I picked up a MFJ-949 Deluxe Versa Tuner II for $120, including shipping, off of QRZ.com last week. The tuner arrived yesterday in excellent shape and was packed very well. I set it up and it works great. I’m still having problems getting 80 meter to match correctly so I’m going to add another 20-22′ of wire to the antenna to see if that helps this weekend. On 40 meters and up, everything matches very nicely. Just on 80, I can get it to barely tune to 2:5 to 1 which makes me think the antenna’s just a little too short.
Of course, 80 meters is what I’m wanting to use to contact a few fellow hams on the US East Coast because we’re so close. So it’s still a work in progress.
I’m hoping to finish the wall on the shack and get drywall up so I have somewhere warm to operate from. It gets kinda cold in the shed right now!
I didn’t realize that it’s been six months since I posted on the blog. I’ve been very busy with my work and haven’t had much time until recently to get on the air.
It’s been too hot to do much in my shack. I need to finish putting up a wall and covering it with drywall then hanging a door so I can work on insulating the room. I have an air conditioner installed in the window but it’s been over 90 degrees so often and with the high humidity, it’s been tough even thinking about leaving the comfort of air conditioning in the house. Monday I am ordering the plastic base piece for my Mosley RV-4C so I can get it set up and get back on the air again. Unfortunately the “hamstick dipole” is a rather poor antenna for anything other than 40 meters. It works but I’m afraid that it’s just a lost cause. Hopefully with the change of seasons, I’ll be able to move quickly and get the shack set up in time for winter. It’s very small so I can heat it easily and spend more time in there.
Once I finish the room, I’d like to start working on getting caught up on all of the QSL cards I need to send out. I have several years’ worth of cards I want to get out. Unfortunately I have some gaping holes in my logbook and I will try to correct that. If you are needing a QSL from me, please let me know! I am starting a new logbook once I get the room finished and I’m hoping I’ll keep much better logs this time around…
I’ve been working on the shack again. Here’s the latest setup below. The laptop is a new acquisition. It’s a HP Elitebook 6930p that I picked up for a great price. It’s running Slackware 64 14.2.
I mounted the hamstick dipole on a 10′ tall piece of aluminum conduit and mounted it to a wooden fencepost about three feet high. I guyed it to the fence and to two large grounding stakes. Using my antenna matcher, I’ve gotten the antenna to work on 15, 17, 20, and of course 40 meters. I’ve been listening more than talking. Work has been crazy for me lately and I just haven’t been in the mood to get on the air. I am hoping to do so tomorrow morning and maybe, if I can hear them over the mains noise in the background, try to check into Norcars for the first time in forever. I’ll try to get some updated pictures also of my new shack and the antenna.
I’ve decided to try out the 40-meter “hamstick dipole” set up I bought once again now that I have my station set up semi-permanently and properly grounded. I have just been really busy with work, working both day shifts, night shifts, and occasionally pulling a “double”, to have any time to “ham it up”. Soon, though, I’ll be back on the air. I’m also wanting to work on getting out all of these QSL cards sitting here…
Taking advantage of the beautiful (if occasionally stormy) weather this weekend, I set up a computer in the shack for my logging and callsign lookup purposes. The computer itself is an old HP dc7700 ultra-slim desktop. Very tiny computer and it fits perfectly on the laptop desk that I am using for my shack desk right now. I am, of course, running Slackware 64 Linux 14.1 on it. I scrounged up a very nice Dell 20″ widescreen monitor and my Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with touchpad on it to complement the setup. I need to install all of the ham radio-specific software but that will come later today or this week.
Dad decided to pound the eight-foot-long copper-plated ground rod into the ground next to the shed, so I was able to ground my radio and tuner properly. What a difference! Little to no line noise that I suffered from when I had the station here in the motorhome. I’m rather happy about that. I’m also able to trick that 20 meter dipole into tuning nicely on 17 meters. I’d tinker some more with the station tonight but I’m tired; it has been a busy (in a good way) day. Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I’m going to try to hunt down a computer to use in the shack.
The new 12’x20′ wood shed my parents had built was set up yesterday and I have a little corner of it with a window for my shack. I’m using a small laptop desk right now but with the relative small size of my station equipment, I still have plenty of room for a netbook and space to write in my paper log on the desk. I’ll get a picture of it soon. There’s no electricity in the shed yet so I have to run off of an extension cord for the time being but my dad and I are planning on wiring up the shed soon. I can’t wait to have a little spot of my own again to operate from.
I’ve been feeling a bit restless lately so I decided to resurrect an oft-thought of but seldom-worked on project: I’m writing my own console mode amateur radio logging program. It’s nothing fancy and is pretty bare-bones for now, but I haven’t seen a good cross-platform (more than just Linux and Windows) program yet. I’m writing it in Free Pascal for compatibility with the operating systems I’m targeting: DOS, Win32, Win64, Linux (32 and 64 bit), OS/2 32-bit, and if I can get some help, OS X also. I’d like to even get this on the BSDs if I can too. First, however, a working shell of a program is needed and that’s what I’m doing now.
I’ve taken down my station temporarily in anticipation of a new 12’x20′ shed my parents and I have gone “halfsies” on. I have a window in my half of the shed and that is going to become my ham radio shack. I’ll have a lot more room in the shed for my equipment and computer as well as my workbench in there so I have somewhere to work on equipment safely. Can’t wait.