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Last updated: 5 July 2010
One of my favourite hobbies is Amateur Radio. I am currently a licensed Amateur Extra, K6QT. My call sign originates from the California area, even though I am from “7 land” in Utah. This call sign is a “vanity call sign”, one that can be hand-picked by the ham radio operator. The reason I picked this call sign is that I got tired of people repeating back to me my call sign wrong when I had AB7XT and NZ8C. I had so many letters that rhymed with ‘e’ that people would always hear it wrong. Now I just have to tell stories about what I'm doing out here in Utah with a "6" call sign :).
I’ve been in Amateur Radio since 18 April 1997. I got my “Tech Plus” on that day. Exactly 364 days later, on 17 April 1998, I received my Amateur Extra license. I passed it by the skin of my teeth. I got 7/10 questions right on the multiple choice test for 20 wpm (words per minute) Morse Code, which still had to be done in those days. The written exam was a bit easier, which I got 100% on. I also love the code, but it was tough in those days!
Other call signs I have had through the years are:
1. KC7VYQ (Tech Plus)
2. KC7VYQ (General)
3. KK7JX (Advanced)
4. AB7XT (Amateur Extra)
5. N3JX (Amateur Extra)
6. NZ8C (Amateur Extra)
7. KO3U (Amateur Extra)
8. And now currently: K6QT (Amateur Extra)
I’m active and in charge of the in the Chelsie Park portion of the West Layton ERC, West Layton, Utah. Am working with my 8-, 9- (twins!), and 11-year old kids to get their ham licenses. One just got his Tech 2 Jan 2010 and his General on 20 Jan 2010. He first picked up a book only last Christmas Eve. Within a week, he had his Tech ticket and less than three weeks later, his General. We're studying his Extra now. He doesn't seem to get enough of it, so we're going to try to get through the world of polar coordinates, amateur bands, and mode types to try to help him get his Extra ticket by summer 2010. He is N1JSE (formerly KF7GXE). The twins passed their Techs, as well, although poor Seth had to take the test quite a few times before he passed. But they are now N2JAE (Jared) and N0SRE (Seth). Isaac will wait for a year or two to get his license. They're very excited little guys and I already have radios for them, which they are coveting!
The General son is interested in EME, so we may set up a station at our cabin in Wyoming to do just this. 1500 W, some special software, and a good antenna is supposed to be all you need to do EME. I've seen many of the huge antenna arrays used for this, but it's pretty discouraging if you need setups that only big companies and universities can afford to do it. 1500 W on 2M require an RF safety distance of 100ft away from the antenna at 100% duty cycle, but the average power is probably more like 57 feet, if you are holding a conversation. LMR-400 is rated for high power and is not at all a "lossy" cable, especially at higher frequencies, as well, so we've been lucky to have the things available to us that we need. Now the only trick is getting enough money for the projects.
Mainly I have worked with VHF/UHF phone, but am getting now into HF, and am interested in RTTY, packet, and some other things. Am getting a new Hy-Gain AV-18HT 53 ft. vertical. Thank heaven, the local CC&Rs and the city are fine with this. This is a real thrill, since Hy-Gain touts this vertical as being the "best amateur vertical in the world". With 60 radials of 32m long each, it's going to be 1920 m of copper wire, well over 6000 ft. (multiply m by a factor of 3.28083 to get1 ft.) and run me a nearly $400 hundred more dollars, just for the wire! If I went with the specs that the FCC requires broadcast stations to operate at, they need 120 radials minimum at .4λ, costing me around $1700, if you can believe! The cement and truck to get it in for the antenna base will be a couple hundred more. And since Hy-Gain doesn't ship something that big through the mail, they have to truck it in, which will cost over $200 more. The antenna, with the 17M and 160M kits runs over $1100. Wow, it will definitely be a couple of grand before I get this antenna up and running. But I hear it will be worth it.
I also have a Yaesu FT-7900R for the car (and am planning to get the exact same radio for the van in a few months) and have brought my FT-857D in from the car to the shack. I haven't found much use for HF in the car up to now. I do 99.99% of my mobile communications on VHF/UHF anyway, so this is the route I've chosen. I'm also looking at an Ameritron AL-1500X (I'm hoping to get the export variety) power supply that will pump out 1500 watts (actually 2500). The range of bands with the FT-857D is great. If I remember correctly, it goes from 160 M to 70 CM, except for 1.25 M. Not sure what the phobia is to 1.25 M. I know rigs are not using it worldwide, but it could at least be used more here. Same with 33 CM. It's necessary to get an engineered radio on 900 MHz to be able to use the ham frequencies. There's an MFJ-4605 Window Feedthrough panel, which I can use to get my wires outside without breaking my windows or drilling through the wall. An Antenna Analyzer I've been told is a must, though as I add pieces I see the price cranking up. An MFJ-269 covers 1.8-170 MHz and 415-470 MHz, although I am obviously missing the 1.25 M band with this one, which I love to use – partly because it's so dead (i.e., private) and partly because it's something new and up-and-coming around here, and there are a lot of exciting new ways to get involved. I might even put up a repeater on top of a tall peak here. One nice thing is that we are soon to get another 1.25 M repeater in our area. As of now, it's summer 2010, so I'm looking forward to this with a great deal of anticipation.
