Posts Tagged ‘troubleshooting’

Going cold turkey

"Going cold turkey" - a phrase familiar to some - unfamiliar to others. Perhaps many of my readers from outside the US have never heard of this American slang term before.  It means to break a habit ...... by stopping.  If you happen to smoke and decide to stop "cold turkey", that means stopping. Period. No gradually smoking less and less until you quit. Nope, you throw away your last pack of cigarettes into the trash can and never smoke again.

I smoked for a very brief period of time (maybe 1/2 a year) when I was in college and to this day, I'll enjoy a cigar at a wedding, if they're being offered; but I never smoked to the point where it became a habit. I can imagine though, for a hard core chain smoker, the thought of going "cold turkey" probably produces cold sweats and chills down the spine.

Thanks to the ARRL, many of us have become addicted to National Parks on the Air.  I say that in a teasing and friendly manner.  But the fact remains that for the past 12 months we have really enjoyed chasing and activating the over 400 National Park System entities.


A lot of folks went in whole hog and seemed to make it their mission to activate as many entities as possible.  Some made it a family affair, taking their spouses and children on a tour of the USA. Some seemed to take a sabbatical from work in order to satisfy their craving.  Some slept in cars, hopping from site to site, alternately activating and then hunting for a spot with WiFi so they could upload their logs to Logbook of the World.  A lot were like me, activating sites that were relatively close to home when chores and family commitments allowed some of that seemingly rare  commodity - free time.  One thing seemed certain, though, whether you were a hard core NPOTA'er or just an occasional dabbler ...... everyone who got involved had a good time.

So it is with mixed emotions that I anticipate the end of NPOTA 2016.  I will always have fond memories of my activations, and of how I incorporated NPOTA into the 2016 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, and of the many hours I spent behind the key (and microphone) as a chaser. I think I spent more time behind the microphone this year than in all my 38 years of Amateur Radio combined.

I will also fondly remember the friendships that have formed with many activators and fellow chasers on the air and through the NPOTA page on Facebook.  Call signs have become names and faces instead of just random letter/number combinations.  In a few instances, Hams that I have known for years and have only worked via Morse Code have now become familiar voices! And when was the last time a fellow Ham gave you cookies or a pizza for working them? Chalk up those innovative ideas for fellowship to NPOTA!

For many, NPOTA became an opportunity for us to rethink how we thought about Amateur Radio. A lot of us had to shed all previous notions and start thinking outside the box. For many it was the first time they ever operated outside the home Shack other than Field Day. NPOTA became a fantastic opportunity to learn about what works and what doesn't.  Many of us became more in tune with our equipment, using it in ways we never had before, expanding our capabilities and experiences. It was an opportunity for many to build and experiment with new antenna systems, new power systems, new ways of doing things that were previously taken for granted. For many of us, it also became a school for learning (real fast!) how to improvise when piece of equipment was forgotten; or how to make quick (and sometimes not so pretty) repairs when something would break or malfunction.  Through it all, we became better Amateur Radio Operators because of it; and there's no amount of money you can place on that.

It will be very hard for all NPOTA'ers when 23:59:59 UTC rolls around on December 31st and it's all gone; and we're all going "cold turkey". As far as this particular event is concerned, microphones and keys will go silent and we'll only have the sweet memories of the past 12 months to comfort us. It will seem strange not to turn on the rig and twiddle the dial looking for that new entity to work - looking for familiar call signs that we could count on to be activating some new place of historical significance.

So many thanks go out.  To Sean Kutzko KX9X and Norm Fusaro W3IZ from the League, who did a magnificent job tending and managing the NPOTA program. To the ARRL for sponsoring the event and making the resources available that  are necessary to run something of this magnitude.  Web space and server space don't grow on trees, so the next time you're ready to grouse about "What does the ARRL do for me?" ....... well, here's a good example.


Thanks to the many before mentioned activators, who provided me with so many moments of fun as well as so many moments of anticipation, and yes, even some moments of frustration.  Many thanks to the chasers who worked me (and will work me tomorrow during my two, final activations). Without all you fine folks, this NPOTA concept would have been just that - a concept.  You all breathed life into what may well go down in history as the most fondly remembered activity the ARRL ever sponsored.

Lastly, so many thanks to the National Park System and its employees. You have been the most kind and gracious hosts to all of us these past twelve months. You not only were knowledgeable and competent guides, you also became good friends.  We are in your debt for your generous hospitality.

