Digital Station

This is my portable digital radio station, as it is as of Sunday morning. I have Winlink Express, WSJTX, and JS8Call all running the KX3. Image captured with iPhone 13 Pro Max.

A week or so ago, I was motivated to get some of the digital modes operational on my portable station. I did not bring the Digirig Mobile that I specifically purchased for the Elecraft KX2/KX3 radios with me this trip. It was one of several things left behind because I simply did not have enough time to prepare for the trip. So, I did what I always do… I bought another module.

It is not actually a waste because I will put one in each of the KX3 and KX2 go-kits. Then there will not be a (significant) risk of leaving the module behind (again).

The WSJTX software gives access to the FT8 and FT4 modes, which are useful for quick exchanges such as those for a POTA or SOTA activation, or for a contest1. I have yet to use these modes for any of those things. But I do use them when home (in the radio noise) so I can play a little radio. I have yet to use FT8 for a park activation, although that is a thing.

JS8Call is a digital mode based on the FT8 engine, but permits more text than the quick exchange of the latter mode. That is, a full conversation contact is possible along with a lot more capability. This is a potential mode for emergency communications when voice operations are not possible or not advisable. I do use this mode to make contacts when at home and the noise is too much for me to hear other stations.

Both FT8 and JS8 are called weak signal modes because the computational engines are capable of extracting usable signals at the noise floor or below. This is amazing!

I spent a good part of Saturday getting everything running and testing the results. The main issue I encountered was a change in Windows 11 that treated the soundcard (the Digirig) as a DVD device with a data rate of 48KHz. I think the software was expecting a datarate of 44.1KHz (the CD rate).

Once I sorted this problem out, all three programs worked fine. I was able to send and receive email (Winlink) via HF radio. I was able to make contacts using both WSJTX and JS8Call modes. And these tasks were accomplished with the KX3 at five watts output into the Elecraft AX1/AXE antenna. The antenna is a tiny thing that I use when there is no room to deploy something larger. It is truly a compromise antenna. Yet I was able to accomplish my goals in a noisy environment using a compromise antenna and five watts.

The next step is to get the FLDIGI suite working on my Surface Go 2 and with the KX2/KX3 radios. This is another digital software package that has a lot of capability for many modes. It will be useful in an emergency setting when other means of communication (Internet, phones) are unavailable. But, for now, I want to spend time working with JS8 so I can learn its capabilities. I also need practice with Winlink so I can get around in it efficiently.

  • Setup of WSJTX and JS8Call are closely related (use the same engine). Once one of them is working, the odds are that the other will work with only some small adjustments.
  • Use the USB mode and not the DATA mode on the KX2/KX3 radios. That is what works best, at least for me.
  • The bitrate of the soundcard is a big deal. It took some hunting to find it and I did not see it documented anywhere else. The search engines failed me in that regard.
  • Getting VARA HF to work with the soundcard can also be a bit fiddly. The sure to pay attention to the ALC function of the radio (set the audio output of the soundcard or audio input the radio carefully). Any audio compression should be turned off. I suspect the same will be true of other modems (ARDOP, Packet, etc), although I have not tried them (yet).
  • If you find you do not have enough headroom with the audio input or the audio output, an adjustment to the soundcard levels is appropriate through the Windows Sound setup page. (Which one will depend on what version of Windows you are running.)
  • I am generally good at remembering how to do these configurations once I sort the approach out. However, it is probably a good idea to get the setup procedure recorded in one’s radio notes in case adjustments need to be made under the pressure of required operations.

That is my report for this little exercise. In total, I probably spent five or six hours fiddling with the equipment and software and another few hours playing with the radio. It was an intellectually challenging exercise because there are so many moving parts. But, it was still a good day.

I also had the chance to visit with my buddy in Montana, who decided to work on some of this as well.

Maybe some of these notes will help someone else over the hump. I know there was a lot of research to solve simple (ha) problems.

Life is good.

1Yes, some contests permit use of the FT8/FT4 digital modes.

AAR Parks on the Air — K-10387 Joe Crighton SRA

This was my KX2 station setup at K-10387, Joe Crighton State Recreation Area. Shot with iPhone 13 Pro Max.

I was up early Wednesday morning to see Older Son off to work. He leaves the house about 0630h and I like to get up and spend an hour or so with him as he readies himself for the day. I have a cup of coffee and chat with him and DiL. She also gets up to spend time with him before he heads off and her day starts.

