Emergency Power

2016-06-30 23.27.51The big one just hit. An accident just took out a utility pole. You forgot to pay your electric bill? All the things in your life that require go-go juice just became inert. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A few minutes on Amazon, and a couple trips to some of our favorite places to shop, and you can have plenty of electricity for lighting, communications, and charging your other devices. Read on to build one for yourself. Continue reading “Emergency Power”

Category: DIY

K2BSA On the Air from Philmont Scout Ranch

philmontarrowhead Philmont Scout Ranch has posted their expected operation frequencies for the 2016 summer.  Take a look at the post from the Philmont Amateur radio club. This is a great opportunity to support amateur radio operations at the scout ranch and support and promote amateur radio in scouting.






PSK31 USB Main Mode of Operation: 1.838 (occasional operation), 3.580 (occasional operation), 7.070 and 7.080. 10.140, 14.070, 18.100, 21.070, 21.080, 24.920, 28.120.

VOICE SSB: 80m 3.940 & 3.690 (3.920-3.940 Extra Segment), 40m 7.180-7.200, 40m 7.270-7.290, 20m 14.270-14.290, 20m 14.320-14.340, 17m 18.120-18.150, 15m 21.360-21.400, 12m 24.960-24.980, 10m 28.350-28.400 (Includes Novice & Techs), 6m 50.160-50.200.

EchoLink Node JOTA-365.

FSQ HF Frequencies Region 2 80m 3594 kHz USB (sunset to sunrise) 40m 7104 kHz USB (sunrise to sunset) 30m 10144 kHz USB (local day, DX night)

IRLP Node 9091

DMR Make contact and move to DMR-MARC UA talk groups or to the DCI TAC-310 talk group

D-STAR Reflector REF033A

2 Meter FM Simplex Calling Frequency 146.52

70 CM FM Simplex Calling Frequency 446.000

Local Area Repeaters & Frequencies: TAOS ARC main call and monitoring frequency 147.120 + 67PL 147.140 + 67PL Taos Ski Mega-Link 444.350 + 100 Iron Mountain Eagle Nest Mega-Link 444.975 + 123PL Taos Ski Valley (Enchanted Circle Link) 147.340 + 100PL Angel Fire (Enchanted Circle Link) 145.390 – 100PL Red River (Enchanted Circle Link) 146.500 & 146.52 Simplex 147.2800 + 100PL Raton Mega-Link 446.7750 – D-STAR KD0RDI 147.200 + 67 Wagon Mound Mega-Link


See this link for more details

K2BSA/5 Philmont Operation Frequencies


Hamming It Up

K7DAA and KJ6VTP did a Field Day dry run with a new mobile tower recently aquired by KJ6VTP. This was the first time the mast was extended since the tower was acquired several weeks ago. The tower needed some repairs to limit switches, and need some overall TLC. There is some work to do, but the main functions of the tower work well. It is very exciting to have this new tool available to our group here in South County. For this exercise we were gauging how long it would take to arrive on station, deploy the tower, assemble the hexbeam, raise the tower, and get on the air. This was our first go of it, and we were on the air, with the 20 meter hexbeam at about 65′ (of the available 100′) in about an hour. At 4 PM, we were able to make several contacts with excellent signal reports from an FT-857 that we ran with battery power. Next stop Field Day!

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Anderson Powerpoles

powerpole05Lopping off the ends of the power connectors on your brand new gear may not sound like a good idea, but it probably is. Anderson Powerpole connectors have become the defacto standard for power connections in amateur radio. They are easy to connect, and come in a variety of amp ratings and colors. It is the power standard for ARES/RACES teams, and a quick, safe, way for hams to come together, and share power at an event or emergency. The connectors themselves are fairly inexpensive. But you will want to make a one-time investment in a proper Powerpole crimp tool. They are about $40-$50. Powerwerx has a great selection of Powerpole connectors and accessories. They also have an excellent tutorial page on how to make proper Powerpole connections. Check it out!

RigExpert – AA-54 vs. AA-600

We’ve discussed the features of the AA-600 as being great, but the over $600 price tag is a turn off.  As I mentioned, I was lucky at one point when HRO had them on sale long ago and I think it was about $550.


But, there are lower cost alternatives.  If you only want it for your HF antenna, there is the AA-54 for only $335 at HRO as of today.  Don (AA6W) brought either this or the AA-230 Zoom at our tech night last month and I found it quite similar and seemed to perform well.


Here is a review of it at eHam


AA-1000… I still love my AA-600 (this picture and link are of the AA-1000 which has a higher upper frequency and cost.

New (cheap) Microphone for Yaesu and TYT TH-9800 Radios

MH-48 clone microphoneI found this inexpensive Chinese copy of the venerable Yaesu MH-48 mike on Amazon for $14.99.  At that price, even if the mike doesn’t sound as good as the original, you could open it up and pull out whatever replacement parts you need on your original mike, and throw the rest away!  Turns out that it actually sounds pretty good.  I bought one to try out on my TYT TH-9800 because I’m not too keen on the mike that ships with it.  Oh, it’s not horrible, but if you’re going to make a clone of a Yaesu radio, why not clone the mike as well?