72 de W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Going cold turkey

"Going cold turkey" - a phrase familiar to some - unfamiliar to others. Perhaps many of my readers from outside the US have never heard of this American slang term before.  It means to break a habit ...... by stopping.  If you happen to smoke and decide to stop "cold turkey", that means stopping. Period. No gradually smoking less and less until you quit. Nope, you throw away your last pack of cigarettes into the trash can and never smoke again.

I smoked for a very brief period of time (maybe 1/2 a year) when I was in college and to this day, I'll enjoy a cigar at a wedding, if they're being offered; but I never smoked to the point where it became a habit. I can imagine though, for a hard core chain smoker, the thought of going "cold turkey" probably produces cold sweats and chills down the spine.

Thanks to the ARRL, many of us have become addicted to National Parks on the Air.  I say that in a teasing and friendly manner.  But the fact remains that for the past 12 months we have really enjoyed chasing and activating the over 400 National Park System entities.


A lot of folks went in whole hog and seemed to make it their mission to activate as many entities as possible.  Some made it a family affair, taking their spouses and children on a tour of the USA. Some seemed to take a sabbatical from work in order to satisfy their craving.  Some slept in cars, hopping from site to site, alternately activating and then hunting for a spot with WiFi so they could upload their logs to Logbook of the World.  A lot were like me, activating sites that were relatively close to home when chores and family commitments allowed some of that seemingly rare  commodity - free time.  One thing seemed certain, though, whether you were a hard core NPOTA'er or just an occasional dabbler ...... everyone who got involved had a good time.

So it is with mixed emotions that I anticipate the end of NPOTA 2016.  I will always have fond memories of my activations, and of how I incorporated NPOTA into the 2016 NJQRP Skeeter Hunt, and of the many hours I spent behind the key (and microphone) as a chaser. I think I spent more time behind the microphone this year than in all my 38 years of Amateur Radio combined.

I will also fondly remember the friendships that have formed with many activators and fellow chasers on the air and through the NPOTA page on Facebook.  Call signs have become names and faces instead of just random letter/number combinations.  In a few instances, Hams that I have known for years and have only worked via Morse Code have now become familiar voices! And when was the last time a fellow Ham gave you cookies or a pizza for working them? Chalk up those innovative ideas for fellowship to NPOTA!

For many, NPOTA became an opportunity for us to rethink how we thought about Amateur Radio. A lot of us had to shed all previous notions and start thinking outside the box. For many it was the first time they ever operated outside the home Shack other than Field Day. NPOTA became a fantastic opportunity to learn about what works and what doesn't.  Many of us became more in tune with our equipment, using it in ways we never had before, expanding our capabilities and experiences. It was an opportunity for many to build and experiment with new antenna systems, new power systems, new ways of doing things that were previously taken for granted. For many of us, it also became a school for learning (real fast!) how to improvise when piece of equipment was forgotten; or how to make quick (and sometimes not so pretty) repairs when something would break or malfunction.  Through it all, we became better Amateur Radio Operators because of it; and there's no amount of money you can place on that.

It will be very hard for all NPOTA'ers when 23:59:59 UTC rolls around on December 31st and it's all gone; and we're all going "cold turkey". As far as this particular event is concerned, microphones and keys will go silent and we'll only have the sweet memories of the past 12 months to comfort us. It will seem strange not to turn on the rig and twiddle the dial looking for that new entity to work - looking for familiar call signs that we could count on to be activating some new place of historical significance.

So many thanks go out.  To Sean Kutzko KX9X and Norm Fusaro W3IZ from the League, who did a magnificent job tending and managing the NPOTA program. To the ARRL for sponsoring the event and making the resources available that  are necessary to run something of this magnitude.  Web space and server space don't grow on trees, so the next time you're ready to grouse about "What does the ARRL do for me?" ....... well, here's a good example.


Thanks to the many before mentioned activators, who provided me with so many moments of fun as well as so many moments of anticipation, and yes, even some moments of frustration.  Many thanks to the chasers who worked me (and will work me tomorrow during my two, final activations). Without all you fine folks, this NPOTA concept would have been just that - a concept.  You all breathed life into what may well go down in history as the most fondly remembered activity the ARRL ever sponsored.

Lastly, so many thanks to the National Park System and its employees. You have been the most kind and gracious hosts to all of us these past twelve months. You not only were knowledgeable and competent guides, you also became good friends.  We are in your debt for your generous hospitality.

