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A place for things related to my station

Adding an external keypad to the K3

The Genovation keypads have either forty eight or twenty four keys on them depending on which model you purchase. Each individual key can be programmed to send a single character, or a series of characters. Further, each key has a removable plastic cover so you can put a label under the plastic. All of this allows you to program a key, then label it, then use it to send a macro trigger to the P3. Like the P3, the Genovation also needs to be programmed in advance of use. Fortunately Genovation provides a rather nice piece of software with each keypad for just this task. Once a key is programmed, if you tap that key, the Genovation sends out the character(s) you pre-programmed into it via the USB port. This lends itself well to the function of sending macro triggers to the P3. Continue reading »

Categories: Elecraft K3, Info, K3: External Keypad, Reviews, Setups, Software information, Station | 32 Comments

I have RFI, now what– Locating it

This allows me to verify I am working with the same RFI source. I record the audio from the FT-900, and then I can play it back into Spectrum labs, and see if it matches the RFI I am hearing at home. Once I have a match, I know without a doubt I have the same source. I then look at the map, and it becomes pretty obvious where the RFI is most of the time. I next start running the frequency up as high as possible and still hear the RFI. I then grab a Google Map of a smaller area, around where the signal is strongest, and do the drive around again. I repeat this process moving ever higher in frequency. Continue reading »

Categories: ARRL, Direction Finding, DX, I have RFI: Series, Info, Legal Actions, MFJ: MFJ-856, Quantification, Reviews, RFI Mitigation, Setups, Software information, Station, W8VVV: S-meter Lite | 2 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s ALS-1306 Amplifier

I decided that I wanted an auto tuning amplifier, as opposed to the manual tune, AL-82 I was using. So I sold the old AL-82, (see my review here), and purchased an Ameritron ALS-1306. I was a bit worried when I bought the ALS-1306 for several reasons– to be totally honest, my main reason was that MFJ was the owner of Ameritron– the quality, and service reputation of MFJ worried me. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: ALS-1306, Info, Radios reviews, Reviews, Service reviews, Setups, Station | 31 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s RCS-4 Coax Switch

I remembered my RCS-4, sitting on the floor for the past two years, and decided to move it outdoors. Given I don’t have a tower, but I had an outdoor building, I elected to mount the switch on the side of the building, giving me the ability to run the feedline to the building in the event I wanted to add tuners, or anything else that needed to be in a covered environment. The included U-bolt mounting hardware made this a simple task, I drilled two holes in the wall of the outbuilding the width of the U-Bolt, straddling a stud in the wall, and fed it through the holes and into the RCS-4. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: RCS-4, Info, Reviews, Station | 1 Comment

NI4L’s 7 Band OCF Dipole

This review of NI4L’s 7 band OCF dipole was prompted by my needing a quick deploy multiband antenna for both field day, and for RVing. Having looked over his antenna I decided on the 7 band version, as that would cover most of my needs while in the field. Last year on Field Day I was able to use an OCF dipole, and enjoyed the quick bandswitching it allowed, so I thought I’d try and find a good OCF dipole and give one an extended try. After looking around the net I found NI4L’s site. Interestingly enough I found it while on eBay, not with Google. His site is very difficult to locate on Google for some reason so here is the link to NI4L’s web site. But if you buy an antenna from NI4L, do it on eBay, it is a few dollars cheaper at this time. In any case, what caught my eye was that he is using Flex-Weave cable for the antenna. Others are, but for some reason NI4L’s site made it more apparent. Another reason is that NI4L is also using an off the shelf W2AU Balun. I have had good luck with that balun so that was enough for me. The W2AU is an all stainless steel hardware balun as well, so it will not be corroding off the antenna anytime soon. The W2AU balun also is good for 2 KW PEP, or 1000 at 100% duty cycle. I would not run it more than 500 Watts, but that is because I am very conservative. I would have liked to have it be good to 2 KW at 100% duty cycle, but alas, it is not. I called and ordered the antenna. It arrived a few days later in the package you see on the left and above. Continue reading »

Categories: Antenna Reviews, Construction, Info, NI4L: 7 Band OCF, Reviews, Station | 10 Comments

