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KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been quite a year, newswise.  The newsroom has indeed been a busy place.  Somehow, we have managed to survive another 365 days despite the best attempts by fanatics, the morally challenged, and the merely dispicable to derail us.  I suppose my slightly down message has been tempered by the course of world events...news people often get that way.  But, thanks to amateur radio, there is temporary relief from all of the nonsense that passes for civilization these days. I've been fortunate to have a roof over my head, a good job, an understanding XYL, and equipment that is paid for.  The all-too brief time I spend at the ole Swan 100-MX or restringing my antenna farm has kept me fairly sane.  I enjoy the challenge of shooting the rf into the ionesphere and seeing where it ends.  I've also begun to enjoy cw again.  I'm not very fast, but I enjoy the commaradie and "rag chews" from cw operators.  I'm hoping to get into the ARRL straight key

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Christmas is almost here.  Things are slowing down a bit in the newsroom--a much appreciated break after Hawaii Island withstood a fierce winter rain storm. The Saddle Road, which is the shortest connection between Hilo and Kailua-Kona, was closed due to flood- ing and runoff.  Many travelers on the island had to divert their itineraries to the longer perimeter roads. Even these highways got thoroughly soaked.  The newsroom was kept busy with all of the traffic alerts and advisories.  Local amateur radio operators stood by just in case emergency communications channels were needed.  Thankfully, the flooding emergency was confined to the evening hours.  State and county crews are still cleaning up the debris and directing motorists around the flooded areas.  With all of this going on, there wasn't much time to "ham it up".  I got home rather late, so I'll make up the hamming later this week.  Christmas Day is a full work day -- I have to stand by in c

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I can't believe how fast the Christmas holiday is coming.  Wasn't Thanksgiving just a few weeks ago?  Time seems to quicken with advancing age. As a child, it seemed forever until the holiday season arrived.  Anyway, the season is keeping the newsroom busy--and that's a good thing.  At least I still have a job.  I wish I had it in my power to get those unemployed back to work.  Meanwhile, I'll be able to sandwich in some needed antenna work before the weekend. I will be restringing the vertical this Saturday, since the combination of salt air, rain, and insect damage is destroying the #14 gauge wire attached to the 33' fiberglass mast.  The insulation is slowly degenerating under the tropical sun.  This project has been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Follow- ing the maintenance, I'll work a few hours on the Swan 100-MXA--mostly cleaning pots and blowing the dust off the case.  The circuit boards appear in good shape, so everything should

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I spent the night at the radio station newsroom because of a winter storm that threatened Hawaii Island.  For- tunately, only minor flooding spoiled the night.  Mauna Kea has a nice layer of snow and local residents can't wait for the summit road to clear, so they can take home some snow for a holiday snowman.  This is the only place where you can gather snow and surf on a sun-blessed beach all at the same time.  Since I was on news alert, there wasn't much time to spend on amateur radio, other than listening to 2-meters on the news room scanner.  I'll remedy that situation once I close up the news room later today.  At least, we got some much needed rain.  Have a good weekend.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM;s Amateur Radio Blog

'Just about time to wrap up the news cycle for today in the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM newsroom. Then, it's home to the shack for some casual operting before calling it a day. I'm still working on the under the house NVIS loop.  The wire has sagged a bit since I attached it to the undercarriage of the qth.  With 142' of 18-gauge wire, the antenna can work any- thing from 40 to 10 meters.  Admitedly, the arrange- ment works best on 40 meters (mostly local contacts out to about 300 miles).  But, with the 450-ohm feed line, I can get some service on the higher bands.  The backyard vertical is still a work in progress.  It works alright, but a few more counterpoise wires will help deliver a better signal.  Like the NVIS loop, the 33' foot vertical is fed with homebrew twin lead and seems to keep the Drake MN-4 ATU and the old Swan 100- MX happy.  Currently, I'm using a single tuned counter- poise wire.  I've garnered many contacts with this im- provised s

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The arrival of long-awaited rain heralds the approach of winter on Hawaii Island.  For most of us islanders, there are only two seasons--wet (winter, early spring) and dry (summer, early autumn).  This year has been unusually dry, perhaps a legacy of the El-Nino phenom- enon.  Fortunately, the cooler and drier weather has kept tropical storms and hurricanes away from us.  So, one must count the blessings where they are found.  This is a good time for many of us amateur radio operators to repair, rebuild, and redesign the antennas we use to con- nect to the world.  Lately, I've been working with NVIS (near vertical incidence skywave) antennas--basically low- level loops and dipoles that give excellent 1-300 mile coverage.  These high angle radiators are great for local and state-wide nets on 80 and 40 meters.  Several help- ful articles can be found on the internet.  Try a few.  You may find these skyhooks a lot of fun.  Have a good week-end. Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, it's back to the newsroom routine.  The Sunday news cycle is fairly slow, so I should be able to wrap up the basic maintenance and log chores in short order.  After I secure the news room update the meter readings, I'll pick up a few things at the supermarket and head home for some time at the old Swan 100-MX before calling it a day.  Saturday's inverted vee project  went well.  The 40-meter vee has provisions to add 33' of additional wire should I desire to explore the 80-meter portion of the spectrum.  The 55' of 450-ohm twin lead seems to go well with the 4:1 balun and the Drake MN-4 ATU.  I can get a 1.2 to 1 SWR on all bands between 40 and 10 meters. The antenna was simple to make and erect.  Not a DX buster for sure, but it does the job.  You can get other simple ideas for easy to erect antennas in Doug DeMaw's "Novice Antenna Book" by the ARRL.  This book is probably out of print, but any

