Sunday, December 6, 2015

December 2015 SLAMS Breakfast

Sunday, 6 December, my alarm clock chirping away, urging me to get up and make myself ready for the one-hundred and four mile trek from Girard, IL to Maryland Heights, MO to say, "Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to some of my dearest ham radio friends while at breakfast.  Unfortunately, not all of us were there, and you were missed, but we are all looking forward to more ham radio, microwave adventures with the coming New Year!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November Slams Breakfast

I am in total admiration with SLAMS.  It would be hard to find a more caring, dedicated, fun-loving group of hams.  Our organization prides itself on being loosely structured and welcoming of all.  I appreciate that the group makes it a point to have our monthly breakfasts in Illinois a few times a year so the ops out here don't have so far to drive.  Here's a photo of our breakfast held on Sunday, November 1.  We made it in spite of the time change to standard time!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Vistas from Brown County State Park, Indiana, EM69vd

Here are some photos of our trip to Brown County State Park, EM69vd near Nashville, IN.  It is a good microwave site in most directions. The scenery is spectacular.  I bet the fall colors are extraordinary.  These pictures were taken around 1:00 pm CDT on Sunday, September 20, 2015.

                       Here is a me looking southeast towards Dave K4TO in EM77vx

                                   KO0Z and KC9ULA at Brown County State Park southeast vista

                                                    Looking towards the northeast

                                   Southwest is looking into the trees, but not bad west and northwest

                                  Debbie, KC9ULA and Kip at the North Tower.  Looks good towards
                                  the north, but a hefty climb up stone stairs.  We didn't even try the climb with
                                  radio gear.

                              View towards the northeast and Ron, W9ZIH in EN51nv

                                Woot, woot!  I just made a 135 mile Q with Dave K4TO in EM77vx

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Brown County State Park EM69vd Microwave Sites

Here is a jpeg map of Brown County State Park near Nashville, Indiana in EM69vd.  KC9ULA and myself, KO0Z) mapped out the vistas which offer a clear view to the horizon.  The vistas are along a paved road on a ridge with typical elevations around 1,050 feet (320 meters).  I've marked the vista openings to the horizon in degrees so as to better plan where an optimum spot for QSO attempt could take place.

73, de Ron, KO0Z

Friday, August 21, 2015

ARRL 10 GHz & Up Contest 2015

Saturday, 5:30 am CDT, not too bright and way too early, my alarm awoke me to get showered, to get breakfast and to be out the door by 6:30 am to make the trek from Girard to Ohlman Cemetery EM59ji to participate in the first weekend of the ARRL 10 GHz and Up contest.  Since I had loaded the rig in my car the night before, all I had to do in the morning was to make a thermos of coffee, connect my 10 MHz OCXO to my car's 12 VDC so that it will be warmed up and stable when I arrived at the cemetery about 35 miles away.

By 7:45 am, I was not only up and running, but I was copying the WB9PNU beacon, 78.3 miles away, 599 +!  A personal first for me!  I tried to make a contact with Ron, W9ZIH, but I noticed that a juniper tree was directly in front of me about 70 yards.  I moved west about 60 feet and Ron's signal went from no reception to 559!  He was able to copy me at his QTH near Malta, IL EN51nv, 176.3 miles away at 8:15 am!  I made a video of our QSO which is posted here, but the other two videos (WB9PNU/B and W9SZ are too large to upload to this blog site, but they can be seen on my Facebook page.

My next QSO was with Jim, N5MU in Missouri, EM48qf (109 miles away) with a 519 report at 8:22 am.  Zack, W9SZ entered the log next with a 599 from EN50rl.  Zack was roaring in here and I've never heard him louder at 9:10 am!  I then tried to work Jim, W9SNR in EN62cc, 203.8 miles away, but we only heard bits and pieces of our signals - nowhere good enough to constitute a QSO.  After these QSOs I was feeling stoked!  I knew that Zack wasn't planning to operate on Sunday so, on the spur of the moment, I decided to drive to EN40 and EN50 to activate those grids!

An hour and  a half later, I was set up in EN50aa and I worked Zack, W9SZ at 1:22 pm in EN50xf (102.5 miles away with a report of 589.  He heard me just fine and then at 1:43 pm I made a two-way QSO with Steve, N4PZ in EN52gb (145 miles away with a 529 report.  At 1:52, Ron, W9ZIH and I made a Q - a distance of 105 miles.  Mike, AA9IL was not able to set up in EN52xi, so we were not able to try the path.  Next time!  Now on to EN40!