DiL runs the Springfield Barnes & Noble, so her hours are variable. She sometimes leaves just after Older Son. And sometimes she leaves much later. That is the nature of retail work. But she always gets up with him and I respect that.

After he leaves I sometimes return to nap for a few more minutes. It all depends on how well I slept the night before. As I age, I find that sometimes I do not sleep as well. I am sure my experience is not unusual.

Fortunately, my work permits me a lot of flexibility. I like that and take advantage of it.

But, Wednesday morning I warmed my cup of coffee and sat at the desk. A hydraulic model I am working on completed late last night and I wanted to review the work and decide what to do next. In reviewing the results, I had good ideas for what needed to be done. So, I got started on it. I worked until my brain rebelled, so I decided it was time to take a break.

DiL had returned to bed, so I got a shower and dressed for my day. That brought Sera out to see what I was doing. I decided I needed a waffle in my face and Sera could tell I was moving with purpose.

So, she went with me. We drove up to the Waffle House and I had sausage and eggs and a pecan waffle. I saved some of my sausage and my hash browns for Sera. She was very excited when I returned to the rig with a treat. 🙂

We drove home and I returned to my hydraulic model. I finished the amendments about noon and started a run. Once the preprocessor finished developing the solution grid and the computational engine started, I knew it would be a few hours before I had any results.

That meant — I had a few hours to play. The weather was gorgeous so I decided to get out and activate a new park. Sera and I headed out, I bought a sandwich and a bottle of water, and we arrived at the park in a few minutes. I got lunch and Sera out and we shared my sandwich and chips. She sniffed around while I deployed an antenna.

It took four or five tries to get a line over a branch. This is a new skill for me and I can tell I need practice judging where to aim to get the line over the branch I want. But the equipment I have is just about right for the light wires that I typically use.

I setup the little Elecraft KX2 with the Tufteln end-fed random wire antenna, connected directly to the radio. I brought a small Bioenno LFP battery, which I connected. I also brought a N3ZN key along as well. It took longer to get the antenna setup than any of the other equipment.

I had a cellular signal, so I was able to spot myself on the POTA website with my iPhone. I also used my iPhone to log contacts with the HAMRS app. I find it easy to log on the iPhone, although I am sometimes a bit fumbly and fat-finger the text.

I have a CQ message stored in the radio, so I set it off to call while I finished getting ready to take calls. And take calls I did. Even running just five watts of power, I worked a pile-up on the 20m band for nearly 45 minutes. When the hole was fished out, I changed to the 17m band, found an open frequency, and started calling. The Reverse Beacon Network picked me up and the POTA scraper respotted my activation at the new frequency.

I worked another pile-up for another half hour or so.

One thing I noticed was that my passband was a little too narrow. I had it set that way during my last activation, probably trying to improve the signal-to-noise ratio or because another operator work working on a nearby frequency. Nonetheless, I could hear a couple of station outside the passband, so I opened it up a bit so I could copy the signals and worked those callers too.

After a couple of hours, I had 32 or 33 contacts in my log, plenty for the activation. The sun was starting to get low in the sky and I still wanted a walk before the day ended. I also needed to attend to the model run and see what needed to be done, if anything.

It did not take long to recover the station and we were off towards home.

When Older Son arrived, we got The Girl out for a good walk. We got home just after the Sun fell below the horizon.

As usual, I learned a few more things.

  • Using an arborist throw kit is a learned skill. I need more practice to get the weight and line over my target branch. It is just practice.
  • I really like the lighter throw weight and the 1.7mm or 1.8mm line that I got on my second buy. The first kit is too heavy for what I do. The lighter kit will be perfect for the light wires I use and is a lot less weight and bulk to carry, should I decide to pack the kit in.
  • I need to work with the Tufteln EFRW antenna more. I could not get a good match on the 30m band (10MHz) with the KX2 and the EFRW antenna connected directly to the radio. This should work. I have an adjustment to make, I think.
  • The little KX2 is a fine radio for this kind of application. It is not as good as the larger KX3, but it is a lot smaller rig.
  • I should have used headphones for the activation. There was enough traffic noise to be distracting and interfere with my ability to copy the calling stations. I do not like to be isolated from the surroundings, however. So I have to get my powered headphones setup to wear while running the radio. They are also active ear protection, so they have microphones to provide situational awareness with control over the balance between communications and environmental sound levels.

All in all, it was a good day. I am grateful. Life is good!

