Category Archives: K9ZW Uses

Little touches make a big different – Das Keyboard and KeyChron

Old enough to learn to type on some nondescript Smith-Corona in school. Then later Army trained on an IBM Selectric that I typed so many reports on that I can still feel the IBM keyboard under my fingers.

Computer keyboards I used were initially part of the machine or pretty much paired with a particular setup. The teletype keyboards of the first terminals, to various chunky keyboards designed by unemployed torture instrument designers, to various chicklet/membrane keyboards perhaps never intended for more than two minutes of steady typing when they were conceived.

Thinking who more than gamers to harshly evaluate keyboards? Informally surveyed several hams and several family who were gamers for their suggestions.

Lots of differing suggestions – learn Dvorak, go for an ergonomic design that looks like it came from Star Trek, try one of the battleship vintage keyboards, or have the early IBM unobtanium model xyz123 restored for me… lots of differing suggestions.

Commonality was found in looking for keyboards that use superior switches, as the switch is where much of the feel comes from, get one that is heavy enough to not move while typing, possibly remappable to allow PC/MAC & QWERTY/DVORAK changes, and has low latency, in many of the suggestions I received.

A few keyboards came an went, including a “Das Keyboard 4C TKL Wired Tenkeyless” which had such low contrast key labeling that it was exchanged.

Das Keyboard 4 Pro

Main keyboards both work and home, where I wanted the ten-key numeric pads ended up “Das Keyboard 4 Professional Wired Mechanical Keyboard, Cherry MX Brown Mechanical Switches, 2-Port USB 3.0 Hub, Volume Knob, Aluminum Top (104 Keys, Black)” and where I wanted the smaller ten-key less format (at the iMac mostly) as “Keychron K8 Tenkeyless Wireless Mechanical Keyboard for Mac, Hot-swappable RGB Backlight, Bluetooth, Multitasking, Type-C Wired Gaming Keyboard for Windows with Optical Brown Switch, Aluminum Frame.”

Keychron K8 TKL

The transition has been marvelous. These keyboards type like the Selectric I am used to, though with a slightly less of a key stroke. Having an extra USB hub on some of the keyboards is also a plus.

Good Stuff and Recommended!

(For links you can check Amazon, the direct Manufacturer’s Website or do a net search.)

73

Steve
K9ZW

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A change in Antenna Direction at K9ZW Home QTH

On my main Skyneedle was supposed to go a RadioWavz Barrett Hexbeam with Broadband option.  The antenna was bought about four years ago and health and then a home QTH move kept it from going up in the air.

RadioWavz built this antenna with the high power and heavy duty options, and it is purported to work as a rotatable dipole on 160/80/60/30m, a 2el wire beam on 40/6m and as a 3el(+) wire beam on 20/17/15/12/10m.  Original configuration was using three antenna drop feedlines, but two can be combined with a harness they offered.

RadioWavz helped me out sending new element guides made of metal which replaced the DOA original fiberglass guides, replacing most of the parts missing from the original antenna (though the spare parts ordered have never arrived) and sold me a upgraded support rope set made of a Kevlar type material.

In the antenna building process twice I have had damage from deer getting into the antenna.

First incursion pulled a number of elements loose and broke one of the smaller fiberglass arm pieces.  My calls and emails to RadioWavz had not been answered, when I figured out who supplied the fiberglass.  Ordered new fiberglass parts direct and made the repair.

Second deer incursion again pulled some elements loose but this time half of the 40m element with insulators and spacer cord went missing.  Presumption is it was caught on the deer’s rack and carried away until it could be shaken loose.  The wire element I can cut locally but as my spare parts supply of extra insulators and cordage was never shipped, I’ve had to have the special insulators locally fabricated and I’m scrounging for similar cord.  Again my emails and calls have not been answered by RadioWavz.

What I have learned is that the business was sold to the next generation, and the founders retired to another state, plus the next generation is up to their eyeballs dealing with a child’s severe health issues.

I get it.  Family is WAY more important, period.
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RBOG SOCKiT DRIBOX 200 Enclosures

The boxes arrived early and I swapped the temporary (and leaking/condensating) tubs for the SOCKiT DRiBOX 200’s I started discussing a few days back at:  https://k9zw.wordpress.com/2020/05/22/rbog-at-the-far-end-enclosure-solution-sockitbox-dribox-200/

Here is one as installed.

DRIBOX installed RBOG-Vee Array Leg 2

The boxes seem made well, and after a few months I will open them up check to check how things have gone.  The have a jelled-gasket, top & bottom, that seals around the wires.  I ran the ground out one end and the twin-conductor antenna wire out the other.

They are UV rated, but digging I cannot find out what that actually means.

There will be three tests coming up for these boxes:

  • Will they stay dry?
  • Will the UV wreck them?
  • Will they survive Winter’s cold and snows?

As the domestic market for these is the UK, and primary export market is Europe, they may be pushed a bit to survive what Wisconsin Weather can dish out.

More in about 6 months and a year.

73

Steve
K9ZW

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RBOG at the Far End – Enclosure Solution SOCKiTBOX DriBOX 200

Enclosures for electronics left in the open environment need to be weather-tight, waterproof, provide UV protection and provide some level of physical protection.

An RBOG (Reversible Beverage On Ground) antenna has a transformer at the far end of each leg of the array that needs protection.

A lot of hams improvise and I was eyeing some of the planter pots, which I though I could use inverted.

Then while I was out in the gardening shed looking for a pair for suitable flower pots, a deer went by, and then a woodchuck.

Pondering I thought my flower pot resting on wooden stand idea was likely to be upturned by the wildlife, and most likely would not be waterproof all year around.

So I started looking at commercial options and settled on the SOCKiTBOX DriBOX 200 as the solution I would try.

 

SOCKiTBOX DriBOX 200

SOCKiTBOX DriBOX 200 is the smallest of the offerings, and I truly hope the actual green is not quite as bright.

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Preparing an FT8 Linux Laptop from a Chromebook

UPDATE – “It’s Alive! It talks!”  Using some hints from https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=303867 I got the audio working.  I’m also editing in a few hints.  See the Sat Oct 19,2019 1:04 pm post for the step-by-step.  Basically seemed to be a driver issue with this particular Chromebook model.   

4A292416-16F9-4CCB-8D00-074F5869383D

The Audio Fix

[Edited 08FEB2020]

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CAUTION [SEE ABOVE – Resolved with some research and work!] – I’m struggling to get the Audio I/O working.  Some users are reporting that the Dell 3120 (Candy) Chromebook running GalliumOS ends up with the audio inoperative, and few say they have it working.  I’ve undone the whole process and repeated with the same problem.  Might be better to pick a different Chromebook in the end.  More to follow!  [Edited 08FEB2020]

——

With some help from Vic KC9NWB I’ve mostly prepared a very inexpensive laptop to run WSJT-X with my soon to be built Midnight Design Solutions Phaser FT8 transceiver Kit.

I started with a Dell 3120 Chromebook which was a scratch-n-dent sale item at Amazon’s Woot.  With the larger memory Amazon usually gets $100 plus tax for one of these, but catching it on a short Woot offer saved about $30 in my case.  So with taxing delivered I’ve added $71 to my FT8 Phaser project for a dedicated computer.  At the time of my writing Amazon does have some on offer (again S&D/renewed) for the $75 range.

Rugged Chromebook

I followed the conversion to Linux Joshua Woehlke wrote up at https://joshuawoehlke.com/galliumos-dell-chromebook-3120/

Some notes: Backup the firmware to a separate flashdrive, and do make a set of backup media to restore ChromeOS just in case you have to revert to solve problems like I did. https://wiki.galliumos.org/Installing is also another good reference. You can make a new ChromeOS restoration media drive through the chrome browser app plug-in as well.  But having the right stuff handy is helpful and saves time if you do have to go back.  [Edited 08FEB2020]

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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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