EN40 is only about a half of a mile away from my EN50aa spot, but trying to find a suitable microwave site proved to be quite a challenge.  When I had scoped it out last November, there were soy bean fields, but now there were tall, corn fields.  I spent the next 45 minutes driving around the countryside to find a good spot only to end up about a mile from the EN50aa location.  In about ten minutes I was now QRV from EN40xa.  It was flat and soybeans to the east and northeast, but tall corn to the north.  I gave Zack, W9SZ a call and after some trial and error, I arose out of the noise and we worked each other at 3:20 pm with a 529 report - a distance of 106.9 miles!  I tried calling Ron, W9ZIH on the phone, but he wasn 't home unfortunately.  I tried Steve, N4PZ and he could tell I was there, but I wasn't able to copy his signals.  The corn was just too tall and I didn't have a better spot to relocate.  A nice farmer came by to inquire about the set up and he was glad to see the operation.  After wishing me luck, he was on his way and I awaited Jim, W9SNR to arrive at his site.  Unfortunately, thunderstorms kept him from getting on the hill and he decided to call it a day.  By this time I was hot, tired and hungry, so I was ready to call it a day as well.

All in all, it was a great day to be out and about microwaving.  I am seriously thinking about activating EM69 and EM68 for the second half of the contest this September.  Debbie could visit her niece attending Indiana State U, as a freshman, in Terre Haute and she could also offer ops another call sign to work!  We will see what my search of Google Maps reveals in terms of potentially high locations.

                                         A great microwave tool - an engineering compass!

                                 Another important microwave tool - a thermos of hot coffee!

                                               EN40xa looking towards Zack, W9SZ

                               EN40xa looking towards Steve, N4PZ.  The corn was just too tall.

                 EN40xa looking southwest towards St. Louis.  Too hilly and corn is too tall.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SLAMS 24 GHz Breakfast -2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015, Troy, IL SLAMS met at the Country Pride restaurant for their annual 24 GHz breakfast.  The weather was very nice and welcome change from the rain.  At breakfast, Herbert AF4JF showed the group some great bargains on an RF noise source, a spectrum analyzer board with sweep generator that goes from 138 MHz to 4.4 GHz and a dongle that receives VLF frequencies all the way to 1.2 GHz!

After the breakfast, we went to a nearby park and Harry, WA0CNS set up the SLAMS 24 GHz beacon as well as his 24 GHz transverter.  Zack, W9SZ set up his 24 GHz transverter and Qs were exchanged in EM58br!

Dave, KB0PE is working on a second 24 GHz rig and Ron, KO0Z is very close to getting his station on the air.  Mike, N0OBI had a horn and a diode and he was able to detect the 24 GHz RF.

                          138 MHz-4.4 GHz Spectrum Analyzer board with tracking generator.

                                                           RF Noise Source

                                                   VLF to UHF Dongle!

                                             Zack, W9SZ and Dave, KB0PE

                                           Herbert, AF4JF, Harry, WA0CNS and Zack, W9SZ

                                                         24 GHz 1/2 watt amp.

                                                     Zack, W9SZ's 24 GHz rig.

                                                       Dave, KB0PE's 24 GHz transverter.

                                                        Dave, KB0PE and Zack, W9SZ

                                                      Harry, WA0CNS 24 GHz Beacon.

                                                       Inner workings of the 24 GHz beacon.

                                                       Harry, WA0CNS with his 24 GHz rig.

                                          Cassegrain feed for 24 GHz also known as a penny or splash feed.

                                                       Zack, W9SZ's 24 GHz rig

                                                        W9SZ's 24 GHz dish antenna

                        SLAM members :  W9SZ, AF4JF, KO0Z, WA0CNS, N0OBI and KB0PE

                                          Zack, W9SZ looking for 24 GHz signals with his SDR radio

                   Zack, W9SZ to the left and Harry, WA0CNS to the right working each other on 24 GHz.

                                    Mike, N0OBI with his horn feed and diode detector.
                                    Below, Zack picking up some 24 GHz signals.