W4ZST newsletter ramblings.
Hamfest Highlight: Had a good time at the Stone Mountain Hamfest. Saw
lots of friends and the Dahlonega contingent came by together to visit
where I was set up in the flea market. Didn't sell anything and
disappointed about that. The highlight was stopping to visit with a
friend at the end of the hamfest and noted a cardboard box on the ground
in the empty flea-market space next to him while we were talking.
Finally checked it out and found a set of computer speakers that I had
sold a couple of years ago (and regretted selling when I realized I
needed them) with my handwriting on the price tag. So someone had left
them to be thrown away and now I have them back. Nothing special but
the fact they could be both AC and battery powered was why I wished I
hadn't sold them. They are back home now and hope I won't forget and
try to sell them again sometime!! Another highlight was seeing Johnny
K4SQC (he gave us a talk at the club about satellite operation) and
Darlyl K4RGK with a fantastic satellite demo set up at the hamfest.
They had three sets of various sizes of satellite antennas, a couple of
stations set up to use the antennas, making contacts through the birds
during the hamfest for folks to watch and even operate. Johnny also has
a walk-around portable station with the radios in a bag and hand-held
Arrow antenna. He uses a pair of Yaesu FT-817's, one for uplink on one
band like 2m and the other for downlink on another like 432 or v-v. Two
radios are required so you can operate full duplex: Transmitting on one
band while simultaneously receiving on another. I always get a real
kick out of that as the satellite guys call the radio(s) a '1634. Get
it? Two 817's! Anyway they were very popular and did make a lot of
satellite Q's on Saturday and Sunday.
Some good information: I went to the Microwave Update Conference (MUD)
in St. Louis the weekend of October 13-16 and had a great time and
learned some interesting new stuff and met some new folks and lots of
old friends too. Anyway, the luncheon speaker was Ward Silver N0AX, who
writes columns for QST and is the editor of the ARRL handbook and
antenna book. Very nice fellow and an interesting talk entitled 'Ham
Radio......Now What?". Sort of about the future trend of HR but also
much about what we need to be doing to keep it going and to keep our
clubs going; increasing membership, meeting attendance, etc. He sure
got me thinking and I'm going to try to change some of my ways that are
a possible negative impact on others. The talk is available on 'Ham
Radio Now' on YouTube. It is episode 242 on HRN. This talk was given
at a different conference but it's the same one I got to see and hear.
It's an hour long but I think you will like it and hope you will find it
instructive as I did. He is a good speaker. Highly recommended.
I was looking for a part to repair something. Put the part number in
'google' and found it pretty quickly but at a pretty high price for what
it was. Not a high volume item so I think that's why it was high
priced. Anyway, I looked around some more for something that I could
substitute, being the proper 'cheap' ham that I am. Found a part for $2
that will work vs $33 for the original replacement. It will be a little
more work to substitute but will function the same when I'm done (at
least that's what i have in mind. I'll let you know how it turns out).
I found the replacement on 'Adafruit.com an interesting and recommended
website for some parts, lots of microprocessor stuff like Raspberry Pi's
and such. Ada is for Lady Ada Lovelace, considered by many to be the
first computer programmer. I'll let you 'google' her yourself for
further interesting information. I may have listed Adafruit some time
in the past as an online source, along with LadyAda.net, home of some
interesting projects and nice tutorials too.
I had mentioned a time or two in club meetings about 'MakerSpaces' where
groups have rented space and put in various equipment, mechanical and
electronic, to be shared by the dues paying members. Talked to some
guys I met at the hamfest that are involved with their makerspace in
downtown Decatur. They also hosted last months 'MakerFaire' that was
held in downtown Decatur. They are setting up a ham VHF radio station
there also and plan to add HF in the future. Glad to see that as the
'maker' movement is similar in many ways to past times in Amateur Radio.
Some hams from the North Fulton club did have a Ham Radio booth at the
makerfaire. The two areas are a good fit, also mentioned by Ward Silver
in his talk.
We (W4ZST, Johnny K4SQC, Ron WW8RR and Kim WG8S) did the first weekend
of the ARRL International EME contest the weekend of Oct 22 and 23.
Johnny's 2m station was flawless and he made more Q's this year on the
first weekend than he did last year. Of course, we have more experience
now and 'think' we know what we are doing. BUT, I had considerable
problems with my 432 station. Worked for two weeks on getting a
transverter modified for the contest, never getting it to work
properly. Fall back position was a second unmodified transverter that
started out OK but late for the contest and later apparently succumbing
to the always present dangers of running high power. Apparently the 432
antennas were lined up with the back of the 2m antennas with 432 on RX
and 2m on TX. The 2m power took out the 432 preamp and at least the
first stage of the 432 transverter. I haven't gotten into it yet to see
if it got in even deeper! You remember me showing the results of
running 1500W of 432 RF into a preamp that wasn't designed for that much
power. Anyway, I'm not having good luck with 432 EME. We did finally
get another radio set up for the rest of the contest and it made it
through unscathed! Only had 5 Q's on 432 as conditions weren't
particularly good. You've seen that I can make my own bad conditions
though. Now I still have two transverters, one preamp and a relay to
(hopefully) repair and get back on the air. Second half of the contest
is weekend of 11/19-20. Maybe I can get something back on the air!
Till next month, 73, Bob W4ZST