Monthly Archives: December 2019

Wrapping up 2019 at K9ZW

Here we are at the end of 2019!

First I would like to thank every reader for hanging in With Vary Frequency for another year of blogging about amateur radio.

Tomorrow on New Years Day I’m planning to share some thoughts about 2020.  As always my focus will be on Amateur Radio.

For the year 2019 over 100 new posts were added – actually I make it as 108 posts, or a new post every 81 hours for the year.  With so much time spent station building my writing time was reduced.

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Standby Power for the Shack?

I’m approaching the standby power issue considering three states of power:

  • (A) Fully on Mains Power (normal condition)
  • (B) Temporary Interruption of Mains Power of less than a day in length
  • (C) Extended Interruption of Mains Power

I’m building my condition matrix with three usage profiles:

  • (1) Casual and Standby condition, minor interruptions okay
  • (2) Ready for Hobby Radio Work
  • (3) Ready for Serious Radio Work, including Freecom

The matrix looks like this:

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Ground to Ground – Station Grounds

Station grounding is the “secret sauce” that often separates a great station from an otherwise good station.

In the new K9ZW Main QTH build a fair bit of ground thought has been incorporated.

The soil types range from disturbed common fill to undisturbed clay-base topsoil some 6 to 8 foot deep over a very thick layer of glacial till and boulders.

Typical Wisconsin Lakeshore-County conditions, less the usual sand layers & dunes.

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SteppIR SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer – Rejuvenated

Back in September I bought from SteppIR a SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer – promoted as a combination SWR Meter, TDR, and Antenna Analyzer.

Actually a sort of pocket single-port Vector Network Analyzer.

SARK-110 Stock Photo

As mention the unit I purchased wasn’t working for me. And I initially had some troubles getting SteppIR’s attention, though they came on like the professionals our hobby recognizes them as when I did catch their attention.

Out of the box the device lighted up, and after a charge basically did nothing.
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CAD vs Sketching for Bulkhead Design in the Ham Shack

Working through bulkhead design I had to decide whether to do CAD representations, or whether to Sketch & “Play Barbie?” By “Playing Barbie” I’m meaning the process where with cardboard sized to match each bulkhead and pieces of paper sized to reflect the size – AND the required clear space needed – for each component one builds a physical model.

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Listening to your Tower

Using ex-Military sensors I’m going to run a short term “Tower Listening Session.”

A PSR1 Geophone will let me have a listen to what is happening at the tower.


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