Compton Hollow SRA – K-10386 AAR — 12 December 2024

My view from the rig at Compton Hollow SRA, K-10386 (POTA). It was cold, snowy, and windy. Did I mention cold? Shot with iPhone 13 Pro Max and SOOC.

Friday morning did not dawn, at least the Sun was not visible that morning because of the clouds. I woke with the rest of my family, rolled out, had coffee, and saw them off to work.

The Girl and I then took a nap.

With a little more sleep, I rose and made another coffee and sat down at my desk. After a bit of work, I decided that I wanted to get out for some breakfast and some Waffle House coffee. Yes, I also wanted a pecan waffle.

I got The Girl out to do her morning business and we loaded up and drove over to the Waffle House. I returned with the hash browns and the bulk of my bacon. I decided to brave the weather and activate K-10386, Compton Hill SRA, for the second time. It was about 20 minutes to the site.

There, the snow was blowing sideways and it was very cold. I got The Girl out again because she was holding her poop for walkies. However, it was too cold for walkies, so I let her eliminate (she was running back and forth) and then returned her to rig.

It did not take long to deploy the Chameleon MPAS 2.0 in vertical mode and connect the KX3 to a battery and key. I used my iPhone to log (HAMRS).

I had a phone signal, so I spotted myself on the 40m band and started sending CQ. My buddy Dick was watching the RBN network to see if any sniffers picked up my spot. I called for a few minutes and then abandoned 40m and moved up to the 30m band.

With that change the RBN sniffers picked up my signal (10w) and the POTA tracker spotted me. I started taking calls.

I had turned off the rig while on the 40m band because of the ignition noise. However, when I moved to the 30m band I started the vehicle (for heat) and it was quiet enough. I was less worried about me getting cold than I was for The Girl. She can probably handle it better than I think, but she really does not have much fur and little undercoat.

When the 10MHz frequency I was running ran dry, I moved up the the 20m band and started calling at 14.062MHz. Again, the RBN picked me up and respotted me. My buddy Dick was able to work me (repeat offender) and I finished off my activation.

I ran back out to collect the antenna and put things away (mostly). The wind was rough although the snow was not too bad. It did not take long to recover the antenna and stow the radio.

I jumped back into the rig to warm up. The Girl moved back to the front seat and her perch. I got out my camera and made an image of the horizontally-blowing snow.

We headed for the house. It did not take long to warm up again.

I really should have a pair of insulated coveralls in my rig. It would have been much easier on me if I had and if I had a good pair of cold-weather gloves.

Those were my lessons for this trip. It was a good activation even if the weather was poor.

Life is good.

Daily Image: 02 January 2024 — End of the Road

This is my first image of the new year. Shot with the Fuji X100V 23mm f/2 at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation.

Happy New Year 2024! I am here in Ozark, Missouri, visiting some of my kids and recovering from a cold. I took the camper to Camping World for a damage estimate and now will see whether the insurance company will cover some of the repairs or I have to bear the cost. But, it needs to be repaired. So, I wait.

The entry of the New Year was uneventful. With my cold, I went to bed about 2000h, done. My kids also turned in early; both are also sick. No, it was not me… she was sick when I arrived and I started shortly thereafter. No, she did not give it to me because it was too soon. No, it is not COVID. I am pretty confident it was the pre-travel stress, travel, camper-damage stress, and exposure to a lot of people along the way.

I will get better, but I might go see an urgent care clinic to get some antibiotics as I feel a chest cold/bronchitis starting.

For now, I am spending my effort healing and recovering from travel. I need to start some work on a couple of outstanding projects. That will be good as I will generate some billable hours. I had no billing the end of December to close out the year.

Once the dust settles on the camper, I will decide how to go see the last set of my kids as I need to see them on this trip. The question will be whether I am dragging the camper or using hotels for the trip there.

My original intention was to head south from Pennsylvania and work some new parks, see some new places, make some photographs, and work my way home. I need my camper to do that. So, my plans are unset until others finish their work.

In the meantime, I will work, rest, recover, and spend time with Older Son and DiL. Older Son and I drove out the Compton Hills SRA last Saturday and activated the park. Well, I activated the park. It was too cold to sit outdoors so I only put up a low-power station. We sat in the rig and I activated using CW mode (Morse Code).

I made the capture with the Fujifilm X100V on walkies with The Girl on New Years Day. It was my first good capture of the year. Life is still good. I am still grateful.

