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Showing posts from 2010

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been quite a year, newswise.  The newsroom
has indeed been a busy place.  Somehow, we have
managed to survive another 365 days despite the
best attempts by fanatics, the morally challenged,
and the merely dispicable to derail us.  I suppose my
slightly down message has been tempered by the course
of world events...news people often get that way.  But,
thanks to amateur radio, there is temporary relief from
all of the nonsense that passes for civilization these days.
I've been fortunate to have a roof over my head, a good
job, an understanding XYL, and equipment that is paid
for.  The all-too brief time I spend at the ole Swan 100-MX
or restringing my antenna farm has kept me fairly sane.  I
enjoy the challenge of shooting the rf into the ionesphere and
seeing where it ends.  I've also begun to enjoy cw again.  I'm
not very fast, but I enjoy the commaradie and "rag chews" from
cw operators.  I'm hoping to get into the ARRL straight key
night--somet…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Christmas is almost here.  Things are slowing down a
bit in the newsroom--a much appreciated break after
Hawaii Island withstood a fierce winter rain storm.
The Saddle Road, which is the shortest connection
between Hilo and Kailua-Kona, was closed due to flood-
ing and runoff.  Many travelers on the island had to
divert their itineraries to the longer perimeter roads.
Even these highways got thoroughly soaked.  The
newsroom was kept busy with all of the traffic alerts
and advisories.  Local amateur radio operators stood
by just in case emergency communications channels
were needed.  Thankfully, the flooding emergency
was confined to the evening hours.  State and county
crews are still cleaning up the debris and directing
motorists around the flooded areas.  With all of this
going on, there wasn't much time to "ham it up".  I
got home rather late, so I'll make up the hamming later
this week.  Christmas Day is a full work day -- I have to
stand by in case nature dec…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I can't believe how fast the Christmas holiday is
coming.  Wasn't Thanksgiving just a few weeks
ago?  Time seems to quicken with advancing age.
As a child, it seemed forever until the holiday
season arrived.  Anyway, the season is keeping
the newsroom busy--and that's a good thing.  At
least I still have a job.  I wish I had it in my power
to get those unemployed back to work.  Meanwhile,
I'll be able to sandwich in some needed antenna work
before the weekend. I will be restringing the vertical
this Saturday, since the combination of salt air, rain,
and insect damage is destroying the #14 gauge wire
attached to the 33' fiberglass mast.  The insulation is
slowly degenerating under the tropical sun.  This project
has been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Follow-
ing the maintenance, I'll work a few hours on the Swan
100-MXA--mostly cleaning pots and blowing the dust
off the case.  The circuit boards appear in good shape,
so everything should be up to speed by…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I spent the night at the radio station newsroom because
of a winter storm that threatened Hawaii Island.  For-
tunately, only minor flooding spoiled the night.  Mauna
Kea has a nice layer of snow and local residents can't
wait for the summit road to clear, so they can take home
some snow for a holiday snowman.  This is the only place
where you can gather snow and surf on a sun-blessed
beach all at the same time.  Since I was on news alert,
there wasn't much time to spend on amateur radio, other
than listening to 2-meters on the news room scanner.  I'll
remedy that situation once I close up the news room later
today.  At least, we got some much needed rain.  Have a
good weekend.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM;s Amateur Radio Blog

