Saturday, October 1, 2011

Not Quite Dayton...

Hey Gang,

I went to my first HamFest today. Yes, it's true, I've never made it to a HamFest before, but since I'm getting back into the hobby, I thought I would make the effort to get there early and check it out.

The Wichita Hamfest bills itself as Kansas' largest hamfest, and it may well be, but it is still a small affair. It only runs from 8am til 1pm and occupies a small bingo parlor. There were two professional ham vendors, one the local candystore, and an Elecraft vendor. No K3 in sight, but the literature was displayed with their other rigs. I couldn't afford one, nor do have the technical knowledge to build a unit from a kit. They sure were pretty though!

I was hoping, but not expecting, to find a small CW rig I could by for less than $225, but I didn't see anything.  There was only one straight key and two paddles sets for sale. I was also hoping to find some ladderline and/or some wire for antenna making, but no luck on that front either. I looked at the used rigs for sale, thinking maybe I'd buy a completly solid state rig, if I could find a good deal. I wanted something that was a bit more reasonable for dragging around than my hollow state TS-820s, but I didn't find any deals. I almost bought a hat with my callsign and name, but in the end, I only spent $2 for the cover charge.

I did meet a couple of new people and talked to a couple of hams I hadn't seen  in years. Nancy and Bob (I should have got their callsigns, darn it) were there and they are the nicest people! I love her Georgia sweet-as-pecan pie accent. Bob is putting out a small email newsletter. I gave them my email and I hope to hear from them. I learned the local club has really dropped in its membership from when I joined. It's down from around 180 to about 40 or so, according to Nancy, although she admitted her information was out of date for accurate numbers. The local club did have a table there, but I didn't recognise the guys sitting there. I was invited to joing W0VFW, an Amateur Radio station set up in a local VFW hall. I am not a Vet, but my dad was a WWII Vet (Most people don't believe me when I say that because I'm to young to be a baby boomer). I am eligble for auxillary status, although I'm not sure I'm required to be a member to participate in the radio group, but it's encouraged. I believe I will look into a membership next week.

I also met with a former RACES friend, and we discussed our dissatification with the group and why I left. Enough said about that. this is postive blog, after all. The were also a couple of old acquaintances there I caught up with and I enjoyed our eyeball QSOs. The event, as small as it is, is still well attended by the local hams. I'm really glad I went. It was a fun experience, even though no one seperated me from my money.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ready to Buy A Portable HF Radio

This last weekend I was out of town. My wife and I went to McPherson, Kansas for the Highland Games and Scottish Festival. My wife's brother runs his own Games here in Wichita, and the local Renaissance Festival as well. I'm of Scottish extraction as well, and I enjoy visiting the games. However, mostly we help my brother in law running his booth or whatever as he is out meeting people and getting making contacts. I admit that I get bored just sitting around. It is time like these that I really want a portable op radio. 

I had considered taking my clunker Kenwood, but its a monster at 38lbs. I would love something I could carry without throwing my back out. The Yaesu FT817 is a dream radio for me, but out of the budget as well. I am going to get me an HB-1B, or other small radio. I have the cash and I've started looking. Below is the Ten Tec R4020, a two band version of the HB-1A.

I also talked to my brother in law about doing a special event station at one of his productions and he was receptive to the idea. I will have to see if there would be any interest from my fellow hams. I don't associate much with the local hams anymore, something I should remedy.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

WOOHOO! Sunspots!


We got us some sunspots percolating on Ol' Sol. Looks like we got about 167 of 'em! Cycle 24 is heating up! Let's get out there and work some radio!

Here is an image from Nasa's SOHO website. This image was captured about 3:25am CDT (isn't insomnia wonderful)

And another pic
I am very excited about this. My weekend (so far) is clear, and I'm going to try and make some contacts this weekend!

Hope all y'all have a great time, too!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Clandestine Radio Operators

I was in a Barnes & Noble book store yesterday perusing the history section when I found a book a book titled "RESISTANCE: The Clandestine Radio Operators SOE, BCRA, OSS" by Jean Louis Perquin.

This book was written by Frenchman whose father had fought in the Resistance in France during WWII. The book, naturally, has a French focus to it, but most of the gear used was British, American, and exiled Polish rigs.

All of the stats in the book are in metrics, which is annoying for me, but since most of the world uses that measurment system, I guess I shouldn't complain.

The book covers where the agents were trained and gives some stories of people who were agents. It has a lot of photos of rigs, a lot of new pics taken in museums and private collection and a great deal of field photos of agents using the rigs.

The suitcase radio above is a British Mk I introduced in late '41. It was a 60w rig.