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Somehow I survived the Thanksgiving holiday.  I didn't eat too much at the neighborhood gathering and managed to squeeze in a few hours of cw to round out Thursday. Presently, I'm holding down the fort at the KKBG-FM/ KHLO-AM news room.  Other than the usual meter readings and daily forms to complete, this appears to be a fairly quiet day.  Following the news shift, I'll head home for some antenna maintenance work.  Although the back- yard 40-meter vertical is working fine, I'm thinking of con- verting the old MFJ fiberglass mast into an inverted vee or a delta loop.  Both antennas have served me well in the past. I have just enough room to squeeze in a 40-10 meter vee (33' on  each side).  With 55' of twin lead, the spare 4:1 balun, and the trusty Drake MN-4 ATU, I'll be ready in no time.  I've also fed this arrangement with coax, which largely restricts the vee to 40 and 15 meters.  Purists will shake their heads at this rough and tumbl

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Somehow, everyone in my household survived Thanksgiving.  For once, all of us gathered for our neighborhood feast ate moderately.  It seems we had just enough to make a good dinner and to have some goodies to take home.  The best part was the good fellowship of our neighbors, the ex- cellent weather (it rained just after 1900 W), and the relaxing atmosphere provided by the season. I surely needed a break from the news room after this week's disturbing news about Korea and the crippled U.S. economy.  I even got a chance to fire up the old Swan 100 MX for a few contacts after dinner.  I trust that your feast met your ex- pectations.  Enjoy what you can while you can.  Be sure to squeeze in a few hours for amateur radio--it could keep  you sane in an otherwised confused world.  'Til next time, Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Thanksgiving is fast upon us.  It's hard to believe the holidays are coming so quickly.  I guess time seems to accelerate as one gets older.  Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding us, there is still much to be thankful for--the ability to get up in the morning, good health, decent food, and the love of family. Others would add the basic freedoms guaranteed by our founding documents--I agree, but these freedoms are getting eroded daily by the growing crudeness, crassness, and lack of respect for nearly everything these days.  I run into this situation every- day as I prepare and read the news on the commercial station I call my home away from home.  Sometimes, I wonder what kind of society we call these United States.  Every now and then, I feel we as a nation have lost our way and have failed to take responsibility for our own lives.  That's why I retreat into the amateur radio universe after a long day.  Despite the well- known problems on the amateur ba

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Just when you think everything in the ole radio shack is running smoothly, there comes a surprise that rearranges your weekend radio activity.  Last night was such an event.  A band of intense thunder- showers rolled past Hawaii Island last night, giving us Big Islanders some needed rain along with very strong winds which played games with power lines, yard furniture, and various loose objects.  Although I can't consider my antenna farm a piece of lawn furniture, the effect of the gusty winds will put me into maintenance mode for the weekend.  A small tree limb took out the 450 - ohm feedline, so I have to restring another 33 feet of line to get the vertical back into operating condition.  The antenna appears intact, so it's back to the wire cutters, the soldering gun, and insulators for another round of antenna follies.  At least I can get some exercise before I warm up the ole Swan 100-MX.  All in a day's work.  Before I leave the commercial radio statio

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I've just finished reading a truly inspiring article by James Deane, KD7QDG, in the 12 November 2010 edition of http://www.eham.net/ .  James penned a tale of his path from General to Extra entitled "General to Extra Class--learning a lot."  James does a good job explaining why he made the final plunge into the "Extra" pool.  What moti- vated his journey was the desire to learn more about amateur radio from a more technical point of view.  Many of us have made the same trip through the license structure.  My 33 years in this wonderful hobby has visited every license class except for Tech Plus.  Like James, I wanted to learn more and took up the challenge to master the math and regulations necessary to get the Extra. Besides, I wanted  the Extra for my own sense of ac- complishment.  Of course, the additional 25 kHz at the bottom of most bands meant some new DX and a perfect way to polish my meager CW skills.  If you want to attain the Extra Cl

