Hack A Day Promotes Ham Radio

Our friends at Hack A Day will be sponsoring an online chat this Wednesday at Noon PST about keeping Ham radio relevant. Stop in, or just lurk, but it is sure to be interesting. Hack A Day also regularly has Ham Radio related projects and news items. So if it is not already a site you visit, you should add it to your browse list. Follow the link for more details…

Winter Field Day 2020

Come join us January 25th for the 2020 Winter Field Day. We will be at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy all that way at the back of the park where we usually set up for the June Field Day. It will be a fairly relaxed day. – No towers, trailers, mostly go-boxes and portable HF antennas. Come as you are. Ask as many questions as you want. Stay as long as you like. Set-up begins around 9AM. Transmission begins at 11 AM PST. We will stay as long as we feel like it. See the link below for details and operating rules.

https://www.winterfieldday.com/

Gilroy Maker Faire 2020

So how cool would this be? An opportunity to highlight our hobby, and its roots in making, in our own back yard! Be prepared to be peppered with suggestions of our local clubs getting a booth together. Maybe we can even do a balloon launch, some on-the-air demos, DMR, some remote control, how repeaters work, and even drum up some folks for a ham-cram.

Polar Explorer

Here is an interesting find from 2019 Dayton Hamvention, the Polar Explorer. It is a 500 watt transmitter that mates with your existing radio. It is not an amplifier. It is a self contained 160-10m transmitter. It is currently still a work in progress, and the developer has been working on the design for the past 6 years. There is no receiver in this design. You use your existing transceiver. There is a short survey you can take on the page, and even sign up to be a beta tester. Check out the deets on www.polex-tech.com

Monthly Electronics Flea Market @ Fry’s

Some of you I’m sure know about the Bay Area Electronics Flea Market. It used to be every month, starting in the spring, through the end of summer, in the De Anza College parking lot.

In 2018 the market moved to the Fry’s in Sunnyvale. A wide assortment of all matter of electronic doo-dads, thingamabobs, and widgets of all shape and size are often present. If you ever want to see a walking history of electronics in Silicon Valley, that alone is worth the visit.

Check it out some time. For times and dates check out their website!

YT-450 Upgrade? Yup!

My first HF radio was a Yaesu FT-450D. Like many radios with an internal tuner, it was limited to 3:1 SWR matching. Since I was using a G5RV Jr for an antenna at the time, this was not quite enough to properly tune across 40 meters. 80 meters was out of the question. A local ham had some gear from an SK that was needing a new home and one of the items was an LDG YT-450 external tuner, made to be paired with the 450D. It was also made to be used with the FT-950 which is how it was being used. It was the right time at the right price, so I purchased it. It worked great with the 450D. But, about a year later I sold the FT-450D and upgraded to the newer FT-991. The YT-450 did work with the 991! For a while…

A Yaesu firmware upgrade put an end to that, and it stopped working. And that is where I was stuck for a while. I had changed to a fan dipole, and later to an OCF dipole. So 3:1 matching was again within my reach, although on 40 or 80 meters I would get weird SWR sometimes.

I was getting ready to move some things around in my go-box and was staring a the YT-450 thinking of just removing it, selling it, and purchasing a YT-1200 which is compatible with the FT-991. It is nice to have the wider range tuner because we sometimes want to use an end-fed, or random wire, and so a good external tuner can really come in handy. So I hit the Interwebs to find a deal and ‘lo and behold…

I came across a chip upgrade on CheapHams.com that replaces the ROM with a new ROM that makes the YT-450 essentially a YT-1200, which restores compatibility with the FT-991! For $20, they send you chip and a sheet of instructions for installing the chip, and the parameters to set on the FT-991. 4 small screws and 10 minutes later and… Done! I have a working tuner again… for $20!

Signal Stick – Get One.

I came across the Signal Stuff, Super-elastic Signal Stick in a recent on-line article. As you can see in the image, it is tied in a knot. And that is exactly how it was shipped to me in a padded envelope. The envelope was about 5″ square. I was surprised when they arrived and immediately was concerned I would have this warped antenna dropping off the top of my HT. Nope. Once the envelope was opened, and the Nitonol, nickel-titanium alloy antenna was “untied”, it returned to its previous, perfectly straight alignment. That alone was impressive. So why these? Well, let’s go down the list…

  1. They are made by hams
  2. Your purchase supports www.hamstudy.org
  3. $20
  4. So far appears to be fairly indestructible.
  5. It actually does what it says it does.

The antenna is 18.25″, is available in a variety of connector types, and comes in basic black. The cowling is 3D printed and set with epoxy. It is crazy strong. There is a growing list of reviews available online and on YouTube with nearly unanimous positive results and glowing recommendations.

My review of the Signal Stick has also been very positive with improved signal quality in my anecdotal testing across radios and local repeaters. I have most of the same antennas the reviews call out in their comparisons, and I would say my testing pretty much aligns with everyone else’s. Did I mention they are only $20?

VHF/UHF Weekend Radio Kit

One of the great things about our hobby is access to all manner of great kits that allow us to learn more about the hobby and explore new ways to get on the air. Once again, the interwebs have revealed this set of kits for building your VHF/UHF transceiver. The transceiver has .5 or 1 watt output, which with a proper antenna should be more than adequate for local repeaters. One component missing from the kit, or even having much mention anywhere in the documentation is a microphone. That and the fact there is also one SMD component which must be soldered, probably places this kit out of “beginner” status for most. But for $72 you do get the custom board, components, and nice case. For $5 more they will even engrave your call sign onto the face of the case. Check out the link and let us know if you order a kit…