Recent tinkerings (9 Jan 2011 edition)
Ethan Miller, K8GU, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Maryland, USA. Contact him at [email protected].
Several people have commented over the years that I should “write more” on the blog. I usually respond that I could spend my free time tinkering/hamming or blogging, but not both. Here are a month’s worth of blog posts as freestyle poetry:
- A section on my workshop has been added to k8gu.com under Engineering.
- Discovered that although the SoftRock VHF Ensemble II won’t fit (barely) into the Bud CU-473 diecast box I bought for it, it will fit into an extruded enclosure that housed an ancient X-band radar detector I picked up at Dayton in 2002 in hopes of stripping the Gunn diode assembly and getting on 10 GHz. Bonus points for thriftiness. Photos will follow once I finish the project.
- Did not observe Quadrantid meteor pings with the SoftRock VHF Ensemble II, but did notice something interesting about the W3APL beacon. Need to investigate.
- Have more CE/K8GU QSL cards again, finally. Tonight, I might finish the bureau (and, ashamedly one direct) cards languishing. Some K8GU (and AA8UP, no kidding) bureau cards are sitting here staring at me, too. Not a big project, though.
- Operated the NAQP CW on Saturday (8 January 2011) for four hours and twenty minutes and made 318 QSOs x 128 multipliers for 40,740 points before log-checking discounts. This total is pleasing to me especially considering that it was almost all leap-frogging SO2R search-and-pounce, which can be very fatiguing. It’s fun to see the rate meter stay over 100 when you’re S&Ping. Good Sprint practice.
- Still the best 30 minutes on the radio every week: I operated the NS Ladder on Thursday (6 January) night and made my customary 30 QSOs x 24 multipliers for 720 points. Hopefully, adding 160 will give me some momentum to increase this score back over 1000.
- We had a spell of 50F (10C) weather on New Years’ Eve. So, I put the 2-meter beam back up on the chimney. It was formerly mounted on a steel mast that was ratchet-strapped to the chimney. A strong wind (>50 mph gusts) before Christmas bent the mast (actually a fence top-rail) and I had removed it. I cut the bent lower portion of the mast off and attached the remaining top portion with rotator to a “girder” constructed from two pieces of treated 2″ x 4″ x 10′ lumber joined with a half-dozen lag screws. Again, I ratchet-strapped the entire assembly to the chimney. The present configuration is much stronger and less prone to damage. The 3-element 50-MHz Yagi is still on the ground until I actually get the transverter finished, which should be soon (as it has been for 12 months now).
- Repaired a SoftRock v6.2 downconverter for WF1L and learned that you can solder leads back onto SOIC packages if you’re careful.
- Have had delightful exchanges with KN6X and ZL1CDP about repairing the TS-930S. Some of these discussions (and their fruits) may make it onto the site at some point.
- Back in December, I started integrating the W1GHZ transverters using UT-141 semirigid jumpers with pre-installed SMA connectors obtained on attractive terms from Max-Gain Systems. Mitsubishi RA18H1213G (1296 MHz) and RA30H0608M (50 MHz) modules arrived from RF Parts. May have a lead on something less expensive with more gain for 903 MHz via HA1AG. The big remaining tasks in all three transverter projects are the sequencer and IF interfacing.
- Also in December, I had dinner with NS Ladder father Bill, N6ZFO, in San Francisco at the Hyde Street Seafood House & Raw Bar, which is a favorite of NA Sprint father, Rusty, W6OAT. Yes, I did feel that I was in the presence of greatness. (I had their excellent pork chops since I’m not into seafood, especially raw seafood.) Like most contesters, Bill’s a super, fascinating guy apart from his radio contesting interests.