Now 3D Printing

My wife gave me a da Vinci mini Wireless Printer for Christmas last year.  At the time, with various discounts, it was < $150 before tax.  It has sat in the box unopened for almost 3 months.  Since it is St. Patties Day, and I happen to be alone, I had some time to give it a try.

My first attempt was a messy failure as the model detached from the print bed about half way through.  I guess that recommended “Glue Stick” was a critical step.

I went for the gold ring on my second try (laying down a layer of glue stick gum and putting the shield around it (prevents little fingers from touching it and also blocks air flow).  I chose to print the 3DBenchy Benchmark Object called a “torture test for 3D printers”.

An hour and 13 minutes later Benchy was finished.  He measures 2.4″ from stem to stern, 1.9″ tall, and 1.2″ abeam.

Now that I have it working, I hope to use it for some Ham Radio related parts (mast adapters, project enclosures, etc.).

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The Little Generator That Could

We’ve had a string of winter storms (3 in two weeks and a 4th on the way), and in each storm we have lost power, the last one for a little over a day.  When we have a power failure, I wait about 30 minutes then isolate from the grid, and power up most of the house with a Honda EU2000i generator.

I put the generator on our back deck and cover it with a small table, but that often isn’t enough to keep the snow off of it.  Doesn’t seem to matter.  The only significant loads are the heating system and refrigerator.  We used less than a tank of gas to keep things running for the last event.  Good thing is it is RF quiet.  Even better thing is I can’t hear it running (but can hear other generators all over the neighborhood ).

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Eureka! PortableRotation AzEl Rotor Running with SatPC32

I’ve toyed for years with installing a steerable array for LEO Satellites at my home.  In fact, somewhere in the mess I call my basement lies a 19 year old “new-in-the-box” Yaesu G5500 Az/El rotor.  I had purchased it to work AO-40, but it that bird ate itself alive, so I never had a chance to use it.  However, I’ve been successfully using M2 EggBeaters at home for about two decades, and they have been “good enough”.  So I’ve shelved the thought of erecting another antenna “monstrosity” (in my wife’s eyes).

One thing that operating a satellite station during the past six Field Days has taught me, is it is pretty easy to get a satellite contact in the field.  Usually I set an Arrow crossed beam on a camera tripod fixed at mid-pass Az/El, then let the bird find me.  It’s worked every time.  But I did want a chance to work some of that low elevation “DX” that I can’t do at home.

I began reading everything I could on small antenna rotor systems, even picking up parts to build one of my own.  And I began following the developments of a company in California called Portable Rotation.  They introduced an Az/El rotor system that runs off a 12 volt battery and weighs about 8 pounds.  It is designed for portable operation (water resistant, not water proof, and not good for blowing winds and ice up here in New England).  That seemed to fill the bill for me, as I was interested in something that I could quickly setup at a school or meeting, or field event.  I finally caved and purchased one last week.


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Busy 40m FT8 Night

40-meters on FT8 at night has always been sort of a nightmare for me.  As 17/20/30-meters fade out, 40 comes alive with DX and US stations all jammed into that 2.5 KHz window.  Here’s a sample of what it looks like on my end.  Note the waterfall display in the upper-right:

I called CQ up near the top of the band and worked dozens of stations in about 45 minutes.  PSK Reporter coverage looked pretty outstanding too:

If it was dark and there were people there, the signal was making it there.

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IGC Update End of Feb

The International Grid Chase has been a wonderful distraction this winter and has given me an excuse to spend an hour or two on air almost every day.  In fact, when I miss a day, I feel like I’m missing out part of my routine.

In terms of the contest itself, I’ve dropped into a distant 2nd place behind Jim KS1J — about 120 points behind.  And Russ, KA1ERL, is right behind (as I write this it is March 4th and Russ is within a few points of me, and I’ve fallen even further behind Jim — however, I’ve been mostly off the air since Feb 28th).

There is a great side benefit to the IGC; one is likely to pick up missing band-point for the DXCC Challenge.  That’s certainly been my case, and I’ve already exceeded my goal for the year.  As of the end of February I have 1,305 band-points, and even picked up a new country for a total of 265.  Of course I’ve been concentrating on 160-meters, gaining 16 new countries to 53 total (beating my year-end goal of 50), but I’ve also really added a bunch of 30 and 17-meter countries as those seem to be the “goto” bands for FT8 (40-meters is a zoo).

I also managed to complete 48 of the 50 states for 160-meters, missing only Alaska and Hawaii.  The latter I can work if I decide to get up around 3-4 AM some morning.  The former is likely to be my Waterloo. 

Posted in Contests, DX, Grid Chase, IGC | Leave a comment

Education Fund Established

I was honored by my club, Newport County Radio Club, this past December when they established an Education Fund in my name.  I’ve been quite active in RI and teaching Amateur Radio Classes since 2011.  In those years, I have taught slightly over 10% of all RI hams.

The plaque is actually above a beautiful table lamp, complete with a Eimac 3-500Z transmitting tube, given to me by NCRC several years ago.

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Congratulations to the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse NY

Shortly after being on the RF side of things for a successful ARISS contact in May of 2016, I decided to volunteer to become a technical mentor for ARISS.  After shadowing Dave Jordan AA4KN (a mentor’s mentor) for an ARISS event on Long Island, I was assigned to support the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse NY, which had partnered with Danforth Middle School, Ed Smith Middle School, and the Central Village Boys & Girls Club of Syracuse.

Within seconds of the predicted AOS at 9:09 AM local time (14:09 UTC, Feb 23, 2018) the voice of Astronaut Mark Vande Hei could be heard over the live stream (and copied locally at S9+ using my eggbeater antenna).  All 17 questions were asked by the young students at the museum and answered by a very engaging Vande Hei.

Congratulations to the staff of MOST and all the volunteers that made this event a success, and especially the ARISS organization for making this possible.

View of the crowd at MOST during their AIRSS Contact on Feb 23, 2018

Posted in AMSAT, ARISS, ISS | Leave a comment

Unthinkable happens — Logs lost in LotW

A server error in LotW has caused the loss of submitted log data.  In my memory, this is the first time it has happened.  Users were advised by TQSL and the Logging programs that their logs had been submitted for processing.  However, the data withing the logs was rejected without user warning.  Users can tell if their logs were lost by going to the LotW website, selecting the “Your Account” near the top right of the screen, then selecting “Your Activity” from the actions on the left side of the screen.  A list of log submissions will then be listed.

While your experience might be different, my logs submitted after 16:50 UTC on Feb 20 and before 18:00 UTC on Feb 21 were all lost.  Simply re-upload your logs to correct the issue.

If you are expecting a confirmation from me, all of my contacts through 02:00 UTC on Feb 22 have been uploaded.  Please check to be sure that your own log entries have made it into LotW

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And 20 RTTY


16:53:57z> WB4SON WB4SON WB4SON


16:54:14z> DE WB4SON 5NN 73


16:54:31z> DE WB4SON 5NN 73



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Wow, that was fast!

And just like that, a confirmation from Z60A showed up in LotW:

That brings my count up to 264.  With no Bouvet, it might be a challenge to meet the goal of 265 by year’s end.

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