'Just about time to wrap up the news cycle for today
in the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM newsroom. Then,
it's home to the shack for some casual operting before
calling it a day. I'm still working on the under the
house NVIS loop.  The wire has sagged a bit since
I attached it to the undercarriage of the qth.  With
142' of 18-gauge wire, the antenna can work any-
thing from 40 to 10 meters.  Admitedly, the arrange-
ment works best on 40 meters (mostly local contacts
out to about 300 miles).  But, with the 450-ohm feed
line, I can get some service on the higher bands.  The
backyard vertical is still a work in progress.  It works
alright, but a few more counterpoise wires will help
deliver a better signal.  Like the NVIS loop, the 33'
foot vertical is fed with homebrew twin lead and seems
to keep the Drake MN-4 ATU and the old Swan 100-
MX happy.  Currently, I'm using a single tuned counter-
poise wire.  I've garnered many contacts with this im-
provised skyhook...Of cours…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The arrival of long-awaited rain heralds the approach
of winter on Hawaii Island.  For most of us islanders,
there are only two seasons--wet (winter, early spring)
and dry (summer, early autumn).  This year has been
unusually dry, perhaps a legacy of the El-Nino phenom-
enon.  Fortunately, the cooler and drier weather has kept
tropical storms and hurricanes away from us.  So, one
must count the blessings where they are found.  This is
a good time for many of us amateur radio operators to
repair, rebuild, and redesign the antennas we use to con-
nect to the world.  Lately, I've been working with NVIS
(near vertical incidence skywave) antennas--basically low-
level loops and dipoles that give excellent 1-300 mile
coverage.  These high angle radiators are great for local
and state-wide nets on 80 and 40 meters.  Several help-
ful articles can be found on the internet.  Try a few.  You
may find these skyhooks a lot of fun.  Have a good week-end.
Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, it's back to the
newsroom routine.  The Sunday news cycle is fairly slow,
so I should be able to wrap up the basic maintenance and
log chores in short order.  After I secure the news room
update the meter readings, I'll pick up a few things at the
supermarket and head home for some time at the old Swan
100-MX before calling it a day.  Saturday's inverted vee
project  went well.  The 40-meter vee has provisions to add
33' of additional wire should I desire to explore the 80-meter
portion of the spectrum.  The 55' of 450-ohm twin lead seems
to go well with the 4:1 balun and the Drake MN-4 ATU.  I can
get a 1.2 to 1 SWR on all bands between 40 and 10 meters.
The antenna was simple to make and erect.  Not a DX buster
for sure, but it does the job.  You can get other simple ideas
for easy to erect antennas in Doug DeMaw's "Novice Antenna
Book" by the ARRL.  This book is probably out of print, but
any antenna boo…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Somehow I survived the Thanksgiving holiday.  I didn't
eat too much at the neighborhood gathering and managed
to squeeze in a few hours of cw to round out Thursday.
Presently, I'm holding down the fort at the KKBG-FM/
KHLO-AM news room.  Other than the usual meter
readings and daily forms to complete, this appears to be
a fairly quiet day.  Following the news shift, I'll head home
for some antenna maintenance work.  Although the back-
yard 40-meter vertical is working fine, I'm thinking of con-
verting the old MFJ fiberglass mast into an inverted vee or
a delta loop.  Both antennas have served me well in the past.
I have just enough room to squeeze in a 40-10 meter vee
(33' on  each side).  With 55' of twin lead, the spare 4:1
balun, and the trusty Drake MN-4 ATU, I'll be ready in
no time.  I've also fed this arrangement with coax, which
largely restricts the vee to 40 and 15 meters.  Purists will
shake their heads at this rough and tumble skyhook, but …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Somehow, everyone in my household survived
Thanksgiving.  For once, all of us gathered for
our neighborhood feast ate moderately.  It seems
we had just enough to make a good dinner and to
have some goodies to take home.  The best part
was the good fellowship of our neighbors, the ex-
cellent weather (it rained just after 1900 W), and
the relaxing atmosphere provided by the season.
I surely needed a break from the news room after
this week's disturbing news about Korea and the
crippled U.S. economy.  I even got a chance to
fire up the old Swan 100 MX for a few contacts
after dinner.  I trust that your feast met your ex-
pectations.  Enjoy what you can while you can. 
Be sure to squeeze in a few hours for amateur
radio--it could keep  you sane in an otherwised confused
world.  'Til next time, Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Thanksgiving is fast upon us.  It's hard to believe the
holidays are coming so quickly.  I guess time seems
to accelerate as one gets older.  Despite all the doom
and gloom surrounding us, there is still much to be
thankful for--the ability to get up in the morning,
good health, decent food, and the love of family.
Others would add the basic freedoms guaranteed
by our founding documents--I agree, but these
freedoms are getting eroded daily by the growing
crudeness, crassness, and lack of respect for nearly
everything these days.  I run into this situation every-
day as I prepare and read the news on the commercial
station I call my home away from home.  Sometimes,
I wonder what kind of society we call these United
States.  Every now and then, I feel we as a nation have
lost our way and have failed to take responsibility for
our own lives.  That's why I retreat into the amateur
radio universe after a long day.  Despite the well-
known problems on the amateur bands, I'm s…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Just when you think everything in the ole radio
shack is running smoothly, there comes a surprise
that rearranges your weekend radio activity.  Last
night was such an event.  A band of intense thunder-
showers rolled past Hawaii Island last night, giving
us Big Islanders some needed rain along with very
strong winds which played games with power lines,
yard furniture, and various loose objects.  Although
I can't consider my antenna farm a piece of lawn
furniture, the effect of the gusty winds will put me
into maintenance mode for the weekend.  A small
tree limb took out the 450 - ohm feedline, so I have
to restring another 33 feet of line to get the vertical
back into operating condition.  The antenna appears
intact, so it's back to the wire cutters, the soldering
gun, and insulators for another round of antenna
follies.  At least I can get some exercise before
I warm up the ole Swan 100-MX.  All in a day's
work.  Before I leave the commercial radio station,
I have to c…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

I've just finished reading a truly inspiring article by
James Deane, KD7QDG, in the 12 November
2010 edition of http://www.eham.net/.  James penned
a tale of his path from General to Extra entitled
"General to Extra Class--learning a lot."  James
does a good job explaining why he made the
final plunge into the "Extra" pool.  What moti-
vated his journey was the desire to learn more
about amateur radio from a more technical
point of view.  Many of us have made the same
trip through the license structure.  My 33 years
in this wonderful hobby has visited every license
class except for Tech Plus.  Like James, I wanted
to learn more and took up the challenge to master
the math and regulations necessary to get the Extra.
Besides, I wanted  the Extra for my own sense of ac-
complishment.  Of course, the additional 25 kHz at
the bottom of most bands meant some new DX and
a perfect way to polish my meager CW skills.  If you
want to attain the Extra Class, do it.  Have f…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Veterans Day on Hawaii Island has been quiet.
The day provided a welcom respite from the
usual "crisis by the minute" routine found in
the radio station news room.  I even had a
few listeners thank me for my past military
service--that was a surprise, considering the
reception I received when I returned from active
duty in the early 70's.  Those were the days.
As soon as I wrap up the day's news coverage,
I'll head for the home station and some time
"pounding the brass" until my daily jog with the
XYL, dinner, and a slow retreat under the
covers.  I trust your day was a good one.
'Til next time, 73 es Aloha from Hawaii Island.
KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Veterans Day will be observed on Thursday--a time to
remember those who served our nation in both peace
and war.  In my former life as an Air Force Officer and
before I became an amateur radioi operator, I was aware
of the vital service provided by MARS operators.  I even
used this service a few times to contact family at home.  I
am indebted to those ham and military operators who kept
our morale up and provided a lifeline to our loved ones. 
The tradition continues, as MARS operators and other
radio amateurs provide support to our military personnel
around the world.  The technology, of course, has improved,
but the mission is still there.  I will not forget your service to
those who serve our nation. So, on the advent of this Veterans
Day, I wish all amateur and military operators a deep thankyou
for your dedication and ability to keep our spirits up in difficult
times.  Aloha, 73 de KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

