W4ZST newsletter ramblings. 7-Nov-2016

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