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Veterans Day on Hawaii Island has been quiet. The day provided a welcom respite from the usual "crisis by the minute" routine found in the radio station news room.  I even had a few listeners thank me for my past military service--that was a surprise, considering the reception I received when I returned from active duty in the early 70's.  Those were the days. As soon as I wrap up the day's news coverage, I'll head for the home station and some time "pounding the brass" until my daily jog with the XYL, dinner, and a slow retreat under the covers.  I trust your day was a good one. 'Til next time, 73 es Aloha from Hawaii Island. KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Veterans Day will be observed on Thursday--a time to remember those who served our nation in both peace and war.  In my former life as an Air Force Officer and before I became an amateur radioi operator, I was aware of the vital service provided by MARS operators.  I even used this service a few times to contact family at home.  I am indebted to those ham and military operators who kept our morale up and provided a lifeline to our loved ones.  The tradition continues, as MARS operators and other radio amateurs provide support to our military personnel around the world.  The technology, of course, has improved, but the mission is still there.  I will not forget your service to those who serve our nation. So, on the advent of this Veterans Day, I wish all amateur and military operators a deep thankyou for your dedication and ability to keep our spirits up in difficult times.  Aloha, 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

What a busy series of weeks.  First there was the rush of holiday promotions, high school games, and the busy cycle of the news day.  Then add the hype surrounding the mid-term elections.  The negativity and hypebole surrounding the transfer of legislative power were  more scary than Halloween.  Sandwiched between this sped up news cycle was a few hours of amateur radio--what a relief to just sit down in front of the old Kenwood 520, pound some brass, and rag chew with a few friends.  I'm still  altering some of the antenna farm as Hawaii's salt air and acid rain (from the Kilauea Volcano) does its work of digesting wire and connectors.  All of this keeps me busy and out of the shopping malls.  Besides, the exercise gained from tilling the family garden and lugging around pvc pipe, wire, and twin lead has some benefit for the ole waist0 line.  My XYL and I manage to keep in shape with a simple, nutritious diet and daily walks.  Time before the rig gives the mi

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been another busy week at the radio station news room.  With the approach of the holiday season, all of us in the "media circus" are busy with the Thanks- giving and Christmas programs, not to mention the remotes, haunted houses, and whatever else is attached to the Halloween festiviites.  No rest for the "wicked" until after the New Year.  Between all of this, I will squeeze in some quality time on the amateur bands.  Most of the simple repairs to my rapidly aging radio collection are done.  A few touchups to the ole "antenna farm" will bring the station into operating con- dition.  I'm still having fun with the Kenwood 520 I acquired a few months ago--nice rig and very for- giving of us who have forgotten the ritual of tune and dip.  If you have a chance to get an older rig from the major manuafacturers, please do so.  What they lack in convenience is compensated by the sheer pleasure of rag-chewing on the hollow-state tecno

KH6JRM;s Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a busy month in the newsroom, so my time dedicated to amateur radio has been minimal.  I will get back in the groove this weekend after some yard work around the radio ranch.  Presently, I'm working to equip my Odyssey min-van with a ham radio station.  I'm operating on 2 meters with my trusty HT, a set of solar powered gel cells, and a 1/4 wave whip positioned on the van room with a mag mount.  For now, the setup meets my immediate needs. I elected to not use the van's electrical system.  The set of gel cells in the van coupled with a set of small solar panels mounted on a side window keeps the system active.  The power demands of the HT are very small, so I have no problem of running out of juice.  Adding HF capability will be a challenge, not the least of which is the low clearance of my garage.  Most likely, I'll opt for a mag-mounted "Ham Stick" as a temporary solution.  This is not an efficient system, but it will do until I

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a busy month--not much time to operate on the old Swan 100-MX.  Hawaii just experienced its primary election with  all the hoopla and news coverage that surrounds politics in Hawaii....My newsroom was a busy place for at least a week.  In more pleasant news, The Big Island Amateur Radio Club and the Hawaii QRP club hosted Russian QRP (RU QRP) club co-founder Oleg Borodin (RV3GM) and his XYL, Olga (RA3GKB) on September 11th at Hilo's Wailoa State Park.  Oleg, who serves as the Elecraft representative in Russia, was invited by Dean, KH6B, to spend a brief vacation on the Big Island and to  bring local hams up to date on amateur radio activities in Russia.  Oleg had an excellent presentation on a variety of Russian QRP expeditions, including the "Moroz" (Frost or frozen) nose competition held during the winter. Oleg also passed his U.S. Amateur Extra Exam earilier in the week (I was part of the VE team).  Oleg is a great guy and I gained a new

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Today is a solemn day for those who call a radio newsroom home.  Nine years ago today I was on the early shift (in Hawaii) when the World Trade Center was hit by aircraft, re- sulting in the loss of approximately 3,000 lives. From that day forward, nothing in this nation remained unchanged.  I'll leave the diatribes and finger pointing to others, but to me, the event reinforced the need to be prepared, both in protecting our communities and in keeping amateur radio communications intact.  Since that awful day almost a decade ago, I've tried to have backup plans in place for the shack-- reserve power, spare rigs, extra wire, tools, and reference material. I've also kept a supply of food, medical supplies, fuel for the car, and money on hand just in case the integrated society we inhabit comes apart.  Preparation, training, and a positive attitude can go a long way in maintaining your sanity in a world that appears to have lost all reason and a sense of re

