Tuesday, April 26, 2011

KH6JRM's Amateur Radio Blog

This has been a very busy week at the radio station news room with not much time to pursue amateur radio matters.  With the arrival of the Easter Holiday this past weekend, I was kept busy at the Hilo Drag Strip, where the Big Island Auto Club and the Big Island VW Car Club held a combined points meet and trophied car show.  The turnout was excellent with many exciting events.  The weather was superb and the action was non-stop from gate opening at 0700 to closing at 1830 on Saturday and Sunday.  I am the tower announcer and and work with a dedicated crew of IT folks, spotters, and safety personnel.  Our system is computer intensive, and, even if the arrangement is not exactly ham radio related, the amount of communications equipment and computers used is impressive.  Most of our track communications rely on Family Radio Service frequencies in the 400 mhz range.  The range of the small Handi Talkies is a little over a mile, which is adequate for most track communications.  Our crew also has CB backup on several channels.  The tower also uses a Ranger 1000 (part 15, FCC approved, 100 mw transmitter) to cover the track area.  The range of this rig is around 1.5 to 2 miles and gives those able to tune 1620 khz a continuous feed of all tower communications.  I use my iPhone to contact the radio station with hourly updates.  The patch work system works well and is fairly inexpensive to maintain.  The monthly drag races give me a needed pause from the "doom and gloom" agenda of the news room.  Speaking as a former drag racer, I find the role of tower announcer enjoyable and stress relieving.  So, while I didn't use the amateur rig much this weekend, I did get a chance to operate radios, albeit in a restricted sort of way.  Hopefully, your Easter holiday went well.  When I finally got home late Sunday, I was able to feast on a homemade dinner crafted by my alway amazing XYL.  I suppose she's given up trying to reform me.  Both of us will take off this coming Sunday, have  dinner at a nice restaurant, take in a movie, and just unwind.

In the amateur radio phase of things, I'm still restructuring the "antenna farm" on my postage stamp-sized lot.  The old fiberglass MFJ mast finally gave up the ghost after being battered by several years of tropical sun, rain, and salt air.  The Jackite fiberglass mast I held in reserve is now being pressed into service as a 40-meter vertical.  The current system is a 33-foot vertical fed by 45 feet of 450-ohm ladder line, which is attached to 4 elevated counterpoise wires.  This arrangement goes to an old W9INN 4:1 balun box, which is connected to 25 feet of RG-6 and the trusty Drake MN-4 ATU.  The system works and will be improved as time allows.  The under-the-house 40 meter loop is being held in reserve.  The loop works well as a 40-meter NVIS antenna for the Hawaii Island 40-meter afternoon net (used whenever I can get home in time).  The loop can be attached to the old Hallicrafters SX-62A, which provides excellent AM and SW reception.

By Wednesday, 27 April 2011, I will be busy again with the arrival of the Merrie Monarch Festival.  The festival started on Monday, but most of the big dance performances begin on Wednesday.  Our Hawaiian station, KAPA-FM, will be providing coverage of this cultural event, inspired by the "Merrie Monarch", King Kalakaua, who restored the hula to the Hawaiian Kingdom in the 1880s.  Before that time, hula and other polynesian cultural practices were discouraged by the missionaries, who considered the traditional activities "pagan".  The festival has been growing in popularity for the past 4l8 years.  The festival attracts participants from the entire Pacific Rim area, including New Zealand, Tahiti, Japan, Micronesia, and even the mainland United States.  So, I will be busy trying to balance the cultural events, the usual news cycle, and amateur radio.  Never a dull moment around this place.

Have a good week.  Aloha es l73 de KH6JRM.