72 de W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Doctor and patient are doing fine

A few days ago, I went out to the car as I usually do, for some lunchtime QRP.  In my haste to get everything put away after I was done, I inadvertently knocked the external battery off the car seat onto the floor. The KX3 started to move, as it was still attached, but a quick hand stopped it, and all was well. Or so I thought.

Gear on the backseat of the Jeep.

Yesterday, I went out again, and this time the KX3 wouldn't turn on. No problem, I thought to myself, the battery was probably on its way out, as it has been a while since I have given it its last drink.  So last evening, while I was attending a CERT class on animal handling during declared emergencies, I had the battery plugged in at home, charging.

When I got home, around 10:00 PM, I tried reconnecting the battery to the KX3 to see if everything was OK.  Still no sign of life - my KX3 was still flat lining..  Hmmmmmm ........ could the battery have gone totally bad?

I carried the radio down to the shack 13.8V power supply.  Viola!  It turned on! 

And then immediately turned off.


My brain went into over drive. What the %(#@*#$ was going on ?!?

I dread sending stuff out for repair.  Don't know why, I just do.  I was in the professional photographic electronics repair biz for over 20 years. I have fixed studio strobes costing well over $12,000.00.  I have taken apart digital camera backs that cost more than a Mercedes Benz. I have stared down banks of charged capacitors storing up enough electrons to supply 6,400 Joules of energy in one pop - certainly I should be able to figure out a relatively minor KX3 repair? Right?

I rolled up my sleeves and got down to it.  Obviously, this was a power problem.  But why was the rig shutting down so quickly?  Internal short?  Bad connection somewhere? Then I noticed that if I wiggled the power plug a certain way, the radio would stay on.  My mind immediately flashed back to the battery falling incident from the other day.  I must have done something to the power socket.

The power socket is the black, boxy thing to the right.

The advantage of building the KX3 (if that's what you want to call it) is that you know how it goes together, so you're not frightened at the prospect of taking it apart.  You've seen it in all its naked glory and you lovingly put it together at least once, right?  So what's the big deal in taking it apart?

Well, when you built it roughly five years ago, some of the finer details of how it went together get muddled up in the old memory banks.  That's why it's good to never toss the build manual!  Within about 5 -7 minutes I had it apart and had the display circuit in my hand.  A little extra light and a lot of extra magnification from a magnifying glass confirmed my suspicion.

The power socket is a surface mount device, just about like everything else on that display/control circuit board. The weight of the battery tugged the socket enough to unmoor it from its assigned, tinned pads.  When I would wiggle the connector "down" towards the circuit board, everything worked.  As soon as I let downward pressure go, the connector would break contact from the circuit board again and the radio would appear dead.

I ran upstairs for a pair of scrubs and to wash my hands to prep for surgery. NO! Just kidding!


I changed my soldering station tip to the skinniest one that I have for when I work on SMD devices and I re-soldered that connector onto its pads. I took great care to add just a little "extra" solder just to make sure the connection is good, solid and won't come apart so easily in the future.

I hastily (I'll get back to that in a minute) put everything together and fired the radio up. Fixed! Problem solved! High fives and happy dances all around!

I will have to go back sometime over the weekend to remove the front plexiglass display window, though.  In my haste, I wasn't so careful about finger prints.  I'll have to go back and clean that up.  Yes, I know ...... call me anal.  I can't help it!

But as this blog post says - the patient (and more importantly, the doctor) are doing just fine! And even more importantly - no return trip to Aptos!

PROGNOSIS: Excellent!  Today's lunchtime QRP session netted the following:

N0TA - SOTA peak W0C/PR-082 (Squaw Mountain) in CO on 20 Meters.
VP5/AC0W - Turks and Caicos Islands on 20 Meters
CT9/OM3RM - Madeira Island on 20 Meters.
PJ2/NF9V - Curacao on 15 Meters.

I chased KH7Y in Hawaii who was absolutely booming into NJ on 15 Meters, but could not make myself heard. Just goes to show, you can't win them all!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

Doctor and patient are doing fine

A few days ago, I went out to the car as I usually do, for some lunchtime QRP.  In my haste to get everything put away after I was done, I inadvertently knocked the external battery off the car seat onto the floor. The KX3 started to move, as it was still attached, but a quick hand stopped it, and all was well. Or so I thought.

Gear on the backseat of the Jeep.

Yesterday, I went out again, and this time the KX3 wouldn't turn on. No problem, I thought to myself, the battery was probably on its way out, as it has been a while since I have given it its last drink.  So last evening, while I was attending a CERT class on animal handling during declared emergencies, I had the battery plugged in at home, charging.

When I got home, around 10:00 PM, I tried reconnecting the battery to the KX3 to see if everything was OK.  Still no sign of life - my KX3 was still flat lining..  Hmmmmmm ........ could the battery have gone totally bad?

I carried the radio down to the shack 13.8V power supply.  Viola!  It turned on! 

And then immediately turned off.


My brain went into over drive. What the %(#@*#$ was going on ?!?

I dread sending stuff out for repair.  Don't know why, I just do.  I was in the professional photographic electronics repair biz for over 20 years. I have fixed studio strobes costing well over $12,000.00.  I have taken apart digital camera backs that cost more than a Mercedes Benz. I have stared down banks of charged capacitors storing up enough electrons to supply 6,400 Joules of energy in one pop - certainly I should be able to figure out a relatively minor KX3 repair? Right?

I rolled up my sleeves and got down to it.  Obviously, this was a power problem.  But why was the rig shutting down so quickly?  Internal short?  Bad connection somewhere? Then I noticed that if I wiggled the power plug a certain way, the radio would stay on.  My mind immediately flashed back to the battery falling incident from the other day.  I must have done something to the power socket.

The power socket is the black, boxy thing to the right.

The advantage of building the KX3 (if that's what you want to call it) is that you know how it goes together, so you're not frightened at the prospect of taking it apart.  You've seen it in all its naked glory and you lovingly put it together at least once, right?  So what's the big deal in taking it apart?

Well, when you built it roughly five years ago, some of the finer details of how it went together get muddled up in the old memory banks.  That's why it's good to never toss the build manual!  Within about 5 -7 minutes I had it apart and had the display circuit in my hand.  A little extra light and a lot of extra magnification from a magnifying glass confirmed my suspicion.

The power socket is a surface mount device, just about like everything else on that display/control circuit board. The weight of the battery tugged the socket enough to unmoor it from its assigned, tinned pads.  When I would wiggle the connector "down" towards the circuit board, everything worked.  As soon as I let downward pressure go, the connector would break contact from the circuit board again and the radio would appear dead.

I ran upstairs for a pair of scrubs and to wash my hands to prep for surgery. NO! Just kidding!


I changed my soldering station tip to the skinniest one that I have for when I work on SMD devices and I re-soldered that connector onto its pads. I took great care to add just a little "extra" solder just to make sure the connection is good, solid and won't come apart so easily in the future.

I hastily (I'll get back to that in a minute) put everything together and fired the radio up. Fixed! Problem solved! High fives and happy dances all around!

I will have to go back sometime over the weekend to remove the front plexiglass display window, though.  In my haste, I wasn't so careful about finger prints.  I'll have to go back and clean that up.  Yes, I know ...... call me anal.  I can't help it!

But as this blog post says - the patient (and more importantly, the doctor) are doing just fine! And even more importantly - no return trip to Aptos!

PROGNOSIS: Excellent!  Today's lunchtime QRP session netted the following:

N0TA - SOTA peak W0C/PR-082 (Squaw Mountain) in CO on 20 Meters.
VP5/AC0W - Turks and Caicos Islands on 20 Meters
CT9/OM3RM - Madeira Island on 20 Meters.
PJ2/NF9V - Curacao on 15 Meters.

I chased KH7Y in Hawaii who was absolutely booming into NJ on 15 Meters, but could not make myself heard. Just goes to show, you can't win them all!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

I guess it works – but not the best design!

I had a little more trouble when I went to the Jeep on Friday for my lunchtime QRP session.  I just wasn’t hearing anything!  I know the bands can get that way, but the past few days had been relatively decent.  Like any other Ham Radio operator, my mind immediately went to “There’s something wrong with the radio!”

As I disconnected the coax from the KX3, I noticed that the radio’s BNC post turned a little bit as I removed the coax fitting.  I knew that by itself wasn’t the problem, but I didn’t like the fact that it was a tad loose.  I broke out the tools and did some field surgery on my KX3 right in the back of the Jeep!  I felt like Hawkeye Pierce, BJ Hunnicut or Trapper John from MASH.  I opened the KX3, removed the auto tuner board, and with a pair of needle nose pliers, I snugged up the nut that holds the BNC post against the inside housing of the radio. Then I put everything back together and turned the radio back on ….. still nothing.