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

As Labor Day winds down, yours truly will be securing the radio station news room and preparing for the coastal drive to the qth in Laupahoehoe.  The weekend was busy, with the usual parades, holiday events, and the drag races at the Hilo Drag Strip.  I'm the tower announcer for the races, an enjoyable diversion from the usual gloom and doom of the news cycle.  When I get back to the shack, I'll finish the Novice Antenna Handbook by the late Lew McCoy.  The book is a useful primer for those of us who want to erect simple, yet effective antennas at minimum cost.  On my postage stamp sized rural lot, I've erected several of his proven designs.  Currently, I'm using an under the house 40-meter loop (great for local nets) and a modified vertical, using one vertical element and one elevated counterpoise. The system is fed with 300-ohm twin lead through a 1:4 balun for 40 to 10 meter coverage.  Nothing fancy, but it does work from my Central Pacific location. 

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

In between a few projects at the qth, I ran across an inter- esting article by Alan Vega (WA6 MOW) on the eham.net site called "HF on a limited budget", dated 26 August 2010. Much of his article resonated with my approach to Amateur Radio, especially the parts relating to serviceable older rigs and homebrew antennas for your shack.  Alan sets up an arbitrary $300 budget for a basic ham station, and, generally, succeeds in getting a basic station assembled, minus the antenna, ATU, and miscellaneous items.  Alan recommends a few familiar transceivers which have proven reliable, in- cluding teh Yaesu FT-757GX, the ICOM-730, and the Kenwood TS-440s.  All good choices for those oper- ating on a shoestring budget.  I would add a few more, in- cluding the Kenwood 520 series and a few Ten-Tec classics such as the Triton-540, the Argosy II, and even the Scout 555.  I've owned a few of the above and can attest to their reliability.  Of course, the further we go out

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The ole Kenwood 520 is just about ready for a full rollout after some minor cleanup procedures.  I was lucky to acquire the rig from a deceased Hilo ham, who kept his equipment clean and maintained.  All I have to do is replace the 2001 finals with some 6146Bs I in the tube drawer.  The original finals are alright for now, but they are a bit soft.  I've run the 520 at low power and it behaved well.  Even my homebrew ac power cord seemed to work.  I was able to get a new replacement from K4EEA just in case my kludge fails along the way.  Presently, I'm re- reading Lew McCoy's "Novice Antenna Book", something I picked up many years ago.  The book is full of simple, work- able antennas that will get you started on your amateur radio adventure.  McCoy, now SK, writes in a friendly, straight- forward way.  I've tried several of his designs and they work well.  Materials for these antennas can be obtained from the nearest hardware store at modest cos

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Keeping with my underlying theme of operatng an amateur radio station with a minimum of cost, I'm continuing to bring an old Kenwood 520 back to life.  I'm indebted to Ken, K4EAA, for his informative website. He has given me plenty of helpful hints in restoring this classic hybrid rig.  The new 12BY7 driver is working well and my self-constructed ac power cord seems to be holding its own.  I ordered a PC-2 cord from Ken just in case my stubby fingers ruining the soldering job on the 12-pin con- nector. The rig runs well after blowing out the dust and spraying the switches with de-oxit contact cleaner.  Al- though the 2001 finals are a bit soft, I can get out a more than adequate 60 watts.  Since I tend to run rigs at qrp levels, the slightly lower output doesn't present an immedi- ate problem.  I have a spare set of 6146Bs in the tube cabinet.  While my minor tune-up was thankfully easy, I enjoyed getting inside the rig and doing a few things for myself.  I

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Inventory, restocking, and repairs continue at the Laupahoehoe qth.   With the economy being so fragile these days, I'm monitoring the financial "empire" more closely than I once did.  I have a few long term projects on the burner (new rig, for example), but, for now, I'm making due with what I have.  As mentioned earlier, I acquired a well-cared for Kenwood 520 from the family of a recently deceased Hilo amateur.  With the acquisition of a new power cord (thanks to K4EAA) and a new 12BY7A driver tube, the grand ole rig is just about ready to put on the air.  The rig tunes up well into the dummy load, albeit the original 2001 final tubes are a bit "soft".  I ordered the PC-2 power cord before I found a 12-prong plug in the junk box.  At least I have a spare. A trip to the local hardware store will provide whatever wire, nuts, bolts, clamps, and other items the junk box now lacks. I'll wrap up the weekend with a clean-up of the Swan 100-MX a

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Anticipating more economic chaos ahead, I'm well on my way to assembling a backup station, spare parts, and assorted tools to tide me over in case my main rig goes to the big ground plane in the sky.  The ole Swan 100- MX is holding its own, but one never knows when some non-obtainable part gives up the ghost. So, I'm cleaning up a Kenwood 520 the family of a Hawaii ham who went SK a while back.  The rig is is pretty good shape.  I've ordered a spare power cord, alignment tools, and a spare 12BY7A driver turbe.  The original 2001 finals are still serviceable.  I have a few spare 6146Bs in the "tube" bin in the event the old tubes die.  My standby Yaesu FT-7 QRP rig (10 watts) is in excellent shape after I cleaned it up and got the oxide off switches, etc.  My collection of coax feedline, 450-ohm twin lead, and assorted lenghts of #16 antenna wire is adequate to build several antennas. Along with my solar panels, deep cycle batteries, and a trusty

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

One of the things I've been looking for in this tight economy is a good, reliable back-up rig that could be used while I repair my other two "ancient" rigs (Swan 100-MX and Yaesu FT-7).  One of my fellow broadcasters across town dropped off an old Kenwood 520 that once belonged to his wife's father, a Hilo ham that died a few years ago.  Using a temporary hook-up, I found the old rig is in excellent shape.  The original finals are a bit soft, but can still put out 50-60 watts on 20 meters.  The rig came with the MC-50 mic and a Heathkit power/swr meter.  All told, an excellent acquisition.  I'm looking for the 12- prong ac plug and cord.  If you have one, let me know at kh6jrm@gmail.com or at kh6jrm@arrl.net .  Right now, I'm running the old 520 with a jury rigged set up. I'll let you know how my back-up station is developing.  With the economy being like it is, a new rig is out of the question for now.  While I'm restoring the 520, t

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Maintaining your amateur radio hobby during this time of recession can be challenge, especially when un- employment and furloughs loom over many of us. What I'm doing to maintain the hobby is not for everyone, but my approach enables me to enjoy amatuer radio while keeping the family ship afloat. Once I get the bills paid and cover monthly ex- penses, I still have a little left over for heating the atmosphere with rf.  I'm putting off getting a new rig and instead I'm keeping the older equipment repaired and operational.  I'm also working more with home-brew antennas to cut costs.  Just keep an eye out for surplus wire, pvc pipe, and cast off RG-6 from cable installations.   Even old RG-58 and RG-8 can be used for something.  The old braid has several uses as well as the basic copper inner wire which can be used for radials.  Since this recession will be run- ning for awhile, I will defer most purchases in favor of learning to do with less.  Yes, I rea

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

How will you keep your amateur radio station alive and active during this time of economic distress?  Even a cursory reading of the business media indicates that "experts" believe the nation's economy is battered and won't really be in decent shape for more years.  The reality is the U.S. economy is broken.  So, how do you keep everything afloat, assuming you are still working?  I can only speak for myself, so take everything I say with the proverbial "grain of salt".  I've had to live with a budget for many years and know how difficult it is to have necessities with so many "nice to have" temptations around us every day.  Once I take care of my immediate family needs and the usual run of bills, I can turn my attention to my favority hobby.  I've had to put off purchases, repair the older rigs, and build a lot of my antennas when it would have been a lot easier to plunk down the plastic and worry about the cost later.  This f

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Just a quick note from the radio ranch in Laupahoehoe. While I was waiting for the soldering iron to warm up for one of my antenna experiments, I came across an interesting weblog called "The Economic Collapse", dated 12 July 2010.  The ariticle gave several tips for coping with the continuing economic recession that has turned this country into one of the world's largest debtor nations.  The article argued that most of us know that economic disintegration is around the corner and that we must take steps to prepare for shortages, reduced incomes, and act responsibly with our financial resources.  Although I don't agree with the generally gloomy stance of the piece, I feel we ignore the trend at our peril.  Don't spend what you don't have and get out of debt if you can.  Pretty good advice.  In future articles, I will outline what I'm doing to avoid the debt trap and remain free of unnecessary financial burdens.  I will also explain what I

KH6JRM's Amateru Radio Blog

The Homebrew vertical "antenna farm" is doing well at the Laupahoehoe QTH.  The most recent project is a nearly out of sight vertical helix that works well on 40 and 15 meters.  I had a 10' piece of schedule 40 PVC pipe under the house which I pressed into service this week for an easy-up antenna.  I wound 66' of number 22-gauge hook- up wire around the mast in a helix configuation and topped it off with an 18" stinger for some top loading.  A 3' to 6' capacity hat would probably be more helpful in raising antenna efficiency, but I opted in favor of the single wire on top.  I strung out eight 10' foot radials and attached the creation to some RG-6 I had on hand.  I fed this into the Drake MN-4 ATU.  The Drake handled the mismatch and the Swan 100 MX seemed happy with the arrangement.  The bandwidth is quite narrow, but retuning is no problem.  This antenna might be of interest to those of you bothered by nosey neighbors or for those ne