What a busy series of weeks.  First there was the
rush of holiday promotions, high school games, and
the busy cycle of the news day.  Then add the hype
surrounding the mid-term elections.  The negativity
and hypebole surrounding the transfer of legislative
power were  more scary than Halloween.  Sandwiched
between this sped up news cycle was a few hours of
amateur radio--what a relief to just sit down in front
of the old Kenwood 520, pound some brass, and rag
chew with a few friends.  I'm still  altering some of the
antenna farm as Hawaii's salt air and acid rain (from the
Kilauea Volcano) does its work of digesting wire and
connectors.  All of this keeps me busy and out of the
shopping malls.  Besides, the exercise gained from
tilling the family garden and lugging around pvc pipe,
wire, and twin lead has some benefit for the ole waist0
line.  My XYL and I manage to keep in shape with a
simple, nutritious diet and daily walks.  Time before the
rig gives the mind a needed res…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been another busy week at the radio station
news room.  With the approach of the holiday season,
all of us in the "media circus" are busy with the Thanks-
giving and Christmas programs, not to mention the
remotes, haunted houses, and whatever else is
attached to the Halloween festiviites.  No rest for
the "wicked" until after the New Year.  Between all
of this, I will squeeze in some quality time on the amateur
bands.  Most of the simple repairs to my rapidly aging
radio collection are done.  A few touchups to the ole
"antenna farm" will bring the station into operating con-
dition.  I'm still having fun with the Kenwood 520 I
acquired a few months ago--nice rig and very for-
giving of us who have forgotten the ritual of tune and
dip.  If you have a chance to get an older rig from the
major manuafacturers, please do so.  What they lack
in convenience is compensated by the sheer pleasure
of rag-chewing on the hollow-state tecnology of a by-
g…

KH6JRM;s Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a busy month in the newsroom, so my time
dedicated to amateur radio has been minimal.  I will get
back in the groove this weekend after some yard work
around the radio ranch.  Presently, I'm working to equip
my Odyssey min-van with a ham radio station.  I'm operating
on 2 meters with my trusty HT, a set of solar powered gel
cells, and a 1/4 wave whip positioned on the van room with
a mag mount.  For now, the setup meets my immediate needs.
I elected to not use the van's electrical system.  The set of gel
cells in the van coupled with a set of small solar panels mounted
on a side window keeps the system active.  The power demands
of the HT are very small, so I have no problem of running out of
juice.  Adding HF capability will be a challenge, not the least of
which is the low clearance of my garage.  Most likely, I'll opt for a
mag-mounted "Ham Stick" as a temporary solution.  This is not an
efficient system, but it will do until I decide what t…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a busy month--not much time to operate
on the old Swan 100-MX.  Hawaii just experienced its
primary election with  all the hoopla and news coverage
that surrounds politics in Hawaii....My newsroom was
a busy place for at least a week.  In more pleasant news,
The Big Island Amateur Radio Club and the Hawaii QRP
club hosted Russian QRP (RU QRP) club co-founder Oleg
Borodin (RV3GM) and his XYL, Olga (RA3GKB) on
September 11th at Hilo's Wailoa State Park.  Oleg, who
serves as the Elecraft representative in Russia, was invited
by Dean, KH6B, to spend a brief vacation on the Big
Island and to  bring local hams up to date on amateur radio
activities in Russia.  Oleg had an excellent presentation on a
variety of Russian QRP expeditions, including the "Moroz"
(Frost or frozen) nose competition held during the winter.
Oleg also passed his U.S. Amateur Extra Exam earilier in
the week (I was part of the VE team).  Oleg is a great guy
and I gained a new perspective of …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Today is a solemn day for those who call a
radio newsroom home.  Nine years ago today
I was on the early shift (in Hawaii) when the
World Trade Center was hit by aircraft, re-
sulting in the loss of approximately 3,000 lives.
From that day forward, nothing in this nation
remained unchanged.  I'll leave the diatribes and
finger pointing to others, but to me, the event
reinforced the need to be prepared, both in
protecting our communities and in keeping
amateur radio communications intact.  Since
that awful day almost a decade ago, I've tried
to have backup plans in place for the shack--
reserve power, spare rigs, extra wire, tools,
and reference material. I've also kept a supply
of food, medical supplies, fuel for the car, and
money on hand just in case the integrated society
we inhabit comes apart.  Preparation, training, and
a positive attitude can go a long way in maintaining
your sanity in a world that appears to have lost all
reason and a sense of reality.  Enjoy your …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