I just recently replaced the PL259, so I twiddled that around, thinking that perhaps I didn’t do as good an installation as I had thought.  Nope, no difference – that wasn’t the problem either.  So even though I had taken the magmount assembly apart the previous night, I decided to look again there – a mistake on my part there? Once again, all was good there.  But I did notice that as I twirled the cable around, I was getting signals to appear, disappear and then re-appear. A break in the coax cable!

So I brought the magmount back in the house once again.  I decided that I was going to take it apart, cut back about 8 inches of coax and then put it all back together.  In the process of taking everything apart again, I just happened to pull on the center conductor of the cable and a six inch piece came out with my fingers.  It had indeed broken, back in the main part of the cable, and my plan to cut it back by a foot and reassemble turned out to be a good plan.

But I have to tell you, after working on this, I’m not really impressed with the design of this magmount. I hope you can figure out what I’m trying to describe.  The coax goes into a plastic housing. This plastic housing is roughly the diameter of a quarter and is maybe a 1/4 inch thick.  Each half has a hole.  The shield of the coax (which has been pigtailed) goes through the bottom hole, while the center conductor (which is kind of flimsy) goes through the upper hole. There are channels or depressions on each side for the wire to sit.

The is the order in which it all goes back together – from the bottom working towards the top.

1) Through bolt
2) Plastic insulator, so that the through bolt does not touch the magmount body (ground).
3) Magmount body
4) Coax housing with the braid sandwiched down, between the coax housing and the magmount body.
5) Metal washer.  The center conductor lays in a channel and is pointing up, to be sandwiched between the coax housing and the washer.
5) Threaded hex sleeve for the radiator.

Everything is held in place by the holding pressure created by screwing the through bolt into the threaded hex sleeve!  The center conductor is NOT soldered or otherwise electrically connected to the metal washer underneath the threaded hex sleeve, as I had previously thought.  And as I noted before, the braid is simply sandwiched between the plastic coax sleeve and the magmount body.  I made sure all metal surfaces were clean and shiny and used plenty of Deoxit to help ensure good electrical contact (there really are no true connections!) as best possible.

It seems to me that it would have been better for the coax to be soldered or otherwise connected to the metal sleeve and the magmount body other than just using physical contact and screw pressure to hold everything together.  But then I suppose that would have increased the cost of the product significantly.

In the near future,I think I am going to upgrade the quality of the coax, too.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

What a difference a day makes

As we go from Spring back to Winter.  Yesterday we had a high temperature in the low 50s. Today’s high was in the low 30s. There’s a chance for a light dusting of snow tonight. High temperatures for the next three or four days are not supposed to even make the freezing mark.

I started the big shack clean up this weekend and got maybe a third of the way done – well, maybe a little less.  Step one is tossing out all the junk that’s useless and has no value. Step two will involve reorganizing what I keep. Step three will be to take care of whatever odds and ends are needed.

As expected, I have found a few items that I had looked for in the past, but was never able to find. “Oh, so THAT’S where that was!” I said that a couple times.

Hopefully, if I get a little bit done each night, I should be able to finish this next weekend. Going forward, I really have to avoid the hoarder mindset where I think that I will use every scrap that I save. If it’s not of really useful value, from here on out, it gets tossed.

I had a modicum of success on last night’s Run For The Bacon. The bands were pretty dead. Not sure if that was due to bad propagation, or if everyone was tuckered out from the NFC playoffs. I managed 7 QSOs – two on 40 Meters and five on 80 Meters. As usual, that puts me solidly in the middle of the pack.

Oh, I took a closer look at that “no-name” antenna switch that I had been using, and now I know why the Butternut performed so badly when it was connected to it. It turns out the SO239 connector was not soldered well and only “partial” contact was being made. I guess there is some mighty fine junk out there that is not MFJ!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP – When you care to send the very least!

Handiham World for 30 May 2012

Welcome to Handiham World.


You can do it!  