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Happy 4th of July to everyone. How about a simple, almost free antenna for your back yard?  This antenna is not original, but it does a pretty decent job on 40 m through 10 m with a an ATU or plays well on 40/15 m with ordinary coax.  While I was cleaning up an old MFJ 33'fiberglass mast in the back yard, I attached a 33' piece of #14 gauge wire to the fully extended mast, cut 6, 33' of old #22 gauge wire for radials, and attached the wires to an old Budwig connector.  I ran some RG-8 I had in the shack to my Drake MN-4.  A 3'\ piece of RG-8 ran from the MN-4 to the Swan 100 MX. Nothing fancy.  But I had fun running some contacts on 40- meters.  Fifteen meters was a bit dead early this morning, so I won't try that band until later today.  Even with 10-15 watts out, I had a lot of fun getting some cw done on the lower 25 kHz of 40 meters.  I just did this on a whim and had fun in the process. I hope you have a good and safe holiday. 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Because of work requirements, I was unable to participate in this year's ARRL Field Day.  From what I could deduce in casual listening, Hawaii Island Amateurs had fun from several locations, ranging from the Kamehameha Schools Hawaii Campus to the stunningly beautiful Laupahoehoe Point State Park.  In the past, I've participated in the Laupahoehoe Beach Park operation, since it's only 3 miles from the qth.  Dean Manley, KH6B, usually runs battery power with an array of verticals and sterba curtain arrays cut for 10 and 15 meters.  His verticals do pretty well so close to the ocean.  Speaking of antennas, the 26 June installment of the eham.net website has an interesting EMT vertical by Marcos Antonio Veloz Burgos, HI8MVW.  I've used variations on this theme several times, and like Marcos, I've used RG-6 TV cable for the feedline.  Results are quite good on 20, 15, and 10 meters.  Give this design a try and see what you can do.  Meanwhile, enjoy the r

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The news cycle is winding down at KKBG-FM/ KHLO-AM for the workweek.  Only half-days on Saturday and Sunday remain on the horizon. The break will give me plenty of time to work on my spartan "antenna farm" at the Laupahoehoe qth.  With my tropical climate and salt air, there is always something to do for the skyhooks.  Be- sides, the work gives me a break from the rather dismal series of events that is making everyday life more difficult than it should be.  I just finished an excellent article on the eham.net website by Phil Chambley, K4DPK, entitled "Your First Dipole."  Phil's article is a basic tutorial on an antenna that has served me well in the past. You can expand his idea into a "fan" dipole and get some added coverage for very little money. I may even string up one of his simple dipoles as an inverted vee and see what I can do.  My yard won't permit a fully extended dipole, hence my pref- erence for verticals and low slu

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Things are winding down at the KKBG-FM/KHLO news room after a peaceful weekend news cycle.  I use that term loosely, considering the various crises the world is facing. I'll leave the value judgements to those polically inclinded. All I do is report the news.  Once the Sunday shift is done and the story outlines for Monday prepared, I can return to the home shack for some casual operating before dinner and a good night's sleep.  I've finished some minor repairs to the 20-meter vertical dipole and the under the house 40-meter loop.  Both antennas are working well, propagation notwith- standing.  Just for a few laughs, I hooked up the loop to one of my homebrew crystal sets.  Pretty good results.  I was able to recieve all three Hilo AM stations with ease.  The Hilo stations are roughly 30 miles away from the commercial station I call "home" most of the time.  The 20-meter vertical dipole works for these crystal sets, too.  Crystal sets are fun to mak

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Just about ready to wrap up a week in the KKBG-FM/ KHLO-AM news room.  I've had sufficient excitement for the week with all of the stories on the oil spill, the Middle East crisis, and assorted local crime stories The weekend news shift begins on Saturday, but that shift is only for half-a-day, so the hours won't be too bad.  At least I have an enjoyable job.  Field Day beckons on 26/27 June--an event I will probably miss since I'm working the drag races that day.  I'll probably operate a bit from the home station, running 1E (emergency power).  While I was reading the eham.net site today, I found two Field Day articles that may prove useful to you or your radio club:  "900 Watt Generator for Field Day" by Mike Higgins, K6AER and "How to Come Back After Field Day" by Keith Wood, K1LDS.  Both articles contain some good, basic information.  Have a good weekend.  Aloha from Hawaii Island. KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a fairly calm Saturday in the KKBG-FM and KHLO-AM news room.  I need a quiet day now and then.  Other than the Middle East crisis and the Gulf oil spill, things are alright. My deepest sympthies to our Gulf of Mexico friends--what a gawsh awful mess, both ecologically and economically.  With all this going on, the hurricane season has just begun. The station has been keeping Big Islanders informed on what to do and how to prepare themselves for what is expected to be an active storm season.  With that in mind, how well prepared are you? When I get home after my shift, I'll make sure all batteries are charged, spare antennas made, and the generator fully fueled.  I've got a good stock of food and the ole Tercel is topped off in fuel. Hopefully, the storms will miss you.  Have a good weekend. Aloha from the Big Island. 73. KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that the Memorial Day celebrations are over, I can return to some degree of "normalcy" at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news room.  Of course, normal has all kinds of meaning in the news business, ranging from the usual crimes, crises, and weather changes to the bizarre stuff that crops up during the day. You wou't believe the number of strange calls I get before, during, and after holidays.  Anyway, I'll be able to squeeze in a few hours of operating this weekend.  Time at the old Swan 100 MX will provide the needed atitude adjustment from the near crisis mode that grips the news cycle.  On the docket for this weekend is further work on the 20- meter vertical dipole and minor repairs to the under the house loop that does the majority of local con- tacts.  I really enjoy getting out in the back yard and working with wire and portable masts.  I don't know if I'll be working with the Big Island Amateur Radio Club during the upcoming Field Day event. 