This is one of the many period photos showing the spy rigs being used in the field in France. The book, as mentioned, focuses on the French, but also includes photos of Norwegian and Greek Resistance radio operators

Another picture of field use. Notice the British made Sten 9mm Submachine guns they are holding.

A couple of more rigs. Sorry about the photos, the glossy paper makes it difficult to get a decent shot.

Another cool thing about this book is that it shows how they powered their equipment. Here is a picture of a tripod with a bicycle seat on top and a generator powered by bicycle pedals.
A rig powered by a
handcranked Generator.

I think this power system is really cool. The tank with the hoses is a boiler that hooks to the box wich is a generator. This steam powered generator was used to recharge 6V batteries. All the field agents needed was wood and water to recharge their batteries. I would love to have something like this for field day!

The bicycle has a generator attached to the rear sprocket.

ll in all, it is a very neat book. It's pricey at $34.95, but it has a load of great pictures. It has the basic stats for the rigs, but it is not very technical in nature. It was also translated from French to English, and the translation has some minor flaws. Publisher information is: Historie & Collections-5, avenue de la Republique-F-75541 paris CEDEX 11-Tel. +33(1) 40 21 18 20 -

Monday, August 29, 2011

Now That's Ham Radio!

I've been following fellow Ham's blog and reading about Irene. Sounds like it was bad, especially in Vermont, but it also could have been worse. Way to go all you Hams who jumped in to provide EmComm for your communities. Now that's Ham Radio!

Personally, I've been too busy to be on the air. Life is interfereing with my hobby again. I'm sure it's a cruel game being played by the Radio Fates! My good friend and fellow PI, Jake "Tora" Lawson called me in on a stakeout. Copper thieves have been hitting businesses on N. Main here in Wichita, and we set up to catch them. If your read my other blog, you can read about those misadventures.

I got a BS in Business Management and now I'm going for Criminal Justice degree. By going to school, I complete the Continued Education requirements for PIs in Kansas, and it's tax deductible. Unfortunately, one of my classes is on Thursday night, so no more Fox chasing for this hound.

Friday, my brother and I are leaving for Illinois. Our half-sister passed away from an apparent heart attack and we are attending the funeral. It will be about an 8 hour drive from Wichita. I don't think I will be able to go use my radio this weekend either, but there is no helping it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tuna Tin 2 Didn't Tune

Somewhere around 2002-2003, I bought a Tuna Tin 2 kit and built it in a couple of evenings. It was my first transmitter kit. As my interest in Ham Radio waned, I put it on the shelf and it became a dust collector. I never gave it the "smoke test" to even see if it worked.

The poor beast has been ingored, banged around, and stuffed in whatever convenient place I could find, like my glovebox, for the last eight or nine years. The only modification from the original build that I did was to replace the 7.040 crystal with a 7.055, so I would operate in SKCC territory ( I proabably should have got a crystal set to a frequency between 7.100 and 7.125mhz to operate in the old Novice portion of the band where the slow coders hang out.). Yesterday, I went to the local candy store, (a Radio Shack that actually carries Amateur Radio stuff) and bought some BNC to PL 259 adapters, along with some other stuff, and I decided to give the rig a smoke test. My power supply was a universal wall-wart type, that I clicked over to the 12v setting. I had an old 1/8 plug that I soldered  speaker wire to and then I hooked the other ends to my straight key.

Needless to say, it didn't work. A fact I don't find surprising, nor is it discouraging. This is a very simple circuit and I will do my best to troubleshoot it. This type of effort, trying to find out what went wrong, is probably the best way to learn. Not the easiest, but the best. I hope to get the little beggar pumping out its mighty 500ma, whatever it turns out to be, and I hope to learn a little about circuits as I make it happen. I suspect my power supply, and I'm going to buy the recommended battery pack this weekend when I get a chance. I'm also going to replace the used 1/8" plug with a new one. If that doesn't work, I guess I'll break out my multitester and start checking the components.

Wish me luck,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sometimes It's Discouraging

How people act on the bands, I mean. Last Thursday, I was trying to participate in the weekly QRP Foxhunt on twenty meters, and I was having a hard time finding the foxes, and then I did hear one, but someone was whistling over the top of them. It is hard enough for a slow coder like me to run with the hounds at the best of times, but I was completely wiped out by some jackass whistling. Not only did he violate regulations by deliberately interfering with someone else's transmissions, but he was using voice in the digital/CW portion of the band. I had had a hard day and was tired, so I just turned my rig off and went back upstairs.

I was so discouraged, busy, and distracted that I only got back on the air on Sunday. Besides checking into the 14.300 Maratime Mobile Net, via relay due to band conditions, I accomplished little. I sent CQ for a 1/2 hour at 5watts and again at a 100 watts, but no takers.

I hope to try and snag another pelt this week, but we'll see.