Choosing the Next Rig

In my quest to find the next portable rig (I already decided), I made a comparison sheet with stats about the various rigs I was considering. Here is my portable rig matrix (including handhelds). Hopefully this list could be of help to others.  Bear in mind, I had specific goals in this rig evaluation: Portability of station setup Ease of use in multiple modes CW practice wherever I was Expansion of my amateur radio capabilities into other modes, e.g. APRS, packet, digital HF, base and mobile antenna improvement Versatility and integration with my existing setup While I was dead set on getting the Elecraft KX3 fully loaded, I decided… Read More

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Tuning SWR with an Antenna Analyzer

If you’re at all into antennas aside from your handheld rubber duck antenna, you should try to get an antenna analyzer. Here I am using a RigExpert AA-600: Before using this device, I would just go by the radio’s SWR reading (a poor display of SWR “bars”) to determine if I was close to resonance. The quad-band vertical antenna I have supposedly works with 10m, 6m, 2m, and 40cm. I never had much success with adjusting the end tip of the antenna for 10m until I started evaluating readings using the AA-600. My target frequency was 28.400 MHz for the LARC weekly 10m net, and 28.457 MHz for the SDARC… Read More

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We want to put up our antennas!

Senator Diane Feinstein wrote (or her auto responder wrote) me back: Dear Dennis: Thank you for writing to express your support for the “Amateur Radio Parity Act.” I appreciate hearing from you, and welcome the opportunity to respond. As you may know, current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules require local governments to “reasonably accommodate” amateur radio installations. This requirement does not, however, apply to land use restrictions limiting the size and dimensions of installations on private land. This means that many amateur radio operators are unable to install functional outdoor antennas because they do need to be “reasonably accommodated.” You may be interested to know that Representative Adam Kinzinger introduced… Read More

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First HF QSOs! ID, CO, and SoCal

This afternoon I went to my brother-in-law’s property about 8 miles from my house, where he has nice wide open lot, and I set up my N9SAB 40m-6m off-center fed dipole with a portable flagpole (20ft high). I figured the open space would do some good for the signal. I set up with an inverted V configuration, had my FT-857D with YT-100 tuner and 7ah battery, and even unfolded the 39w solar panel to help the battery. My goal was to make my first contact on 20m today. I tuned around on 14MHz and heard a very busy band, with a couple of notable hams blasting through with their high… Read More

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SDARC Meeting 11/9

Met with the club members of Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club (SDARC) this evening at a classroom in the Bear Creek Community Church. The club elected (or re-elected, rather) the club board for 2018, and discussed upcoming club events. Then W6SXA Mark gave a presentation and demo of the Rigexpert AA-600 antenna analyzer. He reviewed other types of analyzers with their pros and cons, and settled upon the one he got, the AA-600. This is a sensitive piece of equipment that can scan from 0.1 to 600 MHz (all the favorite ham bands) and even interface with your computer to produce very accurate SWR, reactance, capacitance, return loss, and TDR (Time Domain Reflectometer)… Read More

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First Reception of International Traffic

I deployed my 40-6m OCF dipole in my back yard here in Stockton, CA (grid CM98hb), and tuned on 20m on Saturday afternoon, and for the first time on this band found a clear QSO in progress. W3BQG was transmitting initially with 1000w from near Pittsburgh, PA, and his CQ was answered by someone in Japan, whom I could also hear. He says he later bumped it down to 500w. A lot of the time on simplex conversations like this, it’s one-sided with only the nearer person audible, but this was an easy QSO to follow. I suspect the Japanese operator was sending high wattage as well. This was almost 3pm… Read More

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First 10 Meter QSO!

This is probably old hat to the veteran hams out there but this evening I finally, successfully, made clear contact on 10m SSB phone! A milestone for me, after tons of antenna research and tuning around on the frequencies forever. Stockton Delta Amateur Radio Club (SDARC) has a weekly informal net on 28.457 MHz SSB, and whenever I could be at my radio on Thursday evenings, I’ve tried to make contact during this net to no avail. This evening, I decided to move my poorly-placed (6 ft off the ground against a wooden fence) 10m dipole a few feet outward toward the open air, and waited. I should also mention… Read More

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