Category: Shack (Page 1 of 2)

Grandpa Created a Monster and a Monkey.

When I was 12 my grandfather came in the front door after work and said get your pencils and paper we are going to take a class. My being a typical 12 year old was thinking this man is out of his mind I really don’t need any more homework. Here we are 40 years later and I was just thinking I couldn’t have been more wrong if I had put some thought into it. It was fun with some fun people, and an end that would be rewarding.

That is the class that got me into a life long hobby with some lifelong friends. It gave me another language which I am fairly fluent. Let’s face it, I dream in CW. Which coupled with my PTSD nightmares could be construed as funny to the outside observer, but that is for a different story. Gramps was proud of that monster he created and even aided in my delinquency quite often. He figured it would be a fun hobby and the key to a job later on he told me in later years, and he was prouder every time I came home from the FCC with a new interim card. He was especially proud when I came home and told him I had applied to change my call after I got my extra. my call then was KA7MTY (Mighty Ticklish Youngster), and that had to go! Like I said he encouraged the monster.

Fast forward to 40 years later. The old man has passed on, but his monster lives on and it actually has become an addiction for me. I am now looking to retire in a few years and play with the hobby and garden some. I purchased a Peterbilt 579 Ultraloft to get me to retirement. while I am also getting my ND, I have realized that one cannot exist on homework alone, so why not bring the monster back to life once in a while when I am on the road. I am also a creature comfort seeker in my middle age.

I am now the proud owner of a Yaesu station for my truck. a new rig in a new rig so to speak. I actually have put up a new page called the mobile shack.  I can cover 80-6M with the antennas I have gotten to do the job. I have a computer that will run digital modes and my paddles are ready to get put in the truck on Monday when I go back to work. I was actually thinking about running  down to Kingston, NV on our property and operating field day from there next year(2021). Set up would be a breeze! Just park and done! Instant 1A station. The generator is even built in.

I digress though. I was just thinking about the 40 years I have had this hobby and why and how I got into it. Then that brings me back to Gramps and his impromptu decision to take a class, and the fun I have had for the last 40 years, and how I miss the old man who gave me a fantastic hobby and most of the other attributes I have in my life. I also think about the monster and the money I would  have saved by taking up something like bird watching.

73’s and Good DX,


A Slight Delay

Athena and her rawhide (8weeks old)

Well my µBitx has run into a slight delay.   Athena has joined our household.  Athena is a Chaos machine with teeth, and I am protecting the µBitx. We picked up a Great Dane Puppy last Saturday. She is exploring the world with her mouth at this stage of the game, so rather than pick up a new radio I have boxed the µBitx until she settles in some.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and my radio is sitting on the shelf still. Why? Because like a moron I forgot to buy the resistor values I need to make the simple s meter.  Athena is still with us as the XYL has not killed her. Actually I think it is the dog has made her way into the XYL’s heart.  I did pull out the radio and parts I had set aside for the Simple S Meter  and started building the circuit board for the S-meter sensor and found I didn’t have the 1k, or 10k resistors for the project. Back on the shelf we go and my µBitx has to sit and stare at me for a couple more weeks while I wait on the mail.

Then the fun begins. I am going to get a 3D printer to print an appropriate case for the radio.

I have moved

I recently moved my website back to a self hosting site. I also bought a couple of domains. The one I purchased for my wife is . I am quite sure she will have some fun with it as she is sitting beside me editing her new WordPress installation. She is posting some of her pictures that she has taken. I also bought just for Gee Whiz.  Speaking of Gee Whiz; it was a Gee Whiz moment that caused the hosting move. I wanted to put some add-ons on to start doing something with the internet real estate. My old host wouldn’t allow it with the plan I had, and to add insult to injury, I had another host for my e-mail.. Not cool.

I had the idea to add classifieds to my site. The classifieds are just for hams and ad free, and for a buck you can feature the listing for a year if need be. There were several reasons behind the idea to put up a classifieds site. I have tried all of the classifieds for used ham equipment and found them lacking pictures. I have also tried to use some of the standard apps and got people wanting to know what a Kenwood TS 850 even was. Lets not even mention The CB’ers that asked if it had more than 40 channels.   Needless to say I was a little hacked off when I heard that, so here I am editing and adding locations. I have most of Oregon done now. I even listed a couple of the items I am clearing out of my shack to minimize things laying around not being used or planned on being used again.

So if you like the looks of it feel free to use the classifieds, there is a link to your social media so you can promote the item, and most of all have fun.

New addition to the shack

Yesterday on a trip to HRO I had noticed they had dropped the price in a Yaesu FT920 to a price I was willing to pay, so it came home with me.
My helper immediately was circling like a vulture over fresh carrion to cause mayhem, and low and behold he did! He was walking over everything when I had the shack torn apart. .Eddie even went as far as jumping in my lap while I was putting terminals on the power chord. Then decided it was an ideal time for a nap in dads lap while he is sitting on the floor wiring the power chord to the supply. Yes, I own a cat or more likely I am a good house servant to the cat. Despite the two extra hours of distractions by the cat, the radio was now the focal point of the shack, and computer controlled.
Once the beast was heeled to the computer I immediately set out to get my WAS on FT8 mode. Within hours I was at 19 states with 15 of them confirmed!
I am loving this rig.

