NI4L’s 7 Band OCF Dipole

NI4L, 7 band off center fed dipole in the air

NI4L’s 7 band OCF dipole in place

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.  Last year on Field Day I was able to use an OCF dipole for the first time, and I enjoyed the quick bandswitching it allowed, so I thought I’d try and find a good OCF dipole for use while in the field.  After looking around I found NI4L’s site.  Interestingly enough I found it while on eBay, not with Google.  Having looked over his antenna selection I decided on the 7 band OCF version, as that would cover most of my needs while in the field, not need a tuner, and was not too large.  Although I really want a Fan Dipole, (less common mode because the system is inherently balanced up to the coax), for speedy deploy, and the up/down setup/tear down of RVing I decided on the OCF dipole, less wire to play with in getting the antenna up/down.  His web site is very difficult to locate on Google.  Click any image for an very expanded view. Read more »

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

I have RFI, now what– House Cleaning

FFT of RFI showing 24 hours

FFT for 03/28/12 (GMT)

This is part II of a multipart series on removing RFI from your world.  Part one can be found here.  Once I discovered that I had RFI, it was time to get down to basics and start house cleaning.  The first thing I needed to be sure of, was that I was not the cause of the RFI…  I decided to rebuild my station as I had also gotten a new radio, so the first thing I did was to make the shack clean from RFI during that rebuild.  See the step by step for that here.  I ordered a large number of 31 mix Ferrite’s and used them on just about every lead, power, RF, control, nothing was sacred.  Again, see the rebuilding blog entry noted back a few sentence’s.  I also cleaned up the wiring of the shack, and in general did all I could to reduce RFI within the shack environment, starting with removing as many 12 volt wall bug transformers as possible and moving everything to a single 12 volt power supply which was recommended to me as having no emissions within the ham bands, and it seems to not have any at all.  I picked up a Powerwerx 30 supply from West Mountain Radio.  That helped a lot!  I have almost not birdies on any bands anymore…  Even the Ethernet birdies are gone now…

Read more »

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

I have RFI, now what– Quantification

Example of RFI as displayed by both Spectrum Lab, and S-Meter Lite.

Example of RFI

So I have RFI, now what– Quantification, gathering the tools:

This first part will cover gathering the software tools I used for RFI location and removal, while part II covers cleaning your own RFI up.  Quantification, followed by location of the source, that is the first thought that came to my head when I discovered the RFI being sprayed all over the area I live in.  In this set of articles, I will describe the process I used to locate and mitigate a few RFI sources around my area.  Your mileage may vary, and you will need to remember, this is what I did, and not a guide for you, but more of a chronicle of events and actions I took to solve my RFI problem.  Here is the legal disclaimer: None of this should be construed to be a suggestion as to what you should do, that is something you need to decide on, this is what I did, and am doing. Read more »

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

Rigrunner 4008H photo

West Mountain Radio’s Rigrunner 4008H

This review of West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner, 4008H was prompted by a total shack rebuild because I bought an Elecraft K3 and could not bring myself to just drop such a fine radio into the existing shack environment.  I decided to totally rebuild everything, from the station ground system, to both the 12 VDC, and 110 VAC, power distribution systems, before I would even think about letting the K3 on to the operating desk.  That’s where West Mountain Radio’s RIGrunner product came into the picture, West Mountain Radio sells a product called a “RIGrunner“, which is basically a 12 volt, fused, power distribution system, which uses Anderson Powerpole technology for connections.  West Mountain Radio sells several versions of this product, ranging from one with four DC outputs, to one with twelve DC outputs.  Some models have voltage indicators on them, and some models do not.  I opted for the eight output version, and for the version which is called a RIGrunner H, for horizontal version. Read more »

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

Rebuilding the Shack– from scratch

Rebuilding the Shack– from scratch

Operating position showing old Icom 756 PROIII

The old station

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 antenna, and finally the control lines.  This of course necessitated a complete tear down of the entire shack– right down to the operating desk.  I decided that given I had a new high performance radio, I needed to be sure that the shack was as “in order” as I could make it.  So the tear down began…  As can be seen from the photo on the left, 10 years of neglect had left the rear wiring in a bit of a mess, and somewhat dirty.  Now before you say, what a mess, look behind your operating desk…  If it is clean, you are one of the few hams that actually gets behind things and keeps things clean, and you can now say “What a mess”. Read more »

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

ARRL to FCC: “Grow Light” Ballast Causes HF Interference.

ARRL to FCC: “Grow Light” Ballast Causes HF Interference, Violates Rules.

arrl-smallOn March 14th, the ARRL published an article stating: “ARRL formally complained to the FCC, contending that a “grow light” ballast being widely marketed and sold is responsible for severe interference to the MF and HF bands”.