As Labor Day winds down, yours truly will be securing the
radio station news room and preparing for the coastal drive
to the qth in Laupahoehoe.  The weekend was busy, with
the usual parades, holiday events, and the drag races at the
Hilo Drag Strip.  I'm the tower announcer for the races, an
enjoyable diversion from the usual gloom and doom of the
news cycle.  When I get back to the shack, I'll finish the
Novice Antenna Handbook by the late Lew McCoy.  The
book is a useful primer for those of us who want to erect
simple, yet effective antennas at minimum cost.  On my
postage stamp sized rural lot, I've erected several of his
proven designs.  Currently, I'm using an under the house
40-meter loop (great for local nets) and a modified vertical,
using one vertical element and one elevated counterpoise.
The system is fed with 300-ohm twin lead through a 1:4
balun for 40 to 10 meter coverage.  Nothing fancy, but
it does work from my Central Pacific location.  I could
sur…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

In between a few projects at the qth, I ran across an inter-
esting article by Alan Vega (WA6 MOW) on the eham.net
site called "HF on a limited budget", dated 26 August 2010.
Much of his article resonated with my approach to Amateur
Radio, especially the parts relating to serviceable older rigs
and homebrew antennas for your shack.  Alan sets up an
arbitrary $300 budget for a basic ham station, and, generally,
succeeds in getting a basic station assembled, minus the
antenna, ATU, and miscellaneous items.  Alan recommends
a few familiar transceivers which have proven reliable, in-
cluding teh Yaesu FT-757GX, the ICOM-730, and the
Kenwood TS-440s.  All good choices for those oper-
ating on a shoestring budget.  I would add a few more, in-
cluding the Kenwood 520 series and a few Ten-Tec
classics such as the Triton-540, the Argosy II, and even
the Scout 555.  I've owned a few of the above and can
attest to their reliability.  Of course, the further we go out
in time, the m…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The ole Kenwood 520 is just about ready for a full
rollout after some minor cleanup procedures.  I was
lucky to acquire the rig from a deceased Hilo ham, who
kept his equipment clean and maintained.  All I have to
do is replace the 2001 finals with some 6146Bs I in the
tube drawer.  The original finals are alright for now, but
they are a bit soft.  I've run the 520 at low power and it
behaved well.  Even my homebrew ac power cord seemed
to work.  I was able to get a new replacement from K4EEA
just in case my kludge fails along the way.  Presently, I'm re-
reading Lew McCoy's "Novice Antenna Book", something I
picked up many years ago.  The book is full of simple, work-
able antennas that will get you started on your amateur radio
adventure.  McCoy, now SK, writes in a friendly, straight-
forward way.  I've tried several of his designs and they work
well.  Materials for these antennas can be obtained from the
nearest hardware store at modest cost.  I'll u…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Keeping with my underlying theme of operatng an amateur
radio station with a minimum of cost, I'm continuing to
bring an old Kenwood 520 back to life.  I'm indebted
to Ken, K4EAA, for his informative website. He has
given me plenty of helpful hints in restoring this classic
hybrid rig.  The new 12BY7 driver is working well and
my self-constructed ac power cord seems to be holding
its own.  I ordered a PC-2 cord from Ken just in case my
stubby fingers ruining the soldering job on the 12-pin con-
nector. The rig runs well after blowing out the dust and
spraying the switches with de-oxit contact cleaner.  Al-
though the 2001 finals are a bit soft, I can get out a more
than adequate 60 watts.  Since I tend to run rigs at qrp
levels, the slightly lower output doesn't present an immedi-
ate problem.  I have a spare set of 6146Bs in the tube
cabinet.  While my minor tune-up was thankfully easy, I
enjoyed getting inside the rig and doing a few things for
myself.  If you have th…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Inventory, restocking, and repairs continue at the Laupahoehoe
qth.   With the economy being so fragile these days, I'm monitoring
the financial "empire" more closely than I once did.  I have a few
long term projects on the burner (new rig, for example), but, for
now, I'm making due with what I have.  As mentioned earlier, I
acquired a well-cared for Kenwood 520 from the family of a
recently deceased Hilo amateur.  With the acquisition of a new
power cord (thanks to K4EAA) and a new 12BY7A driver
tube, the grand ole rig is just about ready to put on the air.  The
rig tunes up well into the dummy load, albeit the original 2001 final
tubes are a bit "soft".  I ordered the PC-2 power cord before I
found a 12-prong plug in the junk box.  At least I have a spare.
A trip to the local hardware store will provide whatever wire,
nuts, bolts, clamps, and other items the junk box now lacks. I'll
wrap up the weekend with a clean-up of the Swan 100-MX and
a restring…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Anticipating more economic chaos ahead, I'm well on
my way to assembling a backup station, spare parts, and
assorted tools to tide me over in case my main rig goes
to the big ground plane in the sky.  The ole Swan 100-
MX is holding its own, but one never knows when some
non-obtainable part gives up the ghost. So, I'm cleaning
up a Kenwood 520 the family of a Hawaii ham who went
SK a while back.  The rig is is pretty good shape.  I've
ordered a spare power cord, alignment tools, and a spare
12BY7A driver turbe.  The original 2001 finals are still
serviceable.  I have a few spare 6146Bs in the "tube" bin
in the event the old tubes die.  My standby Yaesu FT-7
QRP rig (10 watts) is in excellent shape after I cleaned it
up and got the oxide off switches, etc.  My collection of
coax feedline, 450-ohm twin lead, and assorted lenghts of
#16 antenna wire is adequate to build several antennas.
Along with my solar panels, deep cycle batteries, and a
trusty Honda generat…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

