Category Archives: Amateur Radio

Feeling out Antennas for K9ZW Island QTH – Part 3

Focus has been on installing the Custom Extra Heavy Duty Zero-Five Flagpole-Vertical HF Antenna.  First you have to dig a hole.  of course we hit bedrock just 24 inches down, and brushed against the telephone wire despite the hole not being on the original plot of land.  No idea why the telephone wire ran west onto what was at te time a neighbors parcel.  Some mysteries are lost to time.

down to rock at 24 inches

Since we hit rock we had to go for a modified base, where weight and physical dimensions substitute for the 24 inch 6 ft deep cylinder we’d expected to have poured. I was off island when it was formed and poured, so here is the result.  We made a form plate to put the L-bolts in the right spacing and pattern.


Final dimensions ended up 4 ft x 4 ft x 2 ft, with a 2 ft x 2 ft by 3/4 ft riser.  Because of the way the bedrock stripped the overall pour was just over 2 yards of high strength concrete – nearly three times the expected 7/10ths of a yard for the tubular design we couldn’t use.


Here is the result once the forms were removed:


Zero-Five Flagpole base

I didn’t want to take the spacer off at this stage, preferring it to keep everything in alignment until the base is actually installed (it is sitting on the bolts in the picture).

Feedline conduit will turn up along side the base, and I’m running power to the area for later use.  Power will be in a separate 3/4 inch conduit,

I’ll be making up a copper “halo” to go around the base for radials.

Glad to have the support of some engineering for “on rock foundations” as blasting a deeper hole seemed pointless.  I don’t think this flagpole is going to go anywhere before the weather bends/breaks it first.





Thirteen Colonies 2018 in Vintage Style

For no really good reason other than it seemed like a good idea, I decided to put a very modest effort into working the Thirteen Colonies special event stations using a Collins KWM-2A transceiver and paper logging.

Just for fun.

Collins Station on the Island yes 

And yes, I didn’t make a clean sweep. But perhaps starting the effort in the last hours and limited actual radio time made that hopeless? Checking spots some of the stations were already QRT or were doing digital, so such is life.

It was a blast to run a while on the Collins, and if you look at the picture I had the manuals out to remind me of procedures.

Picked up some FIFA station contacts and a couple other special stations.

The Transmit/Receive relays and switching are a leisurely compared to the Flex-6700 on the bench with the KWM-2A. But it works and was really fun.

In the end I grabbed 10 of the 13+2 stations in quick order. As I worked the 4th and had no radio time all week I didn’t deserve better results. A noble effort in style will have to be the reward!



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Feeling out Antennas for K9ZW Island QTH – Part 2

A lot has been happening at the Island QTH in addition to the ongoing Garage Building project.

For quite a while I’ve been using a CrankIR Vertical or a DX Engineering Hexbeam at the Island QTH.

As it will be a couple months until a tower is up, I moved the Hexbeam from its 55-gallon barrel “tower” to an old satellite dish stand on the “utility side” of the property:

DX Engineering Hexbeam at Washington Island QTH

DX Engineering Hexbeam at Washington Island QTH

Not best location at maybe 6 ft elevation and still dependent on an “Armstrong Rotor” (Manual rotation) for directional control, but is the very quick time I was on the air it works just fine.

Report received were excellent, and even at this low height the receive sensitivity is noteworthy.

I was only on the air about an hour and made under two dozen contacts, as the weather was far too fine to be on the radio.

Wonder how I could add a mobile HF setup to my recumbent bike without adding 30 pounds of weight?  Hmm… that way I could do radio while being outside and active!

Back to reality, I had many chores I wanted to knock out this weekend, and Alison KC9MPL joined friends for some boating while I did weed & ant duty chores, snapping this photo of the Islands Bluffs (these are in the North East part of the island, we live on the North West coast which is different):

Washington Island Bluffs

Washington Island Bluffs

The tower on the bluff is used by one of the broadband providers (they offer their flavor of Motorola’s Canopy System).



Feeling out Antennas for K9ZW Island QTH – Part 1

A lot has been happening at the Island QTH – the biggest is the ongoing Garage Building project.

Garage 16 June 2018

And just as importantly the first non-temporary antenna will be going in – a Zero-Five custom extra-heavy-duty Flagpole Multi-Band Vertical antenna.

The concrete base should go in at the same time the garage apron slab is poured.

Zero-Five made two extra-heavy-duty custom antennas to meet my wind/weather special needs. The have tilt-over-bases and a loading-balun for 80m.

Zero-Five Extra-Heavy-Duty Flagpole Multiband Antenna Tilt Base with Balun

One of the two Zero-Five made is reserved for my home QTH to be installed later this year or next spring. These antennas truly are also functioning flagpoles, though I wonder what might happen to a flag when running an amp?

The trenching contractor in the island is running a 4-inch buried conduit to the antenna, so I can both bury a feed-line, and run power to lights for the flag.  I may eventually experiment with a remote antenna tuner at the base of the antenna as well, and the conduit makes adding internet easier later.   Ideally it would be nice to separate the different cables, but as most trenching involved breaking out bedrock I will have to settle for a single conduit and go with the best shielded cables available.

To work well this model requires buried radials, and eventually lots of them.

Because of the bedrock the usual base has been redesigned to make best use of the “rock solid” situation.



Can you be Shadow Banned at eHam?

— Edit June 20th 2018 —

After a period of being locked out of the eHam Forums but able to access the main page as “logged in” it looks like my eHam user has been unlocked.  No idea if this was just a bad week at eHam or all of my various devices, or real “shadow banning” in action.

Interestingly I now find myself with next to nothing to share at eHam…

— End Edit —


Can a person end up Shadow Banned at eHam?

Shadow Banning is the unseen hand of a web forum’s owner making anyone they don’t like “disappear quietly” from their system.  More  definition at:

Unlike overt Banning, where the participant is told to go away, and perhaps their account is locked, Shadow Banning is done covertly and if questioned is denied.

Has eHam taken up the practice of Shadow Banning?

Kind of seems so, as shortly after my critiques of eHam moderation my eHam account password for just the forums was changed, effectively blocking me from posting on the forums.

Password still works for the general website, but not the forums.  Actually it works for the main forum page, but locks me out when going to a specific forum.


On the positive side several of the worst of eHam’s pet trolls seem to have gone quiet as well.

If my account is collateral damage in a stealth effort to better the level of participation, so be it.  Small price to pay.

Again without real effective moderation and careful curating eHam is not much more than click-bait for eager hams looking for quality information.



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The spreading ‘eHam disease’

I’ve written before about the eHam policy of protecting the raving insane posts of a click of forum trolls.

Moderation can be part of the solution – but it is largely absent at eHam, which is a mistake by not using the moderator’s position to trim out the disingenuous, false, and slanderous.

It is the PC trend in customer relations to treat all customers as if they were the same. It is the same PC ethos we see permeating throughout society.

In the long run it is unsupportable – economic laws of function require discernment and differentiation.

Marketers talk of it in terms of “Customer Segmentation” where hard evaluations are made in how a company responds to differing classes of customers. They will tell you to divide them into Bronze, Silver and Gold, and then whisper that perhaps the most important part is to identify those who are Lead and should be pushed out.

It is much like making soup – we can argue, plan, test, adjust and do about anything with our good ingredients – the ones that are like our Bronze, Silver and Gold customers in the business segmentation. While some combinations work better, they all work. Whether carrots, onions or potatoes, they all work well in the soup.

But add the Lead Customer – the toxic customer, as if you allowed  something like brake cleaner or floor wax to be added to the soup, the Lead Customer ruins the soup.

Fortunately in business and in forums the caustic effect of treating the septic the same as the health is incremental rather than instantly catastrophic.

Nonetheless allowing the soup to be poisoned isn’t a good thing.

Other forums risk joining eHam’s forum, perhaps out of kindness to all customers whether they play well in a forum or not, by heading down the path which has made personal attack posts the norm – someone there comments they like something the forum’s pet trolls don’t like and the same click will post “ignorant appliance operator Hams like W9….”

Special high risk of going down the eHam path is when they allow repeated “I’m a software engineer and I know the Vendor XYZ is lying when they say Product QWERTY will launch by such a date” posts.

They are allowing the brake cleaner or floor wax to be put in the soup.

Of course the dialogue quickly gets personal on the continuum to “Ad Hitlerian” argumention – personal slanging matches.

Unless a brave forum participant posts a “piss off wanker” response (which unlike eHam who revels in the massive number of hits the latest 14.313 style brawl will bring their website, a few forums will close down a thread quickly when it descends to Ad Hitlerian slanging) it just doesn’t stop.

But that leaves still a huge casualty – truth.

Inaccurate, spurious and outright false claims remain in the community forums, searchable of course.

This is where moderation is needed.

If someone says that the XYZ team are liars for projecting a product launch by a certain date, that unless they KNOW – that they have FACTS that the public statement is wrong, that their post should die under the moderator’s keyboard & mouse. Not doing so will make it impossible for any vendor to offer product projections without risking the adverse marketing trolls being allowed to post with equal project can bring.

I as a community read want to hear what is projected – whether in product features or timeline. Learning what is planned can save me money and helps formulate my future station plans.

Allowing troll comments makes the community and unlikely place to pick up any real information.

And I really don’t want to hear what some armchair quarterback has to say – if I wanted to hear that sort of crap I could go on 14.313 or select 40 & 75m voice nets.

The online community of forums allows those interested unprecedented access to the people who are actually doing it. And I for one do not want to see this access further damaged by the bad combination of timid moderation and pet forum trolls.