That’s basically what this mike it–a true Chinese knockoff, right down to the “Yaesu Musen” small type and logo!  It pretty much feels like the MH-48 on your FT-1900, FT-2900, FT-8800, FT-8900 and etc.  The only difference I’ve found so far is that the PTT switch doesn’t have the nice tactile feel that the original does.  This one’s kinda squishy, but not horrible.

Anyway…if you’re going to try this out on your TYT radio, you’ll be disappointed to find that the PTT button doesn’t work.  Yaesu mikes run on 8 volts, and the TYT runs on 5v.  So, you have to open up the mike and parallel a 100 ohm resistor across another, then it works fine.

Click on the mike’s picture to go to its Amazon page.  For those with TYT radios that might want to try a “real” Yaesu mike, I’ve uploaded a pdf file containing the instructions for adding the resistor:

Yaesu MH-48 microphone with the TYT TH-9800

Field Day – It’s Not A Contest. No, Really.

2016 Field Day LogoARRL Field Day 2016 (June 25-26) is quickly approaching. Our local Field Day event will be a joint effort by operators from MHARSGVARC, and SBCARA at Christmas Hill Park in Gilroy. We have significantly stepped up our organization, and our game. We will potentially have 2 crank up towers for yagis, and beams, and dipoles. Oh, my! We plan to run 4A (4 operating stations), and a GOTA (or Get On The Air) where folks new to ham radio can learn about ham radio and make their first contact. We also plan to use laptop logging using the tried and true N3JLP Field Day Software.

Field Day is pretty much as the name implies – In a time of need, could you get your gear, and set up in a field? Do you have power, solar, batteries, generators? Do you have a means to get an antenna up? How about coax, and adapters? Are your power connectors compatible with who you will be sharing power with?

On the lighter side of things, it is a great day for some hobby time, camaraderie, and learning. Points are earned for each contact the team makes, and bonus points are awarded for things like: visiting ARRL officials, local dignitaries, ARES officials, as well as a host of other bonus points and modifiers. Keeping score is fun, but it is not our primary goal. We participate for the fun and friendship.

Set up begins at 8 AM on Saturday June 25th. On air operations will be from 11 AM – 9 PM. (We are not running the full 24 hours.) Stop by and say hi, and bring your friends that are interested in learning about amateur radio. We will put them on the air!

WB6ZVW – New Hotness

2016-05-07 17.42.50After a bit of a hiatus due to technical issues, this great asset to amateur radio for the Bay Area and beyond is back on the air. A group of volunteers made the trek to Crystal Peak this past weekend and removed the old repeater system and replaced everything, from the cabinet to the batteries. In the coming weeks the internet uplinks will be completed and the repeater will also have echolink and IRLP capabilities to further enhance its capabilities. Many thanks to those that helped plan and execute this important update. You can read more details on the GVARC web site.

Mercator Maps–the Ugly Truth

Mercator Map Puzzle


My geography teacher in High School was a complete bore, but I listened anyway!  Most of the kids didn’t.  I still got my “A”, but not because of the excellent teaching.  I’ve always been a bit of a geography nut, but then my wife would probably add that I’m generally nuts about lots of things–or just plain nuts.

I’ve always found our world, and the people in it (and everything/everyone outside our world, too), to be very interesting and worth study.  But that’s just me, right?

I really enjoyed this little puzzle that challenges you to place the countries colored red into their correct spots, turning them green.  While you are doing this, however, you are actually learning more than your geography probably tried to teach you in a week of trying.

You see, it’s really tough to project a sphere on a flat surface.  Oh, you can do it, but it comes out pretty ugly.  Your face, for example, would be mostly unrecognizable if we projected it on a flat surface (such as if you fell face first off the Empire State building onto a sidewalk, but then I digress…).

The main take-away is that most of us look at the world on a flat surface, and land masses are badly distorted in size as you move them away from the middle-center of the map–in this case, around Ecuador.  Even if you don’t play the game (try to beat me: 1 minute, 36 seconds), grab Greenland and move it around.  Big ol’ continent huh?  Let’s see how big you look now, parked next to Brazil!!  Oh wait, you can’t grab Greenland just yet.  It’s hiding somewhere as a smaller outline.  There, that’s your one hint, so I’m giving you a handicap towards beating my time.  But really, try grabbing any small red outline near the equator, and drag it out towards the poles.  Gets really big, eh?

So what’s the Ham Radio tie-in here?  Not a whole lot, except that as hams on HF, we often look at flat maps, when we ought to be thinking more of the semi-spherical world with its interesting signal propagation and what-not.  Oh, and this puzzle was linked from one of the guys on our W7DXX.com remote-controlled superstantion email group.  There, there’s your ham tie-in.  Enjoy the game, and just try and beat me, if you dare!