Parks on the Air

Shot with the Fujifilm X100V.

A couple of weekends ago I decided it was time to not work all weekend. On Saturday morning, The Girl and I headed out, not knowing where I might end up. We walked for an hour out at Silver Saddle Ranch, then headed east on US 50. I was on the phone with my buddy Dick and indicated that I needed to get out and do something away from the house.

At first, I thought I would drive down to Yerington and activate the wildlife management area north of town. But, as I turned south on US 95, I decided that either Buckland Station or Ft. Churchill were both closer and needed to be activated.

Buckland Station won the coin toss. I parked the rig and looked for a place to deploy a wire. Seeing none, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m SOTAbeams mast from the rig and set them up. I also retrieved the Elecraft KX3 and a small battery from the rig.

A little wider shot of the Buckland Station deployment. The KX3 is in the foreground and the SOTAbeams mast, random-wire antenna, and part of the drive-on mast are in the background. Shot with iPhone 13 Pro Max.
I used the Sagebrush Antenna deployed to near vertical with the distal end affixed to the top of the mast. The opposite end went to a cobrahead adapter and direct to the radio. I threw the counterpoise on the ground around the rig.

I sat down at my folding table with my back to the sun (it was chilly), started a log on my iPhone (HAMRS), and listened on 20m near the QRP watering hole of 14.060MHz. With nothing heard, I called QRL? (“Is the frequency in use?”) a couple of times, then hit the message button to transmit “CQ CQ POTA DE AG7TX AG7TX POTA K” a couple of times, then paused to listen for a caller.

The KX3 station setup at Buckland Station for a POTA activation. Shot with iPhone 13 Pro Max.
While the radio was sending my general call, I spotted myself on the POTA network. After a few minutes, the calls began to come in. I worked each station as I could and even managed a few DX (foreign country) contacts. The most memorable being an OH1 station located in Finland.

I worked the bands for an hour or so and made my quota for an activation. I was cold, so The Girl and I headed home after a brief pit stop.

The door of Buckland Station. This is what arriving travelers and Pony Express riders would have seen a hundred years ago. Shot with Fujifilm X100V at f/8 with Reggie’s Portra film simulation.
I woke Sunday morning again not wanting to spend the day working. So I puttered a bit over my morning coffee and then decided to get The Girl out to walk and do another POTA activation.

I grabbed a snack because my blood sugar has been falling unexpectedly, some water, and a battery for the radio. We loaded up into the rig and headed west to Spooner Summit. I pulled off onto the forest road and parked the rig at the staging area where I like to work.

The Girl and I then headed out to walk before I set up a radio. Again, I talked to my buddy in Montana as I walked. But I kept my eyes open for critters as I have seen a big coyote who is not afraid of humans several times.

She was ready to rest when we returned to the rig, so I gave her some water and put her in the 4Runner. She settled right down for a nap in the sun.

I retrieved the new line-throwing kit from the 4Runner, stretched out the line, and affixed the throw weight. After four or five throws, I was unable to hit my target branch. Instead of fumbling more, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m mast from the rig and setup a wire antenna. I again used the Elecraft KX3 barefoot (10-15w of power) and set up my table and chair.

A wind had come up, maybe gusting to 10–15mph, but variable direction. It was kinda-sorta from the south, but was curling around to the point I could not get shelter.

So I put on my heavier hoodie, put my back to the wind (and the sun), and worked the radio. The higher bands have been good lately, so I started on 10m and worked my way down.

Again, it took an hour or hour-and-a-half to make my activation quota and work the bands dry. The sun was falling lower in the sky and I was cold, so I quit.

It did not take long to put away the station and get The Girl out for a last bit. She looked for critters and peed until I called her in and we got into the rig.

It was another good day and a good day for me to get outdoors. The Girl loved it, too.

I learned a few more things.

