August, 2015
The Roanoke Hamfest went really well. Set up a table for display with the Icom 706 and laptop just like the SELF event, but not able to get the antenna outside to operate. Hearing reports of good propagation on 10 meters this summer but haven't been on the band yet this month.  Did get a Jetstream JT270 to put in the car and back on the air again for mobile!

On other business, finished the transition to operating completely with Linux now. Turns out, there's a Linux version of TrustedQSL, so got that installed with Synaptic Package Manager, installed my TQSL key and even uploaded my first log file from Ubuntu!

With that, I'm logging QSO's on, and LoTW - is that excessive?

June, 2015
Heading to the SouthEast Linuxfest in Charlotte, NC on June 11 - 14. Taking along a HT for 2 meters and a setup with the Icom 706 and laptop for PSK31 (using fldigi on Linux, of course!). Look for KI4LLA calling CQ somewhere on the waterfall at 14.070 Mhz.

January, 2015
Like every winter, it's just been too cold to go out and setup the BuddiPole and get on the air. But this weekend's forecast is looking a bit warmer, so time to dust off the equipment. Anyone that happens to be on 10-meters January 24th, listen for KI4LLA calling CQ on 28.490!

September, 2014
Here's my new project for this fall, set up a rig for connecting to WinLink 2000 over VHF. I've got an old Alinco DR-1200T sitting in storage. Some may be familiar with this radio. It's designed specifically for packet and wasn't even sold with a microphone (although I have used on local 2-meter repeaters). Next steps: build a cable and buy a TNC to connect it up to a laptop. A quick search shows that the only option around is a TNC-X from Coastal Chipworks, although MFJ does have a clone. More to follow, I'm sure.

August, 2014
Where's everyone on 10 meters? Twice this month I've got on and called CQ around 28.490 MHz with nothing in response. I was looking forward to some good propagation with the rise of solar cycle 24, but it's turning out that this cycle maximum is smaller than expected.

June, 2014
sked (plural skeds)
    (informal) schedule, often used by amateur radio operators for a prearranged contact

Not completely a prearranged contact, but I do plan on operating a couple weekends this month.

The weekend of June 7 and 8th, there are a couple of digital mode contests going on:

    Ten-Ten Open Season - 10 meters PSK31
    MixW DigiFest - Digital modes RTTY75, BPSK63 (PSK31 frequencies excluded)

Then, the next weekend I'm planning on is the always popular Field Day on June 28th.

Hope to hear you on the air!

February, 2014
Welcome to the new site! It's been too cold to be outside setting up the Buddipole, so spent some time designing a new web site. Well, more like learning how to install this content management system (CMS) and tinkering with the settings. Just for old times sake, the original site is still located here.

October, 2013
Been making lots of contacts using PSK31 on 30, 20, 17, 15 and now for the first time on 10 meters. The SignaLink seems to have a strange bug where it stops working after a few hours (or is it a problem with DigiPan?). I had dabbled with eQSL a few years back and had logged a few contacts.  But now I'm using the logging feature on and uploading my log file to eQSL on a regular basis. Just went through the steps of setting up an account on LOTW, so looking forward to trying that also.

August, 2013
Passed the Extra exam on 8/18/13! Also purchased a SignaLink USB with cable for the Icom 706 MkIIG, so will be able to get back into the digital modes. Haven't been on PSK31 since I sold the Kenwood 4 years ago. So now I've got new bandwidth and modes to start making some new contacts.

July, 2013
Moved to Roanoke last December. Now that I've got my address changed with the FCC, ready to unbox the radios and start getting back on the air! Since there's no place to put a permanent antenna, looks like I'll be breaking out the Buddipole Deluxe and dusting it off.

Since I'm only 10 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, will be operating portable from a nice overlook or from the back yard.

Also got things setup in eQSL for contacts, so will be using that more on a regular basis.

October, 2009
Starting to get active again by building a new antenna for 75 meters. Since I had a couple spools of 14 gauge wire laying around, why not try an Inverted-V? The arms should be shorter and with all the trees on the lot it should be easy to pull a rope up one of the branches. Since I ended up being a little short on wire, the final antenna wasn't resonant at the exact frequency I was aiming for (3.95 MHz), but it was close enough to use with a tuner.

Using a program that I found here, I got the following stats:
Resonant freq: 4.43 MHz
Feedpoint resistance: 63 ohms
VSWR: 1.27
Overall efficiency: 74.6%
Overall loss: 1.275 dB
I was able to confirm this using my MFJ antenna analyzer.

So, definately a big improvement over my first attempt at building a home-brew antenna (never sucessfully got it to work on 20 meters). Signal reports have been good so far and I've made several contacts in the first couple of days of use. My next project one of these days will be a 40/80 multi-band dipole using Unadilla traps.

September, 2009
It's been a long time since my last blog entry. Not much activity in the ole HF logbook either. Now that I've settled in at the new QTH, I've setup the Icom 706 with a 1/4 wave 2-meter antenna and experimenting with the Buddipole Deluxe on various bands. The most stable configuration is the NVIS dipole for 75-meters so I can check in to the Va Fone Net from time to time.

