My portable rack mount IC-7000 Go Kit has been working well, but I wanted to make better use of the limited space within our RV. Shown here is a simple stand that allows the remote head to be placed on the table with the rest of the kit stowed below. The Icom MB-105 control head mounting bracket is secured to a small piece of scrap wood (sanded and stained) with a single bolt. The end of the bolt is capped with rubber to protect the tabletop, and the control head is now presented at a comfortable angle. With this setup, I should have plenty of space on the table for my laptop and key.
These two plaques are now proudly displayed in my shack. Both are prototypes created by a woodworking company interested in getting into the business of creating customized callsign plaques – these were intended to test the capabilities of a new CNC router. More complex versions are in the offing once they’ve mastered the process. Very cool stuff!
Given the convenience of digital log books and the increasing use of online QSO databases, I decided that it was past time to digitize all of my paper log books. These date from the time of my first novice call (WN2UCR) in 1974, through the date of my last hand-written entry in 1996. Fortunately, some lengthy periods of inactivity have reduced the burden, and I’m somewhat more than halfway through this project.
All of this was accomplished through the largely inelegant process of transcribing these logs into a spreadsheet (one tab for each of my former callsigns), cleaning up data formats with a few formulas, renaming columns to conform to ADIF specifications, adding data to populate station location information (latitude, longitude, grid square, address, etc.), and converting to ADIF format (using DL1HW’s excellent and straightforward ADIF-to-Excel-to-ADIF Converter). Logs are being uploaded to LOTW and eQSL as they are completed (and I was thrilled to see some waiting confirmations from teh 1990s).
After replacing our steam radiators and furnace with a couple of heat pumps last summer, our basement had a little more (theoretically) usable space available for something more productive than storing crates of long-forgotten household goods. So, I decided to move my shack from the spare credenza in my home office and my workbench from the closet in that office and create a new space.
We sealed the raw cinderblock against water leaks, added 3 new 20 amp circuits, ran ethernet cables from our upstairs router, added insulation beneath the living room floor (as much for sound-proofing as for insulation), erected a wall to separate this corner of the basement from traffic and tool storage, repaired and painted the cement floor, and painted the walls. We then built a desk and workbench using solid core wood doors.
Finally, I ran new antenna feedline and set up all of the equipment. After doing battle with some of the quirks in my new Windows 8 computer, everything seems to be in good working order. Lots more that can be done, but I now have the space to pursue some new radio-related project.
Finally, operating portable from our travel trailer, at Otter Lake in the Poconos. The IC-7000 “Go Kit” has been wonderful, facilitating rapid deployment and easy storage of the station (e.g. when we needed to clear the table for meals). The only glitch to be resolved is due to the RF sensitivity of the CW Touch Keyer I chose to include; reducing the sensitivity of the paddle was insufficient to overcome the effects of stray RF. I assume this is due to a combination of poor shielding in the camper and proximity to the antenna (the feed point of this end fed antenna is just a few yards away).
Addressing the extreme RFI when operating in the trailer was a bit more challenging – noise levels were so high as to make operation virtually impossible, with only the strongest signals emerging from the high noise floor. Eventually, I was able to map this to the AC to DC converter, and simply turned off the appropriate circuit breaker when I wanted to get on the air (although this also killed some of our AC outlets).
After a few initial CW QSOs, I decided to test my configuration for digital modes. Using Ham Radio Deluxe + DM780, PSK31 is working well (as is CW using the K1EL Winkeyer). And, JT65-HF is now setup and operating. Although I haven’t yet attempted any phone contacts with the IC-7000, all seems to be working on HF. Next time we’re out camping I’ll try to get VHF/UHF working, and maybe try to make some satellite contacts. In the meantime, my next project is to get the IC-7000 setup for mobile operation (the Little Tarheel II antennal, GeoTools stake pocket mount, and a set of PowerPole cables / adaptors should arrive next week).
I’ve been taking my recently-acquired Icom IC-7000 on a number of trips lately, but really wanted a more elegant approach to transporting and connecting the various components. After reviewing a number of examples on the internet (which were primarily intended for emergency communications, with a focus on portable battery power), I opted to build this in an aluminum-framed rack bag. Components include:
Case: Gator GR Rackbag 4U with a single Raxxess universal rack tray UNS1.
Rig: Icom IC-7000, HF/VHF/UHF all-mode transceiver
Tuner: LDG IT-100
Power Supply: MFJ 4125 (25 amp)
Keyer: K1EL Winkeyer USB
Digital Interface: Tigertronics SignaLink USB (located behind the K1EL Winkeyer)
Keyer Paddle: CW Touch Keyer P1BS
The IC-7000 is secured to the shelf using its mobile mounting bracket; the power supply and tuner are secured to the bottom of the case with industrial strength Velcro. All other pieces are attached with velcro strips or cable ties, as is excess wire / cabling. A USB hub is mounted in the rear so that the only cables that need to exit the pack are a single USB cable (for rig control, sound card interface and K1EL keyer), a 110v power cord, and the antenna coax.
I’ll be field-testing this soon. In the meantime, I spent a few hours at the dining room table with a makeshift antenna to configure everything (mostly. learning the IC-7000 menu system), and have DM-780 working for the usual suite of digital modes, plus JT65-HF. I’ll play more later, but at least I now have a portable station that can be on the air in minutes.
Despite numerous conflicts, I managed to spend a couple of hours playing in the CQ WW RTTY contest this past weekend. 10 meters was wide open on Saturday and Sunday, and is where I spent the majority of my time (once I mastered the basics of N1MM + MMTTY).
Today, an unexpected surprise in my mailbox – a certificate from last year’s CQ WW DX CW contest, showing a first place finish in the obscure Region 3, low power, assisted, 10 meter category! Not an impressive effort by any means, but the first time I’ve managed to garner a certificate of any sort in one of these events. Maybe this is the inspiration I need to take this year’s CW contest seriously.
A little QRP operation from the shore of Lake Ontario, at Association Island, during our first RV trip.
Henderson Bay, NY 8 July 2012
A gap in my schedule, pleasant weather, a spacious-enough-in-a-pinch Honda Odyssey (in its new roles as recreational vehicle), and enough cash in my pocket to keep hope alive, I made the last minute decision to venture to the Dayton Hamvention.
K9EID and W3SFG at Dayton 2012
After a late night drive on Friday and a brief respite at one of Ohio’s finest roadside rest stops, I spent Saturday at the Hamvention. Having never been to a ham radio event of this scale, this was exhilarating! The flea market was huge (and I’m glad I did that early, before the sun began to beat down on the attendees), but the real thrill was within Hara Arena. Visiting the exhibits provided an opportunity not only to get some hands-on time with the equipment I covet, but to speak with the folks who designed and built some of these wish-list items. I was also fortunate enough to get a photo with one of the event’s true celebrities, Bob Heil (of Heil Sound and Ham Nation fame).
Participated in the CQ Manchester Mineira DX (CQMM DX) Contest a little this past weekend, even though I didn’t have much “on air” time available (attended astronomy meeting on Saturday, re-organizing the house on Sunday now that we are free of our antiquated steam heating system, and our kids). I only managed to fit in 34 contacts, and didn’t see to much DX that wasn’t in South America, but it’s an enjoyable CW contest – I’ll have to make a real effort next year.