  • I need practice with the throwing kit. I suspect there is something of an art to using a throw weight and line to hit a particular target.
  • I need some kind of shelter for cool-weather activations. I looked at a fishing hut last year, but did not buy one. A small fishing hut that folds up would make a good operating shelter. I could deploy a heater (I have one) and place a mat for The Girl.
  • My principal reservation about a hut is the lack of windows. I like being outside because (in part) I like the sun and the light. I do not want my activation shelter to cut those things off.
  • I need the means to heat water and make coffee, tea, soup, or a hot meal. I have used the Trangia burner in another stove I have in my inventory. But it is not as handy as I want. Hence, I am working on an upgraded kit and some of the results are posted on this weblog.
  • The iPhone works for spotting myself and for logging, But I think a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and pencil should be in my field kit. I am thinking again of reducing my dependence on technology, although it is good to be able to spot myself for SOTA/POTA activations.
  • HAMRS is well suited to logging POTA activations. It has features that display other activators and make it easy to log their information for park-to-park chasing.
  • I am not sure I ever documented my post-processing of POTA logs. Most of my activations are multiple parks, at least two. I have a couple of favorite places that are three or four park activations. That means the post-processing of my log requires some editing so that chasers get credit of more than one park. I also get credit for activating multiple parks.
  • The new field cooking kit is coming along. I will have the ability to make a hot drink or food in the field. This is a critical safety issue as hypothermia is real and it does not have to be very cold for it to strike. Hot food and drink are part of combating environmental dangers effectively.
  • I am really enjoying Morse Code. I still operate phone part of the time. But the ability to deploy a small radio kit and make contacts thousands of miles away with a few watts means everything is smaller, lighter, and simpler than a more powerful radio kit.

That is all I can think of. It was a good couple of days in the field. Life is good.

Before I left the park, I walked around Buckland Station for a few captures. This one is of the north-facing side of Buckland Station. Shot with the Fujifilm X100V at f/8 with Reggie’s Portra film simulation.

Daily Image — 10 September 2023

I love textures. This old log attracted my attention with the combination of surface texture and the play of light on the surface. I made the capture with a Fuji X-E4 and a Voigtlander Ultron 27mm f/2 at f/8. I used the Kodachrome 64 film simulation.

The Girl and I are hiking up near Spooner Summit a lot lately. It is cool up there. The lodgepole pines give a lot of shade and I love the sound of the wind in them. The risk of snakes is less than it is in the sageland. There are lots of things to photograph and the offering changes often with the change in light.

The area was burned a few years ago. Many of the trees are undamaged. But there are plenty of downed trees that can be interesting (both for The Girl and for me). There are also lots and exposed rocks that provide interesting textures.

It will take me a while to exhaust the area of photographic subjects.

On this particular day, The Girl and I hiked our regular trail from the staging area. She sniffed about looking for critters while I explored visually. I found this downed tree and like the texture and play of light across the surface. I made the capture. Post-processing was light with a little change in contrast and a little boost to the color.

When we returned to the staging area, I setup a radio station and activated the park. The site is also a designated Parks on the Air site (actually it is a double — two parks). It was a good day. I am grateful. Life is good.

The Girl Poses

She would rather be hunting. But she needed a break because she was overheating. Shot with Fuji X-T5 and the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 at f/4.
While I work through my first morning coffee, I decided to post a capture of my lovely Girl. She will pose for me if I ask. Well, maybe sometimes I have to tell. [Heh]

We have been spending some time every weekend in the national forest at an elevation of about 7,000 feet. It is much cooler there and the pines provide shade and that soothing shooshing sound when the breeze blows through the needles. The lagniappe is that I can play radio a little, hike as much as I want, and enjoy being away from the sounds of Carson City.

I already have enough backlog of photographs to post for weeks. Those are just the captures from the last couple of weekends up there near Spooner Summit. I have many more from our walks at Silver Saddle Ranch.

I am already looking forward to the weekend. I plan on going back to this place. Although, as I think on it, my friend Greg mentioned Hermit Valley out south of us. It is also at elevation and is a new place to explore. I will have a look this week to see if there is a park or a summit to activate. Then I might plan a day trip out there to explore.

Down the (NVIS) Rabbit Hole

Here is another short entry I wrote some time ago. I am not sure when I wrote it nor why I never posted it. But it turned up when i did a search for draft articles. It is complete, so here it is.

It all started so innocuously. The May edition of the SNARS Crackin’ Static arrived in my email inbox. I started reading it and came across an article about Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) antennas.

NVIS is very useful for short range high-frequency radio communications. The military uses it for their communications and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) uses it for emergency auxiliary communications for their served agencies.

It is also useful for contacting close stations when activating a park (POTA) or a summit (SOTA) when the stations have intervening topography or are beyond ground wave propagation. Ground wave works out to about 50 miles or so (depending on frequency). The first skip is out somewhere over 500 miles or so (depending on both frequency and ionospheric conditions). So there is a gap in between the 50–500-mile range.