One of the things I've been looking for in this tight
economy is a good, reliable back-up rig that could
be used while I repair my other two "ancient" rigs
(Swan 100-MX and Yaesu FT-7).  One of my
fellow broadcasters across town dropped off an
old Kenwood 520 that once belonged to his wife's
father, a Hilo ham that died a few years ago.  Using
a temporary hook-up, I found the old rig is in excellent
shape.  The original finals are a bit soft, but can still
put out 50-60 watts on 20 meters.  The rig came with
the MC-50 mic and a Heathkit power/swr meter.  All
told, an excellent acquisition.  I'm looking for the 12-
prong ac plug and cord.  If you have one, let me know
at kh6jrm@gmail.com or at kh6jrm@arrl.net.  Right now,
I'm running the old 520 with a jury rigged set up. I'll let
you know how my back-up station is developing.  With
the economy being like it is, a new rig is out of the question
for now.  While I'm restoring the 520, there are a few a…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Maintaining your amateur radio hobby during this time
of recession can be challenge, especially when un-
employment and furloughs loom over many of us.
What I'm doing to maintain the hobby is not for
everyone, but my approach enables me to enjoy
amatuer radio while keeping the family ship afloat.
Once I get the bills paid and cover monthly ex-
penses, I still have a little left over for heating the
atmosphere with rf.  I'm putting off getting a new
rig and instead I'm keeping the older equipment
repaired and operational.  I'm also working more
with home-brew antennas to cut costs.  Just keep
an eye out for surplus wire, pvc pipe, and cast off
RG-6 from cable installations.   Even old RG-58 and
RG-8 can be used for something.  The old braid has
several uses as well as the basic copper inner wire which
can be used for radials.  Since this recession will be run-
ning for awhile, I will defer most purchases in favor of
learning to do with less.  Yes, I really want an Elecr…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

How will you keep your amateur radio station alive and
active during this time of economic distress?  Even a cursory
reading of the business media indicates that "experts" believe
the nation's economy is battered and won't really be in decent
shape for more years.  The reality is the U.S. economy is
broken.  So, how do you keep everything afloat, assuming
you are still working?  I can only speak for myself, so take
everything I say with the proverbial "grain of salt".  I've had
to live with a budget for many years and know how difficult
it is to have necessities with so many "nice to have" temptations
around us every day.  Once I take care of my immediate
family needs and the usual run of bills, I can turn my attention
to my favority hobby.  I've had to put off purchases, repair the
older rigs, and build a lot of my antennas when it would have
been a lot easier to plunk down the plastic and worry about the
cost later.  This fantasy can be …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Just a quick note from the radio ranch in Laupahoehoe.
While I was waiting for the soldering iron to warm up
for one of my antenna experiments, I came across an
interesting weblog called "The Economic Collapse",
dated 12 July 2010.  The ariticle gave several tips for
coping with the continuing economic recession that
has turned this country into one of the world's largest
debtor nations.  The article argued that most of us
know that economic disintegration is around the
corner and that we must take steps to prepare for
shortages, reduced incomes, and act responsibly with
our financial resources.  Although I don't agree with
the generally gloomy stance of the piece, I feel we
ignore the trend at our peril.  Don't spend what you
don't have and get out of debt if you can.  Pretty
good advice.  In future articles, I will outline what
I'm doing to avoid the debt trap and remain free of
unnecessary financial burdens.  I will also explain what
I doing to keep …