I also have been involved in commercial radio and have several licenses:
GMDSS Radio Operator/Maintainer License: DB00000391 (this license and the next two with Ship Radar Endorsement)
General Radiotelephone Operator License: PG00016801
2nd class radiotelephone: T2GB064388
Am also a certified ARRL instructor.
Also an ARRL member since about 2005.
I'm extremely interested in the 900 MHz (33 CM) band. A fellow in Vegas is converting Motorola Spectras to ham and selling them for around $175.00 on Ebay. He is a reputable guy from Las Vegas, Blayne, KG7SS, whom you can look up on www.qrz.com. His e-mail is: email@example.com. I intend to get one of his Motorola Spectras when I have the chance. I hear they are some of the easiest to convert to ham. There is a great club in the San Diego area, which is active in 900 MHz and looks like a great contact. Just google "SD 900MHz ARC (San Diego 900 MHz Amateur Radio Club)".
I'm also very interested in the 1200 MHz (23 CM) band and would like to get a mint condition radio from a seller back east that is meant for mobile use at 10W. That would be a nice little gem for the car or the shack. It's a Yaesu FT-912R and looks very nice. This is a ham radio that the Japanese made back in the 90's, but is not manufactured any more. I am have a little Alinco HT that transmits 300 mW on this band, and as far as I know, is the only equipment currently manufactured for this band. Update: Actually, there is an Icom radio, the ID-1, which is new this year and will work with the 23 CM band. It is D-Star ready radio. It provides digital phone and data, but will also work with analog. It's pretty cost-prohibitive at the moment ($929.00!), but it will certainly come down. Also, think there are other 23 CM radios coming out this year.
I'm also quite interested in the 1.25 M band. Although there are precious few repeaters to use, it's very nice and private, and there are actually some repeaters to use around here. Jimmy and I enjoy using it quite a bit, even if it's simplex that we use.
Ham Radio Links
n AA9PW FCC Exam Practice (best site for FCC practice tests for Tech, General, and Extra licenses): http://aa9pw.com/radio/
n AES (the best place to buy Amateur Radio equipment with locations in Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Orlando, also Internet): http://www.aesham.com/
n AES Flash Catalog (a nice interactive way to look at the AES catalog): http://www.aesham.com/flash_catalog.html
n Amateur Radio RF Safety Calculator: http://www.dxzone.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump2.cgi?ID=815 (remember first to calculate the average power, which is the power rating in W that must be entered. The ARRL Tech book says the formula for average power should be figured out thus: Average power * percent based on mode of operation (e.g., SSB=20%, FM-100%, etc.) * averaging time (e.g., .5= the average time you talk when working with one other person). So 1500 W, SSB with a .5 averaging time would be 1500*.2*.5=150 W only! When you calculate 150 W av. power on this site, with an antenna of 6 dBi gain on 30 MHz, you come up with a safe RF distance of 2.2 m (controlled environment – basically, within a ham’s domain, home) or 4.9 m (uncontrolled environment – outside that domain).
n AMSAT Online Satellite Pass Predictions: http://www.amsat.org/amsat-new/tools/predict/index.php (if you want to show predictions for the ISS (space station), make sure you select ISS in the Show Predictions for: field. If you are not sure what your latitude and longitude are, you can get them pretty precisely from www.qrz.com if you are a licensed ham, or from Google Earth or perhaps some other places online.
n ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League, the U.S. national association for Amateur Radio): http://www.arrl.org/
n ARRL Band Plans for all Bands: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/regulations/bandplan.html (These are the band plans for the entire Amateur Radio bands.)
n DCARC (Davis County (Utah) Amateur Radio Club): http://www.dcarc.net/go/
n Diamond Antenna website: http://www.rfparts.com/diamond/products.html
n Down East Microwave.com: http://www.downeastmicrowave.com/ (this is a good site for more obscure parts for 1.25 M and other bands; includes also antenna products and VHF/UHF transverters)
n E-HAM (the best place to go to see reviews of ham radio equipment): http://www.eham.net/reviews/
FCC ULS (Universal Licensing System Database) login page: http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home (this is the place you will want to log into to get information on ham license updates).
n ISS (International Space Station) Repeater: http://hamradio.arc.nasa.gov/ISSrepeater.html (Instructions on contacting the hams on the International Space Station, when they come within range. Repeater uplink is on the 70 CM band at 437.800 MHz, while the downlink is on the 2 M band at 145.800 MHz.)
