Monthly Archives: January 2014

The KEØVH Hamshack For January 2014

January 6, 2014
By

 

                                                                                                

                             By Jack Roland, CBRE, AMD and CBNT

KLove /Air 1 EMF Colorado Engineering.

 

Happy New Year folks!  May 2014 be filled with blessings from our Lord for you and your family!

I finally got around in the month of December to doing a modification to my 5BTV vertical antenna from Hustler that allows operation on 12 and 17 meters now.  It is very simple and doesn’t change the tuning for the other existing bands too much, although you might have some adjusting to do.  You simply add a couple of wires about ¼ wavelength long to the feed point at the bottom and spread them out from the antenna with PVC.  Works great, been making contacts on those bands now and having fun!  There are several articles on the internet with more detail about how to do this, but it is really simple, quick, and definitely inexpensive.  If you have a ground mounted antenna as I do then you don’t need radials, but if elevated you need tuned radials. 

              Bottom spreader, 12 meter wire on left, 17 meter on right         

      

                                         Feedpoint modification

 

 

Top Spreader on top of the capacitance hat

Full Antenna Modification

 Hopefully by the time you read this APRS Digipeater KEØVH-4 will be on the air from a site near Akron Colorado, way up in NE CO filling a big hole in APRS coverage up and down I-76.  (Look it up at APRS.fi)  I got permission from one of our EMF Site owners to put the ham APRS digi up there on his tower.   It will consist of an ICOM ( ) mobile rig and a Kantronics KPC3+ TNC programmed to pick up signals and relay them back to Denver for Igate pickup.  The site sits on a hill that is 95 miles from Denver.  The antenna is about 200 feet or so up the tower, and the digi will run 45 watts or so.  You can hit Denver repeaters from this hilltop, so I am looking forward to now having the coverage up there.  This will also help groups such at the EOSS (Edge of Space Sciences) high altitude balloon flying group with APRS coverage.  See their website at www.eoss.org.

 

Speaking of APRS, KE0VH-2 now has a new radio, a Kenwood TM-271 in my “go” kit.  I have re-wired the microphone case that houses the radio and the Opentracker.   The APRS unit has been a faithful companion in “Truckzilla” as I drive around the state.  Track it at: map.findu.com/ke0vh-2,  or go to APRS.fi, and put KE0VH-2 in the “Track Callsign” box.

 

The new Kenwood TM271 KE0VH-2 Radio and Opentracker                  

 

                               Cooling Fan for case

 

 

                            The Opentracker from Argent Data                             

 

                 In the case ready to move to another vehicle

 

As I have written before, we have an Argo Avenger 750 to use for getting to sites with a lot of snow, or simply where you cannot go in a truck or other vehicle.  The problem we found was that the Argo’s current tracks are great in mud but not where snow exceeds 20 inches or so.  It is an amphibious vehicle, and the tracks currently on it are made essentially more for mud than for snow.  As of this writing the Argo is in the “dealership and only authorized Argo service center in the state” for a modification and changing over to a more snow cat capable set of wheels and tracks.  The Argo will also use  my APRS box on occasions and is equipped with a Yaesu FTM-10R dual band mobile rig that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle.  I will be posting pictures of the changes in next months article.  We are really excited about what we will be able to do with these improvements.

 

Nick, KK6GSJ talking on his Baofeng Handheld dual band radio next to the Argo at the Dillon transmitter site.  These are the mud tracks we are replacing.

 

Ralph Jones, AA6GM, (EMF Engineering Arizona) found this posted on Facebook by a fellow broadcast engineer.  We both thought it was a very good story on why “going up” prepared is so important. Not everyone has mountaintops to get stuck on, but we all have bad sites that can turn a simple fix into a terrible day if we aren’t considering the what-ifs.  The lesson here is to plan ahead and always carry what you need to survive a day or two if that snow bank, deep mud puddle, or dead battery reaches out and grabs you…

 “A couple of winters ago I was driving in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the way to a snowy mountaintop transmitter site up at 6,000′. It was 11 o’clock in the morning, snow was falling and there was about 6” of fresh snow on the dirt trail. I was 4-wheeling along on a US Forest Service access road, with my snow tires gripping and my locking differentials locking, when I came around a turn and found an early model Ford Explorer stuck in a frozen rut in the dirt trail. Throu…gh the blowing snow I could see that there were people hunkered down inside the SUV, so I stopped to see if they were OK. Inside the vehicle were 4 teenagers, 2 boys and 2 girls, all around 18 or 19 years of age. They were freezing cold (in their tee shirts and thin hoodies), hungry and thirsty. It seems that for fun, they had driven up into the frozen National Forest the afternoon before, became stuck in the snow and then been amazed and incensed that there was no mobile phone service whatsoever. Idling the engine to keep the heater warm, they had run out of gas just as the sun was dropping and it was starting to get really cold.

One of the girls (a tiny little thing) had had the presence of mind to use some scrap paper from some Post-It-Notes, a BIC lighter and some soggy dead branches from a nearby downed pine tree, to light a small campfire as the sun was going down. She was not terribly successful at fire building but had managed to generate some flames and warmth before the cold wind drove her into the vehicle for the night. In my book, she gets some major kudos for lighting a fire in this situation, even if the fire had been anemic. It was a pretty simple matter to winch them out of the ditch, get them turned around, put a little gas in their tank and set them on the way back to civilization.

What struck me about their situation was that:

-With proper shoes and clothes they could have easily walked the 2 miles to the paved highway and hitched a ride (I know it because I’ve done it).

-If they had known what to do, they could have easily walked uphill for a few hundred yards to where their mobile phones would have worked and could have effortlessly called for help.

-With some basic survival skills and a little emergency gear and supplies, they could have spent the night in the SUV in relative comfort and safety.

Most of all what struck me was that two 18 year old young men had no clue about what to do! They has no ability to build a fire or signal for help. No idea about how to recover a stuck vehicle and no inclination to make a plan to get help. They just sat huddled in the vehicle paralyzed with ignorance and indifference. I hope that neither of the two boys had never been Boy Scouts. If so, Sir Baden Powell must have rolled over in his grave!’

A good reminder!

Also, to have a backup generator on site, good idea or not?  Read about it here:

http://www.radioworld.com/article/standby-power-basic-equipment-or-boondoggle/222769

 As always don’t forget the SBE IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, the first Saturday of the month.  AND the EMF Hamnet now is the same manner on every Monday evening at 7pm Mountain time for radio discussions, both broadcast engineering and Amateur radio.  Details on how to join are at  http://www.qsl.net/ke0vh/sbehamnet.  I hope you will be able to join us and share your engineering and ham exploits!

73’, God be with you, & see you next time!  KEØVH