Weak Signal VHF Radio - I received my novice license around 1969 or 1970. Since then, I have held a general class license. There was a period in the late '70s to mid '80s when I was not active. I was racing a two stroke Yamaha motorcycles on a Grand Prix course, moving across the country, switching jobs, etc. After moving to Phoenix, I got back into ham radio. Wow, a lot had changed. I now enjoy VHF and UHF weak signal work (on account of the antennas fit a lot easier in my back yard?). I am active on 6 and 2 meter SSB, as well as 70cm SSB. I look forward to Field Day and the VHF contest weekends because it gives me another chance to pack up the Jeep and go looking for a nice mountain top from which to operator. Remember, any excuse to go 4x4ing is a GOOD excuse! I was fortunate enough to work the June '97 VHF contest from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The weather was lousy (rain and hail for 3 days) but the scenery was great! Our team, composed of KF7NP, NU8I, and myself, took:
First Place, Limited Multi-Op Arizona Section
I am a member of the WSWSS (Western States Weak Signal Society). I would encourage any and all weak signals operators to join this group. We all need to pull together to help preserve the weak signal allocations on our various bands.
4x4 Mobile Radio- '89 Jeep Cherokee Installation. During 1997, I moved a few radios around, sold a couple, bought some new ones to replace them, etc. I had installed a new Icom 706 rig in my Jeep . You can see the '89 Jeep's operating position and the VHF weak signal antennas I had on it. I did several short trips after putting in the 706. I was very pleased with the performance. Not wanting to waste all of the HF potential in the 706, I installed an HF antenna and a SGC antenna coupler. I enjoy daytime 40 meter short skip and 17 meter DX while driving around. The 10 meter activity has been picking up and usually provides for some QSOs during the daytime.
In March of '99, my '89 Cherokee was taken over by my daughter (less the radios). I replaced it with a '98 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. The radios that had been in my '89 Cherokee were moved to the Wrangler. I've not installed any of the VHF horizontal antennas. The mounting points for these antennas are not as available as they were on the '89 Cherokee. The hardtop is a composite/fiberglass kind of material, so even my stacked 2 meter KB6KQ loops (I used these for contest roving) that are on a 3 magnet mag-mount will have to be modified. I'll have to see how things progress before I put any more antennas on. The SG-230 HF antenna coupler was also moved over. A really good set of detailed photos can be seen of the coupler installation. You can see the radios from the Wrangler's drivers seat.
FM Radio - I even use FM and repeaters once in a while! I am a member of the White Tank Mountain Remote Association, Inc. (WTMRA). Our remote base is located on West Peak, in the White Tank Mountains, about 30 miles West of downtown Phoenix. During 1996, we constructed a new building and relocated our equipment. We maintain several links to other remote base locations. WTMRA is an affiliate of the Cactus Intertie System, the largest linked repeater system in the United States. With luck, we will be expanding a new link to the North (1998 plan) and be able to include Prescott, AZ. in our coverage area.
The Shack - Like many stations, I acquired most of my equipment over a period of time...buying, selling, trading, etc. The local Phoenix ham-swap meets always help. I recently acquired my 100W 432 MHz brick at one. I finally broke down and bought a new Yaesu FT-736R in late 1996. I needed a better 432 radio...my 2 meter all mode was an older model Yaesu Ft-225RD that I had gotten used. I used it for several years and it made numerous mountain top trips, field day excursions, and at least one rover sweepstakes contest. It was recently sold and the proceeds went to offset the 706 that went into the Jeep. The 736 was recently replaced with the new Yaesu FT-847 transceiver, which feeds the top of my tower.
DSP Comparison - Over the past couple of years, I have been using several different digital signal processors with my radio operation. All of the processing is done on the receiver's audio output signal. I published my first set of notes (opinions and impressions) in early 1997. They were addressed to one of the ham radio reflectors, as several subscribers had asked for my opinion on the products. This article compared my hardware DSP and my newly acquired software DSP. If you care to view the information concerning the TimeWave DSP-9 hardware and the K6STI DSP Blaster software (v 1.12), click here.
