Friday, December 31, 2010

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 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
night--something I haven't done in several years.  The J-38 key
is in good shape, the rig looks good, and the operator somewhat
prepared.  I've enjoyed your comments during the past year. I've
learned a few new things from all of you...hopefully, my ramblings
have encouraged you to build or repair something.  That activity
ties you to the radio pioneers who did remarkable things with very
little in the way of resources.  May the New Year be prosperous
and positive for all of you.  I'll return once I recover from the New
Year--most likely, I'll be at the radio station on holiday watch.  Never
a dull moment in this business.  Aloha, 73 de KH6JRM

Thursday, December 23, 2010

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 case nature decides to soak us again. Our
Hawaii Island roads are vulnerable to landslides and
periodic flooding after heavy rains.  I have the scanner
on in the studio, so I'll be able to monitor the public
service and ham bands while I prepare news updates.
Have a great Christmas holiday.  Be sure to leave out
something for Santa...even if you are the de-facto Santa
in your household.  Mele Kalikimaka from Hawaii Island.
73 es Aloha de KH6JRM.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

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 be up to speed by Saturday evening.
Most likely, I'll just make a few casual contacts and relax
a bit with the J-38 key on the lower 25kHz of 40 meters.
Have a good weekend, protect yourself on the highway,
and have some egg-nog for those of us in Hawaii.  Aloha,
73 de KH6JRM.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

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 skyhook...Of course, better performance can
be gained once I install a better ground system.  That
seems to be the limiting factor in verticals erected over
limited real estate.  So, once I get the household chores
done, the lawn mowed, and the trash dumped, I can
focus on making the antenna more efficient.  Even with
10 to 20 watts of power, the antenna does a fairly good
job.  I usually don't go much higher, since I'm running off
a solar-powered deep-cycle marine battery.  Nothing
fancy, but it works.  Enough pontificating for now. 'Til
next time.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

Friday, December 3, 2010

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.