Museum Ships Weekend 2019

This year’s Museum Ships Weekend was a lot of fun.

Started with the USS Yorktown (WA4USN) on Saturday. By the time I got to the ship, Tom/AJ4UQ had already racked up about 100 QSOs. Then he had to leave, so I had the radio all to myself for the next few hours. Spent a couple hours hunting ships on 20m and 40m to make sure we’d have enough to earn the certificate from NJ2BB (need 15 ships in the log). Then I found a clear frequency on 20m, parked and started calling. Didn’t take long for the pileup to happen, and added another 60 or so contacts to the log before I had to call it a day. Band conditions were decent with contacts from the northeast and across to Texas and Alabama. Some propagation up to the midwest as well.

Sunday we activated the USS Laffey (NT4HI) and the USS Clamagore (NJ4DU). Tom had the idea to alternate activating the Laffey and Clamagore about every hour or so, with him activating NT4HI while I activated NJ4DU. Seemed to work out pretty well. Working pileups can get tiring so being able to switch up periodically was helpful. We definitely had pileups going for both ships. Lots of fun. Lots of contacts from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas today. Also had some propagation up to the northeast and midwest again too. Had a few Wisconsin and Michigan stations in the log for both ships.

Ended up with close to 200 contacts for each ship today. Pretty good weekend on the air.

Power supply: Needs more work

The power supply that I thought was fixed is going to need a little more troubleshooting and work.

In its first load test this weekend powering the radio, the power supply was having issues maintaining voltage after transmitting a couple times.

Not sure what the issue might be.  Maybe something overheating perhaps.  Looks like I’ll have to open it up and dive back in.

Back on the bench: Heathkit IG-102

Back on the workbench is the Heathkit IG-102 signal generator I acquired a few years ago.

Heathkit IG-102 signal generator
Heathkit IG-102 signal generator

The last time the signal generator was on the bench was to have a new power cord and BNC connectors installed.

This time, I’ll replace that big orange capacitor with something newer (along with any other components that look like they need replacing).  The signal generator doesn’t seem to be putting anything out at the BNC connectors anymore, so that will be another thing I’ll check.

Heathkit IG-102 20 uF capacitor
Heathkit IG-102 20 uF capacitor

2017 ARRL Auction time

Bidding for the 2017 ARRL Auction opened up yesterday. Didn’t see anything that made me go “I NEED THIS“, but there were still a few items that I thought were interesting enough to put bids on.

Seems like there’s a fair bit of bidding activity going on in the auction already after just a day. The ARRL Mystery Junque boxes are back (only 4 of them this year). One of them is already up to $155. Hope it’s got something good in it.

So far, the items I’ve decided to chase are a copy of Introduction to RF Design, a reproduction 1st edition ARRL handbook, and one of the Vibroplex keys. Nice things to add to the bookshelf and collection, but nothing that I’ll be disappointed over if I don’t win.

I always enjoy watching the activity in the ARRL auction. It’s interesting to see what items end up going for.

The new Top Bands

US amateur radio operators will soon have access to small slivers of the 630 m and 2200 m bands as secondary users. The 630 meter allocation goes from 472-479 kHz (a little bit below the US AM broadcast band, 530 – 1700 kHz) while the 2200 meter allocation goes from 135.7-137.8 kHz (not a heck of a lot).

Although the new allocation was announced several months ago, now access to the bands is only a form submission and 30 days away.

Before being allowed to operate, hams will be required to notify the Utilities Technology Council. Notification can be done online, and involves submitting name, contact info, call sign, lat/long of your antenna location(s) and the bands you’re planning on operating on. If you don’t hear anything back within 30 days, you’re supposedly good to go.

Even if you have no immediate plans to operate on the new bands, you might still want to notify the UTC in case you decide to operate there later. If there’s no objection to your notification, and a utility later wants to deploy or modify a PLC system near you, they’ll have to use a frequency range other than one you’ve indicated on your notification.

If an electric utility seeks to deploy a new or modified PLC system on a transmission line that is within one kilometer of a previously coordinated amateur station, the electric utility must employ a frequency in the 9-490 kHz range that has not been included in the amateur station’s notification, as ARRL suggests.  If the previously coordinated amateur station no longer operates in the band, the electric utility may deploy a PLC system in that band.

Now, how to build an antenna for 2200 m…