Since then, I acquired another DSP hardware unit, that being the JPS NIR-12. It spent some time in my shack, doing a little bit of work along side the Pentium running the DSP Blaster software. However, all things come and go, so the NIR-12 has replaced the TimeWave I had in my Jeep. It helps keep the nasty power line and industrial noise down to a tolerable level. You can review my opinions of the NIR-12. I have also updated my K6STI software to version 2.11, so you might wish to see what has changed since my initial comments.
After moving the NIR-12 to the Jeep, I picked up the relatively new TimeWave DSP-599zx (gee, I wonder if they could have gotten a longer name for it) ;>) However, that is about the only thing bad I can say about it. I've got some initial comments about it, if you are interested. As time goes on, I'll update these with more experienced observations, after I've had a chance to test it under fire in the next contest.
TRX-Manager -This is a GREAT radio control program. I was fortunate to assist with the beta testing of TRX-Manager as Laurent Labourie, F6DEX, was upgrading it for the FT-847. TRX-Manager is designed for the Yaesu line of radios that are equipped with a serial control port. If you have a Yaesu with a serial port and a PC, you need to check out this software. You can find it at Laruent's web page. Tell him Stu sent you! It's a GREAT program!
The HF Bands - During the past year, I started to get back into HF a bit. My first project for the shack is a little 10 meter mono-bander. I traded some surplus gear for a HR-2600 Uniden transceiver so I could do a bit of 10 meters without having to go mobile all the time. The radio's PLL was a bit out of sorts when I got it and was dropping out in the FM portion of the band. I took it out to the Jeep and put it on an A/B switch with the IC-706 so I could get an idea of how good the receiver was. It was down a bit on receive sensitivity, however, it was quite a bit better than what I was expecting. Considering that the price was less than 10% of what my IC-706 ran, I think it works pretty darn good! I had an old1/2 wave vertical (aka Ringo) in the garage which was pressed back into service. Nothing really fancy for this project. Just a few watts out to take advantage of the upcoming solar cycle!
Once I on 10 meters, I realized that I had to have a bit more (gee, 10 is not open all of the time.....yet). This urge to get back HF was what partially prompted the purchase of the FT-847. The HR-2600 has been retired to the upper closet shelf, making room for the '847 on the bench.
Equipment Comments - I've included some comments on various radios and equipment that I have used over the past years. I always try to do a little research about a purchase before I decide to buy and something other than the manufacturer's "gee-whiz" words holds more weight for me. I hope my comments may be of help to you. You can read about the following items:
Yaesu FT-847 All-Mode Transceiver (updated 11-17-98)
Sangean ATS-909 Multi-mode Receiver (5-1-98)
Alinco DJ-S41 440Mhz HT (5-16-98)
Alinco DR-599T/E Dualband Mobile (5-16-98)
Kenwood TM-V7A Dualband Mobile (5-30-98)
Kenwood TS-60 50Mhz All-Mode Transceiver (5-2-98)
Uniden HR-2600 10Meter All-Mode Transceiver (5-16-98)
Yaesu FT-50RD Dualband HT (5-16-98)
Yaesu FT-530 Dualband HT (5-10-98)
Yaesu FT-736R All-Mode Satellite Transceiver (6/2/98)
Yaesu FT-811 440Mhz HT (5-30-98)
Yaesu VX-5R 50/144/430Mhz Tri-Band HT (updated 2-12-99)
Mountain Bike Mobile - After getting my bike, I spent a few hours roaming about the internet, looking for more info. I found a few references to hams and bikes, but not as many as I hoped for. So, I thought I would put some comments and info here for anyone to use. There is a lot of information about bicycles, lighting systems, components, etc., spread all over the internet. I'll only include those items that apply to my setup.
For more info on ham radio in general, try the American Radio Relay League. The ARRL is a national organization that is dedicated to supporting Amateur Radio.
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