The KEØVH Hamshack for August/September 2015
Jack Roland, CBRE, CBNT, AMD, on the way to Torreys Peak (behind me)
Things are changing again in the Hamshack in Wheat Ridge. I now have a “new to me” Yaesu FT-897D as my main rig in the shack. Yes, the ‘tradin’” bug bit again. I decided that my Yaesu Ft-817ND was fun, but I wanted to get something that could be semi-portable but with more power. Plus I had carried the FT-817 up 14’ners twice now and had not been able to operate. The second trip up that I said I was going to make turned out to be a turn around before I got to the top of Torreys peak (the second attempt) due to thunderstorm formation and I even had a little hail come down on me during the trip down. Better safe than not on a 14’ner. SO, I sold the little 817 to a policeman in Oregon who is really into backpacking (younger than I!) and was looking for one. Then, I turned around and purchased the 897 from another ham in Ft. Collins.
The “new to me” Yaesu FT-897 in the Hamshack
The rig came with the onboard power supply that fits neatly into a battery compartment on the bottom of the radio and also with the LDG AT-897 antenna tuner. Having an automatic tuner in the shack gets rid of any extra mis-tunes with any antenna’s and sure is convenient! Plus it has many memories so when you go to a frequency you have been on before it is very quick to re-load the memory match and away you go. Ham Radio Deluxe interfaces into the rig via the Rigblaster Advantage and of course
you have full control of the radio plus digital mode operation is a snap. I am really enjoying this rig. Plus the digital modes are really fun and low signal work with the 897 is a snap as mentioned, and this radio has allowed me to make some contacts on 2 meter SSB and 432 Mhz during the VHF contest the weekend of 09/12 & 13. I had never really had any contacts on those bands and modes before. Propogation wasn’t great during the weekend, but there were lots of folks in and around the Denver area to contact on 432.1 and 144.2 SSB. And I was only using my dual band J pole VHF/UHF base station antenna, so I couldn’t hear everyone although I heard some local Denver guys working out a couple of hundred miles. I have a homebrew 2 meter beam that I will be putting up in the near future at the QTH in the horizontal polarity so that I can take advantage of some of the fun to be had on 2 meter SSB. Another plan I have been thinking about too is to build and put up a pair of Moxon antennas for 2 meters and 440 for LEO satellite operations easily done by the FT-897. More on that to come here hopefully over the next few months.
Working JT63-HF on the 897 via the Rigblaster Advantage on the FT-897D
So, some might be asking, “what about the Icom 746 he was so proud of”? More on that to follow down the page. Keep reading ! J
I really have begun to have a resurgence of interest in the RTL-SDR/Ham-it-up converter. I had written about this awesome little SDR USB dongle and shortwave (ham band) in a previous “Hamshack” article. I started playing with it again now in Windows 7 and it is really a great way to monitor the ham bands and seeing what is happening in the panadapter video on the computer screen. The RTL-SDR USB dongle along with the SDR Sharp software, which is free by the way, can be a powerful spectrum analyzer plus a great audio and RDS monitor. The SDR Sharp software also has included ADSB aircraft signal decoding software. It can be used to track commercial aircraft right on your computer screen. I use software called ADSBScope and it is very easy to get running using the ADSB Sharp interface within the SDRSharp program. If you ever try it and need some assistance, feel free to let me know.
Using the Ham-it-up converter and the RTL-SDR USB dongle is really easy so you can have shortwave coverage all the way up to 1.7 gigahertz or so. The converter has a bypass switch to allow it to cover above 27 mhz or so, it is easy to get all the coverage you might want to look for. For frequencies below 30 mhz I use the (free) HDSDR software. Here are some pictures of what I am doing in the Hamshack with the dongles and software.
Receiving 88.9 Mhz with the USB Dongle and SDR Sharp Software
The RTL-SDR USB and NooElec Ham-It-up Frequency converter
The connector you see on the left in the above picture is connected to the antenna system in the shack. The units use MCX and SMA connectors so adapters are needed for standard use. By the way, all of this system can be purchased from Amazon.com, the RTL-SDR USB stick is around $10 to $15 as different models are available. The Ham-it-up converter is around $55. Makes a great receiving system with panadapter capabilities.
The HDSDR Software running thru the RTL-SDR USB stick and Converter.
So, to that end, I (as of this writing) am in the process of obtaining a Flex Radio 3000 series SDR that I have actually had my eye on for a few years, but at the cost new of $1699 was definitely out of my price range. Incredible filtering, many ways to make signals much better in receive, 100 watts of output power, an on board antenna tuning unit are just some of the features. Now, the 3000 is discontinued (hence some beginning to come on the market now at under $1000) but has really been upgraded in performance by the POWERSDR software that runs it. I will be writing about it and let you know what I think in an upcoming article. I must admit I am really looking forward to giving it a whirl and get to know it. Part of the $$ to pay for that came from a couple of other radio sales via the QTH.com classified website. Works really great.
So, that is where the Icom 746 went. To a great home with a good friend.
Hopefully we will hear him on the air from Laramie WY here soon with the radio
Shane Toven, KØSDT in the KEØVH Hamshack, in front of the ICOM 746
which he then took home!
Don’t forget the Monday Night Broadcast Engineering
IRLP (and Echolink) Hamnet, every MONDAY EVENING
At 7pm Mountain time (9pm Eastern) for radio discussions, both
Broadcast engineering and amateur radio. The first and
3rd Mondays are also SBE NET nights. Details on how to
Join are at http://www.ke0vh.com/net/net.html. I hope
You will be able to join us and share your engineering and
73’ & God be with you. See you next time! de KEØVH