Going Shopping Today

Well the shack is running, but I am still only on 20 M as I can only get a mono band dipole up. Well today that will end. I have made some good investments for later use as I have acquired some antennas that I will use when we finally get our house. This apartment is a nightmare for antennas though.
I had the mono band dipole for 20 meters when I first put the shack up. that was easy to get together and hung. I just had to unroll it. the gutters keep the center about 12 feet off of the ground and it slopes down to about 8 feet at the ends. Not really great for a dipole. and it will be an unnecessary when we move. Alas, the one band I can work.
Then last year at SEAPAC I purchased a BWD90 folded dipole. I have had one of these antennas before and loved it with the center 50′ off of the ground. I worked a lot of DX on that antenna. I know they are not great for the weather in Oregon. With our back yard I can’t even unfold it all of the way, and somehow I just don’t think the flat V configuration is going to work, so it was relegated to a closet for use when we hit our new house.
At that very same convention I went with the very specific intention of getting an Alpha Antenna magnetic loop.  It turned out to be a good antenna, but it is a bear to tune it when it is outside, and you can’t use an antenna tuner on it, so once again it was relegated to a closet shelf for later use when I go mobile, and we arrive at my biggest and best antenna for use with the new house.
I purchased a GAP Titan DX. The footprint will fit in the yard, but being 26′ tall kind of messes up the not seen antenna as the property management company would not take kindly to it, so it is being relegated to storage for later use only after the XYL’s objections. I do love the antenna though. It tuned up like a dream and I could hear plenty of stations with it, I just couldn’t work any of them with it being on the ground. I can’t wait for the day when I can actually use it.
So, I am left with the fact that a 20M dipoles length can be used and it won’t get more than 12′ off of the ground. So, I started poking around to see what I can use to get those extra bands.  As I was looking at the HRO website under the beams category I came across the rotatable dipoles. I came across the Comet CHV-5X Multi Band Rotatable Dipole.  It has a 4.6/5 rating on and it is about the length of one leg of my mono band dipole. Each band is tuned separately, and gee whiz I see that it can work at less than 50′ 🙂 , and it would give me 40/20/15/10/6 M. Which I am to the point that that is going to have to do until we get the house.
So, off to HRO I go in 6 hours. This is HRO though, I cannot go into HRO and leave with just one item.  We know my penchant for collecting bugs, paddles, and keyers, so I see a Vibroplex Blue racer being added to the shack. That ought to keep me busy on my free day and study tomorrow.

The right setup

Yesterday and today I have been making a new hole for my station. I find myself still ordering some small parts like coax and a new switching power supply as I blew up the elcheapo that I had for running my antenna analyzer, LDG Tuner, and Xeigu radio. Word to the wise stick to names you know and trust, not what Amazon recommends. I will be ready to start going at it by next Friday, and if I saw a contest calendar correctly just in time for a RTTY contest.
I find myself in kind of a bitter sweet situation. I know this is a temporary setup as we are starting to look at real estate for next year. I guess then I can fine tune things to perfection for me with a shack that I will be quite proud of and productive in.

UBitx is coming

Tonight while the XYL was out with family while I was babysitting our new puppy and doing some research on a rig that will be here in a couple more weeks. Oh the fun that Is in store. There are some mods that are required to do CW including some sketch updates or flat replacement. So here is the list.
The micro bitx likes metal enclosures. I purchased a cool looking plastic enclosure. To make it work I will line the inside with copper conductive tape.
There are 3 different software mods…. I will probably go with the one that includes cat control with it. Most fix the issues with CW internally, one required a hardware mod.
Mod to make an S meter and SWR bridge and integrate it into the display.
Anderson Powerpoles integrated into the case
Fun stuff:
Cool Blue and white display.
I am probably going to build an auto tuner for this rig also. There is one being tested that will probably be my easy answer when it becomes available.
I will also add 160m when possible.
I also saw a magnetic loop with an arduino tuning controller on it. Hmmmm.. can they be interfaced to produce a quasi auto tune?
Links: – maker of the micro bitx – mods for the micro bitx also software updates
I would urge some research before building this radio. Like any other rig has its strengths and weaknesses. The ham community has really stepped up to make improvements to the rig, and improve the possibilities of what the operator wants it to do.

Antenna Projects

I will be showing off a few of my antenna projects here. I will be doing more of them as I am in my truck most of the time with some time to kill.
Folded Dipole (T2FD) 
coming soon
3 Element 2M beam
coming soon
Spider web antenna
coming soon
Magnetic Loop (80/160M)
coming soon

Qrp Mobile

As most of you know I purchased a 2018 Volvo 780. A nice rig that meets my business needs, but needs some living activities added. I have my microwave,computer, blue ray player and Apple TV which is all well and good; I even have my 2m /440mhz hand held in here, but I miss my CW, so I went in search of a qrp station that could plug into a cigarette lighter for power. Qrp would be a must.
On my journey I found a BITx transceiver that covers the bands from 80 to 10m. I just ordered it. It has a built in keyer, usb,lsb, and can even be used for psk31 with 10 Watts up to 10mhz, 7 Watts up to 17m, and 2 Watts on 10m. Low and behold it takes 12v @2amps….
I plan on putting my MFJ tuner behind it and using a mini g5rv and single band dipoles for now. But I am looking at some other antennas that can be mounted by my mirrors.

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