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Things are quiet at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news room on this Memorial Day.  I just finished an exciting 2 days at the Hilo Drag Strip where the Big Island Auto Club celebrated the 40th edition of the Memorial Day Drags.  The station has broadcast coverage of the drag racing season for 27 years and that falls under my job description.  Extensive use of the FRS (family radio service) and MURS (multi use radio service) is used at the track to maintain contact with the tower, pit areas, drivers, security, and track crew.  Low power UHF FRS radios (0.5 watt TPO) and VHF MURS radios (2 watts TPO) give those of us in the tower a good 1.5 to 2.0 mile range.  The track also has a legal, 100mw AM station for the fans, who can tune in on the tower chatter at 1610 kHz. The 8' whip is on top of the tower and gives a decent signal out to a mile.  My reports are cell-phoned to the station (4 miles away) for broadcast.  Racing fans may want to get a good hand-held scanner and follow

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another week at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news room is just about over.  There has been plenty of events to keep this new hound busy--from that BP oil leak to the latest crisis in the Middle East.  After the morning shift, I'm more than ready to head for the shack for some quality radio time.  The 20- meter vertical dipole is working well.  The antenna is supported by a 31-foot "jackite" mast and fed with 450-ohm balanced line.  I've put a bit of top and bottom loading to compensate for the short- ness of each element (about 1 1/2 feet).  The dipole fees well and the old Drake MN-4 seems to match everything up.  The antenna is usable on 20, 15, and 10 meters.  The performance on 40 leaves a lot to be desired, but I have a separate 40 meter vertical elsewhere in the yard, so that band is not a problem.  Getting on 80 meters is a tad difficult from my postage stamp lot, but perhaps I can erect a homebrew vertical helix tuned for 80 meters to take care of th

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Back again after another exciting week in the KKBG-FM KHLO-AM news room.  Never a dull moment around here with more than enough oil spills, intrigue, and local corruption to cast forth on the airwaves. ' Sort of makes me glad to close shop and go back to the ole Swan 100-MX for some cw therapy.  I just finished reading an interesting series by Eric Nichols, KL7AJ, on "Plasma Physics for the Radio Amateur, I-IV."  This series is pretty good stuff, fully understandable, and easy to apply to one's current antenna situation.  You can find the series at hrrp://www.eham.com.  My antenna activities are doing well, with another vertical antenna modification in the works.  This time around the Smith Chart, I'll be building a vertical dipole for the 20- meter band.  I'll use my old 33' MFJ fiberglass mast for the project. 'Should be fun.  Meanwhile, under the house 40-meter loop is doing well as a NVIS antenna.  The loop also does a pretty

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

How the time flies when you're having fun. Not that working in the radio station newsroom is all doom and gloom, but now that my weekend shift is just about over, I'm glad the cares of the world and our financially-strapped state can be left behind until early Monday morning when the news cycle begins anew. I'm happy to squeeze in a few hours of amateur radio operations--this provides a needed break from the concerns of the "real" world.  The 40-meter loop beneath my house is doing well for a "cloud warmer". The noise level on this balanced lined antenna is very low and it's a joy to listen to contacts without the usual level of noise in my area.  Proximity to power lines surely doesn't help, but the loop seems fairly insenstive to this type of vertically polarized rfi.  The loop is great for my local Hawaii state contacts.  The backyard vertical does alright for DX, considering the dinky lot that encloses my rental house. I'

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

After a few busy weeks at the radio station news- room, it's time to break away and head for the amateur radio station at the ole qth.  I really haven't done to much operating because of work requirements...news is a 24/7 require- ment these days.  Anyway, it's time to re- place the old, weather-beaten MFJ mast which has taken a real beating from the trop- ical sun and rain.  I'll reposition my Jackite mast, which has served as a temporary back- up.  This mast is well-made and should do better than the MFJ.  The temporary arrange- ment using a 33' piece of wire, base tuner, and 4-tuned counterpoise wires will be used until I get some time to do a quality installation.  This system will be used with my under the house 40-meter loop to provide good local and DX contacts.  Nothing fancy here...but it works. Have a good weekend...good DX.  Aloha and 73 from the Big Island.  KH6JRM (Russ).