J-Pole Antenna Building: http://ka1fsb.home.att.net/jpole.html (this is a good site for building a good j-pole antenna; not only are good instructions given, but leeway is left to make adjustments and tuning while actually building the antenna)
Mods.DK (a Danish site excellent for its collection of US and other manuals for amateur radio equipment; unfortunately, unless you pay, you can only get one manual for free every few days – extremely exhaustive): http://www.mods.dk/
Morse Code Soundalikes: (This is probably the best way to learn the Morse Code – learn mnemonics for the sound of each character of Morse Code. I got a tape to learn this from, though I can’t remember who from.): http://www.angelfire.com/in3/kb9tmp/MorseCode.html. The group that came up with the system I used was called Wheeler Applied Research and is called “Code Quick”. They claim to be able to teach you the code in a couple of weeks. If I remember correctly, I found out that I could receive code at 5 wpm after I learned the letters. It took a couple or three months to crank up the speed to 20 wpm. They are at: http://www.cq2k.com/
Radials for Vertical Antennas: http://www.antennasbyn6lf.com/2009/12/series-of-qex-articles-on-ground-system-experiments.html (This is a VERY good series of articles by N6LF, Rudy Severns, on the long-debated topic of radials (over-/underground; how many; how long; etc.) Many good articles have been written on this subject, even have appeared in QST, but few go more than a page or two long and really cover the subject thoroughly, as Rudy has done.
J-Pole Antennas – Parts List and Plans for Tri-band
1. This month's club activity (July 2010) will be building j-pole antennas again. Depending on the type of j-pole you want to build the parts will vary. Any size from 70 CM to 6 M can be built (70 CM, 1.25 M, 2 M, 6 M) or a triband antenna (70 CM, 2 M, 6 M).
For each of these, bring an appropriate length of coaxial cable with the appropriate ends at each. Some will also be available on-site for tuning and SWR-checking purposes.
List of parts: for 70 CM, 1.25 M., 2 M j-pole: Available at Home Depot for around $17.00: 1-1/2" wide 10' tall length of copper pipe (you will be either able to make one 2 m or a couple of smaller antennas usually, with this much copper); 1/2" t-connector; 3-1/2" caps; 1-1/2" elbow connector. From Radio Shack: 1-SO-239 connector (it is round with a square mounting bracket).
For 6 M j-pole: Home Depot list: Similar to above, but: 2-1/2" 10' lengths of pipe; 1-3/4" 10' length of pipe; 1-1/2" cap; 2-3/4" caps; 1-3/4" elbow; 1-3/4" t-connector, all from Home Depot. From Radio Shack: 1-SO239 connector (round with square mounting bracket).
For 6 M/2 M/70 CM tribander: Similar to above, but: 2-1" 10' length of pipe; 1-1/2" 10' lengths of pipe; 1-3/4" 10' length of pipe; 2-1/2" caps; 1/2x1/2x3/4" t-connector; 1-1/2" elbow connector; 2-3/4" elbow connectors; 1-3/4x3/4x1" t-connector; 2-3/4" caps; 1-1x1x3/4" t-connector; 1-1" cap; Home Depot. From Radio Shack: 1-SO239 connector (round with square mounting bracket).
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS NEXT ANTENNA IS AN EXPERIMENT AND NO GUARANTEES ARE MADE ABOUT ITS FUNCTION: For 6 M/2 M/1.25 M/70 CM quadbander: Similar to above, but: 2-1" 10' length of pipe; 1-1/2" 10' lengths of pipe; 1-3/4" 10' length of pipe; 2-1/2" caps; 1/2x1/2x3/4" t-connector; 1-1/2" elbow connector; 3-3/4" elbow connectors; 1-3/4x3/4x1" t-connector; 3-3/4" caps; 1-1x1x3/4" t-connector; 1-1" cap; 1-3/4x3/4x3/4 t-connector; Home Depot. From Radio Shack: 1-SO239 connector (round with square mounting bracket).
The activity will be held at the home of Cory Cash at 10:00 a.m., Saturday, 10 July 2010. Cory, N7FV, can be looked up on QRZ along with his personal information, including address, where the activity will be held. Any questions or problems? Call Shon K6QT, (801) 444-3445 (home); or (801) 336-7635 (cell). Hope to see you there!
Plans for Tri-Band J-Pole, p. 1. The plans for the other J-Poles I don't have in diagram form, but can create them, if you are interested. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.