April, 2008
I've not been very active on the HF bands lately, but looking forward to operating portable up on Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway as the weather begins to warm up. Added a Buddipole Deluxe antenna kit to my collection recently. I also purchased the low-band coil for configuring it as a vertical antenna for 75-meters. Have also setup the Buddipole as a NVIS dipole for 60 and 80 meters using extra wire on each end. Speaking of 60-meters, I've been listening to some of the folks on that band, but have yet to carry on a QSO with anyone.

January, 2008
Hello Solar Cycle 24! The sun spots with reversed polarity from Cycle 23 have now begun to show up: Sunspot is Harbinger of New Solar Cycle, which is excellent news. At least now it's safe to say we've hit the bottom of the cycle and it can only start to get better this spring and summer. I'm sure it will still be pretty quiet for awhile, but just a few sunspots this past July created some activity on 10-meters. Hope to hear some more people on Friday nights on 28.490 Mhz soon!

November, 2007
Apparently I jumped the gun thinking that propagation was going to improve. During the last several weeks sunspots numbers have gone back to zero and the bands have been the worse I've heard yet. Even the workhorse 20-meter band has been bad lately. I tried my hand at contesting for the first time during the ARRL November Sweepstakes, but I couldn't make the 100 contacts needed to qualify for a pin. I'll still send in my logs for the 60 contacts that I did make, with the highlight being able to talk to someone in Hawaii (just barely, but I did make the exchange of information).

On a different topic, picked up a cool new antenna for VHF-UHF, perfect for portable/emergency use: Evans Engineering EE-3 Tri-band. It's small, lightweight and easy to put together. It needs some sort of mount or hang it up with fishing line. I put together a kit with velcro and a 3/4 inch piece of PVC to strap it to a light stand.

July, 2007
The 10-meter band is starting to show some signs of life! In the past week I've been able to make a few contacts on SSB Phone and even talked to a couple of people on a 10-meter FM repeater. I recently acquired a Buddistick portable antenna kit and tried it out over the weekend. I drove up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and setup a portable station using the Ten-Tec Scout on battery power. The Big Spy Mountain overlook has a beautiful 360 degree view and is at an elevation of 3,200 feet.
The 20-meter band was pretty clogged up with a contest going on, but I was able to make over 20 contacts on 10, 17 and 40 meters. I was really impressed with the Buddistick!

March, 2007
Life at the bottom of the solar cycle: "Sunspot numbers for March 15 through 21 were 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0, with a mean of 0" (Quoted from The ARRL Letter Vol. 26, No. 12, March 23, 2007). That's a whole lot of zeros! Listening on HF this past weekend, there was a whole lot of nothing on 10-meters and I only heard two stations on 15-meters (and there was a SSB contest going on). There is something to look forward to in 3-4 years, the most intense solar maximum in fifty years.

February, 2007
The FCC finally ruled on the Morse Code exam requirement and now Technicians will be able to operate some limited HF beginning Feb. 23, 2007. It's kind of ironic that most of the gained privileges will be in CW mode. Complete information can be found here: FCC's Morse Code Report and Order WT Docket 05-235.

To celebrate the new ruling, I will be holding a 10-meter Net, Friday evenings at 7:00 pm EST (local time) on 28.490 MHz SSB Phone. Propagation isn't much now, but wanted to at least give it a try.

December, 2006
I'm ready for winter and possible power outages now. I purchased a couple of 65 amp/hour batteries, a PwrGate Backup Power System and RigRunner power strip. Also got PowerPole connectors for all the radios, so I can plug anything in and have battery backup.

September, 2006
Picked up a used trapped vertical antenna and have it ground mounted in the backyard. It's a Hy-Gain AV-14 for 10-15-20-40 meters. It tunes up just fine on all four bands without any radials. The first day that I installed the vertical, I called CQ on 14.330 and to my surprize I heard back from someone in Spain! Been operating on HF for a month now and I've got a nice list of contacts from several different states. On 20-meters I'm getting consistantly good contacts in the southwest, TX, OK, NM and even CO. On Sunday afternoons, I dust off the Ten-Tec Scout and I've been able to check in to the Ten-Tec nets on 14.329 and 7.253 (2030Z and 2100Z). Most of those guys are running rigs with linear amps, so I'm definately the QRP person at 50 watts!

August, 2006
After working with Code Quick for two months, I was able to pass the 5 WPM CW test! Now I'm finally going to be able to try out the Kenwood TS-570 and the Ten-Tec Scout this weekend. Look for me on 10 meters (28.490), 15 meters (21.390) and 20 meters (14.330). Twenty meters seems to be open more often, so that's where I'll probably be.

June, 2006
Hopefully will be putting up a 40/80 meter dipole out in the backyard this summer. If I ever get the hang of CW, I'll be ready to get on the HF bands.

May, 2006
Continuing to learn code, I've decided that Code Quick with it's sound-alike technique is working better for me. Looking forward to Field Day in June and taking another shot at the code exam at the next VE day.

April, 2006
I've been studying for the General exam since January and decided it's time to give it a try. Passed the written test with flying colors, crashed and burned horribly on the code test. Oh well, back to the Code Quick program for more practice. I also purchased Ham University, so maybe later I can comment on which program works better. I'm also taking the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class this month.

E-mail: darrell at KI4LLA dot US

Published on  May 16th, 2018