Monday, March 23, 2015

Raspberry Mountain W0C/FR-142

When I got up on the 22nd of Mar I was still not sure what we were going to do. Steve, wG0AT, was not able to join us for a SOTA hike and I was beat from moving river rocks in the backyard. However, the weather looked to be pretty good and the TH to Raspberry Mountain is not that far. I debated between Signal Butte and Raspberry. Raspberry is a harder, longer, up and down path compared to Signal Butte but it is also 6 points and an additional 3 points for the bonus season. I figure it is now or never so off we went.

Raspberry is very popular and I was surprised when we did not see any vehicles at the TH. Save one Jeep that was in a ditch and the tow truck pulling it out. I parked and off we went. As the crow flies you are only 1.58 miles from the summit but with the switchbacks and the way the trail goes around it ends up being 3 miles or 6 miles round trip.

Our Route

6.53 miles, no wonder we were beat

Lynn's Up Band recorded over 10,000 steps. Upon arrival at the summit we enjoyed the views of the backside of Pikes Peak and were joined by a few young people out for a hike. Since the sun was not out and because of a breeze we retreated just below the summit rock out of the wind. I hastily threw the End Fed into the trees and off we went. Here is Lynn's log from 20 meter SSB:


My Log from 20 Meter CW:


I did not take any video of this one and only 3 pictures. Here they are:
Lynn on final ascent
Made It!
Pikes Peak
In retrospect we should have chosen the easier summit and saved Raspberry for a little later in the season but I am glad we did it. Thanks to all the chasers.


Friday, March 20, 2015

9Q0HQ in the Log

I snagged 9Q0HQ from the Democratic Republic of the Congo today!

With the bad conditions this week I listen to this expedition for a few days. I tired for a few minutes yesterday but figured the bands would be better today and they were. He was booming into Colorado. It took me a while to figure out his pattern. I got lucky as I do not think anyone was calling him when I did so he was able to hear my QRP signal.


This is a new country for me and brings me a little closer to QRP, CW Only, DXCC.

The Elecraft K3 with second receiver and P3 Pan Adapter display make working DX-split a lot of fun!


Monday, March 9, 2015

New End Fed Antenna and Cheyenne Mountain

I have been playing with several different antenna designs and have been mostly unsuccessful but even a blind squirrel finds a nut every so often.

I made a simple L-C Matching network that is around 50 ohms so coax is not needed but can be added if desired. 

I housed the matching network in a pill bottle but will re-package it in a 35mm film canister from DBD (Days Before Digital).

It works well on 20 meters and the KX1 was able to tune it flat on 40 and 30 meters but I am positive it is very lossy by looking at the Reverse Beacon.

WG0AT and I took 4 hours to summit Cheyenne Mountain and it was brutal and fun at the same time.  Unknown to me is I started to get sick on the way down. I thought I had a headache from the altitude but it turned out to be a cold so I am at home resting for a few days.

Here is a very short video on the activation.


72, Frank

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Software Defined Radio FUN!

How technology has changed. It was not too long ago that at work I used a spectrum analyzer, O Scope, recorder, sonograph, high end receiver, simple computer, converters etc coupled to a rhombic antenna.... All in the name of Signals Analysis.

Now I can do all that and more from home. I recently picked up a NooElec R820T2 & DVB-T NESDR Mini 2 dongle from Amazon like this one.

It is not exactly plug and play. After not being able to get it to work I found and the read the instructions which I linked here.

After reading and installing everything correctly it worked great. For an antenna I have it hooked to my scanner discone which covers the freq range of the dongle (24 MHZ to 1.7 GHZ). Now I have the functionality of an analyst station in the ham shack for around 20 dollars.

If you want to learn more here are a few good resources.
RTL-SDR Website
NooElec website

The dongle is slightly bigger than a USB Stick

Antenna Port

Screen Shot, I am listening to a weather broadcast

I was not sure how useful this would be and thought if it does not work like I want no big deal. I was pleasantly surprised and have had fun listening to the spectrum I do not normally monitor. I know the software is very capable and need to read about it more and play with the settings.

Here is a youtube that I found useful when researching this particular dongle.

72 Frank

Sunday, February 22, 2015

End of an Era

The videos near the end of this post highlight the end of an era. An era that not a lot of people know about. The AN/FLR-9 or Elephant Cage (called that due to its size) is a HF Rombic Antenna that was used exclusively by the Electronic Security Command (what it was called when I served) in its mission to provide national and tactical level Signals Intelligence or SIGINT. Also, during my time, the antenna was coupled to the R-390 receivers and later the RACALs. Before my time the R-388 was the mainstay receiver and I have one in service in my shack that I use very often. 

The antenna array is composed of three concentric rings of antenna elements. Each ring of elements receives RF signals for an assigned portion of the 1.5 to 30-MHz radio spectrum. The outer ring normally covers the 2 to 6-MHz range (band A), but also provides reduced coverage down to 1.5 MHz. The center ring covers the 6 to 18-MHz range (band B) and the inner ring covers the 18 to 30-MHz range (band C). Band A contains 48 sleeve monopole elements spaced 78.4 feet apart (7.5 degrees). Band B contains 96 sleeve monopole elements spaced 37.5 feet (11.43 m) apart (3.75 degrees). Band C contains 48 antenna elements mounted on wooden structures placed in a circle around the central building. Bands A and B elements are vertically polarized. Band C elements consist of two horizontally polarized dipole antenna subelements electrically tied together, and positioned one above the other."

The array is centered on a ground screen 1,443 feet in diameter. The arrangement permits accurate direction finding of signals from up to 4000 nautical miles away.

FLR-9s were constructed at the following places:

Augsburg, Germany

Chicksands, UK

Clark AB, PI

Elmendorf, Alaska

Karamursel, Turkey

Udon, Thani Province, Thailand

Misawa AB, Japan

San Vito, Italy

The dismantling of the FLR-9 at Misawa is on-going and due to be completed this year (2015). The last AN/FLR-9 in existence is at Elmendorf AFB Alaska. 

Enough distractions, I need to complete a couple of End Fed HF antenna designs for portable use.