Listen to this podcast in its entirety here: http://handiham.org/audio/handiham053012.mp3


Today, just as we did last week,  we are going to begin with Troubleshooting 101 as part of our initiative to help new ham radio operators (and even some of us older ones) learn how to do some basic troubleshooting for ourselves. Yes, it can be tempting to ask someone else to do things for us.  This can become a bad habit when it keeps us from learning new things, especially things that we could – with a bit of practice – learn to do for ourselves.  Knowing these basic things can serve us well in the future when no help is available. 

Troubleshooting 101


Let’s get to today’s troubleshooting question: 
Question: I carry my HT everywhere, and recently I was outdoors when it started to rain.  Luckily I was close to a picnic shelter and was able to stay dry until the rain passed. It did get me thinking about what I would do if my radio did get wet though.  Any ideas?
It is summertime, and we do want to be outdoors, and naturally we want to take ham radio along for the walk! Part of always carrying a radio is the possibility that you – and the radio – will get wet. But there is wet and then there is really soaked. The two are pretty different, but you are probably going to want to act quickly in either case to protect the radio.
Recently I read a story in WIRED about how some really high percentage of cell phone users drop their phones in the toilet.  I think it was something like 25%! Unless you have a waterproof radio, you are probably not going to be able to fish it out of the bowl in time to avoid damage.
Let’s assume you have a typical HT that is not marketed as waterproof, submersible, or even water-resistant. It can likely survive a bit of surface moisture, such as getting caught in a rainstorm, as long as you act quickly to get it out of the direct rainfall, power it off, and dry the outside as quickly as possible. It might also be a good idea to remove the battery. If the radio falls into the water, it is a different ballgame. As soon as the radio begins to sink, water pressure increases and forces moisture into the radio’s case in a way that does not happen in a simple rainstorm. That means that you have to act very quickly to get the radio out of the water and remove the battery. The next step is to dry the outside of the radio as quickly as possible, then (with the battery still removed), place the radio and battery pack in a dry container with a desiccant, sealing the container so that the moisture is drawn out of the radio by the desiccant. Are you wondering what a desiccant is? I am sure you have run across those little packets of silica gel that are sometimes packed with electronic devices. They remove humidity that might damage the electronics. If you don’t have silica gel packets handy (most of us just throw them away because they have a finite life anyway), you can put the radio in a container with uncooked rice overnight. The rice will help to draw moisture out of the electronics. When you dig the HT out of the rice in the morning, put it on a nice, dry paper towel. Is there any sign of moisture still on the towel? If so, you might need to repeat the rice treatment. In any case, you will not be powering up the radio for days – that means keeping the battery out. You want to make sure that the radio is completely dry before putting the battery back in. If you can perform the drying out procedures in an environment with already low humidity, that is best. An air-conditioned, dehumidified house trumps a humid garage workbench. I would avoid using a hair drier to try to heat the radio. You do not want to add heat that can speed up chemical reactions or damage the electronics or even melt the case. I would not want to try the radio for at least a week so that I was darned sure all the water was out.
Let’s consider the best plan of all: prevention. It is much better not to have to dry out a wet radio, so we want to follow some basic procedures to keep our electronics dry, rain or shine. If you take your HT everywhere, always keep a small plastic bag in your pocket. The plastic bag can be used to stow your electronics should you get caught in a downpour. Since I have my little doggie Jasper with me when I am out walking, a dog waste bag does the job of radio protector in an emergency. These bags come in little rolls and are available anywhere pet supplies are sold, or you can just stuff a zip-style plastic food bag into a pocket. If you are boating or in a wet environment, you can just store the HT in a plastic bag when it is not in use.
You should also plan ahead, developing good habits when around water. Keep your HT in a case that will keep it from falling out. If you keep it in a pocket, be sure it is a pocket that is deep enough to keep it from working its way out when you sit down. One danger of using pockets instead of a belt clip and case is that you can forget your cell phone or HT in that pocket and run it through the washing machine. Don’t laugh – it happens! If you do use pants pockets for your radio and phone, get in the habit of quickly patting each pocket when changing clothes so that you will feel the HT or phone and remember to remove it. At Dayton earlier this month I was using the restroom in Hara Arena and there was some guy sitting in one of the stalls having a phone conversation on his cell phone. Not only is this kind of clueless socially, it is also the reason cell phones go for a swim in the toilet. Never use your HT or phone in the bathroom, because the bathroom has more water hazards than the golf course after a thunderstorm. Similarly, it is best to keep the HT somewhere away from the kitchen counter, another place where spills happen and are even expected.
Finally, there is the drenching in something other than plain water. I’m afraid there is not much you can do about a radio that takes a salt water swim or a hot coffee bath. If disaster happens, the procedure is the same: remove from the liquid as quickly as possible while watching out for your own safety, take out the battery, and dry out as quickly as possible with absorbent towels on the outside and the dry rice treatment. Hopefully salt has not penetrated the radio, but if it has there may not be much you can do. The salt deposits left behind can become conductive in high humidity conditions, causing shorts. I am not a fan of disassembling electronics to give them a cleaning with distilled water or solvent, as that is a job for trained bench technicians. Considering the cost of bench time, it is likely that a salt water swim will mean it is cheaper to buy a new radio. Similarly, a drenching with sugar-infused soft drinks can leave a real mess of residue behind. If this mess gets onto circuit boards it can also absorb moisture and cause shorts, even after the drying out process. It will also gum up push buttons on the HT’s keypad. The bottom line: Don’t have your HT anywhere near such possible spills in the first place. If one does occur, follow the emergency procedure:

  1. Remove the radio as quickly as possible from the spill.
  2. Remove the battery.
  3. Blot the surface with a fresh paper towel or other absorbent cloth.
  4. Dry in a container of uncooked rice.

While your gooped-up radio is drying out, you can start shopping for a new one.  It never hurts to be prepared for the possibility that your old HT is down for the count.
Email me at [email protected] with your questions & comments.   
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager


A dip in the pool


It’s time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool – the question pool, that is! 

Today we are busting our brains with a question from the Extra Class pool:
E5C16 asks: “In polar coordinates, what is the impedance of a circuit that has an admittance of 7.09 millisiemens at 45 degrees?”
Possible answers are:
A. 5.03 E-06 ohms at an angle of 45 degrees
B. 141 ohms at an angle of -45 degrees
C. 19,900 ohms at an angle of -45 degrees
D. 141 ohms at an angle of 45 degrees
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why should I worry about this particular question when the current question pool is only good until the end of June?”
The answer about why you should understand this question (and more importantly the answer) is that it is exactly the same question, including the question number, that appears in both the current pool AND that brand-new pool!
We can’t go into super-detail about how to work these out, but you can find the process easily enough in the ARRL or Gordo books or in the Handiham audio lecture series.
Briefly, here is the skinny:o Ohms at such and such an angle. If you have forgotten what admittance is, it is simply the reciprocal of impedance. If you don’t know what impedance is, you need to go back and hit the books. Anyway, here is how such a conversion works:

  • The absolute value of Z (the impedance) equals 1 over .00709 (which is the 7.09 milliseimens converted into seimens by moving the decimal point three places to the left. The “1 over” part comes from the fact that we are working with a reciprocal, which means we flip the numerator and the denominator to get “1 over some other number”, which is a reciprocal. 
  • With me so far?
  • Good; so now you just divide 1 by .00709 using your calculator. You get 141.0437 etc., etc., so you round that to 141 ohms.
  • You look at the question and the possible answers again. Hey, answers B & D each have 141 in them!  Now you have a 50-50 chance of guessing which one is right!
  • But the question specifies “…at 45 degrees”, and we have done nothing with that number yet. We need to consider that phase angle “theta” equals zero degrees minus the 45 degrees we have been given. So zero minus 45 equals minus 45 degrees. 
  • Now we look at our two possible choices. Answer B is the one that says 141 ohms at an angle of -45 degrees, while answer D says 141 ohms at an angle of 45 degrees. Because you have cleverly subtracted 45 from zero to get -45 degrees, you pick answer B, 141 ohms at an angle of -45 degrees. 

Here is a little memory trick: Always remember that admittance questions involve a reciprocal, you you are going to be dividing some small number into one. It will be expressed as one over the other number. You need to remember to convert to seimens by moving the decimal point. Then if the angle you are given is positive, such as 45 degrees, the final answer will likely be negative, such as -45 in this case. The reason for all this angle stuff is that we are not dealing with direct current. We are dealing with alternating current, which is always changing, so we have to pick a point in its alternating cycle where our specifications can be listed numerically.


Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

 
We never share your e-mail address.

Please support our generous sponsors who make AmateurRadio.com possible:

KB3IFH QSL Cards

Hip Ham Shirts

Georgia Copper

Ham-Cram
Expert Linears

morseDX

Ni4L Antennas

N3ZN Keys

West Mountain
R&L Electronics


Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!


  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: