Radio updates

What have I been doing in the amateur radio world lately?

Well, not a heck of a lot actually. I’ve even skipped a few of the big contests happening this fall.

Lately most of my spare time has been spent reading up on and learning about electronics and Arduino related things. I’ve spent a little bit of time playing at the workbench. Nothing terribly complex. Just soldering together simple circuits and practicing ugly construction techniques.

My reading list for the past few months:

I’m no expert yet, but I think I know a little more than I did a while ago.

In the next couple of weeks, the plan is to turn the guest bedroom into a ham shack/guest bedroom. First we’ll empty out the room, paint the walls and then move everything back in. I’ll have to get back into the crawl space to pull the coax out, but the antenna feed point will be closer to the radio which means a shorter coax run that won’t have to go under the house.

The guest room also stays a lot cooler than the office so playing radio during the summer will be a lot more comfortable.

Tower lowering

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in a tower lowering party this afternoon and met a group of really nice hams in the process. A local business with a 140 foot tower didn’t need it anymore and offered it to anyone for free as long as they took it down. One of the local hams took them up on the offer and today the tower lowering began.

Having no experience with towers, I was eager to see one up close, watch how one gets taken down and do what I could to help out. By the time I got to the site, the antennas and hardlines had already been taken down (a task that took up most of the morning). Here’s the ground crew and two of the guys up on the tower working on undoing the top section.

Lowering a 140' tower
Lowering a 140′ tower

I counted 14 sections of tower, which I was later told was Rohn 45 (commercial grade stuff). The guys climbing the tower were working pretty high up. The top section of the antenna turned out to be pretty stubborn to get off, but eventually it came off and made it onto the ground.

Lowering the top tower section
Lowering the top tower section

It took the bulk of the afternoon, but eventually three more sections of tower were brought down. I guess after being up for 30 years, those sections of tower get stuck to each other pretty good.

Lowering another section
Lowering another section
4 sections on the ground
4 sections on the ground

I didn’t do any tower climbing (left that to those more experienced than me) but I did help out on the ground with lowering the sections. As a relatively new ham, it was a great learning experience for me just being able to watch the process. Got to see how a gin pole works, see just how much work it is to take a section down and handled tower sections.

Four sections of tower down, ten more to go. Looking forward to the next session.

So long and thanks for the Etherkit

In a bit of sad news, Jason/NT7S has announced that he’s leaving the radio kitting business and putting Etherkit on extended hiatus.

I thoroughly enjoyed putting together the Etherkit kits I purchased, especially the beta version of his CC1. It was my first big kit project, and one of the first using SMT components. It was an educational experience from both the assembly and learning about the different sections that go into a radio. Assembling the CRX1 and OpenBeacon were both equally enjoyable and educational.

Jason’s reduced the price on his very excellent CRX1 kit to liquidate his inventory. If you’re looking for a nice little CW receiver to play with and want to exercise your soldering skills with SMT components, pick one up.

I’m sad to see Etherkit go dark, but I’m sure running a kitting business is a lot of work and time. Hopefully some time in the future he’ll be able to bring it back.

Call sign history – AB4UG

Inspired by Alan/W2AEW’s most recent video, Ham Radio call sign history, and my QSL card quest and some Twitter posts by W5RST and W0EA, I thought I’d dig into the past of my current call sign, AB4UG. I don’t expect it to be as interesting or storied as some other call signs, but it will be interesting to see what I can find out.

I knew AB4UG had been used previously by someone else because of looking it up in the AE7Q database as well as the FCC ULS database. Both list only one previous user for AB4UG from KY, issued 1990-03-13 and expired in 2000-03-13. The AE7Q database suggests a pre-ULS history, but no further details.

A Google search for AB4UG shows mostly my stuff or references to me, but then a couple pages down is a page listing some SK’s (silent keys) for the Southern Ohio Amateur Radio Association where the previous AB4UG is listed.

Workbench acquisitions

Purchased a few more supplies for the workbench that arrived in the mail today.

Workbench acquisitions
Workbench acquisitions

A couple of coax jumper cables and BNC adapters for connecting things to the oscilloscope, 2 1000′ spools of heat strippable magnet wire and 10 pieces of single sided copper clad PCB.

Looking forward to my first builds on the copper clad.