Friday, July 30, 2010

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 generator, I can keep a modest ham station
on the air without a large outlay of funds.  Once I get every-
thing in order, I can concentrate on riding out this economic
mess.  One never knows how long the job will last, so I'm
watching expenses very closely and saving as much as I can.
For now, it's cash and no credit cards.  I hope the best for all
of you.  There isn't much we can do except to stay out of debt
and hold our public servants accountable.  Have a good week-
end.  73 de Laupahoehoe.  KH6JRM.

Friday, July 23, 2010

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 antenna
ideas in the works which will improve the simple verticals and
loops I currently use.  Your suggestions will be welcome.  Have
a good weekend.  73 de Laupahoehoe, KH6JRM.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

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 Elecraft
K-3, but with the financial crunch still with us, I'll put off
that purchase 'till later.  It's time to get out the antenna books
and soldering iron.  Learn as much as you can about your
existing rig and keep it running.  The money you save now
may be needed for food, rent, and medical costs later.  Be
creative and positive about amateur radio--frugality is in, credit
spending is out.  Pay cash and get out of debt if you can.
'Til next time. 73 de KH6JRM.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

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 fatal, especially if your job, like
mine, depends on discretionary spending by tapped out consumers.
So, as a first step, learn to make do with what you have and try
your upmost to get out of debt.  Make do with less and don't
spend a dime more than you have to.  I'm no longer a debt slave
and beholding to a long-term loan of anykind.  Of course, your
mileage may vary, but credit card debt is the one big albatross
ruining the future of many families.  This is not an easy habit to
break, but you must learn financial discipline if you hope to remain
viable in this economy. So dust off that old Yaesu, Drake, or Ken-
wood, put away the fancy sales brochures, and build that wire
antenna you always wanted to erect.  You can still have fun, even
in a time where the economy is slowly collapsing.  More later. 73
de Hawaii.  KH6JRM.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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 my amateur radio hobby alive at a mini-
mum financial outlay.  Your suggestions are welcome as
always.  Squeeze that penny...73 de KH6JRM.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

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 emergency antenna.  I've
run a few of these fed by 300 ohm and 450 ohm twin lead.  They
all work.  As you would suspect, this type of antenna won't work
as well as a full quarter wave stick with a good radial system, but
it does work if  you need something in a hurry.  Good luck in  your
antenna projects   Living on a small lot makes for some interesting
antenna experiments.  I just use what I have available--such projects
appeal to my parsimoniouse character.  Alright, I'm just cheap.
Have fun designing your own antenna farm.  Aloha, 73 de KH6JRM.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

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.