Saturday, April 9, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

The shift at the KKBG-FM/KHLO-AM news is just about over...and none too soon.  With another 7.4 earthquake in Japan and the eleventh-hour negotiations over extending the federal government's spending authority, it has been an exciting week in the radio business.  Hawaii received some good news on the tsunami front--President Obama has declared the state a federal disaster area, thus enabling local businesses and state agencies to some relief from the $30 million in damage from the 11 March tsunami.  Kailua-Kona's business district along Alii Drive was torn up badly; the main pier sustained damage;  at least 12 homes were damaged; and one major resort was closed until further notice.  Two other hotels suffered various degrees of damage, but they stayed open.  Compared to Japan, we got off lightly.  Japanese amateur radio operators continue to provide valuable communications and relief support to Norhern Honshu which has suffered greatly in the loss of lives and property.  According to the 07 April 2011 edition of the "ARRL Letter", amateur radio operators should stay clear of these frequencies-- 3.525 mhz, 7.030 mhz, 7.077 mhz, 7.087 mhz, 7.097 mhz, 14.100 mhz, 21.200 mhz, and 28.200 mhz.  As mentioned earlier, the sequence of event since 11 March has prompted me to review my emergency plan.  Fortunately, I have most of the pieces in place--emergency "go" kits in the van, home, and newsroom, backup generators for the radio station and the home qth, a good supply of water at home, two-months supply of food, medicines, clothing, etc, topped off gas tanks for the van and my old 1974 Mercury Comet (that's another story for another time), and necessary supplies and batteries to keep the amateur radio station on the air.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be making a few more portable antennas and trying to figure out how to operate the old Yaesu FT-7 from the van.  As usual, I'm always on the lookout for wire, connectors, and coax.  I've been able to assemble a good collection of wire and connectors from previous studio rebuilds at the station.  Local hardware stores have provided a variety of poles, nuts, bolts, screws, and tape.  I've found RG-6 coax particularly useful for feedlines and short jumpers.  The nominal 75-ohm impedance doesn't seem to bother my rigs.  The Drake MN-4 ATU handles the small mismatch with ease.  I also have several 4:1 baluns for antennas fed with 450-ohm ladder line.  If you have the time, building antennas out of simple, readily available materials can be fun, educational, and, yes, occaisonally frustrating.

Also on the good news front is the apparent resolution of the federal government's budget crisis--at least until September.  Whether all the hand wringing, finger pointing, and blame distribution will produce any real relief for taxpayers is anybody's guess.  As a news guy with access to a variety of economic and budgetary sources, I remain skeptical that any positive results will come from the temporary respite of the debt crisis.  I sometimes wonder what planet our elected officials call home.  I don't know about you, but I live in the real world where debts are paid, where individual responsibity is demanded, and where your continued employment depends on performance and results.  I suppose my view is tainted by working in the commercial sector.  At the radio station, if you don't produce results, you are asked to leave.  What's so hard in grasping this concept?  With that in mind, I hope for the best and plan for the worst.  For me, that means putting the credit card away, staying out of debt, maintaing one's health, and buying only what is needed.  Long ago I disconnected the television and relearned the joys of reading, good music, staying fit, mini-vacations with the XYL, and living a simple life.  That philosophy won't work for everyone, but it does allow me to stay ahead of the budget squeeze and to run a decent, if somewhat antiquated, amateur radio station.  Presently, I'm saving for a new Elecraft K3, so I'm not a total "boat anchor" operator.  The K3 will be bought when I have the resources to do so.  My technological "fix" is found at the radio station I call my home away from home.  I'm indeed fortunate to work with state of the art equipment and a staff that truly knows what they're doing.  'Sorry for the rant, but I just can't sympathize with those who refuse to accept responsibility for their own problems.  People seem to demand "change" but they can't seem to make that first step--change yourself first before going after others.  This process of changing yourself is a lifelong task, so be prepared to confront reality and act accordingly.  Your life depends on the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality.

Enough of the proverbial soapbox.  It's time to head for the qth and a J-38 key that needs some exercise.  Have a good weekend and get on the air.  Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM.