New Toy!

The weather yesterday was terrible! Monday the temperature was near 80 deg Fahrenheit, and Tuesday it dropped into the 30s and hit us with sleet and snow (no accumulation, thankfully!). Last night it was in the 20s and the doors on my truck froze shut and needed some serious muscle power this morning at 0530 am. So I was depressed and when I get depressed, I want to buy something 😀 !

RSP1A SDR

Anyway, HRO had a Social Media Special on the RSP1A Software Defined Radio … $89.95 + free shipping for the first 100 orders ($30 off regular price). Looked neat and I had always wanted to dabble, so I sprang for one. Should be here before the weekend, so I’ll have something to play with. Maybe I’ll integrate it with my IC-7300 as a higher resolution panadapter? Who knows?

73 de Dick N4BC

Problems

I had an issue last night. I fired up everything to work some FT8/FT4, and the rig was intermittently shutting down. I would get error messages about loss of communication with the port from Win4Icom, and oddly enough, a message from Windows Defender about how it had saved me from myself! Certainly some mixed messages!

The prime problem was the radio turning off, though. At first, I thought maybe the software was shutting it down remotely, but eliminated that. My next suspicion was that RF was getting into the laptop. That wasn’t it either!

Next, I wiggled the positive wire from the power supply to the rig … no change. Then I wiggled the black ground wire … the rig powered off! Further tugging and wiggling pulled the wire out of the terminal on the rear of the Samlex power supply. Aha!!

Evidently, the setscrew holding the wire in the terminal had loosened over time and finally, there was enough resistance to cause the voltage to drop below the minimum required to run the radio.

The moral of the story is that a simple problem can mimic a host of other problems. If your radio is shutting down, check the voltage first!

73 de Dick N4BC

Update

Well, Dorian has come and gone, with not a lot of effect here at my QTH. There was some tidal flooding and a bit of wind and rain, but frankly, we had thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago that were worse. I think the highest gusts we had from the tropical storm were forty-some miles per hour. It could have been a LOT worse … a few miles East or West makes a lot of difference in severity.

The Virginia beach Hamfest was the day after Dorian. It’s been shrinking for years now (as have most hamfests), but lots of people evidently cancelled out due to the storm. Pretty sparse vendor-wise when I got there, but the attendees I saw were spending … our club was doing a good business moving donated items from various hams estates. I only stayed about 45 minutes, and I saw everything there was to see.

I did receive my nanoVNA in the mail, but I haven’t had a chance to fiddle with it yet. More on that later …

Band conditions, especially on forty meters, have been pretty good lately. The band is still pretty noisy, though. Hopefully it’ll quiet down a bit as Fall and Winter approach. It’ll make it easier to hear some of the weaker Parks on the Air operations.

More and more POTA operators seem to be running higher power. Back when the bands were much better, QRP was the norm. Now, many seem to be running 50 to 100 watts … some even more! My observation is that the CW QRP stations are still pretty easy to pull out of the hash. Not a lot of power, but it’s all packed into that narrower bandwidth. I just wish that more ops would opt for CW … lots more efficient!

73 de Dick N4BC

Catchup

It’s been a week or two since I last posted. Life got a bit chaotic. A very dear friend was killed in a tragic industrial accident, and ham radio and blogging had to take a back seat.

There’s not actually much to report about. I’ve only been on the air a couple of times during this period, and those were mostly FT4/8 contacts. I don’t think the bands have been too stellar this past week.

I did spend a bit of money on radio things. I bought a yellow reflective vest for when I assist with public service events. I know … I know. Stereotypical self-important ham prepper, right? Actually, it does help with visibility if someone needs to locate you quickly during the event.

I also ordered a new toy. It’s supposed to be here around the 9th of September. I’ve read several blog posts and seen several YouTube videos about this low-cost vector network analyzer that piqued my interest. Less than fifty bucks on eBay.

NanoVNA

It covers 50 KHz to 900 MHz … does Smith Chart and antenna analyzer functions … and more. It’s about the size of a credit card, but maybe 5/8-inch thick. I’m going to enjoy playing with it, I think.

I just signed up for my next public service event. It’s a marathon, a 50K, and a marathon/50K relay run simultaneously. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? It’ll be a bit cooler then … October 13th. The race is so long, we’ll be covering it in two shifts.

Well, that’s about all I have to report. Catch ya’ later!

73 de Dick N4BC

Public Service – Deuxieme Partie

Well, I’ve had mixed luck programming up my HTs for the upcoming foot race. The score is two successful and one bricked! The Kenwood TH-F6A and the Icom IC-51A Plus 2 portables both programmed ok, but the Baofeng bit the dust. 🙁

I don’t know what the issue was with the UV-5. Maybe a corrupted codeplug or a glitch when writing to the radio? In any case, it is now non-functional and I can’t connect to it via the programming cable or the front panel. I tried resetting it, but all that did was clear all of the programming. I’m pretty sure the firmware got corrupted.

So, the score is two to one. I’m not too worried. I think I only paid twenty-some odd dollars for the Baofeng, and I’ve had it for quite a few years. I can handle the loss!

More later … 😀

Note … For those of you that are challenged by French, “Deuxieme Partie” translates to “Part 2”!

73 de Dick N4BC