Monday, January 29, 2024

Dose of January Radio-Activity

Once again, the Winterfest. Our biggest hamfest of the season. Lots of banquets, forums, commercial vendors and above all, the huge indoor flea market. Collinsville, IL on Saturday, January 27. Surprisingly, quite balmy weather this year compared to the freezing cold many years before.

Winterfest is always interesting. It would take pages of pictures to show the atmosphere and cover all the activities, so I will just add two that got my attention:

Display of Radio Scouting with some APRS equipment

Revolutionary portable ground system

Unfortunately, this was also the last day of a DX-pedition to Clipperton Island, TX5S. Many of us were trying to score last QSOs in the morning of the Winterfest:

TX5S Live Stream

To make it even more interesting, this was also the weekend of a major HF contest, the CQ 160m CW. Enough? Oh no .. this was also the weekend of the Winter Field Day. Quite a busy weekend! I have worked TX5S, made some CW QSOs on 160m, attended the Winterfest and even visited the portable location of the STL QRP Society in the Babler Park:

Cochran Shelter in the Babler Park

STL QRP Club guys during the WFD

I was very impressed by the outdoor activity the STL QRP guys set up in the Babler park. There was a fire place in the shelter, but the shelter itself is open, so the operation was far from convenient or "home-like". I have only visited for a short time, but I have seen enough challenging things to last me a year or two - nice QRP radios, portable antennas and above all very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Too bad that I spent the previous night operating in the 160m contest.

To my knowledge, there was at least one other group from our area, the Missouri Outdoor Club, W0MOC attending the Winter Field Day. They operated in about one hour driving distance West from Saint Louis close to I-70, but I was not able to visit them due to lack of sleep on my side. Fantastic activity, beating the elements while generating some waves!

To make things even more complex, the SLAMS club had the regular breakfast meeting at Denny's just the next Sunday morning. It was one of the nice meetings where everybody was having fun on top of eating the traditionally good food. Everything considered, one of the most active weekends we have ever had.

Friday, January 26, 2024

WB9PNU/B January RS

 Not much in the way of local microwave activity this winter.  Yesterday, January 25 the St. Louis metro area had a rainy day.  I decided to drag my 3cm rig next to my back porch doorway to see if I could hear the WB9PNU 3 cm beacon.  I am happy to report that it is working nicely!

                              Screenshot of the rain moving away from the area.  When I listened for RS, the rain was filling most of the above screenshot at the time.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

ARRL VHF January 2024 Contest

It's that time of the year again - time to freeze while trying to be radio-active. At least in theory. Practically, some of us decided not to get exposed to the elements and the rest just minimized the exposure. We decided to avoid the predicted cold on Saturday and scheduled a limited activity for Sunday, January 21st. Well, it wasn't much warmer and the stay outdoors on the open spots where we usually go to for VHF+ contacts was far from pleasant.

Herbert AF4JF set up his SUV for the usual roving activity, just limited the number of bands to 3 and only worked on two of them - 144 and 432MHz. Harry WA0CNS set up his minivan in similar fashion and operated on 144MHz. Our new member Tony KB9LLD operated on 144 and 432 using a "drive-on" stand with a pole that carried very nice dual band beam. Ron KO0Z supported us from his home station.

We probably did not break any records and I am afraid that we won't win this contest either, but the activity was way higher than couple of last years combined. We have even worked some FM stations only using their handhelds! Hope this trend will spread, we need more activity!

Several pictures from today's outing:

Herbert AF4JF in EM48qs

Herbert AF4JF in EM49oa

Tony KB9LLD in EM48qs

Tony has a nice "drive-on" stand

Herbert worked Marshall WD9EXD in EM57
(142 miles) on the small 70cm loop

Thursday, December 28, 2023

First Snow Scatter Attempt


 Wednesday, 27 December 2023, St. Louis saw it's first "significant" snowfall.  Some areas had big flakes, others not so much.  The snowfall didn't accumulate due to ground temperatures well above freezing.  However, it did afford me the opportunity to set my 10 GHz rig up in the family room, open our French doors to the backyard and to listen for the WB9PNU/B.

The beacon is about seven miles away to my northeast, but my suburban setting blocks my view. I'm only able to point my rig to the north. I have heard the beacon pointing north with rain scatter with good results. I wanted to see how snow scatter works from the same location.

There wasn't a dense amount of snow falling when I attempted the experiment.  I listened around 3:15 pm and I could just make out the beacon.  There was QSB and the signal was not strong enough to get a good copy, but I could make it out. 