In a bold move, the ARRL complained to the FCC regarding Grow Lights and the RFI they generate.  The ARRL included extensive lab reports on a single lamp unit showing HF interference beyond commission set limits.  See the this article on the ARRL web site for full information. Read more »

Categories: Info, Legal Actions, RFI Mitigation | 2 Comments

Review of Ameritron’s AL-82 Amplifier

Ameritron's AL-82 amplifier

Ameritron’s AL-82

After several years of use, this review of Ameritron’s AL-82 amplifier seems long overdue.  I have owned the AL-82 for three years now, and over that time, it has given me incredible performance on all bands.  This review will not be a technical review, it will in fact be a general observation and usage review.  Questions like:  does the amp hold up, does the amp work, does it run hot, is it easy to tune, etc., that sort of review…  All comparisons will be based on my ownership of the following amps: Heath SB-220, Heath SB-200, Drake L4B, and a Gonset GSB-201.  All amps but the Gonset were wired for 220 VAC, not  110 VAC.  All amps were run in desktop service.  ie. not in a rack with additional cooling, just sitting on a desk.  All amps were used in contest service.  We need a base to compare amps with, so we will break the amps into the following. Read more »

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

Review of ‘The Daily DX’

The Daily DX

The Daily DX

I wanted to actually use “The Daily DX” for a year prior to reviewing it, that way, I could actually speak from a position of knowing what I was talking about, and not just mouthing a review of it.  I tried the free two week trial.  The Daily DX provides.  When I signed up it was on the order of 49 bucks a year or around fourteen cents per day.  The daily DX is a DX newsletter that comes out pretty much every morning at 4 AM PLT.  It comes out as email, and is very topical.  The first question to answer is “Was it worth it”?  The answer is yes, if you like DX.  If you are not interested in DX, then skip “The Daily DX”, it is not for you.  If on the other hand you want to know what is happening in the world of DX by all means subscribe.  If you have the slightest interest in DX, you should subscribe.  I initially subscribed to do the review, I have however now renewed my subscription as The Daily DX has actually helped me get more DX!  For instance, today, it noted that the Vatican would be active for a 10 hour period…  I have not seen this information anywhere else, just in The Daily DX.   Read more »

Categories: Daily DX, DX, Info, Reviews, Service reviews | 2 Comments

Review of N3FJP’s AC Log 4.x



This is the review of N3FJP’s AC Log, One of the best logging program available just got better!  Scott Davis, (N3FJP), has announced his completion of the rewrite of the popular logging program called “Amateur Contact Log“, version 4.0 from Visual Basic to the C# language, moving the version number from ACL3.4x to ACL4.x.  See my review of ACL3.4 here.

N3FJP's AC Log, ACLog 4.x full screen view.

ACLog 4.x, click for larger view

Alas, I had hoped that the next rewrite might make it possible to port to Linux…  This rewrite does not do that, (thank you Microsoft), but, it does run under VirtualBox, and I hear under Wine for Linux as well.  So it looks as if I will be keeping  my VirtualBox Windows XP box for a bit longer…

Overall the program seems more mature, the look and feel are better, the fonting seems better, but there are a few foibles in it yet, not many, and nothing bad so far.  Overall the program is well written, seems a tad bit slower than 3.4, (which is not a surprise), but has several new features which make it a good change.  Best of all, N3FJP makes the update available free to registered users.  Something that surprises me.  Most vendors will charge for a major version change.  Perhaps given that this was not really a massive change, (to the user, but a total re-write to the author), no charge was levied. Read more »

Categories: Info, N3FJP: AC Log 4.x, Reviews, Software information, Software reviews, Station | 10 Comments

Phased arrays for 40 and 30 Meters

Overview of Lot showing all ground radials, and antenna placements.

Scaled view of project


If  you look at this site, you will see that I have been fighting an RFI problem for years…  For the most part I have it beaten down, and it seems to not be coming back…  So…  That said, I decided to construct a four square array for 40 meters, and a two element 30 Meter phased array, so I could null the remaining RFI, and gain some signal too boot.  This also gives me a decent 30 meter Antenna array as well…  A four square system is not a small project, you need four verticals, miles of ground wire, a phasing unit, and some land, couple that with a two element 30 Meter phased array and you end up needing something like two miles of ground wire, and five antenna…  For the past few decades I have been threatening a 40 Meter phased array, maybe two elements, maybe parasitic, or maybe driven, I never really committed.

I had a failed tower project, and found myself with a slight surplus of money after I sold everything dealing with the tower…  The cash I was going to use for the tower, could be redirected to the four square project.  So I decided to build a phased array for forty and 30 Meters!  As I see it the pros/cons as as follows: Read more »

Categories: Antenna Reviews, Construction, Info, Reviews, Setups, Station | 2 Comments