Sunday, July 24, 2016

5 Watts, Nearly 100 Miles

Today, I logged a Summits-on-the-Air contact with Philip, KK6YYD (my role was that of "chaser"). He was activating Mt. Price (W6/NS-377), near South Lake Tahoe, California. We were on 2 meters (146.520 MHz) FM. I find this contact to be especially noteworthy because we were both operating at 5 watts (indoors on a handheld, in my case) and were approximately 98 miles (158 km) away from each other. It was a clear, hot, sunny day of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37+ degrees Celsius); could that have been a factor in helping the propagation?

Ham Shack Progress

I have been slowly putting together my home radio station. I hope to have it operational by the end of this week.

The shack is going into a room above the detached garage to the rear of the house. The room is finished, with carpeting and central heat and air. The Yaesu FT-857D is connected to the power supply and the 2-meter J-pole antenna. The antenna's 10-foot mast is mounted to the corner 4 x 4 railing post of the deck at the top of the stairs to the entrance. The deck is just over 9 feet above the ground, so the top of the antenna is just shy of 25 feet high. The radio is essentially operational, although I'm still learning how to use it. I plan to add an additional, HF (high frequency) antenna for long-distance ("DX") contacts. I'm still wading through the many options to decide which antenna is best for my situation. We are renting the house, so everything needs to be able to be removed easily, plus space is somewhat limited; I'm leaning toward some sort of vertical antenna with a simple mast-mount like the 2-meter antenna.

Soon to come--hopefully--will be photos of the (almost) finished shack.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

2-Meter J-Pole Base Station Antenna

This the first phase of a project to erect a VHF antenna outside my ham shack. The antenna itself is a KB9VBR J-Pole, tuned for the 2-meter band (144 MHz); it is claimed that it also works pretty well at 70 cm (440 MHz). For a mast, I mounted it to the end of a 1-inch diameter, 10-foot long galvanized pipe; the antenna itself extends approximately 5 feet above the top of the mast.

My ham shack is going be located in a room above a detached garage to the rear of our house. I plan to strap the mast to a 4x4 post at the corner of the landing at the top of the exterior stairs. The landing is +/- 10 feet above the ground, with the peak of the roof 10 feet above that. Mounted on the landing, the antenna will extend approximately 25 feet into the air, above the roof.

I have read many positive reviews for the KB9VBR J-Pole; after reading them and watching some YouTube videos about it, I'm expecting good results when my shack is finally up and running.

2-Meter J-Pole Antenna
2-Meter J-Pole Antenna
My starter base station rig will consist of a Yaesu FT-857D transceiver (which I also intend to use for portable SOTA work) with an MFJ-4125 switching power supply and an LDG Z-11 Pro II antenna tuner for the 6 through 160-meter bands.  I'm still pondering the best HF antenna (for the long-distance "DX" contacts) for my situation.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Identity

As of today, I have a new callsign: W6SAE. It reflects the initials of my name; also, I feel that it rolls off the tongue better than my old call: KK6ZLX.