This is a a review of Ameritron’s RCS-4 Coax Switch, covering its use and mounting. I purchased the RCS-4 several years ago from HRO thinking I would get it outside sometime soon, that didn’t happen. Two years later it was it was still installed inside the shack, on my feedline, switching between a dummy load, and my feedline run outside. I recently, decided to add a 4-Square for 30 meters, completely redo my antenna feed system, and replaced my trusty 756 PRO III, with a new Elecraft K3! This seemed like a good time to really just redo everything in the back yard, and the shack, moving the RCS-4 outside as well.
My GAP Challenger was giving me a bit of trouble anyway, and it was time to rebuild it as it had not been looked at, or touched in a any way, for maybe 10 years or more. The feedline was getting water in it, and the phasing harness needed replacement, and the three radials needed to be redone from scratch. Read more »
This article will cover MixW Telnet DX Cluster Setup. MixW is an old, and unsupported program, save for the Yahoo MixW group. MixW is also the best program I have ever used for RTTY contesting, bar none, and around 4000 other users agree if the membership of the Yahoo MixW support group is any indicator. I moderate that group, and of late (2014), DX Summit changed it’s format and has broken some functionality of MixW for using DX clusters. I thought it might be good to put together a guide for how to set up MixW to use Telnet, as opposed to web-based DX cluster population of the cluster selection window. For some reason many people are not using telnet, but web-based cluster population methods, it seems to me that telnet is much faster, and better, as it relies not on a single site to maintain a set format, for the rest of time, but a set of software packages, (DX Cluster servers), to keep the current formats. So here is a short tutorial on how to set up MixW for DX Cluster use via telnet. The steps will be as follows:
Remove all Web-based support.
Modify a script for use.
Add that script
Implement the changes to be automatic on MixW start.
This review of the 30 Meter Mono GAP, (see my review of the GAP Challenger), was prompted as a first phase for a test bed for constructing a 30 Meter 4-Square phased array. I also wanted to get a decent antenna for 30 Meters, and I like vertical dipoles because one does not need the huge radial field a monopole does. In fact the GAP 30 Mono has only three radials, which aren’t really radials, they are more of a capacity hat for tuning. The GAP 30 seemed a good selection for a 4 square system, as I would not need to lay out miles of radials, the antenna is small and need no guying, 30 Meters is a fun band, and will be active across Sunspot minimum times, and I have always wanted a vertical phased array. So I decided to buy one, and test it. This review is the result of the install. Look for addendums regarding performance at the end of this article later… For a closer look at any photo, just click it… Once you have finished inspecting it, hit the BACK button on your browser.
This review of NI4L’s 7 band OCF dipole was prompted by my needing a quick deploy multiband antenna for both field day, and for RVing. Last year on Field Day I was able to use an OCF dipole for the first time, and I enjoyed the quick bandswitching it allowed, so I thought I’d try and find a good OCF dipole for use while in the field. After looking around I found NI4L’s site. Interestingly enough I found it while on eBay, not with Google. Having looked over his antenna selection I decided on the 7 band OCF version, as that would cover most of my needs while in the field, not need a tuner, and was not too large. Although I really want a Fan Dipole, (less common mode because the system is inherently balanced up to the coax), for speedy deploy, and the up/down setup/tear down of RVing I decided on the OCF dipole, less wire to play with in getting the antenna up/down. His web site is very difficult to locate on Google. Click any image for an very expanded view. Read more »
This is part II of a multipart series on removing RFI from your world. Part one can be found here. The entire multipart series dealing with RFI can be found here. Once I discovered that I had RFI, it was time to get down to basics and start house cleaning. The first thing I needed to be sure of, was that I was not the cause of the RFI… I decided to rebuild my station as I had also gotten a new radio, so the first thing I did was to make the shack clean from RFI during that rebuild. See the step by step for that here. I ordered a large number of 31 mix Ferrite’s and used them on just about every lead, power, RF, control, nothing was sacred. Again, see the rebuilding blog entry noted back a few sentence’s. I also cleaned up the wiring of the shack, and in general did all I could to reduce RFI within the shack environment, starting with removing as many 12 volt wall bug transformers as possible and moving everything to a single 12 volt power supply which was recommended to me as having no emissions within the ham bands, and it seems to not have any at all. I picked up a Powerwerx 30 supply from West Mountain Radio. That helped a lot! I have almost not birdies on any bands anymore… Even the Ethernet birdies are gone now…