KH6JRM's Amateru Radio Blog

The Homebrew vertical "antenna farm" is doing well at the
Laupahoehoe QTH.  The most recent project is a nearly
out of sight vertical helix that works well on 40 and 15
meters.  I had a 10' piece of schedule 40 PVC pipe under
the house which I pressed into service this week for an
easy-up antenna.  I wound 66' of number 22-gauge hook-
up wire around the mast in a helix configuation and topped
it off with an 18" stinger for some top loading.  A 3' to 6'
capacity hat would probably be more helpful in raising
antenna efficiency, but I opted in favor of the single wire
on top.  I strung out eight 10' foot radials and attached the
creation to some RG-6 I had on hand.  I fed this into the
Drake MN-4 ATU.  The Drake handled the mismatch and
the Swan 100 MX seemed happy with the arrangement.  The
bandwidth is quite narrow, but retuning is no problem.  This
antenna might be of interest to those of you bothered by nosey
neighbors or for those needing a quick e…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Happy 4th of July to everyone. How about a simple, almost
free antenna for your back yard?  This antenna is not original,
but it does a pretty decent job on 40 m through 10 m with a
an ATU or plays well on 40/15 m with ordinary coax.  While
I was cleaning up an old MFJ 33'fiberglass mast in the back
yard, I attached a 33' piece of #14 gauge wire to the fully
extended mast, cut 6, 33' of old #22 gauge wire for radials,
and attached the wires to an old Budwig connector.  I ran
some RG-8 I had in the shack to my Drake MN-4.  A 3'\
piece of RG-8 ran from the MN-4 to the Swan 100 MX.
Nothing fancy.  But I had fun running some contacts on 40-
meters.  Fifteen meters was a bit dead early this morning, so
I won't try that band until later today.  Even with 10-15 watts
out, I had a lot of fun getting some cw done on the lower 25
kHz of 40 meters.  I just did this on a whim and had fun in the
process. I hope you have a good and safe holiday. 73 de
KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Because of work requirements, I was unable to participate
in this year's ARRL Field Day.  From what I could deduce
in casual listening, Hawaii Island Amateurs had fun from
several locations, ranging from the Kamehameha Schools
Hawaii Campus to the stunningly beautiful Laupahoehoe
Point State Park.  In the past, I've participated in the
Laupahoehoe Beach Park operation, since it's only 3 miles
from the qth.  Dean Manley, KH6B, usually runs battery
power with an array of verticals and sterba curtain arrays
cut for 10 and 15 meters.  His verticals do pretty well so
close to the ocean.  Speaking of antennas, the 26 June
installment of the eham.net website has an interesting EMT
vertical by Marcos Antonio Veloz Burgos, HI8MVW.  I've
used variations on this theme several times, and like Marcos,
I've used RG-6 TV cable for the feedline.  Results are quite
good on 20, 15, and 10 meters.  Give this design a try and
see what you can do.  Meanwhile, enjoy the remainder of t…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The news cycle is winding down at KKBG-FM/
KHLO-AM for the workweek.  Only half-days
on Saturday and Sunday remain on the horizon.
The break will give me plenty of time to work on
my spartan "antenna farm" at the Laupahoehoe
qth.  With my tropical climate and salt air, there
is always something to do for the skyhooks.  Be-
sides, the work gives me a break from the rather
dismal series of events that is making everyday
life more difficult than it should be.  I just finished
an excellent article on the eham.net website by
Phil Chambley, K4DPK, entitled "Your First
Dipole."  Phil's article is a basic tutorial on an
antenna that has served me well in the past.
You can expand his idea into a "fan" dipole and
get some added coverage for very little money.
I may even string up one of his simple dipoles as
an inverted vee and see what I can do.  My yard
won't permit a fully extended dipole, hence my pref-
erence for verticals and low slung loops.  The out…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Things are winding down at the KKBG-FM/KHLO news
room after a peaceful weekend news cycle.  I use that term
loosely, considering the various crises the world is facing.
I'll leave the value judgements to those polically inclinded.
All I do is report the news.  Once the Sunday shift is done
and the story outlines for Monday prepared, I can return
to the home shack for some casual operating before dinner
and a good night's sleep.  I've finished some minor repairs to
the 20-meter vertical dipole and the under the house 40-meter
loop.  Both antennas are working well, propagation notwith-
standing.  Just for a few laughs, I hooked up the loop to one of
my homebrew crystal sets.  Pretty good results.  I was able to
recieve all three Hilo AM stations with ease.  The Hilo stations
are roughly 30 miles away from the commercial station I call
"home" most of the time.  The 20-meter vertical dipole works
for these crystal sets, too.  Crystal sets are fun to make and
provide …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Just about ready to wrap up a week in the KKBG-FM/
KHLO-AM news room.  I've had sufficient excitement
for the week with all of the stories on the oil spill, the
Middle East crisis, and assorted local crime stories
The weekend news shift begins on Saturday, but
that shift is only for half-a-day, so the hours won't
be too bad.  At least I have an enjoyable job.  Field
Day beckons on 26/27 June--an event I will probably
miss since I'm working the drag races that day.  I'll
probably operate a bit from the home station, running
1E (emergency power).  While I was reading the eham.net
site today, I found two Field Day articles that may prove
useful to you or your radio club:  "900 Watt Generator for
Field Day" by Mike Higgins, K6AER and "How to Come
Back After Field Day" by Keith Wood, K1LDS.  Both
articles contain some good, basic information.  Have a
good weekend.  Aloha from Hawaii Island. KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a fairly calm Saturday in the KKBG-FM
and KHLO-AM news room.  I need a quiet day now
and then.  Other than the Middle East crisis and the
Gulf oil spill, things are alright. My deepest sympthies
to our Gulf of Mexico friends--what a gawsh awful
mess, both ecologically and economically.  With all
this going on, the hurricane season has just begun.
The station has been keeping Big Islanders informed
on what to do and how to prepare themselves for
what is expected to be an active storm season.  With
that in mind, how well prepared are you? When I get
home after my shift, I'll make sure all batteries are
charged, spare antennas made, and the generator
fully fueled.  I've got a good stock of food and the
ole Tercel is topped off in fuel. Hopefully, the storms
will miss you.  Have a good weekend. Aloha from the
Big Island. 73. KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that the Memorial Day celebrations are over,
I can return to some degree of "normalcy" at the
KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news room.  Of course,
normal has all kinds of meaning in the news business,
ranging from the usual crimes, crises, and weather
changes to the bizarre stuff that crops up during the
day. You wou't believe the number of strange calls
I get before, during, and after holidays.  Anyway,
I'll be able to squeeze in a few hours of operating
this weekend.  Time at the old Swan 100 MX will
provide the needed atitude adjustment from the
near crisis mode that grips the news cycle.  On the
docket for this weekend is further work on the 20-
meter vertical dipole and minor repairs to the under
the house loop that does the majority of local con-
tacts.  I really enjoy getting out in the back yard and
working with wire and portable masts.  I don't know
if I'll be working with the Big Island Amateur Radio
Club during the upcoming Field Day event.  Every year
for t…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Things are quiet at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news
room on this Memorial Day.  I just finished an exciting
2 days at the Hilo Drag Strip where the Big Island Auto
Club celebrated the 40th edition of the Memorial Day
Drags.  The station has broadcast coverage of the drag
racing season for 27 years and that falls under my job
description.  Extensive use of the FRS (family radio
service) and MURS (multi use radio service) is used
at the track to maintain contact with the tower, pit
areas, drivers, security, and track crew.  Low power
UHF FRS radios (0.5 watt TPO) and VHF MURS
radios (2 watts TPO) give those of us in the tower
a good 1.5 to 2.0 mile range.  The track also has a
legal, 100mw AM station for the fans, who can tune
in on the tower chatter at 1610 kHz. The 8' whip is on
top of the tower and gives a decent signal out to
a mile.  My reports are cell-phoned to the station
(4 miles away) for broadcast.  Racing fans may want to
get a good hand-held scanner and follow the action.
This…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another week at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news
room is just about over.  There has been plenty of
events to keep this new hound busy--from that BP
oil leak to the latest crisis in the Middle East.  After
the morning shift, I'm more than ready to head for
the shack for some quality radio time.  The 20-
meter vertical dipole is working well.  The antenna
is supported by a 31-foot "jackite" mast and fed
with 450-ohm balanced line.  I've put a bit of top
and bottom loading to compensate for the short-
ness of each element (about 1 1/2 feet).  The
dipole fees well and the old Drake MN-4 seems
to match everything up.  The antenna is usable on
20, 15, and 10 meters.  The performance on 40
leaves a lot to be desired, but I have a separate
40 meter vertical elsewhere in the yard, so that
band is not a problem.  Getting on 80 meters is
a tad difficult from my postage stamp lot, but
perhaps I can erect a homebrew vertical helix
tuned for 80 meters to take care of that band.
The 40-m…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Back again after another exciting week in the KKBG-FM
KHLO-AM news room.  Never a dull moment around
here with more than enough oil spills, intrigue, and local
corruption to cast forth on the airwaves. ' Sort of makes
me glad to close shop and go back to the ole Swan
100-MX for some cw therapy.  I just finished reading
an interesting series by Eric Nichols, KL7AJ, on
"Plasma Physics for the Radio Amateur, I-IV."  This
series is pretty good stuff, fully understandable, and
easy to apply to one's current antenna situation.  You
can find the series at hrrp://www.eham.com.  My
antenna activities are doing well, with another vertical
antenna modification in the works.  This time around the
Smith Chart, I'll be building a vertical dipole for the 20-
meter band.  I'll use my old 33' MFJ fiberglass mast for
the project. 'Should be fun.  Meanwhile, under the house
40-meter loop is doing well as a NVIS antenna.  The
loop also does a pretty good job on 15 a…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

