Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mizzou Amateur Radio Club is On Line - W0ZOU

My alma mater, Mizzou, is back on the air, well, the club in on line!  I was a member in the mid 90's when the club had around a dozen students.  I purchased a Kenwood TH-28a (which I still have) and would get into the campus owned repeater on top of one of the buildings.  The actual location escapes me on where the repeater was located, and I can't even remember the call sign.  We had club meetings, did some recruitment and tried to grow the hobby.

Glad to see the club up and running again, and with a cool call sign, W0ZOU.



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Elecraft & Quality Control

Last week I purchased the KXPA100 100 watt amplifier from Elecraft to use with my KX3.  After opening the box and inspecting all the contents for damage, I sorted out all the small parts to make sure everything was there.  The first package I opened up was all the small screws, stand offs and lock washers.  I noticed I was missing five #4 split ring lock washers in the main parts bag.  Another check of a TMP cable bag resulted in another missing four #4 lock washers.  With not enough washers in the spares bag, here I am heading to the local hardware store to see if they have the correct parts.  I can't wait 5 days for them to ship 9 washers to me from CA when I live in MO.  It will take a week to get here.  Hopefully someone in town has these lock washers.

This is the 2nd time Elecraft's quality control has failed me.  When I ordered my KX3, they failed to ship the battery shield and I had to wait for that to arrive from CA before I could put it together.  Now I'm missing nine washers before I can put my amp together.  Disappointing.

Don't put small parts free floating in a large bag with other parts.  All your lock washers should go it a small 1" x 2" bag.  All your board stand offs in another.  Same with small screws.  Placing small loose parts in a 8" x 5" bag with larger bags or free floating parts is a recipe for small items to be lost.  I've paid good money for your products, give some attention to detail with your small parts and make them easier for your kit builders to sort and verify them!

Elecraft, I know your a company with great products and I hear good things about your customer service, but your quality control in your processing and shipping department is horrible!!!!  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Warm December Day & The ARRL 10m SSB Contest

We've had a unusually warm winter here in STL with a few days topping the high 60's to low 70's.  Each one of these beautiful days has been on a weekend, so getting things done outside has been great!  I hope this doesn't come to bite me as I'm stuck in the house with very cold weather outside waiting on 6" to 8" of snow to drop in the next few hours.

Dec 13th 2014, it was one of those usual warm winter days.  It was also the ARRL 10m QSO party, so I grabbed my KX3, an Alpha Ez-Military vertical and misc other items and was off to the local park to enjoy some of the nice weather.  I'm slowing practicing my SOTA setup for this spring and summer.  I learned some good lessons about packing and weight management, as I walked to the local park from my house with everything in my backpack.  Some of the items I packed never came out of the bag, or were never used.

Below are some pics of my setup.  I took my GoPro, but never used it, as I was too busy trying to setup.  Next time I'll be sure to shoot and publish a YouTube video.  Thanks to everybody who I worked that day!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Alpha EZ-Military End Fed Antenna

I finally resolved my issue of not having an outside antenna!!!  Our local club, St Louis Suburban Radio Club, puts on a hamfest every Jan.  While roaming the isles, I stopped by the Alpha Antenna booth to chat about my experiences with their EZ-Antenna, which I've had good experiences with.  We started discussing my issue about not having an outside antenna and the owner suggested using one of their EZ-Antenna's with a 34' wire with my limited space in an inverted "L" configuration.  After a purchase of the EZ-Antenna, a claw clamp and a trip to Home Depot, I was on the air!

I drove a 1/2" stainless steel pipe into the ground just outside my back porch and ran some excess LMR400 I had around through a hole my satellite TV cable came through.  After clamping the base unit to the pipe, I measured out 36" feet of cable and ran it through some insulators I had purchased in a previous ham fest.  I also ran the counterpoise into the yard to complete the install.  It's heading off of the left side of the picture.

I drilled an eye hook into the corner of my sun room with a length of 550 paracord to keep the inverted "L" from hitting my window overhangs in the picture above.

I wrapped the excess 2' of wire back over its self at the end so I could lengthen the wire if needed.  Wrapping it back over will not effect the overall length.  I secured the end to my detached garage with an eye hook and some 550 paracord.  

I wrapped the connector with 1 wrap of waterproof tape, as there wasn't much clearance between the connector and the location where the antenna screws into the claw mount.  To waterproof it a little more, I purchased a can of liquid tape and painted that on the waterproof tape.  This product paints on wet and when dried, creates a rubber waterproof type seal.  I also put a small amount on the top of the antenna match where the wire connects with a wing nut.  When applying, be sure to wear gloves as getting it off your fingers once it dries is a challenge.

With no tuner, I'm getting the follow SWR readings.

3.5mhz - SWR 4.8
4.0mhz - SWR 3.9

7.0mhz - SWR 3.5
7.3mhz - SWR 3.4

14.0mhz - SWR 3.9
14.35mhz - SWR 3.8

28mhz - SWR 3.1
29.7mhz - SWR 2.4

50mhz - SWR 2.2
54mhz - SWR 4.1

My KX3 internal tuner has no issues bringing down the SWR to 1:1 on all the above bands.  I've been using 10W and have made contacts as far as CA.  I have a high noise floor because I live in the city with tons of interference around, but 80m at night seems to be the best time with only an S3 to S5 noise floor with lots of stations booming!