Playtime!

I received the SDRPlay RSP1A yesterday evening, and spent the evening getting familiar with the SDRuno software. It’s pretty complex, but allows you to interact with nearly any parameter in the receiver. So powerful!

My first hurdle to overcome was finding a USB 2.0 A-B cable. I was sure I had one in my magic tub of tangled cables, but I couldn’t find it there. I ended up “borrowing” the cable from my CW keyer. I checked Best Buy and they wanted anywhere from thirty-five to two hundred dollars for one! Must have been solid gold (including the insulation)! Amazon had one with ferrite beads for around eight dollars and it was one day delivery! Guess which one I bought?

Anyhow, using the “borrowed” cable and referring to websites and to YouTube, I got everything up and running just fine. I was listening to everything from AM broadcast to 70 centimeters. Lots of neat stuff.

It was a timely arrival, too. I had gotten on the air after work and tried to work some POTA stations and some FT4/FT8, but no luck with either. The parks stations were all down in the mud and few and far between. I think the nasty weather kept a lot of them at home. The FT stations … not sure what was going on there. I could copy them well, but they just weren’t answering. The time offset was good … I was within about 0.1 second on most of them. Just one of those things, I guess. It gave me more time to play with my new toy!

73 de Dick N4BC

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

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

Up, Up, and Away

I tuned in to Tom, W5KUB’s videocast last night. One of the guests was Bill, WB8ELK, who is quite an authority on balloons, telemetry, tracking … well, all things “balloon”.

Bill and his balloons!

He’s been on the roundtable before, but I usually catch the broadcast after the fact, on YouTube, and then I just skim through the “good parts” (strictly subjective). This was the first time in a long time that I have watched it live, start to finish, and really paid attention to everything.

Fascinating“, is the first word that springs to mind. I was rapt. I never really knew much about this balloon sub-genre of ham radio. This is really neat stuff. If I were a bit younger and had more free time, I would definitely be into this part of the hobby. Unfortunately, it’s all I can do to keep up with my present interests.

The other parts of the broadcast were interesting, too. It’s well worth the time to check it out … either live or on YouTube later. You can find details at w5kub.com, or on their social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter …) accounts.

73 de Dick N4BC

Sixty Meters

Ya’ know … if you haven’t tried this newer band yet, you’re missing out. It’s not a heavily used band, but there are people there. I’ve only done FT8 on 5.357 MHz (Channel 3, I think), but I’ve bagged a few new ones there. My LDG tuner tunes my vertical just fine. I have no idea what kind of efficiency, but I’ve worked all over the world with around 50 watts.

This is where I was heard this evening

It’s an odd band. It’s shared with government and military, and they’ve got priority use … it’s channelized … the max power is 100 watts. Really an odd duck, but it is what it is. We just have to work with what the FCC allows us. Oh, and not all countries have given the amateurs the same channels, so that complicates things even more. Hey … just work ’em when you hear ’em. Try it … you’ll like it!

73 de Dick N4BC