So I have RFI, now what– Quantification, gathering the tools:
This first part will cover gathering the software tools I used for RFI location and removal, while part II covers cleaning your own RFI up.Or look here for the entire series.Quantification, followed by location of the source, that is the first thought that came to my head when I discovered the RFI being sprayed all over the area I live in. In this set of articles, I will describe the process I used to locate and mitigate a few RFI sources around my area. Your mileage may vary, and you will need to remember, this is what I did, and not a guide for you, but more of a chronicle of events and actions I took to solve my RFI problem. Here is the legal disclaimer: None of this should be construed to be a suggestion as to what you should do, that is something you need to decide on, this is what I did, and am doing.Read more »
This review of West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner, 4008H was prompted by a total shack rebuild because I bought an Elecraft K3 and could not bring myself to just drop such a fine radio into the existing shack environment. I decided to totally rebuild everything, from the station ground system, to both the 12 VDC, and 110 VAC, power distribution systems, before I would even think about letting the K3 on to the operating desk. That’s where West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner product came into the picture, West Mountain Radio sells a product called a “RIGrunner“, which is basically a 12 volt, fused, power distribution system, which uses Anderson Powerpole technology for connections. West Mountain Radio sells several versions of this product, ranging from one with four DC outputs, to one with twelve DC outputs. Some models have voltage indicators on them, and some models do not. I opted for the eight output version, and for the version which is called a RIGrunner H, for horizontal version. Read more »
In 2014 I decided to upgrade the station, I became retired in 2013, and my use of the station was no longer weekends, and holidays. I could use it anytime I wanted, day or night. I decided I needed a better radio, and a bit more desk space. After a lot of looking, the Elecraft K3 popped up on my radar. The K3 provided me with a better radio, and a bit more desk space, exactly what I wanted. See more of the clean up here. At the time of purchase for the K3, I decided it was about time to do a station rebuild, starting with the station grounding , and working my way to the Coax and antenna, and finally the control lines. This of course necessitated a complete tear down of the entire shack– right down to the operating desk. I decided that given I had a new high performance radio, I needed to be sure that the shack was as “in order” as I could make it. So the tear down began… As can be seen from the photo on the left, 10 years of neglect had left the rear wiring in a bit of a mess, and somewhat dirty. Now before you say, what a mess, look behind your operating desk… If it is clean, you are one of the few hams that actually gets behind things and keeps things clean, and you can now say “What a mess”. The entire series regarding RFI mitigation can be found here.Read more »
On March 14th, the ARRL published an article stating: “ARRL formally complained to the FCC, contending that a “grow light” ballast being widely marketed and sold is responsible for severe interference to the MF and HF bands”.
In a bold move, the ARRL complained to the FCC regarding Grow Lights and the RFI they generate. The ARRL included extensive lab reports on a single lamp unit showing HF interference beyond commission set limits. See the this article on the ARRL web site for full information. Read more »
After several years of use, this review of Ameritron’s AL-82 amplifier seems long overdue. I have owned the AL-82 for three years now, and over that time, it has given me incredible performance on all bands. This review will not be a technical review, it will in fact be a general observation and usage review. Questions like: does the amp hold up, does the amp work, does it run hot, is it easy to tune, etc., that sort of review… All comparisons will be based on my ownership of the following amps: Heath SB-220, Heath SB-200, Drake L4B, and a Gonset GSB-201. All amps but the Gonset were wired for 220 VAC, not 110 VAC. All amps were run in desktop service. ie. not in a rack with additional cooling, just sitting on a desk. All amps were used in contest service. We need a base to compare amps with, so we will break the amps into the following. Read more »