Tags: aprs & packet

A New Beginning - Goals For The Kansas Radio Shack



One advantage of the move to Kansas will be the opportunity to redesign and implement a new shack layout. I don't have a clear picture of what I want it to look like, so I am going to start with making a list of what I want to be able to accomplish in the shack. This will be a basement shack... a big basement. I've never lived in a house that had a basement and I'm looking forward to the possibilities.

What I want to accomplish in the Kansas Shack:
- HF phone and CW operation; 80m-10m
- HF digital modes (PSK-31, RTTY, PACTOR III)
- Computer logging
- 2m FM base station
- APRS weather station, interfaced with a dedicated 2m transceiver
- Online weather page, showing current weather conditions
- Seperate, organized workbench

There are a number of tall trees to the north of the house that will support some different wire antenna options. My plan is to start out with a RadioWavz 246' End Fed Zep. We'll see how that works. Maybe try a loop before winter comes. Another challenge will be getting the feedline into the basement.

APRS in the Toyota Tundra

I've played around with APRS in the Toyota Tundra before. Now I'm upgrading the setup a bit. Instead of using the ICOM IC-T81A I switched to the Kenwood TH-D7A(G). To bump up the 5 watt output, I tossed in a Mirage 30 watt amp that I've had sitting on the shelf for the last five years. I'm still using my Garmin's eTrex Vista, but now have the combo data/power cable. No longer do I need to worry about swapping out the 2x AA batteries.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to integrate one of my old Palm Pilots (Palm m125) to run Pocket APRS.

I also have to do some massaging with all the cables.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

(1) Home Brew: not talking about building an amateur radio project... talking about beer! I am the recipient of a Mr. Beer Deluxe Edition Home Brewery kit. Last week I completed the initial steps; mixed the wort with water and yeast. So now the batch has been fermenting for a week. I'm now waiting for my shipment of bottles so I can bottle this batch to complete the fermentation. I'll probably experiment with the sugar types to see what that does with the flavor. I hope to be bottling by mid-week and then it should be about two more weeks before I get to start tasting the results.

(2) PRO-528: picked up the Radio Shack PRO-528 scanner. I got a USB programming cable and the Scancat Lite Plus software to program the scanner. I've loaded Hampton's city frequencies for the police and fire, freqs for Langley Air Force Base, some 2m repeater freqs, and the FRS/GMRS freqs. So far, the scanner is working great.

(3) I got a QSL card from Hawaii! Just need my Alaska card for QSL for Worked All States.

(4) Model Rocket: fired off a model rocket on Saturday. Three times - all successful. The first launch with a B engine went pretty high, but the last two really took off using a C engine. The parachute worked well and the this is the first time I think I've ever returned home with a rocket (my other rockets being lost over fences, behind backyards, etc.). Of course that was all about 25 years ago. What I think would be fun is to build a rocket with a big enough payload that would carry a GPS and 2M transmitter to do APRS.

(5) Haven't been on the air lately - I'll try tonight.

Radio Room Reconfiguration

Spent some time today reworking the shack.... still have a bit more to do.

(1) I was using two different power supplies - a PS-125 (25 amps) for the IC-706MKIIG and a different power supply for the FT-2800M (2M FM), and FT-1500M/KPC3+ (2M FM packet). I am now using the Alinco DM-330MVT (32 amps) to power the IC-706MKIIG and the FT-2800M. I'm now using the RigRunner 4010S for power distribution. I still need to make a power cable for the RigBlaster so I can get rid of the wallwart.

(2) I moved the FT-1500/KPC3+ and the other power supply out to the garage. My intent is to hook it up to the garage computer. I'll be able to access the packet functions over the network.

(3) The weather station is down! I plan on getting that working off the garage computer as well.

(4) Heathkit SB-220 - now in the shack. But I'm still a long way from getting it operational. I need to make a list of everything I need to do to get it operational. Part of that will include putting my heavy duty MFJ tuner into action.

This weekend in the shack.....

GYFWW: Get Your Feet Wet Weekend. This was an interesting event... all CW. My CW skills are atrocious and this was my attempt at improving. I enjoyed it, although at times it was very frustrating. The exchange was RST, name, state, FISTS #, and year licensed. Most folks were good at slowing down and repeating missed parts of the exchange. I spent a lot of time just sending CQ without a response. A contest doesn't have the personal interaction of a regular QSO. At the end of the contest I had 18 contacts and over 200 points... no records broken here. I still have a long way to go on the CW. I would like to get my speed up to 15-20wpm - that will take a lot of consistent work.

Virginia Beach Hamfest: My second year attending the Virginia Beach Hamfest. A two-day hamfest, I went on Sunday. $5 to get in. There were a few vendors, but I had primarily come this year for RadioWorks, a local company from Portsmouth that makes great wire antennas. I purchased a Carolina Windom, 133' long, good on 80M to 10M. The challenge now is to hang that bad boy. I'll be assisted by my CSV19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher.

T-238+ APRS WX Project: The main board was good to go. I put the modem board together Friday night, checked out and good to go. Then came Saturday, I was interfacing the WX sensors (temp, wind speed and direction)... it worked! I was getting the data to read out properly. However, when I tried to interface the modem board with the radio, the LCD screen started showing all solid squares instead of text and the heat sink got very, very hot. The LED heartbeat light is still functioning, but clearly there is something wrong. Hope I'm not back to square one. http://www.tapr.org/kits_t238plus.html

Lunchtime Update

Crystal Oscillator for the TAPR T-238+: TAPR made good on their promise to send me the missing 32MHz crystal oscillator. I need to stop by Radio Shack on the way home and pick up a 470 ohm resistor (R9) and I should be able to complete the construction of main board tonight. We will see if my kit building success improves.

CW QSO attempt: I was calling CQ on 7110 and received a reply from W8JCR, Larry. His signal started off strong but then he faded into the QRN.

QSL Card: received a QSL card from Jim, W2SY from my Blue Ridge Mountains DXpedition QSO.

This weekend in the shack.....

I started in earnest on the TAPR kit for the APRS weather station. I made good progress on the main board until I discovered I was missing a resistor and the 32MHz crystal oscillator. I can get the resistor at Radio Shack, but the oscillator is a little harder to come by. I sent an email to the TAPR email reflector for this particular kit and stated that I was missing the oscillator and was wondering if anyone knew where I could find one. I received a quick response from a gentleman at TAPR who said he could send me an oscillator - so I should be good to go. Once I get the oscillator (and go to Radio Shack and buy the resistor) I should be able to get the main board completed and start testing. We'll see how it goes.