Single-point ground plane for antenna lines

I’ve replaced my current system of shack feedline grounding with a single-point ground plane for the antenna lines coming into the station.

Previously, the HF antennas (off-center-fed 80 meter dipole, 6BTV vertical, and 160-meter inverted-L) all terminated in a rotary coax switch. The switch is grounded to the station ground bus that runs along the back of the operating desk, in turn grounded with strap to the ground rods through the basement wall outside. Other antennas, such as the 160-meter receive loop, six meter beam and the VHF-FM antenna in the attic, connect to their respective devices directly.

The new SPGP consists of a heavy piece of aluminum angle stock with feedthrough UHF connectors. Continue reading “Single-point ground plane for antenna lines”

Solar Eclipse QSO Party

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The total solar eclipse that traversed the continental United States on August 21 was a golden opportunity to study the effects of the eclipse on  ionospheric radio propagation. A rather new organization, the Ham Radio Science Citizen Investigation (HamSCI), sponsored a QSO Party on that date to collect data to investigate what happens when the sun goes away for a few minutes.

From all accounts, the experiment was a success in that it confirmed the expected outcome – nighttime propagation conditions appeared, and then disappeared, in the middle of the day.

I took the day off from work and participated by setting up a portable station on my backyard deck. Continue reading “Solar Eclipse QSO Party”

Rig control and keying

I recently replaced my shack computer, a Dell Optiplex, with a Dell Precision i7 workstation. I generally buy off-lease computers, since they are only a couple years old, well-equipped and reasonably priced, and Linux runs on them just fine.

For contest logging, I’m slowly working in the N1MM direction (there’s a trick or two to running it well under wine), so I still use a DOS-based logging program that relies on serial and parallel ports for keying and rig control. Continue reading “Rig control and keying”

Boy Scout Radio merit badge updates

January 1st saw some updates to various Boy Scout requirements, including those for the Radio merit badge.

Most of the changes are clerical in nature, such as moving to its own item the requirement to explain how WWV can be used to determine propagation. For the Amateur Radio option, the requirement to have a 10-minute QSO was moved to the end of the item, to put it in more of a logical sequence and imply that the other requirements be done first, in order to give greater understanding to making the QSO. (The requirements can be done in any order, however, and Scouts who are licensed hams can submit evidence of QSOs already made.)

Perhaps the most significant update is the addition of a fourth option for the experiential requirement. Continue reading “Boy Scout Radio merit badge updates”