Category Archives: General

New Antenna at K2AS

I’m in the process of putting up a new antenna. I have used a Hustler 5-BTV trap multi-band vertical for over 10 years. It has bee showing some signs of aging, the plastic top covers on the traps are disintegrating, the screw connecting the center conductor of the coax to the antenna isn’t tightening properly anymore, it was damaged by a large tree branch falling on a guy rope, and the 17 meter add-on coil creates enough wind resistance that it spins the antenna depending on the wind direction.

Additionally, after several years of working a lot of FT8, it was a chance to get some empirical data on my signal strength. I haven’t looked at the data recently, but maybe 80% of the time I hear people better than they hear me. Often by substantial margins.

Replacing a vertical with another vertical isn’t maybe the best idea. But the radials are already in place. I had been looking at the DX Commander range, and picked out their Classic version. It does 40-30-20-17-15-12-10 meters with no traps. It is a vertical version of a fan dipole concept, using 1/4 wave vertical wires around a fiberglass telescopic pole.

It is essentially a kit, as a fair amount of effort is required to build an assemble a useable antenna. The version I have chosen is approximately 32.5 feet tall, though at the top it is quite thin, and only the 40 meter element gets to that point. 80 meters was an option, but 30 meters would have to have been dropped. The 80 meter wire would also need to be an inverted L, requiring an addition support. They also make other versions, both smaller and taller with other band options. Admittedly, one might be able to build one from scratch at a bit of a cost savings, but it would take some effort to acquire all the necessary hardware and fabricate some of the components. Too much hassle for me.

There are a few compromises, like the 40 meter element is a bit long, and needs to be doubled-back a bit. But it has be tested thoroughly and results have been good.

I hope to have at least equal results as my 5-BTV, if not slightly better, and I’ll get the benefit of now having 12 meter capability.

After I finished the build (which took a couple 5-6 hours days and included my removal of the old antenna), I checked the SWR. 40, 30, 17, 12 and 10 meters were fine as is. 15 meters uses the 40 meter wire, and is resonant a bit above the band, at 21.639, but is only 2.5:1 at 21.000 MHz.

20 meters was resonant near the top of the band, at 14.335MHz, and 2.6:1 at 14.000MHz. So I will probably recut a new piece wire a bit longer and try to get it centered in the band.

Not quite sure about 15. I could live with it but would like to see if it can be improved, but the 40 meter element is resonant at 7.084, so don’t think I want to shorten it. I’ll look back at some of Callum’s videos and see if I’m seeing what is expected.

Initial results on the air are good. I’m getting better received reports than what I am hearing most of the time. I will need some more QSOs before I know for sure.

The antenna is very light and easy to handle. It does require 3 guys, fairly short and down low. More are optional. It has low wind resistance, so I’m not too worried about it. My biggest issue was trying to integrate it with my DX Engineering Radial Plate, where I already had 30-40 radials connected. It probably needs some tidying up when the weather allows.

The black fiberglass telescopic pole is a bit less visually apparent than the aluminum 5-BTV, and nice not to have that top loading coil for 80 meters making it top heavy. I’ll use my end-fed half wave for 80. SO I’m happy with it so far.

Tim Hunkin Videos

Possibly in the 90s you saw the British TV show called “The Secret Life of Machines”. It featured maker and cartoonist Tim Hunkin. I hadn’t seen anything about him in years, but he recently started a YouTube channel and started a new series of videos called “The Secret Life of Components”.

Though not ham radio specific, it discusses many things that still may be of interest. Six have been released and they are still being released about 1 per week. Prominently featured are his hand-built arcade/novelty machines.

His Secret Life of Machines shows have been remastered for his YouTube channel.

Though some of the topics might seem elementary, I find I learn something in every episode.

Here is the link to his channel, give it a try:
https://www.youtube.com/c/timhunkin1/featured

XARC Nominations/Elections

All:
The following individuals have been nominated for various board positions. Elections will be held at the Dec. 10 XARC General Meeting. To be eligible to vote, you must be up-to-date with your dues obligations. Also, if others desire to run for any position posted, please message the club.


NOMINATIONS

President – – – Brian D. (K2AS)

Vice-president – – –  Harry R. (W2HRY)

Secretary – – –  Rich H. (K2RAH)

Treasurer – – – Dusty K. (KF2CF)

open Director seat – Ned A. (W2NED)


Rich, K2RAH

Inputting Paper Logbooks to PC

Since I started logging electronically in the early 2000s, it certainly has been a made ham logging much more versatile and is considered a required tool for most hams today. There is so much you can do, with LoTW, QRZ.com, HRDLog, Clublog, etc. for tracking awards, confirming QSOs, and contest logging.

Since I got started a bit late with electronic logging, I actually went back and wanted to log past contacts that were done on paper. When I initially started with this idea, I only went back to when I received my current callsign, K2AS, in 1997. So I only needed to go back maybe 10 years or so, and a big chunk of that time I had moved QTHs and was off the air for a while.

I couldn’t see an automated process working, as my handwriting was not great and I have trouble figuring out callsigns I wrote down in my log, much less expecting an OCR to be able to read it.

Initially I tried to utilize the current electronic logbook I use, Ham Radio Deluxe, but it proved to cumbersome for the task of transferring paper logs to PC. I tried a few other ones as well, but they have too many features and are designed for real-time logging.

The tool that I finally came across which makes the manual transfer of written logs to PC is called Fast Log Entry by DF3CB.com. It is a simple program that saves files in plain text format, and also will export to ADIF format. It has a simple method of log entry that includes a number of simple shortcuts to make it as easy as possible.

There may be other methods out there I’m unaware of, but from my searching, this one worked best for me.

Luckily, the number of QSOs I needed to enter were probably in the neighborhood of 1000, so if you have thousands to enter, I hope you have a lot of time. I did it in chunks, doing 1997-2008 or so in one chunk, then went back a coupe years later and over a couple of days did from my novice days in 1971 up until 1997.

I’m guess very few if any of these contacts will be confirmed on LoTW, but it will be nice to have all of my QSOs logged electronically. I have them in my HRD logbook now, and QRZ.com logbook as well.

Maybe one day one of these old QSOs will get matched up with the other end and I’ll get an email from a contact from back in 1971.

Website Etc

At one time it was setup so that all posts here on the website were automatically published on our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/xarc73/ ). Apparently that stopped working a few months ago, so I investigated why. Facebook now requires all websites that publish to Facebook be from sites that have SSL enabled (https). The additional cost for that feature is approx $70/yr.
Other than Google (and maybe others) labeling this website as (Not secure), lowering our search index ranking, we probably cannot justify paying the additional costs.
We aren’t trying to sell anything, we don’t ask for sensitive information, our dues payments are handled by PayPal (with https). So we really don’t need it, other than the convenience of our posts being reproduced automatically on our Facebook page.
I will try to manually copy posts here to there, but can’t guarantee they will always end up on Facebbok, so you will have to bookmark this page and visit occaisionally. Sorry.

Yahoogroups Email List Down?

A couple of emails sent to out club email list sent in the last two days have still not been delivered.  Search of the internet finds others are saying the same thing.  We had long delays last week but it definitely seems down.  No status from Yahoo.

Stay tuned.