Cards from the buro

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Got my first QSL cards from the incoming QSL card bureau

I had received an email from the SPARC QSL Bureau a few months ago saying I had a bunch of cards waiting for me, and to send a SASE if I wanted to receive them. Sent off an envelope with postage attached, and today they arrived in the mail! So cool!

DSC01947.JPGNow I have 17 cards to respond to. I'll have to figure out how to use the QSL bureaus first.

Charleston Hamfest

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The Charleston Hamfest is coming up in a few more weeks! Looking forward to seeing what kinds of things interesting things I'll want to pick up. There are a few specific things I'll be looking for to build some projects.

CHSHamfest2015.jpg

Charleston Marathon 2015

Helped out yesterday with comm support for the Charleston Marathon again with my fellow amateur radio ops. Like last year, it was a pretty cool start to the event, but the weather warmed up nicely by the end of the race. This year I was assigned to two positions on the marathon course at Mile 2 and Mile 18.

Had a good time helping out with comm support, and fortunately there were no incidents along the course. Had a good time and I'm glad I was able to help out with the event.

Ham Radio at Charleston DIY Fest

I've been asked to give a presentation at the Charleston Library's DIY Festival that's happening on Feb 28.

Sounds like it's going to be a neat thing. My plan is to give a modified version of the amateur radio talk I've given at the last few BarcampCHS, and augment with a demonstration build of a crystal radio using some magnet wire and the 1N34A diodes I acquired recently.

Time to start messing around with building...

Si5351 breakout board

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Jason/NT7S launched the crowdfunding campaign for his version of an Si5351 breakout board last night, and already this morning it's at over 150%. The stretch goal at $1 500 involves spending some more time on the software library to make the board easier to use.

It's a neat little oscillator chip that seems to provide a lot of capabilities for not a lot of money. He's been documenting his investigations on the chip at his blog for the past year now, including building a couple of receivers and transceivers around the Si5351.

The Si5351A is quite a capable IC at a very modest price. It is a PLL clock generator with three independent outputs which can each generate a separate signal from 8 kHz to 160 MHz. A 25 or 27 MHz reference oscillator is used for the two internal PLLs (the Etherkit breakout board uses a 25 MHz reference oscillator), which allows the user to choose the amount of frequency stability and accuracy required. 

Go check out the Si5351 breakout board campaign on Indiegogo, and pick one up if it's something you'll find useful in an upcoming project.

SWR check

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With the radio all set up now in the new shack and connected to the antenna with a slightly shorter length of coax than before, and after being up in the air for two years now, I figured it was a good time to check the SWR performance across the bands to see how/if it changed.

SWRBands_20150110.jpgCompared with two years ago, there haven't been too many changes. SWR has gone up a little bit in general for all the bands, but not a whole lot. The biggest change seems to have happened on 80m, with the SWR around 3.8 MHz dipping down to a range that I think the radio's tuner might be able to handle. The SWR on 15m has also gone above the range the radio's tuner will handle, so that's one band I seem to have lost.

Things still seem to be looking pretty good for the antenna so far. Hopefully I'll be able to get a few more up this year.

Ham radio goal list 2015

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Well, I didn't get a whole lot of my 2014 goals crossed off the list, but I did manage to get a few crossed off.

For 2015, I'll carry over most of the 2014 goals.

  • Earn skill levels in CW
  • Get the 2m radio working in the shack
  • Build the SoftRock RXTX kit
  • Get on the radio more
  • Build 2m/70cm Yagi antennas
  • More homebrew projects
  • Worked All States (Digital)

I'll add more to the list as I (hopefully) cross these off the list.

ARRL Centennial QSO Party results

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The ARRL Centennial QSO Party wrapped up yesterday. From what I've read, it was a very popular event and did a lot to promote radio activity. I know I had a really good time participating in it and trying to work as many of the W1AW/p stations as I could. My enthusiasm kind of lagged towards the last few months of the year as I got distracted by other things, but it was still cool seeing people tweet about their CQP contacts and progress.

As of today, I've got 4325 points, 449 QSOs, and 83 contacts with W1AW/p stations. There's supposed to be some re-scoring taking place later, so that might change once all the logs are submitted and re-scored.

Great idea ARRL!

RAC Winter Contest 2014

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Spent a few hours at the radio this weekend playing in the RAC Winter contest. Finished out the contest with 26 contacts and 3000 points, including 3 RAC stations (VO1RAC, VA2RAC, and VE4RAC). Covered 3 bands (10, 20 and 40m) with most of my contacts happening on 20m.

I was using the new N1MM+ logger for the first time, and I have to say, it's pretty good. As a contest logger, it's hard to beat N1MM or N1MM+ for simplicity.

It was a pretty good time on the radio and I enjoyed hunting around the bands.

Radio fun for Skywarn Recognition Day 2014

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Had a good time playing radio as WX4CHS yesterday morning for Skywarn Recognition Day. The Charleston NWS office seems like a pretty neat place.

Tom/AJ4UQ brought along his radio and setup for digital radio, and we spent the morning operating WX4CHS on 40m and 20m PSK as well as monitoring the local VHF repeaters. Made just under 30 PSK contacts and one repeater contact.

DSC01845.jpg

This was my first time doing an event like this, and it was a lot of fun. Had a great time playing radio there, and the staff at NWS Charleston were great hosts.