I have RFI, now what– House Cleaning

I then brought up each circuit one at a time… Remember I had all the major appliances unplugged, so this test is looking for the various vampire devices that suck electricity all the time, pretty much anything with a wall wart on it. First I brought up the kitchen. That caused no issues, so I started turning on lights, and plugging things back in. The first source of RFI I found was a set of LED lights I got from Walmart. They are the ones that look like a 100W light, and put out about as much light as a 100 watt light. I heard nothing from them on 80, 40, 30, or 20. However on all bands above 20, they put out a horrific spray of RFI. Had I not checked all bands between testing I would have missed this. OK I noted this in my log book, and put a note there to change them out later. I turned them back off, and plugged in the refrigerator, I got a bit of RFI, so I added a few 31 mix ferrites to the power cord, and that RFI did not return. Next the Microwave got plugged back in, again, a small amount of RFI, and again a ferrite or two took care of this. There were no wall warts in the kitchen, so that pretty well took care of things for the kitchen. Continue reading »

Categories: Cleanup, Construction, I have RFI: Series, Info, RFI Mitigation, Setups, Station, Tools | 13 Comments

I have RFI, now what– Quantification

Over the past few years my RFI problem has been getting worse and worse. 40 Meters was unusable due to QRM last year, I am only now beginning to be able to use 40 meters again. Other hams in the area, (1/2 mile away), closer to the source of the RFI have lost the entire HF spectrum. See the movie above. Hit play, and all looks well until about 22:30 GMT, which is about 3:30 PM in my local time zone. As you can see, the RFI goes off scale at that time. The S Meter reading for that signal is around 10 db over S9. It is also affecting three other hams in the area. One poor fellow is so close to it that all ham bands are wiped out, 160 Meters through 10 meters are unusable during this time frame. There is another ham located about 1/4 mile from the source, he has just moved in, and was unaware why his use of 40 meters was precluded due to RFI. So there are folks who have it worse than me in this! Note this is an older recording, currently the start time for the RFI has changed to 01:36, or 7:36 PM local time. All in all there are 4 and possible 5 hams affected by what is a single source, over one or two square miles, all from a single source. We have the general area pinned down, and this summer, (2014), we are going to locate the house, and either contact the owner, or request FCC assistance. Continue reading »

Categories: Cleanup, Construction, I have RFI: Series, Info, Legal Actions, Quantification, RFI Mitigation, Setups, Software information, Station, Tools | 4 Comments

Review of West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner

What this means is that the device has the Powerpole connectors pointing horizontally out of the side, as opposed to pointing up out of the device. I was going to mount my RIGrunner 4008H on the side of a vertical desk support, and I wanted the power cables pointing downwards, and not out towards the wall behind the desk, so the H model was the model of choice for me. As can be seen from the photo at the left, the H version did exactly what I needed. I wanted to move the desk as close to eh wall as possible. I also wanted a pigtail so I could add ferrite snap on cores for RFI suppression to each 12 VDC lead.. All of this just screamed downward pointing cables. Hence the choice of the H version, so I ordered it and it arrived a few days later. Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Construction, Reviews, Station, WMR: RigRunner 4008H | 1 Comment

Rebuilding the Shack– from scratch

In 2014 I decided to upgrade the station, I became retired in 2013, and my use of the station was no longer weekends, and holidays. I could use it anytime I wanted, day or night. I decided I needed a better radio, and a bit more desk space. After a lot of looking, the Elecraft K3 popped up on my radar. The K3 provided me with a better radio, and a bit more desk space, exactly what I wanted. At the time of purchase for the K3, I decided it was about time to do a station rebuild, starting with the station grounding , and working my way to the Coax, and finally the control lines. Continue reading »

Categories: Cleanup, Construction, Info, Reviews, Shack Rebuild, Station | 33 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s AL-82 Amplifier

After several years of use, this review of Ameritron’s AL-82 amplifier seems in order! I have owned the AL-82 for three years now, and it has given me incredible performance on all bands. This review will not be a technical review, it will be a general observation, and usage review… Does the amp hold up, does the amp work, does it run hot, etc., that sort of review… Continue reading »

Categories: Accessories reviews, Ameritron: AL-82, Info, Reviews, Station | 4 Comments