Monthly Archives: May 2011

Broken Bits – Doing Tower Repairs at K9ZW

I would like to pretend that every item in my station never needs service, but alas that is not the case!

Right before Dayton my Ham-IV Rotor started giving me troubles. Failure to move, sloppiness, slowness and having been pushed so hard by extended periods of extended high winds suggest that it is more than a loose wire.

Kind of think it is time to put it out.

A few years back I bought another Ham-IV and had it overhauled by Rotor Doctor (C.A.T.S.) and then put in on the shelf just for this occasion. Time to rotate that spare into service and send this one off for the same C.A.T.S. overhaul to serve its stint for some years as my spare.

The original rotor was of dicey provenience – I’m not certain if it was in the (very) used tower when I bought it, or it if was with the used Tennadyne T-8 Log Periodic when I acquired it. Either way it was likely 15-20 years old & weathered when it came to me.

Original thought was to use it as a stop-gap until the C.A.T.S. rebuild was in, which was three-four years ago.

So next available decent weekend day it is lower the crank-down (electric) antenna, pull the bolts and tip-over the remaining structure, and check everything over & swap rotors. I’ll use a couple rings of scaffold with picks to make the work easy & safe.

Will be doing an upgrade on Rotor Wire up the mast at that time and doing any other needed service.

Until then I have great coverage for the Caribbean, but nowhere else on 20-6m due to “rotor-lock.”

Pictures when I get the day off and decent weather – should be with other inspections & service on the something less than a full day of work plus or minus a few hours.



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HamNation Podcast/Videocast at TWiT

I’m downloading both the video and the audio only introduction edition of HamNation as I type.

HamNation LogoHAM Nation is the new TWIT show about ham radio.

Bob Heil, with various co-hosts and guests will cover the excitement and importance of ham radio – from tossing an antenna wire in a tree allowing you to talk to the world, to the importance of ham radio operators in time of disasters.

HAM Nation airs live each Tuesday at 6:00 PT/ 9:00ET on

via The TWiT Netcast Network with Leo Laporte.

Knowing Bob Heil the production should be fun and have spunk!

You can also subscribe through Apple’s iTunes. Either search the iTunes store or use the link from the webpages.



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Dayton Dust – Hamvention Reflected

Some closing Dayton Hamvention thoughts before I move onto other topics.

The pluses of Dayton 2011 People! I had the fantastic opportunity to spend time with my friend George W9EVT traveling, visit family who made Dayton the focus of a long overdue reunion, met lots of old and new friends, spent time talking first hand with developers & vendors of products I’m interested in, learned much first hand from those presenting.

The downs of Dayton 2011 Logistics! It is a day’s run to get to a place that bluntly is substandard. Living in the present, rather than taking on the rose colored glasses of a nostalgia for Dayton’s Past, the place simply isn’t “destination quality.”

The ROI (Return on Investment) and CBA (Cost/Benefit Analysis) is still working for Dayton because of the people. Really if I wanted to see “stuff” I would be money ahead to order everything that interested me, have it shipped to me, and return what I didn’t like or want. But with a hobby that is about communication – about sharing a personal interface with others – it really is the people that holds Dayton together by overcoming the squalor.

Having done trade shows, including hobby shows, in several countries I am embarrassed that we pretend that Dayton is a “nice place” to meet & show our good side to fellow amateurs from around the world. We can blow all the smoke we want, but it is simply isn’t much of a place compared to how many of these other shows run.

On the CBA basis there are alternative – Hamcation, Ham-Com, and overseas, then a great number of regional and/or focus events. Last year I attended the W9DXCC which remains on my radar for this year.

Now there is a bit of personal focus – I am not a Flea Market person by temperament, and am busy enough that I really appreciate easy, clean, well run recreational events. I know that this is different for folk who have have the smarts & interest to sift through the bargains in the swap meet.

Dayton Past may have been better – though most of the nostalgia I hear centers on People, which remains a highlight.

Dayton Present is what it is – a bunch of great people meeting in a facility that in many other places would have long ago been condemned. Again the People make up for so much.

Dayton Tomorrow – is a for me a “Big Maybe.” I’ve skipped several years, and mostly had people reasons to return (friends and/or family). My son Tom KC9JGD wanted to go a couple years ago, and if I get a chance to spend time with George W9EVT I am always happy to be the driver. Another son Winston KC9FVR asked about this year, though his school schedule conflicted, where next year it looks like he would be free to go. I still have family in the Dayton area.

That said perhaps it is time to see if the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” and pick one or more alternative events to attend? Maybe one overseas and combine the travel with catching up with friends & family there?

Look at that question – again it comes down to “the people” and perhaps no matter what that it is “the people” that make an event, wherever & whenever something special?



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Dayton – 2011 – Random Notes Edition 6

Returned home about an few hours ago, straight forward nice 7 hour run. Pretty decent traveling.

Some last thoughts in this series about Dayton and about Ham Radio.

The Hamvention simply has to move to a better venue. Apparently plans to move in 2008 to an as yet built new Dayton Expo Center failed when backers fell out due to the poor economy, but that is lame excuse for wallowing in the Hara Dump. When basic needs like bathrooms and ventilation repeatedly don’t work, and the general shabbiness of the amenities is taken into account, the show is great, the site doesn’t deserve the show. I’m not going to dwell on this, as for me there is the honor of being the transport for my friend George W9EVT, which trumps pulling out while he wants to attend. A couple years back my son Tom KC9JGD attended and all three of the boys expressed interest in attending something amateur radio, but between school and Tom’s memories of lousy food, the unclean Hara, sweltering in unventilated forums, being accosted by street vermin (verbal, as I suggested they would be better off finding someone else to bother), and dour Dayton itself – well he said he’d rather work…. That tells the tale right there – the Hamvention of yesterday doesn’t hold enough for youth to build enough interest to overcome the downside.

It is sort of like showing your best jewelry with the pieces cast into a bucket of mud. The jewelry – in the Hamvention case the vendors and education – still is the same shinny product, but the display setting is poor. [EDIT – I didn’t realize the “pearls in the muck” analogy was so accurate, as a number of Outside Vendors had to relocated during the show as sewage broke through the surface flooding their allocated spots with raw pong-water – again showing the infrastructure at the Hara is very past it’s prime, and in decay.]

That leads to “The Alternate Dayton” – events like the QRP Four Days in May (FDIM) started it, but there are an increasing number of Dayton Area, but NOT at the Hara events that you can fill your entire Dayton experience with. These events are becoming more and more popular for a variety of reasons:

  • First they don’t try to be everything to everybody, and have a shared focus of excellence.
  • Second they tend to he held at higher quality facilities – places with onsite parking, clean facilities and working A/C.
  • Third they tend to a shared decorum – less of the odd antics folk with HT’s hairsprayed into their beehive hairstyle, or wearing hardhats with antennas bristling.
  • Fourth they tend to be “Living FOR the Future” of the hobby, rather than “living IN the Past.”

General impression is that the decline in attendance has stabilized, though to what percentage the support of the Alternative Events share responsibility?

A lot of Ham Radio history is just that “History” and is so far from the state of the hobby, while being distant enough from the leading edge of the hobby that you “can’t see here from there.” Will Boat Anchors continue to interest people as those who originally knew this gear when it was new leave the hobby or become SKs? Or will the hobby have more folk like myself who would like a single affordable representative Boat Anchor setup, while having little time to even think about collecting these large pieces? Pretty good question…..

Another interesting phenomena is the broadening differences between various classes of hams:

  • The Experimenter who has his most fun when developing and trying out new ideas.
  • The Tinkerer who gets their enjoyment from repairing/modifying/restoring gear, mostly older gear – or gear old enough to at least be out of warranty.
  • The Operator who wants the station they assemble to simply Work, while giving less thought as to what the tech specs are.
  • The Status Hound who might not get on the air hardly at all, though has an IC-7800, an Orion-II, and an FT-9000 and lets you know all about it.
  • The Sportsman who is driven by pure performance, whatever the source or pedigree.
  • The QRPer who with a Zen-like passion is drive to see how much they can do with how absolutely little.
  • The Ready-Alert Emcomm focused who is ready for something, just when is that sometime going to happen?…..
  • The Disco Dandy who is locked in a sharply focused, often single band/model, focus on one of the product offerings from the 70’s or 80’s.
  • The Retro-Ham who is having a blast rediscovering old technology – whether tubes, crystals or something less common, and building up new old style rigs.
  • The Tanner (because they mostly expose themselves to U-V of UHF/VHF) who is puzzled why anyone wants any radio that can’t be clipped to your belt.
  • The Birdman who is working Satellites….
  • The Map-Man who is DX focused…

Well you get the idea, and there are others I’ve not recognized, and of course most amateurs have a mix of several of these traits.

An interesting mix to market to, as in general the expectations of each type have increased each decade. Perhaps expecting the Hamvention to extend to meet these expectations is too much?

I’m going to leave the idea of what could replace the Hamvention for myself, and what should happen to return the Hara to the the basics expected to be worth the trip, for a week or so from now after I’ve had time to think some more.

Very curious what your take is?



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Dayton – 2011 – Random Notes Edition 5a – FlexRadio Dayton 2011 Livestream

A Livestream Video from the Banquet – maybe more to be posted and others from the show:




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Dayton – 2011 – Random Notes Edition 5

Just in from the excellent FlexRadio Banquet. The FlexRadio team did a splendid job of explaining the History of Flex, the State of the Art of Flex, and with a new very wise limit on speculative forecast a snapshot of where FlexRadio is going.

We were told there were over 100 of us in the audience, and the hot news was of course the PowerSDR 2.0 and FlexControl products. PowerSDR 2.0 is the main software that runs your FlexRadio SDR hardware’s computer based operations and is a huge leap forward from the 1.1x PowerSDR family. FlexControl is the contest knob option for the radio.

Very cool though is the imminent launch of PowerSDR 2.1 with a ESQ (Enhanced Sound Quality if I got my notes right) diversity-like software function. This is way cool and allows the use of a noise antenna and your main antenna to synchronously process the signals to improve the heard signal. Look for the notes coming up on the website for a technical brief.

Then even cooler is the persistent TNF Tracking-Notch-Filters which will follow soon. I got the impression that they didn’t make the 2.1 Gold Release version, though the feature was close enough to full release to showcase at the banquet.

Attendees were give the core of a new Ham Club presentation that they can adapt as a local club presentation. Very nicely done and I look forward to given the presentation to our club.

Keep hearing really good things about Elecraft and a buzz about the Hilberling. Definitely these three, FlexRadio, Elecraft and Hilberling have my attention. These three have the right idea of what the experience of using their products should be like. Rare crowd.

Prepacking tonight for an early morning departure as W9EVT would like to catch Sunday’s ferry to Washington Island if at all possible.

Another Dayton 2011 installment once I’m home.

73 from Dayton 2011 !!


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