, hee hee) and not inside a radio.

A screwdriver and some patience and the radio is apart. The bug remains came right out and now my display is clean again. I did break the microSD card that I forgot to remove before popping the case! Doh! Oh well, $5 on Amazon and that problem is solved.

Here's to a bug free summer of ham radio!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Kenwood D-STAR tri-band handheld

Reports from Dayton are that Kenwood has a D-STAR tri-band handheld under glass in the booth, along with colorful brochures. None of my sources are reporting on price or availability, and the documents all show "Tentative". Never the less, this news along with the development going on within the dv4 group are pretty exciting!

UPDATE: Tom KJ9P on the ground in Dayton reports that the model name and number haven't been published yet, but it should be available by year end with an MSRP between $500 and $700.

I also had a D-STAR conversation with Tony N8NNX as he was walking the floor at Hamvention regarding the dv4mobile product. His inquires came back also with a 2016 availability date and prices between $800 and $1000.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

And so far from Dayton...

While I'm not at Dayton, I have been able to follow some of the announcements. Here's a quick list of  the interesting ones so far!

The Elecraft KX2 - a smaller version of the KX3, 80 through 10m and fits in your hand, $750!

The DV4Home and D4Mobile radios - built from the DV4mini adapters, but full function radios. No prices or availability yet, but a great concept. I'll be interested in the reports from the show floor.

I'm not expecting anything big from Icom. Yaesu might announce something in an HF QRP rig, but I'm not that interested (I think they are still covered up trying to get Fusion/WIRES-X going like they want). I would think Flex will have something new to show, and there is still the nagging rumor that Kenwood will do something with a D-STAR radio. Even if you don't make the trek to Dayton, you can certainly find out a lot with a few Google searches or watching the Twitter feed!