This is where NVIS comes into play. The trick is to choose an operating frequency such that the ionosphere will refract near vertical radio waves back to ground. If the frequency is too low, then it is absorbed by the ionosphere. If it is too high, no refraction occurs.

So, the Goldilocks principle applies — the just right frequency is needed.

And so off I go down the rabbit hole, reading about ionosondes (radio stations that test the ionospheric conditions) and the data they produce.

And here I go learning about Lowest Usable Frequency, , and Maximum Usable Frequency plus a host of associated data and technology.

I love looking at graphs of data as well and learning how to interpret what I see.

This research will probably result in a short note on how to read the data and the charts. If one is a radio operator, then this is important material… provided you want your signal to get through.

A SOTA Weekend

The Girl passing by my KX1 station while we were on Hot Springs Mountain for a SOTA activation.

I wrote this over a year ago, but never got around to posting it. I am not sure why. Perhaps I set it aside to look for a photograph for the header. Or, perhaps I simply forgot about it. Nonetheless, it is not a bad story so I think I will tell it.

This weekend was a study in contrasts. Saturday, a friend and I drove up to the activation zone of Prison Hill, at the south side of Carson City. The trail to the top is no challenge for the 4Runner and I’m not a hard driver.

So I had the luxury of computer logging, full output power from the KX3, a table to work from, and a nice chair. The antenna was a kit-built EFHW in inverted-L using a SOTAbeams 10m travel mast. It was a fun afternoon with a friend and my dog, although neither of them participated in the radio fun (the friend is licensed; the dog is not).

This morning I decided I had so much fun yesterday that I would do it again, this time Hot Springs Mountain. It was just doggo and me. I attempted an approach from the west side, but the last half-mile was a rough trail of scrabble and I did not think the 4Runner would traverse it.

So I drove around to the south side and up a sand wash. The sand had a little moisture from the last snow and I was able to stay on top of the sand by keeping up my speed.

I expected the sand ravine near the top and there it was. I was sure I could get down to the bottom of the ravine, but figured that’s where I would stay.

So, I got out my KX1 kit (shack in a small Pelican box), a bottle of water, a 3Ah LFP battery (gives just a little more output power from the little KX1 and will run forever), and the SOTAbeams mast.

The SOTAbeams travel mast leaned up against a rock cairn atop Hot Springs Mountain. An end fed random wire is affixed to the top of the antenna for the activation.
Doggo has four-paw drive, but not so this old man. She sprinted back and forth urging me on while I trudged up the remaining quartile mile of trail, pausing now and again to catch my breath.

There was a cairn in the activation zone and I found a way to stabilize the mast against the cairn with a Voile strap I brought along, just in case. I stretched the wire I carry in the kit along the mast and threw the second bundle of wires I use for a counterpoise on the rocks.

The radio matched the antenna readily and the 40m noon net (7.2835MHz) NCO heard me. So I knew I had a working station.

Over the next hour and a half I worked 17 stations on 40m, 30m, and 20m, including a couple of summit-to-summit operators. Doggo sat patiently next to me, enjoying the sun and the view.

I was on 20m when the antenna was blown over by the wind a second time. It had come up near the end of my operation.

I finished landing the fish I had on the line and announced my QRT, followed by a post to the SOTAwatch portal. It only took me a few minutes to tear down and head back down the hill.

I should mention that I used the backup key for this activation. The key I had been using failed during the first part of my activation. Fortunately, I keep the factory key in the kit as a backup. It’s not my favorite key, but it is a working key.

The contrast in the two ops is striking. Saturday was what I’ll GLOTA (glam-SOTA), with all the luxuries one could want in the field. Today I earned my contacts the hard way — by humping up the last, steepest, part of the hill.

Both days were good. Today was better. I’m whupped!

Daily Image — Antenna Testing

A fellow member of The Tech Prepper’s Discord sent me an antenna to test. The Girl and I took it to Washoe Lake.

I sat on this project for almost three weeks. A fellow member of The Tech Prepper’s Discord channel offered to send me an antenna to test. It is a linked, end-fed, half-wave antenna. It covers the 20m, 30m, 40m, 60m, and 80m amateur radio bands. It is intended to be set up low so that the low bands will provide regional communications (near vertical incident skywave, which is technical talk for bouncing off the ionosphere).

So we drove up to Washoe Lake where I would have room to deploy the antenna. I did not get out a radio, but used the antenna analyzer to test it.

After about an hour of playing with the antenna, I got Sera out to play in the water a bit. It was hot.