Low Profile Vertical HF Antenna

With the upcoming solar cycle pushing operations on the HF bands towards success on 20 meters to 10 meters you might be wondering if a vertical antenna may be the right choice for making the most of this time.

Well, to be honest you may well have just as much success with a simple horizontal dipole strung up.

Dipoles are pretty easy to build and don’t cost too much if you would rather purchase one from Alpha-Delta or the Wireman.

However, if you…

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Lightning Protection using Relays

The topic of lightning protection of our radio equipment and everything else in our homes wisely comes up often in the various ham related email lists on the Internet.

A particular thread on one of these lists spoke of ways to disconnect coax, rotator control lines, etc. at or near where they come into the building. One implementation described by some fellow used relays to disconnect things so he could through one switch and instantly isolate his radios from the antennas.

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Young Attracted to PSK31

During Field Day 2008 we carefully observed what operating modes the young teens did and did not enjoy while they operated. Without a doubt the digital modes, especially PSK31, got their attention.

Teenager and a younger boy sharing PSK31 contacts on an HF station.
Teenager and a younger boy sharing PSK31 contacts on an HF station.

The older of the two, KJ4FAJ, in the picture above said this when he made his first PSK31 contact just after midnight during Field Day…

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Long HT Antennas May Harm HT Radios

If you are like many recently licensed Amateur Radio operators your first purchase may well be a good Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu or other brand Handy-Talkie or HT two way radio. These are most frequently for the 2 meter and 70 centi-meter bands (144 and 440 MHz).

The antenna that comes with your radio is probably about 8 inches long and is a compromise between convenient length and performance.

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JL Logger – Logger for Java Run Time Environment

I guess it was only a matter of time before Java made its way into the world of ham radio. Really, Java has been at the forefront of computing for some time. Whenever a programmer friend asks me if they should port their popular program to Java I say “why bother, Java is just too slow.” That was then and this is now.

Java is still slower than directly compiled programs, but computers are so fantastically fast these days, this issue is becoming not an issue.

One of the participants on the Sunday Night Tech Net mentioned he is reviewing and modifying a new, too him anyway, JAVA based contest logger.

Enter JL Logger…

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Why QSO Contest Logging and Paper don’t mix

Field Day 2008 was great for us. Our wide area wireless network worked pretty well and every station could monitor progress of the whole group.

This year we extensively used the “operator initials” field in the N3FJP Field Day Network 2.8 logging software package. Operators used their call-sign as their ‘initials’ while honored guests used their actual initials.

The site-wide log offered many great analysis possibilities. One particularly interesting metric we tracked this year was QSO rates. We generated graphs of QSO totals vs. Time Between QSOs. Here is an example of the entire log…

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Ugly World of Generator Power

It is well known many models of UPS units do not like the power from motor power portable generators. Indeed it is a difficult task to keep the sine wave pristine when you don’t have the benefit of hundreds of square miles of the power network feeding you an almost infinite about of energy. Here is an example of the waveform from a truck mounted generator delivering much less power than its rated output… about 100 watts from a 5,000 watt generator.

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Outdoor Yard Lighting Attracts Lightning

Well not really attracts lightning, but certainly allows for more pickup of lightning energy.

Last night on our Sunday Night Tech Net (Fauquier County, VA Repeater) a fellow named Bob brought up the topic of proper grounding for his upcoming coax fed 40 meter antenna. During the discussion about common ground points and other relating lightning protection possibilities, he recalled a story.

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