I varied my elevation and azimuth heading a bit with varying results.  I do have a limited view, but it fun trying nonetheless.  I consider my first experiment with snow scatter a limited success.

Looking out my French doors towards the north in my first attempt to listen for the WB9PNU beacon while it's snowing outside.  I could make out the beacon, but it wasn't very strong. There was a lot of QSB.  When I took this picture, I had just turned off the rig.


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Annual SLAMS/BARS Lunch again

Another year flew by and our little group met at the Chandler Hill Winery on Saturday November 11, 2023 once again. Meeting for lunch at this nice location (that is also friendly to dogs) has become our tradition. This was our 7th lunch meeting there.

Chandler Hill Winery

Kevin AD7OI with his wife Tammy KI7GVT came from Hannibal to dine with us. Ron KO0Z with his wife Debbie KC9ULA, Mike N0OBI, Harry WA0CNS and Herbert AF4JF with his companion Darcey met to discuss this year's activities and make some plans for the next year. Kevin and Tammy finally moved to their new house and should have more time for our hobbies now. There were many things to discuss.

Sitting around the table under a gas heater

The weather was nice but November is November and Missouri is Missouri, so we selected a table that was neither outdoor nor indoor. There was a big gas heater just next to the table making our stay very convenient.

Our entire group at the table, except Darcey ...

Darcey was too short to sit at the table, 
so she enjoyed her lunch under it.

Mike discussing optical communications with Kevin

The food was tasty as usual at this location. It is even high enough to make contacts from here, maybe there is some truth on the joke people share about the SLAMS saying that all our rover routes either begin or end at some local winery! We actually have not made any microwave QSOs this time, but Herbert and Harry arrived an hour earlier and calibrated Harry's new SDR transceiver on 3.4GHz band, so that RX and TX frequencies matched each other and the display on the touch screen of the Raspberry Pi that controls Harry's SDR Pluto in so called "Project Langstone". Harry can work on any HAM radio band between 144MHz and 5.7GHz with that.

Hope to meet here again next year!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Frenchman's Bluff EM49ma, Cuivre River State Park

 Today, Cuivere River State Park was open to the public.  Last weekend, managed deer hunting closed the park to the public.  Debbie KC9ULA and myself KO0Z made it to Frenchman's Bluff to take azimuth readings.  At an approximate altitude over 700 feet, this promises to be a good uW site.

               Google Earth view from Frenchman's Bluff.  Red lines 225 to 325 degrees


                                     Frenchman's Bluff looking west near Troy, MO

                                            Looking southwest 225 degrees           

                                             Looking northwest 325 degrees



                                                  Convenient parking near the bluff                                       

Sunday, November 5, 2023


 Over the weekend we gained an hour.  We went from CDT to CST.  The time change didn't seem to adversely affect anyone.  Even Ron KO0Z made it on time to Denny's on Dorset for our monthly breakfast.  In fact he was early!

Pictured from L to R:  Debbie KC9ULA, Armand KD0PXF, Mel K0PFX, Sam W0PCE, Mike N0OBI, Herbert AF4JF and Harry WA0CNS.  Not pictured is the photographer Ron KO0Z.

The technical discussion centered around SLAMS current DIY project.  Infrared receivers/transmitters.  Dr. Sam Green W0PCE has extensive experience working with optics.  He brought two IR receivers.  One he built a couple of decades ago and the current board SLAMS is experimenting with now.

                                     SLAMS current IR receiver board built by Sam

                                Dr. Sam's photo diode on his older, prototype IR receiver

                           The flip side containing the IR electronics of Sam's IR receiver   


   After breakfast, Herbert and Harry went to upper Creve Coeur Park to test Herbert's  Bulgarian 3.4 GHz transverter.from SG Lab.  It puts out 3 watts and it is reasonable priced.  Harry used his Pluto SDR.

                                             AF4JF's SG Lab 3.4 GHz transverter, 432 IF.

                                                              Herbert's 1.2 GHz amp

                               Harry WA0CNS listening for AF4JF's 3.4 GHz signal at Creve Coeur Park

                                     AF4JF's 3.4 GHz signal on the panadapter screen

                After succesful testing on 3.4 GHz side by side, Herbert AF4JF continued the SLAMS microwave tradition of testing of increasing the distance.  Looking straight ahead, between two trees, AF4JF's Chevy Traverse can be seen on the other side of the park.  Approximately 125 yards away.  Another successful, Sunday, SLAMS test!