KH6JRM''s Amateur Radio Blog

The busy weekend is over at last at KKBG-FM//KHLO- AM.  The news room is usually quiet and I get some time to catch up on the federal paperwork, station logs, and equipment maintenance.  It's nice working around state of the art equipment at a commercial broadcast station. 'Makes me wish for similar stuff at the home ham station.  One can dream...or is it dream on?  I managed to monitor some of the traffic going on this weekend in ARRL's newscomer contest, which resembles the old "Novice Roundup" of decades ago.  That contest was a blast, especially considering my dearth of operating skills in those days (mid-70s).  Those in this contest sounded like they were having a good time.  Some of these new operators were quite proficient and I'm glad to see the "newbies" getting into the swing of things. Speakin of new items, what do you think of the newly reworked ARRL website?  It's pretty fancy and seems eye catching--I'll have to

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The 47th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival is wrapping up in Hilo today with a late morning parade and the final hula compeitition tonight.  The event has kept the radio station news room busy.  This event attracts contestants world-wide and is covered extensively by local tv and radio (hence my role today).  The Festival has also brought the Big Island some needed rain.  Hawaii Island has been griped by an extended drought which has raised the fears of farmers and residents alike. After the news shift, it's back to the QTH for some late afternoon cw and local ragchews.  Most likely, I'll be using the under the house 40-meter loop. I've disconnected the vertical because of thunderstorms and lightning.  If the heavy rains continue, I'll just unhook everything. No sense tempting Thor's hammer. A few years ago, a strike from above toasted a fiberglass mast I was using as an an- tenna support. Luckily, the antenna was grounded and all feeders disconnected

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that the holidays are over, it's back to work at the radio station news room (serving 4 Hawaii Island radio stations).  The big item this week is the 47th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival, the premier Hawaiian Cultural event of the year.  Most of the on-air staff will be busy with all of the events surrounding the festival, so I'll have to be creative when it comes to ham radio time.  Every once in a while, one gets a cheery note that adds a bit of perspective to the daily grind.  Today, I received a nice note from John, KS4D (ex-KH6JRN), one of my early contacts when I was a Novice operator.  It was so good to hear from him.  John found me on my other blog site and brought me up to date. Oh, do I remem- ber those optimistic days when our "peanut whistles" gave us access to the world.  Despite all of the truly advanced media in use today, there is a certain warm feeling for launching a signal into the "ether".  I must be getting old..but

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Just a quick note to wish all of you a happy Easter. I'm working the Sunday shift at the KKBG-FM/ KHLO-AM news room during the holdiday. Things are fairly quiet for now, as the Big Island prepares for the annual Merrie Monarch Festival which begins Monday.  The event is the premier Hawaiian cultural event of the year.  The station is involved in some coverage, so I will be a busy fellow for the next few days.  I may be able to squeeze in a bit of cw over the next few days. The homebrew fiberglass vertical is working well, although lining up a few more radials will be a problem because of my rental home's small lot.  The four elevated counterpoise wires are helping, considering my lack of space.  I was planning to get a HF rig in my old Tercel, but I was sideswiped by a truck on Saturday morning, so that project will be on hold until the body shop fixes up the vehicle.  No one was hurt....rigs and cars can be replaced.... people can't.  Have a safe h

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another busy week at the radio station news room. Most of my time on the home rig was spent listening and working a bit of cw on the lower portion of 40 meters.  I spent some of my leisure time (what there is of it after a long day in the news room), checking out some interesting articles I found on the ARRL website.  Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has a general interest column that always has a few gems to offer. If you're into QRP like I am, you'll find Stan's review of the following worth a visit:  "Amateur Radio on it's (sic) Edge blog " by Tobias Wellnitz, DH1TW; "The Garage Shoppe" by Pete Goodmann, NI9N; and , on http://www.eham.net/ , an article by Charles Cohen, VA7CPU, entitled "How to QRP--Operating Strategies for the Power Challenged".  All of these articles offer some excellent advice on how to pursue your QRP interest. Until next time, Aloha, 73, KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Mother Nature has put a damper on this weekend's Drag Race at the Hilo Drag Strip...a wet track means no fast cars.  As a former racer, the heavy clouds were a disappointment, but safety outweighs other concerns. So, it's back to the QTH after I make my media reports to the newspapers and various racing websites.  I enjoy my "other" self at the race track--I don't race anymore, but I manage to keep my hand in by serving as the tower annoucer.  This is something that complements my job as a news director.  Nothing solid here...just a welcome es- cape from the real world.  In many ways, my artificial world on the weekends gives me a chance to relax and reduce the stress.  Amateur Radio serves a similar function. Of course, all of this changes when a natural or man-made emergency converts many hams to on-call communicators for various public service agencies  All told, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Fun and public service are united by Amateu

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Well, after a few glitches and computer operator problems, the blog is up and running again.  I took a brief break to work on a few workplace projects while whatever was causing my blog to redirect to some weird sites passed through.  I suppose my inattention to detail had a lot to do with this. Multi- tasking can be a problem sometimes.  Between all of this, I did manage to work some nice cw on 40 meters, restring the vertical on my new Jackite fiber- glass mast (nice piece of work), and generally re- laxed at the rig.  The news department at the radio station has been a busy place with a tsunami warning last month (we did get a few small waves in Hilo Bay), a few moderate earthquakes in the Puna District, and drought induced brushfires in the Waikoloa area.  Big Island Amateurs were available for each of these situ- ations, and provided timely tidal information during the 27 February tsunami warning.  All told, we have been busy.  Our relationship with the public se