How the time flies when you're having fun. Not that
working in the radio station newsroom is all doom
and gloom, but now that my weekend shift is just
about over, I'm glad the cares of the world and our
financially-strapped state can be left behind until early
Monday morning when the news cycle begins anew.
I'm happy to squeeze in a few hours of amateur radio
operations--this provides a needed break from the
concerns of the "real" world.  The 40-meter loop
beneath my house is doing well for a "cloud warmer".
The noise level on this balanced lined antenna is very
low and it's a joy to listen to contacts without the usual
level of noise in my area.  Proximity to power lines surely
doesn't help, but the loop seems fairly insenstive to this
type of vertically polarized rfi.  The loop is great for my
local Hawaii state contacts.  The backyard vertical does
alright for DX, considering the dinky lot that encloses my
rental house. I'm not disappoint…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

After a few busy weeks at the radio station news-
room, it's time to break away and head for the
amateur radio station at the ole qth.  I really
haven't done to much operating because of
work requirements...news is a 24/7 require-
ment these days.  Anyway, it's time to re-
place the old, weather-beaten MFJ mast
which has taken a real beating from the trop-
ical sun and rain.  I'll reposition my Jackite
mast, which has served as a temporary back-
up.  This mast is well-made and should do
better than the MFJ.  The temporary arrange-
ment using a 33' piece of wire, base tuner, and
4-tuned counterpoise wires will be used until I
get some time to do a quality installation.  This
system will be used with my under the house
40-meter loop to provide good local and DX
contacts.  Nothing fancy here...but it works.
Have a good weekend...good DX.  Aloha and
73 from the Big Island.  KH6JRM (Russ).

KH6JRM''s Amateur Radio Blog

The busy weekend is over at last at KKBG-FM//KHLO-
AM.  The news room is usually quiet and I get some time
to catch up on the federal paperwork, station logs, and
equipment maintenance.  It's nice working around state
of the art equipment at a commercial broadcast station.
'Makes me wish for similar stuff at the home ham
station.  One can dream...or is it dream on?  I managed
to monitor some of the traffic going on this weekend in
ARRL's newscomer contest, which resembles the old
"Novice Roundup" of decades ago.  That contest was
a blast, especially considering my dearth of operating
skills in those days (mid-70s).  Those in this contest
sounded like they were having a good time.  Some of
these new operators were quite proficient and I'm glad
to see the "newbies" getting into the swing of things.
Speakin of new items, what do you think of the newly
reworked ARRL website?  It's pretty fancy and seems
eye catching--I'll have to give the site …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The 47th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival is wrapping
up in Hilo today with a late morning parade and the final
hula compeitition tonight.  The event has kept the radio
station news room busy.  This event attracts contestants
world-wide and is covered extensively by local tv and
radio (hence my role today).  The Festival has also
brought the Big Island some needed rain.  Hawaii
Island has been griped by an extended drought which
has raised the fears of farmers and residents alike.
After the news shift, it's back to the QTH for some
late afternoon cw and local ragchews.  Most likely,
I'll be using the under the house 40-meter loop. I've
disconnected the vertical because of thunderstorms
and lightning.  If the heavy rains continue, I'll just
unhook everything. No sense tempting Thor's
hammer. A few years ago, a strike from above
toasted a fiberglass mast I was using as an an-
tenna support. Luckily, the antenna was grounded
and all feeders disconnected.  It doesn'…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Now that the holidays are over, it's back to work at the
radio station news room (serving 4 Hawaii Island radio
stations).  The big item this week is the 47th Annual
Merrie Monarch Festival, the premier Hawaiian
Cultural event of the year.  Most of the on-air staff
will be busy with all of the events surrounding the
festival, so I'll have to be creative when it comes to
ham radio time.  Every once in a while, one gets a
cheery note that adds a bit of perspective to the daily
grind.  Today, I received a nice note from John,
KS4D (ex-KH6JRN), one of my early contacts
when I was a Novice operator.  It was so good to
hear from him.  John found me on my other blog
site and brought me up to date. Oh, do I remem-
ber those optimistic days when our "peanut
whistles" gave us access to the world.  Despite
all of the truly advanced media in use today, there
is a certain warm feeling for launching a signal into
the "ether".  I must be getting old..but I love it.
Have …

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

'Just a quick note to wish all of you a happy Easter.
I'm working the Sunday shift at the KKBG-FM/
KHLO-AM news room during the holdiday.
Things are fairly quiet for now, as the Big Island
prepares for the annual Merrie Monarch Festival
which begins Monday.  The event is the premier
Hawaiian cultural event of the year.  The station
is involved in some coverage, so I will be a busy
fellow for the next few days.  I may be able to
squeeze in a bit of cw over the next few days.
The homebrew fiberglass vertical is working
well, although lining up a few more radials
will be a problem because of my rental home's
small lot.  The four elevated counterpoise wires
are helping, considering my lack of space.  I
was planning to get a HF rig in my old Tercel,
but I was sideswiped by a truck on Saturday
morning, so that project will be on hold until
the body shop fixes up the vehicle.  No one
was hurt....rigs and cars can be replaced....
people can't.  Have a safe holiday...here's

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Another busy week at the radio station news room.
Most of my time on the home rig was spent listening
and working a bit of cw on the lower portion of 40
meters.  I spent some of my leisure time (what there
is of it after a long day in the news room), checking
out some interesting articles I found on the ARRL
website.  Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has a general
interest column that always has a few gems to offer.
If you're into QRP like I am, you'll find Stan's review
of the following worth a visit:  "Amateur Radio on it's
(sic) Edge blog " by Tobias Wellnitz, DH1TW; "The
Garage Shoppe" by Pete Goodmann, NI9N; and , on
http://www.eham.net/, an article by Charles Cohen, VA7CPU,
entitled "How to QRP--Operating Strategies for the
Power Challenged".  All of these articles offer some
excellent advice on how to pursue your QRP interest.
Until next time, Aloha, 73, KH6JRM.

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Mother Nature has put a damper on this weekend's
Drag Race at the Hilo Drag Strip...a wet track means
no fast cars.  As a former racer, the heavy clouds were
a disappointment, but safety outweighs other concerns.
So, it's back to the QTH after I make my media reports
to the newspapers and various racing websites.  I enjoy
my "other" self at the race track--I don't race anymore,
but I manage to keep my hand in by serving as the tower
annoucer.  This is something that complements my job as
a news director.  Nothing solid here...just a welcome es-
cape from the real world.  In many ways, my artificial
world on the weekends gives me a chance to relax and
reduce the stress.  Amateur Radio serves a similar function.
Of course, all of this changes when a natural or man-made
emergency converts many hams to on-call communicators
for various public service agencies  All told, I wouldn't have
it any other way.  Fun and public service are united by
Amateur Radio.  Enou…

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

Well, after a few glitches and computer operator
problems, the blog is up and running again.  I took
a brief break to work on a few workplace projects
while whatever was causing my blog to redirect to
some weird sites passed through.  I suppose my
inattention to detail had a lot to do with this. Multi-
tasking can be a problem sometimes.  Between all
of this, I did manage to work some nice cw on 40
meters, restring the vertical on my new Jackite fiber-
glass mast (nice piece of work), and generally re-
laxed at the rig.  The news department at the radio
station has been a busy place with a tsunami warning
last month (we did get a few small waves in Hilo Bay),
a few moderate earthquakes in the Puna District, and
drought induced brushfires in the Waikoloa area.  Big
Island Amateurs were available for each of these situ-
ations, and provided timely tidal information during the
27 February tsunami warning.  All told, we have been
busy.  Our relationship with the public service angencies
i…